Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from The Besseys

In 2009, I posted some Christmas poems written in the 1960's by my Uncle George Bessey and my grandfather, Arthur "Bappa" Bessey; who worked for Great Northern Paper Company at the time.  These poems were published in the "Pittston Farm Weekly"--GNPC's newsletter.

Two years ago, in an attempt to preserve family history (and make it entertaining, too...) I made voice recordings of most of these poems and burned them onto CD's for my closest friends and family members.

And then... I forgot about them.

The last two years have been unlike anything I've ever experienced-- or intended to experience.   I've been busy.  Preoccupied.  Right out straight, if truth be told. 

But what takes precedence?  Work?  Community involvement?  Activism?  Or...should 'family matters' be what really matter?

Christmas comes but once a year.  And I think once a year is 'just about right' for how often a Bessey family poem should be read.  And enjoyed.

I hope you like this holiday poem which was written by my uncle George Bessey, published in GNP's Pittston Farm Weekly, and passed along to me and my kin to be enjoyed by you and yours.

Merry Christmas, from the Besseys of Maine to You.

What a Night Before Christmas!

‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except Santa’s spouse
Who, with shabby old house coat and curlers in hair,
Was making S.C. wish that he wasn’t there.

“So the children were nestled all snug in their beds!”
She shouted at him as she waved some blonde threads.
“Now, patience, my dear,” pleaded Santa with pain,
“If you’ll just let me speak, I’ll try to explain.

“I left here on time, albeit quite shivery,
Intending to make the Christmas delivery.
But before my first stop, it became crystal clear
That ahead of my sled were eight crazy reindeer!

They bypassed the houses where I planned to go
And finally dumped me right out in the snow
Where, what with my wondering eyes should I sight,
But a house full of girls—and a single red light!

“ ‘Hey, girls! Look who’s here!’ I heard one exclaim.
And there rose such a cheer I was glad that I came.
They dusted me off and invited me in,
And their boss introduced them to me with a grin:

‘Here’s Pat, Midge and Fran and a loser named Vixen.
She’s red-headed, drives a Rambler and voted for Nixon!
Here’s Connie and Cuddles and Bubbles and Joyce.
Now look them all over and then take your choice.’

“Now, my dearest, you know that I could not agree
To take one and not all of them…up on my knee.
So I said to their leader, ‘It would be a crime
If I didn’t give all of your girls equal time.’

She chuckled and said, ‘You’re a helluva gent!
And I lingered with them till my ear was quite bent,
Then before I departed, I gave them their toys:
Five sables, three bobcats, a beaver and a golden decoy.

“Despite what you think, there’s no reason to doubt
That I planned to continue my regular route.
But when for my list, I ventured to look,
What should I find but a little black book!

To hunt for my list I knew would take ages,
So I used in its place that little book’s pages.
And though (as you know) I’m quick to see,
The first address led to the Auberge at Ste Aurelie.

“Now, the names in that book included ‘Annette’,
‘Beatrice’, ‘Lilli’ and a yummy ‘Yvette’.
But just which was which? There was no guessing whom
Until they all took me to their dressing room.

And there I discovered Annette had a mole;
Bea really was blonde; and Yvette wore a scroll
Tattooed on her thigh that caused me to pause;
For on it was written ‘J’adore Santa Claus!’

“The evening rushed on in a dizzying whirl
As the little black book led to girl after girl
In Greenville and Jackman and St. George and St. Zacharie
And each of them had to eggnog and nutmeg me!

And I’m not to blame if their clothing was scanty
Or if they were all simply wild about Santy.
Thus it was that the sun rose over Maine
At the very same time I was leaving the I.P. Chain.

“After that, Sugarplum, your jolly old gnome
Hopped into his sleigh and headed for home.
Now I’ve told you my story with patience and care;
So I’m sure you’ll excuse that bit of blonde hair!”

“Indeed, I will not!” Mrs. Santa shot back.
Then without a word, she went straight to his pack
And dumped out a doll you’ll not find on a shelf!
Said Santa, quite weakly: “It’s just a new elf.”

“A disgrace to your calling—that’s what you are!”
Mrs. Santa came on like an angry hussar,
“There’s only one way to undo what you’ve done—
Now don’t argue with me! I’m sending our son!

He’s the symbol of everything you ought to be:
Love of family, clean living—in short—decency!”
“My gawd!” muttered Santa to this revelation,
“That pantywaist kid will kill my reputation!”

But although Santa pleaded, his wife remained firm,
Shouting, “Take off that suit, you philandering worm!”
In a twinkling their son made ready to go;
Candelabrum in hand and dimples aglow!

“Now be careful, my precious, and be a good boy,”
Mrs. Santa said kissing her bundle of joy.
'Twas then Santa shouted, his voice rather messy!
“Give that little black book back to bachelor George Bessey!

And so ends our story, as Santa said, rather meekly…
Happy Christmas to all—A la Pittston Farm Weekly.

The Pacific by Peter Watt

Few things brighten my day more than finding a yellow ‘parcel notification’ slip in my mailbox and then going to the Post Office to pick up a package from Australia. Last week my local Postmistress handed over a wonderful surprise—an autographed copy of the latest novel written by my friend Peter Watt.

These days, I rarely take time to read for ‘fun’ but I’ve been anxiously awaiting the publication of The Pacific. This most recent novel is a continuation of the legend of the Kelly and Mann families, which began in Pete’s novel Papua.

I read The Pacific in 2 days.

I’m always pleased by the authenticity of Peter’s novels. Every writer knows—heck, every reader knows—that a good book will remain as only a good book unless its author knows what he or she is talking about. To create a great book, the author has to have done extensive research… or ‘lived’ his or her story. Peter’s fans have the advantage. He is a man who does extensive historical research, and he has lived a life of adventure in addition to being a former advisor to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. The man isn’t blowing smoke—when it comes to the backdrops and time periods of his novels, he knows his stuff.

In The Pacific, Peter takes us to exotic locations. Queensland, Vietnam, Papua...there were few places on the globe which remained unscarred—literally and figuratively--after World War II. As in Europe, many countries in the Pacific were deeply embroiled in the intrigue, the terror and the scrabble for survival.

Ilsa Stahl is an American war correspondent who is taken captive by the Japanese after being plucked from the sea following a plane crash. Perhaps worse--Ilsa is set to be turned over to the Nazis due to past activities carried out by her German step-father.

But she is the daughter of Jack Kelly, the sister of Lukas and the cousin of their closest friend, Karl Mann. These Papuans of Irish and German descent each find themselves with a mission: to bring Ilsa to safety.

War is hell and for those involved, death hovers--never far away. The Kellys and the Manns do not escape unscathed from the battles fought in the jungles of Indochina and the South Pacific.

It might be the height of summer Down Under but up here in America it’s the first day of Old Man Winter’s domination. Grab The Pacific and settle in for a good read. Better yet—start at the beginning of this saga, with Papua and read all the way through. Then (because you won’t be able to help yourselves) give the Duffys and the MacIntoshes a try, beginning with Cry of the Curlew. A major motion picture is in the works for that series and I can’t wait! For twice the enjoyment, be sure to read it before it hits the theaters. If you visit Peter’s website, you can order your own autographed copy.

Merry Christmas and a blessed and happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tennessee Country Christmas...

It’s almost Christmas; the season for parties and festive decorating ‘round the house and spending time with family and friends. It’s the gift-giving season, too--and I have just received the most amazing gift from some wonderful friends. It arrived at Bangor International Airport on Saturday night--Delta Flight #5603.

Actually, I should say…they arrived.

That’s right. My gift was a matching pair of puppies; a brother and sister. I--a woman who has always had mutts and mongrels and pound puppies (and one really big Newfoundland)--was gifted with—brace yourself!—pure-bred Chihuahuas.

Aaaat! Now, before you react, it’s important to remember that wahwahs are dogs, too! That’s right. It doesn’t matter that Eli’s cat Stevie outweighs these guys by 13 pounds. And the fact that the puppies have to wear weasel collars because cat collars are too big…why, that doesn’t mean they are any less beastly than your average rotti or hound-dog or lab!

This breed has a reputation for being yappy little ankle-biters… but it all comes down to their training and the skill and dedication with which they are raised. I intend to have quiet, calm dogs. These will be country wahwahs, and they will be treated no differently than any other Pease puppies. They will be kind and gentle. Well socialized. They will do their business outside. They won’t chase the deer in our field or piddle in our corn patch. These farm-raised pups might not be suitably sized for herding cattle, but I’m sure they will excel at herding…chickens. Small chickens like…guinea hens. Little itty bitty biddies. Yes, these calm, working farm dogs will be clothed in dignity.

And sweaters.

Oh, my God. What have I done?

It’s been two years since the inhabitants of The F.A.R.M. have had canine companionship. We were ready to share our home with a dog or two and this gift was incredibly generous and well-timed. Yes, there will be challenges. Of course there will be. That’s only natural.

First; it’s apparent we have a slight communication barrier. See, these aren’t your typical Spanish-speaking Chihuahuas from south of the border. It’s worse. These dogs are from Tennessee. If you’ve never heard a Tennessee accent, you don’t know what you’re missing. In fact, no one knows what they’re missing, because it’s almost impossible to understand a single thing uttered by a Tennessean. These dogs don’t bark. They don’t even yap. They “yay-up”.

“Yay-up, yay-up, yay-up!” What the heck does that mean?

Does it mean “I wanna go ay-out!”? “Ah miss ma maw-ma!”? “May-un, y’all have some honkin’ big cay-uts!”?


Second, of course, is the issue of size. Wahwahs are easily misplaced. It’s crucial to develop the habit of emptying all pockets before throwing clothing into the wash. It’s vital to gently shake out shoes before shoving feet inside. These dogs can turn up in the most unlikely places.

The truth is that they have no concept of mass, bulk or dimension. To their way of thinking, they are leviathans. Powerful entities destined to rule the world… or at least—The F.A.R.M.  No matter the size of the being coming through our front door—these babies think they are bigger and badder. (Yes, badder. Don’t look it up in your dictionary—you won’t find it. It’s a Tennessee word--pronounced “BAY-uh-der”. Being a quick study when it comes to southern drawl, I’ve determined that it means “worse”.) What’s funny is that my two-pound puppies are able to convince all other creatures that they really ARE bigger and badder. More bad.


Before we know it we’ll have it all figured out, and we’ll wonder how we ever got along without our wahwahs. For sure, it will be wonderful to have little ones around the Christmas tree again. With my youngest child now a doddering 15 years old, some of the sparkle and magic seemed to be missing during the last couple of holiday seasons. But not this year! We’re all delighted to have these wee ones in our family.

These Pease Wees.

From the multi-lingual crew at The F.A.R.M. (where there’s Fresh Air and Room to Move) to all of you: MAY-uh-ree CREE-us-mus! Feliz Navidad! And Happy Hanukah, too.

Scrappy butchers her 1st pig at The FARM
P.S.  I should add in this disclaimer.  My friend has informed me (in somewhat haughty fashion) that the wahwahs fit into FERRET collars--not WEASEL collars.  My mistake.  Hehehe....I just like to yank his chain...

P.P.S.  Our puppies' names have not been determined, yet.  If you have ideas and would like to share-- please do.  We've had the babes for 48 hours and the monikers we've tried thus far don't please everyone in the house.  Current discards include Chalupah and Burrito, Kelly and Boog, Sweetie and Snappy, Butch and Brutus.  Today, the little girl has been called Scruffy and Scrappy, and the little boy has been Saint and Baxter.  To be determined....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Me and Saint...and a Short Story

Me and Saint.

Saint…and Me.

Handsome, older gent with a sharp tongue and a rapier wit…and Me.

We met a couple of years ago on an authors’ website. Frankly, he was in awe of my writing talents. That was what drew him to me, originally.

It was understandable…it happens to me all the time.

Once he got to know me--well.  It was plain there was no escaping my particular brand of charm. 

Saint and I have participated in several games of “Writers’ Tag” in the past. Most of our co-authoring included other writers who participated in the stories. Some of our writing was good… and some of it was EXCELLENT! 

It ALL needs to be edited.

Earlier this year, he and I had an opportunity to write a short story together. Just the two of us.

Me and Saint.

Saint and Me.

The only rules? We had to limit the story to 20,000 words… and we couldn’t ‘collaborate’.  Not really.  Saint would write a portion and then I would have to pick up where he left off--trying to make a coherent, entertaining, somewhat-believable addition to the story.

Then he’d have to follow my lead and do the same.

We decided (Me and Saint) to share this short story on GAG. It is in its raw form—almost completely unchanged from when we originally authored and posted it.  Unedited and for the most part--unpolished.   However, I have taken the liberty of ‘asteriskizing’ it. Saint’s vernacular can be a bit…ah…“colorful” and since GAG doesn’t have an ‘adults only’ block, we (Saint and Me) thought it best to substitute the occasional **** for his occasional ****.

I’m going to try to upload a post a day—maybe more—until the whole of our light-hearted, off-the-cuff short story is on GAG.

We hope you enjoy it.

If not, please direct your complaints to the handsome bearded gentleman from Tennessee. He’ll happily listen to your concerns and send you on your way with an asterisk or two.

Stay tuned for “Bee Dazzle”, by Eugene Saint and Kaz Pease

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Home-Town Boy Goes Home

A friend departed, today.

David Turner of Shirley passed away and his death was a sobering blow. Dave was only sixty-four. By all accounts, this man was too young to die.

It was just last summer when I met Dave for the first time. The date was July 1, 2010, to be exact. My friend Larry Gilles, who lives on Russell Island in Brisbane Harbor off Australia’s eastern shore, traveled to Maine for a month-long vacation and he stayed at my parents’ camp in Elliotsville Township.

Larry also grew up in Shirley—a tiny village a few miles from Elliotsville between Monson and Greenville—and he’d known Dave since they were young shavers attending Shirley’s community school. In addition to growing up together, the men had something else in common. They were both veterans of the Vietnam War. I was stunned to realize how many young men from that tiny village went to fight in Southeast Asia. Larry. Dave. Bill. Neal. And many others…

Dave seemed a little bit shy, during our first meeting. Every time I pulled out my camera, he showed me his back or grinned self-consciously and held up his hands.  I had to be contented with rear and side shots.

The three of us sat down by the pond—Larry and Dave enjoying coffee brandy and milk while I got a caffeine buzz from my Diet Mt. Dew. That day, Larry cooked for me for the first of many times; grilling sausages and peppers and onions for us. I’d worked that morning and then drove the 70 miles to camp to mow the lawn. That was part of the deal… if Mum and Dad let my friend stay in their camp for a month then it was my responsibility to keep the place mowed while Larry was there. So… knowing I had a job to do, I chatted with the men for an hour or so and then went up to camp to change into my ‘grubs’… what I call the ratty old clothes I work in.

When I came out of the camp, Larry and Dave were standing at the back of my truck, tailgate down--looking for all the world like they thought they could be helpful. Prior to the opening of the bottle of coffee brandy, that might have been a possibility. But there they were—two old friends who hadn’t seen each other for five years--and they were partying. I smirked as I watched them try to figure out how to unfold the tractor ramps…and then shooed them back down to the picnic area to enjoy their reunion.

Two hours later, I was finished; the rider and the push mower were loaded back into my pick-up; and the Shirley boys were feeling no pain. I envied them and wondered at the special bond they had—one which would allow them to connect so comfortably after such long absences. Listening to them, it was like they’d never been apart. We’re not all so lucky as to have that strong and wonderful bond.

I had the opportunity to visit with Dave a couple more times before Larry winged his way back Down Under. I also met Dave’s brother Dan, and my heart goes out to him. Over the course of that month, I met most of Larry’s and Dave’s friends and family: Phoebe and Queenie and Linda and Peggy and their kids and spouses and pals. I may never see these folks again, but they left an indelible impression on me…one of family and simplicity and caring and…home.

The little hamlet of Shirley was Dave’s home, and I know that those who live there—and those who often stop by—will miss David Turner.

A friend.

A home-town boy.

An American soldier.

Setting moon, Elliotsville Township
Shirley Mills schoolhouse
Larry at the Bar-bee and Dave fixing them a drink
Some of the crew from Shirley...
Larry in Shirley Mills, Maine

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Christmas Potty!

It has been AGES since I've held a contest on GAG!  Ages since I've had any type of writing fun, at all.  So...I'm gonna have a contest!

A "Photo Caption" contest.  

I snapped this photo in Kingfield, in the parking lot of "Trantens Too"... a popular convenience store, take-out and gas station.

Surely, you can come up with a funny caption for this photo?  Or... how about this version of it?
I have faith in you!  Come up with a caption, and enter it as a comment to this blog entry.  On December 11th, I'll have my pal Saint choose the one he likes best (unless he enters, himself--which I don't think he'll do...except that the prize is so....unique?  Coveted, even??  Hah!  Well, if Saint enters the contest, I'll have my oldest son Guy choose the winner.  He never reads the stuff his lame-oh mother writes!)

The winner will receive a DVD of the 'comedy show' I performed at Nostalgia Tavern in November of 2009.  Not a single copy of this show has been released anywhere (and there's good reason for that!!)  Listening to myself afterwards was PAINFUL!  Excruciating.  All I can say is... Thank God the crowd was drinking!!
Enter my contest and win--and I'll release one copy of that fund-raising show to you. It will be NON-copyable (is that a word?)  After all, I can't go around being a total bonehead to just anyone, can I?  Ugh...

Please enter.  What have you got to lose? Your dignity?  Nope.  I've got that one in the bag.

Okay!  This didn't work.  So... at the suggestion of one of my Australian friends, who is an expert on...well, to hear him tell the story-- he's an expert on everything that I'm not-- (which allows him a fairly large repertoire!) I'm 'expanding' the contest (and writing a tremendously long run-on sentence, too!)

Below is a photo which will be easy to write captions for--and there is nothing in it to prompt any political zingers.  I guess....  (We try to save those for VOW...)

Here you go.  I'm closing this down on January 8th, and someone will get a prize.
Enter a caption in the comments section, please???

Thank you and Happy New Year from the crew at The F.A.R.M.--where there's Fresh Air and Room to Move!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From Your Lips...

That’s it. There’s no question, anymore. I’m completely and totally unsuited for polite society. Maybe even Society, as a whole.

I simply don’t—can’t seem to—fit in comfortably with others. Oh, my family appears to be at ease in my company… as long as there are no strangers hanging about so that they have to ‘explain’ me. Take me off The F.A.R.M., though?

It’s not recommended.

I was in the State House last week. The Capitol. It’s one of the most majestic and impressive buildings in Maine. Marble floors and sweeping stairways. High ceilings and heavy wooden doors. Lining the walls are portraits of our past leaders and other influential individuals who played vital roles in our state’s history.

The Dome. The Chambers. The Governor’s Office. Definitely “Polite Society”.

I was there in Augusta to record a press conference in the Hall of Flags. Before ascending the stairs to set up my cameras, I used the ladies’ room just down the hall from the Security Officer’s desk.

Some of you may remember my initial encounter with automatically flushing toilets. Ever since that first episode in the Farmington Wal-Mart, I’ve had an aversion towards the things. I take it as a personal insult that the decision of when-to-flush has been taken from me. Who decided that I wasn’t capable of making that judgment all by myself? Who dares claim to be so ‘in tune’ to my washroom habits that they deem themselves a better judge than I?

Having the commode rush and roar without my permission irritates me, to no end—and usually jumps the stuffing out of me, as well.

A friend accompanied me to the washroom since she, too, had been in the car for an hour and a half. We each entered a stall. I have no idea how any other stalls were occupied. It’s never really mattered. After all, I go in… and I come out. Wash my hands, dry them, pick up my bag, and leave.

I stood up, cringing slightly as I waited to see whether the toilet was programmed to mind my business for me, or not.



I tried to button my pants. Yes, I said ‘tried’. They were brand-new gray wool slacks and they’d fit me that very morning when I put them on. Of course, at that time I’d stretched out across my bed to button them. I’d forgotten that small detail.

Apparently, I was going to have to exert some effort to make button meet hole. I sucked in my breath and grabbed each side of the waistband…and the toilet flushed! I turned around in surprise. Yes, it was my toilet. Wasn’t it triggered by weight? I’d presumed it was like a land-mine. Assumed that sitting on the seat depressed some activating mechanism…and then--when the weight was removed--it blew.

I scowled at the sparkling clean bowl. I didn’t have time for such foolishness. My friend was out, washed and ready to roll. I gulped in another lungful of air and pulled in my tummy…and the toilet did its gurgitation routine again!

Okay. This was embarrassing. Everyone in the ladies room had heard my toilet flush three times! Did they think I’d plugged it? That I was playing with it? Wasting water? What??

I gave a nervous giggle. I had to get out of there, but I couldn’t leave the stall unless and until I’d zipped and buttoned my pants! Could I? I contemplated the length of my sweater, and decided it was too risky. I had to do up that which had been undone.

I gave a mighty heave. The toilet accompanied my motions by giving a mighty—but resonant--roar. Followed by a rather pathetic gurgle. I chortled… just moments away from full-fledged panic. I sweated and tugged, and tugged once more. I wasn’t going to let that toilet—or my pants—get the best of me!

My friend snickered from over by the sinks.

“Four flushes, Karen!” Like I needed a narrator! Jeepers! “Everything all right in there?”

There are no limits to what a desperate woman can do when terror sets it. The button slipped into the hole, and the zipper was zipped. Breathless, I bent to lift my big carry-all off the tiled floor.

The toilet flushed. Idiot thing! Our tax dollars at work... I glowered at it and left the stall.

Linda grinned at me. She was enjoying herself way too much. I hoped that no one else was witness to my boneheadedness from the other bathroom stalls, but I wasn’t going to embarrass myself any further by waiting around to find out. I quickly washed and exited the restroom.

“REST”? Not hardly!

A couple of days later, I found myself in a business meeting with some friendly acquaintances. The restaurant where we were having the luncheon was somewhat classy, as was the company I was keeping. We strategized, made plans, set goals.

At one point, one of the gentlemen in my party said, “This time next year, we can do twice as much with half the effort!”

That sounded good to me! I said, “From your lips to my beard!”

Five people turned to look at me, which automatically caused my ears to hear what my mouth had just uttered.

What the hell???

“Wait!! I meant ‘From your lips to God’s ears!!’”

Oh, my God! Oh. My. God. What were they thinking of me? Why did those words come out of my mouth when that is NOT what I was thinking??

I don’t even have a beard! Not so’s you’d notice, anyway! Not in classy, ambient lighting!

Arrrghhh! Sometimes, I can’t bear having to lay claim to knowing myself.

But...lucky for me, it looks like this time next year—I’ll only have to enter polite society half as often.

Oh, my God.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You Are Not Welcome Here

My family doesn’t post our property.  We never have, for as far back as I can remember.  My grandparents owned many acres, as did my parents, and there was never a “No Trespassing” sign posted on trees. 

My husband and I are lucky enough to own 70 acres of forest.  We feel fortunate to be able to step off our front porch and take a walk in the woods and we want everyone to have that same freedom and ability.  When I was a child, almost all of Maine was ‘open’.  It was rare to see a “No Trespassing” sign and Mainers were able to roam the forests and fields and mountains to experience that ‘quality of place’ and quality of life that is so integral to our contentment. 

A shiny silver Ford pick-up drove out of the driveway to our orchard.  That was not a big deal.  It happens all the time in November, since this is the height of deer hunting season.  The truck then proceeded up the road and stopped beside our house.  Since my husband had just gotten into his Blazer to take our son to work, he got out and walked over to the Ford.

He noticed the GPS antenna mounted on the front of the hood.  He asked the driver what was up.

The driver informed my husband that he and his partner were ‘fixing the positions’ of residences in the area for a survey they were conducting.

Mr. Pease asked them who they were working for.

The driver informed him that his client wished for the company's identity to remain confidential.

Mr. Pease said, “Oh.  Iberdrola, huh?”

The men became deer in the headlights.  Kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar.  They shut their mouths.  Stick a fork in them—they were done!

It’s easy to have the last word when the other party won’t speak—but the words my husband uttered could not have come easy, nonetheless.  He’s the kindest, gentlest, most generous man I know.  But he meant what he said when he told those wind industry surveyors that they were not welcome on our land--that he knew he couldn’t prevent them from using the county right-of-way to invade our privacy or help a foreign company threaten our way of life, but he COULD forbid them from stepping foot—or driving tire—onto our property.

This is a tough battle we’re fighting.  We don’t have anything against those men—not personally.  Those contractors are Mainers who are “just doing their job”.  But as a friend from Vinalhaven said of the construction workers who built the Fox Island Wind turbines near his island home: “YOUR job has ruined MY life.”  Those six words sum it up, powerfully.

That shiny, decked out Ford (and yes, I got the license plate number) that was driven so nonchalantly onto the property we generously share with all was likely purchased with money earned by work done for an industry which is negatively impacting the lives of hundreds of Mainers.

So, no.  We don’t post our property, and unless something drastic occurs--we won’t.  But let this be public notice that anyone working for an industrial wind developer--whether directly, or indirectly as a subcontractor--is not welcome at The F.A.R.M.  If you’re going to try to plot and plan how to sidestep the wishes of more than 77% of the residents of Lexington Township, you’re going to have to do it without our help.  If you don’t care that we have stood together and said “NO!” you will not be the beneficiary of our largesse.  We will not harbor you, we will not welcome you—and we will firmly escort you off and arrange for transportation to the county jail if you come onto our property without having express and written permission from my husband or me.

You are not welcome at The F.A.R.M. and you are not welcome in Lexington Township.  Or in Concord, or in Highland.  Accept defeat, please.  You are not welcome here and I am just one voice of many asking you to respect us and abandon your plans for wind developments in these three communities.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Abundance of Aussies

By now, you all know about my awesome friends Down Under—friends made ‘by chance’ and under the most coincidental of circumstances.

First came Jack—big brother, lifter of spirits, co-writer and major pain in my behind—this man has been the topic of several of my columns, and has even contributed to “Observations” in the past. And when Jack wouldn’t take payment for his editing services on the sequels to Grumble Bluff, many of you helped me settle up with him. You came to a charity benefit night at Nostalgia Tavern and raised $1,700.00 to donate to Jack and Ali’s pet charities: Alzheimer’s Association and Hospice/Home Health Care. You even autographed his poster (which I’m sure hangs in a prominent place in his home!)

Several of you met my “mate” Larry when he came to Maine last summer. For a month I dragged him around with me; all the while listening to him gripe about what a “third world country” this was because he couldn’t get decent cell phone reception in our mountains. The poor man found ONE rock at my parents’ camp he could call out on--if he stood atop it (with left foot held out at a 29 degree angle)--and ONE turn-out between Greenville and Shirley where he could park in order to “phone home”. He pissed and moaned at me endlessly--and I split a gut, laughing at him.

You followed Larry’s “cell-phone saga” to its conclusion. He bequeathed his “piece-of-shite” telephone to Josie-Earl when he left the States, so she could use up his remaining pre-paid minutes. And then--we held the “Battle of Antique vs. State-of-the-Art”. My WWI era Luger 9mm was victorious over the high-tech cell phone; and with 2 shiny bullet holes piercing its metal armor, I mailed the contraption back to Larry in Oz (after a rousing conversation with Australian Customs, who’ve come to know me well [reference “The Great Spud Smuggling Debacle of 2009”]!). Larry was vindicated, and to this day, he says the phone is a great conversation piece--not that he needs any prompting to tell a tall tale!

Yep. Jack and Ali, Larry, Ali g and KK, Dozy and CP, Pete and Naomi. I’ve been blessed with “An Abundance of Aussies” from Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.
Dozy lets me crab and whine about the cruelties of life and she repays me in kind! We can’t decide which one of us is better at “whinging” (an Aussie term, pronounced WIN-jing). This woman always makes me smile--and she’s responsible for supplying me with the only sexy earrings I own. She's also the only person on earth who has gifted me with elephant dung.  Does she know me well, or what?  (I would have paid good money to see her collect and dry it for shipping!)

Ali g is a shining light—always kind, generous, and a little (okay… a lot!) irreverent. He gives excellent advice, and I appreciate it all the more when I ignore it, and regret it, afterwards. He’s educated me about the wild, testosterone-charged world of Rugby, and he’s made me fall in love with Australian folk singers. He’s a favorite uncle, a wise friend, and a mischievous troublemaker. I can’t wait to look into his smiling eyes.

Peter W. is my absent-minded professor—brilliant, gentlemanly, and generous to a fault. And CP is so much smarter than I am that he makes me completely comfortable in my boneheadedness! I know I can’t compete with him, so there’s a certain relief and consolation in acknowledging that I don’t even have to try.

Yes, I’ve been blessed with an abundance of Aussies.

Coincidences. Flukes. Some of the links tying me to these friends are beyond belief… but I’ve already told you about the gossamer strands of fate that connected me to these wonderful people. And now…I’m going to mention another amazing stroke of luck.

I was wandering the aisles of Trantens’ Store…grubby in my sweat shirt and pants; having come from packing boxes and moving furniture at my office. I was feeling a tad ‘down-in-the-dumps’—and a little sore and tired. Pushing my cart, I passed behind a gentleman in the bakery aisle just as a loaf Pepperidge Farm whole-grain bread slipped from his hands. He quickly recovered it before it fell to the floor.

“Slippery stuff, huh?” I said. (You know me…silence is NOT an option.)

I’m not sure what the fellow said when he responded, but my ears have grown accustomed to the unique articulations of my pals Down Under. Those three or four words the stranger spoke infused me with a sense of well-being.

“Is that an Australian accent?”

It was. And that’s all it took to set me off. In typical style, I proceeded to (in all probability) tell the poor bloke the story of my hum-drum country life. At a minimum, I peppered him with questions, and told him about my Aussie pals. Soon, we were joined in the bread aisle (aka the “toiletries, peanut butter and Stove-top Stuffing aisle”) by his companions Heather, Barb and Norm.

It turns out--Allan grew up just around the corner from where Jack lives. Not kidding. Right down the road. (You know how big the continent of Australia is, right? It’s HUGE! What are the chances, I ask you!??) And there were other coincidences, too. I was grinning from ear to ear when I left the store, and I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Jack. And Larry. And…well, everyone! I’d entered the supermarket dirty, dusty and down-in-the-dumps, and I departed with a smile. What luck!

Today I received a surprise gift. I can’t adequately express how delighted I am. Two weeks ago I spoke with Tracy at the Irregular, who told me “an Australian” had dropped off an envelope for me. I knew it had to have come from Allan and Heather…for how many Aussies are there in Kingfield on any given day (besides our good friend Rosemary at Daisy-A-Day Flower Shop)? Before I could retrieve the envelope it had passed from family member to family member until finally—today—I was able to take possession.

What a delight! Standing in my parents’ kitchen I opened the envelope to find an original painting by Allan English! It is lovely…wondrous, colorful, peaceful; a true reflection of “home”. These Australian visitors had been drawn to our town from 10,000 miles away by the descriptions and photos of our autumn foliage; and while here, Allan perfectly captured the view seen through a window of the Kingfield house he rented.

These visitors are long gone. They left town to travel to Maine’s beautiful coast, and then they planned to visit Nova Scotia before heading back to the southern hemisphere. I only spoke with them for a few minutes—in the middle of a busy grocery store--but in that short amount of time, they enhanced my life. And now I have a permanent reminder of how small this old world is—and how lucky we are when we connect with people who, it seems, were in the right place at the right time—just when they were needed.
Photos: Aussie flag: G. Dowling
Jack on Moreton
Jack on Moreton--after fund-raiser in BAR (i.e. pub, i.e. tavern....!!!)
Larry and Kaz
Luger and Larry's cell pone
Dozy and African elephant (in AFRICA!)
Ali g and KK in Papua, New Guinea
Pete W. and Larry in NSW
Allan English watercolor from window in Kingfield, Maine, USA, October 2011
Photos I've taken at The F.A.R.M. in the past, which I thought might give evidence of what a wonderful job Allan did capturing Maine's autumn...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spandex--It Ain't For Sissies

I discovered something about Spandex. It’s airtight.

That’s right. If you’re wearing Spandex, there’s nothing getting between it and you. Not sweat, not hair, and definitely, not air.

Spandex and I are completely incompatible, and yet…I succumbed to the urge and bought myself an outfit. A tank top. Some tight little exercise pants. No problem, right?

My Spandex came without instructions. No warning labels. No ‘How To’ directions….

It was a free-for-all.

I waited until the house was empty before entering the fray. In my bedroom, with the door locked, I took my Spandex outfit out of the package.

It wasn’t much bigger than Barbie doll clothes. How could those tiny pieces of black material fit someone my size? Wow. I was entering the world of polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer. That tells you right there… Spandex ain’t for sissies. This stuff is used in orthopedic braces. Surgical hose. Wrestling singlets. Heck… Superman, Batman, Captain America and Dolly Parton all wear Spandex. This stuff ain’t for sissies!

By the way, until I began writing this, I didn’t know what a ‘wrestling singlet’ was. Without a doubt, it is the ugliest sports uniform known to man. A wrestling singlet is like wicked tight underpants... with suspenders. Horrific. There’s no way I’d ever put a full-Nelson on a guy in a wrestling singlet. No way.

But back to my Spandex. I shook out the tank top. Size-wise, it was more Tonka than tank, but I shrugged off my apprehension. I took off my sexy, knee-length sweatshirt. I took a deep breath. It was the last one I was allowed to draw for several minutes. I took that deep breath, and I pulled that Spandex tank top on over my head.

Over my head. Over my shoulders. Arms through the holes on either side.

But there, it stopped. Completely. Wrapped in a tight band underneath my armpits, it remained. It was a band of rolled steel encircling my shoulder blades and my upper sternum. I couldn’t drop my arms to my sides. The pressure was so bad that the blood stopped flowing to my head. I couldn’t contort myself in any way, shape or form to allow me to unroll the rest of that elasticized straightjacket.

I’m claustrophobic. I could feel panic setting in. I sat down on the edge of my bed, arms straight up in the air—but that was a mistake. For--opposite the bed is a mirror… and the sight of a half-naked Rubenesque woman being cut in two by polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer is not a pleasant or calming sight. I couldn’t get it on… and I couldn’t get it off. I was skewered by Spandex.

There was only one course of action. I was reminded of the Spandex-clad Caped Crusader. When Robin asked, “Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?” Batman replied, “The true crime fighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”

I knew I kept a finely-honed 8 inch buck knife in my night-stand for a reason.

As I looked at the cleanly sliced Spandex tank top lying on the bedroom floor, I was not defeated. After all, the exercise pants couldn’t conquer me. I could visualize how I would look in those skin-tight leggings. No longer would I have soft, squishy thighs. Oh, no! I was about to be toned and honed!

I shucked my sexy flannel sweatpants and sat back down on the edge of the bed. I put one leg through and then the other. I drew the Spandex up—much like one would pull on tights—tights that were way tighter than any tights had a right to be. Up over my calves. My knees. My thighs. I laid back on the bed. I broke out in a sweat, because you see...Spandex ain’t for sissies! Not only was I fighting the laws of elasticity, but until I laid down--I had gravity working against me, too.

The ‘law of elasticity’ is called Hooke’s Law—named after a fellow named Robert Hooke--and it states that “the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it.” Therefore, if I wanted that Spandex to stretch up over my hips and my butt, I was gonna have to apply a heck of a load.

Not only was I sweating; I’d commenced with some heavy breathing, too. But by Hooke (or by Crook) I was gonna get those Spandex leotards on!

I rocked back on my shoulders and picked my butt up off the bed, and with one final gasp, tug and spurt of adrenaline, I hauled those babies up over my hips.

I was exhausted. Exhausted, but triumphant. I laid there for a minute and caught my breath, but I couldn’t wait to see what I looked like in Spandex. The mirror beckoned.

And I couldn’t move.

Seriously. I couldn’t move. Could not get off that bed. There was no bending of this body. I couldn’t sit up. Every time I tried to heave myself upright, the laws of elasticity, gravity and constraint conspired against me. It was as if my bed was a magnet and I was a huge iron filing. I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t stay there. No way was I going to let Steven come home to find me stuck to the bed. No way was I gonna ask Steven to help get me out of the leggings. Besides, he wouldn’t be able to help me, anyway. The door was locked.

My analytical mind kicked into overdrive. It was time to make the laws of nature work FOR me, for a change, instead of against. With a heroic show of strength and using the laws of leverage to overcome the laws of elasticity, gravity, constraint AND inertia, I rolled myself over onto my stomach and began inching myself backwards across the bed. Off over the side went my feet. My knees. My thighs. And at last, the law of gravity enabled me to bend at the hips. I got my feet underneath me and pushed myself upwards, until at last, dizzy with effort (and lack of air) I was upright.

Victorious, I spun towards the mirror… just in time to watch those Spandex pant-legs roll up on me like window-shades! It appeared as though I had kielbasas wrapped around the top of each of my thighs. Or, better yet—black rubber inner-tubes.

It came to mind then that polyurethane-poly-urea copolymer might actually BE rubber, because I’ll tell you this! When that stuff went whizzing up my legs, rolling along at 36 inches a second, it took with it every hair it came in contact with on its way up. And then some! I discovered I had hair I never even knew about. Hair that I wished I didn’t have. Hair that’s never grown back.

You think waxing is the way to go?


It ain’t for sissies.

And just for Ali g....that photo up above is NOT me.  THIS is me.  :o)  Sheesh....(it was for illustrative purposes, only!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Maine Citizens Overwhelmingly Say “NO!” to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal

Maine Citizens Overwhelmingly Say “NO!” to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal

In one of the most hotly disputed industrial wind development proposals to come before Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission, citizens of this state spoke out in opposition to the Bowers project by a margin of 9:1.

Champlain Wind LLC, one of the many limited liability subsidiaries of First Wind of Boston, is proposing to build a grid-scale wind facility on Bowers Mountain in Carroll Plantation and Dill Hill in Kossuth Township. The proposed development would site 22 wind turbines, each approaching 500 feet tall, on a ridge overlooking the Downeast Lakes Watershed.

Based on LURC’s Wild Land Lakes Assessment study of over 1,500 lakes, this watershed has the highest concentration of Class 1A and 1B rated lakes in the state. In order to achieve that rating a lake had to exhibit “outstanding values of statewide significance.” There are at least six lakes in this watershed that have a “1A” rating, three that have a “1B” rating and numerous others that are rated as a “2”.

During the application process, Maine citizens requested and were granted a public hearing. An astonishing 374 citizens gave oral or written testimony about this project. Three hundred thirty-seven (337) or 90.1% of those testifying were opposed to First Wind’s Bowers Mountain project.

Due to concerns that such massive industrialization would seriously damage the area’s
extraordinary scenic value; more than two dozen professional guides and many of the local sporting camp owners took precious time away from their businesses during peak tourist season to come to Lincoln to testify in person. Three prominent organizations, representing nearly 1,000 Maine business owners who are familiar with the watershed, publicly came out against the Bowers project:

* The Maine Professional Guides Association, 900 strong, which has representatives on committees such as Tourism, Conservation, Land Access, Landowners Relations, River Trust and others, voted unanimously to oppose the Bowers project.

* The Maine Sporting Camp Association, which represents more than 50 sporting camp owners.

* The Grand Lake Stream Guides Association, representing 50 full-time professional
guides who make their livelihood on the Downeast Lakes Watershed, voted unanimously to oppose the Bowers project.

Maine citizens have faith that LURC will listen to the will of the people and deny First Wind/Champlain Wind a permit to industrialize Bowers Mountain and Dill Hill.  Please consider attending the final deliberation session to be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19th, at the Waterfront Event Center, 8 Prince Street, Lincoln, Maine.  Local residents, business owners, tax payers and tourists will be there.  I hope you will be, too.