Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Mud Run on Vacation...

I’m on vacation this week.  It’s Thursday and so far, it has rained every single day.  That’s okay, though.  It’s springtime and we need the water.

Just… not so much of it.

I’d promised to contribute some items for a Chinese Auction being held at Happy Horseshoe Campground, to benefit the New Portland Community Library.  Some of the donations were large and needed to be transported in the back of my truck, so when the rain stopped briefly and a weak sun tried to penetrate the upper-level clouds, I took advantage of the opportunity to deliver ‘dry goods’ instead of wet.

In my haste (and perhaps in my laziness) I didn’t think my plan through to its logical conclusion.  We live in a paradox here at The F.A.R.M.  We’re on the side of a hill…but in a bit of a bog, all at the same time.  I think this is one of the few places on the planet where water doesn’t run downhill.    

I drove to the barn, where the items were stored in the uninhabited hen house.  No problem.  Perhaps the fact that it’s ‘downhill all the way’ contributed to my lack of foresight.  I dug out two wooden armchairs, a filing cabinet and some office supplies and wrestled them out through the confines of the room. The truck loaded, I put it in 4-wheel drive and decided to travel around the front of the rock wall and onto the upper lawn, instead of backing up the way I came.

Bad move.  I sunk.  And when I tried to back up, I sunk some more…until I was stuck.  No forward movement, no backward movement…just dark mud flying. 

No one wants to admit they’ve had this type of Bonehead Moment, even when they are accustomed to the practice.  I was determined to extricate myself (and more particularly – my truck) from the predicament.  I thought about calling my husband at work to ask for advice, but I knew he would worry about it all day long if I did.  For another split second I considered calling my neighbor Alan, or my neighbor Herb…or my neighbor Dave, but I discarded those ideas just as quickly.  They might not yet have gleaned that I can be a bit of an idiot, and I want to keep the charade going for as long as humanly possible.  I reminded myself that I’m a capable woman.   I wasn’t going to ask for help if there was any way I could help myself.

I trudged up to the house and put on my old jeans, a raggedy sweatshirt and a pair of boots.  Grabbed a pair of work gloves.  Rustled though the shed until I found a chain.  And then, I went to Lena.

Lena is a goddess, as far as I’m concerned.  This 30HP Kubota has saved my bacon more than once.  But I was concerned that I might make the situation worse.  I was worried that I’d get HER stuck, too… and then where would I be?  I could picture Steven’s face if he drove into the dooryard after a hard day’s work and saw not only his wife’s pick-up, but his precious Lena buried in mud.  Mud where there was supposed to be grass.  Just grass, and no mud or truck or tractor.

But I’m proud.  I’m stubborn.  Heck, the word ‘desperate’ even comes to mind.  I threw the chain in the bucket, climbed aboard, buckled the seat-belt and fired her up.  Backed her out and drove gingerly down the hill to a position behind the truck.

I know the movement of a large farm tractor is hardly synonymous with the word ‘gingerly’ but Lena’s good that way.  She knew what I needed and tip-toed through that mud. 

I got down off the tractor and fastened one end of the chain to the towing towing hitch and hooked the other end to the tractor’s bucket.  Started the truck and put it in ‘neutral’.  Considered finding a way to bungie-cord the steering wheel in place since I needed to pull the truck back around the corner and the front tires were guaranteed to turn in whatever direction they wanted to (i.e. whatever way I DIDN’T want.)  But I decided to give it a whirl, first.  See what would happen.  If the world came to an end, at least there would be no witnesses to my humiliation.

I climbed back aboard Lena.  Started her.  Raised the bucket off the ground, put the tractor in 4-low… and backed her up.  Gently, easily…yep, even gingerly.  She never hesitated.  Never groaned under the strain. Her wheels didn’t spin and she yarded that Dodge out of the mud and back onto terra firma like nobody’s business.

Chain off, truck back in the driveway, tractor parked in the shed.  I drove the load of donations to my neighbor’s house and zipped back home to survey the damage.  Hmmm…. If only mud were green instead of brown, the ruts would hardly show at all.  

I used my large feet – perfectly designed for optimum mud-management – to squish the sod down all along the ruts, figuring I’d better take advantage of the fact that it was still soft, wet and easy to manipulate. A few muddy minutes later the damage was negligible.  


I made a mistake in judgment but I felt a sense of satisfaction, anyway.  I didn’t need to call husband or neighbor to help me – I got out of the jam all by myself.  Well, almost by myself.  I had Lena to help ease the pain of my Bonehead Moment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Open Letter to the 126th Legislature's EUT Committee

An Open Letter to the Members of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee of the 126th Maine State Legislature:

Dear Senator Cleveland, Representative Hobbins and Esteemed Members of the EUT Committee,

Do you have the right to have input in zoning changes within your community?

If you live in one of Maine’s 433 organized municipalities, you do.

If you live in an Unorganized Territory that was NOT included in the Expedited Permitting Area, you do.

If you live in a Plantation that adopted LURC’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan as your own zoning ordinance – whether inside or outside the EPA – you do.

But if you are one of the less than 1% of Maine residents who were unfortunate enough to live in an Unorganized Territory with terrain coveted by the wind industry and not protected by State Law, you lost your rights in 2008.

Do you enjoy more rights than we do?  If you still have the right to ‘have a say’ on how your community is zoned, the answer is ‘yes’.  If the answer is ‘yes’, then you surely will support LD616 – the request of five communities (Lexington, Concord and Carrying Place Townships and Pleasant Ridge and Highland Plantations) to have equal rights restored to us.  If the answer is ‘yes’ but you intend to vote ‘no’on LD616, then please tell the less-than-1% of Maine citizens why you think you are more deserving than we are.  Please speak up.  Look us in the eye.  And tell us why we were (are) deemed second-class citizens.

Isn’t it time to do what’s right?  This decision should be an easy one to make.  Please don’t allow corporate lobbyists to cloud the issue. No matter what they say, passage of LD616 will not disallow their projects.  It will simply give rural Maine citizens the same rights to self-governance enjoyed by each member of your Committee -- the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee -- as well as 99% of your constituents and fellow Mainers.

It’s time to stop stalling.  No more kicking this proverbial can down the road.  We’re Mainers and Americans and we’re asking you to do the ethical thing.  Integrity and fairness call for a unanimous “Ought to Pass”.