Saturday, October 28, 2017

Chard (from our front deck grow box)

Chard... what a wonderful green veggie to grow in Maine. 
I have it in our grow box all summer and autumn. It has such beautiful stems with colorful patterns.
Some of the stems remind me of ribbon candy from my childhood.
The backside of the "ribbon candy" stem looks like peppermint candy canes!
Other stems look like miniature trees with strong trunks and spreading branches.
I love this chard peppermint stick tree. It looks like I could just peel the bark off and eat it!
This chard looks so delectable with its swirls and curls off the branches. It would make a wonderful climbing tree for someone who was miniaturized!
And, oh the flavor... just like spinach. This bowl of chard made enough for my roasted beets and greens with leftovers being put into a bucket of veggie soup as well!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Oh, let it rain

The system is moving northward which is why it will be over us for awhile longer.
Drew emptied the rain gauge at 6:30 pm and we had 1.73" of rain thus far.  We may get up to another 1.5" before the storm is over. We've been in drought for so long that this moisture surely is appreciated.

NOTE: We ended up totaling about 4" of rain over a two day period. Wow! I need to go down to the pond to see how much height it has gained from the rain.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tick Season

We went for a walk on the Papermill Trail this afternoon and pulled at least 12 ticks off of Toby. It is an insane tick season out there. Gross!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Weekly Maine Foliage Report # 6


This week's foliage report shows the entire state either at peak or past peak. I need to go boating on Saturday afternoon to catch the pond colors before leaf drop;-)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Weekly Maine Foliage Report # 5


And, here is this week's foliage report!
(AUGUSTA, Maine) — The Fall Foliage Report from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reports 75 to 100 percent color in zones 4, 5, 6 and 7. Central and coastal Maine (zones 1, 2 and 3) are at 50 percent color change. Low to moderate leaf drop is also reported throughout the state.
Typically, northern Maine (zones 6 and 7) reaches peak conditions the last week of September into the first week of October. The rest of the state’s progression of color will start occurring from north to south in mid-October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak conditions mid-to-late October.
“Now that the busy Columbus Day weekend has passed, you can take those long, leisurely drives throughout coastal and western mountains of Maine this upcoming weekend and find less hectic traffic with stunning views of the fall colors. The entire state of Maine is now ablaze with color, but with plenty of green in the oaks to create a beautiful contrast,” according to Gale Ross, fall foliage spokesperson.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Road Trip to Vermont - Oct. 9th

We awakened to a hard, driving rain. At first, we were going to head straight for home, but Amanda said, "We can't go home without doing a bit more sightseeing. Let's go to the granite quarry in Barre, Vermont!" I snapped a few photos out the car window as we headed south.
We stopped off at the visitor center in Montpelier to get directions to the quarry. I took the opportunity to walk down the road to photograph the Capital building. Did I mention that it was raining hard?
I snapped this photo inside the visitor center. The volunteer was knowledgable about the quarry and was able to give us some of its history and directions to it.
We drove to the quarry headquarters and were just in time to board a tour bus up to the quarry itself. The tour was well worth the $5 fee.
Our tour guide was great. She introduced us to the blasting techniques used in the mine and gave us lots of history about it.

As soon as we walked over to the fence looking out over the quarry, the rain stopped. Wow, what a sight! This quarry is amazing. 
"At nearly 600 feet deep, we believe it to be the largest operating deep-hole, dimension granite quarry in the world." The granite type is Barre Granite that is exposed from a Devonian aged pluton [a body of intrusive igneous rock (called a plutonic rock) that is crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth. Plutons include batholiths, stocks, dikes, sills, laccoliths, lopoliths, and other igneous formations.)]

The granite from this quarry is particularly exquisite and is coveted for use worldwide for statuaries, gravestones, monuments, etc. It is especially fine-grained and more weather resistant than granite from other mines on Earth.
The blue color of the water is created by suspended granite dust particles.
There are only 2 or 3 people working the quarry at at time, these days, now that modern equipment is available. See how dwarfed the trucks and people are on the platform near the back? In the early 1900's, this quarry employed hundreds of laborers to saw and blast out the granite by hand.
Houses that back up to grout piles have to use extra heat in springtime as the grout piles accumulate ice
over winter that is slow to melt. It does keep houses cooler later in summer.
On our drive back to the Rock of Ages gift shop, we passed by grout piles (of fractured granite pieces that were imperfect and couldn't be used.) There are massive piles of grout all around the mine area.
Barre Granite
Of course, I had to purchase a chunk of Barre granite before we left for home. The minerals give the granite its color. There is feldspar, quartz, and mica (both muscovite and biotite) making up granite. The quartz creates the white crystals, the feldspar is often a tannish colored crystal, and the mica comprises the black crystals.
Homeward bound...Leaving behind the hills of the Green Mountain Range of Vermont and the White Mountain Range of New Hampshire...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Road Trip to Vermont - Oct. 8th

Can you say, "Road Trip!" Yahooo!!! I needed a change of scene and my friends, Amanda and John, invited me along to Vermont!
Amanda and John next to Reflection Pond (part of the Androscoggin River near Gorham, New Hampshire.)
The purpose of the trip was to visit their son, Jonathan, at college, as well as to give me a bit of much needed excitement in life. I am such a homebody that it is difficult to drag me away from my beloved Caesar Pond;-)
Breathtaking scenery in New Hampshire
They also wanted to give me the opportunity of seeing New Hampshire and Vermont for the first time. Drew and I have lived in Maine for 17 years and have never traveled outside of it, with the exception of a few trips to New Brunswick.
Mount Washington shrouded in clouds
We passed by the Presidential Range of Mountains as we traveled on Rt. 2 (north of the mountains.)
Don't ask me which one is Mount Washington, because I have no clue;-) The roadway was gorgeous. Of course, all the rain and clouds gave it an air of mystery.
The clouds also added a huge amount of dramatic effect to the scenery.
We reached Vermont and saw lots of scenes like this one, with farmland interspersed with super colorful forests.
Upper Left:Trapp Family sign.   Upper Right: "The hills are alive with the sound of music!" 
Bottom: The Trapp Family Cemetery
Our first official stop was at the Trapp Family Lodge, in Stowe, VT. I absolutely adore the movie, "The Sound of Music", and wanted to visit their home. It was a bit disappointing as there were no tours, nor was there an exhibit room in the lodge. But, when we got to the upper field, we wanted to burst out in song, "The hills are alive with the Sound of Music!" Vermont is stunning...
Our next stop was at Ben and Jerry's (just down Main St. from the Trapp Family Lodge.) I was amazed at all the solar panels that they are using (which were located in the parking lot.)  Check out the big containers of sugar, milk, and cream! And, we were surprised by the line of people waiting for a tiny ice cream cone. Ummm...we all realized that it would be easier to buy a pint in a grocery store! Duh!
Upper Left: John, Jonathan, Amanda     Upper Right: Ice cream scoop from 1915.
Bottom Left: Old photograph of boys eating ice cream.   
Bottom Right: Johathan poses next to a Ben & Jerry's van.
We did go into the main entrance and poked around looking at old ice cream scoops and other ice cream related tools. I could totally relate to the photo of the boys eating ice cream. They look as serious as I do when scarfing down my favorite treat! Mind you, I cannot eat Ben & Jerry's due to the processing on a line with nuts, but I can dream about its yumminess!
Amanda and I did a cheesy pose! The sign was all too accurate. Ha!
We left Stowe and proceeded toward Burlington, via Montpelier (the capital city of Vermont.) Montpelier is the "smallest state capital city in the United States with a population of just over 8,000 people." By the way, the volunteer at the Vermont Historical Society's Visitor Center was incredibly well informed. We were truly impressed.
We finally arrived at Burlington, Vermont (which is about a 5 hour drive from home.) Our first stop was an off the beaten path tourist attraction that was my first pick. The World's Tallest Filing Cabinet! 
And yes, I did have to lay on the concrete to snap this shot;-)
Yup, you are reading this correctly. My top pick for things to do was to pose next to the filing cabinet.
Can you say, "Nerdy Girly!" Other people had the same idea, so we didn't stay too long as to let other filing cabinet nerds take their photo ops as well! Ha!
We rounded out the day by visiting the shore of Lake Champlain. There were lots of sailboats cruising back and forth as people congregated on the docks in anticipation for sunset.
Wow, what a beautiful lake. I am always up for a pretty sunset, and the mountains of New York State, across the lake, added to the scenic beauty.
This is one of my favorite photos looking out over the dock area. As the sun started to set, its light had to traverse down through one layer of cloud after the next.
We were all taken with the beauty of the night. What a perfect end to a perfect day...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Road Trip to New Hampshire and Vermont

So, I am finally going on a road trip to Burlington, Vermont (with some friends) on Sunday. We are coming home on Monday, via the Kancamagus Highway, in New Hampshire. And, wouldn't you know it, we are going to get the first heavy rain we've had in months! We'll be on this curvy, mountain road for miles and miles in heavy downpour. It just doesn't seem fair!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Weekly Maine Foliage Report # 4

Note that this map is identical to last week's. There is a first time for everything!
Color progression is slowing down due to the warm, dry weather we've been having. Here is what the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has to say about it:
Northern Maine Nearing Peak Conditions Columbus Day WeekendAugusta, ME (October 4, 2017) - The Fall Foliage Report from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reports 70 percent color for the upcoming Columbus Day weekend in northern Maine, while the remainder of the state is at 40 to 50 percent color change. A low leaf drop is also reported throughout the state.
Typically, northern Maine (zones 6 and 7) reaches peak conditions the last week of September into the first week of October. The rest of the state’s progression of color will start occurring from north to south in mid-October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak conditions mid-to-late October.
“I’m going out on a limb here and say that because of the warm weather we’ve been experiencing, it appears the progression of color is trailing about a week behind. Ideal conditions call for shorter, warm days, followed by longer, cool nights to move the colors along,” according to Gale Ross, fall foliage spokesperson. “This all translates into good news for our mid-to-late October leaf peepers,” noted Ross.
The department also mentioned one of our favorite drives up around Rangeley:
Travel on the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway following Routes 17 and for 4 views of the lakes and mountains region. This 52-mile drive wraps around Rangeley Lake and follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains before dropping into rolling hills and valleys. Be sure to stop at the Height of Land, a scenic lookout on Route 17 featuring views of Mooselookmeguntic and Upper Richardson lakes, Toothaker Island and the mountains for incredible views and a great photo opportunity. For lunch, pack a picnic and take the short hike off Route 4 for scenic views of waterfalls, a colorful gorge, and swimming holes. For outdoor lovers looking for a bit more of a hike, take on Bald Mountain, a moderate two-mile hike in Oquossoc, for 360-degree views of the region. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cold morning temp.

Brrrr.... At 7:30 am it is 36F outside! It is beginning to feel a bit like autumn (at least for today;-)