Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend at camp

I had planned to take some vacation time last week after the long weekend and spend it at camp.  Then we got a call from some friends from PA who wanted to come to Maine for the weekend so we offered to let them stay there.  I sometimes feel very guilty about having two nice homes while some people go homeless and it helps abate my guilt to generously share camp.  Many of my friends know where I keep the keys and know they're welcome to go out and use it when no one is there.  So I was happy to change my plans and let Keith and Beth stay there.  They stayed Saturday through Tuesday and left for Acadia on Wednesday.  I left work early on Tuesday and we all enjoyed a paddle and a campfire.  


This wicker chair had seen better days so we decided to make it part of our campfire.  Later, looking at photos, we discovered what appeared to be some evil spirit enveloped in the flames.  Look at the top of the flames.  Scary.  I tried to convince myself it was benevolent but in reality it does look pretty evil.  

So I took Tuesday afternoon off work to spend with our guests and Wednesday afternoon off to spend solo and stayed the night at camp and woke Thursday to a beautiful morning.  It was tough to wake up to such a gorgeous day and leave camp but I did.    

Even with all the rain we'd been getting the water on The Cobb had been going down and became extremely low this weekend.  This time of year the water should be high.  The loons and ducks count on knowing where the high water is in choosing their nesting sites.  I emailed the Cobbossee Watershed District to find out what was up and discovered that the water was being lowered to allow for some emergency repairs to the New Mills Dam.  Apparently the repairs should be done early this week and then the boards will be put back in place and allow the water levels to return to normal.  I think it's still too early for the birds to have started nesting so I think they'll be ok.  This is how low it was on Sunday:

Thursday night I woke briefly about 3 a.m. and found this little guy peeking in the window.   Actually he wasn't all that little but he was definitely cute.  

Sunday Rick and I were sitting on the deck and saw this heron land in one of the dead trees in the marsh.  I was able to get this photo of the heron about to launch just as the osprey flew into the frame.

I love that you can see his little rat tail thing (there's probably an official name for it) and the hair on his neck.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter day kayak paddle on the Cobb

Some photos from our Easter day paddle.  It was sunny and 70s - a very unusual event for Easter in Maine. 

 Here I've stopped to listen to a chorus of frogs.  

The turtles were plentiful, albeit a bit lethargic after their winter hibernation.  I'm guessing we saw over 30 of them throughout our paddle.  Normally we see just 3 or 4.

The Bumper Sticker Anthology - Part III - my other car is a Segway

My youngest son was born with a physical disability known as arthrogryposis.  At birth we didn't know if he'd ever be able to walk.  After a some surgeries on his feet and legs, and about a year of serial casting, and several years of physical therapy, he is able to walk, albeit with difficulty.  When he started at middle school and had to begin walking distances around the school to change classes, he began falling quite a bit.  The school asked him to start using a wheelchair because they were concerned that he would bang his head on a desk or something when he fell and really hurt himself.  So with some hesitancy, we ordered a wheelchair for him.  He had started playing wheelchair sports with a great group called Youth in Motion, so the idea of a wheelchair wasn't as disheartening as it might have been.  In fact, we made sure to order him one that had cambered wheels for better maneuverability on the basketball court and a wheelie bar to help prevent tipping over backwards when he did wheelies.  He always felt weird about using a wheelchair in public because when he'd get up and walk the few steps to a car or whatever, he felt like a fraud; like he didn't really need a wheelchair.  

We had been following the development of the Segway for quite some time.  If you don't know what a Segway is, check out this link:

I had told Chris that when it was available I would make every attempt to get him one.  It appeared to be a perfect tool for someone with his disability who can walk, but just can't walk distances.  So sure enough, come Christmas 2002, I discovered the Segway was now for sale to the general public.  The only place you could buy it at the time was on   

I ordered it and they sent me a poster of it in a long cylindrical tube but it wouldn't actually be available for pick up until March of 2003.  So for Christmas that year, I wrapped the tube and both his brothers and I kept remarking about how much he would totally love his Christmas gift.  Of course, the poster tube sat there wrapped and Chris had no idea what could possibly be in such a package that he'd be so excited about. Needless to say however, he was totally blown away when he opened the gift and realized what it meant. 

We were required to go to the company headquarters in NH to be trained on the Segway prior to it being shipped.  And they would not train Chris on it as he wasn't their minimum age of 16.  So Justin and I drove to NH and got trained and while we were there, they gave us the bumper sticker, "my other car is a Segway."  

Chris has now had the Segway for about 7 years. We lived about a half mile from the high school so he rode it to and from school whenever the weather permitted and then left it at school during the winter months so he could use it to get around between classes.  It's taken some spills and has seen better days and he may be getting a new one soon.  For a mere $5,000+/- investment, you too could have the Segway sticker.  But the boost to his self esteem and the confidence the Segway gave him during high school was priceless.  Instead of some unfortunate child wheeling around the school in his wheelchair, he zoomed around the school on his Segway, with a grace that he could never acheive in his usual lumbering gait.  Talk flew about why he got to use the Segway.  "He has no kneecaps" was one of his favorite rumors he'd overheard.  Teachers and students alike begged to be allowed to try it, sometimes to their own detriment.  The school insisted on a strict rule that he not allow others to use it inside the school but when a favorite teacher asked, he was hard pressed to say no.   I think the teacher later wished he'd refused after running into a wall and wiping out.  Chris made it look so easy and graceful but it had become second nature to him from constant use.    

Though other times after weeks of straight pain he perhaps felt differently, I was very impressed when he told me once that if he could wave a magic wand and make his legs normal he's not sure he'd do it.  I believe the wheelchair sports through Youth in Motion, learning to snowboard through Maine Handicap Skiing, and the Segway had a lot to do with that.   
We've been through a lot of changes in the last seven years, with Chris going from age 13 to age 20.  If he gets a new Segway this year, I guess the new "my other car is a Segway" sticker should go on his own car. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Bumper Sticker Anthology - Part II - Everyone's an Artist

My friend Mark Miller gave me this one.  “Everyone's an Artist” it proclaims.  It meant a lot to me that it came from Mark who is a master guitar player.  We became dear friends in late 2004 just as the first relationship I’d been in since my husband’s death a few years prior was ending.  Mark and I decided to be friends.  A very good decision for so many reasons.  I love Mark dearly as a friend but I knew from the start that I had to be free to make an immediate exit whenever he'd start up his neurotic Mark bullshit, and I didn't hesitate to do so.  But when Mark was being his true self, he was such a beautiful and sensitive person and a joy to be around.  It often involved him having a guitar in hand, taking us on soft and elegant musical journeys while we talked.  His guitar wept . . . and then danced with ecstasy . . . beautiful . . . soothing . . .   He would finish a gig at 1:00, be completely wired and needing to stay up until 4 or 5.  The schedule worked well for me at the time as I had become an incurable insomniac, staying up that late with or without him, especially on the weekends.  

And I can't think of Mark without thinking of Tom whom I met shortly after Mark and whom I dated for about 5 minutes - another very good decision for so many reasons.  I introduced the two of them and we would spend evenings at my camp on Cobbossee Stream, them playing their guitars, with bullfrogs and peepers screaming in the background. Betty and others joining us at times. Starry nights with a campfire crackling.  The music and friendship was very healing and rejuvenating for me. 

My friend Maya left a djembe at my camp after spending a weekend once, and Mark encouraged me to beat on it.  Solo nights at my camp I'd thump away on it, wildly at times, and gently for hours.  I think it called in some critters and scared away others.  Being a positive person I chose to believe the loons and tree frogs were voicing their approval, not screeching at me to stop.  And during that beautiful summer Mark gave me the bumper sticker, “Everyone's an Artist” it declared. . . . Mark at his sweetest.