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They come with no image to match. They do not have uniform borders. Not all pieces are contiguous.

Stave Lobster puzzle

This is the one we worked on while we were in Maine. These cherry-backed wooden jigsaw puzzles promise to “challenge, amaze, entertain and, yes, sometimes torment you.” All the pieces are made one at a time which goes a long way to explaining the six-to-eight week delivery and the heart-stopping cost.

Should I ever find myself with a spare $5oo or so of the euphemistically-named “disposable income” then I really want to get a couple of these. Meanwhile, I have joined the puzzle game community where if I get the highest score within a month of matching the piece game, I get one of the puzzles FREE.

Many of the side-effects of female “maturity” are less than desirable. There’s the insomnia, the forgetful brain-freezes, and for some, the “short, private vacations in the tropics.”

As the estrogen levels decrease, the proportion of testosterone increases. Testosterone affects hair growth, specifically, facial hair growth. Being blessed with vanilla-bland skin and hair allows me to ignore the increasing levels of fur on my face for long periods of time. It’s still there, but I do not (yet) have to face the fact that at some point I will have to brush my face as well as my scalp.

On the other hand, many of the side-effects of aging are positively WUNderful! I am nowhere near as much a scaredy-cat. I feel less need to apologize or atone for things and people wholly outside my (illusory-at-best) “control.” My happy and contented moods are less fragile and last longer. Someone else can have a bad day and I can usually not make it MY bad day as well. After years and years of waiting for “my turn” I can finally act on the fact that you need to *take* a turn when you can.

When I first noticed my invisibility, I was quite distressed. What a blow to my vanity! Such bruises to the ego! Males passed me by without a flicker of recognition of my existence. No eye scan, no nod, no nothing. I was beyond the “interesting/acknowledgeable” age in their eyes. I was a human body unworthy of interaction. Now I find octogenarians flirt a great deal with me. I left one field of existence and entered another! Initially disconcerted, now I am relieved and feel a sense of freedom. Whose standards do I want to live up up? Only my own. Everything else is gravy. I knew that when I was younger, but I wasn’t able to truly live it.

The satisfaction of that is worth a little fur.

One of the more unusual odd interesting memories of the weekend was listening to two Philippine women sing gorgeous harmony…in Spanish.

Another was…well… did you ever see the movie ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’? It was a traveling show of transvestites in Australia. Damn, could they put on make-up! Anyway, one of the performers reminded me so strongly of the characters in that movie… Junoesque and impressive make-up skills! I was so impressed by the make-up I don’t remember what her singing was like.

Susan does cameraBut Susan was AWESOME! Her voice is really doing well. She wore false eyelashes for the first time and they were perfect for the fifties duet she did.

DSis was a hoot and a half doing ‘Cabaret’… she had the character and entertainment presence to really capture the audience. I loved it! She does well with her props, too!

The evening rounded out at a piano bar down the street where we heard the afore-mentioned harmony in Spanish. Susan Bartell sang a song she wrote called “Look At That Smile on the Moon” which is one I wish were on CD so I could hear it anytime I wanted. GREAT song with delightful lyrics sung in her bluesy, mellow, lush voice. We closed the place down. WUNDERFUL time!

I want a piano bar near ME! It was *SO* MUCH FUN!

It was a typical day in the neighborhood. I had left later than planned for my trip to NJ but that was okay. I was bopping along the highway, singing along to the ‘Cats’ CD and ‘pletely a’noring the speedometer… and the rear view mirror.

When the lights fill your back window, however, you check to see if it is E.T. following you or… ulp… not.


He waved his arms widely to motion me over from the left lane to the right lane so there was NO POSSIBILITY that this was because the patrol car needed to get by me on the way to an emergency destination.

I stopped. Sighed again, and reached for the glove compartment to retrieve my registration and pull my drivers’ license from my bag, lowered the windows, and waited.

“Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?” The distinctive voice and wrap-around shades hunched down to speak into my window. “I clocked you at 85 in the left lane going over that hill. Is there a reason why you were going that fast?”

Amazing. The language, cadence, and timber were all Horatio. It was so very specific that I bet this guy practiced in front of a mirror.

“Reason? No reason, officer. I was singing with my CD and wasn’t paying attention.” My voice was level, calm, and apologetic.

“I see. Ma’am, may I please have your registration and your drivers license?” I handed them over. “Please wait here, ma’am.” and he returned to his patrol car.

I was feeling VERY “ma’amed” at that point. After twenty eight minutes he returned and lowered his face to my window, “Ma’am, I am going to explain this you.” (still in character!) “In this envelope is your ticket which is not a court appearance, you will mail it to the address provided. I have given you until July 18 to pay this fine. Information on where to send it are on inside this envelope along with your drivers license and registration. Here, ma’am.” he proffered the envelope.

$294 – boy that makes up for all the times I deserved a speeding ticket and didn’t get one!

Seriously now, how can he manage this time after time? Is he like the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz who arranges things such and so, before removing himself to allow things to unfold as he fiendishly hoped planned?

Because, you *know* that as soon as he was off on his OMMT bike ride/camping trip it was going to happen AGAIN. Furthermore, he KNEW it was going to happen because on his way out the door yesterday morning he mentioned, “oh, by the way…”

I compromise on his times away by working the morning in the office, and the afternoons at home whenever possible. My job can totally be done offsite, but then the department loses my tech support and live opinionated opinions (they wouldn’t miss much of that if they would secure a chat interface like everyone else, but I digress…).

Why such extreme measures? Because the World of the Wild knows I am an easy target. My puppies know it as well. The last time DH went away for a few days the puppies discovered a new litter of field mice hiding out in the basement and proceeded to play a complicated game of hockey/basketball/ with them. This time I was warned (see second paragraph) there was “something about the shed that interests them.”

The racket pulled me from the computer and out to see what the ruckus was about. Both Dixie and Duncan were loudly attacking the bottom corner of the shed door. I could see blood on Duncan’s mouth. It took a great deal of energy to get them AWAY from their newest hide-and-seek toy. I could only see a pair of eyes and bloody snout but I think it was the raccoon who had been hanging around. (STUPID ANIMAL!! SEE the dogs in the yard?? HEAR the dogs in the yard? Death wish much?)

I barricaded the hole in the floor of the shed from the dogs (in case they got loose before I finished cleaning up) and carefully cleaned Duncan’s muzzle area. He had no scrapes, punctures, or bleeding coming from anywhere…eww! poor raccoon. Dixie was “clean” as in, she probably found it and Duncan took over.

I barred the doggie door and called Animal Control. Budget cuts strike again. I was greeted by a recording asking for a brief message and they would get back to me later (they didn’t). I steeled myself to return to the wounded animal and see about blocking access to the area under the shed.

A) no raccoon snout visible and
B) under area of shed is pure silty sand. Any blockage I attempt will be temporary at best.

I used up a short roll of small-grid garden fencing and wrapped it around the gaping holes at one end of the shed, tossed bricks along the rest of the baseline, and prayed as I let the dogs out to do their bizness. They checked the shed but didn’t go berserk.

When DH called later that evening to report on his fabulous day…

Part 1

Landscaping estimate: $150 dollars
Borrowed chain saw: zero dollars

A man and his machine: priceless

There is nothing so macho and envigorating as striding forth to do battle with a tree toppled mid-height. The weekend warrior strides forth, chainsaw in hand to assess the project. He nods and returns to the house, rummaging for supplies.

Spool out 200′ orange extension cord.

It is 15′ too short.


Get 2nd 200′ extension cord.

Connect all cords. Push the button. No response. Push button again, squeezing harder. No response. Hmmm…maybe no juice at the house? Oh, no, here’s the safety switch. Eureka! Power to the people!

Macho ManA mere twenty minutes later, the 8″ diameter of the tree has been reduced to four sections of aspen tree trunk. Blades on this model do not appear to have the same sharpness as their larger models…cursing ensues as the chain saw whines against the trunk, finally severing it… more due to perseverence than actual cutting ability of the tool.

Now, what else is there to cut?

Ragged dead limbs of pine trees are hacked off, dense hard tack is given a beating, but not too much cutting (see reference to blade sharpness, above).

Mounds of branches now litter the driveway. Drag them to cliff and toss them over…trudge back, collect more branches and notice many twigs and smaller branches have dropped on the way to the cliff… oh well, worry about that later. Around about the fifth trek (hurray! the sun has come out! – hot!) to the back cliff you realize there is now a continuous stream of twigs and smaller branches between the felled tree and the cliff edge.

Sweating profusely (with possibly a few choice curses thrown in under his breath), the weekend warrior declares that the tree is down, the main portions have been removed and therefore, his job is done.

Maine. The way a vacation should be…sing with me now….”Ma-cho, Ma-cho Man!”

Part 2

Dog Duty

Duncan and Dixie PoseDixie and Duncan love everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY. Lately, however, Duncan has begun to take exception to other dogs. Outside he is fine. Playing and running on the beach with other furballs are no problem. Get him in the house with a relatively new-to-him dog and he has become somewhat unpredictable. He lunges, snarls and is ready to perform a King-of-the-Hill war for dominance. Inside he will not allow other dogs to greet him via the rear although he insists on having the option himself.

Cassie is a mellow yellow lab who exhibits classic submission postures and avoidance behavior. It hasn’t appeased Duncan. So here I am, on dog duty. He is tethered to my left hand. He is mostly calm, but he does like to move a bit…which jerks the hand which messes the typing or even (crap!) erases whole sections of it.


Oh well, it kept me out of the work crew doing battle with aged screen doors…

Maine Work Crew

Part 3


Abandoned Poppies

In a nearby lot, once home to a now-gone hotel, are the remnants of a rather nice garden. The plants were abandoned but they don’t seem to mind. Among batches of purpley-blue lupine spires and hedges of white and lavender lilacs are these oriental poppies enjoying the Maine coastal breezes. Poor things. We brought a few home and pray they will grace our garden as well as they formerly graced the old (not Bates, I asked) hotel.

Our pack of dogs loved the walks through the woods to the beach. We saw a wild turkey and her baby chicks…unfortunately, so did the dogs. It took a while before we were able to convince them to focus on anything else! The turkey family was kept safe, thanks to our efforts. Maine wildlife!

Fields of ladyslippers

Nowhere else have I ever seen so many lady slippers in one place. Around home we see one or two in our woods at the end of the street. This year I saw even more in Maine than last year.

White LadyslippersI vaguely remember seeing pale yellow and white ladyslippers long ago, but not in recent memory. Then, off to the side of the field of ladyslippers, I saw these…Gorgeous!

Would you believe this? I couldn’t capture it on an image, so I took a short video to prove we still have “snow” up here. We also have a very bad pollen season (duh!) coating everything, drifting off the trees on clumpy clouds of yellow-ish fog. I choke on it. Literally.

If you don’t see the video, try this link.

The BEFORE pictureOn the positive side, I did get some of my work garden planted. Here is the obligatory “before”image. I searched several (many, many, MANY) places (really, a lot of places) for peas seedlings. No gots. Well one place did “got” but they were overgrown in their mini pots to the point of dying and drying out in them. No longer ‘gots’ but really quite ‘gone.’

What *is* in the garden are four string bean plants, four zucchinis (I am a very slow learner, what can I say?), six cherry tomato plants (I thought there were four so I made four evenly spaced holes, and then I just sucked up the extra two), and (because I am a persistent and insistent person) I planted peas seeds from a package I have had from last year. Yup, I am the poster child for the ‘hope springs eternal’ and ‘self-delusion’ groups.

Most of the prep work and initial planting were done before work on Monday. When I left on Friday the water had not been turned on for the garden so I brought all my water for planting in with me on Monday just in case. They did the water hook-up after I lugged the water-filled jugs from home to my plot in the middle-back and before I actually needed much. The tomatoes and peas were put in after work when I couldn’t find my hat and the sun was so glar-y and bright I thought I would go blind with squinting.

An “after planting” pix is on the “to do” list. I was too dirty to handle a camera!

There *was* a hat in the car. The black “smart” hat. The black that was “this year’s pink”…yes, you guessed it. The wide-brimmed witches hat I have had for years has been languishing in my car since last fall. It worked, but I had to giggle at the image I made in black slacks and black sleeveless top topped by a full-size, pointy chapeau. Other cars leaving work slowed down to wave at me. I am fairly sure they weren’t smiling *with* me at that point. I was swatting and cursing mosquitoes as I bent over in the garden.

Actually, I have been seeing a LOT of people’s bent over backsides lately. The continued fair weather has fanned the flames of fantasy in every gardener’s heart. Lawns are sprouting new azaleas, hydrangeas, mulch, vegetable gardens, with actual landscaping-like layouts. Dandelions are vigorously attacked, uprooted, and sprayed. Weeds in flower beds are banished to compost piles. For some reason, all of these activities seem to involve displaying rumps street-side. I see backsides right, left and sideways! (Yes, I am one of the original members of the Center for the Easiy Amused.)

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