Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is Winter Finally Over in Maine?


Dear Reader:

I see bare lawn.

Normally this would not be a big announcement, but really. It is the second week of April, and still large snow patches crouch beside the rock wall, cling to the back yard, depress me with their grainy, crystalline whiteness.

I want green. Green grass. Green leaves. Green buds.

I want yellow. Yellow daffodils. Yellow dandelions. Yellow-centered daisies.

I want purple. Purple crocus. Purple lilacs. Oh, the heady purple scent of the lilacs in May.

The garden boxes are mostly free of snow, and the dog has been digging in one of them. Beech leaves left over from fall are scattered all around, gathered in front of my steps. The sky is blue today. I can almost, almost imagine that spring is here.

WordPress notified me that I had reached my five year anniversary with this blog. What? How did that happen?

It is spring. It is time to plan my goals for the year. The keyhole-shaped, apple guild garden area will finally be ready for planting this spring. I think I tossed a few tulip bulbs in there last fall (you’d think with this blog I would keep track of these things, but I get loosey-goosey come October) and planted some perennials last summer anyway. So I will be figuring out what kind of apple trees to plant. I want the kind of crab-apple that can be used for making jelly and maybe a companion tree with regular-size apples that can cross-pollinate. I’m open to suggestions.

Around the apple tree will go garlic chives (I did that last year with my miniature crab-apple tree. That was pretty cool), comfrey, yarrow, fennel, bee balm, maybe some artichokes, dill. I know I’ve been talking about this for years, but it has taken that long to build the soil there by the compost bins. This year, it will happen!

Thinning out a bunch of pines created more space for gardens. I have a hugelculture bed that needs planting this year (again, left it to rot down a bit over the winter) and I think I will try potatoes there. Not sure what else.

I will, again, grow many herbs for the bees and other beneficial insects and for cooking. Cucumbers, yes. Cherry tomatoes. Many lettuces and greens.

I also want to create some major perennial beds in keyhole gardens facing south, mixtures of flowers and food.

And then there is the back yard with all the cleanup from the tree-cutting. I have huge brush piles growing at the edge of the property. Some of this could be used for more hugelculture beds.

Pretty soon all this activity will start. I’ll get out my camera and post photos for those who are following along. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be writing this blog. It has been an instructive five years, but somehow I feel that time is drawing to a close. I’ve learned much, incorporated so much into my lifestyle that it no longer feels new or interesting, just normal. I have a few more projects I want to try. I’d like to get a clothesline now that I have more space with sunlight. I’d like to start making my own laundry detergent…

…and man! I still haven’t got that sewing machine out!

Until next time, happy spring!


Black Shoe Tuesday

Black Shoe Tuesday

Dear Readers:

Are you planning to indulge in some Black Friday shopping after indulging in multiple helpings of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie? Don’t forget Goodwill and consignment and local shops this year. Remember, the closer to home you spend, the more money stays circulating in your community!

For inspiration, I hit the Gorham, Maine Goodwill on Tuesday afternoon. Found: For $15, this funky pair of black, suede, high-heeled clogs. For $10, brand-new thermal underwear in celebration of the first real dusting of snow. For $20, a new, fashion-forward red wood coat for the Teen in the exact style she was craving last winter while looking at the catalog of a popular teen retail store (price for the retail coats: $70-80).

I could have snagged three pairs of Talbot’s pants, two prom dresses for the Teen, and a pretty pink sweater with a pink floral embroidered motif–but I’m trying to pace myself:)

Shopping locally never fails to surprise and thrill me. I almost always find more than I expect, and my wardrobe has never been more interesting as the cost of trying something unusual is so very low compared to the mall or big-box store.

So, my Dear Readers, enjoy your long weekend, your Thanksgiving celebrations, and your Black Friday shopping.

Love, Localista


Compromising Positions

Compromising Positions

I recently watched a documentary called Patriocracy which explores the current state of gridlock in our government. I’m wondering: is it possible/ethical to cooperate/compromise (against one’s private principles) when making decisions that will affect the general public? Is that actually what wise governance is all about once arguments have been laid out and consensus hasn’t been reached? I know some would say “no.” However, I’m wondering what would happen if conservatives, liberals, libertarians & progressives compromised while continuing to debate and discuss and write. Would we have a shining, perfect utopia that each “camp” envisions? No. Would we devolve into a dystopia? Probably not. Maybe the best we can hope for is a society that is “okay” and “functional” rather than perfect.

Finding Fall’s Rhythm

I like blogger Cindy’s description of walking her dogs through the autumn woods. Her down to earth style written in an almost poetic form intrigues me. Enjoy!



This morning, I threw on warm, loose clothing and filled my lidded coffee cup. I added a tattered wooly blazer and a black felt hat with a large, orange silk flower in the rim. I put the camera in my pocket, and set out for a walk.

The dogs were stunned!

In the last several weeks, every invitation for a walk has turned into a disappointment to them.

Summer traffic discouraged walks down the Fox Lake Road.

Any off-road walks were necessarily abbreviated because of the mosquitoes.

All excursions were limited by my schedule.

There were days when, having arrived home late, I tried to convince them that a brisk jog two or three times around the perimeter of the yard counts as a walk.

Or a few trips back and forth to bring groceries, mail and other supplies in from the car.

A wander through the garden to pick…

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Localista Healthcare vs. Government Healthcare


Echinacea or Cone Flower has been used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years. Learn more at our local herbalist Greenwood Herbals at


I have a vision for an ideal society. We all do, right? And I bet your vision and my vision are remarkably similar. We’d like to see everyone employed in the work he/she finds most rewarding, an educated population, healthcare available for everyone, every citizen fed and clothed and housed. We probably wouldn’t demand complete equality of lifestyles; however, we’d like to see less disparity in lifestyles. We both long to see a productive, happy, empowered population of citizens.

Since we share a vision, why is is so darn difficult to agree on a solution? As rational human beings, shouldn’t we be able to look at facts and see what works? 

Ideally, yes, we should. Realistically, social issues are complicated. 

Which brings me to the healthcare question. Healthcare in the United States is screwed up. We all know this. We know it shouldn’t cost so much for insurance. We know doctors and hospitals and drug companies are charging too much to the insurance companies. We know some people chose not to purchase insurance or can’t afford to purchase insurance, and we know they get healthcare anyway. And we know those costs get passed on to those of us who have insurance or to our employers who then find other ways to save money–like laying off workers or paying less wages. We know doctors and hospitals charge so much because they have to cover the cost of the freebies and the paperwork and the malpractice insurance. We know the drug companies charge so much because research and development is extremely expensive and a gamble. When something does work, it has to compensate for all the experiments that didn’t work.

And all that is gross oversimplification.

Yes, I want everyone to have access to healthcare. What I’m no longer sure about is whether or not a taxpayer-sponsored healthcare plan in a heavily-flawed, crony capitalist political/economic system will actually do it.

So, for the sake of argument, here is a blog post outlining why some people think that government healthcare is a bad idea.

To provide counterpoint to that article, here is one that outlines pretty honestly, I think, as an advocate, what the Affordable Health Care Act will look like in upcoming months.

Even proponents admit they don’t really know what is going to happen; at least they are trying something. Libertarians want to try something just as bold, but they probably won’t get that same chance. We are looking at either “more of the same” or “something different but who knows if it will be better or worse.” 

Yeah, what a choice. I’m so wicked excited. Not.

What I wonder is if we’d be better off doing things to old-fashioned way. Localista Healthcare. You have local doctors in the community. You may even have a local, privately-owned hospital. You get sick, you go to the doctor, she gives you a bill, you pay it. No insurance paperwork. If you don’t have all the money, your doctor works out a payment plan with you. If you are poor, maybe the doctor gives you free care. The hospital does the same. Local community members support the hospital and create charitable foundations for caring for the less able. If you want to go to an herbalist, that’s your call. If you want to try acupuncture instead of antibiotics, it’s your dollar. 

I’m wondering if this would allow for more competition, more reasonable pricing, and yes—more affordable healthcare for all. Of course, when we look at history–back to the good ol’ days of less government, do we see less income disparity? Do we see affordable healthcare for all? No. What we see are poor people dying like flies and rich people getting the best care possible. Why? I’d love some Libertarian to explain to me why, if free market capitalism works so well, why we had that situation. And then I’d like some Progressive to explain to me why the Soviet Union healthcare system wasn’t the absolute best in the world if socialized medicine is so great. 

Thanks for getting back to me and clearing it all up;)

Please Don’t Poison my Honeybees…

Interested in the plight of bees and the role they play in our food supply? This is a good blog, and this post is an example of how easily we can overlook all the ramifications of an action intended to solve one problem and thus causing more problems.

Adventures in Natural Beekeeping

…reads the headline of my letter to the editor last week.

The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

has a mosquito problem.  During summer high tides, water fills holes that don’t drain back out.  Pools provide habitat for the salt marsh mosquito, Aedes dorsalis.  People that live near the marsh complain that they can’t go outside without mosquitos biting them.  “It’s hard to get to the car from the back door without several mosquito bites.”  I can’t mow my yard without several layers of clothing.”  “I love to garden, but I feel like I’m under house arrest, because the mosquitos are so vicious.”  The motels have had cancellations, the real estate people can’t show houses, and the golfers are getting eaten alive.

Pressure to DO SOMETHING NOW drove the decision to aerial spray not just the 300 acres of the Marsh, but another 10,000 to 12,000 acres of outlying area.   That’s…

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Rodeo Girl


Rodeo (Row-dee-0h) Drive Skirt. Photo by Brenda Morrill.

Dear Reader:

Localista find of the week.

Every Wednesday, a few community women get together at the Redneck Studios in rural Newfield, Maine to learn belly-dance and yoga moves. To laugh. To celebrate female energy. To exercise and stretch and grow stronger. Redneck Studios is much like it sounds–unpretentious, down-home, low-key, fun.

Proprietor Brenda has also started up a clothing and home furnishings business, up-cycling skirts and shirts and pants into blingy items suitable for belly-dance and beyond, as well as sewing custom orders for quilts and shower curtains and pillows and more.

She calls her biz Rodeo Drive. Like a cowgirl, not Beverly Hills.

So before belly-dance class the other day, I picked up this richly-textured chocolate velvet skirt, the middle tier embellished with thick-thread embroidery lines with tiny sequins and a flower button or two or three scattered around. The velvet contrasts nicely with heavy cream fringe. I was just taken with it–the texture, the color, the way it reminded me of the “Prairie Look” from the early 80’s.

Later that evening, I wore the skirt to a high school concert with my green Goodwill micro-cable sweater (simple enough to lend interesting contrast to the frou-frou of the ruffles),a hand-knit chunky scarf in browns and golds and cranberry, and ruffled velvet boots.

rodeo drive skirt

I felt bohemian. I felt Redneck. I felt like a Rodeo Girl.

What are your favorite hand-sewn or up-cycled or re-purposed home or clothing items?

David Gaughran argues in favor of self-publishing in this thought-provoking piece. –Shelley

Required Reading:
This is the best explanation I’ve ever read about what makes literature “literature.” If you are a writer–or an intrigued reader who always wanted to know why critics and literature professors do not consider Janet Evanovich’s novels “literary,” check out this essay by Oliver. Oliver also likes to write about beer, and he creates amusing dioramas out of Lego people and gnome statuettes to illustrate his ideas. Happy reading! –Shelley:)

Literature and Libation

I had a James Joyce-style epiphany regarding the idea of a “writing vision” while sitting in class this week. It struck me that while I knew why I liked to write, and what I like to write, and even sometimes how I like to write, I was still missing an overarching vision for what kind of writing I wanted to do.

This may seem odd. “Oliver, writing is writing, you silly person”, you might say out loud while reading this, rolling your eyes and mentally noting that I’m not very smart sometimes. And yes, in some capacity, that is true. But what separates Shakespeare from Stephanie Meyer? What makes Hemingway and Hawthorne worth reading, all these years after their time? Why do some authors stand the test of time, while others disappear into the 1$ bargain bin of history?

No one would argue that Dan Brown, Stephen King, James Patterson, and John…

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“Tropical Itch” Story Published

Beach At Waikiki

I have another confession magazine story published in TRUE CONFESSIONS in the June 2012 issue. This story was inspired by a wonderful trip to Hawaii a few years ago with Hubby, the (pre)Teen, and my sister-in-law. While I did not have a romantic interlude with a younger man, I DID enjoy Tropical Itch drinks poolside. I so enjoyed revisiting Hawaii in this story; I’m sure you will have fun arm-chair traveling with me!

Look for it in June on newsstands or electronically at