Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Simply Maine

 The clang, clang, clang of the Pemaquid Point buoy is music to me and a soothing balm for my soul. Sometimes you don't need lots of words to convey the meaning and beauty of a place. I'll let my photos  speak for themselves. 

We pass by islands with untold stories.

One of the joys of kayaking and boating is the accessibility to so many islands. We have a trail of islands where you can land and picnic and sometimes even spend the night. 

The home of the legendary Miss Rumphius sits on the point at the end of our island.

The Miles tower above The Miles Fresh Air Camp, which is where our cottage is located. Our cottage was converted from the boy's dorm to a house in 1950. Can you see the long footbridge that leads from our island to Birch Island? We've seen the red fox trotting across this bridge. Imagine having to cart your groceries and luggage across a bridge and up a trail, past gardens, and through woods.

From our porch and my studio we look straight across John's Bay to this tiny red barn/house. It has always fascinated me.

Pemaquid Lighthouse and keeper's house. At night we can see the lighthouse's warning flash

Inside Christmas Cove a mama osprey tends her young.

Old Glory swings past our house every other day.

Patience. I am getting to know Audrey, a lovely little chipmunk.

She follows me around and nestles into my robe pocket.

Our road.

Moonrise over Pemaquid as seen from the porch.

Good night moon. Good night friends.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Asunder, that's how our day went (in case you're wondering)

Look at that eye! Imagine, this Northern Gannet has a wingspan of five feet! And look at that beak!

Yep, we had the day all planned out. Read the Sunday Times, take walks, have a nice quiet lunch, watch birds. What? Watch birds?? Did we go wrong there? We watched bird, not birds–an injured Northern Gannet found walking on our busy one lane dirt road. A road thick with bikes, scooters, walkers, and dogs, lots of dogs. And, although the Northern Gannet is a huge bird (about a five foot wingspan), both dogs and bird would be hurt badly in a fight. I can vouch for that. This guy lunged at me, and I had to side step him quickly. He was injured, scared, tired, and probably in shock. I would've lunged too.

I tried using a big flannel sheet as a foil, which usually works with animals. I can help them negotiate their way back to safe territory by holding a blanket in my hands, like a toreador with a cape, and forcing them to walk the way I want, but not with this guy. He had his mind made up. He was doing it his way or no way. So he lashed out at me, and I danced a sideways jig while trying to get him into a big plastic box. 

Jeff was on the phone talking with the sheriff's department, and then finally, finding out about Avian Haven, a group of caring, hard working people who save and care for over a thousand birds each year (1,571 in 2012). They are one of the largest rehabilitation practices in New England. 

Sorry, I couldn't photograph the process of getting him into the box, but we did, and then Jeff slid a piece of cardboard under the box and lifted it enough to get the blanket underneath. We used the blanket as a sling and moved the frantic bird into our flat-floored trunk and folded down the back seat to give it air.

We drove an hour north and met up with the Avian Haven rescue man, Marc Payne. He is a dedicated bird lover who gives freely of his time and care, but believe me, Avian Haven could sure use some donations to help it keep doing its work.

Marc pulled on his protective gloves (he has many scars to show for his work), lifted the box, and reached inside.

He grabbed the Gannet's beak (smart move) and slipped the bird out of the box.

And he ran.

Tipped the Gannet upside down.

And tucked it into...

...a big dog kennel.

Look at those wild eyes.

Good luck!

This is a bird I've seen only a few times. Last summer I watched about 200 of them flying over John's Bay, diving and catching fish. They look enormous with their wings spread. You can see how powerful the huge beak must be. They can dive into the water from as far as 130 feet in the air, and then swim to a depth of 70 plus feet in pursuit of fish and squid. I never dreamed that we would have the chance to see one and look into its wild and beautiful eyes.

Well, there is always next Sunday.

Sending love across the miles,


p.s. Your tax-deductible donations enable the success of Avian Haven's mission of top-quality care for wild birds. Contribute on-line at or by check to Avian Haven, 418 N. Palermo Rd., Freedom, ME 04941.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sea Wind

Pushed open the front door, which was swollen from the rain, and walked into the living room. The scent of the sea, woodsmoke, and balsam fir mingled and stirred memories of all our good times. The sea wind blew through the screen door and scoured the room with its aroma.

My art table. And the view is of...

Pemaquid Point, John's Bay, and the Atlantic.

Clean studio, but not for long

Already cluttered with work (which I love). I am finishing art and copy editor queries on my Random House/ Delacorte Press book, Running Out of Night, due to be released Fall 2014. Also working on my 1928 book about children who live on a Maine island. The days are NEVER long enough.

The fog lifted and...

... there were boats everywhere.

and a new friend stopped by for lunch.  So, I'll get to know him and also try to catch up with your welcome e-mails and letters. They lift my spirits. Thanks for keeping in touch.

And the winner of the wonderful Greek Revival from the Garden cookbook by Patricia Moore-Pastides is Liz, signed on as "Anonymous." Liz, please contact us with your e-mail address. Thanks and congratulations!

Look in the August issue of This Old House magazine for the article about Sprig, my garden shed. The article also features herb drying tips and other secrets of a passionate (obsessed) herb gardener.