Empty Spaces

IMG_3539Zoe’s death left recurring, sometimes unexpected, often random, but always heart-sad, voids in our life. Her absence permeates our daily routines. Her weight on our feet at night in bed, the expectant face as we stirred in the morning, strings of drool as she politely, patiently waited for her breakfast, the intent eyes and head tilt at the slightest sign of an impending morning walk, her serene pose in the shady grass under the apple tree as she surveyed her domain, her joyous enthusiasm for countless daily pleasures (fetch! ride in the car! snow! popcorn! you’re home!), helicopter tail wags of utter pleasure, twitching tiny-bark dreams, and–to the very end–the thump, thump of her tail when we entered the room–all that love–it’s just gone. All those empty Zoe spaces. IMG_2107.jpg
So, what to do. We have never been of the school of thought that it is disrespectful to soon replace a dog with another dog. In fact, in my experience, the only way to really heal from the loss of a dog is to get another one. But, it’s not so easy. We really want another Lab. Although we have had several rescue dogs over the years, it’s hard to find a rescue Lab in Maine. Labs are in high demand here, being the quintessential Maine dog, posing beside fireplaces and Old Town Canoes in countless L.L.Bean catalogs. The few available rescues are imported from southern states and have only a passing resemblance to actual Labrador-hood. And we are serious about taking in a dog–it’s for life, no matter what. We want a good fit. For us and for the dog.

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I don’t want to keep posting  endless Zoe pictures, so am putting in some random shots.

But litters from reputable breeders are reserved for months in advance. We were desolate at the thought of six months or so without a dog. Noooooo!!!! So we have been hoping that people will drop off litter reservation lists. Zoe came to us that way. She had been promised to the Fire Chief of a coastal Alaskan town, but he was about to be divorced and decided not to take her. His misfortune was our gain. Zoe would have loved being a fire station dog (and living on the ocean) so I always felt that we had a high standard to live up to.

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Pinkish Queen Anne’s Lace

All this leads to the fact that we have spent a great deal of time researching potential dogs. It’s time to fill the house with dogs. We believe that we have found a male pup that we can bring home in September. We are going to look at the litter tomorrow. I’m so excited I likely won’t sleep many winks tonight. IMG_3245In the meantime, we are busy. We have visitors throughout the whole month of August, including our children and grandchildren (and a family reunion in Connecticut). We are so full up with visitors, work on the gardens, and dog research, that I have not had the time to even look at other blogs, let alone leave comments. I doubt that I will have any real blog time until September. Forgive me, blog friends.

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Raised beds, corn, tomatoes, and our growing brush pile.

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The gardens are doing fairly well, despite a prolonged drought.

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We dug this swale this spring and now are filling it with rocks. It diverts the water that had been soggying up our orchard area.

It’s been a month of lilies.  A few survived the lily beetles and others grow by the roadside. IMG_3390.jpgIMG_3306.jpgIMG_3296.jpgIMG_3672.jpgIMG_3294We have more vegetables than we can eat and are about to be hit with an avalanche of tomatoes.

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Baby watermelon

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Tonight’s tomato sauce ingredients

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I found two enormous tomato hornworms and quickly drowned them in a soap bath.

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Voracious and bloated-looking.

My herb garden is flourishing, loving the dry weather.

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Herb garden in mid-July.

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Three weeks later (and looking from the opposite direction).

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I’ve been continually harvesting and drying herbs.

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The bluebirds that had been casually hanging around the bluebird house turned out to have had a second brood. The babes never thrust their hungry beaks out the box opening as did the swallows, but, for about a week, we heard them clamoring for food every time their parents approached the box. The fledglings emerged last week and sat upon the box top before taking small experimental flights.

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One of the fledglings.

It was quite different from the swallow babes, who took off like acrobats at first flight, swooping and confident.

Even though it’s been very dry, we continue to have some nectar flow for the bees and the hummingbirds.

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I guess it’s the pistil of the blue globe thistle that curls as it matures.

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No curling on the younger flower.

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Corn doesn’t need bees for pollination, wind is sufficient, but there were some bees on the corn.

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We had a lovely day at Fort Knox, up the coast, with our son’s in-laws, and enjoyed the dizzying views from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory.  IMG_3504

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I love the shapes, lines, and textures at the fort and the bridge.

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The observatory is at the top.

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Happy August. See you in September.IMG_3541.jpgIMG_3649IMG_3724.jpg

Trading the Trailer For a Tractor

She's not ours, we met her at the fair.

She’s not ours, we met her at the fair.

Our metamorphosis continues.  In May, we abruptly went from full-time RV travel to putting down roots in mid-coast Maine—an area entirely new to us.  We are so besotted with our new home that—for now—we do not want to leave and hate to see the trailer sitting in the driveway, unused.  So, we are in the process of selling the trailer and hope to see it off to a new home soon.  We have a slew of projects lined up and waiting for the tractor that will replace it.

I did not even think about blogging during our busy summer.  In fact, I had pretty much decided not to continue this blog after completing our RV journey.  To my surprise , however, the blog urge suddenly reappeared and, along with it, a desire to document the transformation of this piece of land that we so fortunately found.

Right after we moved in.

Right after we moved in.

Our home here is a long-delayed dream.  In the early 1980s, we entered a land lottery in Alaska for homestead parcels near the Susitna River.  Of course, as with most lotteries, we didn’t win.  So we put our land fantasy in the deep freeze.

Finally, now, in retirement, we have the time to do and create whatever we want and a seven acre playground for a palette.  We plan to turn our acreage into a fairly self-sufficient place where we grow much of our own food.  I doubt that we will keep animals (aside from dogs, of course) because we want to continue to travel, but we will keep bees, grow a huge variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and create an orchard of old and new trees.

We were thrilled to move into our house at the end of May because it gave us enough time to get a garden in this summer.  We immediately built raised beds for vegetables.

The raised beds were our first project.

The raised beds were our first project.

They have been producing beyond our expectations all summer.

Tomato blossoms in the morning dew.

Tomato blossoms in the morning dew.

Potatoes

Potatoes

We also inherited a lovely, thoughtfully-designed perennial garden that has been a pleasure to watch unfold as one set of blooms is replaced by another. IMG_0637IMG_0740

These globe thistles were spectacular.

These globe thistles were spectacular.

George has been clearing new garden land and trails with a brush hog and built a deluxe compost bin and firewood racks (more on those and other building projects in later posts).

Still life with brushhog

Still life with brushhog

We also spent a good deal of time this summer just watching the sky and the wildlife.

We have made some goldfinches very happy

We have made some goldfinches very happy

Sunrise

Sunrise

Thunderheads

Thunderheads

We have a huge expanse of sky here, which is relatively rare in most of New England.  With no city lights nearby, the stars and Milky Way are incredibly bright.  One night, watching meteor showers from our back deck,  coywolves just down the hill accompanied the show with a series of escalating, chilling howls.  Unforgettable.

Moonrise

Moonrise

Now at the equinox, the days are still summerlike, with chilly mornings.

We are busy stacking firewood to season and raking up scabby apples in hopes of rehabilitating some of our old apple trees.  IMG_1785This year, we’re making applesauce from the old tree apples.

These russets are the only apple variety on our old trees that didn't have apple scab. They're tasty, too.

These russets are the only apple variety on our old trees that don’t have apple scab. They’re tasty, too.

Next year–hard cider.

We were able to tear ourselves away from our farm projects for a few day trips.

A trip to Fort Knox

A trip to Fort Knox

and the Penobscot Narrows bridge

and the Penobscot Narrows bridge

But, mostly, we have been content to stay at home–everything we want is right here.IMG_1313IMG_1534