{this moment} Early Morning Lakeside Writing

{this moment} A Friday ritual. A single photo – no few words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. {inspired by :: soulemama}

Pyramid Lake Women’s Writing Retreat

Pyramid Life Center Women's Writing Retreat

Pyramid Life Center Women’s Writing Retreat

Pyramid Life Center’s Women’s Writing Retreat

Pyramid Life Center’s Women’s Writing Retreat

When I started a technology break nearly two weeks ago I didn’t stay home to diligently work at the dining room table for nine days. I went to Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, New York for a women’s writing retreat. It was peaceful there in the Adirondacks, beautiful, inspiring, sometimes lonely, other times joyful. I have the dates of next year’s retreat written down to add to my 2015 datebook.

Screened porch

The screened porch where I did a lot of my writing

screened porch view

The view from the porch

I spent time in the cabin’s screened porch. You pick up story ideas or a sentence or two when people aren’t aware of your presence as they paddle by or pass along the hiking trail. I listened to barred owls, common loons and songbirds, and watched a Great Blue Heron on the shore while I wrote. And write I did – lots of it.

I’m working on a memoir, something unrelated to the book of short stories and essays I’m also working on. Early one morning I walked to the dining hall for coffee then found a spot on an empty deck overlooking the lake, and started working on the outline of the memoir. Chapter one’s first draft is done. I have four or five pages of notes to work from over the winter.

The weekend workshop was titled Writing in Nature. It covered the genres and we were in a gorgeous nature setting. Ellie O’Leary encouraged us to take pieces we are working on and try them in another form. Perhaps an essay works better as a poem or prose.

Bear Mountain and Pyramid Lake

Bear Mountain and Pyramid Lake

The Women’s Writing Retreat began with morning workshops. I went with the intention of taking the Memoir class taught by Pam Clements but started building reservations about that decision. Did I want to work on a heavy topic while I was away? This was by no means a vacation. I had a lot of work to do. Did I want to dig that deep at this time? I didn’t. Next year. This year I signed up for Travel Writing with Deb Smith and Writing for Children with Carmine CoCo DeYoung. Wonderful, wonderful women and instructors.

This is a quiet retreat. Outside of designated areas such as the dining hall and water front, there’s little noise. If you pass someone on a path you might wave or nod but you seldom speak. You don’t want to interrupt someone who is “writing in their head.” It’s a mixed blessing. I was able to write without interruption but it makes it a bit more difficult to get to know people. Next year I’ll get to know people better. This year was all about diving head first into writing.

pyramid boats

Want to go for a row?

I have the first draft of an article about Grand Lake Stream finished and chose that piece to read Thursday evening. We went into Writing for Children with the intention of having a first draft of a magazine article finished at the end of the week. My article took on a life of its own and has potential to become a chapter book for kids ages 8-12 if I choose to develop the story. I have two pages of notes prepared.

Loons on Pyramid Lake

Loons on Pyramid Lake

No cooking. Meals are served in the dining hall. It was awkward in the beginning. I quickly figured out that if I were near the front of the dinner line I could find a table without saved seats and invite others to join me. By Tuesday afternoon I’d met many women who enjoyed sitting together. No cleaning except after myself in my tiny room. Zip up my sleeping bag, take care of my clothes, sweep the floor. Living out of a suitcase (no dresser or even a cubby for my things) is not my thing, and I greatly over packed. I’ll have more room next year with less luggage. Free afternoons to write, kayak and explore the largest of the islands with Cynthia Brackett-Vincent and Diane Kavanaugh-Black, write, chat with BJ, swim, write, and write more. Several people commented on how much time I spent writing. I was a woman on a mission.

Being away for nine days gave me the opportunity to realign some priorities and clearly see limits I need to set. I have a new writing schedule that’s already giving me a run for my money, but I’ll get into the new rhythm. It’s good. I’m going back next year. Want to join me?

{reconnect with nature} Loons

A community of like minded people who see the value in understanding and appreciating the natural world. Each week we step outside, find some nature, photograph it and learn something about it to share with others. Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you’ve seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need and together we’ll reconnect with nature, one photograph at time.
Read more about the Reconnect with Nature – one photograph at a time idea here. Thanks to Living a Good North Coast Life for creating this educational project.

Reconnect With Nature

Common loon (gavia immer)

First, there were three

Watching the loons at Pyramid Lake in Paradox, New York helped me reconnect with home while being away for more than a week.

The common loon (gavia immer) spend spring into autumn on freshwater bodies of water in the eastern and northern US and into Canada. They migrate to open water in autumn.

Common loon (gavia immer)

After a few hoots, a fourth joined them

It’s sometimes said that loons need a half-mile of open water to take off, and that they don’t fly well, but that’s not been my personal observation. I watch them take off easily, circle the lake or pond many times, and land with a little less than grace. During migration to open water they can fly up to 70 miles per hour.

Their legs are situated at the back of their body, making land movement awkward. They take to land to mate and nest. They’re fish eaters whose legs propel them underwater with enough speed and accuracy to catch their meals. They can exhale their breath and flatten their feathers tightly against the body to improve speed and accuracy.

Common loon (gavia immer)

Moments later, the fifth loon appeared and all of the loons on Pyramid Lake were together

They’re beautiful birds. Two loons stayed close to us while we kayaked and canoed the lake, but the other three wanted nothing to do with us.

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam

The raspberry canes are so full of ripe, red, juicy, sweet raspberries that they’re leaning over, sometimes touching the ground. I picked two and a half gallons of berries on Sunday, leaving another five gallons behind to pick another day. It rained Monday. I’m working today but if the rain holds off long enough for the berries to dry, I’ll pick again for a few hours. I’ve made three batches of raspberry jam. I’ll make pie filling next, then freeze them as I pick to use for raspberry jelly and raspberry wine and raspberry scones and…well, you get the idea.

Raspberries...and a bug


I stand in one spot and pick a quart at a time. At this pace it takes 12 minutes to pick two quarts, enough to make a batch of jam. They’re sweetest early in the morning but rich and flavorful when warmed by the sun. The bees aren’t out very early on a cool morning, but the berries are driest later on. It’s a toss up. Choose the time that works best for you.

We grow these raspberries. They are a mix of Latham, Kilarney and Heritage. We shouldn’t have planted three varieties in one row but it’s too late now. They’re spreading and taking over. We whack them back into temporary, semi-submission with the bush hog. They fill back in while we sleep and thumb their thorns at us the next day.

Bowls of Raspberries

Two and a half gallons…

Raspberry Jam Recipe

Raspberry Jam Recipe may be downloaded in PDF form.

Start with two quarts of fresh raspberries. It’s best to pick them and make jam on the same day; raspberries mold quickly.

Lightly mash the berries until you have five cups.
Scoop a rounded 1/3 cup of bulk pectin.
Mix pectin into the berries. Move berries to an eight quart (or larger) pan. Bring to a gentle boil. Or…just heat until it steams. Both work.

Add five or six cups of sugar. I know…most recipes tell you to use an exact amount of berries but since we’re not using an exact amount of pectin, it’s all good. The “rounded” measuring cup gives you a lot of leeway.

Heat over a medium flame until the mixture reaches a simmer that can’t be stirred down. Simmer for one minute. Turn off heat if using propane or natural gas; remove from burner if using electric.

Ladle into sterile jars, leaving a 1/8″ space from the top.

Place sterile lids and rings on, tightening the rings only “finger tight.” If it’s too tight the air inside can’t be forced out. If the air isn’t forced out the lid won’t “pop” and seal.

Hot water bath for 10 minutes. There should be one inch of water above the top of the jars. Start timing when the water simmers.  Remove from water and place on a cooling rack. You’ll hear the lids pop and seal in a few minutes. You can store jars that don’t seal in the fridge or replace the lid and put them in for a second hot water bath.

Bulk Pectin

Bulk Pectin

I buy pectin in bulk at Pioneer Place, the Amish owned store in Smyrna. It’s considerably less expensive than the small 1.75 oz boxes. See what I did there? Now you have a reference point. I paid $2.45 per pound. It’s around $42 per pound in the little boxes in our grocery store. Liquid pectin is around $2.00 per pack, and that’s $2 to $4 per batch of jam.

Raspberry Jam

In a separate bowl, lightly mash raspberries

Raspberry Jam

Five cups of mashed raspberries, ready for pectin

Raspberry Jam

Raspberries, pectin and sugar – heating to simmer

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam

I’m going out to search for blueberries later today. And if I can convince Steve that putting a ladder in the back of the pickup is a good idea, I’m going to try to get enough cherries for jam. That’s probably not going to happen but cross your fingers for me anyway. ;)

Review: The Songbird of Sovereign by Jennifer Wixson, and a Giveaway

 The Songbird of Sovereign

The Songbird of Sovereign

The Songbird of Sovereign

In The Songbird of Sovereign, book three of the Sovereign Series, Jennifer Wixson gracefully moves between 1940’s pre-World War II and the present to tell the story of Miss Hastings. Forget everything you read about “no flashbacks” because you’re going to love theses. This is Jennifer’s best work yet.

You don’t have to read Hens & Chickens and Peas, Beans & Corn to understand The Songbird of Sovereign, but you should because they’re delightful stories. I found myself nodding and thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know…” and “Well now that makes sense” many times while reading. I know why Miss Hastings loved her pet chicken so dearly, and it’s a lovely addition to the story.

Jana Hastings contracts tuberculosis and is sent to Windmere Sanatorium to recover. She’s never to sing again, a difficult sentence for a 16 year old songbird of great fame. Jennifer tells how Miss Hastings became who she is today but sharing the story of a young lady growing into womanhood with first love, loss, pain and personal growth.

We’ve all heard that “it takes a village” to raise children. In Sovereign, we learn that thanks to a village, our late years in life can be wonderful. Sad times are written within hope, love and dignity.

The family and world history that make this story are so well blended that you forget some of this is very real and other parts are purely fiction…except they’re not.

Jen Wixson has graciously donated two copies of The Songbird of Sovereign to be given away here. You can gain an entry each day. The giveaway starts today and ends July 28. Rafflecopter will draw two names on the 28th and I’ll be back to announce the winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

I’m on a technology break but I’ll be back next week.

This is Balance Rock in Bar Harbor, Maine. My note to you today is about balance. Do you have it? Work versus play? Time outdoors or face to face interaction with people rather than time on a gadget or in front of the television? Do you need a better balance between giving of yourself and making time for yourself? Or maybe it’s the other way around. Need to give a bit more?

I’m working out a balance between career and homestead. Forty plus hours of writing work plus a half acre garden plus chickens and ducks plus a house to clean plus an overwhelming to do list for the house and land equals a sometimes (too often) bitchy me.

I recently got volunteer work in balance by re-learning how to say no. “No, I won’t be doing trail work.” “No, I won’t be shoveling horse shit. If I wanted to do that we’d have horses.”  “Yes, I can guide tours.” “Yes, I can do your PR and photography.” “No, I won’t _______.”

Huh. Turns out that even though I’m on a break I have a few things to say.

Find balance; even boulders tip over.

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

Have you found balance in your life?

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

Balance Rock, Bar Harbor, Maine

{this moment} Unplugged

{this moment} A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. {inspired by :: soulemama}

I’m away. I’ll be away next week for {this moment} but I’ve left something that resembles the moments I’ll be having while I’m offline to concentrate on writing, goals, priorities, and what does and doesn’t fit in my life now. I hope you’ll stop in. I’ll catch up and visit your moments when I’m back online (around July 28).



Book Review: Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat by Paula Young Lee

Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat.

Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat. The title caught my attention immediately. As an avid hunter and outdoors woman, guns and game meat are an important part of my life. The cover demonstrates how a deer is broken down into venison. If the title hadn’t intrigued me the illustration would have caught my eye. This was a memoir I knew I needed to read and hoped would be great. It wasn’t what I was expecting.

Deer Hunting in Paris by Paula Lee

Deer Hunting in Paris by Paula Lee

The middle child. Not the pretty one or the boy. The middle child, Paula Lee is a Korean-American in predominantly white Maine. She was a pastor’s daughter in the least religious state in the country. How does this young woman end up in Paris, France and then in Paris, Maine? And even more interesting, how does a vegetarian end up dating a hunter? Funny story.

This is an amusing story. Lee doesn’t fall into a traditional marriage, settle down and have kids the way most women do. She travels. Her views change as her world expands. The story is rich in culture. Her thoughts on God, or not God are interesting coming from the pastor’s kid. Through her boyfriend, hunting transforms a deer into cuts of meat. She represents hunters and non-hunters fairly using her personal experience.

I’m especially pleased by two aspects of the book. Lee’s strength as an independent woman comes through clearly in her story while not being full of overblown feminism. It’s refreshing. I’d be happy to have her as a role model for my daughters.

And second, having been a foodie before it became watered down, I appreciate Lee’s reverence for wild game and what they provide us. She writes extensively about using unusual cuts such as the heart of a deer after it is handed to her by her boyfriend. She conveys the butchering process so well you feel like you’re there with her, minus getting yourself bloody. Wild food, homegrown food, a box of unsexed chicks – food is huge and its meanings beyond filling your belly are shared.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. It was even better.

Review: Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes

“They’re awfully small.” That was my first thought when I opened the package. They are small. At 0.3 ounces (10 grams) and only 6.2 inches, these Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes are tiny, and that’s excellent. They take up very little space and add only ounces in a pack.

I used the stakes for the tent as they’re supposed to be used and was very pleased with them. They saved the day when Tropical Storm Arthur blew in. We needed to cover equipment quickly. Wind gusts of 70 mph and driving rain were no match for the stakes. I grabbed them from the pack and we pounded them into the gravel driveway to secure tarps over firewood and the wood splitter. The first thing in reach was twine; there wasn’t time to look for something sturdier. We placed the stakes, pulled the tarps as tight, snug and close to the firewood wood as possible, and hoped for the best. The wind pulled the stakes up about 2″. That’s impressive. The wood and equipment were dry.

Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes held the tarps in place during Tropical Storm Arthur.

Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes are holding up young trees after TS Arthur

The stakes held up well to being pounded with a regular hammer. They’re barely marred in spite of being hit hard to get into the gravel.

Clean up is easy. Pull the stakes and using another stake, push the dirt out. Tap on the ground or a rock and they’re almost clean. You can see how little wet soil is left on this stake after this quick clean up.

The stakes clean up easily. The cord is reflective, great for night time safety.

The stakes clean up easily. The cord is reflective, great for night time safety.

The red cord stands out and is easily noticed. It contains reflective strands that pick up light even from dim flashlights with dying batteries. Nobody tripped over the stakes on this camping trip.

The stakes are currently in my orchard, staking young fruit trees that were blown over during Tropical Storm Arthur. Don’t limit yourself to tenting. I’ve used these stakes for tenting once and other purposes twice. They’re handy to have around. I expect to use them this winter when we load the Jet Sled with ice fishing gear. The stakes are said to hold well in snow so we’ll tarp the gear, use the stakes and avoid having to put the gear in the barn when we get back Saturday evening and before using it again on Sunday morning.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes for free from Vargo Outdoors as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

Bass Fishing Expert, they said. Me?

I’ve been kind of quiet about this new title of mine. Bass fishing expert. Me. hmmmm.

I do fish a lot. And I do catch bass. A lot of bass. I know what lures to use in specific weather and water conditions. Are the bass on beds? I got that. What top water lure is best on a windy day, through lily pads in deep water, after a tropical storm dumps six inches of rain and drops the water temperature by ten degrees? Forget that – get out of the weeds and pads and head for a rocky shore if you want a nice largemouth bass under those conditions, and don’t fish the surface. Use a floating lure that dives (floating helps you control depth in shallow water) two to three feet and cast toward shore, bringing the lure into the deeper water.

Four pound smallmouth

Four pound smallmouth

Expert? I’m floored. And flattered. I didn’t think so but the nice folks at Lifeform LED did. They asked me to share a tip for beginnings. As a Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs instructor who does random fishing lessons at boat landings because kids have a tendency to swarm our boat, I’m used to sharing info with beginners. I love helping and working with beginners so I hit reply and sent my tip within minutes of reading their email.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

I appreciate their faith in me. It’s made me think seriously about what I do, how much I know, and how I use the knowledge. I do know what I’m doing. I ask a lot of questions and I listen to all of the advice anyone wants to give me. You learn a lot when you listen.

Sometimes I know the best thing I can do is pass a fish down to Steve. It’s better to have him quickly unhook the fish when my shorter fingers don’t reach far enough into a smallmouth to dislodge a hook. I can do it. I know enough to make the best choice for the fish. We catch and release all but two or three bass in spring and summer.

small mouth bass on lure

Small Mouth Bass with lure

Buzzbait, hard lure, diver, crankbait, soft lure, jig, jerkbait (love jerkbaits, fun to play), Texas and Carolina rigs…so many choices. Color, length, weight. Braided line?

I test lures like I test seeds, and I get to do this because I know what to do with the lures I’m sent. Honest feedback, even when it’s not favorable, helps the companies whose lures I’m testing.

Not a bass but a good example of how fishing is a family affair.

Kristin, taking a pickerel off the hook like a girl.

Kristin, taking a pickerel off the hook, like a girl.

Taylor with a small mouth bass

Taylor with a small mouth bass during a weekend home from college to ice fish with friends.

Steve’s largemouth, caught on a dark salamander (soft bait) on a Carolina rig. He fishes the bottom more than I do. I like to see the explosion when a bass hits a topwater lure. He has a lot more patience for grass and weeds and getting hung up on rocks, sticks and deadheads.

Largemouth bass caught on Boyden Lake

Largemouth bass caught on Boyden Lake

You can read my tip at Lifeform LED’s blog, and if you’re an angler, I hope you’ll leave a tip or three here for all of us. I love a good tip!


Screeching from the trees…

Boyden Lake today. This American Bald Eagle screeched from the tree as we pulled in our fish. Beggar! Every time we reeled in a fish he had a fit. We let our fish go, alive and well, not for his lunch.

American Bald Eagle

Gimme your fish and nobody gets taloned.


Sunset at the Swimming Hole

Sunset at the swimming hole

Sunset at the swimming hole

I love the peace and quiet of nature. If moving further into the woods, away from unnatural noises and distractions. I’m super sensitive to noise, artificial lights and a few other things.

Very early one morning, with cups of coffee in our hands, Tammy and I sat on the porch steps at a friend’s camp. We were miles behind a locked gate, completely alone in the woods, enjoying the peace and quiet of nature. Nature is seldom peaceful. Birds, frogs, insects, wind in the leaves. We realized how noisy and loud the natural world can be.

When you drown out the unnatural noise what’s left is beautiful. What do you hear?

Banding Canada Geese at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

My daughter Taylor is the Youth Conservation Corps leader at Moosehorn National Refuge. When she mentioned banding geese I was all over it.

“Can I help?”

“I think so. Call Maury or Ray.” Maury Mills manages the Woodcock Singing Ground Survey I’ve been participating in for so long, and Ray Brown allowed me to go out to band woodcock this year.

Banding geese is quite an event. Gear has to be gathered and loaded into trucks and the 15 passenger van Taylor uses for YCC, radios checked, and paddlers have to work out their plan. There were eight or nine canoes and kayaks involved in the round up.

Taylor and some of the YCC members set up netting along the edge of the dike on Charlotte Road while Ray Brown had help setting up net along the shore. Ray took one for the team when he loaned his waders to someone and walked in water up to his chest. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures. We stomped down grass and iris to smooth out a small plot along shore where the pen was set up. If all went according to plan the geese would swim in, walk up the bank and into the pen, and someone would close them in. That was the plan.


I went to the dike with YCC. We spread out the length of the dike, laying on our stomachs, not peeking up to see where the geese might be. If they spotted us they might be scared away. There were a couple of radios between ten of us but I wasn’t near one of them.

On my stomach in the tall grass, surrounded by goose shit (it’s the appropriate word), I wonder how many ticks are crawling on me. Horseflies buzzed my head, landed on my nose and managed to get into my shirt, biting me once. If the horsefly can get there are probably ticks crawling on me right.now. But there weren’t.

While waiting on the dike...

While waiting on the dike…

One sentence from an episode of North Woods Law ran through my mind many times. “Now I know what goose shit tastes like.” I didn’t want to know.

Honk honk honk honk honk. The sound I associate with autumn. Two geese flew over the dike. No bling for them today. Banding is done at this time of year because the geese are molting and most have lost flight feathers.

Someone stood at the far end of the dike. The geese and paddlers were in sight. The next person stood, then the next. Our instructions were to stand up slowly when the geese were in front of us, walk slowly toward the pen, make no sudden moves, not wave our arms, and don’t bunch up. If you bunch up you leave empty spaces for the geese to escape. One by one people stand but I can’t hear the radio and we can’t yell to each other so I don’t know when to stand. Are the geese in front of me now? If I stand too soon I might scare them.

Bands for Canada geese

Bands for Canada geese

“Mom! Mom! Stand up!” Question answered. What a sight! Men and women in canoes and kayaks were spread out over the water, carefully, slowly herding 54 Canada geese to the pen. So far so good.

One goose came to shore to make a waddle for it but Willow Cobb of YCC got a hold of it. She walked the dike with that goose in one hand, carrying it like a shopping bag. “You look like you’ve done this before,” I said. She has. With two fingers between the wings, thumb on one side, two fingers on the other side, the geese relax and hang out, feet bobbing a little with each step she took.

Canada geese are herded through this narrow point and into the pen.

Canada geese are herded through this narrow point and into the pen.

We zigged and zagged a little as two more geese tried to escape. “Run,” someone yelled from a canoe, and I ran. (Running is easy and I’m not self-conscious about doing it in front of 20something people now that I’m 62 pounds lighter. I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to do this last year.) I caught up to the goose I hadn’t seen heading for shore, ready and willing to put my “how to tackle a goose” training to work. It stayed in the water, and I was both relieved and disappointed over not having to catch it.

The actions of one goose baffled me. It kept its neck in the water, head barely on the surface, body flattened. I asked a YCC member, if it was a goose or a beaver. With the sun reflecting off the water, blocking the head from view, and the goose headed in the wrong direction, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. “It’s a goose. He’s trying to get away.”

Fifty-four Canada geese were herded into the makeshift pen. The first person in a canoe behind them jumped out and closed the pen. Success! I was surprised at how well this went. Most of the geese stayed in line on the water and on land as they filed into the pen.

smart gooseThis is the goose I thought might be a beaver. He’s between the two posts, close to the one on the left. He was the last bird in. He dove several times, coming up the last time too close to a technician who was able to pluck him from the water. Turns out this goose, a male, knew what was happening. He’d already been banded. He was taken to the biologists to have the information on his band recorded and was turned loose.

I was eager to start handling the geese. I made my way to the pen and got a quick lesson in how to carry a goose like a shopping bag. It’s not too awkward once you get the hang of it. We moved as many geese as we had crates for, them moved the crates into the shade. Let the banding begin.

Maury and Ray showed us what to do. Someone took notes. Male or female, this year’s hatch or older, and the band number were recorded. It takes a lot of effort to band and record information on 54 geese. Someone has to open bands and hand them out, in numerical order. At times there were four or five of us banding at once.

Maury Mills, wildlife biologist

Maury Mills, wildlife biologist

Adrianna Gorsky prepares a goose for banding

Adrianna Gorsky, a biology technician from Virgina, prepares a goose for banding

You pick up a goose and secure its wings snugly so it doesn’t beat you, find a place to sit, tuck the head under a wing, flip the goose upside down with its tail away from you, and hold it between your thighs. Pretty simple in words. If you do this right or the bird is relatively calm, you don’t get bitten. Or scratched. If the bird panics you get bitten or scratched, sometimes leaving you bruised or bloody. Or both. I acquired three bruises. It doesn’t hurt much but since the geese were inclined to bite and hang on they left good bruises.

I was able to do some of everything. It took three geese before I got the band on right the first time. The edges must line up perfectly and not overlap. A smooth band doesn’t irritate the goose’s leg but a rough edge can irritate and even cut skin. The bands are put on so that when the goose is stand the band is right side up, making it easy for birders to read the number.

Taylor Follette identifies the sex of a Canada goose

Taylor Follette identifies the sex of a Canada goose

I learned from Collin that geese can hatch with so much time between nests that some goslings are still fuzzy (we had three) while others are fully feathered and look almost identical to mature geese. Geese hiss a lot. There were three hissers in one crate, and I avoided them.

Collin bands a young goose that hatched this year.

Collin bands a young goose that hatched this year.

It took about two hours to do the banding. Each goose is released in the water after banding. They shake it off, literally, and swim away.  A total of 54 Canada geese were captured, 42 new birds, and 12 recaptures (previously banded birds).  Of the recaptures, 10 were banded during the 2013 roundup, and two were banded in 2011.

It was a great morning! Thanks to the staff at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge for letting me tag along again. I filled out my volunteer application and will be back to pitch in with several projects.


{this moment} Chanterelle Mushrooms

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no a few words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.  Thanks to Soule Mama!

Chanterelle Mushrooms

(I’ll tell you how to cook them soon.)

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelle Mushrooms


In the Garden on July 10

This week’s photos are from the high tunnel.

I emptied the Earth Machine and refilled it yesterday. Weeds, free range tomatillo plants that were trying to conquer the world, spent hay from the hen house, water. I’ll move the compost into a raised bed tomorrow and plant beets.

The Earth Machine has been emptied and refilled.

The Earth Machine has been emptied and refilled.

Free range lettuce. It’s going to go to seed and produce the next generation of free range lettuce. I let most of the plants grow where they land. The Johnny Jump Ups in the background are also free range.

free range lettuce

Free range lettuce

Apple Green eggplant and Superette Sweet Banana pepper

Apple Green eggplant and Superette Sweet Banana pepper

Beedy’s Camden kale. My new favorite. More about it soon.

Beedy's Camden Kale

Beedy’s Camden Kale

Free range tomatillo. I haven’t planted tomatillos in years. I always miss some when I’m cleaning up at the end of the season. I leave the plants that grow in good spots and compost the rest.

Free range tomatillo

Free range tomatillo

Early Wonder Tall Top beets…what’s left of them after the chickens got loose and feasted on tiny seedlings.

beet greens

Bibb lettuce (not free range).


Pickling cucumber.

Pickling Cucumber

Pickling Cucumber

The tunnel got off to a late start because we were still having nights in the 20*s in April and early May. I used to fret over it but not now. We’ll have plenty to eat even though it won’t be as early as it should be from a high tunnel.

This is the high tunnel, taken a few years ago. It’s an unheated greenhouse of sorts. I can harvest fresh veggies year round here in Maine thanks to the tunnel.

tomatillo jungle

Upta Camp – Photos

We went upta camp one recent evening to pick up things I’d left behind and push the dock out to deeper water. Camp is on Upper Sysladobsis lake in Lakeville Plantation. Twenty-five years ago it was the place to go to escape the masses. It’s more populated than the woods we live in now and no where near as quiet as it is here at home. Generators run from the time people wake up until they go to bed (I hate it.), drowning out the aspen leaves dancing on the breeze, silencing the song birds. Television, something we had on only to watch the weather report way back then is a constant now. The television is on only in the morning and evening here at home. Because it’s quiet I can hear the song birds, the rushing of the stream a half mile away, bull frogs, and even insects humming in the trees. When you’re sandwiched between buildings a few feet apart in the city as we were 25 years ago a place like camp seems uncrowded and private. When you live in the woods without neighbors in sight, on a dead end road in town of 65 residents, your idea of privacy changes.

Things change but it’s still camp and I love it.

Pumpkinseed sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

Across the lake, upta camp

Used to be the Brooks’ camp. Across the lake, upta camp

Across the lake, upta camp

Across the lake, upta camp

Upta Camp, Trudy's Haven

Trudy’s Haven. Mum helped build our camp in 1951. She was nine years old.

upta camp steve dock

upta camp dock