Summer of 2009

I am so far behind on my blogging that I just decided to write about my summer, in general rather than break it down into events. My gosh, where did July go? Actually, I know where it went, I was in Maine and whenever I am home, my feet hit the ground running and I don’t stop until I get back on the plane. This visit was no exception, but I had a great, great time.

I arrived in Maine on Tuesday night to have my brother, Perry, meet me at the airport. He was able to spend the night at my house in Cape Elizabeth before he flew out on Wednesday morning. He was on the tail-end of his Maine vacation. How fortunate for me to see him, even if it was a very brief visit.

Then, the next night, Thursday, my friend, Jane, from Denver, Colorado flew in and spent the weekend with me. I met Jane in 1992 while riding my bicycle across Iowa in RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). We have seen each other a couple of times when our travels took us to Denver, but this was Jane’s first visit to Maine. She is such a dear friend, even though it has been several years, it was like we had seen each other just the day before!

Years ago, Jane heard a NPR story on celebrating the 4th of July around the country. Maine was one of the featured states and the people were celebrating with lobsters, clams and blueberry cake. Whenever I spoke with Jane, she always mentioned coming to Maine and having lobsters, clams and blueberry cake.

I knew the lobster and clam part would be easy. It was the blueberry cake that couldn’t be found! So, I baked one to make certain she wouldn’t be disappointed with her Maine fantasy!

Unfortunately, I fear that her memories of visiting my home will be memorable….for kind of the wrong reason! The first morning she was there, our septic system backed up. What a mess! It was a definite “don’t panic, adjust” moment. Fortunately, Jason’s (our house-sitter) friend, Kristin was visiting as well. She took command of the clean-up, while I called the plumber. By 11:30, the problem was taken care of…or so we thought, but more on that later.

Noontime, Jane and I went to the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth. There, we met my high school friend, Jeff Monson and his daughter, Piper, for lunch. I hadn’t seen Jeff for about 5 years and I had never met his 11 year old daughter. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The food was great and we had a wonderful visit. Jeff and Piper live in Oregon. So, Jeff brought his daughter to show her where he grew up. I am so grateful that they were able to make time in their busy schedule to have lunch with me!

Since we had the septic problem on Friday, Jane and I didn’t get to play tourist very much that day. However, we made up for it on Saturday. We left the house at 10:00 AM and didn’t get home until 10:00 PM! It was a full day. I showed her Prouts Neck and Higgins Beach in Scarborough. We saw the Portland Headlight, one of the world’s most visited lighthouses and our town’s park. Bug Light Park was on the agenda to see the skyline and harbor of Portland, Maine.

We made our way over to the Old Port section of Portland. This is the restored warehouse district on the waterfront. The working waterfront has been successfully integrated with quaint boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. It makes for a fun day of doing the shops or if you want, hopping the ferry for a tour of the islands. Since Jane tends to suffer from motion sickness, we opted to keep our feet planted on land.

We finally made our way to South Freeport and had a feed of fried clams at the Harraseeket Marina. I think it is one of the best kept secrets in Maine! Great food, picnic tables and the harbor full of moored lobster boats.

Since we were so close to Freeport, we had to go to LL Bean. I mean, what would a trip to Portland be without a visit to Beans? I think that we hit the highlights of the Portland area!! The day ended back at the house over a glass of wine.

Jane left Sunday after a walk along the paths of Two Lights State Park. Now for the rest of the septic story…..Monday night, the pipes started knocking. Now, they were gurgling when the septic backed up the first time….gurgling isn’t a good sign when one has a septic system. I wasn’t certain what knocking meant, but to be on the safe side, I left notes all around for Jason not to use the shower, flush the toilet, etc until I had the plumber come back. Tuesday morning, we were up, assessing the situation. I flushed the toilet, no knocking or any noise for that matter. I ran water down the sink…no noise. So, Jason and I figured it was OK for him to take a shower…..oops, it wasn’t!! We had another back-up, which meant moving all of the items in the cellar, scrubbing with bleach….we were getting good with this routine.

The plumber was called and this time, he used the camera into the pipes. We had a root growing and blocking the entry to the septic system. When we had the septic replaced a few years back, they failed to attach the pipe properly which exposed a seam so a root could penetrate.

The good news was that it happened in July and not February! It was a fairly minor repair…. just hand digging the problem area and installing the pipe properly. The part was $23 and labor was $240! I am not complaining….it could have been so much worse!

I got to connect with many high school friends at Old Hallowell Days….Hallowell, Maine is the town of 3,000 where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Every third Saturday in July, the city of Hallowell celebrates. I have no idea how many years Old Hallowell Days has been an event, but I do believe it is well over 25 years. For me, it is the best time to go “home” as there are so many others who make the trek. It is just a great, great time to see old friends. This year was no exception. Thanks to facebook, I connected with friends from high school that I had not seen for years!!

I spent some time at Moosehead Lake visiting with my parents. As always, it was a lovely time. The weather was fairly cooperative considering the bad weather that Maine had the whole month of June. Saskatoon, where I am currently living, is Canada’s sunniest city. So, I told everyone in Maine that I brought the Saskatoon sunshine with me. My stepfather, Paul, celebrated his 82nd birthday on July 21. I baked him an angel food cake from scratch…I might add. It is his favorite cake.

My sister, Kathy and her husband, Kevin just moved into their new home that they recently built near Bangor. I was able to have dinner with them and see the new home. It is beautiful and they are so happy. Their youngest son, Nathan, is leaving for college at the end of this month, so they will be “empty-nesters”. It is hard to imagine that their children are all grown!

I made a couple of trips to our camp. We have the contractor living there again this summer. He is putting in a new kitchen, finishing the knotty pine siding in the living room and doing some outside projects. It should be finished by this fall and we are hoping to rent it as a year-round rental, should any of you know someone who might be interested in living in Waterboro, ME on Middle Branch Pond!

My training for the Disney World marathon is going well. I tried today to connect with the Leukemia Society in Massachusetts for their “Team in Training” fundraiser. I decided awhile back that if I was going to dedicate the time to training, it should be for a worthy cause. I chose the Leukemia Society to honor my friend Carol’s husband, who sadly lost his battle last fall. On August 16, I will run a half-marathon here in Saskatoon.

Oh, while in Maine, I made our reservations to fly to Japan in September. We will be visiting with Michiko, my girlfriend, whom I met in England 25 years ago. I am so excited and can hardly believe that after all these years, I am a month away from seeing her again. It will be a wonderful reunion. Stay tuned for pictures of me in a kimono!!

This certainly has been the year of “connecting with old friends”. After I arrived back in Saskatoon, David and I packed the car and headed to Edmonton, Alberta to see the two Canadian guys I met on my European travels 30 years ago. Peter, Ike and I met at a youth hostel in Inverness, Scotland. They had bought a 1968 Volkswagen beetle. I was hitchhiking and they offered me a ride. Four months later; after traveling the western part of Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, the communist Eastern block and Turkey, we said our good-byes in Greece.

We had a wonderful visit reminiscing about our adventures. It was as if the years just melted away and we were back traveling the back roads of Europe, singing “Born to be Wild” at the top of our lungs! Peter and his lovely, English wife, Pat live in Calgary. Ike and his delightful wife, Gail, live in Ft. McMurray. Both of my friends were each blessed with a son and daughter. The thing that struck me is how fortunate and blessed all of our lives have been. Who knew, 30 years ago, we would all be happily married and in such happy places with our lives?

The ride to Edmonton was beautiful. They grow fields of canola and flax flowers. For as far as the eye can see, there was yellow (canola) and blue (flax). It was just an amazing, beautiful sight!

So, I think that brings you up-to-date with my summer vacation. Since being back, I have only seen David for the weekend. When I arrived back here in Canada, he was at the project site in Rocanville, 5 hours east of Saskatoon. After our trip to Edmonton, he drove back to Rocanville. He will be back in the Saskatoon office next week for awhile now. It will be nice to have him home again.

I do hope that you have had a fun and blessed summer…..

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