Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

And what better way to celebrate than doing a 5K run and a dip in the Atlantic Ocean! Definitely not in Hawaii this year! 

The weather was, well, polar! Freezing rain, 29F and a lot of ice. In fact if i'd taken my skates, i'm sure I would have halved my 5K time....

Post dip......a little brrrrr.....

And now the run up to Woods Hole. I leave Monday morning and start work that afternoon. It's going to be a hectic six weeks.....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas comes early....

Someone just wandered down the stairs with her Christmas present in her mouth. It's been a while since I gave her a new ball, so opened it up and let her have it early. Merry Christmas miss Barkley. 

She doesn't "play ball", just likes to chew them until they're destroyed. I pulled all three out for her and she chewed on each before deciding which one to play with first. I couldn't find non-squeaky ones, so the last half hour has been a little loud....!

More friday

How she breathes when she does this I don't know......

Our 7yr old neighbor checking out the snow with Barkley

Neighbor came over and helped me make cupcakes for Amy & Peter's Christmas party (below). He had a great time making his creations, and my kitchen....well, it's still covered in food dye....but a lot of fun was had, and I needed the downtime. 

Friday, December 23, 2011


Nothing quite like a dry basement (phew!) and a few inches of snow when only flurries were predicted to brighten the day. Snow tastes pretty good too apparently. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Days like these...

I'm having a tough time right now. So many emotions running through, many I can't talk about, but it's all connected i'm sure. Trying to write proposals, papers and keep samples running through the lab; bummed out by cool projects not being funded & excited by cool projects being funded; buying a house (it's moving forward, I move in in Feb and as soon as the Green Card comes through it's mine); overwhelmed by finances right now; excited by teaching soon (less than 2 weeks) & scared to death about teaching soon; missing friends and family; nagging insomnia that's been going on for over a month now. Those are just a few. Then on top my washing machine decided to burst a pipe and flood all over my carpet tonight, just as i'd managed to start to wind down from a stressful day. Cleaned that up as much as possible tonight (with the help of my 6yr old neighbor!) and hope to hell it doesn't all turn moldy. Last thing I need is to pay for a new carpet here.

So to try and get back into the spirit, out came the fondant icing. They're not done yet, but they're getting ready for an appearance at a Christmas part on friday. Definitely helped me wind down, long day tomorrow, lots to do....including find a wet vac for the carpet!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


It might be 12F out there, but darn is it just beautiful! In work today trying to catch up with some things, but couldn't resist swinging by the lighthouse for a walk with Barkley first. Just gorgeous!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Crafting

Christmas crafting has unfortunately been at a minimum this year (sorry folks!), but I did just finish this blanket up for some good friends here. Barkley decided the blanket needed a model in there, for scale.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How much to destroy our Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems?

Had to go up to Orono today for "sexual harassement" training. No, I haven't been harassing people, it's required by the state within the first year of employment, and I hadn't yet gone through the torture. On the way back we did take the time to drop by a store a postdoc had put me on to. He mentioned there were corals in there, so I wanted to take a look. Indeed there were.

The above are precious Red Corals, these particular pieces are from Italy. Sadly there is no regulation on trade of Red Corals, there was a move a few years ago to put them on the list (CITES), but it was turned down, primarily from Japan and Italy fighting the move. There are large fisheries for these corals there. Precious red corals are deep-sea corals, so grow very slowly. These pieces here are about an inch each, and constitute probably ~20 years of growth. Being sold for $8.40. That's less than 10 cents a year. Pretty sad. Very sad in fact. You can guarantee these corals were collected live, there were others in there that looked like they were washed pieces collected from a beach, but these were almost certainly a large tree that was cut into pieces, probably as the bulk was carved.

More interestingly there were several large black corals in there. The manager said they came from Haiti. Black corals are CITES listed, so to be able to trade them you have to have a permit. I took photos of the corals and will check up to see if this particular store has a permit. Black corals are potentially the oldest living organisms on the planet - a single black coral collected off Hawaii was recently dated to more than 4000 years old. So it will take 4000 years for another one to grow.

There is no such thing as a sustainable fishery for corals - either tropical or cold-water. These creatures are indeed beautiful, but lets reflect in their beauty by photos, drawings and sculptures, and even pieces collected washed on the beach.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The weekend!

It's been an interesting "up and down" kind of few weeks - between work, house, work and more work i've been a little burnt out to say the least. The scoop on the house is that the seller of the original house I lost out on came back with another offer week before last. After some more negotiation, my final offer was accepted last saturday. Yesterday I had the house and septic inspection and all looks pretty darn good, just a smattering of the usual issues you'd expect in any house. Just waiting on the final report and I guess move forward from there. It's still all hypothetical based on me getting my green card, but i'm hopeful in 2012 i'll become not only a "resident alien", but also a homeowner. 

So it was well needed and great to have a blow-out with friends last night. I invited a few of my favorite Mainers over for a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner, to sample some British goodies before everyone disperses for the holidays. It made me a little sad when I realised that of course around this time last year I cooked up a British feast in Hawaii for Jenny, Doug, Hannah and Laura, as I miss those guys so much; but it was also fun to think, and hope, that this is the beginning of a long Maine tradition.  Dinner was good, company was excellent, and I may have had one too many and went to bed a little merry, but hey, it is Christmas....:0)

Today was a beautiful but crisp day out, so with the McN tribe we went for a walk in Alna, then swung by "the house" so they could get a look at the outside. Seal of approval. All I need now is some luck in the green card department, and a lot of luck that mortgage rates stay low until it does come through! 

Miss Barkley, sporting her "Festive Attire" as required at this event. Some say tortured, I say she's beautiful! One actually stayed on for most of the night too! 

A table full 'o friends! 

Lighting the pudding! Peter was a little fast of the mark lighting said pudding and set the mug alight as well, but luckily we did not need Chris' firefighting skills.....

Festive attire! 

The tree! Everyone bought a homemade ornament for my first Maine tree! It was great to bring this tradition back too. Best tree ever! 
Four dogs, three adults and two kiddos on our little walk this afternoon! 
Amy tried forever to get us composed for a good shot! 

Miss Barkley!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

To make a difference in the world you have to love what you do.

Not sure where I read that, but it speaks to me today. Hope everyone is having a great run up to Christmas, i'll update the blog this weekend with some photos!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Jenny and Doug must miss Barkley enormously, but I really do feel so thankful she's here keeping me company. She lights up my days. Second time out in the snow and she was prancing around, pretty darn cute. Still ready to come in (standing by the door waiting for me to finish digging out the car), but I have no doubt she's enjoying the fluffy white stuff. 

Barkley's First Snow....

Yeah, i'm going to count this as Barkley's first snow. This is the real stuff, the fluffy and light, the snowshoeable snow that I remember from earlier this year. She seems to like it! 

Yup, I should probably buy a snow shovel sometime soon.....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My biggest surprise in Maine. It may be cold and there may be snow on the ground, but I am constantly amazed at how much the sun shines and how blue the sky is year-round. So beautiful. Here Barkley checks out last weeks snow. Hopefully she's ready for our snowstorm predicted for tomorrow! 

It's been a few weeks since I last posted, and so much has happened. Nothing overly exciting in the end, but here's the catch-up -

1. Put an offer on a house in Jefferson, 35 mins away from work. Ten years old, 3 bedroom, no-work-needed right now house.

2. Had offer rejected, countered with more than I can afford. Game over, keep on looking.

3. Went to Woods Hole, caught up with fabulous friends, started to panic about working at SEA in January......lots of lectures to write, pronto!

4. On the way back caught up with Tara, Paul and the kids who moved from Hawaii to Portsmouth in the summer. Was awesome to see them!

5. Work wise it's been proposals, proposals and proposals, and i'm a little burnt out to say the least. But there are more to write before the year finishes, so just got to keep plugging away. On the exciting side i've submitted a few to do some deep decompression diving that i'm excited about. Hope they come through.

6. The usual internal university politics has reared its head in Maine. I keep reminding myself how bad Hawaii is and that makes it better. In short, it's been a highly frustrating few weeks trying to get a summer course on the books the way I want it to be. More on that in a later post once things are firmed up, but it hasn't gone the way I want and that's left me a little deflated.

And that's about that. Health wise it's been a bit sucky, stomach has been playing up (acidy) and had an endoscopy last week (inflammation, but the doctor said it was better than he expected) and I seem to be getting a migraine a week right now. Wonder if it's the changing air (we're definitely getting dry up here!).

I'm ready to start a new year. I keep reminding myself this year has been good because I am here, in Maine, and I love it here. On a day to day basis it's sucked more than a little recently, and throughout the year really (bad cruises, green card bollocks, politics etc.), so i'm ready to kick 2011 goodbye and say hello to 2012. Not too long to wait I guess.....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Last week

Dad and Sanchia have been here this last few days, and it's been really fun going to all the places I haven't managed to go to yet. Thursday we went down to Popham Beach and Fort, Friday we hung around town and went to Edgecombe Fort, Saturday was Pemaquid and a party at the Rigaud's, yesterday we went out to Fort Knox and Camden and today it's Portland. Wednesday they fly out so it's been a whirlwind visit. 

Barkley at Popham Beach - she had fun and is sporting her blaze orange, as the deer hunting season started up this week too. 

Popham Beach

Popham Fort

We had lunch at a fabulous farmhouse out at Popham. It was such a nice day we sat outside in the sunshine and a few friends came by - the Maine Coon cat....

And several flocks of chickens. It was a fabulous place - North Creek Farm

Edgecomb Fort

Barkley breaking the rules......

I knew Dad and Barkley would get on well, they both love to nap on the couch.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

We went trick or treating with friends tonight. Barkley was a trouper and kept her 'costume' on for the whole walk around the circle. The best bit though was a small tot backing away into daddy's legs saying 'that's a scary cat!"....:0)

Happy Halloween!

What better to do on a snowy sunday than build zombie cupcakes! Watch out, they eat brains.....

Sunday, October 30, 2011


If this is a sign of the winter to come, I say "Bring it On!"......hard to believe just a few weeks ago I was wearing shorts and t-shirts! I love the snow. Maybe i'll get over it after a few years, but for now, lots of snow this winter will mean I actually might have time to enjoy it this year (unlike last) and go snowshoeing, skiing and maybe even look up some dog mushing. Today is not the nice white fluffy snow though, it's wet and heavy and will turn into a mud pile in a few days i'm sure....but still, for now i'm enjoying seeing the white stuff coming down. 

Barkley, is not so sure. My little Hawaii girl was having more fun with the sticks blown from the trees than the white stuff, but again, it's really not the fun fluffy stuff just yet, so i'm hopeful. She did the same with rain to begin with here too, and now goes running out in it, so a little acclimation might be all that's needed. 

Snow coming down in the night. 

It doesn't look like it, but it is actually still snowing, and it's supposed to keep going until a little after mid day here. 

Miss Barkley, really not so sure....