The Year is Complete!

Please feel free to look back through the 365 days of 2010 sunrises, but "a year of getting up to meet the day" is officially completed. There will be no more new posts.


Thank you so much for visiting.
A one year blog project in which I share a process of transitions: emptying of the nest, reacquainting with my rusty intellect, plowing onward with my first full length book, entering the second half of my first century, and generally reflecting on life.

(see Dec. 29th, 2009 entry for further explanation)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

looking ahead and behind

sunrise:  6:51 

One month to go!  I have been up and out for 334 sunrises in a row*  

It was just over 20 degrees F. for my walk this morning.  More and more prep is involved in getting outdoors as winter moves in - fleeces, gloves, hat. If there is a heavy snow I'll be pulling the snowshoes or skis back out, recalling the first days of this blog adventure.  I continue to be amazed by the ability of dogs to tolerate all weather without any change of clothing.

For a long time now I have been looking ahead with great anticipation to the day when I will get to sleep in - no alarm, no dawn rising.  Recently, I find I am having mixed feelings.  In many ways I will miss this routine - the rising in twilight, the walk around a quiet world on the brink of starting the day, the glorious beauty and serenity of pre-dawn, and the lifting of light across the landscape. 

It is an inspirational routine, including the writing that follows.  For months I have been mulling over the possibility of a continuing with a new blog with a less rigid framework.  It will not be a daily blog, perhaps not even weekly, but it will be an extension in some way of the blog journey I have taken during the year 2010.

I'll keep you posted. 

I took a walk down to the Penobscot River on this brisk and bright morning.  There was a summer rope swing frozen in the water, and the beautiful river at dawn.

Here are two photos that may be interesting to compare.  They are almost identical scenes, but the first was taken 20 minutes before official sunrise, the second was taken about 15 minutes after official sunrise.  The sun became visible to my eye, by the way, at about 6:58, seven minutes after official sunrise.


*(full disclosure - there were a couple of days when I was up and out before dawn, but had to be on an airplane for most of dawn itself).

Monday, November 29, 2010

late november sunrise

sunrise:  6:50

A late November sunrise lit the world with brilliant clarity this morning.

Last night, N talked her best high school friend into spending the night with us before leaving for school, so the two of them joined us for coffee before hitting the road at 7:15 or so.  My head and heart are filled with that powerful blend of joy, love, and the gentle ache of departure.

I hope you won't mind joining me on a little photo journey through this glorious morning.  I winnowed it down from 46 photos to 13.  Look for ice formations, signs of Guster's first foray onto the pond ice, lots of sky show, and a shot I've been hoping for for months - all three dogs and the dawn, all in one frame.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

coming home from college

sunrise:  6:49

Now all four of my children have gone through a particular transition experience.  Coming home from college over Thanksgiving, to a traditional family event, is generally the first time that new college kids are faced with an altered universe.  They have changed, but many aspects of home life have not. 

Part of the difficulties, however, are in the fact that other aspects of home life HAVE changed.  Each time someone leaves the family's day to day living, there is a shift in the chemistry and daily habits of the household.  In all four cases in our household, there has been some adjustment that has had to take place.  Every time a new vessel is launched from the home front, there is some wobbly trouble on re-entry.

Relationships are tested, kids feel an expectation to fit into roles that no longer feel right, or parents feel an expectation to fit into a new role for which they aren't prepared.  An 18 year old with a new sense of self and growth might feel frustration when that self doesn't seem to feel the same in the home front.  Home isn't what it once was, and that can be tough.

Welcome to a lifetime of family dynamics!  With all four of my kids I have had conversations  about navigating the shift.  It is good practice for the long haul ahead of shifting, adapting, accepting changes in people and family and home.  Who DOESN'T have some degree of family drama in their lives?  Only someone with no family at all, I would guess, and that is not an attractive alternative to most of us.  So there's no time like the present to begin learning how to cope.

Although my musings may imply that there was friction all weekend, everything was actually quite wonderful all around.  We spent three hours on the high school fields with a big group playing football and frisbee yesterday, friends came by, great times all around.  There are only undercurrents, and quiet conversations at the bedside, and I am a cerebrator.

All is well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

living out loud

sunrise:  6:49

It is a known fact of dogdom that our canine companions “act up” for company in ways that they do not when they are alone with their owners. Normally placid beasts become rambunctious – they bark, jump, shove their noses where noses are decidedly not welcome, and make a general nuisance of themselves. “Oh he’s just showing off,” I have heard many a human say.

Well, humans do the same thing (maybe not the noses). Having company over brings a different side of us out into the open, and sometimes makes us bury our more unsavory habits out of sight for the evening. We mind our manners, and are more engaging and forgiving conversationalists. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to invite people over once in a while – to remind ourselves of what it’s like to be on our best, or at least our better behavior.

Living this “public” life for 11 months has been an interesting exercise. To some degree, having a blog is a little bit like entertaining company. We put ourselves into a public space, and edit our words and our behavior accordingly.  It is one aspect of this yearlong blog that I have only recently come to realize. Unlike personal journal writing, blog posts mean taking the trouble to edit one’s thoughts about life for public consumption. It is a helpful exercise. Alone with your thoughts, you can brood and fester in your own private moods until they consume you. Airing our thoughts makes us sort them out, and get them at least a little untangled. 

Anna Quindlen, my favorite columnist, used the phrase "Living Out Loud."  That says it well, I think.

We are credulous beings, heavily influenced by what we see and hear and take in, even from our own mouths and keyboards. So if what we see and hear from ourselves is perpetually unedited, we just might believe things are as bad or confused as we think.

When we work to put a better face on things – present our selves in a more positive light – we create a better self to believe in. After all, a lot of life is about making the best of things, and if creating a public self in its best image makes you believe you’re better, than maybe you will be.

This may sound like we’re all big phonies, hiding our true selves, but that’s not what I think is happening. Every one of us is good and bad, bright and dark. The goal of living well is to continually cultivate what is good in us, and try our best to overshadow the bad.  In the semi-public forum of a blog we are encouraged to cultivate clarity and what is best in ourselves – not phony, just well edited.

Friday, November 26, 2010

wintry mix for black friday

sunrise:  6:47

Technically today's is not the first snow here in central Maine.  Some saw snow in the air on Halloween, and once or twice since then.  It was, however, my own first walk of the season through a snowy landscape.  It doesn't get less beautiful to me, that thing that a coating of snow does to the world.  It is as though an artist went through the woods and fields, highlighting details large and small to exquisite effect.

I may have caught the best of the day.  By the time I came inside the quiet snow was beginning to thin.  It was sounding more like sizzling bacon as it clicked onto the dry leaves - the beginning of sleet.  The weather forecasters called for a "wintry mix" all day, one of my favorite euphemisms.  It makes something sloppy and depressing sound like a potpourri or a whimsical coffee flavor.

I hope that the wintry mix does not put any die-hard black Friday shoppers into and dire difficulties, but it wouldn't be so bad if it kept a few people at home.  Although Black Friday has become an annual holiday event that many anticipate with excitement, I feel more like the Philadelphia police department when they first coined the phrase "black Friday" 44 years ago (according to Wikipedia).  The disastrous traffic jams of both cars and people beginning the holiday shopping season on the day after Thanksgiving was a big headache for police.  It seems to me that it has grown to a point of insanity.

Still, I suppose most people are out there for beneficent reasons - gift giving.  I just hope they'll be able to exercise their generosity without running anyone down in the process.  Somewhere along the line many seem to have lost the thread of the loving and giving aspect of their quest.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving poem

sunrise:  6:45

A happy day of thanks to all 
for everything that's good:
for things that fly and swim and crawl, 
for soil and stone and wood;

for water in its every form 
without which all would die,
likewise for daylight from the warm
bright sun that fills the sky.

Give thanks for yellow, red and blue
and all the color wheel,
for ears to hear and eyes to view, 
for taste and smell and feel;

for work that's meaningful to do
with hands or heart or mind, 
for every loving act that grew 
from acts equally kind.

Let's even give a nod of thanks
to life's sad sister death.
Without that sister's painful pranks
there'd be no more new breath.

For every chance we find to sit 
with even one companion
and share some food and talk a bit
and make the meal a grand one,

give thanks to care and thanks to share
a moment with a friend.
The greatest thing is not so rare:
It's love, that's all.  The end.

Robin Clifford Wood
November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

hope in the back of a parking lot

sunrise:  6:44

Wow.  Both moon and sun gave a glorious showing this morning. 

It was pitch dark yesterday at 5pm, the appointed time for pick up at the back of a parking lot in Bangor.  Slowly, cars trickled in, and a small group gathered behind the open back door of a small white box truck.  It felt like some kind of illicit drug deal going down.  Nope.  We were all there to pick up our turkeys.

Justin and Eliza are a young couple just plunging into a new Maine life together - marriage, new baby, two full time jobs, and on the side they have bought a farm and started a beef and poultry business.  The beef business is a couple of years old, but poultry is new.  Last weekend, after getting their license to slaughter their own birds on Friday, they processed all of their own birds, for the first time ever.

Even though he was exhausted, Justin's face was bright and alive with excitement as he handed customers their perfectly packaged birds from out of a small freezer unit in the back of the truck.  Most of the turkey buyers knew him.  There was chatting and laughter and a general sense of celebration and anticipation.

That is going to be one of the images for which I am thankful as we sit down to eat our turkey feast tomorrow.  A loving family, all safe around the country, good health, good food, and sure signs of hope, anticipation and progress, like the look on the face of a weary and exuberant young turkey farmer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

cranberry pecan pie

sunrise:  6:43

No sign of ice today, other than a bit of frozen dirt on top of the compost pile.  Looks like our lead in to Thanksgiving will be several days of sloppy weather.  A perfect time to make pie!

This evening I'll be picking up a fresh turkey from a local farm, and maybe I'll get to work on a pie.

Pies are one of my favorite things to make, since they're easy as...pie.  I love making quiche too, and the occasional apple pie, and the requisite pumpkin pie in multiple variations.  My grandmother used to make a mince pie, which I always thought was kind of gross.  I wonder if I'd like it better now?  Pecan pie is certainly a classic.

My favorite, though, is cranberry pecan.  I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, who got it from he sisters.  It has the yummy sweet of pecan pie, with a nice tang from the cranberries that cuts down the sweetness a bit.  Great with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.  And nuts are good for you!

Making pie is a sign of the season, and a loving offering to any gathering.  And it makes your whole house smell good.  Even better, if you can, is to make a pie with someone else for company.  Cooking together may be even more memorable than eating together.  That's why I haven't planned my whole menu yet.  When my daughters get home, we'll come up with something that everyone wants to make, and have some fun together in the kitchen.

Safe travels to all, if you will be on the road.

Cranberry Pecan Pie

350 degree oven -- cooking time 50 - 60 minutes


9 inch pie shell
1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans

3 eggs
1 cup Karo syrup (dark or light corn syrup - your choice)
2/3 cup of white sugar
4 Tbs melted butter
dash of salt

Put berries and nuts in bottom of uncooked pie shell.
Beat eggs in a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour over cranberries and nuts. (if you want a pretty pie - arrange the nuts and berries)

Bake until the center is set (some say 50 minutes, but it always takes mine more like 60)

**variations - chop berries and or nuts before putting in pie shell.  Add 1tsp. of vanilla