Thanks for your entry, buuuttt…..Mmno thanks.

I entered a writing contest. I’ve never done that before. I didn’t actually tell anyone that I had until right. now.

The challenge was to write a complete story in 100 words or less, below is the non-fiction story I wrote. It was not chosen as a winner.

The Invasion

They came under the cover of night. In the newly fallen snow.  Upon the banks of my grandmother’s beach.  Stealthily; hundreds of them.

Their evening presence only given away by their footprints. Townspeople came to gander at the sight of it. Questions loomed for weeks as to the identity of the unsolicited visitors.

As the curiosity started to quell; a knock at the door.  A representative from the United States Navy.  He told my great-grandfather of the Navy’s mock landing on their beach. Then came the offer: “Seventeen thousand for your land.” 

There now stands the Cutler, Maine Navy Base.

These times, they do try us.

When my office started working remotely, a colleague started sending us weekly emails to keep us connected. Usually asking us an engaging question that conjures a quick response. Last weeks was a doozy. She asked us to send in a brief summary of a situation that’s been made difficult by the pandemic. No sugar coating. No filters. She called it “Truth telling Tuesday”. Below was my response.

To: Sarah

Subject: Your timing is impeccable

When I saw this come across my email yesterday, I wasn’t sure what truth to tell.  The Petrov household has had its fair share of trials and tribulations during the pandemic, but once the moment passes, they all seem a bit insignificant.  We move on.  Checking for scars, collecting our new “triggers.” And we as parents start mentally preparing for the next, inevitable, $hit show.  

My dear, sweet Nikola, sensing my dilemma of not knowing what to write about, wanted to help.  So, at 7pm, during our first reading of “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus”, he looked at me, and I swear, it was like a telepathic exchange. With his eyes, he employed the widely Meme’d idiom “hold my beer”.  And that’s when things went South. Which, in turn, forced us North – To Maine Med ER.

The scream crying came fast and strong.  An ear ache was the instigator.  The medicinal properties of children’s Tylenol were no match for the ailment. And thus, a trip to urgent care was required.  Looking at the clock and knowing that time was not on our side, I scooped up Nikola, and ran as fast as an out of shape woman carrying a 35-pound wailing toddler can.  No time to change out of slippers.  A sacrifice was made.  

A frantic phone call to the urgent care imploring them to please wait for us was to no avail.  We arrived at 8:02 to a dark and locked building.  An additional phone call to his pediatrician and a turn of the heal.  We were off for the 45-minute ride to Portland.  The ER nurses and doctors made quick work of our visit.  For which I am eternally grateful.  

A prescription for an antibiotic would be the cure.  And all I’d need to do, because of the hospital pandemic rules, would be to exit the building, go back to the garage, get myself and cranky toddler back in my car, drive to the main entrance, find parking, get out, get my child out, walk in that entrance, sign in, a left and then a right, and alas our pharmaceutical refuge awaits. 

We purchased the healing, bubblegum smelling concoction, without insurance.  My new insurance card wouldn’t work.   Because, well, Its 2020.  A quick late evening jaunt in a foggy, super shady Portland neighborhood to return to our car. And an end to the adventure was in sight.  I could smell it.  But first, I thought it best to give Nikola his first dose of medicine before we started home.  He looked at me and said “I feel good, mama” I assured him we should take it anyway.  Just to be safe. And then he puked everywhere…. And then that was what I smelled.

A call to action lends itself to tough conversations

I don’t usually comment on issues such as the ones plaguing our country lately. However, the above image called to me so furiously, I simply have to.

When I watched the video of George Floyd being murdered, my eyes filled with tears. I shook my head, and silently begged for the cop to take his knee of Mr. Floyds neck. Even though I knew the outcome. The headline said it all. But when he cried out “Mama,” my heart imploded. The tears came and didn’t stop. It was my call to action.

I am a white woman from Calais, Maine. The second whitest state in our nation and the 9th whitest city in that state. When I say, I know not of what I speak, that is an understatement. I have no idea how Black people feel right now. I couldn’t begin to fathom. But I do know how I feel. And that feeling compels something in me that I have never experienced with such urgency. I must start speaking up.

I did yesterday. For the first time, with someone I love very much. Someone who I don’t talk about things like this with. Our views differ greatly on most hot button issues. When I called, this person was upset. While it wasn’t about George Floyds death; somehow, the conversation digressed. I remained calm and quiet for a long time. I listened to them go on a diatribe filled with ignorance and hate. And while they were unraveling, I took a moment to plot. Plot the absolute best way to rebuke their sentiments.

Throughout my life I’ve always taken great pride in my ability to connect with people. I don’t know a lot about many things, but I know enough about enough things that I’m able to talk with just about anyone. I’ve always found that speaking to a subject that resonates with someone creates a bond. A lasting connection that will carry through to whatever type of relationship becomes of it. I’ve also found that it may be the best way to have people hear what you’re saying when differences in opinion occur.

So, when they were finished, I told this person that they were one of the most compassionate people I knew. Something I knew they are proud of. But the feelings that they had just expressed didn’t reflect that. I reminded them of the conversation we had the other day about how lucky we were to be born in such a beautiful state. And then I brought them into the present. I said that that when god was handing out straws the day we were born, we drew the long one. We were born white Americans. And if it hadn’t gone in our favor. If we had drawn the short straw. Been born a minority, or in a war-torn country; that I knew they would’ve done whatever it takes for their family to feel safe. To know that they were equal. To not have to live in fear. Things got quiet after that. I don’t know if what I said had an impact. I suspect it did a little. But I do know that I will continue to speak up. To whomever may be challenging me.

With all that being said; the most difficult conversation I had, was the one with myself. Telling myself that it was time to start talking. That being silent and not standing up for what was right was just as bad as the racist population. As I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t talk about these sorts of things often. And that is simply because of ignorance on my part. I worry that the words I use to articulate these thoughts and feelings may not be right or respectful. I do not know any black people well. And I am ashamed of that. If you are a POC and are reading this; I truly welcome any and all feedback. More than anything these events have taught me that I need to educate myself better. Please feel free to reach out to me in any way.

Premonition or Déjà Vu?

Get out your wellies boys and girls.  This one is gonna get a little deep. 

I believe that most everything happens for a reason.  I think that we are all heading towards a sort of incredibly vague predetermined destiny.  Some people may find that comforting, others perhaps not.  I’m indifferent.  But it does play into this theory of mine quite nicely.

Most people have experienced Deja Vu at some point in their lives.  It’s a fairly common phenomenon. But I seem to have it regularly.  Maybe once or twice every couple of weeks.  Only, I’m not certain that’s what I’d consider it really.  When this experience occurs I dont have the feeling that I have been in that exact space before.  It’s not about space for me.  It is about the lighting, the smells, the sounds, the people, the entire experience in that split second. It’s not something happening “again”. Instead it’s something I had, at some point, dreamt of happening. A premonition. 

When these moments happen, I relish them. I close my eyes and will it to last longer.  This sudden and fleeting sense is what I like to think of as a “checkpoint”.  It’s a little blip in time that confirms I’ve made the right choices.  I’m on the right path. That all my stars are aligning just so. And I find that astoundingly comforting.

I had a “checkpoint” moment yesterday.  I had just gotten home from work.  My baby was in his walker and we were in the kitchen.  He and I have been in those exact spots countless times. But yesterday was different.  The familiar and exciting feeling came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes for a moment. Then looked at my son and smiled.  Believing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be is one the most gratifying sensations there is.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread


My news feed has been filled with things about “Self-Care” lately.  Now, admittedly I’m not the most open-minded person I know.  But, it just seemed so ridiculous for a new mom to concern herself with any sort of “Self-Care”.  “How selfish”, I thought.

We had a rough week last week with the baby being sick.  It’s totally thrown his whole sleeping schedule out of whack.  He wakes up very early, doesn’t like to nap, and gets bored easily.  I have been exhausted to a point that I’ve never felt before. My husband asked me last night if I wanted him to take the baby to daycare in the morning. I hesitated, and then said yes. I immediately felt guilty.  I had to work the closing shift today. I went in at 4 and didn’t get home until 2am. I knew I needed sleep but it didn’t matter.  Guilt of a parent is palpable at times.

As my husband pulled out of the driveway this morning, our son in the backseat, I almost ran after him.  I didn’t want the baby to go to daycare. I missed him the second they were out the door. But he needed to.  For all of us.

I had a list a mile long of things that needed to be done today.  Clothes put away, closets cleaned out, carpets washed. Yada, yada, yada. I didn’t get the carpets washed.  That’s on the docket for tomorrow.  Instead I did something I love.  Something I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the energy or time in several months.  I tried a new recipe and made something from scratch.

Hello Self-Care

It came out of the oven looking like absolute perfection.  And all was right in the world. It centered me, inspired me, excited me.  I guess this whole Self-Care stuff isn’t such bologna after all.

Tomorrow I’m going to buy a book. Maybe a new cookbook. Reading is another thing I love that I haven’t taken the time to do. And if that isn’t the epitome of optimism for a new mom, well then, I don’t know what is.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 cup Shredded Zucchini
  • 1 Egg

Recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, both sugars, greek yogurt and vanilla extract until combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently. Do not over mix.
  • Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
  • Take the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

If any of you would like to share how you “Self-Care”, I’d love to read it.  Or if you have a good book to recommend, I’m all ears.  Well… Eyes.

Find the original recipe here!

No Churn Homemade Maine Blueberry Ice Cream

When I was wracking my brain trying to come up with blueberry recipes, I remembered making ice cream in a bag back in my 10th grade biology class.  Unfotunately, that may have been the only thing that stuck with me from that class. But,  I thought that the recipe was would be  perfect to share here.  Now, the recipe itself is easy, but you may want to skip arm day at the gym before making this.  You are about to get one hell of a workout.

Ingredients:

2 Cups half and half

4 Tbs sugar

1 Tsp vanilla extract

2 cups of blueberries

You will also need:

Ice

1/2 Cup kosher salt

1 Gallon size Ziplock bag

Several plastic shopping bags.

Instructions:

Fill one of the shopping bags about half way with ice.  Keep in mind, it’s going to leak so I highly recommend double or triple bagging it.  Pour the kosher salt over the ice and let sit while making the ice cream mixture.  In a food processor, pour in the half and half, blueberries, sugar and vanilla and mix on high for a few minutes.  Pour mixture into ziplock bag and seal tightly.  Place the ziplock bag into the shopping bag with ice.  Shake for 10 minutes.  You’re arms will get tired, and time will go by slow, and you’ll worry that you did something wrong when it doesn’t harden.  Keep shaking.  I found that tying the shopping bag and rolling it on a table worked well too.  Once you feel the consistency get harder, pour mixture in a freezer safe container.  And there ya have it. Enjoy!

 

 

Blueberry Lemon Freezer Jam

When we found the blueberry bushes in our yard, my mind immediately started racing.  I don’t really care for the texture of most fruits, blueberries included. So I needed to be a little creative in what I made out of them.  My first thought was jam.  I had already been on a toast and jam kick for a while, so it was perfect.

A few months ago, my grandfather spent some time at our house.  In the morning, I would ask him what he’d like for breakfast.  It was always the same thing, toast with jam and coffee.  Normally, at home, he’d tell me, he would only have one piece.  But, since he was at our house, he’d have two pieces of toast. I don’t know what it is about our house.  Maybe because it’s a few hours away from his, he felt like he was on vacation?  He wanted to let loose a little bit. I know when I’m on vacation I usually eat more than I do normally. Anyways,  because of that, a breakfast of two pieces of toast is now known as the Bampie Special at our house.

I have never made jam.  Initially, the process seemed daunting. Just the set up alone was intense.  I knew there had to be an easier way.  I just had to find it.  And luckily, I did.  It’s called Freezer jam. It’s delicious.  And this is how I made it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  •  Half a lemon
  • 1 package of fruit pectin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6, 8oz ball mason jars

In a bowl, combined blueberries, sugar and juice from the halved lemon.  Use a potato masher to smush (that’s very technical kitchen lingo) the ingredients together.  Once sufficiently smushed, let sit for 15 minutes.  While that’s doing it’s thing, pour water and pectin packet in a small sauce pot and heat to boiling while stirring constantly.  Boil and stir mixture for 1 minute.  Combined the pectin mixture with the blueberries and stir constantly for 3 minutes.

Pour into mason jars and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours or until the mixture has set.  Then, put in freezer for up to 6 months.

 

Also, I bet this mixture would be amazing in a homemade pop-tart.  Check out my homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart recipe to get started.  Just put this blueberry lemon jam inside instead of the brown sugar cinnamon mixture.  And instead of adding cinnamon to the icing, use lemon zest.  Man, I’m already super excited to try this out later this week.  If anyone makes either of these recipes, I would love to hear how they turned out!

 

 

 

 

Foraging Our Little Lot of Land

I found some blueberry bushes on our property a few weeks ago. We only have 2 acres.  But those two are filled with apple trees, blackberry bushes, a pear tree and several blueberry bushes. Most of which we didn’t know about before we bought the house.

A few weeks ago, when we found the blueberries, we had already missed out on the first round to ripen. Hundreds of blueberries littered the ground.  But that didn’t matter much. Our first haul garnered six and a half pounds of some of the biggest blueberries I have ever seen.
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I don’t even really like blueberries. I mean, they’re alright.  But finding them, picking them and cleaning them has brought something out in me that I didn’t know was there.  A foragers instinct that I’ve never explored.  Every few days I’ll go and survey the land.  I’ll take my colander just in case anything is ready to be picked.  I’ll stop by my pear tree, check on the one pear that still hangs.  At one time there were 2 pears on it, but something got one of them.  After I confirm that the pear, is in fact, still in the tree, I move on to the blueberry bushes.  I pick what I can.  Trying to contain my excitement at the bounty so as to not pick any before they’re ready.

Next, I move on the apple trees.  When we did our home inspection before we bought it last year, our inspector was pretty impressed by how old the trees appeared to be. Upon inspection of the apples, some research, and a professionals opinion we have concluded that these are Baldwin apples.  One of the oldest types of apples there is.  First introduced to Maine in the late 1700’s.  They are great for making pies, apple sauce, and cider. A couple of friends came over for dinner the other night and they tried some of the apples. The smaller one they tried was still tart, but the bigger one was sweet.  They should be great for baking.

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I told my husband the other day that I wanted to be a farmer.  He looked concerned.  I assured him that I meant as a hobby, not a profession.   We are going to work our way up to getting some chickens next spring, I think.  In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I could keep something alive, other than humans and dogs.  So I started a herb garden.  So far so good.  Much better than my succulent garden last year.

 

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As the weather changes and fall creeps in, the thought of all the baking and cooking possibilities with these provisions gets me even more excited for fall than I usually am.  I’ve already tried out a few recipes that I’m excited to share here soon.  So keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Blueberry Lemon Freezer Jam
  • Homemade No-Churn Blueberry Ice Cream
  • Tomato Basil Bisque

More will be added as soon as the apples ripen.

 

 

A Place For Maine Writers, Bloggers and Photographers

 

Hi there! My name is Darci and am still fairly new to blogging.  I noticed that there aren’t any FB groups dedicated to bloggers in Maine.  I thought this would be a great place to first connect, and see if there may be in interested in joining one.  If there is, than I’d be very happy to get one going.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like to be involved. Just comment below!

 

Thanks!