Monday, July 30, 2007

TNC Campaign

If you have been reading this blog for any time at all you already know we are currently set up on Silver Lake in New Hampshire. Our new friends Mark and Bonnie who invited us out as well as family members John and Lolly have extended to us the opportunity to participate in a campaign they are involved with through The Nature Conservancy (TNC.) The land around Silver Lake is a pine barrens forest which is becoming an increasingly rare ecosystem to find intact. TNC is endeavoring to raise money to purchase tracts of land to protect the Ossipee Pine Barrens and the Silver Lake watershed. I am here to tell you it is land and water worth protecting. The area is absolutely magical to wander through whether it be on foot through the forest or in a kayak or canoe out on the water.

We attended a gathering at neighbors Ted and Kathy's house on Saturday night which was led by a few trustees from TNC. They gave a talk on the ecological rarity and importance of the area here in the Mt. Washington Valley in the shadow of the White Mountains. Billy is of course going to be completing several paintings of this place over the next few weeks or months and has actually already finished two pieces. So we decided to make a contribution through his auctions of this work to benefit this campaign. There will be a new Silver Lake piece put up for auction every ten days or so for the next 6 or 8 weeks (possibly longer... we will see what the response is.) The percentage donated to TNC will be on a sliding scale as follows...

$49 -$200 = 10% sale price to TNC
$201-$500 = 20% sale price to TNC
$501-$800 = 30% sale price to TNC
$801 and Up = 40% sale price to TNC

The first piece goes up for auction tonight at ten o'clock eastern time. It's a view of Stacy Mountain (which sits due East of Mt. Chocorua in the White Mountain range) as seen from Cook's River heading back into Cook's Pond. This whole area is part of The Silver Lake Watershed and the lands to be purchased for protection. Here is the painting going up for auction tonight...

You can see a much larger version by clicking on the image. We have so enjoyed the opportunity to explore, photograph and paint this area we really hope there will be a great response to these special auctions and we can make a substantial contribution to this campaign. You can view the auction in detail or place a bid by clicking HERE.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Some doggie goodness....

This is Rudy's new friend Lulu. Lulu is a very good girl and she is very tolerant of Rudy's pesky, youthful ways. What you see above is not at all an accurate depiction of what usually goes on when Rudy is this near to Lulu's side. True to his usual form Rudy mostly snorts and grunts and jumps on her face 49 million times.

Lulu is way too dignified to have people jumping on her face.

Especially when it's a dirty bum like the one pictured here...

Lulu has also gotten hip to the fact that Billy always has a pocket full of treats. She waits patiently for a chance at some treat action.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Hampshire Blues

I wish there was a reference point in the above photo so you could truly see how enormous that dragonfly was. It may have been the biggest one I have ever seen. If you have not yet clicked on the photo to blow up the pic... he was nicely striped in a suit of blue and black. There are a bazillion dragonflies out on the lake, especially over in the river where all the lily pads are... but this one really made an impression on me as being special.

Today is a mellow rainy day at the lake. We did go into Tamworth this morning to a farmer's market with Mark and his Mom (who is 94, cute as a button and a real pleasure to spend time with.) We bought some locally grown flowers and Mark bought tons of produce and some fresh homemade bread which we devoured toasted with butter upon arriving back at the cottage.

In keeping with my "blue" theme... Mark, Billy and I ventured out to "a secret location" near the lake to pick blueberries. After an hour or so picking we came out of the woods with about 6 quarts of the best, sweetest berries you can imagine. There are so many of them out there it boggles the mind. You could not even think about coming close to picking them all. We have enough to make 6 pies. And we probably will make 6 pies. And eat them all too.

One interesting discovery we have made is that Rudy LOVES blueberries. He was poking his nose in anywhere we were picking and demanding berries to be hand fed to him. Eventually he figured out how to spot and pick them himself and continued to gorge himself. We are still waiting to see if he gets sick from eating too many. Look closely in this photo and you will see the pink puppy tongue in anticipation of the berry in my hand...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Success! In my efforts this morning online trying to find a local place to install a roof rack system for a canoe on the truck I discovered that The Canoe King of New England was a mere 4 miles or so away from us here at Silver Lake. some things are just meant to be. So we drove on over and ended up finding a kayak which suited our needs perfectly and did not require anything other than a traditional Yakima rack on the truck. The kayak is a Native Watercraft Ultimate 16 footer which seats two and has room for Rudy to ride with us as well. We came back to the lake and jumped right in to test her out.

Our first endeavor in the craft was pulling up alongside the little island out front of the cove here to eat wild blueberries right off the bushes while sitting comfortably in our seats. Because of this we decided to christen the kayak "The Blueberry." Don't let the fact that she is olive green worry you. It's The Blueberry.

Getting used to kayak paddling takes a minute. You feel like a real clumsy idiot for the first 1/2 an hour but then it starts to get easier. We went around the cove and into the river and back. Rudy slept like he was dead on the floorboard for most of the trip so it was pretty uneventful for him. The cool thing about this particular craft is this... you can stand up in it. Not the case with pretty much any other kayak or canoe. The hull is constructed with an indentation that gives more stability in the water. We tested it out and it's true... you can totally stand up in it.

Billy could even set up a small easel in this kayak and paint in it if he really wanted to. It's gonna be a great addition to our traveling show.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Canoe Shopping Shut Down

We have been discussing the idea of getting kayaks or a canoe for a few months now. After having use of the one here at Silver Lake for the past few days we have decided it's a go... and because of Rudy we have decided a canoe would be easier than kayaks. We got all jazzed up to drive back over to Freeport, Maine to the flagship store for LL Bean tonight and buy our shiny new red canoe but found out it just ain't that easy. Because of the topper on the bed of our ginormous truck we have to get a special rack installed before we can haul a canoe. Bummer. At least I found out before we drove all the way to Bean's. I am hoping I can find a place in Brattleboro, VT to have this done and then maybe we can buy the canoe there as well while staying there two weeks from now. I am still gritting my teeth a bit over being robbed of the instant gratification canoe I was in such anticipation of earlier today. LL Bean needs to take it to the next level and set up a shop to do this kind of stuff right there on the spot. I mean... they are open 24 hours a day 365 days a year at that store... they may as well *really* be full service.

We had a really great day today. The weather was perfect and we spent the whole morning paddling around the lake and up river. We both tried fishing on and off for the rest of the day but with no success. I have not caught a fish since I was a kid. If I were to catch one now I may not handle it so well. I really have no business fishing. I am a vegetarian and I don't even care for fish (as a food item that is fellow inhabitants of the Earth I think they are great people.) But I have a weird deep seeded obsession with trying to catch fish. I love *the idea* of fishing. Not so much the idea of wrenching sharp hooks in mouths... but the whole atmosphere which surrounds the fisherman and his efforts. So... that said... wish me luck that I DON'T catch a fish. Because it will be a very upsetting scenario of I do. Better that I just toss the rubber bait thing around and snaggle it on plants and junk under the water. Yes.

In closing for tonight here are a few lovely photos from our canoe trip up river this morning...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Silver Lake Hospitality

As you can see we are happily nestled in on Silver Lake in New Hampshire. Our new friends Mark and Bonnie invited us to stay for the week and we are in love with this spot already! Billy backed the trailer down the long driveway and we have a nice view of the lake right out the bedroom window. Last night we listened to the loons calling out on the lake. It was pretty great.

Upon arrival yesterday Mark took us for a boat ride around the lake. The scenery is amazing. The lake is backed by the White Mountains and in particular Mt. Chocorua which is the more pointy, craggy peak you see in the photo. This is our view from the cottage...

Rudy enjoyed his ride in the boat... although we had to keep a close eye on him as he kept trying to leap out on the back end where it was quite possible he would have slipped off the back and into the drink... or worse yet into the motor.

We had a nice dinner out on the deck with Mark and Bonnie complete with homemade blueberry pie made from fresh handpicked local blueberries.

Billy is setting up to paint right now... he wants to get some work out of the way today so we can go exploring, hiking or canoing tomorrow. I am perfectly content to hang out with a book on the deck and dear Rudy is like a drunken frat boy on vacation... he is (for the first time) roaming free in the woods eating pine cones, growling ferociously at chipmunks and chasing bees.

Thanks to Mark and Bonnie for inviting us out! It looks like it will be a great week!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rainy Day Friends

If ever a rat is on your back...hold your head HIGH! Who cares! Exude a very aristocRATic attitude and all will be well. Unlike having a monkey on your back.... a rat is just plain no big deal. Ignore him and he will stop harassing you and perhaps even become a friend to hang out with on a dreary, wet day.

This life lesson is generously brought to you today by Master Rudy the Rat Whisperer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Climb Every Mountain....

Yesterday being the last day of decent weather predicted for this week (Maine is a rainy, wet place this Summer for us... ) we headed to Camden Hills State Park to hike the Megunticook Trail. It's only a three mile hike but there is about a 1,400 foot gain in elevation in the first 1.5 mile section so it is a pretty steady climb to the payoff point. We took Rudy and looked at it as an opportunity to work on his leash training and to tire his little ass out for the rest of the day. He did really well both with the actual climb and with his training too. We had concerns over finding the right small dog who would be capable of going on long and somewhat strenuous hikes with us. I think we have found the right little doggie dude for the job.

People we passed on the trail acted as though we were really "doing something" to him by MAKING him hike the trail with us. They were all "Oooooooohhhhhh... Look at the puuuppppy! Poor little fella! Do you think he will be able to make it???" Of course during these opportunistic scenarios Rudy would flop down to the ground on his side and play like he was nearly dead with misery and fatigue. The minute the concerned hikers departed he would begin to enthusiastically charge up the trail eating sticks and devouring any bugs that dared to cross his path along the way. Go figure. I have to wonder if he noticed the view from the top? Do dogs *see* stuff like that? He did go and peer over the edge more than a few times and let the wind raise his little ear flaps up... but more likely than not he was just looking down and out thinking that the trees below looked like so many chew toys.

Today we are trapped indoors enduring yet another rainy day. It's supposed to rain for the rest of the week here. Bleh. Maybe we will try to teach Rudy to play Scrabble.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Days and Nights of Hedgie

Well. I will be the first to admit that I have sucked lately when it comes to posting. I realize this at random moments and honestly feel sort of helpless to do anything about it. Why? It's the Hedgie Effect...

Yes. Meet Hedgie. He has become an IMPORTANT player in our every day lives. And I feel he is very representational of the overall theme of daily life. He is tired. He is begging for mercy. His nose has been chewed into a bizarre spaghetti like sculpture reaching high to the heavens for salvation. Yet somehow...he endures. Who is the cause of this stress? Who could be so unkind?

Please note the evil intent in the eye. Please note...Hedgie is not the only one at the receiving end of that dirty business. We have entered a phase of rebellion in our small household. Rudolph McLane is testing his boundaries. There was "The Watermelon Incident." The "Why Pee Outside When you can Pee INSIDE Dilemma." There is the development of "This Whole Bed Belongs to ME now." And finally the "I think I will eat this WHOLE STICK OF BUTTER while your not looking!" disaster. Of course we still have to get up and go "Out" at 5:20 in the A.M. to pee and get multiple mosquito bites. Don't get me wrong though.... it's not all fire and brimstone and tears of blood. We do have the occasional respite from the battle.

I should also mention that Rudy has a girlfriend. She lives next door (she is also an Airstreamer...and is very exotic in that she is from Alaska) and her name is Katie. She is a lovely 2 year old Basset Hound. There's is a relationship which must survive on short, tangled romps while on the leash and desperate stares out the window at one an other's comings and goings throughout the day. When they do get to meet up out in the yard Rudy acts as though Katie's face were a saddle custom made for his body and he was meant to ride her like a mechanical bull. The weird thing is she seems to like it. I will have to make an attempt to capture this on the camera before the week is out.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

We Love Maine

Hi all! Things are rolling along just fine for us here in Southern Maine. While our actual campsite is tighter than a tin of sardines the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous. We are right along side the Scarborough Marsh and a good long section of the Eastern Greenbelt biking/hiking trail. We take Rudy for a walk there pretty much every day. It's a great place to walk him because he meets a lot of other people and dogs AND we take a ton of photos while out on the trail. We witnessed an awe inspiring sunset tonight while out walking. Hopefully these pictures will offer a taste of what we saw...

We spent the 4th up in the little town of Freeport which is well known because it is home base for LL Bean. Their "mothership" store is there... open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's a super cool place to visit and shop your ass off. This year is LL Bean's 95th year in Freeport so they put on a big shindig for the 4th. The Robert Cray Band played a free concert and the fireworks were pretty darned snazzy. We brought Rudy and he survived being the cutest puppy in town and was groped and oogled by no less than 42,891 people over the course of the night. I overheard one woman exclaim "OH! Look at the little MAN DOG!" He really does look like a grumpy old man trapped in a floppy puppy body. It's pretty silly looking.

Tomorrow we are taking him to a dog park in Portland. It will be his first off leash experience. Hopefully there are a few dogs there with social skills sharp enough to cut through his tough guy image and teach him to simmer down a bit. After that we are going to hang out in Portland for the day. I dig Portland... it has all the requisite stuff...indie book stores, lots of coffee houses, an great Indian restaurant, a cool waterfront and an amazing market where you can buy fancy cheeses, breads, Asian groceries, wine, goodies, etc., etc. I'll try to remember to take lots of pics to share this weekend.