moments from the week

Zion walking on rocks in a lake surrounded by mountains


Moments from the past week.

the boys playing on a wooden playground merry-go-round

old playgrounds are the best

Harvey in the fog at the beach in Lincolnville

beach weather in Maine

the boys sitting on the ground among all the STUFF at the campsite, having dinner

camping life

Elijah making a silly pose up in a tree

our silly climber

the boys posing atop Champlain Mountain

there's still energy to be silly at the top of mountains

Elijah standing at the water's edge at Sand Beach

we went to the beach


catching up

I've been cheating. If you scroll down you'll notice that today I've added a bunch of backdated posts going back to July 20. I had them all planned and most of them partly written, but you know, we've got a lot going on! There isn't always time to write. But there was time today!

I filled in everything I had to say from the week of the 18th, but there won't be any posts from the last week of July because we were away, camping in Maine. Well, the trip was through Thursday night; Friday I was recovering. Now I'm all recovered. Look out for some thrilling vacation reports coming up soon!

camping 2021 part 1

We missed going camping in Bar Harbor last year. And since this year our friends weren't feeling up to taking part in our usual annual trip, we figured we'd go on our own at some point. Last Monday that point arrived, rather suddenly, at breakfast. I realized that the summer was running on and we'd barely done anything vactiony—so I decided we were leaving right then. Or at least, as soon as we could get ready. It would be just us boys: Leah needed to stay home and work and the dogs would stay with her. That meant the packing was all up to us too (she did volunteer to help but I told her that wouldn't be fair). I'm proud to say that we managed it beautifully, including a trip to the grocery store for camping necessities like ice and chips, all in time to be on the road before noon.

We were all excited to be on the road! The weather was fine, there was no traffic, and the EZ-Pass transponder we took out of the old car after not using it for two years was getting us though the tolls. We thrilled at each of the big bridges we crossed—over the Merrimack and the Piscataqua, the Kennebec at Bath and the Sheepscot at Wiscasset. As old as the boys are we could have driven the whole way without a stop, but what fun is that?! For old times' sake I called our first pause at the little playground in Warren, ME, that we haven't visited since 2014. The older two still had some memories of it—mainly the river which runs through it (and which improved mapping technology in 2021 lets me correct that old post with the actual name of the river, the Saint George River). And then we made some new memories when Lijah took off his shorts so as not to get them wet but, in kicking them off his foot, sent them right into the water! We also had a great time playing on the awesome old-fashioned playground equipment.

the boys wading in a river

every playground should have one!

As we approached Camden we were greeted by a proper Maine fog. While it was just the thing for atmospheric effect at the beach in Lincolnville, it did keep us from thinking too hard about swimming. But of course there are lots more ways to enjoy a beach! Plus it was fun to see the ferry to Isleboro disappearing into the fog—and then reappearing, despite still going away from us, when the fog pulled back.

the boys watching the ferry in the fog at Lincolnville Beach

this is when it really feels like Maine

We also stopped for a second in Trenton to get some campfire wood—cheaper there than on the island—but since I didn't even turn off the engine I don't think it counted. Arriving at the campground a little before 6, we found a site and quickly unpacked, in a hurry to put the firewood to its appointed purpose. The boys were a huge help! I rewarded them with a supper of hot dogs (and veggie burgers) and Annies mac-and-cheese. There were smores for dessert of course.

the boys toasting marshmallows over the campfire


Then it was off to bed on our beautifully soft camp mattresses... there was lots to do the next day!


other adventures

Not content to rest on our camping laurels, we scheduled a full slate of adventures for this week. Today's was a trip to Rockport with our school friends who, despite having lived in Massachusetts their whole lives, have never been there! Good thing we know all the best spots.

the boys at the end of the wharf in Rockport

looks suitably nautical

We started off with a look at the harbor and the shops along Bearskin Neck. The strudel shop was open so we stopped in for some croissants, which we ate along with our lunches from home on the breakwater. Then the kids ran along the rocks to the end of the breakwater where some of them, not content with the amount of danger they'd already exposed themselves to, climbed the warning sign pole.

Elijah climbing a sign pole at the end of the breakwater

he wasn't the only one to go up

On the way back through town we passed by the ice cream store and, despite my suggestion that it might be better to wait a little to get hungry again, the kids insisted we stop for another treat. So we did. They regretted it too and some ice cream ended up going in the trash can, but that's ok: it's all part of the experience. The picture looks good anyhow.

the boys eating ice cream in front of the Ice Cream Shop

you have to, on vacation!

Then it was on to the beach! The water was a little chilly for some of the party, though nothing to those of us who had been swimming in Maine a couple days ago. Plus it was dead calm and shallow for quite some distance off the sand—just like a salt water swimming pool! We had lots of fun swimming and also running and doing gymnastics in the water, and also put in some time climbing the rocks at the side of the beach.

Harvey and Zion in the dead calm ocean

still waters

With a baby along on the expedition the fun couldn't last forever, so we pulled the kids away from the water before they were quite ready. Before we left town, though, we had to visit the higher rocks which I like to think give the town its name (that's right where we were parked anyway). It was an acceptably romantic prospect.

Elijah climbing down giant rocks to the ocean

eponymous rocks

All that, and we were even home in time for supper!


camping 2021 part 2

On our first full day of camping we had big plans! After a breakfast of toasted bagels and cereal, we packed up lunches, swimsuits, warm clothes, and enough snacks to sustain us on an epic hike over a couple of mountaintops. As we picked up our park pass and investigated bus schedules we learned that our hike would have to be even more epic that I had thought, since the closure of the bus stop at Bubble Rock meant we'd have to walk almost a mile and half on the flat around Jordan Pond before we could start climbing. The boys were still game to try, and it was a beautiful start to the expedition, as seen in the first picture of this post. We also got to walk across this super cool bridge:

the boys crossing a timber bridge at the north end of Jordan Pond

timber suspension but no railings

Then it was up and up as we ascended the steep east side of Sargent Mountain, the second-highest peak in Acadia National Park (and the highest without a road to the top). I hadn't gone up Sargent since 2012 and the boys (obviously) never have. It's a hike, and we were doing great up the steep part over the first half of the distance up but started to feel a little sloggy as it rounded out at the top and we had to cross over one false summit to see the real top still a quarter-mile away in the distance. But we made it, and only a couple minutes late for lunch! We were hungry enough to put off the celebratory summit photo (made possible by the timer on the camera) until after we ate.

the four of us posing on top of Sargent Mountain


Of course, the real reason to go up Sargent is to visit Sargent Pond, and after a mile or so of descending we were more than ready for a swim. There were enough people there to have some pleasant chats but not so many that it felt crowded, and our time in the water was entirely delightful and free of leeches (leeches had been something of a concern in the planning process).

the boys playing in Sargent Pond

refreshing waters

(Harvey had actually been there before, but he couldn't remember it.)

From Sargent Pond it's only a third of a mile to the top of Penobscot, so it seemed like a waste not to summit there too. Energy was flagging a bit by the time we reached the top, but you can see that Elijah still had enough juice to throw a pose.

the boys at the top of Penobscot Mountain

sit down for a minute

We perked up on the long gradual south ridge of Penobscot (over a mile long), but at the end of the ridge the trail turned steeply downward and there were some very nervous moments descending steep cliffy bits on tired legs. I couldn't photograph any of the hardest sections, but this gives some sense of the overall steepness:

Zion on the trail looking up at a sheer cliff

good thing we didn't have to come straight down that!

Just before we made it back to the Jordan Pond House and civilization we crossed a stream, where we stopped to soak our sore feet. Everyone was cheering up until, just as we were moving to leave, Lijah slipped and fell entirely into the water. He was very sad. It was a worn-out crew who stumbled onto the concrete paths and mowed lawns at the Jordan Pond House after about six miles of walking and well over 1000 feet of climbing.

Zion and Elijah resting amid a pile of cast-off gear

made it

The bus trip back to the car was very relaxing, as was an hour or two in or around the pool before we had to head back to the site to start the fire and cook our rice and beans. That day's smores were very well deserved.

Elijah eating a smore at the campsite



what a week!

I thought this week that the boys and I would have a chance to reset our schedule and get settled down to get some things done before the start of the school year. We've certainly put in some strong work—catching up on weeding and cleaning their room, plus rediscovering the regular daily chores—but it's been hard to stick to a schedule because we've had big outings every day of the week!

Monday we were invited to hike and play with friends we hadn't seen for a while. The playing was so much fun we didn't hike at all, just hung out in their yard for three or four hours. On Tuesday we went blueberry picking; I had promised never to go there again but when friends who we hadn't seen in even longer invited us I figured the chance to hang out with them was well worth the price. Correctly: we had a great time together! Plus got some blueberries that I still haven't found time to turn in to jam. On Wednesday we went to Rockport. On Thursday the boys spent the day at my parents' house, which let me do some brain work (including writing some blog posts!), but which didn't forward our work at home at all. And today we spent six and a half hours out on an epic bike-riding and playground-visiting tour of delight with friends (and then had more friends over to sit around the fire this evening!). So fun, and so tiring. I wonder how next week will go?

moments from the week

zinnias and other flowers in a jar on the kitchen table

flower season

Moments and images from the past week.

Elijah rocking a floral print scarf and goggles on his head

he has style

veggies, mint, and blueberries on the kitchen table

produce coming in

waffles for breakfast outside on the deck

summer breakfasts are the best

Elijah on the beach burying his legs in the sand

taking a break from the water

Zion, Elijah, and a friend sliding down a big slide on our picnic rug

magic carpet ride

Elijah standing on barely submerged rocks in a pond

ponds rock


on the hammock

We try and keep our house beautiful and comfortable within, and it often is, which is lovely. But sometimes it's too comfortable, and we miss opportunities to go outside. That's where the hammock comes in! The last few days Elijah and I have been enjoying it as a spot to share books; it's just lovely to be able to relax outside and enjoy peak flower season (especially if I can ignore peak weeds). Of course, the hammock isn't perfect: the dogs can't get in it, for one. Though maybe that's not an absolute negative, since this afternoon I'm not sure there would have been room for the two of them plus Elijah, me, and Zion. Also, as Lijah pointed out, hammocks lack cup-holders, which is definitely a drawback when you're just back from a summer bike ride. We had to make do with putting our giant glasses of ice water on the ground (where the dogs, just back themselves from a walk, were able to drink from them). And the worst thing is since I want the hammock to last, I try and take it in when it's going to be wet. With a 75% chance of rain for this evening I'm going to go do that in a moment. The trick then is to remember to put it back up when it's nice in the morning! Because I tend to forget about it as an option when it's away in the shed, and I don't want to miss a moment of beautiful summer hammocking!

oh yeah, what's happening in the garden?

With so much going on last week I forgot all about the garden report! So here's an interim update. Awesome: beans, kale, zinnias. Parsley. Producing well but suffering from disease or otherwise reaching the end of the line: cucumbers and basil. Starting to come on strong: peppers and (if only we can keep off the blight) tomatoes.

the garden on August 10


Really, it's delightful how much food we're getting out of the garden lately. The majority of our vegetable intake and, with the blueberries still going and the apples starting to get ripe, fruit too. The garlic is all in and it did amazing, though I think I should have pulled it before we went to Maine rather than after, since some of the heads got a little too dry. And we're eating all the cucumbers we could possibly want, so while I'm a little sad to see the vines succumbing to downy mildew or whatever it is, we could also take a break from cucumbers for a little while. The boys and I put in some heavy weeding time after we got back from camping, so things are looking well in that regard too. Lots of work to do each week for sure, but I think it's safe to say that in the beginning of August the state of the garden is strong!


in a pickle

When do we make pickles?! It's actually not that complicated to get at least the dill pickles done, but it takes a good bit of time and a lot of space (and mess). Also sequencing, which I'm bad at—with the last batch I was already to get started only to find we were almost out of dill seed, and this time I needed to make a trip to the store for lids. And worst of all, it's hot! Having a growing collection of pickling cukes in the fridge is a background stressor that definitely makes me feel increasingly uneasy as time goes on, so yesterday at the farmers market I bought six or seven more to force the issue. And this evening, even though it's "excessive heat watch" hot and I was tired and it was the boys' bedtime Zion, Elijah, and I got it done. They were delighted, and I'm relieved. They also wanted to make bread-and-butter pickles, but that's an entirely more complex process that we're going to have to save for another day. Or maybe even another year...

camping 2021 part 3

the boys asleep in the tent


Our first day's hike was hard work, so the tent felt super comfortable for a long sleep. And there were no worries about sleeping late, since the boys had requested breakfast at a restaurant for our second morning—or should I say the restaurant, one of the central pieces of our Bar Harbor vacation experience. Knowing how hard it is to park in town, I cleverly had us pack the bikes, so we could leave the car out by the playing fields and ride to the cafe. We arrived to a 15-20 minute wait, but there was also a giant connect four game so no worries at all. Before we knew it, we were sitting down to a tremendous feast.

our laden table at Cafe This Way

camping is hungry work

After we ate we headed down to the shore (experiencing some difficulty navigating the bikes through the extremely crowded streets and sidewalks; now we wished we didn't have them). We played on the cannons, threw rocks into the ocean, and climbed on cliffs. Like you do.

Elijah posing atop a rock tower

he climbed up twice as fast as last time

On our way back through town we stopped at the department store for the boys to buy some fuzzy souvenirs. Then we did something new (a rarity when we go on the same vacation every year) when we stopped at the skate park and rode some lines. It's a great spot, and I wished I had a BMX bike! I borrowed Elijah's for a few minutes but it's not quite the same.

Zion and Elijah riding in the bike park

every town should have a skate park this good!

Since I hoped to do some slightly longer riding, I persuaded the boys to try a few miles on the carriage road network. I hadn't ridden on the carriage roads for years and years—since Harvey was born, for sure—and the main reason I brought bikes was to give them a go. The boys were feeling pretty tired but allowed me to psych them up ahead what I promised would be a fun and beautiful ride... and then, a quarter mile in, we hit a long steep steady uphill that almost brought on a mutiny. In their defense, it was super hard! But in mine as a cycling instructor and encourager, everybody but Elijah was able to ride up with just a break or two along the way. Lots of the adults we saw couldn't manage that! We paused for a tired picture at the top or so, then everybody enjoyed some downhill miles that made it all worthwhile. If you ask me, at least.

Harvey and Elijah on the carriage road overlooking the ocean

too tired to admire the view

Cycling is my favorite, but you know those boys want to be in the water. So, back at the campground, we finished the day with a good long swim in the pool.

Harvey and Zion in the pool

another day, another pool soak

Dinner was just spaghetti and red sauce, so that was easy. After yet more smores, we went to bed in the tent for the last time on the trip. How was it we were going home tomorrow?! It seemed like we'd just got there!


moments from the week

Elijah sitting comfortably in a hole in the sand at Walden Pond

cool and comfortable at the beach

Moments from the past week.

Elijah precariously climbing on the playground

finding new ways to climb things

Elijah playing with little plastic pokemon at the picnic table

quiet outdoor play

Zion waiting by a highway sign beside Rt 2

we're going another way

Zion eating an ice cream truck popsicle

the real summer treat

Harvey holding up a choco-frosted cupcake topped with a strawberry

another delicacy

Elijah riding on a meadow path with his life jacket on his backpack

exploring: in search of a pond


a little pause

I love writing, and I love recording the fun things we get up to, but it's all feeling a little overwhelming lately. I think it's time for a little break from trying to find time to write amid all the other chaos and excitement of our late summer days. Maybe I'll get back to it next week; maybe in September... I think it just depends on whether we do anything so amazing that I just have to get it down in print.

moments from the week

Elijah in the pond with a swim mask on

our newest swimmer

Moments from the past week.

Zion and Elijah basking on the chicken coop roof by the pool

summertime life

Elijah chewing on a stick being a beaver

another lost tooth makes him a beaver

Zion going off a jump on his bike

practicing flying

Elijah with his feet up reading in a library chair

hours at the library

Zion and Elijah watching a musket demonstration


Elijah looking at a towery wooden playground

taking a break from fun at a new playground


moments from the week

Elijah in the inflatable pool on the back deck

keeping cool

A few moments from the past week.

a great blue heron on our lawn

a frequent visitor this past week

Elijah eating a popsicle outside the library

end of summer library party


my favorite food (this month)

The best thing about August is tomatoes. We have about 20 tomato plants in our garden, between the regular ones and the cherries and the paste tomatoes, but the ones that really matter to me are the three Pruden's Purple plants. Because those big beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for the best food, the tomato sandwich.

a tomato sandwich


Sometimes people use a slice or two of tomato on a sandwich to add a little extra flavor or, you know, as decoration; occasionally tomato even makes it to co-headline status like in a BLT. But that's just because those folks haven't experienced the delight of a freshly picked Pruden's Purple (or Brandywine, or...) tomato, sliced thickly, on toast with plenty of mayonaise and a little salt. Yum. I confess this isn't my favorite time of year, what with the mold and rot and general decay that pervades the world. But the tomatoes make it worth living through.


surprise outing

Yesterday I had a loose plan for the day: do some cleaning, read some books together, and generally get used to living according to a schedule. That's something that we haven't been managing much for the last couple weeks, and with a very scheduled September coming up I though it would be worthwhile to do some prep work. But that went straight out the window when friends invited us to the beach. Because, the beach!

the boys and friends digging in the sand at the beach

it's still summer!

We went to Wingaersheek, which we've never visited (or spelled) before. I'd heard about it, but I was put off by the cost to park and the threat of crowding. The morning's clouds and iffy forecast meant the latter wasn't such a worry, and as for the $30—we'll do it if we get to go with friends! And I'm glad we did, because we had a super fun time. As out friends told us, the beach is best at low tide; sure enough, as soon as we got their (a few minutes ahead of them) the boys headed right out into the shallow water. Way, way out.

the boys walking out into smooth ocean water

this is just when they were getting started...

The other big attraction at Wingaersheek is the variety of rocks scattered in the middle of the beach—not just big cliffs on one side or the other, but littler ones from end-table to tractor-trailer sized. Everyone who wanted could find something that was fun to climb! The rocks also caused the creation of lots of different sized tidepools in the sand around them. We enjoyed rocks and pools for a bit, then at the moment of low tide we headed out onto a spit of sand, oh, a quarter mile or so from the beach—maybe more. I didn't take a camera because we were, you know, in the ocean, so you'll have to trust me when I say that the kids had a great time playing in the little waves that were crossing over the spit in all sorts of interesting patterns.

Eventually we made our way back to dryer land for lunch, and our encampment on a medium-sized complex of rocks was just the thing for eating on the beach without getting sand in all the food. We did have to chase off a number of seagulls though.

the boys and friends eating lunch on a rock rising a few feet above the beach sand

our camp for several hours

As the tide came in, it started to lap around the first of the rocks. After a bit we noticed that one of them made a perfect slide; that occupied us for a while.

the boys sliding down a smooth rock into the water

water park

Then we climbed some bigger rocks, then explored a whole new section of beach on the other side. It had its own points of fascination: another, smaller, spit; super soft squishy sand in one spot; a big temperature gradient from one side of the spit to the other. Plus the sun was out some, lighting up the shallow water a beautiful blue-green so it looked just like the Caribbean. Again, though, no camera.

By this point we were on hour five at the beach, but our interest was sustained by all the changes the tide brought to the already varied landscape. The last couple minutes the water lapping among all the different shaped rocks even put us in mind of a skate park, and we did some sweet tricks. If only the lifeguards didn't tell us we couldn't jump off the rocks (this is Massachusetts, after all) it would have been perfect. And because late August, nobody even got sunburned! Yay beach!

Elijah doing a split on the beach

yay beach