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Zombie Run, 2013

It was a beautiful day to run for your life.

The first annual Zombie Run was great fun for both the living and the undead. Sponsored by the YMCA, with all proceeds going to youth scholarships, the event took place during the weeks of the cheerful and very busy Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.

66 runners participated, with most choosing to run as Humans over the 5K course. The Humans were required to wear three yellow plastic flags attached to their belts, and they had to navigate natural obstacles (steep, muddy hills), man-made obstacles (stacks of hay bales, and rows of tires), and the unexpected zombie “Jumpers” hidden along the path.

The Zombies, all in full makeup and torn bloodied costumes, were tasked with chasing the Humans and removing as many of the yellow flags as they could.

Once a Human was deflagged, he or she was dead, but could still continue to run. After all, this was the Day of the Undead in Damariscotta.

A few photos of this event:

A few Zombies warmed-up, stretching both their legs and their groans.  It was a noisy morning.

A few Zombies warmed-up, stretching both their legs and their groans. It was a noisy morning.

2HorrifiedOnlooker A horrified spectator.

3HumansStart The starting gun sounded and the Humans were off. They had a one-minute head start.

4ZombiesStart And here come the Zombies.

The first man-made obstacle. A "spider web."

The first man-made obstacle. A “spider web.”

This obstacle proved challenging for Humans and Zombies alike.

This obstacle proved challenging for Humans and Zombies alike.

A Zombie clears the hay.

A Zombie clears the hay.

A very successful Zombie.

A very successful Zombie.

Maybe being Undead isn't so bad.  The Zombies were, to a corpse, a happy bunch.

Maybe being Undead isn’t so bad. The Zombies were, to a corpse, a happy bunch.

Ready for any Human casualties.  (Assuming the Undead were not needing treatment.)

Ready for any Human casualties. (Assuming the Undead were not needing treatment.)

This Zombie waited at the end of the Tire obstacle, and reaped the rewards.

This Zombie waited at the end of the Tire obstacle, and reaped the rewards.

All runners, living and non- , received a medal for participating.

All runners, living and non- , received a medal for participating.

All Humans that crossed the finish line with at least one flag received this certificate.

All Humans that crossed the finish line with at least one flag received this certificate.

All Zombies and all de-flagged Humans received -- what else -- a Death Certificate.

All Zombies and all de-flagged Humans received — what else — a Death Certificate.

The YMCA was delighted with the turnout and is hopeful that next year’s event will see the participation jump from 66 to 150-200 runners. I hope that wish comes true, and plan to be on the sidelines again next year, cheering for all runners, the quick and the dead. (In Maine, that can sometimes describe the same creature.)


zom·bie, noun
1. a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, esp. in certain African and Caribbean religions.
2. a tall mixed drink consisting of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice.

“Yeah, I know I’m ugly… I said to a bartender, ‘Make me a zombie.’ He said ‘God beat me to it.’”

— Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004), American comedian and actor

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Before the Fall

I’m not talking seasons, and I’m certainly not talking about grace. I’m talking about falling down.

I’m talking about the pain to both pride and backside.

The day started out in such a lovely way. It was early. I was taking both dogs for a long walk along the Damariscotta River. We were walking upstream, and it was low tide. The morning was cool, with a bright blue sky, and I was so pleased to be in Maine, on that river, with those dogs. I kept thinking, “It is a beautiful morning!”

We walked farther than we ever had on that path. We went deep into the woods and encountered an enormous tree across the path. Rather than turn back, I chose to walk around it and keep going. Nothing was going to end this beautiful morning.

We emerged from that thicket onto the riverbank. I realized we were across the river from the Whaleback Shell Middens State Historical Park – a site I’d taken the dogs many times before. It is an historic site because of the heaps of oyster shells left by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. On the eastern bank, the site has placards and paths, and the shells are scattered amongst the overgrown forest. On the western side, where I was now, the heap was larger, whiter, and more visible from the opposite shore.

Right now, it was behind me, and I was gazing out across the water:


And the same view looking down-river towards town:


And again, up-river:


Beautiful morning, yes? The low tide left swirls of grass. Lovely to see and easy to walk over. I went closer to the edge of the river, and saw the sandy shore sparkling with shells:


And closer still:


How beautiful! How sparkly! How…….Where did all that blue sky come from?

I was flat on my back, with the river water seeping into my coat, jeans, and sneakers. Those sparkling shells were resting on slick mud, and it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen that hard and that dramatically. I think I made a noise on the way down. I know my backside looked pretty funny – wet, muddy, and sparkling with thousands of bits of snickering oyster shells.

I sent up a silent prayer that no one was within video-distance.

I walked back to the car with a lot more dignity than I felt. I tried to recapture the magic of the morning, Before the Fall. No good. Advil and the photographs will have to suffice, at least until my pride heals. And that will take longer than…the other part that’s healing.


“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

— Mel Brooks

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Here we go: planting indoors for my 2012 Outdoor garden!

I made my potting mix, used my nifty soil-block cube tool, and placed chunky dirt cubes into my beautiful seedling trays. I planted with my treasured seeds, watered, placed on the seed rack up in my office, and have felt like the luckiest person ever since. It has been Only Happy Times since March 18th. Here is what happened:

I started with materials:

And following the advice of Eliot Coleman’s “The New Organic Grower,” I assembled compost, sand, and topsoil in my wheelbarrow:

Still following his worthy advice, I added soil amendments (See “Field Notes”):

Cottonseed meal, phosphate rock, and greensand.

And I sprinkled them atop the soil mix:

I mixed these ingredients thoroughly with a hoe, and added some water to create a moist mix that held together politely.

Time for my wonderful soil-block cube maker, tool from Johnny’s Selected Seeds:

I pressed the cube maker firmly into the dirt, turned it 90 degrees and lifted it up. There were a few hapless worms in the compost, and I promise I made every effort to remove each one gently and deposit them in my pea-bed in the garden.

The first cubes went into the first tray:

I continued to fill the trays with dirt cubes. It seems the maximum number of cubes, and therefore seedlings, that each tray will hold is 54. Not bad, when you consider that I have 8 of these trays. That’s 432 plants, if I get 100% germination! (happy happy happy)

After assembling each tray’s cubes, I dropped one seed into each dibbled hole (the cube-maker automatically adds the dibble):

Can you see the dimpled hemisphere, ready to be applied when I push down on the plunger to release the soil?

Seeds for red peppers and green peppers.

And a closer look at the seeds for the yellow pepper plants.

I planted three kinds of peppers, and thyme. I will now water gently as needed, and try to be patient until April 3, when the calendar tells me I am allowed to make more soil cubes and plant again! Stay tuned….


“It was Hans Jenny, a soil scientist, who first pointed out that there is often more life below and within the soil than there is above it, including Homo sapiens. This inversion of soil as medium to soil as life itself should be enough to convince any agri-scientist to adopt only those means of agriculture that support and nurture this life.”

— Paul Hawken

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Beautiful Trays

They could just as easily have been discarded cookie sheets.

Instead, when I confessed to Husband that I am both greedy and cheap, and so wanted EIGHT trays for my soil cubes (that I use to plant seeds), and I didn’t want to pay for cookie sheets, he said, “Hmm, hmm, hmm.”

Translation: He’s about to make something for me.

He disappeared into the workshop, and later that day, presented me with a beautiful tray:

And then I learned the best news of all. There were 8 beautiful trays:

“Now you just have to polyurethane-the-heck out of them,” he said. (Except he didn’t say “heck.”) The polyurethane is to waterproof the trays; necessary, as I will be loading them up with moist blocks of potting mix: a blend of compost, sand, soil, and amendments. I was delighted. I would indeed treat them like heck.

Enter the tools:

In this photo: MinWax, polyurethane supreme; a screwdriver to open the lid, a brush for the poly, and a hammer to tap the lid back down.

And so I started:

The tack cloth removed the dust created from assembly. It's pink!

Then I applied the first of 4 coats of polyurethane:

I love how the polyurethane darkens the color of the wood and brings out the grain.

It took several days. Husband and I took turns applying the coats, flipping the trays over, until all were completely sealed against the damp.

Then came the day to bring them back into the house, and place them on the seed rack by my office window. Look how pretty:

And two more views:

And so, the garden of 2012 began weeks earlier than I expected. I thought my Starting Pistol would fire on March 20th, when I mixed the potting soil, set the formed cubes on rusty cookie sheets, and planted my peppers and thyme seeds. Instead, I had the great fun of helping to finish the beautiful trays for the soil cubes 4 weeks earlier. I was reminded of the quote that appears in “Words From Others,” appreciating once again Mr. Wright’s crystal clear reality. I was very willing to start my walking early, and look what I found at the end of the journey!

Almost a shame to fill these trays with dirt. (Except that this dirt is going to be GORgeous!)


Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.

— Steven Wright, American comedian, actor (1955- )

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The gourd birdhouses were hung in place today, and a red-tailed hawk was laid to rest in my garden. It was a day to set out, to rearrange, and to appreciate beginnings and endings.

My son and I noticed the red-tailed hawk in our neighbor’s backyard. The neighbors are away for a bit, and the bird was so large, and so beautiful, that I couldn’t bear to leave it untended. We moved it into our yard, and I decided that burying it in our newest flower bed, and planting flowers there, would make a fitting resting place.

A beautiful and regal bird.

I did wonder why I felt the need to bury this bird, when other dead animals are not treated with the same consideration. Mice, chipmunks, sparrows, insects — I would never think about burying them. I’d toss them away, out of reach of the dog, perhaps up on the hillside to go back to the earth, and feel that I had done the appropriate thing. Was it because the hawk was so large? Was it because the hawk was a predator, and so I felt it was more worthy of care? I only know that I wanted to place it properly, and this did feel right. I have ordered Cosmos seeds for the spring, and will plant those lovely annuals in the bed, thinking of that hawk when the pink, red and white blossoms appear. The bird is properly in place now.

My daughter helped me place our gourd birdhouses in the trees. I dragged the stepladder out of Husband’s workshop, but my daughter has grown more than I realized, and we only needed the ladder once! For the first two birdhouses, she simply reached up and put them in place.

The first to go up was a “Bottle/Birdhouse” gourd. Placing it was easy, with a ready-made branch just waiting:

This will be visible from our living room window.

Daughter and I agreed that we should twist the wire, to minimize the birdhouse from swinging too much in the breeze.

The wire was soft enough to easily twist and pinch together.

And the final photo for this particular birdhouse:

In place!

The second birdhouse was a “Speckled Swan” gourd, with a very long neck. We would need a tall branch, indeed.

High up on the hillside, we can see it from the back patio and from the kitchen window.

The third and final birdhouse hung today was also a “Bottle/Birdhouse” variety. Daughter chose to have it hang in her cherry tree, inside my vegetable garden. For this placement, the ladder was needed:

The birdhouse rests its back and sides against the trunk and branch, making it quite stable.

And the final photo for today:

Placed high in the tree, it waits for a tenant to make a place for her babies.

My son returned to school this morning, to his place in his new college life. My eldest is in place in India, settled with her host family, with people she calls Mother and Father. (I alternate between feeling stung and comforted when hearing that. But of course I want her to feel at home, and comfortably in place, in that foreign land and so far away from me.)

The hawk is at rest. The birdhouses await. It was a good day, and I am content with how I spent it, moving things about, setting everything in its place.


“A place for everything, everything in its place.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“All things have their place, knew wee how to place them.”
— 1640, G. Herbert Outlandish Proverbs no. 379

“In a well-conducted man-of-war‥every thing in its place, and there is a place for every thing.”
— 1842 Marryat Masterman Ready II. i.

“There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place.”
–1855 T. C. Haliburton Nature & Human Nature I. vi.

“‘I thought you were rather partial to anatomical specimens.’ ‘So I am, but not on the breakfast-table. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” as my grandmother used to say.’”
— 1928 D. L. Sayers Lord Peter views Body x.

“The sailor’s apothegm—‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’—guided us, until at length everything was stowed away”
— 2002 A. Vanneman Sherlock Holmes and Giant Rat of Sumatra ix. 80

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