Stuff I’ve noticed since moving to Maine – DOGS!!

In just over a month, my family and I will be celebrating TWO WHOLE YEARS in MAINE!!  HOORAY!  To mark this momentous occasion, I’m starting a new semi-regular column here on The Daily Dish.  Dedicated to whatever seems different from where I used to live (Philly) or whatever I notice that just sticks out, STUFF I’VE NOTICED SINCE MOVING TO MAINE will be a way for all of you to visit, without me having to clean the house.  So without further ado, today let’s talk about.. DOGS!

My family & I went to my daughters school on Saturday for Winterfest!  Winterfest! is an annual celebration with games, food, raffles, contests, crafts, singing and more.  It draws a BIG crowd and when we entered the gym the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the enormous moon bounce or the line for hamburgers.  No!  It was a woman walking towards me with a dog in her arms.  It wasn’t injured.  It wasn’t a helper dog.  As far as anyone was concerned, this lap pooch was just one more merrymaker at Winterfest!  WHY?  Because Mainers are CRAZY ABOUT DOGS!!!!

They are everywhere here and I mean EVERYWHERE.  We have one laying across our floor, outside there are two barking from the back, 4 barking from the side, there’re a couple peeing at the end of the driveway, another one’s approaching looking keen, and a huge one just drove by mostly hanging out the car window.  It’s doggone NUTS!

In Philly a lot of people had cats.  I think cats are cool, but Portland is a dog town.  Maybe it’s because Maine is so white?  Not to stereotype, but white people seem to like dogs more than minorities.  Personally I like minorities more, but I also love dogs.  Dogs just seem to gibe with Maine.  They’re laid back.  Chilllll.  Portland’s baseball team is even called the Sea Dogs!  Which I think is technically a seal?  Or something?  Seriously, I don’t even know what a Sea Dog is, but here’s Slugger the Sea DOG w/ my daughters. 

The Sea DOGS even have a Bring Your Dog to the Game DAY!  WHY??  Because Mainers take their dogs EVERYWHERE.  They don’t like leaving them at home.  Every single parking lot you pull into, every other car has a dog waiting for its owner to return.  Here in Portland there are dog parks and even the regular parks all have “off leash” laws: as long as your dog is under voice command, roping them is unnecessary.  And because beaches are also open to dogs it’s common to find them year round romping in the surf, chasing balls and taking dumps right there in the sand as nature intended.

Mainers are so generous with their dogs, they not only take them everywhere, they often let them drive.  Not alone, mind you.  I mean they let their dogs sit on THEIR laps in the driver seat.  No offense, Sir or Madam, but what the hell are you gonna do when Fido smashes your face into the steering wheel and you lose control of the vehicle?  Or when Happy becomes incontinent and lets fly in your lap?  Surely your first impulse will be to SCREAM AND CAREEN OFF THE ROAD.  I know mine would be.  YAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!  I’m not saying you have to harness Hoover, or invest in one of those gated cage areas in the trunk, but for all our sakes could you at least put the dog in the back seat?  It’s illegal in the state of Maine for children under 13 to ride up front.  Maybe elderly dogs can ride in the passenger seat, but otherwise – back seat buddy.  PS: In Philly I had to worry about people driving around with infants in their laps.  Here it’s dogs.  Is that better??

This is my dog Max.

Max passed away on Halloween.  But before he died, he told me how much he loved Maine.  Not just for all of the reasons outlined above, but b/c here in Maine, Max was ACCEPTED.  Back in Philly strangers would cross the street when I walked Max.  Here, no way.  Everyone would welcome him like an old friend.  (To be strictly honest, some of the little yippy dogs would stand there and bark & bark till they looked like they were going to drop dead, but they do that everywhere.)

Dogs are SO POPULAR here in Maine, I have noticed other things.

  • The prevalence of dog-themed bumper stickers.

  • Or simply dog FRIENDLY stores.

And I’m not talking pet stores either.  I mean “normal” ones, like Marshall’s.  Just before Christmas, I was shopping with my older daughter.  We turned a corner and there’s a woman perusing housewares w/ her dog.  Again, this wasn’t a helper or seeing eye dog, he was a fluffy lap dog, riding shotgun in her cart.  I notice this all the time and I can’t help but think how tolerant people are here.  In Philly, if some woman showed up at Marshall’s totting her dog, they’d escort her out of the store faster than you could spell N-O_EFFING_W-A-Y.  Personally I think they might do this to me too, if I showed up at Marshall’s with our new puppy, Roxy the Rottweiler


versus a 5 lb. Foofie

but.. still.  Maybe I will try it and see.  After all, Mainers LOVE their dogs.

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Fore River Sanctuary Samosas with Mango Dipping Sauce

I don’t typically cross-post across my two blogs, preferring to compartmentalize my life (hah) but I’ve been so busy recreating this recipe I didn’t get round to writing anything else.  So indulge me.

Portland Trails is holding a “Trail Gourmet” Recipe Contest and I won’t beat around the bush.  I’d like to win.  I thought long & hard about which of my recipes to enter, and while walking the Fore River Sanctuary this week it came to me.  SAMOSAS.  I’d created a fantastic low sodium recipe for samosas four years ago, shortly after launching The Daily Dish.  While a little time intensive to make, these samosas freeze beautifully and would showcase one of Maine’s premier agricultural crops: Potatoes!  Samosas are perfect hiking fare.  Small and portable, yet hearty and filling.  They’re a healthy meal in an incredible, edible wrapper.  And they’re DELICIOUS – especially with the tangy subtle sweetness of the mango dipping sauce, which is easily toted in any lightweight lidded container. Double dipping a MUST!  So if you’re craving something extraordinary the next time you head out on the trail, look no further than Fore River Sanctuary Samosas with Mango Dipping Sauce.  Gourmet vegetarian snacks that pack a healthy, meal-like punch – NO SILVERWARE NECESSARY!

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The Pool Rule

On Saturday we went swimming.  And by ‘we’  I really mean my husband & our daughters.  I just sat on the bleachers and watched.  It’s not that I don’t like to swim; even with my wacky ear, I do.  And our community pool is nice.  The reason I skipped swimming is because of a certain pool policy.  What I call The Pool Rule.  The Pool Rule states that everyone w/ chin-length hair or longer MUST WEAR A SWIM CAP.

This woman likes her swim cap. I do not like mine.

When I first learned of The Pool Rule, I tried to be a good sport.  Swim caps help prevent hair from clogging the pool’s filter, keeping the pool working and limiting nastiness for the unfortunate soul having to clean.  I didn’t argue.  Even though my only option at the time was to borrow a swim cap from the Lost & Found, and the only one that fit was plastic and had ear flaps.  Getting it on nearly pulled half the hair from my head.  I put on that cap!  My kids wanted to swim with their momma and I wasn’t going to disappoint my husband.  But I vowed that next time  – if there were a next time – I’d bring $$ to buy my own.

The next visit, I remembered my swim cap money.  YOU KNOW I DID.  I bought a stretchy spandex number from the pool office, in black to match my swimsuit.  I put it on, got in the water and it promptly fell off.  I put it back on, dove underwater and it came off again.  I put it back on again.  And again.  I spent half the swim session retrieving my cap from the pool floor.  But I didn’t give up!  Even though the swim cap wouldn’t stay on, I wore it the next time, and the next.  Until finally one Saturday I’d had enough.  I was done dealing with the indignity of that useless cap and said NO MORE.  So now I sit & watch.

The Pool Rule may make sense in theory, but when I spend half my time in the pool retrieving a swim cap and replacing it what exactly is it accomplishing?  I’m losing far more hair in the pool doing the ON-OFF-ON-OFF routine than I ever would going without.  And if the ultimate goal is to minimize hair in the filter, why stop at swim caps?  Wouldn’t swim SHIRTS be applicable too?

Swim shirt not optional

Until then I will be on the bleachers.

Dear Trader Joe,

HEY BUDDY!!  How are you?!  Yep, we’re all good.  I was thinking about you this morning & realized it’s been almost a Y-E-A-R since I last saw you.  I KNOW!  You still wearing that same crazy shirt?  Yeah, me too.  So. Listen bud.  I wrote a few months ago, and I realize how busy you are – but seriously.  The time has come.  WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MAINE???!!!  B/c I am out of stuff.

Peppermint castile soap.  Salt free tomatoes. No salt tuna and sockeye salmon.  Dried mango. Knockoff cereal. chocolate chips. Emergen-C.  Bargain priced stonyfield farm yogurt.  Joe, I will be blunt.  Portland is stupendous, but it simply won’t be paradise until you’re here too.

I emailed you weeks ago.  Requesting a new location….and… and…Nothing.  DUDE – I miss you!  Baaad.  The stickers and balloons.  Those wild shirts.  From your 2 Buck Chuck to your chocolate covered almonds.  From your french milled goodness to your uncured hot dogs  – to the tofu, Joe.  I need you.

Portland *(maine) needs you.

Love,

your favorite MAINE-UH (really from away)

Dishy.

PS: And Please hurry, b/c my recyclable shopping bags have all sprung holes & I’m in need of some colorful new ones.  But – only yours. xo

The Norwegian Spirit

Good morning everyone!  I know you’re all anxious to see the inside of the house.  But since it’s the weekend I wanted to do something FUN. And what could be more fun that taking a CRUISE?

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There she is.  The most beautiful and beloved of all cruise ships (to me).  The Norwegian Spirit.  She was HERE in Portland this week – on Thursday!  So of course we went to the Old Port to visit.

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My kids weren’t exactly thrilled to be pulled from the car and made to pose in front of a chain link fence, but I needed to relive the memories. LOOK! She’s so happy to see us too, she’s even smiling.

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OOoohhh how I love that ship!  It made me all goosebumpy just to be standing near.  I watched the happy cruisers w/ a mixture of envy & admiration, making their way through town, shopping and eating, enjoying themselves.  Even on a gray day, you can’t help but feel giddy.  Such an amazing vacation.  Sigh…

Hard to believe it’s been two years since my family & I climbed aboard the Spirit.  Our first cruise was one of the most exhilarating, eye-opening experiences of our lives.  I spend hours just dreaming of the next.

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CLICK HERE for more photos from our trip.  The Norwegian Spirit Halloween Cruise, New England to Canada.  October 2007.  Happy Cruising!