Donut mess with our Sunday morning treats

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During my 43 years on this planet, I’ve lived all over the United States. Moving around has exposed me to different people, cultures, music and food.

And living in New England has given me an appreciation for the humble pastry known as the doughnut.

Yes, there are literally hundreds of Dunkin Donut shops here, and at least two within a 5-mile radius of my house. But there are also local donut shoppes, run by family bakers who eke out a living by making these delicious pastries from scratch. To honor their efforts, M and I scour the web for lists of the best examples. Then we put ’em to the test.

Green Mountain Orchards has the best apple cider doughnut I’ve ever tasted. In the fall, we pick buckets of apples from the trees and haul up piles of pumpkins from the patch. Once our wagon is full, we hit the barn, attack the doughnut display and pay for our haul. The still-warm doughnuts are always gone by the time we reach home.

At Klemm’s Bakery, we discovered the joys of the simple cinnamon cake doughnut. It’s a surprising light confection, not too sweet and just enough fried crispness to highlight the spice.

Recently I drove north to check out Brothers Donuts. Although their treats are fresh and tasty, you have to get there early to snag some (they go fast). These doughnuts are particularly notable for their height and breadth. Even a simple glazed doughnut was no less than 2 inches tall. And the apple doughnut was so jam-packed with filling that it ballooned to the size of a softball.

There are many more bakeries to visit, and we’ll be sure to do so in the coming months and years. In the meantime, Sunday is here. There’s a white bakery box on the dining room table. Time to end the weekend with some doughnuts, tea/coffee and a good book.

Summer is nearly over. Thank goodness!

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calendar date

Some women mark their menstrual cycles on a calendar, circling the days in bright red ink. I do something similar on the days I have migraines. I highlight each headache and note the ones that last for more than 24 hours (the doozies, I call ’em).

Based on this tracking system, I’ve discovered that for nine months of the year, I tend to suffer from two or three migraines a month. In the summer, however, I endure two or three migraines a week.

People’s migraine triggers vary, but mine are well established. I get these vicious headaches when it’s hot and humid, when the barometric pressure drops, during at least one day of my period and when I alter my altitude (by flying or spending time in the mountains). Knowing this, I do what I can to avoid such triggers. During the summer, I mostly just suffer.

Which is basically why you haven’t seen any postings here. Although I’ve had a lot to say, much has prevented me from doing so. This month alone, according to my calendar, I’ve had more days with migraines than without. I had a week off for vacation and spent three days of it with nausea, head-pounding pain and exhaustion. Then there was the 9-day stretch of migraines, where a new one popped up every day. I worked through nearly all of them, but had to call out one night because the invisible ice pick stabbing my eyeball left me both dizzy and blind.

That series of headaches abated on Sunday, around the time the heat wave we’ve been enduring ended. Yet I was still left weakened by the experience. Connections in my brain were severed by the prolonged pain and so I spent much of the day sleeping, trying to recuperate enough to be a productive part of society again.

On the days without migraines, my spirit lightens and I have more energy to tackle the rest of my life. I spend much of that time playing catch-up for lost time: finishing chores, paying bills, running errands and simply taking notice. The dog has contracted a cold. Laundry awaits proper folding. The bird feeder needs fresh seed. My novel has not progressed enough. The herbs on the back deck all died.

Despite this, I can already sense relief on the horizon. I just gotta survive August (my least favorite month of the year). Until then, I beg for your patience and understanding.

“The doorway of a poem, it’s the sound it makes!”

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dream doorway

Donald Hall, former poet laureate of the United States and the state of New Hampshire, no longer writes poetry. At 88, he believes writing poetry is a “a young man’s game” which takes “too much testosterone.”

This is completely understandable when you discover how Hall wrote. On average, he would pen 80 to 100 drafts of each poem. For the poem, “Another Elegy,” he revised it 400 times. Now imagine how many words he’s written for the 50 books of poetry, essays and plays he’s published.

That’s dedication.

To learn about Hall’s writing method, click here to listen to an interview with NHPR’s “10 Minute Writer’s Workshop.”

–Photo by Palto

When you see a chance to help, take it

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Eastern painted turtle

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently broke my glasses. Or more to the point, the left arm connector on the frame disintegrated.

Since I survived last week’s round of layoffs, I decided to “treat” myself and order a new pair of specs. Alas, even with insurance, they still ended up costing $500. Now I just hope that in two to four weeks, when the new bifocals arrive, I’ll actually be able to see out of them. (Note: In the past, this has not always been case.)

On the way to the eye doctor, however, I encountered a turtle. She was about the size of a lunch box and had a distinctive set of stripes on her body. Her shell was dark green on top and a vivid orange on the undercarriage.

Hours later, I would learn she was an eastern painted turtle — a creature that is common in New Hampshire — who was likely searching for a place to dig a hole and lay her eggs. I also discovered that her biggest threat was something called “road mortality,” which was exactly the situation she appeared to be facing when our paths crossed.

M and I were driving up to the light at the end of our block when I looked toward the sidewalk and noticed a turtle heading straight for the street. Another couple of steps and she would’ve fallen a good four inches onto hard asphalt. If she survived that, she would surely have ambled straight into traffic.

I pointed out the turtle’s precarious position. Once M spotted her, he took a quick glance at my face and immediately pulled the car off into an empty parking lot so I could hop out. Which is exactly what I did. I raced over to the turtle, scooped her up, walked several feet away from the road and aimed her in the direction of Dorrs Pond.

Freaked out by my sudden appearance in her life, the turtle gathered all of her tender extremities into the shell and hid. But I was gentle, both when I lifted her away from the sidewalk perch of certain doom and when I placed her back on the ground in the soft, cool grass.

“Head that way,” I told her, as I pointed toward the pond. Hopefully, she listened and laid her eggs elsewhere. When we returned from the vision center, no turtle-shaped roadkill littered the road so I think we were successful in helping her stay alive.

This endeavor set us back two whole minutes. Although we made it to our appointment on time, even if we had been late, the effort would’ve been worth it. Who knows what would’ve happened if I hadn’t noticed the turtle, if M hadn’t pulled over the car, if I hadn’t repositioned the beautiful animal and urged it to escape Death’s clutches. One can never know if a single act of kindness will alter someone’s life or have a butterfly effect and change the world.

Despite the madness of the past year, the past month and even the past week, I still believe that when you see a chance to help, you must take it. I’ve never regretted doing so.

–Photo by KJorgen.

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