September 15, 2005
The Trip South
Today we got up early and finished cleaning up the house. We got off the island in thick fog and stopped at the Blue Hill Co-op to get some coffee (Martin) and some tea (me). We had done most of the cleaning yesterday so we were out pretty early. We then began our long trek down the coast of Maine on Route #1. We stopped for breakfast at the Rockland Cafe. We had trouble finding it at first, and I asked at a gas station where a kind man told me it was really the best! "And make sure you have the fish cakes." So I did. Then we visited the Wyeth museum in that town. It was really lovely. Their regular collection which includes works by Edward Hopper was put away because of an exhibit by an artist named Katz which did not interest us much. However, they also had works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and James Wyeth. Three generations -- pretty interesting. The stuff by Andrew was not his most familiar, but his earlierwork. N.C.'s was mostly the originals for his book illustrations. It was fascinating since they also had copies of the books. But, the paintings that were the most striking were James' paintings of birds -- especially the ravens. They were magnificent. The gallery was underwritten by the Farnsworth family and their home is open to the public - next door to the gallery. Another perk for your entrance fee was a trip up to the Olson house (owned by the gallery) to see the place where Christina's World was painted, but we decided not to do that.
We stopped in Freeport at Thos. Moser cabinetmakers. Then, had lunch at an Italian restaurant. It was hot and humid, though overcast, and we sat outside. We walked around a bit and went to LLBean. Only found out later that there was a discount store -- but the store we visited had no bargains. Drat! After grabbing a Starbucks, we set out again. Our next destination was the lighthouse painted by Edward Hopper in Portland. It was really beautiful -- even more so because it began to rain and the colors were so vivid. And, rain it did -- the heavens opened up and we were in a torrential rain for many miles down the Maine coast. I've never seen such heavy rain. We had planned to go back into Portland, but the rain and the confusion of a big city overwhelmed us. So, we went on and stopped at an antiquarian bookstore in Wells, just past Kennebunk. We had a half hour to enjoy before it closed. The rest of the trip was mildly interesting, dinner was not worth mentioning, and we arrived back in Manchester and our motel around 8:30 or so. We are both very tired, but the museum and the lighthouse definitely were high points of the day. I think we're both ready to go home.
September 14, 2005
Some Maine Musings!
Here are some musings about the week:
1. I read only one whole book -- understandably since it was Harry Potter, and I think it was awful that she killed off such a lovely character. But, I have read parts of a Maine mystery, a fish tale book by a Maine fisherwoman, and three pages of a new mystery while waiting for Martin to finish at the bookstore. Weirdly, when I was reading the Maine mystery last night, I got the corpses confused. Never read more than one mystery at a time.
2. Old farm houses need more water pressure.
3. Maine weather and Washington weather are related until the dead of summer and winter.
4. It is fun to go on vacation with your son, who remains your son until he decides to be your parent.
5. I like to share experiences. It drove Don crazy that I wanted to have a big party on our honeymoon -- but I really want all my friends to come here to this island and have all the same experiences so they will understand how lovely it is. I'm glad to do this with Martin. It is less fun to do it alone.
6. Writing is such a wild process. This morning I just had an idea and it made all the difference in the world. I began in a new direction and the writing just flowed. I think I need another week in Maine -- or maybe a month or a year.
7. I have bought nothing on this trip. Can I finally have reached the state where I don't need anything else in my life?
8. I have had two lobster rolls, one whole lobster and a pasta dish made with lobster this week. My face is turning orange. However, as wonderful as they are, they cannot beat my father's lobster on our Ensenada vacations which came right from the Pacific ocean into the boiling water and into our mouths within a few short minutes -- incredibly sweet!
9. Maine bridges are very old and in need of repairs!
10. I will come back someday.
Lily’s was a big disappointment. It is closed for a week’s vacation. I’m sure they have catered to tourists all summer. The library was also closed, so we sat outside in the car, and Martin borrowed their wireless connection until his battery ran out. I wasn’t successful because my battery is on its last leg and lasted about 3 minutes. We ended up eating at the ice cream parlor about ¼ mile from our house and discovered the post office, a gift shop, and little book store that Jennifer told us about. The grocery store on the island sells the NY Times for a dollar. The smaller stores sell it for $1.50. Martin decided that they probably buy it from the grocery store.
We spent the rest of the day writing – although I am really struggling with my parenting book. It is not flowing well, but my son is a task master and forces me to push ahead while he, on the other hand, is in the throes of creativity. My Palm Pilot has died, not too much of a tragedy because the information is safe on my home computer. However, I rely on my PP when we go to bookstores – it tells me which mysteries I have & which ones I want for my collection. Drat! It also has all my addresses and phone numbers although it waited to die until after I sent a few letters and postcards. My cell phone still works so as soon as I get off the island, I figure that I can call Jeni (cell and home), Ron (cell and home), Dani (work and home), the Craswells (useless since they are on vacation), and Martin (home and cell – which means that I could get Christine at night and Martin if he is off the island). This is insane information – but it indicates the breadth and width of my electronic world at the moment.
On Tuesday, we got up early and drove the half hour to Blue Hill for breakfast at the co-op where I got a wonderful bagel with lox and cream cheese and red onion and capers. Yum! Then we decided to drive for an hour south (although I could have sworn that we went north since the ocean was on our left the whole way). We got as far as Cambden by 10:00 when the stores opened so we wandered around that lovely beach town for an hour especially enjoying the ABCD book store which sells “used and rare” books. Then, we began driving north and stopping wherever the spirit led us. We went to the shaker and Windsor chair factory and store, various antique stores, some art studios and gallery.
Our main destination was two bookstores that we heard about – the first one we had seen on our way to Deer Isle – easy because it is BIG and YELLOW! It was amazingly filled with hundreds and hundreds of books on fine art and architecture. It had a large room filled with poetry and some theological books. Don would have loved this place. His son did. But, alas, we were there for a half hour and the owner decided to close. I asked him if he usually closed this early. He said, “No, but I’m tired.” I could see why he was tired. It was the most amazingly organized book store I have ever seen. But, I was sad for Martin who would have stayed for several hours if he could – he didn’t get very far along the stacks of books. We were later rewarded by finding the Big Chicken Barn Books and Antiques which claims to be Maine’s largest antiquarian book dealer – 21,000 feet of books and antiques. It was fun, if not exhausting! On our way back to Deer Isle, we stopped at the Blue Hill library to get on the internet and post our blogs.
We had eaten lunch at the Lobster Pound restaurant where I had a whole Maine lobster. Martin had steak. But, we had a more difficult time back on the island finding a place for open for dinner, and we were too tired to come home and eat our meager fare. Finally we ended up back in Stonington after several false starts. We ate at the inn listening curiously to a couple at the next table. The wife was chiding her husband while he was singing to drown out her voice. Since the waitress gave them a complimentary dinner, we presumed they were locals. The inn could not serve spirits, so the locals all bring their own wine and they provide the wine glasses. The neighbor couple had gone through a very large bottle of wine which I kept hoping would be shared with us. Would have helped their marriage, I think.
Today is Wednesday, and I am writing this morning before going into Blue Hill for lunch and to get on the internet once more. We are cleaning up tonight in preparation for leaving tomorrow. We’ll go to the Laundromat early and then get on our way back south – stopping in some of the other little towns along the way. We’ll return our car, stay in Manchester, and fly home on Friday. Sigh! I wish I could bring Maine home with me.
September 13, 2005
Day #4 – Did I say that the town is called Stonington because it was a major quarry for granite that was used on many sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts? Yesterday afternoon we took the alternative route to Stonington around lunchtime and had a very windy lunch on a restaurant dock. Martin had sausage sandwich. I tried another lobster roll – this one had about ½ as much lobster and came mixed with mayo which was a change from my first experience. A Maine sandwich appears to come on a toasted roll plain with no condiments or other ingredients. We also have found that onion rings in Maine are dipped in tempura batter – they are really yummy. The wind chill made it almost too cold to eat outside. We visited an artist studio and an antique store and drove up our lane to see the houses of the original sea captains that lobstered on the island. Why they fished off of Stonington and lived near this Deer Isle Village is not clear to us – we are going to investigate further. It may have been less enjoyable to live near the quarry.
Martin made a great potato au gratin and we had corn for dinner with fruit for dessert. We spent most of the afternoon and evening writing and listening to NPR. We can get three TV stations – but nothing much is on. We went to bed earlier than usual – before midnight. This morning is warm outside. I think it is supposed to be 80 degrees. After a morning of writing, we are headed to Lily’s for lunch on Jennifer’s recommendation. Then, hopefully, to the library which has wireless internet. With luck, this will get sent along with some letters and postcards.
Day #3 – It is a marvelous treat to awaken in a pink flowered wall papered bedroom with the sun streaming in the open dormer windows! It is not a treat to take a shower with almost no water pressure – but Martin and I are going to work on the shower head which seems to be the main culprit. Last night I wondered if the 200 year old house was benevolently haunted – my house at home is probably half as old as this one and it is one of the oldest in Bellingham. I look at these old fashioned wallpapered walls and wonder about the folk who lived here all their lives. There is a good spirit here – and I feel fortunate to add my aura to the ongoing saga of the house.
It looks hot outside today, but I haven’t been out yet and the house is nice and cool. I’m working on an essay on teaching – Martin is a good critic and has given me some good ideas. He is working on a novel and a variety of other things. I also have a parenting book with me. It is hard to get back into writing – my brain hasn’t worked as well lately with good reason, I know. But, it is good practice to sit here and write – even a blog! Tomorrow we will post these writings at the Stonington library because it has wireless internet. Today it is closed. We didn’t go to church but there are two Congregational churches on the island. They are having guest speakers today, although Jennifer said that they are meeting together this summer and that the regular preacher is really good. I guess
she is on vacation this week.
Martin and I are happily settled in a very old farmhouse on a very quaint isle in Maine. We found our way across an impressive suspension bridge to Little Deer Isle over Eggemoggin Reach (isn’t that a wonderful name?) and then across a very narrow two-lane causeway bridge across the to Deer Isle itself. It reminded me of pictures of Ste. Michelle. I hoped it would not disappear at high tide leaving us stranded.
The farmhouse was owned forever by the Eaton family who is related to Rick Russell (Jennifer’s husband). I guess that Dot Eaton, his aunt, died last year. It has all the charm of an old farmhouse with decent furniture. Two charming bedrooms upstairs hold a queen-size bed and a double bed and twins. There is an attic off my bedroom which we are forbidden to enter because of the danger of falling back into the second floor according to Jennifer. There are basement stairs off of the dining room that look exceedingly steep and dark and scary. But, the house itself feels welcoming and beautiful woods surround it. Today we found the “pond” that Rick swims in – hardly a pond – I’d call it a lake. It is several yards through the woods, over the stream, and up and over a rise. We tried to find it yesterday, but were more successful after talking to Rick who called this morning and told us how to find the trail. We’re hoping that the weather does get into the 80s as predicted so we will be tantalized by the clear blue water.
The first night we walked into the town (a pretty good job for me since I am still hobbling on sore legs and feet from my ridiculous fall on Sunday). We had dinner at the local inn and pub – which was packed. We sat with wine and beer in the bar and discussed writing for an hour until we finally got a table. They seated us at a table for six – the only table free. Another table’s waitress passed by with a very hot plate that she couldn’t hold any longer. She plunked it down on our table. After putting the rest of the plates in front of her customers, she came back to get it only to plunk down a dirty salad plate while she gathered up other items on their table. Martin was incredulous and anxious to tell yet another restaurant tale to Sara and Felix who own a restaurant.
Yesterday, as we were driving here from New Hamptshire, we went through the lovely beach town of Wicasset and observed a queue of people lined up at a fast food stand called Red’s Eats. Since we were ready to stop for lunch and the town looked charming, we parked and joined the patiently waiting crowd. We had no clue why so many people were eating at this particular place, but decided that there must be a reason. As the line snaked closer to the window, we read that several magazines including Bon Appetite and Yankee named this as the number one place to get lobster rolls in Maine. They put a whole boiled lobster in a roll with drawn butter or mayonnaise on the side. Martin had a steak sandwich. We then walked around the quaint antique and book stores before continuing on our way. This aspect of the journey is wasted on Martin who doesn’t really care for seafood. However, I’m happy to eat all his portions.
There are two villages on Deer Isle. The village of Deer Isle is at the center of the roughly hourglass shaped island where both sides of the ocean almost meet. It is where the house is located. And is the smaller of the two villages with a few businesses, art galleries and library. Stonington is on the Southern end and is larger. It has more restaurants (about three or four), some inns, a large grocery store, a theatre, and was the lobster fishing center of this whole area. Martin and I went in to Stonington today and had lunch at a little café. We paid less for lunch today for the two of us than I paid for my lobster roll yesterday. Then, we went to two bookstores and a few galleries and headed for the grocery to stock up for the week. After we got home, we found a new drawer in the frig that was already stocked with some of the items we bought – oh well!
September 6, 2005
Running Away From Home
Running away from home is one way to deal with grief. I know that it isn't the only way, but it is one way! After traveling to Singapore, a weekend in Victoria with my grandchildren and their mother, and two weeks in Irvine, I find that visiting sites and spending time with people I love really helps. In two days Martin and I are headed for Maine. We fly into New Hampshire on the 8th and we'll be back on the 16th. Jennifer and Rick Russell have tantalized me with an offer of a summer place on Deer Isle. I've always wanted to go to Maine. Martin and I are taking our trusty laptops and plan to sightsee and write. I plan to eat lobster while Martin can eat whatever is not fishy. More later after we arrive on the opposite coastline.