Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

- I will not be wearing the tiger costume each of my sisters and I wore in turn as children.
- I will not be having my Mom draw whiskers on my face so I can look like a tiger.
- I will not being eating the pumpkin shaped pancakes that my Dad made for us every Halloween, before we went out trick-or-treating.
- I will not be carrying the orange plastic pumpkin with the jack-o-lantern face to collect my treats in door to door.
- I will not be coming home to sort my candy on the living room floor.
- I will not being doing any of these things, but I will be remembering them all fondly.
All treats, no tricks...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thanks Jacoby!

Jacoby Ellsbury, the rookie outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, has impressed and dazzled in the field and at the plate since he joined the team this year. And, truth be told, has set more than a few hearts beating faster!

Today, we all had free tacos from Taco Bell because Jacoby stole second base in Game Two of the World Series. Sure, there was a bit of defensive indifference on the part of the Colorado Rockies, but a steal’s a steal! As a result of Jacoby’s steal, Taco Bell delivered on their promise to offer a free taco to everyone in America. (To obtain the Free Taco, consumers must visit any participating Taco Bell® restaurant in one of the fifty (50) the United States or District of Columbia between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (local time) on the Redemption Date only and request a Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco. Free Taco's will not be offered on any other date or time, regardless of circumstance. Limit one (1) Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco per person. Participating Taco Bell restaurant manager reserves the right to deny Free Taco to any person he/she reasonably believes has already received a Free Taco or has engaged in any other fraudulent activity. All eligible consumers: Everyone in line at a participating Taco Bell restaurant before 5:00 p.m. local time will receive a Free Taco, even if it is provided after 5:00 p.m. Free Taco offer is subject to store availability and Taco Bell reserves the right to substitute an item of equal or greater value if due to unavailability. All restaurant managers decisions are final regarding to Free Taco offer.) ;o)

So after we ate our free 79 cent tacos, we continued along on our own “Rolling Rally” and went to Bob’s Stores. There we acquired our 2007 Boston Red Sox World Series Championship T-shirts. Those were most decidedly not free! Below you can see Chuck in the Red Sox cap he’s worn faithfully all season. Note the “Go Sox” sign in the background. That will give you an idea of what life is like here in the heart of Red Sox Nation!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thanks Guys

There’s just one teensy, weensy problem with the Red Sox having won the World Series last night. Tonight, there is no baseball to watch, no beloved Red Sox to root for.

I’ll let the enormity of that sink in.

Yes, tomorrow there will be a Rolling Celebration, complete with Duck Boats. But the guys won’t be playing any baseball until Spring Training 2008.

I know the players and the entire organization have worked hard since last spring. I know they deserve some time off, a nice vacation, the opportunity to bask in the glow of the 2007 World Series. OK. So maybe in a week or two they could just get together at Fenway Park and play a little baseball. OK. Maybe three weeks. That’d be good too.


In the 122 days or so until Spring Training, I’ll try to gain some patience. I’ll try to embrace the whole Hot Stove thing. I’ll try not to freak out over every rumor, over every free agent. I’ll try to watch the Patriots win and not let my blood pressure spike every time they show Belichick on the sidelines. I’ll try to enjoy the Super Bowl. But even if some guy makes snow angels in the end zone, it won’t be nearly as good as any old game at Fenway. That’s just the truth.

Thanks guys. You all totally rocked. Enjoy your time off and we’ll see you ALL next spring.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sharing The World Series

Tonight, Chuck had a craving for sushi. Our favorite place to get sushi here in Worcester County is at Chopsticks in Leominster. Chopsticks is also our favorite Chinese restaurant. So we were quite happy when several years ago they added on to the building and built a sushi bar. But tonight we had a dilemma: we didn’t want to miss Game Four of the World Series. Fortunately the sushi bar in Chopsticks has a television which is pretty reliably tuned to sporting events, so off we went.

It turned out to be a perfect idea. Apparently everyone else in Red Sox Nation was home having pizza or Fenway Franks in front of the TV. Or they were out in traditional sports bars with beer and munchies. We arrived in the middle of the first inning and sure enough the TV in the sushi bar had the game on. There were a few folks seated in the main dining room and a few more in the teppanyaki area, but we were the only patrons in the sushi bar. But we weren’t alone. We were joined by many members of the international Chopsticks staff as we all rooted for the Red Sox. As is true whenever Red Sox fans get together, game and player statistics along with opinions were flying. The food was delicious; from the miso soup to the gyoza to the maki, it was all as good as ever. And because the restaurant was so quiet, the service was especially quick, warm and friendly.

It was a great meal and a terrific way to share the excitement of the World Series. Now we’re home (We returned halfway through the seventh inning.) and hoping against hope for a clean sweep! Knocking on wood, fingers crossed, etc.!

: : Red Sox Update - October 29th, 12:30 a.m. :
The Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 4 - 3 in Game Four of The World Series!
The Red Sox Swept and WON the 2007 WORLD SERIES in only four games!!!
Mike “I only know how to hit doubles and home runs” Lowell hit a double and a home run tonight! And he was named Most Valuable Player!!!
So good, so good so good!!!

Red Sox Nation was thrilled to break the 86 year dry spell and win the World Series in 2004. When they won tonight, I kept saying: “It happened again in our lifetime!” This really is a wonderful feeling! We are so grateful to and happy for, the entire Red Sox Organization!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hey! There’s A Man On My Roof!

Oh, that’s just Ben, our roofer. Ben was recommended by Roger, whom we trust like we trust, well, no one else in the world since John died a few years ago. John and Roger brought our barn back from the brink, when everyone else said tear it down and start over. It’s now snug and dry and holds our car and everything else that ends up in a barn on land that is no longer dedicated to agriculture. John and Roger also built our cupola. From the time I was four, until I was in my twenties and my Mom and Dad sold our house, my Dad had a Christmas routine that never varied. I would ask him: “Dad, what would you like for Christmas?” and he would reply: “A Cupola.” I would groan and say that I couldn’t get him one of those and off I would go to make him something or buy him something which would never, ever be a cupola.

I don’t know why Dad never bought a cupola nor why I never ponied up and got one installed for him. But many years and life experiences later I designed a cupola for our barn. John and Roger built it and Chuck helped them install it, from cutting the hole in the roof to lifting the two sections up onto each other like a clapboard and glass wedding cake. I climbed a crazy-scary ladder up to the roof, with a photo of my Dad in a fanny pack. I clung to my new cupola and snaked out the framed photo of Dad and had a moment I will never forget. Trying to shimmy back down that roof to the waiting ladder was something else I shall never forget, but for very different reasons!

So when we knew our borrowed time on our house roof was just about expired, we called Roger. He said call Ben. That’s how a pleasant young man, with no fear of heights, but a healthy respect for the risks of his job, came to be walking around on our roof. Ben patched a little spot, whose time had completely run out and scheduled the big roofing job for the spring. When Chuck checked the attic during today’s rainstorm, he was pleased to report it was dry as a bone. Phew!

I wonder if Ben ever brings a fiddle to work? I guess we’ll find out next spring...

: : Red Sox Update - October 28th, 1:00 a.m. :
The Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10 - 5 in Game Three of The World Series!
So good, so good so good!!!

For those of you not obsessed with the Red Sox, the “ So good, so good so good!!!” is a refrain from the classic Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline”. The song is always played in Fenway Park during the eighth inning. It is also played at wedding receptions for members of Red Sox Nation - right Kate and Phil? ;o)

Here’s a link to an NPR radio report on the tradition.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Looking Back

Here are a few more glimpses of Acadia in autumn.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

49 Up On The Board

49 Up is another in the series of ongoing British documentaries following the same group of children. The films began when the children were seven and then checked in with them every seven years at ages 14, 21, 28, 35, 42 and now 49. It was originally designed to look at class structure in England, coupled with the idea that by the age of seven each child’s future had pretty much been locked in. I had heard of the films, but had never viewed any of them until we watched 49 Up the other day. It was riveting and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.

The subjects of the films were all born in 1956. That puts every single one of them into the category of my contemporaries for the purposes of My Quest. As a result I found myself watching 49 Up through two minds. From the point of view of my quest I have to say it was wildly therapeutic. Watching these fourteen people in video snapshots at seven year intervals, showed both the enormous breadth of emotional and physical change, as well as how very recognizable everyone was. The “real” person shone through, throughout all of their adulthood. I found myself thinking of myself and wondering what sort of report would I have given of my own life at each age (and cringing at a few!). Watching the evolution of these individuals, helped me to focus on the solid core that is me and will continue to be me, even as I move through that-which-shall-not-be-named and beyond.

Thanks to all the kids, now tipped over into their second half century, for their participation, candor and generosity with their lives. They’re all now pinned up on my virtual bulletin board.

: : Red Sox Update - October 26th, 12:11 a.m. :
The Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 2 - 1 in Game Two of The World Series!
Next stop: Denver!
So good, so good so good!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sorting and Settling

This has not been an easy transition for me, going from vacation back to the real world. MDI, Bar Harbor and Acadia felt very real indeed and I miss being in the midst of that much natural beauty. The luggage has been stowed away, but I’m still slogging through the laundry. The cats are settled back in. A week’s worth of mail has been sorted, dealt with and recycled as needed. I’m remembering how to cook again, but I’m amazed at how rusty I felt in the kitchen after only a week of being waited on!

But I think the most jarring for both Chuck and me has been walking in a less dazzlingly beautiful place. Forgive me rural Central Massachusetts, this is a lovely area of the world. We count ourselves lucky to have bought a home here many years ago. We often feel we have the best of all worlds; rural but still near enough to Worcester, Boston or The Pioneer Valley to never feel deprived of anything for very long. But around here there is no Park Loop Road, no crashing surf, no Otter Cliffs, no Bar to cross at low tide, no Seal Harbor, no Schoodic Head or Point. Sigh.

Deep down, I know that getting away to someplace special is what vacations are all about. It’s those differences I’m longing for, that make getting away so terrific in the first place. If we lived on MDI, we’d probably want a change of scenery now and again - maybe to someplace like Central Massachusetts. Right? Sure. But not just to go walking round and round (and round) on the high school track. Top of the “To Do” list for tomorrow: find prettier places to walk that will tide us over until next spring, up in Acadia.

: : Red Sox Update - October 25th, 12:10 a.m. :
The Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 13 - 1 in Game One of The World Series!
So good, so good so good!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Day Seven - Safe & Sound...

...and home. Before we left Bar Harbor, we had that strong pull to stay a little longer. Then came the reassuring words “next time”. When we got close to the New Hampshire border, we could feel the beginning of the internal shift. By the time we were solidly in Massachusetts, home began to beckon strongly.

We’re here. The house looks like a baggage carousel derailed and there is a ridiculous amount of laundry already sorted into baskets. The cooler is unpacked. The car is in the barn. Enough. The Boston Red Sox are playing the Cleveland Indians. The derailment can wait. We need to go root for the Sox.

: : Red Sox Update:
The Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 11 - 2!
They’ve won the Pennant!
Next Stop: The World Series!!!
So good, so good so good!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day Six - The Culinary Finale

Sunset in Acadia

At the beginning of a vacation, nearly anything is possible. As the vacation draws to a close, you have to begin to make choices. There are a finite number hours left and suddenly you can’t do absolutely everything. It’s the same with restaurants. If there are a number of good places to eat in a town, as there are here in Bar Harbor, do you go to your old favorites or try something new? We try to get a good mix of old and new. But when it’s your last night in town, the pressure is on. You don’t want that last supper, if you will, to be “enh”.

Tonight, I’m very happy to report, our meal was nothing like “enh”. We decided to go to the Mache Bistro at the far end of Cottage Street. The chalkboard sign in the storefront window promised variety. Inside, the casually elegant decor offered cozy warmth. We were seated immediately at a copper clad table. The room was warmly lit with soft lights and lots of candles. An eclectic, wide ranging mix of music played quietly and added to the pleasant ambiance. Our server Alice (please let me have remembered your name correctly!) was friendly, charming and as the evening progressed, perfectly attentive and never intrusive. A basket of warm bread was not to be ignored. Expertly baked on the premises by the owner/baker/pastry chef Rachel. Chuck and I both ordered a salad to start. Each had a crisp and tender mix of locally grown greens. Chuck’s had goat cheese and pear, mine Maytag blue and apple. The vinaigrette was tangy, but well balanced. After much discussion with Alice, Chuck had settled on the pork loin with apple chutney and I ordered the hanger steak done with soy and ginger. Our entrees arrived beautifully plated with a golden serving of chunky mashed potatoes at the center and a mixture of crisp, braised veggies from the farmers’ market. The pork was cooked well and still juicy, the apple chutney a great foil. My hanger steak was the right pink of medium and exceptionally tender and flavorful. Each item was perfectly seasoned.

Dessert? Everything had been so yummy to this point, that it was a necessity we at least listen to the offerings. That’s the polite thing to do, right? Well, we happily succumbed. And no one-dessert-two-spoons tonight. Chuck ordered a vanilla bean and Kahlua creme brulee and I had to have the mocha brownie pudding cake. We also ordered coffee. When Alice appeared with our individual coffee presses and two sturdy white mugs, it was gilding the lily! I asked Chuck if he liked the Mache Bistro’s creme brulee better than the one the other night at McKays. He looked slightly pained and said he would prefer not to be forced to choose! The brownie/pudding confection was studded with cacao nibs, which provided contrasting texture, crunch and served to intensify the decadent chocolate experience.

My, my, my, it was all simply scrumptious. I’d score it 9 out of 10. Why not a 10 after such a glowing report? I need to save the 10 for our next visit to Mache Bistro!

Day Six - Climbing To The Falls

Some people bag mountain peaks. Chuck has taken to “bagging” the Carriage Road Bridges of Acadia. And whither thou goest... well I’m bagging bridges right alongside him! Today we headed out Route 3 to Route 198 and parked in the Parkman Mountain Parking Lot. We then started up the winding carriage road with the greatest rise in elevation in Acadia. The wide crushed stone road offered a couple of hairpin switchbacks and many gentle, sweeping curves. The higher up we climbed, the better the views became, despite the lingering cloudiness. Our goal today, was two of the seventeen bridges: The Hemlock and The Waterfall. The two bridges are within sight of one another and each is beautiful in its own right. Though the Waterfall Bridge was certainly aptly named, with the highest waterfall in Acadia rushing forcefully after last night’s rain.

Along the Carriage Road to the falls

The Maple Spring Branch of Hadlock Brook, which runs under Hemlock Bridge

The Waterfall Bridge

The waterfall after which Waterfall Bridge is named

Looking down on Upper Hadlock Pond and the ocean beyond

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day Five - The Fog Rolls In

Today was misty, foggy and then rainy. But the weather had pushed in from the south so it was never cold or raw. On a day like today, our focus has to shift away from sweeping views to that which might otherwise be easy to overlook.

Lichen and moss clinging to the granite on Cadillac Mountain

Gulls taking flight at Seal Harbor

Along Stanley Brook

Boats moored in Seal Harbor

Buoys belonging to someone with a great color sense ;o)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day Four - In Praise of Schoodic

The view from Route One, looking back toward Mount Desert Island

Acadia National Park is not limited to Mount Desert Island. It actually encompasses parts of other islands, as well as the Schoodic Peninsula. Schoodic is just about an hour’s drive from Bar Harbor. Today, we left MDI by way of Route 3, taking a right in Ellsworth onto Route 1 heading north. We then took a right at 186, following the signs to Acadia/Schoodic Peninsula and Winter Harbor.

As we have done for many years, we stopped along 186, just outside Winter Harbor, at the Grindstone Neck Smokehouse. If it has lived in the ocean, Grindstone has probably found a delicious way to season and smoke it! You can bring your cooler to this retail shop and fill it up with smoked mussels (perfect over pasta), smoked haddock (makes a wicked good smoky fish chowder) or our newest discovery: the Salmon Candy. It’s a sweet and smoky, tender, salmon jerky. Trust me. Have I ever led you astray?

Our cooler well packed, our appetites whetted, we continued down 186 to the “T” intersection in the center of the village of Winter Harbor. Taking a left, Chase’s Restaurant was just ahead on our right. Chase’s is a casual, local classic, with the heart of diner. The staff seems to really care about the locals who dine there and are warm and welcoming to those of us just passing through. Their chowders are simple, un-fussy fare, where the seafood as star, is introduced to the milk, in which the potatoes, onion and celery are merely supporting players. It often needs a dash of salt and pepper at the table. We usually follow up the cup of chowder with a Lobster Roll and today was no exception. Chase's serves theirs in the classic New England style in a grilled frankfurter roll, with the chunks of lobster tossed very lightly in mayonnaise. These generous sandwiches are a bargain at $11.99, and don’t have the “cheater” layer of lettuce on the bottom of the roll to fool the eye! While we were happily enjoying our lobster, we heard the fateful words: “chocolate cream pie”. That is Chuck’s favorite and he rarely finds it done well when we’re out and about. He ordered a slice and the waitress wisely brought two forks. A homemade pie crust appeared topped with a thick, deep, dark chocolate pudding with a whipped cream frill over all. Chuck pronounced it perfect!

Ready for Acadia on Schoodic, we continued up the road a piece, following the Acadia National Park signs. We first came to Frazer Point, a picnic area with lots of tables overlooking the water. But since we had already had a great lunch at Chase’s, we continued along to the beginning of the one-way, two laned Loop Road which runs along the shoreline and through thick evergreen woods, all the way to the tip of Schoodic Point. Every time the first ocean vista appears, it never fails to take our breath away.

Several years ago, we learned about a hidden gem. Just about two and a half miles from Frazer Point you’ll find an unmarked road to your left. This narrow, dirt and gravel road winds it’s way up to a small circular turnaround area near the top of “Schoodic Head”. From there you can get a good view back toward MDI. But if you park your car off tightly to one side and look for the trail head marker for the “Schoodic Head Trails”, things get even better. The first time we climbed the trail, we were trusting a guide book. Now, we look forward to the hike based on previous trips. I’m no hiking maven, but with a sturdy pair of sneakers, with a solid, sticky tread, I have always comfortably navigated the blue blazed trail along mostly granite outcroppings. The only challenging part (at least for me) is the fairly steep, very beginning of the trail. Once I pass that brief test, the rest of the trail is comfortable and beautiful, especially in autumn. At the very top of Schoodic Head, we were once again rewarded with a wonderful tree top view of the Atlantic Ocean.

The granite trail atop Schoodic Head

Ta Da! The view from the top of Schoodic Head

It is always hard to tear ourselves away from Schoodic Head. The only thing that makes it easier, is knowing Schoodic Point is yet to come. We retraced our route back down the long winding road. Almost all the way to the bottom, we saw a small sign pointing the way to the “Alder Trail”. That struck us as new, so we took the left and followed the road to a small parking area. There was a trail marker for the “Alder Trail” leading to the “Blueberry Hill Parking Area”. Our first thought was that it looked like an old farm road, so we decided to explore it. It turned out to be a mostly level, mostly grassy trail, studded with some rocks and tree roots. But it was well maintained and wide enough for us to walk side by side through Alders, evergreens, and a variety of deciduous trees. The .6 mile trail is a mix of open and shady parts and brought us to the other side of the peninsula across from the Blueberry Hill overlook and the ocean! We retraced our steps back to the car (doesn’t a trail look and feel so different in the opposite direction?) and then back along the dirt road to the main one-way Loop Road which leads to Schoodic Point.

One view of the Alder Trail

Schoodic Point is magnificent. That’s not hyperbole. Multi-tiers of parking allow for a great view of the rockbound point which, when the tide and weather conditions are right, bring the waves crashing up in great bursts of white foam. But even on a still day like today, the ocean is never truly still. We always feel drawn out onto the rocks, our sturdy, sticky treaded sneakers once again standing us in good stead. The dramatic thick black stripes of basalt within the lighter swathes of granite and the pools of standing water where the gulls wade are always fascinating. Caution and common sense keep us from getting too close to the water's edge, where salt spray and seaweed on the rocks and sudden waves can be treacherous.

Late this afternoon, the sun was beginning to sink and the gulls were gathered on the massive rocks. Two herring gulls took flight and my camera didn’t let me down.

As is true of nearly all of Acadia, Schoodic is beautifully accessible by car. If you are unable or disinclined to go clambering over rocks, or hiking on trails and carriage roads, you will not feel as if you have missed out. I think that makes Acadia particularly well suited to all ages and abilities. But if you want to plunge into nature for an afternoon or a day of hiking or biking, you can emerge tired yet refreshed, renewed and ready for a lovely dinner and some window shopping (or real shopping) back in Bar Harbor. It’s all about the balance.

Speaking of balance, after the long day we've had, I need to get some sleep...

: : It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!
Revised and updated 10/19/2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day Three

I have a problem. It’s a wonderful problem, actually, but a problem natheless. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs and I want to use them to somehow better share our experience of Acadia and Bar Harbor with you. When we off-load the camera at the end of the day I am faced with an embarrassment of riches. Then comes the dilemma: which photos will best allow someone to feel as if they are armchair traveling right along with us? My first instinct is “ALL”! My second is that without being able to breathe the crisp, salt air or inhale the woodsy pine smells or taste the food or listen to the cry of the gulls or the sounds of boat engines motoring back into port after a day of working the lobster pots, I’m doomed to fall short.

But I’ll keep trying. Here’s another sampling of what keeps us coming back year after year:

Along Park Loop Road, at the Otter Cove causeway

Meet Ralph, one of the most patient and photogenic Herring Gulls on Mount Desert Island

Beach stones at Seal Harbor

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear...

Then, as if a beautiful day in Acadia wasn’t enough, we went out for dinner with our friends Tom and Gale! They have recommended McKays to us in the past, but we had never made it, until tonight. I rarely make a strong recommendation based on one dining experience, but McKays has moved right to the top of our must-go-to-when-in-Bar-Harbor list. I admit, good conversation and lots of laughter with dear friends could have been a powerful, positive influence on the restaurant experience. But I know that Gale and Tom have been there many times so I’m taking the liberty of factoring in their previous visits! Both the Ahi Tuna and the salmon were delectable. The salmon was plated with a purple sticky rice and tender green beans. A basil citrus sauce only complemented and never overpowered the salmon. McKays reminded Chuck and me of the short-lived but terrific “Seasons” restaurant over on Roddick Street. In both cases we had the feeling someone who loved to cook and loved to eat was hard at work in the kitchen. But the chef never let enthusiasm for innovation overcome the taste of the individual ingredients.

Bar Harbor was once known as Eden. It could just as easily have been called Heaven...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day Two

Today looked a lot like this:

Looking out at Bar Island and Frenchman’s Bay from Bar Harbor

Maple trees at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia

Driving down Cadillac Mountain

One of the Carriage Roads within Acadia, near Jordan Stream

Monday, October 15, 2007

We're Here!

A long day of driving (Neither of us uttered the fateful question: "Are we there yet?"!) brought us to the promised land of Mount Desert Island in Maine. Hurray! But of course, along the way we had to experience "road food" - not to be confused in any way with road kill! For many years we have been able to time our trip such that we can have lunch in Cape Neddick, Maine. Lobster? you might well ask. Crab? Another logical choice when one is so close to the ocean. But no, we go to "Flo's".
Flo's is a hot dog stand parked right along the edge of Route One, just north of Kittery. If you have ever enjoyed a hot dog, you must try Flo's. It is simply an experience. Only open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. "and not a minute later" (closed on Wednesdays), you sidle into the tiny building and generally prepare to stand in line and enjoy the banter and the shed-like ambiance. What you should order (please forgive my being so proscriptive, but trust our experience) is a dog with mayonnaise and Flo’s signature dark, rich, spicy relish. I know, mayo on a dog - we shuddered the first time we heard it, too. But we shuddered with pleasure the first time we bit into the moist natural casing dog on the squishy steamed bun and the creamy mayo collided with the kicky relish - dee-lish!

Happily sated, we continued north on Route 95 to 295 to nifty Portland. We exited onto Forest Avenue and in a moment of virtue (or penance) we laced up our sneakers to walk along the water on a terrific walking path. Then north to Augusta where we hung a right and stayed on Route 3 through the China Lakes region and all the way into Bar Harbor.
Despite this being firmly in the shoulder season, lots of restaurants and shops are still open and doing a very steady business. Tired as we were, we headed for a consistent favorite: “Geddy’s”. Another quirky place, but with goofy atmosphere galore, Geddy’s is a noisy, family restaurant with a solid bar business at its heart. Their menu is wide-ranging with seafood to pizza to burgers. Ahh... hamburgers. Char-grilled and tasty unadorned or topped with the usual suspects or some unusual ones as well. Oh, what the heck. We’ll eat vegetables tomorrow! Chuck ordered the pepper burger, I got the bacon and blue cheese. Wait a minute. They both came with lettuce and tomato. Yeah, that’ll count. So under the array of license plates and old road signs, we toasted to our all-American, hot dog and hamburger, road trip kind of day.

Tomorrow: Acadia National Park, foliage, the ocean and um, O.K., way more vegetables...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Are We There Yet?

After packing for the whole family, Mom would make little chicken salad and ham salad sandwiches on finger rolls. We would stop along the way and have a picnic. Once we arrived, it was all about the pool and the beach. If the weather on Cape Cod didn’t cooperate, then we would poke around the gift shops and drive all over the place, Dad always at the wheel. We were last week in June and middle of August vacationers. June because we kids would be out of school and back then it was still off-season rates. August because it coincided with my parents anniversary. It’s hard to beat those idyllic childhood vacations.

But tomorrow we’ll give it a try! I hope to snap lots of pictures to share upon our return. Or, if the internet access is fast and reliable up north, maybe I’ll upload a post or two along the way. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fine Lines

I don’t quite know where nature, beauty, photography, art and technology converge or for that matter, diverge. But I know what I like. Perhaps it’s as United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote about the challenge of defining pornography: “...but I know it when I see it.”

So here, for your consideration, is a lone maple tree and one woman’s convergence with it. I knew it when I saw it.

Photo and manipulations by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto 5 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today’s To Do

- Wrangle two cats into two cat carriers. Check.
- Get cats safely to vet with own sanity intact. Check (well, mostly).
- Return home with two healthy and fully vaccinated cats and no unpleasant surprises to be found in cat carriers. Check!!!

The annual check up for Abby and Cassie went well. Not much hissing or scratching at their very nice vet, Dr. Bob. They really were on their best behavior today and as a result they thoroughly enjoyed their little cat treats when we got home. Just between us, the treats are designed to reduce plaque and tartar on their teeth, but they just like the catnip flavor. And we like not having to pay vast quantities of money for feline dental care!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Remember To Throw Your Arms In The Air

Life’s a roller coaster.
Not an original thought, but it’s a relevant one.
I think we grow up hoping it will all be smooth sailing. Doesn’t matter what the dream is: family, career, white picket fence, 2.5 kids, astronaut, ski bum, millionaire. We don’t plan on building in the bumps, the ups and downs. If we’re smart, we plan to handle, survive, even thrive in tough times. We save a little money, buy insurance, figure out a fall back position. But we don’t say to ourselves “When I’m 33 I’m absolutely going to experience a financial crisis!” Nope. It’s always a lot more optimistic, a nice rosy glow about it all.

That’s good. So are all those “Life Emergency Preparedness” steps we take. And so too are the rough times that come at us unplanned, unbidden and yes, most unwelcome. Those are also good. The fire that doesn’t consume you, makes you stronger. But those miserable moments also help make the great moments greater. They are the sour to the sweet; the bright, harsh lights that throw good times into high relief.

So today I am grateful for every single unwelcome, tersely written, badly photocopied, condescending rejection letter I have ever received. Today the publisher not only spelled my name right, she wrote: “I’m pleased to tell you that your poem was selected for inclusion in our book.”

Can you hear the sound of the coaster cars clattering on the track?
Here I go, throwing my arms in the air...

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Today dawned as summer and exited as fall - a great relief! I think part of what dragged me down yesterday (besides the heat and humidity) is that I am more than ready for fall. Autumn is my favorite season and I think I was beginning to feel cheated by an extra long summer; my least favorite season. These photos are from yesterday’s “stroll”. BTW, this evening’s walk was a heck of a lot more fun!

: : Red Sox Notes:
The Boston Red Sox beat the Angels 9 - 1 in Game Three!
They’re movin’ on...
So good, so good so good!!! !!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Seasons & Symbols

The weather has been crazy. So hazy, hot, and humid that it feels more like August than October. It has also been very dry. A lot of the leaves on the trees seem to be simply fading rather than beginning to sparkle with color. But there are isolated locations where there is no doubt this is truly autumn.

Before we started our walk today we strolled around and snapped some pictures. (Chuck caught this beauty.) By the time we finished our “stroll”, I felt like a limp dishrag. The air was completely still and unpleasantly thick. The dewpoint had to be approaching 70. But we stowed the camera and began our “real” walk. It wasn’t fun. We weren’t smiling much. I thought about Rickey Henderson. I still wasn’t smiling, but we were still walking. For today, that was enough.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Grabbing Another Virtual Push Pin

My quest continues. I’ve added another individual to my virtual bulletin board: Rickey Henderson. Rickey started playing baseball in the Major Leagues in 1979. His last MLB game was in 2003 and he’s just a few months younger than I am. Even after he “unofficially retired”, Henderson continued to play professional baseball, just not in the Majors. Henderson played for a number of ball clubs, including the Boston Red Sox. In the season he was with us, I was always impressed with his determination, athleticism and sheer physicality.

So when I don’t want to lace up my sneaks and head over to the track, or I want to slow down and stop a little early, I’ll be thinking of Rickey. I never was, nor ever will be the athlete Mr. Henderson was and continues to be (my success in Team Handball notwithstanding!) But I sure as heck can suck it up and do another lap. Maybe, just maybe I can even enjoy it!

: : Red Sox UPDATE Saturday, 12:47 a.m. :
The Boston Red Sox beat the Angels 6 - 3, in Game Two!!!
So good, so good so good!!! !!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What Happened To Ciara?

Army National Guard Specialist Ciara M. Durkin, age 30, of Quincy, Massachusetts, died at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan on Thursday, September 27, 2007. Ciara, originally from Connemara, Ireland, moved to the United States when she was a child and later became a U. S. citizen. There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the circumstances of her death. Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Kennedy along with Congressman Delahunt are urging a thorough investigation.

This inquiry into Durkin's death must be complete, transparent and prompt. No one, certainly not Ciara’s grieving family, deserves another controversial investigation, filled with conflicting information, like the one which surrounded the death of Army Corporal Pat Tillman.

Red Sox - What Else!

The excellent Captain of the Boston Red Sox is Catcher Jason Varitek.
His number is 33.
The Red Sox are about to face the Angels in their first game of the American League Division Series.
I’m wearing my Red Sox T-shirt, with Varitek’s number 33 on it.
The T-shirt is from the 2004 World Series Championship.
Tonight’s game is being broadcast on TBS, on our channel 33.

All very good omens, don’t ya think?
Go Sox!!!

: : Red Sox UPDATE 9:15 p.m.:
The Boston Red Sox beat the Angels 4 - 0!!!
So good, so good so good!!! !!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

I don’t believe this little gem will be quite enough to make this!

BTW, Chuck suggested the title for this post and I couldn’t resist ;o)

Monday, October 1, 2007

This Is My Quest

I’m involved in a quest. (Cue music from “Man of La Mancha”, please.) I live in a bit of a time warp (Please do not cue “Rocky Horror Picture Show” music.) and I need to find some contemporaries. You see my sisters are eight and eleven years older than I am and Chuck is fifteen years older than I am. My best friend here in my home town is Marion and she’s thirty-three years my senior. Do you see the trend? On the flip side, most of my younger family members are about two decades my junior. (It’s up to you if you want to hum “One Is The Loneliest Number”.)

In addition to the quest, I am also approaching a milestone birthday. Yes, it isn’t until next spring, but my Dad always said he was in his fill-in-the-blank year on the day after his birthday. So, with a nod to my Dad, I am, technically, (play sound effects of feet dragging mightily.) in my fiftieth year. Can you tell I am not going gently toward the half century mark? And, since apparently truth serum was in my drinking water today, as a female of a “certain age”, I am approaching that-which-shall-not-be-named. Yup. Just like Voldermort - actually I am much more comfortable speaking his name than the other thing. Seriously. I did buy a book on the topic. It’s hardcover and was in the mark down bin. The spine of the massive tome has never been cracked. I call it the doorstop. Issues? What’s it to ya?!

So I’m looking around to see who in the wider world is around my age - give or take five years in either direction. I’ve found several. Today I present two: comedian Kathy Griffin (two years younger) and newsman Keith Olbermann (less than a year younger). I chose them for their courage. (I’m thinking the “Wizard of Oz” music would be best now.) Both Ms. Griffin and Mr. Olbermann are intelligent, funny and seem to have courage in abundance. Chutzpah might be a better word. And, yes, putting it rather indelicately, they probably do clang together as they walk. But for the purposes of this quest, that is a good thing. I don’t feel as courageous as those two seem to be. So I’ll tack their photos up on my virtual wall of contemporary role models under Chutzpah.

Stay tuned to see who else I nominate to my virtual bulletin board. Of course, feel free to contribute your suggestions...

: : Red Sox Notes:

I can’t shake the images and sounds. Only in Boston would there be a rally for the Red Sox at City Hall Plaza. Only in Boston would the Dropkick Murphys (very loud website!) be playing with a gaggle of little ringleted Irish Step Dancers stepping and twirling, poker straight, behind them. All this because the Red Sox are the American League East Division Champions.
Ya gotta love how crazed all of us in Red Sox Nation are!