My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vacation: I'm Sailing!

Vacation Day # 7 continued ~ the 4th of July...

After our early morning stroll and breakfast in Searsport, the moment we had most anticipated - BW with eager excitement and me with unmitigated apprehension - was upon us. We headed to the neighboring town of Belfast for our first sailing adventure, an hour and a half morning sail aboard the Friendship Sloop Amity in Belfast Harbor.


It was BW's first time aboard a sailboat larger than 19', but he'd taught small boat sailing at Boy Scout Camp for three years as a teenager. I've been in plenty of canoes and a row boat or two, but my only experiences on any sort of seafaring vessel had also been in my teens, during my senior year of high school. The first consisted of a very stormy fall afternoon on a little Hobie-type catamaran operated by my boyfriend's older brother and his friend, both high as kites. They'd taken me out to take my mind off the recent death of my beloved horse, and it more or less worked since I was distracted by the total certainty that I was about to join her in the Great Beyond. I remember mostly being cold, soaked, and desperately clutching at every available thing there was to clutch. My second experience was the following spring, on my senior class trip aboard the now defunct car ferry/cruise ship Caribe, which sailed from Portland, ME to Yarmouth Nova Scotia (and, to my dismay, back to Portland!) My memories of that experience consist mainly of throwing up till I thought I would die, and frankly wishing I would. The less said about that adventure the better!

I lived on both coasts of this country most of my life and enjoy the beaches, but feel great awe and trepidation when it comes to the ocean and have never had any interest in sailing. BW, on the other hand, grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and would live aboard a sailboat if I ever got drunk enough to say "Sure, why not?" So he was excited to go sailing, while I was not only reliving my own seasick misery on the Caribe but also channeling my ancestors, who suffered miserable Atlantic passages on the Mayflower and in steerage to Ellis Island, and was pretty convinced - as I have been most of my life - that I have drowned at sea in multiple past incarnations; an end I don't care to repeat in this one. But I fortified myself with some crystallized ginger and various anti-seasickness elixirs and amulets, girded my loins, and off we went...

So now that I've set the scene for you, aren't we all just going to be surprised as hell when I tell you I had a fantastic time, totally loved the experience of sailing, and couldn't wait to not only go again but to go FASTER?! With heeling and everything! Granted, it was a lovely calm morning and the sailing was tranquil, but still....

Honestly, this great scene from "What About Bob?" represents my before and after sailing experience almost perfectly...


ROTFL! Yes Bob, you did indeed have a breakthrough. Me too! Good for us! And neither of us even threw up. :-)

BW standing beside Amity after our sail

Our able skipper (who I'm quite certain was not high as a kite), Steve O'Connell...

BW hangs on Steve's every nautical word

To BW's indescribable delight, Steve had him man the tiller as we motored out of the congested part of Belfast Harbor and then sailed around the bay. This resulted in alternating all-business "don't distract me, I'm doing critical sailing stuff" expressions and yet another Happy Vacation Face like this one...


Here are a few more photos I took during our sail...

Belfast Harbor and the Belfast Bridges
(one for wheels, one for feets)

A handsome moored sailboat and waterfront cottages

A beautiful day for a sail on Belfast Bay.

Both before and after our voyage, we puttered about Belfast, which has a lot of fun shops (though many were closed for the holiday). One of the first things we came upon when we arrived was this gathering of folks overlooking the harbor. Their personalities were a little wooden, but we thought they had a lot of character. ;-)


My favorites are the one on the far left (I love the carved rope around his head) and the one on the far right (who looks like either a Mongolian nomad or Confucius to me!)

The scuptor, Ron Cowan, was setting them up for the day outside a funky little shop (that was closed for the 4th) called Roots & Tendrils, so we enjoyed a lovely chat with him. A friendly and talented man! His son Ryan is a talented sculptor too (a chip off the old block, nyuck nyuck!) Check out their wonderful web site, The Garden Muse, to see much more of their whimsical and intriguing art!

We'd been looking forward to our visit to the Belfast Co-op, which was fortunately open till 2 that day. We procured our lunch from their deli and took it to Heritage Park, overlooking the public boat dock and harbor, and enjoyed yet another yummy picnic in a pretty setting...


Our totally organic, locally made vegan lunch consisted of whole grain bread from Tuva Bakery in neighboring Lincolnville, whole wheat soba noodle & cabbage salad for me, yet another curried tofu dish for BW (told you that boy loves his curry!), a shared marinated kale salad, and Maine Root's Ginger Brew, handcrafted in Portland...

The Ginger Brew was (as they say in Maine) wicked gingery!
Whoo-eee!

On our way back to Searsport we stopped at 183-acre Moose Point State Park for a leisurely hike. There's a 1.2 mile gentle loop trail that winds along the coast and through the piney woods. (You may remember from my last post that Searsport's pretty Carver Memorial Library was built in part out of stones collected from the Moose Point shore)...

This picket fence lends a homey touch to part of the trail!

Enjoying a pause beneath the aptly named "Big Spruce,"
located along the equally aptly named "Big Spruce Trail."

Coming up next: a week of vacation for BW and lots of home improvement/prepare for winter projects for us. So blogging and other online activities may be on hold for awhile, but when I can post again we've still got Camden and Rockport to explore, another foray into Belfast and another sailing adventure (this one a longer, livelier "eco-sail"), and a really fun hike in Camden Hills State Park, along with some non-vacation posts. So till then, enjoy these last days of August! (Wow, how'd that happen?!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vacation: Searsport


Vacation: Day #7 (the 4th of July)...

Since it was both a holiday and a Sunday, most of our July 4th was pretty laid back, so this blog entry is too. I confess that though we spent the morning of the 4th exploring Searsport on foot, I actually took some of these photos on various days throughout our stay. But I realize you probably wouldn't be any the wiser if I didn't tell you, unless you're a detective sort who pays very close attention to differences in things like attire, placemats and dishes, or weather! :-)

We started out our day with one of Janet's delicious breakfasts. We had this particular one - mushroom stuffed baked tomatoes - two times, since it was a favorite of ours. So although it's not what we ate on the 4th, it's a good representation of our vegan breakfasts at Elm Cottage...


In addition to the entrée, at every breakfast we had muffins or scones, toast from homemade bread served with different local jams or homemade applesauce, juice, and steel cut oats served with a variety of fresh fruit, homemade soy milk, and homemade soy yogurt. (Our mugs contain delicious Dandy Blend, which we'd brought from home - Janet's now a fan too! Good stuff!)

But the deliciously Italian-seasoned Mushroom Stuffed Tomato was the star of the show...

(See? Different plate and placemat! Would you have noticed?
Charlotte the bus driver probably would have! LOL)

And one of our favorite muffins Janet fed us (which I've made twice since returning home, subbing an organic pear for the apple, sucanat for half the amount of agave nectar, and using pecans as well as walnuts for the topping), Confetti Muffins...

A very pretty muffin on a delightfully pretty plate!
(Love those Maine blueberries - on as well as in dishes!) :-)

This is Maggie, Janet's 17 year old dog, who's just as sweet as can be...

Maggie can't see well anymore, but she can spot a camera!
I had to stand far away and take this with a zoom,
since Maggie's not fond of having her photo taken.

Maggie

3/11/1993 - 11/15/2010

You are loved and missed, sweet Maggie!

And now for our little Searsport walkabout...

In Mosman Park, where we viewed the fireworks display the evening before (and also flew our kite that afternoon, as well as found and returned the adorable but wandering canine Miss Millie Murphy to her visiting Rhode Island family), was this sweet gazebo, festively adorned for the holiday...

We were diggin' the sailboat on the trashcan!

Though you can't get a sense of its size or amenities from this photo (it's 4 acres of picnic spots, a ball diamond, a saltwater beach, the gazebo and - as this sign announces - a playground), you can see its proximity to the water and its pretty views!


When I first saw Searsport's beautiful public library, The George A. Carver Memorial Library (where Janet volunteers) on our 4th of July morning walk without my camera, I knew I had to go back with my camera (and get a look inside when it was open!)


The library, constructed in 1909-1910 at a cost of $25,000 (a huge sum in those days) with a donation from the heirs of Capt. George A. Carver (and books donated 37 years earlier by David Sears, for whom the town is named), was built from stones taken from the Carver farm and Moose Point shore (you'll see a bit of Moose Point - where we did some hiking on the afternoon of the 4th - in my next post). According to the lovely email I received from Carver Library's director in answer to my query about the original building's cost, "the Carver family members were very involved in the design of the building, inside and out, and spared no expense... the building has an Italian marble floor, beautiful oak shelves and furniture, and brass lighting fixtures. It was the first public building in Searsport to have electricity."

A strongbox containing documents and articles was sealed into the building's cornerstone, with instructions that it be opened on the 100th anniversary of the library's dedication - which will be this October 13th! After opening the strongbox, they'll be replacing the original contents with contemporary ones - writings, drawings, keepsakes, etc - which won't be opened for another 100 years. I wonder what the folks of 2110 will make of it all? I think that time capsule sorta stuff is very cool! (But you probably already know that about me!) ;-)

Oct 2010 Time Capsule Update: Here are a couple of news updates about the time capsules, past and present...

After 100 Years, Who Remembers Where They Put the Time Capsule? ~ an article from the Bangor (ME) Daily News that's mostly about the challenge to locate the time capsule! (Civil Engineers in the audience take note, it was one of your compadres who saved the day!) ;-) It also discusses the unfortunate condition in which the contents were found ("sort of a blob" seems an apt description), and plans for the contemporary time capsules.

Time Capsule Revealed in Searsport ~ a news broadcast from WABI about opening the time capsule and its contents (watch the video to see the "blob" for yourself), and info about the new time capsules, which will hopefully be more impervious to the next 100 years of the elements!

It's a shame they don't build them like this anymore!
The little children's garden is very sweet,
and a circa 1999 accessible entrance is visible in back.

Searsport, like most of New England, boasts some beautiful architecture. While not the most magnificent nor historically interesting homes in the town, we thought these two were lovely and worth photographing...


This one's gingerbread trim and flowers really won me over!

I took this one while on a bike ride around town. How could I resist? The summer-green trees, the quintessential New England church steeple set against a pretty sky, and the flag waving its 4th of July greetings...


Coming up next: Our 4th of July adventure on the high seas of Belfast Harbor! :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vacation: Searsport's "4th" of July


Vacation Day #5 (concludes) and Day #6...

We now re-join our Down East adventure still in progress...

After leaving Harborside, we drove through more pretty countryside to our destination of Searsport, on the west side of Penobscot Bay, and checked into our Vacation HQ for the next 6 nights, the delightful Elm Cottage B&B...


Our sweet hostess Janet has created a lovely oasis for relaxing between adventures. Her garden and pond with fountain waterfall is such a tranquil spot to spend some time...


And lucky us, the timing of our visit even coincided with the blooming of the first water lily blossom...


Janet's back deck was another relaxing spot, prettily festooned with Tibetan prayer flags and wind chimes, where we took a little break with some iced tea and vegan snacks...


But there wasn't too much time for sitting around, because we had a 4th of July parade to march in! (Because the 4th fell on a Sunday, Searsport and several other local communities celebrated the 4th of July on the 3rd this year). Janet co-founded SAFE, which provides free dog and cat food and cat litter to people during times of financial hardship (a main reason animals are abandoned or surrendered to shelters). She generously invited us to carry SAFE's banner in the parade...


Between carrying my half of the banner, an American flag some local political candidate handed us just before the parade started, and a couple of fistfuls of dog treats that we tossed to spectator dogs along the parade route, I had no free hand (or opportunities) with which to take photos of the actual parade. But it was pretty much your typical, quaint small-town 4th of July parade, with probably a lot more fire engines in it than most, since when it came to fire trucks, every surrounding community had at least one in Searsport's parade!

But I did take a couple of photos as the parade formed up, so here are some of SAFE's members, two legged and four legged, who marched behind us...


After the parade and a bit of shopping and strolling in town, we went hiking on 936-acre Sears Island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway built in the 1980s. Two miles long, one mile wide and with 5 miles of sandy and rocky shoreline (601 acres of the island are protected under a permanent conservation easement, with the rest to hopefully follow!), Sears Island provided a diverse, peaceful and wonderful place to hike. Here I am on a trail through some bird-filled woods that open into a sunny fern meadow...


...and here's BW perched on a piece of driftwood along the shore, enjoying his apple to the sounds of surf and seagulls...


Since everything was closed that evening, BW and I had picked up some provisions for our dinner at the little local grocery store. While Janet went to a party with friends, she graciously let us use her kitchen to cook up our pasta, to which we added black olives, organic tomatoes, organic basil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dash of salt...

Janet's festive placemats provided a perfect backdrop
for our simple yet colorful meal! :-)

BW and I relaxed after dinner in the living room accompanied by Calico, who was enthralled with the streams of people walking past the house on their way to nearby Mosman Park to watch the fireworks display...


We weren't about to be left behind, so we headed to Mosman Park too, settled in on a blanket Janet had left for us, and enjoyed an incredible, professional pyrotechnics display directly overhead! It gave me a chance to experiment with the fireworks setting on my new camera, which took me a while to get the hang of (and really would have benefitted from a tripod). But I got some totally groovy effects! :-) So sit back and ooh and aah to your heart's content (without the deafening percussion and gunpowder smell!)...



I see critters even in fireworks displays. Here are some golden Tarantulas...


And a lovely, luminous jellyfish...




Coming up next: A little walking tour of Searsport, followed by a seafaring adventure in Belfast for the actual 4th of July! :-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hay Fever


Here's a time-out from vacation posts to share some local photos from our July hay hauling expedition...

I love this photogenic round rail zig-zag fence and row of pines that line the road leading into Malone Ranch, where we get our hay...


I probably don't have to tell you that this is the hay field... ;-)


Hauling hay is hot, hard work - but what a beautiful place to be doing it...


Okay, enough ogling the scenery. We've got 3 truckloads (that's 2 1/2 tons) of hay to load! BW demonstrates his stacking method while Willow supervises...


I'm more a drag, lift and prop-against-the-bumper girl than a hoist and stack one...


After propping the bale I walk away... then turn back and glare at it. This ensures it stays put, and is a very effective but little-known technique. ;-)


It always feels good to be done! (Well, almost done - we still have to go home and unload and stack it in the barn!)...


This water canon would be a helluva sprinkler to play in (and don't think I wasn't seriously tempted to do just that!)...


This shady bench under the trees was also tempting. I thought of faking stomach cramps so I could get out of hay duty and just loll about in the shade, but in the end I hauled rather than lolled and contented myself with merely photographing the bench. Gee, I'm a such good scout. :-)


One of my favorite things about our annual hay-hauling at Malone's is getting to love on the sweet goats who live there. I just adore goats! (Of course I do, I'm a Capricorn! Goats are mah peeps!) :-)


And that's "the end" of another year's hay hauling...

(Baaaaad joke, I know). ;-)

Miss Willow and I are off to northern Montana for a few days to visit my mom, so vacation posts will resume later next week (or as soon as possible thereafter. Blogging time's been in short supply this month!) Have a lucky Friday the 13th and a great weekend!

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"