Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer's Over

Summer’s over, and it’s time to put this blog on the shelf, until next year, anyway. But, before doing so, here are a few bits and pieces from the last day.

One more trip to Sand Beach, which Alden had been asking and asking for. A nice surprise, when we got down the stairs and on to the beach, was none other than Charlotte Clews Lawther. Wednesday mornings she has Sand Beach duty, which means some sort of big sea creature and natural history show for all the tourists (big show, that is, not a show about big sea creatures). As we arrived, she was just finishing up.

It was really fun to see her, albeit briefly, and in spite of the fact that she was still under the weather from some nasty stomach thing (and always fun to get to see her in her cool park uniform and ranger’s hat. And, this time, also, in a specially ordered maternity smock for pregnant rangers – a rare breed, I’m guessing). She was nice enough to share with Alden some of the cool stuff from her cooler. I think that there is one of those funky sea cucumbers.

People were curious and poor Charlotte ended up doing a whole other mini-show, I think. Thanks, Charlotte.

Then, in the late afternoon, a quick visit to one of our favorite Hancock Point spots: Reed’s Rocks.

for the next installment of our adventures, you'll need to visit:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wet and Rainy Part 2. (should really be called: Dry and Sunny)

I had taken Alden over to Schoodic Point earlier this week, just to get out of the house (library…) and have a little adventure, and also to pick up Anne, who had been over there with some friends. We ended up not having much time at Schoodic, and Alden turned out to really like it there. So, we decided to stop at Schoodic on the way home from Petit Manan.

By this time, it was a totally beautiful sunny, windy Maine afternoon. A very different day than the one we had started out with. Before getting to Schoodic itself, you drive through a sweet little harbor, with two great sights: first, a bunch of lobster boats, bright and colorful and all facing the same way (they do that, you know…), and then, wonder of wonders, Sardine Man. Not really sure who he is, but, he just seemed like he needed to be photographed.

We then got over to Schoodic, and had a great time scrambling around on the rocks, and enjoying the sun and wind and wonderful afternoon light.

Wet and Rainy

And some people were on the cranky side. But, I was done with the library and we had a day to do something with, and I was determined to try my best to make it happen.

I had been wanting to go to Petit Manan all summer, just to walk around and check it out. It is a point farther east, definitely more remote seeming, and parts of the peninsula have been turned into a National Wildlife Refuge, and supposedly you can spot cool birds, nature features, etc. The rain was, in a way, a good reason to hop in the car and head downeast. There was really nothing else we could think of to do… so, picnic packed, raincoats found, and extra shoes and clothes for everyone.

Off we went.

I recently bought Milo a new raincoat. Looks pretty cute, I think.

It was rainy for a good portion of the 1.5 mile walk (the signpost says it takes an hour. I think it took us nearly three. I let Milo walk some, and we definitely stopped to enjoy various parts, in spite of the rain.)

You walk in the woods for a while, and then it opens up to the shore. Spectacularly beautiful, remote seeming, Maine coast. Not totally open ocean, but a very different feel than the water and views around Hancock Point.

We did not really see much in the way of birds – some sea birds, but a little far away for really good viewing. Nevertheless, as we walked around the trail, and as the weather slowly got better, moods lifted and it felt like we had made the right decision, to get in the car and drive over here. By the time we got back to the beginning, the sun had finally fully come out, and we had a some excellent trailside blueberry picking and a lovely parking lot picnic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My mom's garden: Mint

Over by the Little House, not in the main flower or vegetable garden (actually, really, garden spots - garden plots? - are kind of scattered all over the property, front, back, side, corners here and there, though there clearly is a main flower and vegetable garden in front of the house on the sea side), a patch of mint grows. I kind of thought it was just growing wildly, but I asked Mom, and discovered that she had in fact planted it there.

I have always loved that mint, and it is fun to think of things to do with it. Recent highlights are, of course, decorate a blueberry cake with it. Remember, the recipe did not call for mint on top, that was my brilliant addition (you can see here that I have some anxieties about not being creative enough, always following recipes rather than making up my own.)

Last summer, my big use for the mint was mojitos. Originally, my friend Karen introduced me to mojitos (I am not much of a mixed-drink person, in general). Once in Maine, with all that mint, I couldn’t help but make mojitos on my own. Not surprisingly, a few other people were quite happy with the situation, and the change from the typical summer drink fare of gin and tonics and microbrewed beer.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Other Alden(s)

I sort of tried to give my children names that would be not that common. I did not want their names to be really difficult (some people really had a hard time with my name when I was a kid, and I don’t think I liked that) or a challenge to spell (especially given that they were also ending up with a middle name and two last names, one of them hard to spell). A goal I had was that they would be simple, but at the same time unusual.

For the most part, we have traveled through the last 7 years with our Alden being the only Alden. Every once in a while I’ll encounter someone who will tell me about an Alden they know. But, I don’t think we have actually met another Alden, nor have we heard of many.

Except for at Hancock Point.

So, every year, there is this time, when we are in Maine in the summer, when Alden is no longer the only Alden. There are other Aldens.

First, we have Alden Bunker, famous mostly in name, as he has a huge sign up on route one, advertising his business. He’s also famous in reality, somewhat dubiously, I suppose, as the place where my always seeking a good deal grandfather bought at least one, and perhaps several, used cars over the years.

Alden and I pulled into Alden Bunker’s parking lot (which is not that full of used cars, I have to say. Hard to imagine how he makes a go of it), so we could photograph the sign. A nice looking gentleman came out to see us; right off, I introduced us as people with another Alden, rather than people coming to look at buying a car – I really did not want him to be disappointed. He was really nice and we had a fun conversation, in which he dropped the names of about 5 other Aldens, including his son, who live in downeast Maine. “well, there’s Alden __________, over in Harrington, and then Alden ___________ in Machias….” You get the picture.

Then, right in Hancock Point, there is the other other Alden. Alden Woodcock. He’s a kid now about 16 years old, part of another long time Hancock Point family, though we don’t really know them very well. Our paths don’t really cross very much, so there is no real confusion in having these two Alden’s kicking around the same small part of the world. The main connection is that Greg and Sue are really good friends with Alden’s parents, and Greg and Sue’s older boys, Evan and Max (Lily’s big brothers), are friends with Alden.

Last summer, or the summer before, I noticed the name Alden scratched in the door of the boathouse, along with many other names and miscellaneous other “graffiti”. At that point, our Alden was young and pre-literate enough that I knew he had not written it. I know that won’t be the case forever… I wanted to take a picture of that little piece of “local history”, but, they redid the boathouse this year, and the door, with all its local history, has been replaced with a shiny clean new one.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pride of Baltimore

Lovely Jane Morse offered to substitute at the library for me, and so it felt like a proper weekend, being able to get up and do something as a family on a Saturday morning.

After a certain amount of logistical preparation, we got it all together and headed off to have breakfast in Bar Harbor – traveling there by boat, of course. It was a lovely sunny summer morning, and the ride over really was pretty short, less than a half hour, I think. Breakfast was good, and we had a nice little walk around Bar Harbor before getting back in the boat.

Heading out, we took a wide path through the harbor, and one of the real highlights of the trip was getting to see the Pride of Baltimore, which had recently arrived.

Several of the crew were up working around in the rigging. Sort of cool to see them up there, but really, it mostly just made me all acrophobic to look at it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sand Beach

We finally had our long awaited Sand Beach day. Leti and Ben and Noah and Benji were going, and invited Alden to come. After thinking through various logistics (like Alden’s tennis lesson, which we did not want to cancel or miss) I decided that we would all go: here, all means Anne and me, and Alden and Milo. Poor Ray had to stay home and work… or, enjoy some peace and quiet.
We set off after library closing time (noon), giving Milo a bottle for the car ride, and packing all sorts of good picnic food (most of which the kids did not eat until the very end of the afternoon, because they were just having too much fun to sit down and eat).

We arrived at the beach around 1:00 or so, and ended up staying for ages, till 6:00, I think. It was a beautiful, perfect, beach day, and both kids had a terrific time. With Milo, you never know, since everything is still new. He seemed pretty excited by the whole thing, though.

The kids love playing in the sand, digging, creating pools, troughs, connectors, walls, etc.

For me, the favorite part came near the end of the afternoon. Alden was playing, surfing, in the water, and Milo took to running, running, running, right along the water's edge, as the waves came and went, tickling at his feet. Total joy for both of them, and me, too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Blueberry season, blueberry cake

Not much cake baking going on this summer. You would understand why if you saw the kitchen I am cooking in. (I’ll try to post pictures at some point). But, of course, it is impossible to not bake at all….

I have had a particular blueberry cake in mind since sometime this winter, when I was browsing around Epicurious and found it. The night before the Edinburgh Thompsons were leaving, they invited us for supper, and I offered to make a cake. I rounded up a variety of slightly hard to come by ingredients (hard to come by here, in my summer kitchen, that is):

Parchment paper
3 9-inch round cake tins
Cake flour

Then I went to work.

I won’t go too into the details, though I’ll share this one: I don’t have my regular standing kitchen mixer here, and so I was using a very overpowered hand held mixer – you know, the kind with two beaters (which children love to lick…). When I was done, and trying to get the beaters out of the mixer, I accidentally turned the motor back on (the very overpowered motor, as I mentioned before), thereby spraying batter all over my kitchen. It was a laugh or cry moment, really, during which I chose to laugh. I had gotten down to the wire at this point, in terms of timing and getting the cake baked, cooled, and frosted and all… so, I tried to work on keeping things in perspective. After all, it is only a cake.

Got it baked, transported down to the Big House, and decided to wait and frost it after supper. This allowed me the added bonus of decorating it not just with extra blueberries, but also with mint from my mom’s garden.

People raved about the cake; on the whole, though I thought it was nothing special. Good, really, very nice texture (comes in part from making it with cake flour), very pretty, but nothing really unique. Just your better basic blueberry cake.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Houses we love: this one run down

This is a house I have long loved.

Recently Ray and I were talking, and it turns out he loves it too. It is a pretty run down house, and in all my years of coming here (my whole life, that is), I don't recall anyone ever living in it. Yet the lawn is always taken care of, and there are lovely flowers out front. Seems funny to me, that we should both be so drawn to it, given how run down it is.

It is a lovely site, though, all around, with a sloping down (towards the water, I assume, though it is technically not a water view) big wide field for a back yard.

We enjoyed poking around the place a little while back, though our secret hopes of ever being able to buy the place were dashed when we talked with the people who live next to it, who said that the person who owns it comes every week to take care of the lawn, and has dreams of fixing it up herself one day.

More pictures of houses we love to follow (I hope).

Sunday, August 5, 2007

My children's secret lives: Alden

Both the Edinburgh Thompsons, and Samantha and her kids, were always super-nice about including Alden on expeditions with them. In spite of the fact that Ray and I were stuck working, Alden actually got to get out and have some fun.

Here he is at Little Tunk, having gone with the Edinburgh Thompsons.

A great Alden action shot...

Thanks, Emma, for taking pictures.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Beach Finds: A Sad Story

"It's miraculous!" Alden yelled, coming up from the beach, telling us we needed to come look. Indeed, it was a bit of a miracle. He had found a really big crab, way up in the middle of the beach (way up meaning way above the low tide line - usually crabs are only found around the low tide line, and even then, not often. ) It was an impressive specimen, but, I was a little worried, since it really is not common to find such a thing.

Mom and Alden and I spent some time checking it out, and then thought we really should help it get back down to the water, where we thought it really needed to be. Poking and prodding didn't do much, and eventually I picked it up and took it down to the water. Even that did not produce much reaction.

We continued to be worried.

Eventually we got it fully out and submerged in the water, and it did swim off, with some energy. But, as I said, we were worried, it just did not seem to be doing what a crab should do...

Later, Catharine told a story of seeing a sad crab, during her late afternoon swim, being eaten by a seagull. Mom and I had a pretty good idea of who that crab was. We were a little worried about telling Alden, but thought we needed to tell him the truth (and when we had been hanging out with the crab earlier, we had told him we were worried about it, so we hoped it would not be too much of a blow to hear the end of the story).

His reaction was fantastic - mature and philosophical:

"well, seagulls need to eat, too."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My mom's garden: Raspberries

Turns out, Milo likes raspberries.

Mom has these huge sprawling raspberry bushes: they take up about 1/3 of the vegetable garden space. I think she has been growing them since Ray and I got married (1996), from little raspberry plants given to her by my friend Amy’s dad – I hope I am remembering this correctly. Anyway, the raspberries are in terrific form, and she has begun feeding them to Milo, and he is very happy about that.