Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Book Finds: Ruth Sawyer ~ The Enchanted Schoolhouse

Books just end up on my desk. I am not always sure where they came from or why they are there. But, I look at them, of course, mostly just so that I can figure out where to re-shelve them. But, then, sometimes, I look twice.

A book called The Enchanted Schoolhouse, by Ruth Sawyer, ended up on my desk the other day. I am familiar, just a little, with Ruth Sawyer. She is one of those Maine authors (making her confusing, here, as she could be filed in several different areas: local authors, juvenile fiction, etc.). I am pretty sure I read a book or two of hers way back in the day. But, it’s been a long time.

I picked this one up and flipped through the pages, and was struck by the illustrations. They looked oddly familiar.

from The Enchanted Schoolhouse:

I thought for a minute, and then realized who it was: Robert McCloskey, you know, of Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Make Way for Ducklings fame.

Aha, I thought. That’s it. He’s the illustrator. And, furthermore, I thought, it totally makes sense. He’s a Maine author [illustrator], and she is, too. I flip to the front to find the credits and confirm my realization….

Only to be proved wrong. Illustrator: Hugh Troy. Hugh Troy? Who the hell is he? And, how can I be wrong???

I flip a little more, and discover this dedication.

This only deepens the mystery. Okay, she clearly has some connection to McCloskey. I sit around scratching my head for a little while. Here are the facts:

*Robert McCloskey was the father of the characters he wrote about in so many of his books, Sal and Jane.
*Ruth Sawyer was the grandmother of those very same girls.
*Ruth Sawyer is not McCloskey’s mother. Why, you ask? A little Wikipedia research, and, later, further study of some of the other books we have here of hers, reveals she is the wife of some guy named Albert Durand.

I finally come to this conclusion: Ruth Sawyer must have had a daughter who married Robert McCloskey, and was then Sal and Jane’s mother. Phew.
from One Morning in Maine, the mother and Sal and Jane in the kitchen:

A few more pieces of Ruth Sawyer trivia:

*She’s actually pretty famous, at least in my book-award-world view. Won the Newbery for a book called Roller Skates, in 1937.
*The library has at least five books of hers, in addition to The Enchanted Schoolhouse:

A Cottage for Betty
Roller Skates
The Little Red Horse

I think I will try to get Alden going on reading some of these. They look like the kind of books he might like…

I still don’t know the answer to the question that started me on all of this: why do the illustrations in this book look so much like McCloskey’s?

boat scene from The Enchanted Schoolhouse:

from One Morning in Maine:

Maybe it’s just me; maybe it is that pen and ink style; maybe McCloskey was influenced by Troy (I’m assuming he’s younger, given the family/generation conclusion I came to). If so, interesting then that McCloskey became so famous, and I’d never heard of Hugh Troy.

One last thing: another book of Sawyer’s, Daddles, illustrated by a third person – Robert Frankenberg, also has slightly familiar looking drawings. Maybe it’s just the time period they were all working in…

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My mom's garden: "I am eating your lettuce"

Lots of lettuce growing in my mom’s garden, some red, some green. I started trying to do some up close and personal lettuce photography. That was when I found the slugs. Funny little things. Having themselves a good meal, in there, in the lettuce.

So, I tried to photograph them. They were actually a little easier to photograph than the lettuce, for some reason.

I think my mom was a little irritated that I was happily snapping away, photographing the slugs rather than getting rid of them.

Still need to figure out how to get good pics of the lettuce – they really are very pretty, all in a row, red and green and leafy…

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Eat local: Blueberries

Suddenly, they are getting ripe, and there are a ton of them. Bumper crop. Banner year. Whatever you want to call it.

It seems weird, as in, early. I mean, it’s still practically strawberry season (pictures of the strawberries in my mom’s garden possibly forthcoming).

But, they really are ready, at least some of them.

I went out in the early morning, and picked enough for breakfast.

Then, later in the day, went out with Alden, Hunter, and Milo. I offered Alden a quarter for every half cup he picked. He picked just that: a half cup. Once he had earned that quarter, he was done.

Milo pretty much grazed the whole time, talking about “ripe” berries and “juicy” berries. Anne also showed up.

Some of those berries went towards a blueberry lemon upside-down cake. More about that later, maybe.

Some of the berries are already frozen, ready to be enjoyed in pancakes on a cold Maine winter morning…

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Waiting for the Dems...

One of my mom's cousins is very active in the county Democratic organization. She approached mom and asked if they could use our house as the location for a fundraiser for the local Democratic state House of Representatives candidate.

The big house got cleaned top to bottom. Never a bad thing.

The cousins came and decorated in the morning before the (late afternoon) event.

Milo thought the streamers were really fun to play with. I had to keep steering him away so that he didn't tear them off the porch railing.

It was a perfectly beautiful day.

Unfortunately I missed the bulk of the party, due to my epic Ellsworth trip. All the pictures here are from the morning, when Milo and I were down at the house.

I did, however, make it to the tail end of the party. And, in fact, Milo and I had a brief conversation with former Senator George Mitchell, who was an esteemed guest of honor at the event. That was cool.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My mom's garden: Gooseberries

This post is really about the photographs, and me with the macro lens, because, to tell you the truth, the gooseberries do nothing for me.

Sorry, Mom.
Partly, it is just the fact that I am not a fruit dessert person, and the gooseberries tend to appear in these crazy fruit desserts (like "gooseberry fool"... whatever that is). I am not sure what else you can do with gooseberries, I think they are way too sour for eating straight up.

I think there is some backstory about the gooseberries, but, I cannot now recall it. I do know that my mom LOVES them, I mean, really, I think she is quite obsessed with them. Maybe she can fill in a bit here, about what it's all about, and defend her obsession.
But, Ray and I, we just don't get the gooseberries.
I had fun trying to photograph them, though, and I think these pics came out okay.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eat local: lobsters

My cousin Mardi is married to a guy named Clif. They are both great and are currently spending a lot of their time lobstering. Did I mention that they are in their 60s/70s?? The energy these two have is amazing and wonderful to see. (Mardi is actually my mom's first cousin, so, she's one generation up from me).

Two years ago, Clif took Alden out lobstering with him; it was a great treat for Alden.

Clif and Mardi have recently upgraded to a new boat.

I bought some lobsters from them earlier this week.

Steamed them up.

And, made yummy lobster salad. Three lobsters, picked just the big claws and tails from each; added a little mayo, mustard, celery, scallions, dill, and lemon. Eaten in sub-rolls. A good meal for Ray, Anne and me (with Anne contributing a bottle of wine. Thanks, Anne.)

The dill in the salad was given to me by a local neighbor/friend, grown in her own garden.
No pictures of the finished product, as the camera batteries chose to die during the meal preparation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good Book Finds: Elizabeth Coatsworth and Janina Domanska ~ Under the Green Willow

It’s a blog about living in a library, but, not much talk about books so far, really, eh?

Need to change that. So, I bring you “good book finds” – installment #1.

As a result of the renovations, things were extra dusty here this year, when we moved in. I have been working to get out from under all the dust, and slowly making progress. Meanwhile, I have been finding books to be particularly out of order and mixed up in the children’s room. So, on Sunday afternoon, I got a bucket of warm water and a rag, and Ray and I embarked on a major children’s room cleaning and organizing effort. Not done yet. But, getting there.

Dusted and cleaned on and around the books, and did some serious alphabetizing work. One of the fun parts of this work was finding all sorts of books that I got really excited about. Books I have known and loved, but temporarily forgotten. Books that are beautiful. Books that are somehow extra "interesting". Books by writers/illustrators I love, but did not know about. And so on and so forth.

The first one I have for you I pulled because of the author: Elizabeth Coatsworth. Most famous, I think, for The Cat Who Went To Heaven. I admit to not remembering it. Anne says she read it to Alden last year. Then, this spring, Alden read a whole bunch of different Elizabeth Coatsworth books. One of the libraries we frequent at home has a big collection of her books, and I just happened to pull a few one day to feed to Alden.

So, when I saw a book by her when I was cleaning, I grabbed it. After looking through it more closely, it was the illustrations, by Janina Domanska, that I fell in love with, more than anything.

This one is more of a Milo book than an Alden book. The ones Alden read were short-ish chapter books, with real stories. This one is short and simple, just a few words on each page, hardly a story at all. Yet, I have happily read it to Milo for the last three or four nights.

Summary: birds, turtles, fishes, hanging out in the water, waiting for crumbs, all under the green willow.

More on Coatsworth here.

And, Domanska here.
might see if I can still buy that book she won the Caldecott Honors for...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Littlest Hikers

Going for a hike over on Mount Desert Island is one of the many things on summer’s “to do” list.

Jordan Pond from the top of North Bubble.

We ended up getting after this one very quickly, as the Edinburgh Thompsons determined that the best/only day for them to hike was Saturday. My uncle Henny is a serious traditionalist: sentimental, nostalgic, whatever you want to call it. As far as he’s concerned there’s really only one hike to do on the island, and that is Sargent Mountain. Every year, they do the same hike: up one side of Sargent, down a different trail, stopping at the pond for a swim, and then on to Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers. Admittedly, the hiking around here is pretty small scale, but, for around here, Sargent is one of the more significant hikes.

Henny very kindly invited Alden to come along with his group.

Looking out from the top of our mountain. Behind them is Sargent, where Alden and his group were.

Meanwhile, the rest of us, with smaller children or less ambition, were considering the other options (the idea here was that people could hike different things but all end up together for the tea and popovers part of the expedition).

We settled on the old standby for when you are hiking with the smaller set: a Bubble. The Bubbles are the classic hike for small children (or, crazy tourists who think they want the hike experience. Coming down, we passed one set of people including a very nicely put together woman, mid-50s, maybe, pocketbook in hand, very nice white crisp shirt and completely inappropriate shoes. Who knows whether she made it all the way up. I mean, it’s an easy hike, but, it is a hike, and you need appropriate shoes!)

We did the Bubbles with Alden and Max and Kira when the boys were 2 ½; then again, two summers ago, Anne and James and Alden and Milo and I did it, Milo at 6 months and in the back pack the whole way.

Georgia, 6 months old, sleeping.

and, awake:

This time, we decided to do the North Bubble, usually we do the South Bubble, so, time for a little something different. And, I brought the back pack, just in case…
North Bubble, yes, it really does say 872 feet. It's a whole 80 or so feet taller than the South Bubble.

The group included Paul and Eva and Rose, Anne and Milo and me, and Charlotte and Georgia.

Milo was a bit whiny at first, as we set off on the trail (poor thing, he was missing his nap), and he requested for me to put him in the backpack. But, within a few minutes, he realized that moving under his own steam was going to be way more fun, and he asked to get out. He then proceeded to hike the whole thing by himself.

Heading down turned out to be slower going than the hike up.... lots of stopping, for pretend falls and playing in the leaves and dirt.

you'll find photos of the after-party at Jordan Pond over at flickr.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We're here

It's summer and we have arrived. Here's our lovely little home.

It's had a new paint job (and a variety of other updates and improvements, which I will document soon) and looks all shiny and sparkly.

We have actually been staying at my mom's since arriving on Friday, but, the Edinburgh Thompsons come tonight, and so, it really is time to move in to the library. We kept saying we were going to move up to the library, but then we kept enjoying it down here so much.

And, the paint fumes at the library have been pretty intense, still (yeah, all that sparkly and shiny comes at a cost), so, the lovely clean air at the big house has been a nice thing.
But, the library opened yesterday, and I find it a little crazy to be running back and forth between home and work. Much easier to just live right where you work. Okay, ask me how I feel about that in a few months...