a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: maine

It’s a Snow Day. Who’da thunk it?

It’s been a few days since the last post. Those days were spent fighting with my Internet source, battling this cold that keeps hanging on (it’s turned into sore ears, a burning throat, and coughing, but it’s still just a cold according to the doc this morning), meeting with new professional contacts, house and pet sitting, and taking care of life stuff.

As I sit here clicking away at the keyboard, I check over my shoulder every now and then at the progress of the road crews cleaning up this latest storm to hit the Boston area. The snow began early morning and the storm warning stays in effect until Thursday morning. I believe at the last update we’re supposed to get 10-15 inches of snow in this storm, and another is coming in on Saturday. Considering the last few winters were mild, I really shouldn’t complain about the inches we’re getting this year. It goes in cycles.

The snow this winter has given me ample opportunity to think about some of the differences between living in rural Maine and living in urban Massachusetts. When I comment on the weather, people ask where I’m from. I respond that I’m from Maine to which they say, “so, shouldn’t you be used to this?” Well, yes, to some extent.

gabeinsnowbank

Gabe climbing out of the car and over the bank when we ate at the S&S in Cambridge last week.

 

There are quite a few differences in dealing with the snow and cold in Maine and dealing with it here on the coast in Boston. For one, most places I needed to go in Maine were too far away to make walking reasonable; so I drove everywhere. I never dealt much with slushy, snowy sidewalks in central Maine, nor did I have to try parallel parking on a narrow street lined with cars and snow banks taller than my car. As far as I know, there also are not many places that have the wind tunnel effect in Maine in the places I lived, other than when I was on campus at UMaine. That was tough. I’d have to say, though, that the Back Bay of Boston is colder and windier than I remember UMaine being. Anyone else have experience being on campus at UMaine in the winter to chime in on this?

snowbank

A few cars on a side street in Cambridge. I snapped the shot to illustrate how lucky I am to not have to try parking in an area like this!

 

In addition to the differences between Maine and Mass, this winter has given me a chance to contrast the living environments I’ve thought I wanted and the one I’m in now. When Gabe and I first started looking for a place in Boston, I wanted a nice apartment with charm and character in a well-established neighborhood. Instead, we’re on the frontier of the city surrounded by new construction and parking lots. If I had it my way, I probably would have been parking on a street like the one shown above. Instead, we’re living in a newer apartment building in the city and the car is in a parking garage two blocks down. Thank you, Gabe, for finding this place and talking me into it’s merits! After this winter, I’m so grateful to not have to shovel out my parking space, the walk, and clean off my car once a week! To those that do, I commend your efforts this challenging winter!

* * *

Gabe and I spent the majority of the weekend in Marblehead house and pet sitting. I used the distraction-free environment to chip away at filling out online job applications and updating my materials at various job databases, as well as make some progress on my novel. Gabe caught up on Modern Warfare:  Black Ops. We both have our priorities, you know. His avatar’s rapid footsteps and gunfire was competition with my typing. It’s hard to say who won.

From Marblehead, we went to Belmont for a gaming party with some friends. The gaming parties are always a blast. There were a variety of games in play, but I sat at the Small World table twice and then played all of the expansions of Playtest (We Didn’t Playtest This at All, We Didn’t Playtest This Either, Blue Cards, Dice, and Chaos)  and then Bang! The Bullet. Great games. I want to buy them all for my own collection. We also played Once Upon a Time with the Dark Tales expansion at the end of the night.

What was interesting about that night in particular is that for most of it, Gabe and I sat at different tables gaming (there were probably 20 or so people there). A few years ago, I don’t know that it would have happened. I used to be closed off and unable to interact with people without a shield. I was very proud to realize how much I’ve grown, and it’s good to know that past decisions in relationships are showing their value.

I just checked:  Yup, it’s still snowing. Thought it may have stopped by some miracle. I hope you have a good and safe day this snowy Tuesday. I’m off to make some ginger and thyme tea to chase away this cold!

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I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

New Place, Old Face

Gabe and I have been living in our new home for a smidge over two weeks now. It’s been wonderful. It’s such a different experience than I even imagined. We’re in an area of Boston that is primarily industrial:  office buildings, restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and a few blank slates for someone’s imagination to take hold of. We have all of Boston at our finger tips but forget trying to get a gallon of milk without hopping on the T or getting in the car after 6 pm on Friday. The only remotely reasonable convenience store is only open when the offices are. But, I’d have to say, that’s really not a huge deal. It’s just different.

I don’t have photos of the new place yet because we’re still settling in. There are books and boxes and bags of stuff in various  out-of-the-way places waiting for furniture to organize them. Maybe next week we’ll have photos? We’ll see.

One of the things I’m growing accustomed to and am rather enjoying is not having Internet access in the apartment. We get it in the club room downstairs, but not in our apartment. It wasn’t until the last two weeks that I realized how much time I had spent idling away the hours on Facebook, instant messanger, and on other web haunts. I’ve read more. I’ve knit more. I’ve spent more time planning, and organizing, and goal setting. Heck, I’ve even spent more time exercising! I’ll take it.

Speaking of exercising, I have absolutely NO excuse anymore for not getting my butt in gear 5x a week or more. Our building has a whole, fully stocked, fitness center. I’ve been focusing on weight training and getting my endurance for running back. When I get to a place where I won’t feel wholly embarrassed to share what I’ve been doing, I will. I didn’t realize how quickly I got squidgy around the edges. It won’t last, though, I’m too determined and motivated after going to my 10-year reunion for that.

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much blogworthy stuff I’ve been up to until I sat down to write.

While in Maine this weekend for my class reunion, we stopped in to Purl Diva in Brunswick where I picked up materials for two new projects:  Noro Striped Scarf for Gabe, and some mohair for some undetermined project for me. I tend to buy fiber I like and figure out what to do with it later. I’ve come up with some great projects that way.

I started the scarf and am poking around for patterns and inspiration for the mohair. All while enjoying being in my new home and living with Gabe.

Bits and Pieces

cozied up at home

I feel like writing today. It’s been a while.

It’s a chilly, grey, rainy day here on the north shore and my thoughts have turned to warmth and comfort. I pulled out a sweater from the tub I hauled down to the basement a month ago, slipped into some jeans, wrapped a scarf around my neck and settled into a book first thing this morning. It has been a while since the house has been quiet like this for quiet reflection and reading. I sipped on coffee made with lowfat milk and honey in my new Emerson mug. Perfect.

the house I rented in Maine

new transitions

My thoughts drifted back to autumns and winters past, the little comforts for chill days, and how different my present is, and how much greater the difference will be in five weeks. I went from renting a house in rural Maine were I chopped and split and hauled my own fire wood to soon living in an apartment building in the up-and-coming part of Boston with amenities I never dreamed of having at my finger tips. Worlds apart.

the roof deck of my new home

In Maine, I had organic farms and farm stands a few streets away, chickens in my back yard that ate bugs off my herbs and vegetables, and fruit trees. I was blessed with an abundance of food that could easily be traced to its roots. Boston has Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers’ markets, too, but it’s different. I’m not sure which I preferred. Maine was wonderful, but living in Boston where I will be commuting to gather groceries by means of public transit will be a new and interesting experience. Maintaining my organic, green, healthy lifestyle in 750 square foot apartment in Boston has given me a new focus for blog writing.

I look forward to the new experience of getting on the silver line and having time to think and observe while going to gather food. I look forward to the bustling farmers’ market full of new and wonderful things. And I look forward to a new opportunity to start fresh and make more adjustments in my diet for a healthier life. This whole experience will be new. And I look forward to the challenges and opportunities it presents.

reading

I curled up with The Eyre Affair, a novel on loan from my friend Jose. I’m working on zipping through so I can return it to him at his farewell party in two weeks. I inadvertently slammed the book when I last saw him at a gaming event by saying something to the effect of I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now and haven’t had a chance to finish it yet to which he replied something to the effect of so there are a bunch of books you like better than this one. So I’m trying to make up for it by actually finishing the book and coming up with an honest review of it.

I’ve been in a book gathering mood of late and have picked up the first four books of The Dark Tower, of which I’m in the middle of book two, an annotated complete works of Milton, the Divine Comedy, and the new instant classics of Little Women and Werewolves as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ll never have enough books. I’m doomed to living in a book-lined home.

hand and home crafts

Nothing much going on with needle crafts such as cross-stitching or knitting. Per usual, I have a ton of UFOs sitting around that need some attention. The hexacomb cardigan has been set aside until I have an opportunity to fix some errors using EZ’s “no tears” method. The hexacomb pattern became a spiral when I was under the influence of Vicodin. I haven’t had the spirit to fix it since I discovered the error.

gaming and geekery

I picked up copies of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII this weekend. I look forward to settling in and playing them through this summer. I also picked up the first volume of some comics:  Lenore, The Wizard of Oz, and The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to purchase the whole of each.

That’s what I’m up to and some of what I’ve been thinking about. I hope all is well with you!

Much love. Black Sheep.

Dreams

Looking at my desk and walls reminds me of an art piece displayed in Lord Hall at UMaine created by Yvette Tardiff a few years ago:  a round kitchen table full of espresso cups with varying levels of fullness, with a wall full of sticky-notes behind it. I don’t remember the title of the piece, but it was something along the lines of “American Dream”.

I remember standing there staring at the installation and thinking:  Damn. That’s me.

It still is.

My desk is full of tea mugs that need to find their way to the kitchen and my desk, walls, and planner are full of sticky-notes reminding me of things I need to do.

What is the American dream to you? I asked a group of students this once as part of a unit on The Great Gatsby. I got a range of answers, but each one included being happy and healthy as part of it. It never occurred to me, until now, to examine my personal dream and how close I am to achieving it.

When I was in high school, and a half-hearted at best practicing Mormon, my dream was to have a modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love coming and going throughout the day and year. This vision of life included being married, having a handful of kids, and being completely immersed in family life.

And thinking about it now, my vision hasn’t changed that much. I still want that modest home with a door open to the community, a bottom-less cookie jar, a few dogs, a cat, and lots of people to love. Unfortunately, the kids part won’t happen, at least not out of my body without serious intervention that is not certain to work.

A few months ago, after experiencing serious pain in my pelvic region for several days straight, I called my doctor in Maine. I told him what I was experiencing and asked for a reference closer to me in the North Shore area. I ended up spending a few days in southern Maine being poked and prodded and imaged. As if I wasn’t already sore enough. But it was necessary.

I waited and waited and finally the results came in:  between cyclical ovarian cysts from the time I was 14 and the damage my reproductive organs sustained from repeated sexual assault, I am unable to have kids. The pain was from a cyst that burst through years and years of scar tissue build-up. My organs are too scarred up to become pregnant without medical assistance. And the PTSD would make being pregnant and giving birth likely to change the chemistry of any child born of my body.

Even though I had already come to (mostly) decide I didn’t want children anyway (I’ll get to that later), having the choice taken away from me due to years of assault and a medical condition that often develops in people who have been sexually assaulted hurts.

I am still dealing with it.

And more than that. I have been feeling hurt and angry the last week because I am remembering what happened and realizing just how much it has affected me and how much it continues to affect me. How much someone else’s actions has changed how my brain and body functions, and how much has been taken away.

Looking around at these sticky-notes full of reminders and mugs of tea makes me wonder how close I am to that dream, and how far I have to go to overcome and tame these demons to get there.

Pollan

I don’t have time to write a “real” post now since It’s close to 10 and I’m exhausted and tomorrow is a marathon day at school BUT I wanted to let people know I was able to attend a lecture series event at Bates College where Michael Pollan spoke!! So many people showed up that the hosts were in danger of breaking fire code. About 900 people showed up (where on earth are the 900 people in this area???) and 300 had to be sent away because they were sitting up front on the floor of the chapel where the lecture was held. It was such a big deal that Pollan offered to speak again tomorrow morning at 9 am.

Anyone in the greater Augusta area reading this blog and who is available at 9 am tomorrow:  go to Bates and listen to him speak! It’s one of the big events of this period of time.

Most of his speech was right out of his books but was great to hear from his mouth. One of the key features of the Q&A session was the talk about victory gardens.

Remind me to post more when I’m not completely and utterly exhausted late on a school night. I have much more to tell.

Weekend Warriors

Little Abby

Little Abby

I’m so exhausted: the last three days have been busier than the last two weeks combined. It all started the day of my reception when I found out that my cousin Tracy’s baby was being baptized. I immediately went out and purchased yarn for a little cardigan that you’ve seen posts on the last few days. That little cardigan kicked my butt. It took so much longer than I ever expected. Saturday night I was up until 2 am trying to finish that thing. I got one button band done and decided to finish the rest on the hour and more car ride to Western Maine only to realize the next day that I picked up way too many stitches. The poor sweater was crinkled and bunched from it. I showed it to my cousin and let her know I’d fix it and mail it. At least she saw that I indeed had something for little Abigail. Tracy wasn’t worried. As a matter of fact, she loves the cardigan and can’t wait until I mail it out.

Allan enjoying the get-together, and the sun.

Allan enjoying the get-together, and the sun.

Spending time with my maternal extended family was cathartic. I distanced myself from them around 2003 when I began acknowledging the full extent of my childhood experiences and the truth of my parents’ actions because my only interactions with them to that point were through my parents – either going with them to visit or hearing about them from my parents. My need to heal emotionally led me to pull away from my family, and even some friends, to what felt like a safe, secluded space. And now, five years later, married, happier than I’ve ever been in my life, I was able to reconnect with them. And it was wonderful beyond measure.

My parents were unable to attend the baptism and following barbecue, which allowed me to interact with my family for the first time in my life without them. And further, I’m an adult with an adult perspective. I was able to fully be myself around my family because I tend to limit my emotional and verbal responses when my parents are around because of the pain and memories their presence evokes. For the first time since I was a child, I have an extended family.

We left western Maine mid-afternoon and promptly got lost in a very similar manner to Amy’s experience in the same region. It took us nearly two and a half hours to return from Andover. By the time we drove into the dooryard, I was tired, hungry and cranky. So, of course, we immediately left again to visit Allan’s parents in Vassalboro, another 35 minute drive away. It was worth it, though, as I had a long and leisurely swim in my MIL’s heated therapy pool (pool house built off the main house). It was a dream.

We got back from Sunday’s adventures around 11 pm. Monday’s adventures began at 10 am when we left to visit Grammie in Camden, about an hour and a half away. Earlier in our adventures, Allan’s only pair of sandals blew out and so we had to try and find another pair. We scoured three stores in Augusta only to find cheap, uncomfortable, and limited selections of sandals for far more than we would consider paying. This made us really cranky and made the additional car time a real joy.

We ended up arriving in Camden about 2 hours later than we estimated because of our delayed morning start (groggy) and searching for sandals.

Allan and his Grammie

Allan and his Grammie

From there our adventures started looking up. We went into Camden in search of lunch, intending on eating at this new wine bar, but they were closed. So, on our way to check out other place to eat, we ended up stopping into Sage as they just opened a shop in downtown Camden, and I fell in love. If I could live anywhere I wanted, I’d live in a coastal town similar to the Rockland/Rockport/Camden area. After ogling the spices and wine, we sallied forth and found a shoe shop where Allan finally found a pair of sandals that were comfortable, well made, and reasonably priced! Hallelujah! From there, we sought out a Japanese restaurant, but come to find out, they, too, were not open on Monday. We ended up eating at this great little Thai place. The food was to die for.

thai food - yum!

thai food - yum!

Frog Tree Fingering Alpaca Wool

After lunch, I brought Allan and Grammie to Unique One Sweater and Yarn where we were mesmerized and tantalized by the gorgeous stock. I walked out with three balls of Frog Tree Fingering Alpaca wool to make a Reversible Cable and Lace scarf. See, I told you I’m getting better, and braver! Two lace projects lined up!

Frog Tree Fingering Alpaca Wool

The adventures didn’t end there. We stopped by a market, grabbed stuff for kabobs, and went back to the cottage. We drank wine (Gnarly Head Cab), at cheese and crackers (rice crackers with a light honey glaze and blue cheese), and talked about old times. It was a great night.

And now, here I am, Tuesday, exhausted. Any wonder why? 🙂

I am a busy little bee.

I certainly have been a busy little bee these last few months. I haven’t been posting very often, which is kind of how I expected things to go, so much of my news is new. I’m going to run down the list of what I’ve been up to and then I’ll go from there:

  • I moved out of my apartment into a house in the next town over (I posted pictures of the house) and gathered my stuff that’s been stored at three different locations over the last year or two.
  • As I moved out of my apartment two weeks before we could move into the house, we spent some time visiting family all over Maine.
  • Camp Week with some of Allan’s old friends from high school. That was a bit of an adventure.
  • Settled into the house. While doing this, both the Passat and the van we were using to move had to have their batteries replaced – leaving us stranded both times they went.
  • Finally got some planning done for the Wedding (details later in this post!) and have spent the last few weeks being a road warrior getting stuff ready.
  • And now that I’m settled in the house, I’ve been spending the last week or two at school for 4-5 hours a day doing planning and preparation for the new year.

Phew. I’m tired just typing what I’ve been up to this summer. I’m glad I didn’t add teaching summer school to the mix.

And it’s really no wonder I’ve done very little pleasure reading and very little knitting over the last two months. I’ve been too exhausted to devote mental or physical energy to it.

But now that I’m settled again, I’m back to both. For pleasure reading, I picked up Jeanette Winterson’s book Lighthousekeeping (2004). I have enjoyed Winterson’s work since I read The World and Other Places for literary analysis course in college back in 2001 and this book is no less thrilling, enchanting, moving, and haunting than the others. This novel tells the story of a young orphan, Silver, and her dog, DogJim. After her mother dies, she goes to stay with the lighthousekeeper on the coast of Scotland. There she is raised to appreciate, create, and tell stories. At one point, the lighthousekeeper, Pew, says to Silver: “I can teach you — yes, anybody — what the instruments are for, and the light will flash once every four seconds as it always does, but I must teach you to keep the light. Do you know what that means?” I didn’t. “The stories. That’s what you must learn. The ones I know and the ones I don’t know.” “How can I learn the ones you don’t know?” “Tell them yourself.” This entire novel is truly about the power of storytelling in people’s lives. I haven’t been enchanted by a book like this in a long time.

In knitting news, I picked up the cowl-neck braided-cable vest again a few days ago and made incredible progress. I’m finishing up the back and shoulders and then all that’s left is the cowl and the arm holes. It fits very well. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos since it’s been dark and rainy the last several weeks, including today.

I’ve also picked up the gift socks again. I had to rip it out, though, as I lost track of where I was and the last three rows had glaring errors. It’s a good thing I’m a process not a product knitter! 🙂

Now, the big project I’ve been working on is planning the Wedding! It’s been forever since I even mentioned it on the blog. I’m getting married Friday evening (Aug. 8th) at my home and the reception is in a neighboring town at a bed and breakfast. A local baker is making our cake, complete with sheep cake toppers and basket-weave designs in the frosting. And, on top of this, the baker is also making sheep chocolates for all of the place settings! The reception will be for brunch, like I’ve been wanting all these months. And as far as the dress goes, I went for the green one I posted so long ago.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve barely been running but I plan to get back into the habit now that I’m settled and my schedule is starting to get back to normal.

That’s it for now!

Wilson Pond Road

We’re in the house! We don’t have an internet service yet, but we’re getting pretty settled. Posts will continue to be sparse for another week or two. In the meantime, allow me to take you on a quick tour of the house we’re renting. (For more images, click here to view my Picasa album.)

Here is the front of the house. The house-owner’s ex-wife is a talented gardener. The whole front of the house has beautiful flower beds similar to this.

The house has a very settled and country feeling. I love it! Everything is tastefully and well-done.

The apple trees out front will make pies, crisps, and jellies for the fall and winter.

And we get fresh eggs every day.

In addition to apples, we have raspberries and blueberries.

Three-hundred paces down the road from our house, or about four and a half minutes at a leisurely walk, is the public boat landing for the pond. Boats are in and out of here all day long enjoying the summer and the beautiful weather.

I cannot believe this is just down the road from my home.

After the this winter’s hardships, I feel like life is starting to perk up! I fell into my dream home without the repair bills! (I’m renting it from one of my colleagues.) We’ve been in the house for almost a week now and very soon life will settle down and I’ll be able to revive my worn and weary spirit.

Here’s to the new home and new year!

I've moved

Not internet presence, luckily, even though that would have been FAR easier than the move I just underwent. Allan had been renting a house with his brother, while I’ve been renting an apartment near where we live now. We now live in one house together. To complete the move, we had to pack up and move stuff from both places.  Unfortunately, when we had to move out of my apartment, it was two weeks before we could move into the place we’re in now. So, most of my stuff is split between two households who were willing to store my stuff. Madness and mayhem.

We’re getting unpacked slowly. It’ll take a while. The house is pretty cool and I’ll post details and photos soon.

The big thing that we’re dealing with is no internet access. I’m sitting in a public library sucking down their free wi-fi right now. I may not be posting regularly again for a week or two. We have to find a provider that services our area and that will not charge us insane amounts.

I’ll be back soon!