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Maine Moments

As we wind down and start to pack up during our last week in Maine, I thought I’d put together a few images from this marvelous coast.  It’s simply beautiful and never fails to delight.  Books and latest reading next time.  Enjoy!

Sunrise
August sunrise
Peaceful cove
Peaceful cove
At the town landing
At the town landing
Ready to go!
Ready to go!
View of Cuckold Light
View of Cuckold Light

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Summer's gold
Summer’s gold

 

 

 

 

Metal sculpture
Metal sculpture
Evening rainbox
Evening rainbow
Moon rise
Moon rise

 

All photos by JWFarrington (some rights reserved)

2016-07-18 18.07.31

Boothbay Bits

GYNECOLOGY A LA “MAD MEN”

We happened upon a PBS Mystery series last week called “Breathless.”  A three-parter set in England in the 60’s, it features a set of louche and callous medicos who practice obstetrics and perform back alley abortions.  The women are all either beautiful or flighty (or treated as such) and the men full of testosterone-fueled superiority.  The lead, Dr. Powell, does have a mysterious past, but it takes some time before that becomes apparent.  Overall, “Breathless” is a wonderfully realized period piece that will make you scowl and wince while simultaneously luring you in.

PORTER PRESERVE

The Boothbay Region Land Trust supports a network of preserves in the area open to the public with trails and paths that range in difficulty from easy and moderate to challenging.   The longest ones are 2.75 and 3.7 miles.

Last week, with my sister and brother-in-law, we did one of the trails at Porter Preserve on Barter’s Island which has a number of marked vistas that take you onto the rocks or at least overlooking them and the water. This trail was marked “easy” and last year we did one version of it with our then 3-year old granddaughter who navigated much of it on foot before resorting to her father’s shoulders.

This time we took more offshoots to explore more views and spent about an hour on the white trail with some blue diversions. I think the trail markings have been enhanced since our last visit and perhaps the trail lengthened.  Trail maps are available in the small parking area and are a handy reference. Basically, the main trail is a big loop around the acreage.

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NEW HOUSE

We have re-located to a new house for the second half of our Maine time. It has a totally different vibe and I feel as if I’ve gone from suburbia to the wilds. The first house was a comfortable modular one with lots of lawn and a sizable flower garden extending to a cove at the front edge of the property and at the back, beyond the garden, the open ocean.  This new house is part of a cluster of houses on the east side of the island and is situated right on the rocks. It was built in the 70’s and is more old Maine than the previous one, with even more spectacular ocean views.    A lovely stretch of rocks, almost flat in places, remains exposed even at high tide and is perfect for the nimble explorer. All day and even at night, one hears the lapping of the waves and can watch an approaching storm close up.  There are two lovely screened porches, one for dining. off the living room, and one above on the corner off the bedrooms, the ideal place to laze on a chaise and read.

GRANDDAUGHTERS

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This week our house was made lively with a visit from our son and daughter-in-law and their two daughters, now ages 4 and 4 months. E is a busy little girl, full of ideas, and always ready to move on to the next activity.  She was a great assistant chef for blueberry pancakes, adding the liquid to the batter, stirring it, dropping the batter in the pan and then topping each pancake with additional berries.

Together we colored in her coloring book, read several new books (multiple times for each), played with her ballerina doll, navigated two games of Old Maid, and watched her try out her pink shark bubble machine which produced a stream of tiny bubbles to a Chinese tune.   (This was her grandparents succumbing to a very nice and, obviously persuasive, street vendor in front of the Whitney Museum in May). In addition we re-visited the botanic garden, one of her favorite places from last year. This year she watched two puppet shows (one for older campers about pollination) and presented a brief show of her own.

Baby F  is full of smiles and very squirmy as she seems to want to take off on her own.  On the floor, she rolled over for only the second and third time, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get her other arm unstuck from underneath. She watches everything closely and finds her big sister a source of delight and laughter.

Photos by JWFarrington (some rights reserved)

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Summer Reading #2: More Novels

This set of novels ranges from a meditation on marriage to a hotly debated topic of the day, to a child’s experience of tumult, to a fun historical novel set midst the Paris art scene of the 1920’s.  Perhaps one will tickle your reading palate!

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church

This is a wonderful novel!  Church charts the life and long marriage of Meridian, a wannabe scientist who marries Alden, a much older professor whose intellect excites and engages her own.  A physicist, he is recruited to work on the atomic bomb in the New Mexican desert, and she shelves her own ambitions for graduate school and a career as an ornithologist.

The setting in the closed and cloistered town of Los Alamos mirrors the constraints and restrictions faced by women in the 50’s and 60’s, pre women’s lib.  Meridian decides to study a community of crows, but her frustration builds over Alden’s unwavering focus on his own career and his apparent disinterest in her, leading her to accept fulfillment and validation elsewhere.  A novel about science, the burdens and joys of love and sex, and the power of female friendship.  Church’s writing is meticulous and exact and oh, so satisfying. I’d happily re-read this book right now!

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Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh

I have read all of Haigh’s previous novels, and she’s an author whose work I admire and respect.  I was predisposed to like this latest work, but found myself disappointed.  The setting is Bakerton, the old coal mining town in Pennsylvania which features in her earlier work, but this time the focus is on fracking—those salesmen who cajole and persuade working class folks to sign leases for drilling on their land and the townspeople whose land and lives are affected.  Rather than being straightforward plot or character-driven fiction, the book is episodic and goes back in time, for example to 1979 and Three Mile Island, where you re-encounter some of the characters.  I read three quarters of the book, 76% according to my Kindle, and then set it aside.  Not sure I’ll go back.

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In the Country of Men by Hisham Mitar

Published in 2006, Libyan writer Mitar’s semi-autobiographical novel is receiving new recognition with the arrival of his memoir, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between.  Thanks to my friend Margaret for introducing me to this author and this novel.

Set in Tripoli in 1979, it’s told from the perspective of a 9 year old boy who is aware of strange goings on, but isn’t old enough to comprehend the underground movement to try and topple Qaddafi.  He knows that his father goes off on business (supposedly out of town), that his mother is “ill” from some under-the-counter drug she takes periodically, and that the father of one of his friends is seized and eventually tortured.

Events and people are vague and shadowy, like a blurry photo lacking clarity.  You, the reader, initially get hints of what’s transpiring, then a sense of what the relationships are and how boys and men protect, but also hurt and betray one another.  A puzzle piece here and there slots in, but never the complete picture.  I found this novel challenging to read and also haunting.  In retrospect, I wish I had read it in a more compressed timeframe.

Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

This novel was my introduction to Canadian Jennifer Robson whose three novels all take place during or after WWI and feature well born, aristocratic young women who are finding their place in the world.  Helena, 28 years old in England in 1924, has been very ill and is extremely dependent on her parents after a broken engagement.  She is invited to Paris by her unconventional aunt and taking up the offer, enrolls at an art school.  The novel is her coming of age story—discovering whether she’s an artist or not, making friends who are nothing like her English contemporaries, and meeting a man who both attracts and worries her.  This is the perfect bonbon for a summer’s afternoon.  Light and pleasing.

 

Porch photo by JWFarrington (some rights reserved); Hisham Mitar from theguardian.com

 

2016-08-02 10.07.11

Colorful Maine

 

BLOSSOMS

One of the attractions of this part of Maine is the simply glorious Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Less than ten years old, these gardens are beautifully designed, incorporating native stones midst the plantings, and encompassing not only the expected flowers, trees and shrubs, but the unusual and the unexpected. No matter how many times we visit—and we visit often, this week with my younger sister and brother-in-law—we are always pleased and surprised at new discoveries.

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You can even walk a labyrinth and meditate. Bare feet suggested.
You can even walk a labyrinth and meditate. Bare feet suggested.

SUNSETS

I think sunsets over water are more impressive than those over just land.  Several nights ago we were treated to a dazzling intense Maine sunset.

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Note:  All photos by JWFarrington (some rights reserved).  Header photo is a panel of sun-loving plants.