A Day of Food, Rest, and Jane Austen

Last Saturday was a busy day filled with a movie—Rashomon—in Waterville; grocery shopping; and then a night out with friends at the fabulous Van der Brew in our very own town of Winthrop. (I wrote about Van der Brew a couple of weeks ago.)

On Sunday, it rained, which is most unwelcome in Maine in January. It could have been worse, of course. We could have gotten freezing rain. Nevertheless, what we expect this time of year is snow. However, with a fire in our wood furnace, Clif and I were snug and warm, and with no pressing engagements, we more or less took the day off.

We started out with egg and toast as we watched the news.

After the news, we moved on to Sanditon, a BBC production of Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel. Through Maine Public Television, we were able to stream three episodes. Although Jane Austen had only written eleven chapters of Sanditon before she became too ill to continue, it was clear that her focus was centered on how commerce was changing England’s culture. Some of Sanditon feels contemporary as certain characters fret about what we would now call venture capital. In addition, there is a West Indian heiress—Miss Lambe—whose mother was a slave. These, apparently, are all elements in the book, and at first the show is relatively faithful to the story.

But then the writer, Andrew Davies, decided to tart things up for a modern audience and throw other elements into the mix. (I won’t give any spoilers in case some of you haven’t watched the show but are planning to later on.) By doing this, Davies has departed from the spirit of Jane Austen, and it feels disrespectful to me. Other choices are downright ludicrous. I do like the actors who play the main characters—Charlotte and Sydney—but I am not sure if this will be enough to keep me watching.

If any of you are following the series, please chime in and let me know what you think.

After watching Sanditon, we were in the mood for something sweet, and decided to make some chocolate-covered peanuts. Very tasty, if I do say so myself.

Now with all these treats, how could we end the day? Why, with veggie sausages and Clif’s homemade pancakes. To borrow from my Yankee husband: Pretty darned good.

After a busy week of working on various projects, it was good to take a whole day off to rest. In Maine, winter is the perfect time to do this. Once spring comes, we will busy working outside, but for now setting aside one day a week to relax feels very good indeed.

 

 

Green, Green with EV Envy

Just before Christmas, my friend Dawna called and asked, “Could I stop by for a little while? I have something to show  you.”

“Sure,” came my answer. “I’ll put the kettle on for tea when you get here.”

Dawna is a talented photographer and graphic artist who sells cards at various local shops and online through Etsy.  (Do check out her beautiful work if you get a chance.) I thought she was going to show Clif and me a new line of cards, which I always enjoy seeing.

Therefore, as soon as Dawna came into our dining room, I said, “Let me put the kettle on, and you can show me what you brought.”

“Well…” she said in a hesitating way as I trotted into the kitchen to put on the kettle.

When I went back into the dining room, Dawna was grinning. “I got a new car.”

I’m sure there was a click, click, click as I processed this information, looked out at the new snazzy blue car in my driveway, and understood exactly what she meant.

“Oh, my God!” I exclaimed. “You bought an electric car!”

“Yes, I did,” Dawna said, and if my knees weren’t so creaky, I would have jumped with joy.

Here is a picture of her new EV beauty, a Hyundai Kona:

All thoughts of tea were forgotten as Clif and I went to admire the new car

“After Christmas, ” Dawna said, “I’ll take you for a ride.”

Dawna kept her promise, and last Friday she took us into Augusta, where we had brunch at Downtown Diner, which serves breakfast all day long.

As we ate, Dawna’s spoke about her decision to buy an electric car. Her previous car had become unreliable, and the time had come to replace it. She asked herself, why buy a polluting ICE (internal combustion engine) car? Dawna knew that the range of EVs had  improved, and when she did some research, she discovered that the Hyundai Kona got a peak mileage of 258 per charge. (Less, of course, when the weather is really cold.)

And that was that. Because there were so many rebates available, Dawna bought the car in December, not wanting to take the chance that the rebates wouldn’t be there in 2020. (Let’s face it: The current administration in DC is not exactly concerned about the environment.)

Here is what she got:

$2,500 from Efficiency Maine.

$500 from a Hyundai rebate.

$7,500 from a federal government rebate.

Her Hyundai EV Kona sold for $38,000, and the rebates brought the cost down to $28,000.

And how does Dawna like her new EV? Very well, indeed. As Clif and I noticed, the Kona is smooth and quiet and has great pick-up. Even on a cold Maine January day, Dawna can take the Kona to Portland, about a 120-mile-round trip, and still have 50 miles left on her battery. The Kona’s seats are heated, and Dawna and her husband, Jim, take advantage of this, which means they don’t have to use the car’s heater as much.

While most EVs come with a charging cord that can be plugged into a standard receptacle, charging this way is slow, and Jim has installed a charger that does the job much more quickly.

Southern Maine has a number of places to charge an EV,  but as you head north, their numbers dwindle. Dawna has decided to become an advocate for EVs, and she is writing a letter to encourage Governor Mills to support the installation of more charging stations.

Go, Dawna, go! And kudos to you for taking the leap into our electric future. I hope that someday soon Clif and I can follow your example, and I also hope many others will, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impossible Blue

In central Maine, today is a perfect example of the exquisite beauty of winter’s light. On Saturday, we had seven more inches of snow, but on Sunday the weather cleared, and now the skies are an impossible blue. Only in January and February, with the cold weather, do we get this kind of piercing clarity.

After going to a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at the local Catholic church, we stopped by the lake to take pictures of the sky and the snow and the trees. And, of course, the ice-fishing shacks.

Some people have their own kind of piercing clarity, and surely Martin Luther King Jr. was one such man.  It seems appropriate, then, to end with a few of his quotations:

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

And…

There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

Finally…

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Yes.

 

 

 

A Chocolate Box House?

Yesterday we had snow, and I am happy to report it was a Goldilocks’s storm where we got exactly the right amount—about six inches—and it wasn’t too wet or too heavy. No problem at all for Clif and Little Green, our trusty electric snow thrower.

Outside, it was a world of quiet and white with a touch of color here and there. Midwinter in Maine.

This morning when I got up, the sky had cleared and the temperature had dropped.

Out I went to take a picture of our snug, cozy home.

I hope I’m not being too presumptuous by borrowing a description from my friends across the pond to describe our home. That is, a chocolate box house.

More snow is predicted for Saturday, another seven inches or so. Again, just the right amount of snow.

Clif and Little Green will be ready. And who knows? Maybe snow-gauge Clif will soon make an appearance.

 

The Ice Storm Didn’t Cometh

Last weekend, an ice storm was predicted. There was even a weather advisory warning that we might get enough freezing rain to cause power outages.

Whenever there’s the threat of an ice storm, Clif and I think back to 1998 when there was a doozy of an ice storm that knocked out the power to half the state and felled trees with a sickening crack. We live in the woods, and during the worst of the storm, it sounded as though we were surrounded by gunfire as branches broke and fell to the ground.

We were without power for about eleven days, and what a miserable time we had. Every bit of water we used had to be hauled in, and the nights were long and chilly. (Fortunately we have a wood furnace, which meant we didn’t freeze.) It is a time we will never forget, and it certainly made us appreciate modern conveniences such as electricity.

Therefore, when we heard that there might be an ice storm, we sprang into action. Laundry done. Check. Extra bread for peanut butter sandwiches. Check. Plenty of wood in the basement for the furnace. Check. Extra water in big pots on the stove to go with the stored water in our cellar. Check. Check. Check.

We were ready. But to our delight and relief, the ice storm didn’t cometh. Instead, we got rain, which has made everything look miserable, but a dreary landscape is a vast improvement over a frozen, slippery one. And glory be, we didn’t have to worry about losing our power.

Instead of sharing pictures of what everything looks like now, I’ll share pictures I took midweek before the rain washed all the snow away. These were taken in town, about a mile from where we live, of Maranacook Lake.

I hope that we get a bit of snow and that Maine will look wintery again, the way it ought to in January. Not a blizzard mind  you. Instead, five or six inches. We always want things to be just right, don’t we? It seems that most of us are a bunch of Goldilocks yearning for that perfect porridge. All too often, we are disappointed. Still, we yearn, and in that yearning lies hope.

Our cats, I think, have found their perfect sweet spot in our living room. Rain or snow or freezing rain, it doesn’t matter.

May you find your perfect sweet spot this week and every week.

A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.