Category Archives: Celebrate

More Birthday Brouhaha

As I have written in the past, our philosophy is to celebrate early and celebrate often. Along with escaping Hurricane Florence, Shannon and Mike had timed their trip north to coincide with my birthday, which was yesterday. Since Clif’s birthday is a week from now, we figured a double celebration was in order.

Yesterday was a sunny day—not too hot, not too humid—so off we went to the Red Barn for seafood and chicken. I, of course, had a lobster roll. Utterly delicious, with just a touch of mayonnaise to hold the lobster together.

Then, for dessert, a whoopie pie.

After lunch, it was onward to Waterville to see the new waterfront park by the Kennebec River. Since the late 1960s, when in a fit of urban renewal all the buildings were torn down, a piece of land off Front Street had been empty and pretty much neglected. Not anymore. How spiffy and lovely it looks.

We walked across the Two Cent Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Waterville to Winslow. Time was when walkers had to pay a two-cent toll to cross the bridge, but that time has passed.

For no fee at all, we went across the bridge, where I took a picture of Shannon and Mike.

Here’s a shot down the blue, blue Kennebec River, toward the Hathaway Mill, which no longer produces shirts and is instead used for businesses and apartments. (You can’t really see the Hathaway in this picture, but it is on the right past the bridge.)

And here’s a shot up the river. On the right is the old Scott Paper Company, which looks deserted. So many factories closed, and while they polluted the Kennebec River, they also provided good-paying jobs. So far, nothing has come to take their place and lift the area’s economy.

But it was too fine a day to brood on a stalled economy. (I’ll save that for another day.) After walking across the bridge and along the river, we went to Cancun, a Mexican restaurant in Waterville, and had drinks at a table on the sidewalk.

Happy birthday to us!

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A Labor Day of Blue Skies and Water

On Sunday, we took Dee to the bus station so that she could return to New York City, where she lives and works. Always so sad to see her go, but what a fun time we had celebrating our birthdays.

Monday was Labor Day in this country. Here is a short explanatory blurb from Wikipedia: “Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. ”

Very fitting that we should honor laborers who made the workforce a better, safer place. However, for many people it is the long weekend marking the end of summer. Tourists aplenty come to Maine on Labor Day Weekend, but luckily for us, central Maine is not a hot spot for vacationers, and the roads are fairly quiet.

In keeping with our quiet area, we decided that Monday would be a no-car day and that we would bike along Maranacook Lake, one of our favorite places to ride. The day was hot but beautiful, and after our ride, we sat on a bench at Norcross Point to watch the water, the boats, and the sky.

Hydrangeas are in bloom, and I liked the way the blossoms look with the sky as the background.

Also, I liked the way the two bright kayaks punctuated the water. Blue and pink, pink and blue.

As we sat at the park and watched people paddle and swim, we reflected how lucky we were to live in a town where there is ample access to free public areas by the lake. Not every town has this, and in Readfield, the town next to ours, their beach is billed as “a user supported beach.” The town charges $40 per family for an annual permit.

Certainly, $40 is not a great deal of money, but lots of people in central Maine live on a tight budget, and I wonder how many families decide they can’t afford the fee. Much better, in my opinion, to have the beach and the park free for all to enjoy. (I do realize that taxes pay for the maintenance of the Winthrop beach and park, and I am happy to have a portion of my taxes used this way.)

After these musings, Clif and I decided to head home. And what did I see? Leaves just beginning to change color.

It is September, after all, and while the calendar tells us that autumn isn’t here until September 23, the trees are telling us otherwise.

Soon, the most  beautiful season of the year will be upon us.

In the meantime, Clif and I will enjoy as many evenings as we can on the patio.

Those days are numbered.

 

 

Pizza Palooza

On Wednesday, when the temperature was in the mid-90s but because of the humidity it felt like 100°, this family of pizza hounds went to Cushnoc Brewing Co. for a pizza palooza to celebrate our birthdays. Normally when we go out for pizza, we use a reasonable amount of restraint. We share a large pizza, and while Clif might get a beer, Dee and I usually get iced tea.

However, this was a birthday celebration for the three of us, so we pulled all the stops.

We started with spicy nuts,

and we all had special drinks.

Here’s a closer look at mine, a humdinger of a bloody Mary.

Then came the pizzas. We each ordered our own, and they were all beautifully baked.

Naturally, there were leftovers and lots of them. (Truth be told, I was pretty full after the drink and nuts.) Did we come prepared? You bet we did. Not only did we bring a cooler with two ice packs, but following the example of our friends Alice and Joel, we also brought containers from home for the leftover pizza.

After the pizza it was off to the movies, a perfect air-conditioned way to spend a very hot afternoon. We saw Alpha, a beautiful, soulful imagining of how wolves and humans bonded 20,000 years ago in Europe. It’s told through the point of view of an adolescent, Keda, who, in an accident, becomes separated from his tribe’s hunting party. He forms an unlikely and an uneasy alliance with a wolf, and together they travel across a harsh winter landscape to return to Keda’s village.

If you are a canid lover, this is a must-see movie. If you are not a canid lover, Alpha is still worth seeing at the biggest screen you can find. Imax, if possible. The cinematography is stunning—dazzling even—and so immersive it feels as though you are traveling with Keda and the wolf.

And something unexpected happened as I watched Keda and his tribe hunt buffaloes. As the small band of hunters stood there with their slender spears, they looked so vulnerable that I actually felt sympathy and tenderness toward them. It reminded me that we were not always a scourge on the planet, that once we were small and relatively weak in a harsh environment.

What comforts we have now in comparison to those who lived in the ice age. In a neat coincidence, Dee bought Clif and me an Instant Pot for our birthdays, which will make soup, among other foods, much easier to prepare. Looking forward to cooking with it.

After the movie and presents, we sat on the patio and had drinks. Beside us, the blue fountain rippled with falling water. Birds came to the feeders, as did squirrels. Crickets sang.

We all agreed that the patio was one of the finest places to be in late summer and a fitting end to a wonderful day.

 

 

 

If There Are Chocolate Chip Cookies…

It can only mean one thing…the kids are visiting. In this case the kid is Dee, who is a cookie monster with a passion for chocolate chip cookies. (Yes, even though she will soon be forty-one, Dee is still a kid to me.)

Dee will be here for the whole week, and because she is a film buff as well as a cookie monster, we’ll be going to plenty of movies. The temp is supposed to hit the mid-90s this week with the dreaded high humidity, so going to air-conditioned movies will be the perfect thing to do. However, I have to admit I had hoped we were done with the high heat and humidity, which comes under the category of “No Fun at All.”

Back in the day… Well, not much point in mentioning what the old days were like, when late August in Maine was sheer delight. Anyway, this absurdly hot weather weather in northern New England certainly reinforces the need to reduce my carbon footprint.

On a happier note, we’ll also be celebrating birthdays—Dee’s is in October, and Clif’s and mine are in September. A little early, but we are all together so we will strike while the iron is hot, as the saying goes. Besides, this ties right in with my philosophy: celebrate early, celebrate often. This year won’t be the birthday palooza we had last year, when Dee turned forty, and I turned sixty. But though the celebration will be more modest, we’ll still have fun.

As Bill and Ted of the Excellent Adventures often said, “Party on, dudes!”

Steampunk in Kennebunk

On Saturday, Clif and I headed to southern Maine, to Kennebunk, to set up our wares at a Steampunk Fair sponsored by the Brick Store Museum. The weather was not with us, and it poured midmorning. Fortunately, indoor provisions at the town hall were made for the vendors, and we were dry if a little warm—there was no air conditioning in the auditorium.

But never fear! Fans were on sale and were a big hit.

And even those without fans seemed perfectly happy.

But this deep sea diver must have been oh so hot.

Along with our books, there were other nifty things for sale. Among them were sweet little pins by Miss & Niff’s Trinkets and Treasures,

as well as funky lamps by Light- Q  Creations.

What a good day we  had being with these quirky, creative people. While the rain kept some folks away, we sold enough books to make the trip worthwhile.

Next year, we will return.

Father’s Day by the Kennebec River

Yesterday was Father’s Day. The kids, alas, live too far away to celebrate it with us, but Clif and I are firm believers in celebrations big and small.  Therefore, to mark the day, we decided to go to Hallowell, a tiny city on the Kennebec River, order Chinese food, sit by the river, and then go for a bike ride along the rail trail.

After a very cool spring, summer decided to make a guest appearance, and by late morning, the temperature was in the low 80s.  Did the heat deter us? It did not. Clif and I are plucky Mainers who can tolerate heat as well as cold.  After packing a cooler full of water, off we went to Lucky Gardens to fetch our lunch. Clif, naturally, got to choose—one take-away meal is plenty for the both of us—and he picked General Tso’s chicken. (See what I mean about the amount of food? A wicked good deal, as we Mainer’s would say.)

While we ate on the pier, we admired a mother duck and her ducklings.

And we watched a woman in a kayak go by with her dog. What a good buddy to stay put!

I saw a sturgeon jump, straight up and then back down with a splash, but I wasn’t at the ready with my camera. Darn!

Dealing bravely with this disappointment, we took to the rail trail.

While we didn’t see any more sturgeon, we did see this beauty. I am pretty sure it is a  young bald eagle, but if any of my birding, blogging friends think differently, do let me know. So wonderful to see the river full of life, especially as my childhood memory of the Kennebec River is of it being dark and dirty with no fish or birds. (I’m sure there were some, but back then nobody I knew spent their days by the Kennebec River.) What a difference the Clean Water Act has made, and I am very grateful for the lawmakers who worked together to clean our polluted waterways.

After the ride, we were more than a little hot. What to do? Go for ice cream, of course, at Fielder’s Choice, where we shared a hot fudge sundae with peanut butter ice cream.

A sweet, cool ending.

A Day for Flowers, a Bike Ride, and Nachos

In the United States, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

There were flowers from Mike and Shannon,

and flowers from Dee.

The day was sunny and warm, just perfect for a bike ride, our first of the season.

We rode our usual route of eight miles, and except for some slight knee pain, it was go, go, go for me. For the past few months, I have been faithfully riding my exercise bike, and yesterday I saw the benefits of this, ahem, boring workout. It’s been a long time since I have started the biking season feeling so strong and ready to go. I am very hopeful that by midsummer, we will be going on longer bike rides.

After our bike ride, we stopped at the little park by Maranacook Lake. So green and pretty this time of year.

How to end this sunny day? With Clif’s nachos, which are far better than any we can get in central Maine.

All in all, a good Mother’s Day from beginning to end.