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!
The bad news is that Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a category 4 hurricane and might even reach category 5 before it hits landfall. And the damage won’t be done as Florence loses steam. Weakened, Florence is still dangerous. The forecast predicts that Florence will stall over land in North Carolina and could bring up to two feet of rain to an already saturated state. This, in turn, will bring floods, toppled trees, and massive power outages.
But for our little family, the good news is that kids, dogs, and kit have left Dodge, as it were, well ahead of Hurricane Florence. They will be with us sometime late tomorrow night, and how good it will be to see them.
Now for the Instant Pot. It worked exactly the way it should. Within an hour, we had a very tasty vegetable soup for our dinner, and most of that time involved cutting up the vegetables. We couldn’t believe that the five minute cooking time of the recipe was correct—that was after everything had come up to temperature—and so we cooked the soup for fourteen minutes. While the vegetables were good, they were too soft, and we were thinking that perhaps five minutes wasn’t so far off after all.
Fourteen minutes later:
This particular soup recipe called for a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in the bowls once the soup was done. We substituted soy sauce, and the soup was tasty. But I am now intrigued about nutritional yeast, which I have never used. (I know, I know. I am behind on this one.) I plan on picking some up soon to use on vegetable soups and perhaps other dishes.
So all in all, a good day, but my thoughts are with those who must evacuate and don’t have family up north to stay with.
And I certainly hope that the aid to the Carolinas is better than what Puerto Rico got last year after Hurricane Maria. Three thousand dead. Some people without power and adequate housing for nearly a year.
A national disgrace.
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.
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!”
Last night, I dreamed that Clif and I were making fish and chips. We seemed to be in the hall of the Methodist Church in town. You know how dreams are. People kept coming for our fish and chips, and I was afraid we were going to run out. But lo and behold! Suddenly there was plenty, and when our friends Alice and Joel came, we had enough to give them. I have no idea what the heck such a dream could mean, but it makes me giggle just to think about it.
Now on to other matters in the hinterland.
My birthday is right around the corner—in September—but my friend Barbara will be home in Pennsylvania by then. So we got together for tea and cookies, and she gave me a lovely tea towel.
“I thought of you when I saw it,” she said.
“Oh, it’s so lovely. I don’t want to use it,” I replied.
Barbara gave me a stern look. “I gave the towel to you to be used.”
She’s right, of course. What’s the sense of having the towel and not using it? So here it is, covering rising bread dough, and this is how the tea towel will be used from now on. But the tea towel is pretty, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you hate to use it?
And speaking of pretty…I am slowly, slowly coming around to begonias. They’re bright, they do well in part sun, part shade, which is the best my yard gets, and they last straight through until fall. In short, they are troopers. (I hope you noticed the little fairy hovering over them.)
Readers might recall that this was the year I succumbed to hostas. I had lost far too many flowers in the dry shade that is the reality of much of my yard. Finally I snapped, digging like a fiend, splitting up hostas I already had, and planting them wherever there was a hole left by a dead plant. And there were holes aplenty. Now, in late summer, I see the wisdom of all that mad activity in the spring. The front yard actually looks pretty good. There are no masses of flowers, but that’s pretty much true for the entire season. Most important, there are no ugly bare patches.
In the backyard, a plant has crept onto the patio, and Clif thinks it might be an evil creature from Doctor Who. But Clif is wrong. Instead, it is a cucumber, exploring and expanding. So far, I’ve only gotten a few cucumbers. I hope I get more before the frost comes.
This last shot might seem a little odd. This really is our kitchen wastebasket, and there is nothing distinguished about it. I included the wastebasket because in an effort to reduce trash and my carbon footprint, I had set a modest goal for myself. Instead of a bag of trash a week, I resolved to have a bag of trash every other week. I am happy to report that this goal has been met, chiefly by buying more in bulk, cooking more from scratch, and being careful about the packaged goods I do buy.
My next goal? A bag of trash every third week. That one will be harder to achieve.
On Saturday and Sunday, Clif and I went to two events to sell our books—Maya and the Book of Everything and The Wave of Time. A busy weekend but a good one.
On Saturday, we set up at the Winthrop Sidewalk Art Festival, which was right in our own little town. How nice it was to only drive a mile to get to this event. On the other hand, the weather was far from nice. In the morning, it rained, and when the rain stopped a high wind blew through town. Here is the gray view from our booth.
Nevertheless, lots of people—bearing umbrellas—came to the art festival, and we sold quite a few books. So despite the bad weather, we did well.
The next day, Sunday, was a much better day, and off to Lewiston we went to the Sunday Indie Market, which had a fun, funky vibe.
Unfortunately, there was another big event in the area—a balloon festival—so not many people came to the Indie Market. No matter! We still had a good time, and we loved being a part of the Market.
We enjoyed being on the city sidewalk and hearing a clock in the distance chime at noon.
On one side of me was Courtney Schlacter from Quiet City Books, which is not far from where the Indie Market was held. Three copies of Maya and the Book of Everything soon will be in her store, and for the December Indie Market, we’ll have a pop-up table at Quiet City Books.
On the other side of us was Bella’s Best Sweets & Treats. Oh, my! I, of course, succumbed to a cupcake, and it was ever so good—moist, chocolatey, and filled with cream. And, yes, I did share it with Clif.
Nearby, to add to the fun, a folksy, bluesy band played.
Not a bad way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon! And kudos to the Indie Market group who, among others, is helping to revitalize Lewiston, a factory city that has been down in the heels for quite a while.