Saturday, July 26, 2014

I DO have a Son

This is Jesse, whose brain is so big he apparently needs a hat to contain it.  I haven't written about him much because he lives in Oregon and is the strong, silent type.  I hear from him two or three times a year, on holidays mostly, not because he is neglectful so much as uncommunicative.  He is a man of the fewest words I have ever seen.  Even as a baby he spoke as few words as he possibly could and still get his point across.  He learned to talk in shorthand...........all little girls were called "Pie," which was itself short for "Pumpkin Pie"....... a nickname we had for Carrie(sorry). My mother was "nette," short for Jeannette.  All dogs were "Mack," the name  of our dog. All other females were called Mama, etc.  Phil and I were the only ones who could understand him.

  He didn't walk until fourteen months old, but when he did it the first time, he walked all around the house.  When he started school I thought he would be referred for speech therapy........but, no.  He suddenly decided that an expanded use of language was needed.  He was chosen to be the kindergarten spokesperson for his class over the loud speaker in the mornings and appeared on television describing the class Thanksgiving party. He was an adorable little boy.  He grew up wearing shorts to school year round, deliveed newspapers from an early age, worked in a convenience store (where he bought one lottery ticket and won a thousand dollars).  Typically he confined his social relationships to a very small circle, basically one girl and one boy (essentially using the same philosophy as he had for using minimal language). As far as I know, he had one girlfriend, with whom he still lives.  He met her on line.

Jesse was a big supporter of my art, and often gave me very sophisticated critiques while I was going to school.  He helped me hang art shows and worked with me when I coordinated the art competition at the Bangor Fair.  He like classical music, especially Beethoven.  He read voraciously. He routinely won awards for intellectual endeavors. But mainly he was obsessed with computers.  He flunked out of the university, and them got his degrees on line.  I don't know what he does for work, though he has told me several times.  I know he works with computers at home and travels for some company somewhere.  He and his partner talk to each other across the table on their laptops.

So that in a nutshell is my boy, a unique and wonderful guy.  I love this picture of him, which I found on facebook, partly because he appears as I think of him...........marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How does my garden grow?

As the snow amazes me every winter, the plants amaze me every summer.  Inside and out I am surrounded by blooming vegetation.  For this, I feel somewhat responsible, vaguely proud.  All I have actually contributed to the process is the placement of seeds, bulbs, and plants in an arrangement pleasing to my human eye.  I've thwarted the growth of some and encouraged others with water and fertilizer.  All things considered, though, my role is minimal.  Watching something grow from what appears to be nothing is no less than awe-inspiring.  It leaves me (almost) speechless.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Believe it or not........

Well, I guess I never thought the day would come when either one of us would be in the same room together again, let alone sitting companionably together at Tim Hortons over a cup of coffee.  Here is the proof, though.  Phil and I met yesterday in Bangor in an attempt to reconcile at least enough of our differences to allow being in the same room together.  It was Phil's idea that we try to reconnect in a way that would recognize some kind of family connection between us and the kids.  I had to go to Bangor yesterday for my annual physical, so we set up a meeting.  Phil took the picture with his phone........which I consider to be no less than magic.

Our meeting was not only congenial, but quite pleasant.  It was a surprise to me that I so enjoyed talking to the one person with whom I shared so significant a part of my life.  I didn't realize that I had lost track of all the good years of work and family life.  The casual mention of a name, or a place, brought those years assembling themselves into my consciousness again.  I can see that memories are not lost, only hidden, waiting to be prodded and resurrected in minute detail. Granted I saw them parading through my mind with rose-colored glasses, colored by their unexpected arrival.  I am glad I got those years back. 

I didn't realize that what I considered to be my life began in 1987.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Walk in the Park

Eastport has without doubt one of the most beautiful dog parks in the country. There was no one else there today, so I let the boys walk around outside the fenced area. There were several trees blown down form the storm, but nothing to alter the look of the place much.  It takes less than five minutes to drive there, and I go fairly often so the dogs can be free of their leashes.  I must say that unless there are other dogs to play with, they are content to just roam around and sniff.  Sometimes Willy finds something that makes him want to roll in it, but it is apparently just a scent.......he doesn't get dirty.

 Patrick investigating a tree that had fallen over.
Two boys find a path through the trees.
The view at the edge of the park.


This is a pastel portrait of my cousin Michelle.  It looks much more like me than it does her.  I guess those St. Germain genes are lurking in her, even though she really doesn't look that much like me.  I must have seen them somehow as I drew from the picture.  It's a pretty nice pastel, though.  I'll try it again with paint and hope for a better likeness.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Hurricane Arthur

These Pictures don't do justice to the damage that was done by the hurricane over the week-end but it's the best I can do.  When I woke up Saturday morning the electricity was off and didn't come back until late yesterday.  There was a lot of damage around town and the streets were covered with leaves that had blown off the trees.  Eastport is a windy place anyway, but Arthur certainly did a job.  Trees blew fact one tree fell on the Woogs' truck, crushing it, and their car, breaking the rear window and denting the roof.  There were barricades on many streets because of tree limbs and debris that prevented cars from getting through.  I took the pictures on my dog walk yesterday.  Luckily it was sunny all day Friday and the fourth of July parade took place without a hitch.  At the end if the afternoon, though, it clouded up and the fog rolled in, preventing the fireworks.

It's so hard to imagine life without electricity.  I had an oil lamp, a flashlight, and a book light, creating a circle of light around me.  But the quiet is ominous, that subtle ambient noise of appliances and electronics that we don't notice when it's there becomes very conspicuous in its absence. I have nothing battery operated to give me any news.   The dogs were restless and stuck by me, nervous without knowing why. 

In 1987 the town was without electricity for a week.  I had just moved here and knew no one.  Again I had no battery radio or anything to tell me what was going on. The newspaper was not delivered. It was a cold January, so I had no neighbors (all the "snowbirds" had gone home).  The heat was off, the town looked eerie with woodsmoke the only evidence of life anywhere.  I kept a journal then and I like re-reading what I wrote in it at that time.  As usual, I was philosophical and enjoyed the strangeness of it all.  Later I found out that the poles in Cherryfield that carry electricity to us , well over an hour away in the middle of the blueberry barrens, had fallen like dominoes across the miles of open land. The wind knocked them over like match sticks.  That time was an adventure, but this hurricane was only an irritation.

Another hurricane experience was in Florida when Sherillee and I were staying with her parents in New Port Richey.  It landed in the middle of the night with a huge bang that knocked out the electricity and woke us all up.  I was sleeping on the pull-out couch and Sherillee was in another room.  Her parents' room had a huge sliding glass door and we all (stupidly) gathered together and watched the lightning, the heavy rain, and the blowing trees.  When it was over, Sherillee and I went out in the car to survey the damage.  We found cars and boats  washed up on roads and lawns.  Florida has amazing storms.

Thinking about hurricanes always takes me back to the very first hurricane I can remember.  I was around nine or ten, and we were sent home from school (on foot in those days).  I went to my best friend Sally's house where we sat at the formica kitchen table drawing pictures of the storm.  The report that the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston had blown down gave me a sudden dose of reality and I felt afraid.  In a couple of seconds, though, we went back to our drawing, happy that we were unexpectedly home from school.  The pleasant association I have with that day has left me with a permanent kind of good feeling about storms that can't be explained any other way.

Friday, July 04, 2014

What You Can Find on the Street

A few days ago I found this knife in the middle of the road in front of my house.  It is a real beauty, with a very sharp retracting blade.  It even has teeth on the top of the blade.  I don't know what they could possibly be for.  The knife has a patent number so I looked it up on the internet.  My first shock was it cost eighty to a hundred dollars.  Someone lost a pretty expensive toy.  The site didn't say what the knife was for, although there must have been at least fifty different versions of the same thing.  It is quite menacing-looking, and I imagine it is some kind of hunting knife.  If that is the case, I'm glad the person lost it.  In fact, no matter what it's purpose is, I feel that it is better that it be in my hands than its previous owner's.

Letter to the editor

Every once in awhile I write a letter to the Bangor Daily News.  I can't say exactly why I feel compelled to do this........I guess it's an attempt to reach out in the world with an opinion I feel is too rarely expressed, or to point out something I feel is very wrong.  The only good it does is to relieve my own sense of indignation at things I feel strongly about.  Certainly I don't expect anything to change because I wrote it, or to alter one single other person's way of thinking. 

I guess I have to blame Christianity for the attitude that has become so much a part of our western civilization.  The Bible certainly implies that human beings are very different from other species, and that God gave man dominion over other animals.  I doubt that His intention was that we use that power to  abuse and torture them without any sense of empathy.  It's a little contradictory to call them "God's creatures," and then treat them as objects of no particular intrinsic import beyond serving our own biological and psychological desires.  But I guess the Bible endorses everything if you look for it hard enough.  It's a book that has caused so much suffering, not only for animals, but humans, too. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Those were the days................

I guess these are the days, too, but there are things in my past I sometimes really miss.  Riding BJ, owning BJ, is certainly one of my most wonderful memories.  This picture was taken before I got my own helmet and looks a little small, and BJ doesn't look particularly happy, but it serves as a reminder of the best things about  my earlier life. September, how time flies. Almost 34 years ago......

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Sure Signs of July in Eastport

I meant to take a picture that I could crop to show the ferry, but how could I crop out Patrick when he is looking so cute?  The ferry is way in the distance, making its way to Eastport from Deer Island.......or so I think.  It could be going to Campobello.  Some people seem to be able to tell which is which, but they look the same to me.  In a few days the Navy ship will dock downtown for the 4th of July......a custom that goes back to the 1800's.  I probably won't take a picture of it, so imagine a giant piece of gray metal snuggled up to the breakwater, dwarfing the downtown (menacingly in my view).  Picture sailors all over town dressed in white uniforms, participating in the festivities, marching in the parade.......the great event of the year.  I read in the paper that the population of Eastport is about 1300, but on the 4th we are host to an additional 15,000.  I can believe it. It's impossible to go anywhere by car, and on the day of the parade the traffic is backed up on the causeway all the way to Pleasant Point.  I used to love the 4th here, but I've grown weary of it.  The fireworks are spectacular, but I try to ignore the rest of it now.

The second is my annual picture of the Lupine that are covering the island.  Unlike the parade, it is a spectacle I look forward to and enjoy very much.  I can never quite believe the extent of it.  I took several pictures today, as if every field or woods would show something different.  It only seems like each display is more extensive and beautiful than the one before.  Besides, pictures don't portray the magnitude of the lupine show.

It's hard to get behind the big fourth of July hoopla, since my patriotism leaves a lot to be desired.  As a child I remember tearing up when I heard the Star Spangled Banner, feeling that knee-jerk patriotism we all acquire in public school.  Perhaps (though I doubt it) at some point this country deserved our pride and loyalty, but at this point, if I could, I would jump across the boarder to Canada and never come back.  I can see Canada from my windows, and my ancestors came from there.  My embarrassment at being American is most likely an over-reaction, but this country is such a big bully it's impossible to be proud.