Went to a garden party

So, the Authors have been extroverting.  We bought Full Festival Passes for the Twenty-Second Maine International Film Festival, which included a t-shirt, naturally, the sponsorship of one movie, and access to all the rest of the films (10 days! 100 films! eek!), as well as a slew of special events, receptions, and parties.

The film we chose to sponsor is The Fate of Lee Khan, one of the five opening night films.  I do not repent our choice.  We had a great time with this film, picking out similarities to Star Wars, tracing the lines to Crouching Tiger…, and trying to keep track of the double-crosses.  I think we ended up with a quadruple-cross, but somebody might want to view the film and check me on that.

Here’s a link to the trailer.

We also attended a couple of the special events, including a Garden Party, with Brief Remarks, and are planning on attending the reception, concert, and World Movie Premier of The Gathering celebrating the work of Horace Tapscott.

In between all this, Life, and writing, has been going on.  The Nameless WIP  stands at about 81,000 words.  If I get a Turn of Speed, I should be out of this scene today, in draft.  Which will leave The Thrilling Conclusion to be written, and the subplots to be filled in.

Easy-peasy, amirite?

Yeah, right.

Here have a couple of pictures of us at the Garden Party.






Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Ricky Nelson, “Garden Party.”  Here’s your link.

Yet Another Writers’ Day Off

So!  Yesterday, Steve and I took off in the rain to see the Very First Waterville Showing of Aladdin.  I had such a good time.  Yes, I know there’s Controversy.  Yes, I’m aware that Will Smith is not Robin Williams*.  I still had a great time; I have no fault to find and, yeah, Imma order the DVD.  Also, Rajah the Tiger was terrific.

After the movie, we went into Waterville proper and had our first meal at the new Greek restaurant, Opa.  Steve had the crabcakes, which he pronounced very good; I had the lamb kokkinsto (pulled lamb in a red sauce seasoned with garlic and cinnamon on a bed of orzo), which was excellent.

Replete, we wandered down Main Street, stopping to talk with our friend Ellen at Children’s Book Cellar and review the plans for the Drag Queen Story Hour next Saturday, and sought her advice regarding the upcoming International Film Festival (held in Waterville annually).

Then, we wandered back up the street, got the car, hit the grocery story for weekend supplies and came home, where we hung pictures in the dining room.  Yes, yes; it’s taking us awhile to hang the pictures, but we’re getting there.

Today is gloriously sunny, and the weatherbeans are calling for a high of 74F/23C.  I have all the windows open in my office.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my office?

Lest you think that the only thing we’re doing around here is taking day’s off, I report today’s to-do list, which includes!

  1.  One hour proofing Conflict of  Honors mass market anniversary edition.  Which is not as easy as you might think.  Our experience proofing Agent of Change for it’s anniversary edition revealed, um, Some Number of Errors which had come through from the time, long ago, when We gave the electronic files from Embiid to Arnold of Fond Memory, who then stripped out the existing coding, and recoded, automagically.  So!  We’re proofing Conflict against the Meisha Merlin and the Del Rey editions.  Which means I (1) read the chapter in the MM edition; (2) go through that chapter in the pages provided by Baen, correcting any errors, and (3) if there’s a conflict, the Del Rey edition is the tie-breaker.  Yeah, it’s taking some time.  But the corrections aren’t due until July, so we have time.
  2. Figure out where the pieces Steve has given me back actually go in the current novel WIP, and putting them there.
  3. Writing the next scene in said novel WIP.
  4. Deadhead the geranium.
  5. Try on corset to test The Look for next week’s story hour.

Also!  For those who missed the news, you may now purchase Fortune’s Favors:  Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 28 AND Shout of Honor: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 29 in ebook format from your favorite online vendors including Baen, Kobo, BN, Amazon; and in paper format from Amazon only.

. . . and I think that gets us all caught up again.

Everybody have a good weekend!

*I was 40 when the animated Disney Aladdin came out, so I did not fixate on Robin Williams as the One True Genie before whom all others must be inadequate.  Truth told, he was a little too too for me, but that was often my experience of Robin Williams.

Writers’ Day Off Thursday Edition

So, yesterday, the sun was out, and was predicted to stay out all day.

We therefore packed up some drinks, threw ice and yeti freeze-blocks into the big ice chest, made sure we had our cameras in our bags, and escaped into the day.

We stopped for breakfast at IHOP in Augusta, then headed south.  We hit Old Orchard Beach at the peak of high tide; walked the beach, took some pictures, and were very comfortable in our winter jackets and woolly hats.

Though the Original Plan had not been to spend the whole day away, that pretty much went out the window before we’d even finished breakfast.  A whole day of sunshine ahead of us, with no emails to answer, or work to do?  Far too alluring to put aside.

We therefore drove souther, to York Beach, where we stopped short of Long Sands Beach to take pictures of the two lighthouses we could see in the distance, and a pod of ducks playing in the breakers.

The ducks were hard to get a good picture of (yeah, no kidding), but they were hysterical to watch.  The whole pod of them would be bobbing along, and then one would look over its head, discover a breaker, and apparently yell, in Duck, “Oh, no!  We’re gonna get wet!” whereupon the entire pod would dive beneath the wave and resurface — one, two-three, four, five….six-seven-eight — and bob along happily until the next breaker started to foam, and they’d do their thing again.

So, ducks are hard — everybody knows that.  What was surprising is that the lighthouses were hard to photograph.  While the sun was busily beating down on us on the sidewalk by Route 1, out there in the ocean, it was seriously misty.

Eventually, after having a nice chat about the glorious day with a couple who were walking their dogs — and making friends with said dogs — we got back in the car, headed for Long Sands Beach (this being, as I’ve always thought, having been early spoilt by the beaches of Maryland and New Jersey, an Exercise in Irony), but!  I saw a sign by the side of the road, and the sign said:


“Quick!” I said to Steve, “turn right!”

Turn right he did and we followed a road lined on both sides by, ahem, Seaside Cottages, until the road ran out at Sohier Park, and there, in all its beautiousness, was Cape Neddick Lighthouse, which everyone calls The Nubble, to the point that people have forgotten its proper name entirely.

Here, have a picture of The Nubble.

We spent a loooong time at Sohier Park, taking pictures, sitting on the benches and soaking up the rays (warm and sunny in the park; no need for winter coats, at all).

After awhile, I said to Steve that I was going to walk to the other side of the park to see if the gift shop had lighthouse stamps.  I happened to have my Lighthouse Passport with me (don’t leave home without it!), and, after a moment’s rummaging about, Steve found his in his camera bag.

So, we both got our passports stamped for The Nubble and! for Boon Island Light, which you can sorta see from York Beach.  Sorta.  That’s pretty good, given the Season hasn’t opened yet.

We bought souvenirs (a Nubble Light lapel pin to join my collection of lapel pins; Steve got a Nubble Light ball cap), and eventually went out again into the day, to mooch around the park a little more, and finally drive back down into town.

From York, we went to Ogunquit, and stopped at the Maine Diner in Wells for supper.  Steve had the not-Maryland-style-crabcake; I had the chicken pot pie.  It was all good, though I found myself kind faunching after the lunch being consumed at the table next to us, which consisted of: a rootbeer float, a bowl of split pea and ham soup, and a slice of apple pie with ice cream.  I *really* want a rootbeer float now, but all we have in-house is “hard” rootbeer, which, yanno?  It could work.

Anyhow, we eventually wound up at Trader Joe’s (yes, again); took on supplies, including some frozen things (see ice chest and yeti cooler-blocks, above), and came home the fast way, insofar as there is a fast way, there to unpack, and view our photos on the day, then to the evening meal, a glass of wine and bed.

Today, it is raining.  I’m doing the laundry, after this blog post is finished, I’ll be opening up the WIP.  We also have in house the galleys for the new mass market edition of Conflict of Honors, to be published by Baen in October and!  the list of people who pre-ordered a signed copy of Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four from Uncle Hugo’s SF Bookstore.  We don’t have the books yet, but as soon as they get here, we will leap — yes, leap! — into action!

For our next Writers’ Day Off, I’m thinking of viewing Aladdin next Friday at the local theater.  That might be pleasant.

In the meantime, as above, it’s back to work.

Here, have another picture of The Nubble to warm you up.

Writers’ Day Off Weekend Edition

So!  We started our writers’ day off this week — well.  Last week. — by going into town to attend a multi-artist reception at the Framemakers in downtown Waterville.  The party was in full swing when we got there, including live music.  We caught up with a couple folks we’d known from my newspaper days, and got to know some new folks, and a good time was had by all.

Saturday, we got up at what passes for early, and motored on down to Standish, where we had breakfast at Percy’s Table — Steve had pancake, egg, and bacon, while I went with sweet potato hash (sweet potato, red potato, carrot, spinach, onion, sweet peppers), which was excellent (the decaf was good, too) — and one of the waitstaff geeked out entirely over my hair and jacket:  “You are so pretty!  You bring springtime inside to us!”

After breakfast, we wandered over to St. Joseph’s College, on the other side of Standish, and got lost for a couple hours among the rocks and minerals.  If you ever have the chance to go the Maine Mineralogical & Geological Society’s annual gem show, do that.  It’s a huge show; vendors from all over; informative and beautiful.  Steve and I both noticed that there seems to have been a breakthrough in geodes — there were enormous split and polished specimens on sale — one was as tall as my waist, which is fairly far from the ground.  Also, when I think of a geode, I think of a hollow rock filled with crystal.  Many of those on offer were filled with minerals that were not necessary crystal.  Interesting and tempting, though I note that neither one of us brought home a geode.

There was an. . .unsettling incident.  I had gone upstairs, to visit with the vendors who had been left in the upper darkness.  I was waiting to be admitted by the door dragon, and a tall guy (taller than I am — unusual in Maine, even now), fashionably shaved head, diamond stud in one ear, dark clothes — kind of came in beside me — and he stuck beside me, in my erratic drift from this table, to that table, back to that other table, until I made a willful effort to ditch him.

Later, Steve and I were in the lunch room, sitting together on the couch and having  a restorative Pepsi when there was a boom!, which was this guy being thrown against the window by a security guard.  Apparently, there were, um, items in the guy’s pockets, some of which had broken free when he pulled out his cellphone.  Followed an altercation, including the guy breaking away and making a run for it, getting tackled by the security guys, and what might have been Law Enforcement called in.  Exciting couple of minutes there.

Anyway, we finally hit overload and quit the gem show, heading for Old Orchard Beach, where we negotiated a short reservation for mid-August, and stopped for lunch at the Clambake.  Thence to Trader Joe’s since we were passing by, to take on wine, and some more sprouted tri-color rice, and cheese, and black-and-white cookies — and so to home.

We finished the day off with a couple glasses of a nice Malbec, and grilled cheese sandwiches made with cheese bread.  Yum.

So, there we are — Writers’ Day Off.  Today, is Writers Get To Work, and now that our business here is concluded, that’s what I’m going to do.

Here, have a picture of Steve and me, at breakfast.

Health Stuff and Taking the Long Way Home

So, yesterday, we needed to take Steve to Bangor for his post-op/post-generator-change inspection.

Both inspection teams pronounce him to be healing well.  There is still a restriction on how much he can lift with his left arm, and how many Maine Coon cats are allowed to sleep on his chest (i.e. none) for another few weeks yet.

Since we’d arrived early, the appointment was finished much earlier than we had anticipated, so we came home the long way, through Winterport, and Searsport.  We stopped twice in Belfast, once at the public boat landing to view the bay, and again at the Dairy Queen to take on milkshakes before driving on to Augusta.

We made another stop at Best Buy in Augusta, to pick up various tech toys, including a Bluetooth mouse for me to have ready when Moose comes home from the tech hospital.

After shopping, we crossed the river again, picked up a quart of popcorn chicken and some fried veggies at The Red Barn, brought it home, and feasted.  The veggie leftovers are destined for inclusion in today’s luncheon omelette, and maybe some chicken, too.  We’ll be having leftover chicken later in the weekend, too*.

Back home, we both fooled around with little tasks, read a couple chapters of Brat Farrar to each other, and so to bed.

Today, it is raining, and warm.  The weatherbeans are calling for continued warm, so we have brought the heat pumps online, to see how that goes.  Having a new house to experiment with is fun.

Today is also a writing day.  With luck and no phone calls, I may be able to get a finished draft of the story I’ve been working on done.  That would be. . .nice.  Especially as I have half-a-book sitting here that needs to be looked at, and made into a whole-book.

No, the thrills never do stop.

Hope y’all are having a pleasant Friday.

*Since there are apparently Diet Police out there, let me be proactive and say that Steve’s heart issue does not stem from clogged arteries and eating Bad Foodstuffs.  He has a condition called “cardiomyopathy,” which, in short form, means that his heart muscle is weak and occasionally needs an assist, which is what the implanted I(mplantable) C(ardioverter) D(efibrillator) is for.  And, yes, we do exercise, and generally eat healthy, so Diet Police may turn their concern elsewhere, thank you.


The Friday after the Thursday before

Today, we work. Tonight, we journey into Downtown Waterville, to see Hot Tuna in concert. Steve bought these tickets, what? a year ago? So this is our Official Gift to Ourselves for the 38th Anniversary of Having Done the Legal.

Tonight’s event will be enlivened, if that’s the word I want, by the Parade of Lights, which will close off Main Street at 5 pm. The parade starts (it says here) at 6 pm. The doors to the Opera House (on Main Street) open at 7pm, and the show starts at 8 pm.

I have a feeling that Timing Will Be, if not Everything, Than Verrrry Close Indeed.

I see here that one is not allowed to bring bags of any sort into the Opera House; we are advised to bring wallets only. I therefore advise the paparazzi that my fashion choice this evening is cargo pants (and a bulky sweater with another sweater under it, on account it’s gonna be COLD tonight).

What’re you doing today that’s fun?

Writers’ Day Off

Where was I?

Ah.  Last Friday was our Floating Day Off, and we went to the ocean to observe the storm tide.  Once that was accomplished, we of course turned right around and went home to go back to work.


In actual reality, we went to Scarborough Beach State Park, as Steve had seen a sign (by which I mean a road sign, not A Sign), and we used our new-found superpowers as Elders of the State to pass through the gate and walk down the road through the marsh, which was filled to the gills with Canada geese, to the weed-strewn beach.

From there, we more or less retraced our path of a couple weeks ago, this time driving back into the upscale housing development around Two Lights (no access to the lighthouses), and then down through Fort Williams Park, ’til we hit the ocean, sort of, and Portland Head Light.

Also visible from Portland Head is Ram Island Ledge Light.

There is a third lighthouse visible from this position to those with Really Good Eyes, or Steve’s camera, called Halfway Light.  My camera is not long-sighted, so you’re spared a picture of that light.

I offer instead my Lighthouse Passport, now with five stamps!  The docent at the museum at Portland Head Light, keeper of the stamps, is empowered to bestow stamps for Portland Head Light, Ram Island Ledge, Halfway Light, and Two Lights.

So, that’s what we did on our last day off.

This week, our Floating Day Off is — today.  We will be attending a Community Health Needs Assessment sponsored by one of the local hospitals at mid-afternoon.  This is in keeping with our goal of becoming an active part of the new community.

So!  That’s all I’ve got, except the weather, which has been Quite Windy.  We lost two trees down near the Forest Gate, and the gate next to the house (which, to be fair, was not particularly well-tied-down).

Which reminds me that, last week, the neighbor’s dog called in some guys to take down the Enormous Pine in their back yard, which had started dropping Large Limbs Too Near the House, and now my office gets the sun much later in the day.  I hadn’t realized that the Big Tree had shaded the front right clerestory windows quite so much.  Good job that I bought myself a Computer Cap a couple weeks ago.

I’m still trying to understand the dynamics of this house — how the heat moves from my large and sunny room to warm the kitchen and dining room — and how the living room fits into it all.

Well.  I’ll be studying that all winter, I’m guessing.

Everybody have a good day.


The on-going adventures of Lee and Miller

So, Tuesday, September 11, Steve and I arose, and left the house in the possession of the housesitter, wending our way to Connecticut in the rain. We broke our drive in Lewistown, at Fran’s, so that I might celebrate my birthday in style, with a breakfast of blueberry crepes.  It was still raining after breakfast, as we continued our drive, arriving at Carousel Convention Headquarters in Windsor Locks, Connecticut about 2:30.  Our base camp was in a Marriott, and I must say it was among the…silliest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, along a lifetime of staying in hotel rooms of various ilks.

Who in ghod’s name thought it was a Good Idea to design a hotel room with ONE DRAWER, a closet with no door on it, and a couple of random open shelves?  Our reservation was for five days.  Does Marriott Corp actually think that I’m going to throw my stuff in piles in the corners?  Or not unpack?  For five days?

Stupid situation.  I was, and remain, unimpressed.  This may actually put me off of Marriott properties.

Complaints aside, I went downstairs to do my appointed shift at registration, met a lot of nice people, including Irene Harrison (who I know from the Science Fiction Side) and also the mother of one of my writer colleagues.  Small world.

Dinner was had; I scored a batwing horse at the Roundabout Faire (aka the Dealers Room), and we listened to a very interesting lecture by Jeff Briggs, the creator of the Boston Greenway Carousel.  Eventually, we sought our bed, rising at an absurdly early hour in order to board the charter buses for a 7:30 departure for? The Carousels!

Now, a couple things about the convention.  First — This was the largest convention the National Carousel Association had ever hosted — by about 100 conventioneers, 50 of us newbies.  Second — This meant that there were four tour buses in train.  Third — it was raining on Wednesday as we boarded our coaches, and pretty much it rained all day, except (this is important) when we arrived at a carousel.  Then, the rain stopped; and I wanna tell you — it’s rare you get a bus driver who’s that good.

The rain, however, did play havoc with the traffic, and we ran late all day.

Wednesday was the pre-con Bonus Day, and we were scheduled to — and did! — visit four carousels.  Our first was the Native Species Carousel in The Greenway Boston.  Here’s a picture from that carousel.  I note, as it was said to me, that this rabbit does not go up and down, though his carrot does.

After everyone — that’s 240 people, now — had ample time to take photographs, and everyone had a ride on the carousel, we reboarded our buses and went out to Hull, where the remains of Paragon Park, including Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel #85, sits at the edge of the sea.

The Paragon Park carousel was the. . .saddest of the day’s four carousels.  It was plain that the association was trying their damndest to keep the carousel and to restore it, but. . .there’s work to be done.  I note, for those interested, that there is an adoption program for the Horses of Paragon Park.  Here’s your link.   And!  Here’s a photo of a horse being restored at the on-site workshop:

And, here’s a picture of a jumper on PTC #85:

I will also mention that the sea was magnificent at Hull, waves crashing against the seawall, and spray flying over the parapet to soak inadvertent visitors.  Nice day.

From Hull, the buses swept us, in good time, to the Heritage Museum, which combines gardens, a transportation museum, and a Herschell/Looff combined carousel in all but mint condition.

My back had started to hurt, so I opted to walk from the bus to the carousel, about a quarter mile, I guess, through a really pleasant and peaceful garden, with interesting plantings and thought-provoking installations.  We may have to go back, more into the season, to do the garden justice.

The carousel had been collected in pieces by a Mr. Lilly (I did not achieve clarity on whether this was Mr. Eli Lilly of pharmaceutical fame, or another Lilly altogether), which is why it’s a Herschell/Looff.  Most of the animals were horses, but, having been bought in pieces as it was, there were extra animals.  Three goats made it onto the carousel itself.  Some of the extras were mounted along the carousel’s promenade, and still others were sold to another carousel enthusiast.  Here’s a picture of one of the extra animals:

Steve joined me for the walk back to the bus, and we proceeded to Battleship Cove, there to view Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel #54.  By this time, we were two hours and change behind schedule, and my back was really starting to say nasty stuff.

So nasty was my stuff, in fact, that I did not get off the bus to see PTC 54.  Steve did view this carousel, and will perhaps lend one of his photos to at a later time.  I understand it is a very nice carousel.

From Battleship Cove, it was on to West Springfield, and a group dinner at The Nippon Grill and Seafood Buffet, joining up with still more of our group who had not opted for the Bonus Day Tour.

We returned to the hotel around 10:30 pm, having boarded the buses at 7:30 am.  It was, yes, a long day.

. . .which segued into a long night as my back went ballistic.  I finally faced reality — that being that there was No Way I could do the next day’s tour of five carousels and a formal dinner/presentation, if I didn’t take the meds, and No Way I could do ditto, if I did take the meds.

So, I took the meds.

I will pause here to recall that, of all the challenges I had identified with regard to participating in a carousel convention, I didn’t even consider the wear and tear  visited upon a human body by sitting fourteen hours on a tour bus.

Steve and I evaluated the situation and our various options and decided that it would be best for all concerned to withdraw from the convention, which we did.  And then we drove home.

The long way.

Steve drove, I did not take meds, though I may have been guilty of using the heated passenger seat.  We would drive for. . .a time, an hour? two hours? and stop at a likely looking place to go for a walk. We did a thorough tour of Keene, New Hampshire, which is awfully interesting at first hand; which led to a thorough tour of Toadstool Books.  We eventually raised Portland, where Steve had some Serious Shopping to do, so we took a suite off of Payne Road, hunted and gathered an excellent dinner from the Sebago Brewing Company, and so to bed.

The next day, we rose late, breakfasted at IHOP, and hit the mall.  Steve was shopping computers, so I hung out at Best Buy with him.  I talked myself out of a Razer tactile keyboard (wow, does that keyboard feel good), because it’s flat and I’d kill my wrists using it, even though the clicky keys are to die for.  I was not so persuasive regarding a pair of Nikon binoculars, replacing the Bunnell mini-binoculars that I won in a sales contest mumble years ago — 4×30, which I clung to because they were light enough for me to hold.  The Nikon binoculars are 8×42 and weigh just a smidge more than the minis, and now I can watch the yard very closely indeed.

At the Maine Mall, we found Brookstone going out of business, and Steve scored all sorts of goodies, including a yummy fleecy throw.  We also stopped for pretzel bits at a — gasp! — pretzel stand, where the young lady behind the counter gave me a Susan B. Anthony dollar as a quarter.  When I showed her the error, she was astonished; had never seen an Anthony dollar.  I bought it from her with a folding dollar so she didn’t make the same mistake again.

We did quite a bit of walking, what with going up and down the Mall, so we did a little shopping at Shaw’s to stock our in-suite fridge, then went back and took a nap.  That evening, we walked around the neighborhood and took pictures. of interesting things.

Here, have an interesting thing:

Next day after breakfast we proceeded through the Dense Fog to the Maine Fine Craft Show being held at Camp Ketcha on Black Point, where among all the other beautiful art things, we met a guy who makes door pulls out of rocks.  I think we’ve found the compromise between Steve wanting door pulls on the new pantry, and me wanting no such thing.  I can live with rock door pulls.

After the craft fair, we went exploring, and found ourselves at Crescent Beach, which is a state park.  We came to the ranger’s kiosk before we found a place to turn around and thereby discovered An Amazing Thing.

Maine residents sixty-five years or older may enter any Maine state park for free.

Who knew?

Well. . .we knew.  Now.  And so we visited Crescent Beach.  The fog was still Epic, but we walked up and down a bit, thereby discovering another thing:  You can get a passport at any Maine State Park at the beginning of the season, and there are passport stamping stations, at each park, so you can stamp your passport.  Which is kinda cool.

Leaving Crescent Beach, Steve headed us out still further on the point, and thus we came to Two Lights Park — a Maine State Park.  We tested our newfound knowledge and were let into the park with a cheerful, “Have fun!”  And so we did.  Two Lights deserves a day-long visit on a day with significantly less fog.  Still, we walked up and down a bit, and took pictures.  Here, have a picture:

We also found Yet Another Amazing Factoid, which is that the National Lighthouse Association has LIGHTHOUSE Passports, which you can get stamped at — wait for it — lighthouses all over America.

Leaving Two Lights, we drove until we were in Portland, and of course we had to visit the Portland Breakwater lighthouse, aka Bug Light.  It was still foggy, which made picture-taking tricky, but here’s a moment of Bug Light in the sun:

We spent ‘way too much time at Bug Light, and were late getting lunch.  Happily, we found ourselves in Old Port, and there! right on the corner where we’d stopped for traffic was — the Empire Kitchen.  We parked the car and had a really interesting Chinese dinner, including the house-made broad noodles, steamed pork buns, green beans with garlic….mmmhmm.  Probably a good thing they’re in Portland and, mostly, I’m not.

Sunday, we shifted to Old Orchard Beach, and a room at the Skylark that Steve had arranged for, pre-convention.  We were told that there was a whale in the Gulf, between shore and the Audobon society’s island, which several of our fellow Skylarkians were fortunate enough to both see and photograph.  Our luck was not on that angle, sadly.  I’ve never seen a whale, myself.  Must go on whale cruise…

So, a pleasant afternoon and evening at the ocean, walking up and down the beach and downtown, followed by a pleasant supper.  Next morning, we rose early, failed to sight the whale in the yet-again Epic Fog, and drove to the new IHOP in Saco (for locals — where the China Clipper had been for approximately 10,000 years).  And there something…strange happened.

We paid our bill with cash, and our change was to be $9.55.  Which the waitress brought to us in the form of nine one dollar bills, twelve pennies, two nickles, and two dimes.  The advertant will immediately see that this is short by thirteen cents.  It was also the weirdest change I’ve ever gotten.  This was 7:45 am on Monday.  Was the drawer in that bad a shape?  Did our waitress not know how to make change, even though the cash register told her how much change to give?  Could she not do the math that would have allowed her to know that a five dollar bill and four ones is nine dollars?  Or that two quarters and a nickle is fifty-five cents?  I continue to be baffled.  I said to Steve at the time that I wasn’t going to “fight over thirteen cents,” but after our waitress came back to ask if we “needed change” and threw an obvious glance at the table to see if there was a tip waiting, added, “but I will blog about it.”  And now I have.

We reluctantly checked out of the Skylark, and headed to Oquossoc, which was an excuse to trade sea level for height of land, and overlook the Rangeley Lakes.  Here’s a picture:

We headed down via Route 4, stopping in Farmington for lunch at Soup for You!, and again in Waterville at the grocery store, and so arrived home around 6 pm last night, to the initial confusion, and subsequent delight of four cats.

Today has been an unpacking, bill paying, and blogging day.  I haven’t walked enough.  Must remedy that.

Tomorrow, we get back to business.

. . .and now?  You’re all caught up.

Dragon Ship

So, yesterday, Steve and I betook ourselves to Rockland, there to tour the Draken Harald Hårfagre, the world’s largest Viking ship sailing in modern times.  It says here.  In fact, the Draken is not historically accurate, by which I mean it is not a recreation of an actual Viking ship recovered from the depths or found sleeping in a bog.  It’s a Viking ship given shape by the enthusiasms of one guy, who managed to talk a bunch of other guys into Doing This Thing (history of the project here).  That said, the Draken is Awesome.

It was built traditionally, and as the crewman who led our tour describes it — the ship “swims” in the water, much like, oh, a sea serpent.  There was also a description of the effort and engineering that goes into raising the main mast and letting out the sails.  The mast weighs. . .I’ll get any number wrong, so let’s just say, A Lot.  It takes about a dozen people, working with a large screw set in the deck to raise it.  The technique is to raise it halfway, which is Hard Enough, then swing it out past the shrouds, release the sail, and then go back to the screw to bring the mast vertical to the ship.

On a previous voyage, the mast — snapped in half; one half fell into the sea; the other half to the deck, where it did not crush anyone, but did trap a crewman below-decks (he was in the head; no escape hatch in the head; they hadn’t thought they’d needed one.  “We’ve got one now,” said our guide.)

The new mast has a bit of graffiti on the base:  If found, please return to Draken Harald Hårfagre. . .

I took a couple pictures on my phone.  Steve took a whole series with his camera.  For those who can see Facebook, they’re here.

After the tour, we did the Full Tourist, buying t-shirts, a book-and-CD set. Steve bought one of Odin’s ravens; I’m not sure if he’s got Thought or Memory.  May have to ask it.

We did learn that the Draken is now charging for tours because the man who caused it to be built no longer wishes to fund the ship out of his pocket; and it must be self-sufficient.  Which means, if it comes to a port near you — please take the tour; it’s not only cool, but you’ll be keeping the Draken out of mothballs.

After the tour, we came home the long way, ate lunch and got to work.

And now. . .it’s time for me to get to work, again.


The writers, goofing off

So, after some few unrelenting days of Brutal Heat (for Maine values of “Brutal”) and Unavoidable Stress, yesterday was called for mid-to-high-70F/21C, and sunny.  Steve and I looked at each other and said, more or less in unison, “You wanna get out of the house?”

We determined to head for Old Orchard Beach and adjust course as seemed good.  We did arrive at Old Orchard, but it was one of those windless days when the sea was as exciting as water in a  bathtub, so we got back in the car and went to survey Camp Ellis, which, though still showing the considerable scars from the last storm has taken on the Mantle of Summer.  People were on the beach (such beach as Camp Ellis has ever lain claim to), people were sailing, and fishing and doing Normal Summer Things.  You’d almost come to believe that the Camp would survive the next storm, and the one after that, too.

On our way out of the Camp, we saw the sign for Seaside Pottery, and, being in need of pottery, we turned right.  The shop was closed, to open at 2 pm, so we got back in the car and headed for Wells.

The sea was much more satisfactory at Wells; there was a brisk breeze off the ocean and high tide was proceeding with vigor.  We stood on the seawall for a while, with about a hundred other people who had come from such far flung places as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Iowa, and Colorado, to overlook the ocean at Wells.  I took a small walk into town and did a Tourist Tour of the nearby gift shops.  We’ve been going to Wells for years and years, and I’ve never been inside one of those shops, though we have had lunch and ice cream at the town landing.

We headed back to Old Orchard Beach, keeping a sharp out eye for pottery shops.  We didn’t find any, though there are a lot of antique shops on Route One.  Holy cow, are there a lot of antique shops on Route One.

We stopped at the Maine Diner for lunch, and I continued the tourist theme by buying a t-shirt.  After, we continued up Route One and I. . .bought a white sea rose (rosa rugosa*, to you) at Wallingford Farm, and as soon as I finish this blog post, I’ll be taking myself to the back yard to dig a hole.

We came back to Camp Ellis to find Seaside Pottery open, and spent some time with Renie, the potter, and Cooper, her English spaniel.  Sadly, we were not able to do business, and continued back up-coast to Old Orchard Beach, where we fed a parking meter a handful of quarters and went to pay our respects to the sea, which had decided that bathwater wasn’t a good look on it, and brought in some wind and waves.  After our visit, we headed to Pine Point, and eventually to I95 toward home.

We did stop at the Maine Center for the Arts at the Gardiner exit, pottery still on our minds, and gathered the cards of several who had their wares on the shelves.  I bought an art tile coaster for my desk; Steve bought chive vinegar and blueberry gingerbread mix, and honey tea in a jar (not quite sure how that works).  There was very interesting Spanish-language music playing, and I tried to buy the CD, but was told by one of the counterfolk that they were listening to Cuban Radio Pandora, which I’m listening to as I write this.

So, that’s it!  Today, I dig a hole, and fill it halfway with water, according to the instructions received at Wallingford Farm.  When the water recedes, I put fertilizer mixed with sand in the bottom of the hole, then the rose bush.

I also need to make some phone calls, and possibly go into town  to the end of the road, to do some banking.  Oh, and also, write.

We really, really need to remember to take a day off to do silly, frivolous stuff every week.  *makes a note*

. . .and that’s all I’ve got.

Hope everyone’s having a good week.

* Burpee Seeds on Rugosa Roses  I especially like:  “Rugosa roses require little care and thrive on neglect.”