Sunday, May 30, 2010

Getting into the swing of things

The gulls are scavenging the cove this morning despite the early showers, trying to eat before the tide covers their breakfast. The Cat slept in, ate, explored a bit upstairs, and then explored the porch. She has really taken ownership of the porch, stretching her head between the posts as far as possible with her nose twitching furiously.

Yesterday Baby Bear worked on her paper while the rest of us played. We all then went for hike at Great Head. From Sand Beach, we used the granite steps for our initial ascent. Baby Bear tells me that we will next do The Beehive, seen here from the Sand Beach parking area.

The vegetation along the path was amazing - not a lot of flowers this time of year but still a good variety of color with the different plants and rocks.

The smell of the salt air, the sounds of the waves gently meeting the land, the views ... all contributed to a perfect day's hike under a mix of sun and clouds. This view is from Great Head to Otter Cliffs:

and this one is from Great Head across Frenchmen Bay:

There are markers for the trail that are wooden posts:

Fortunately, Baby Bear was paying attention and saved us a long walk home when she spotted the post that marked the turn back towards Sand Beach.

I loved the path through the birch forest:

and the lush ferns we found at the bases of the birches:

Papa Bear and Baby Bear have many great photographs to remind us of our day scrambling over the rocks and I thank Papa Bear for sharing some of his photos with this blog.

We went back to the House on the Cove for quick showers (we believe we may have set a new record in the House on the Cove with four people - two of them women - showering in a total of under 20 minutes) before going to our dinner reservations at Town Hill Bistro. (Learning for the future: while life is slower on the Island in May, Memorial Day is a time when many return for the summer and reservations are needed at some places. Friday evening we visited more than one place before we found an establishment that was able to provide us with a table; we had made the reservations for our Saturday visit at the Town Hill Bistro on Friday.)

The food at Town Hill Bistro is exquisite (fresh, local where possible, wonderfully prepared) and when they share your bill with you, they also give each person at the table a sea salt caramel that is indescribable - just the right combination of salty and sweet that melts in your mouth and bathes your taste buds in smooth, creamy happiness!

I hope we can go to the Asticou Azalea Garden later today or tomorrow - the azaleas are in bloom and I would love to see them!

Yesterday I noticed a huge planting of tulips that are blooming along the road. It will be fun to have two springs (one at the House on the Creek, another at the House on the Cove) each year we make this journey.

Friday, May 28, 2010

We Have Arrived!

Sunset at House on the Cove, 28 May 2010
House on the Cove
28 May 2010

Thursday we arose early and departed the hotel to visit a Cousin. After an uneventful journey (Papa Bear makes it really simple to follow him - changing lanes when there is room for both cars to make the move - no small feat in Boston rush hour traffic!), the Cousin welcomed us with open arms. She even invited The Cat into her home. The Cat readily exited the carrier, looked around, and spotted one of the Three Cats who reside with the Cousin. Backs arched, hissing ensued. (The Cat appears to like being an only cat, much as Baby Bear liked, at times, being an only child. I guess we now have in our family OCS (Only Cat Syndrome) in addition to OCS (Only Child Syndrome). I am not certain how we differentiate between the two OCS's, except to observe the Being experiencing the Syndrome.) The Cat readily re-entered her carrier for the remainder of the visit, and the Three Cats ignored the carrier. Peace was present.

It was the first time Mama Bear had met the Cousin and it had been a long, long time since Papa Bear had visited with her. She had pictures to share with us, and Grampie Bear's Bible (Grampie Bear died last December, so this was a fabulous gift). We had pictures for her, too, along with contact information. She then gave us excellent directions which allowed us to navigate easily to continue our journey (did I mention we had Grampie Bear's GPS device, too?).

The day was bright and sunny with little traffic. The Cat quickly settled into her sleep-in-the-carrier routine. Mama Bear listened to talk radio. There is a Psychic in Salem, MA, who had a business license (which, according to the Talk Show Host, made her licensed as a Psychic by the city of Salem, MA) who has been arrested for theft. It seems she told her clients that there were evil spirits around their money and advised her clients that they needed to give the money to her to avoid having terrible things happen to them and their loved ones. Some people gave her all their money - their IRAs, their savings, their stocks and other investments. It amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars for some. The Talk Show Host was ranting that he did not understand how the Psychic could be charged with theft if these people willingly gave their money to her. To him, a gift is a gift. Hmmmm ... Scanning yielded the Maine NPR station which had less ranting and was generally more pleasing. When The Cat seemed to stir, Mama Bear played another PPM disc and we continued our journey. We saw many officers awaiting by the side of the road to offer assistance if that were needed, and encountered some longish (15 minutes and more) construction delays between Bangor and Ellsworth.

Mama Bear caught sight of the mountains on the Island in Trenton and we soon crossed the causeway to the Island and journeyed to the House on the Cove. Lilacs are blooming so there are huge profusions of lilacs hanging like heavy pendants on bushes along the road. It was late in the day and the tide was out. We located The Cat in a small bathroom so that she could explore it, but left the door ajar so that she could exit when she chose. She was out of the room in a few minutes and spent a great amount of time investigating and watching. We carried our boxes and suitcases from the car, cleared the furniture of its protective covers, and watched the tide come in. We took The Cat (in our arms) to the steps to the shore so that she could view the Cove. We decided on dinner out (DiMuro's Top of the Hill, a tradition with us for our first-night-in-residence) and after dinner stopped at a grocery store to pickup necessities (coffee, etc.) Mama Bear saw gardens being prepared for the upcoming short growing season. The sun was setting on the far side of the cove as we arrived home.

Baby Bear and Boo Boo arrived near midnight for a few days respite and relaxation (and to deliver the supplies they purchased for us at the discount store where they are members). They are both looking so very fit. It makes me want to begin my exercise program again soon.

There is an Audubon clock here that gives a bird call on the hour. The Cat hears it, but the sound does not last long enough for her to locate its source. The sound begins, she freezes, and her head and ears swivel towards the sound. I must confess that we, too, also had difficulties locating the source of the sound the first time we stayed here but eventually we were able to determine the location. This morning, I showed The Cat where the sound was originating: as it neared 8 a.m. (when the Maine state bird - the Black Capped Chickadee - sings), I stood near the clock with her in my arms. She was looking around, not quite certain what we were doing nor why we were doing it, but was content. The chirp began. She quickly zeroed-in on it. She does not understand how the bird is hiding in that small space between the clock and the wall, but now understands what is happening.

Blue skies adorn the heavens this morning, which makes the cove reflecting the firmament oh-so-lovely. I can see yellow and red canoes/kayaks on the cove's far shore basking in the sun. The deciduous trees have their new-spring green in place, and the evergreens are sprouting their tender new growth, too. The shoreline is a mud brown with the varigated greys of the rocks that abound.

Today we must visit the post office to identify ourselves and also take time to purchase real groceries. Baby Bear and Boo Boo have given us an ice cream/sorbet maker to celebrate our retirement and I think we may need to try-it-out soon. Need to unpack, unwind, maybe take a hike, too.

So much to do, and yet we are happy and at peace. Last evening Papa Bear said that being here really made him feel retired. I love simply being here without a departure looming in the near future. I know that fall will arrive all too quickly, but I am so content to be here at the House on the Cove for an extended stay.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

She's a Traveler: Day Two of the Journey

The Cat is a Traveler! She explores hotel rooms thoroughly, peaks out the windows, and sniffs all the furniture. If she can get under the bed, she does. She listens carefully to noises from the hallway, and faithly reports the delivery of all papers under our door (a copy of the bill for the night's stay) when it arrives (yes, we have arisen early, thanked her, and gone back to sleep). In the car she settles into her carrier, and slumbers peacefully. Day Two: Mama Bear and The Cat listened to more PP&M, some really nice violin music and some Bach. It was also hot and sunny and we found more than a few areas where road/bridge maintenance was happening. I am glad to see the road work: people are working, infrastructure is being maintained. It does, however, slow the journey at times. We had a fabulous dinner at Vinny's in Somersville at day's end courtesy of Boo Boo and Baby Bear (thank you!)

Which route did we take? We went through Hartford on I-84.

Years ago, when we drove to Maine for vacation each year, we would leave the House on the Creek at 5 a.m. planning to stop for the night in the Boston, Massachusetts environs. Papa Bear, Mama Bear shared the driving (though Papa Bear prefered to drive or to be asleep when Mama Bear drove) and we always had two children (Baby Bear and a friend of Baby Bear's) in the back seat. We would drive, stopping for occasional breaks (meals, gasoline), We would arrive in Hartford, Connecticut, in late afternoon, and spend an hour or so stopped. An hour or so stopped in a car with two tired children. An hour or so stopped in a car with two tired children and a broiling sun or a torrential downpour. An hour or so stopped in a car with two tired children, miserable weather, and everyone getting a bit hungry and snacks and new toys/games depleted. An hour or so ... you get the idea. After one such experience, I spent some time looking at maps, and found we could avoid Hartford (and its traffic woes) by heading north on the Taconic Parkway and then taking the Mass Pike to Boston. It was longer distance-wise, but we kept moving, which seemed to make everyone happier, and, amazingly enough, did not consume more time: we arrived in Boston at the same time as we would have arrived traveling (and stopping on the highway) via Hartford. I vowed never to travel via Hartford again. (Never is such a long time ...)

Papa Bear, as I indicated in the post of yesterday, advocated for the Hartford route again this year. His thought was that since we would be there earlier in the day, we would have a different experience. And, to be fair, we kept moving right through Hartford. However, between the Taconic Parkway exit and Hartford, there was considerable road/bridge repair activity, and in some instances we seemed seldom to move more than a mile in a hour (or or such was the experience of Mama Bear, driving the standard transmission car with the misfunctioning air conditioner; Papa Bear may have had a different perception.) Did Mama Bear take the high ground and avoid mentioning the delay? Not on your life!! After all, what is the purpose of cell phones, especially when you are stopped and have a bluetooth headset? The call to Papa Bear, who was laughing as he answered, said, "I have two words. What are they?" Papa Bear responded, "Taconic Parkway." And we both laughed.

The exit from the Mass Pike to 95/US 1 South was amazing: I do not know that I have seen so many roads come together in one place that would require so many people to cross so many lanes in so many different directions (California freeways are better organized than this intersection, in my experience). The combination of locals who knew where they were going and moved with authority to get there and travelers who were trying to determine how to get where they needed to be and therefore moved somewhat tentatively only added to the intensity of the area. I am astonished that there are not hundreds of fender-benders or more serious accidents there each day.

One last comment: years ago when were were canoeing, the beautiful Ms. B and the handsome Mr. S were driving with us to our put-in point one fine hot summer's day. We encountered a flurry of white puffs that briefly surrounded the car briefly. "What was that?" queried Ms. B. "Snow bugs," was the deadpan answer from Mr. S. (Ms. B and Mr. S. later married, despite having differing definitions of left and right while canoeing in the same boat; distinctions about left and right are, as you may be aware, important when sharing a canoe in a river and needing to negotiate small rapids - we typically encountered east coast class I and II with an occasional III rapids.) We all enjoyed the comments that ensued from the snow bugs statement and now, anytime we encounter these seeds/petals/I-do-not-really-know-what-they-are, we call them snow bugs and think of Ms. B and Mr. S. . On this journey of ours to Maine, we have been enveloped by snow bugs as we crossed the Shenandoah River in Virginia, at a place in Pennsylvania, and again in New York (we were in a non-construction zone so the cars were moving). I just love these fleeting yet fun moments when snow bugs surround us and then vanish.

Hope to arrive at the House on the Cove by evening. Planning a dinner-in tonight. Boo Boo and Baby Bear will visit this weekend, being supplies with them. Cool, delightful weather is forecast.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We Depart ...

Mama Bear thought we would ship non-essentials via the United States Postal Service (USPS) and pack only essentials for transport. Papa Bear thought we would pack everything into the cars. We did it Papa Bear's way. So Departure Day morning was spent packing and lugging and loading into the cars. Mama Bear was told to get out all the suitcases and duffles. Papa Bear packed his clothes into a duffle and one suitcase. Mama Bear has her clothes in three suitcases, a duffle, and another small bag and a grocery-carrier bag of shoes and a second grocery-carrier bag of assorted other assorted, necessary "stuff." (And Mama Bear left items at the House on the Creek. Mama Bear needs to learn to pack. Or maybe to dress more simply.) We have boxes of books, art supplies, binoculars, etc. The Cat has her carrier, some food, some toys, her sleep-on items.

As we moved out, the Care Taker prepared to take possession of the House on the Creek. We did not have to attend an inauguration (as the United States Chief of State must do) nor did we have to visit the Queen (as the English Prime Minister must do) so I suspect our process was much easier than theirs. Still, much happens in this type of handoff and it has been interesting - all the house quirks we have accommodated had to be fixed or, at a minimum, shared. I am hoping for a somewhat rainy summer so that the lilacs at the House on the Creek can grow a bit (if there is grass, the deer will eat it instead of the other vegetation.)

The drive proved uneventful with little traffic, little construction and great driving weather (my opinion - clouds but no rain and not too hot). Mama Bear had advocated for taking a route through the mountains; Papa Bear wanted Interstate roads, so we did it his way. It proved to be shorter by an hour. As we were late leaving, that was a huge plus! Mama Bear and The Cat listened to Peter, Paul and Mary (PPM), the Beach Boys, and the Beatles. Papa Bear had a medley he had created from his CD collection with PPM, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah McLaughlin, James Galloway, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Norah Jones, Faith Hill, The Fifth Dimension, Starland Vocal Band, Bonnie Rait, Celine Dion, Neville Brothers and others. (Mama Bear needs some more tunes and artists!) We had frequent stops to stretch our collective legs. The hotel was easy to find. The Cat, upon arrival, promptly went under the bed. After exploring there, she gradually moved out and sniffed the entire room from top to bottom (how she managed to jump into a six-inch opening mid-height in the television armoire, I do not know, but she did.) Her favorite spot seemed to be the wide ledge at the window where she could overlook happenings on the street below.

After a restful sleep, we will depart soon for our second day's journey. Papa Bear was over-perkied this morning by the CNN announcer, so he had to switch channels to get more news and less perky. Let us hope our journey today is as easy and uneventful as the first day. Mama Bear wants to take the Taconic Parkway to the Mass Pike; Papa Bear wants to take 84 through Hartford. Guess which way we will go!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

It seems retirement is all about decisions. Yes, before we retired, we made decisions when we worked and parented and participated in our House on the Creek community, but the retirement decisions seem somehow different. They are, thus far, all about us. Our first decision was what to do on our first Monday of non-work: should we set the alarm, awaken, and then snuggle down, drifting into and out of sleep to the voices of the people on our favorite morning radio show, or should we avoid setting the alarm? We opted to sleep in. The Cat, of course, had to be fed, but MamaBear found she could get up, feed the cat, and return to sleep quite quickly.

A second decision we are facing is how structured our days should be. Do we want to arise and plan our day or make a schedule and try to stay with it? For example, we know retirees who do exercise on certain days at certain times, with scheduled volunteer work on other days at other times and hobbies at specific times, too. Or do we want to plan each day as it comes, keeping our goals and to-do's in mind? Thus far, with the goal of preparing the House on the Creek for its summer inhabitants and preparing ourselves to journey to the House on the Cove, we have had our list of to-do's in front of us, and selected what to do each day from it.

As we consider what we will do after we arrive at the House on the Cove, there are many to-do's on our list that will need to be accomplished and the list is growing (the list is to help us make the House on the Cove more "us") and then what? Should I offer my work gratis to a local restaurant that shops local and prepares a fabulous tasty new menu each day based on what they can purchase and prepare that day so that I can learn how to do that? For this summer, that approach seems too structured. However, I (MamaBear) will have to set aside time to study anatomy, to do a "large" (for me) painting, re-read some writings I have done and do some new ones, and contemplate how to put them into a short book (likely self-published ...) There needs, for me, to be time for exercise (walk-to-run, running a lot), some weights, some biking, some hiking. I need to find a faith community, and perhaps a place to do learn how to do yoga. There are friends to visit, a hair dresser to find ... so much to do, but, being retired, I know there will be time.

Our journey begins soon; we have much to do - we have been sorting (more decisions - what needs to go, what stays) and cleaning, still need to pack. The Cat is very curious about her stuff going into boxes. I do hope this adventure is not too stressful for her. She tends to be a trooper, so my guess is that she will be fine. As will we. Retirement is so much fun, even with all its decisions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I think I like it ....

Have been free from going to work each day for two weeks, and I must say that I like this life. Someone shared with me that she had asked a Dear Colleague of ours how the Dear Colleague liked retirement. Dear Colleague had responded by asking how the questioner liked Saturdays. And, when the questioner replied that she LOVED Saturdays, Dear Colleague had responded with, "For me, every day is Saturday." How true, how true. I find I am enjoying the prospect of not going to work in the foreseeable future.

I am so grateful to those who organized and produced the retirement celebration, and to those who were able to attend, too. It was festive, fun and filled with good memories. The Lovely Accordion Player and the Smiling Gent need to take their show on the road, and that the Lovely Accordion Player needs to sing more in public - she was funny, creative and has a great voice! The celebration was a fantastic way to spend the end of my last day of work for UVa.

Since that time, we have done yard work (lost a ton of branches and trees in the snow storms of this past winter), run errands, I have moved to a new computer, and I have visited with my mom. We are sorting and packing. We are reading. I am trying to find THE dress for the Wedding in Chicago. We are feeding The Cat.

Speaking of The Cat, while I was visiting with Mom, PapaBear was solely responsible for the care and feeding of the Cat, which usually involves only feeding The Cat. PapaBear would dutifully arise early and feed The Cat her morning vittles and then go back to sleep. The Cat, you must understand, believes in eating just after the sun rise ... which works in the winter but not in the summer ... and yes, we have thought of blackout curtains but have yet to act upon that idea. After the morning feeding, PapaBear would not see The Cat again until 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. At which time, faithfully, The Cat would appear to remind PapaBear that evening vittles were due soon. Evening vittles do not happen until nearer to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, but The Cat remains ever hopeful for an early repast. The Cat was almost renamed "Four-thirty" as a result of this behavior.

More of our daily work: trying to revise our Cottage website, completing needed retirement-related paperwork, writing thank yous, taking care of routine medical appointments for all, getting the cars ready for the trip, planning what we want to do after we arrive at the cottage, etc.

Retirement is tons of fun. We are busy all the time! And yes, I like being retired.