Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How this all came about ...

I have been asked how we managed to have two homes - the House on the Creek and the House on the Cove. The story for the House on the Creek is rather ordinary: we worked and saved enough for a down payment on our first home, and then, eight years later, had worked and saved enough (and acquired enough equity) to sell our first home and move to the House on the Creek. We were fortunate enough to have constant employment and were able to repay the loan for the House on the Creek.

While living at the House on the Creek, Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear would journey once a year to Maine. Baby Bear was allowed to invite one friend to accompany us. That arrangement allowed her to have a playmate and sister for however long we were able to come (a maximum of two weeks.) It was good for us, and good for her.

Our first trip to Maine (which did not involve a playmate) was when Baby Bear was eight years old. While Papa Bear had spent time on the New Hampshire and southern Maine beaches as he grew, none of us had been to Mount Desert Island, and so we decided one year to venture here. Crossing the bridge to the Island, Mama Bear felt she was home. In fact, she advocated that we sell everything we owned at the time (we were living in our first house) and move here and become lobster fisherpeople. Wiser minds prevailed, and while there are many places in this country and the world Mama Bear has yet to see, coming here each year was magical: it was and is a special place of respite and restoration for Mama Bear.

Over the years, where we stayed changed. On our first trip, we stayed in a hotel - we had spent two days driving here, stayed a couple days, and spent two days returning home. The next year we rented a housekeeping cottage, which allowed us to do some cooking. It had a small kitchen/dining/living area and two small bedrooms and a small bath. It was definitely a seasonal place and was about the size of our living room at the House on the Cove. We spent a lot of time out-of-doors and it was fun. One year when we called for reservations, that place was rented, so we looked around the Island for another place and found a lovely home in Southwest that overlooked the harbor. We were there for several years and then that home changed hands and we had to again look elsewhere. We tried another cottage, this time in Bernard. After that Baby Bear was either working or in college, and our vacations changed. We stopped driving and would watch for airline ticket sales. We stayed at Bread and Breakfasts or inns. We always had several days on the Island, but sometimes journeyed to other places in Maine in our rental car. We found a favorite inn in Southwest that we used each year until it, too, changed hands. Looking for a new place to stay, Papa Bear found another cottage in Bernard. We stayed there for several years.

One year, just before we were to arrive, the owner of that cottage sent Mama Bear an email. In the message the owner explained that they had subdivided the property and had built another cottage, which they were hoping to sell. Would we be interested in seeing it? Mama Bear responded that as much as we loved the Island, we did not believe we had the resources to purchase some place there. After we had arrived on the Island, the owner contacted us again, this time explaining that they would be in the area for the weekend and offering again to show us the new cottage. We decided to go see it. It was lovely. We thought it still out-of-reach. We looked at other nearby properties and found reasons why they would not work for us, too.

After we returned to the House on the Creek, the cottage owner again contacted us. They wanted to sell, and so made an offer of their bottom price. We looked at each other (it was a really good price) and looked at our finances. Mama Bear had had an aunt who had left Mama Bear a sum of money in a generic drug stock. The aunt, a school teacher, had put into her diary at the time she purchased the stock, "Advisor says this will be a good investment. We will see." She put a small amount of money into the stock at its initial offering. The company did well, and she left my siblings and I a nice nest egg. We sold the stock to cover the initial down payment and purchase expenses, and are making mortgage payments on the loan.

And so we came to have the House on the Cove as a place to which we could retire.

The rest of the story, how we came to be here so soon, is that Papa Bear's dad came to live with us. He had few financial resources and did not want to live alone or in a retirement facility, so he blessed us (and it was a blessing) with his presence. After living with us for several years, his health failed and he died. As we were journeying home from his burial, Papa Bear looked at Mama Bear and asked if she wanted to retire. Mama Bear had been ready to stop working for some time, and she asked if we could afford to do it. Papa Bear responded that it might be tight financially, and that we might have to return to work in a few years, but that he wanted to do it now. He said that what he remembered from his dad's time with us was that Dad seemed happiest when he talked about the times he and Papa Bear's mom had after they had retired and both still had their health. Papa Bear said he wanted some of those times with Mama Bear. Mama Bear admitted she would like to retire, but said that after she retired, she did not know if she could go back to work. Papa Bear said that was fine, he thought we could manage and that for now, he wanted to have time with Mama Bear and time not working and time enjoying Maine for a summer.

So here we are. In this magical place. We worked hard, we saved, we had the great good fortune and blessing of the inheritance, and somehow it has worked for us.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

*TWO* Strawberry Seasons!!

Have I mentioned that the local strawberry crop is producing at the moment? The strawberries are lovely in size, shape, color and oh, so, sweet!! We had our traditional May local strawberry season at the House on the Creek and are loving the season here, too. Though this day has dawned into light fog and mist, it is suppose to become partly sunny and warm later. We are hoping to make strawberry sorbet later today with the wonderful machine given us by Baby Bear and Boo Boo: the strawberries have been prepared, the lemons squeezed, the container is in the freezer; all we need to do is mix and chill and put it into the machine.

Dinner last night was stuffed green peppers - very yummy and followed with a fresh apple tart from Little Notch Bakery in Southwest (you really need to visit their website: I wonder how long it has been in that state! :-) . Today will be a chicken dish of some type, with some fresh broccoli. (I love broccoli!)

I cannot decide if I like the cove best at low tide, at high tide, or in between. At low tide I can see the features of the bottom of the cove - mostly mud, rocks and sea weed, and the gulls visit then, too. At high tide I experience the fullness of the cove and feel the spirit of the water more strongly. In between, I taste the transient nature of this world and, in a peaceful calm manner, can accept the ongoing change therein.

We continue to watch the World Cup matches and are sometimes watching the Canadian station for their local news programs, too, especially since the G8 and G20 have been meeting there recently. We think that local advertising, both on the Canadian station and on the Maine stations (though particularly on the Canadian station), is much gentler than we experience in United States national ad campaigns, the latter of which tend to be, in our experience, rather in-your-face. Perhaps local advertising at the House on the Creek is also gentler, but our memory is that it tends to mimic more the US national advertisements. The Canadian ads are just softer in some way. And there is a wonderful ad for the Maine Lottery that has a "La La" song singing in our heads all days: far more upbeat than the tired fairy princess used sometimes in Virginia Lottery advertising who constantly seems to be confronting problems. Perhaps our country would be kinder and gentler on a whole if we turned the advertising back a notch or ten or twelve.

No idea on plans for today. We may open a local bank account, and the wrapping did not happen yesterday, so we will have to try to get that done sometime. I also want to stop by the library in Southwest sometime to see if there is a book club that is open to summer members.

News articles found online from the House on the Creek are that it may take weeks to completely clean all the debris from last Thursday's storm, and that there are people there (in an area with temperatures and humidity levels have both run in the 90's each day of late) still without power. Not a good situation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays ...

The skies are grey this morning, the wind is seen in the ruffling of the green leaves on the trees, and the rain is falling, adding to the moon-pulled waters of the cove for the upcoming high tide. The water drops fall to the roof of the House on the Cove and run to its edge and drop to the ground. The drops also plink on the leaves in the wind-bounced branches of the trees, making the leaves jitterbug as they sway. The air is cool. On the whole, it is a glorious day! (Please pardon the raindrop blur today's picture of the Cove ...)

Mama Bear worshiped at St. John's again yesterday. I am still fumbling a bit with the liturgy of the service, though I managed to have all the words that needed to be said present at the appropriate times. Learning new ways is a good thing! The message was delivered by the Rev. Alice Downs based on the passage in Luke 8 where people offer to follow Christ - after they have done something else. Rev. Downs said the passage reminds us to stop procastinating and to do God's work now. After worship the Vestry provided an update on the explorations that the Island's Episcopal congregations are doing for how to most effectively be in ministry in this place at this time. The Vestries are meeting together to share their histories and ways of working. What is being contemplated at the present time is that they will share priests among their winter churches - for Sunday and other worship services and for pastoral care. They will also participate in an educational program that will allow them to look at their gifts and at the needs of this place, to discern how they, working together, can best address them. It seems an exciting time to be a part of this denomination here and I find I am somewhat sad that I will not be here to watch/participate in that work.

We had a lazy day the rest of the day - watched some more soccer, the Red Sox, the NCIS marathon, and a couple movies. Papa Bear cooked a great dinner and we both cleaned up.

Today may be a drawing day - I need to practice so that I can begin painting. I also need to do my walk/run today. Looks like it will be a wet one today. And there are books to read, some presents to wrap and maybe mail. As Papa Bear has cooked for two days in a row, it is my turn to prepare our meal. I am trying to decide what to do - the cool weather gives us options for something warm and hearty.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DA Boat ...

We took a walk on Monday in the neighborhood. Papa Bear was attacked by a deer fly. The bite succeeded (ouch!) I am told that the fly is now deceased.

We have been enjoying watching World Cup matches in the mornings. We receive a Canadian television station and they pre-empt their children's programs to show all the matches. No one is reporting how the children feel about that approach, but we are enjoying the games.

Tuesday we went to Bar Harbor to do some shopping, which took us also to Jordan Pond. We had lobster rolls in the Tea House (and popovers, of course!) We went by Seal Harbor on the way home and Papa Bear snapped some pictures.

Mama Bear spotted a local boat yard on that trip and checked to see if it had a website. It does! We think it may have the perfect boat for Papa Bear, too. The boat would be, as you must know, DA Boat! It is built by the Classic Boat Shop, has lines Papa Bear likes and is a Pisces 21. As Mama Bear is a Pisces and as Baby Bear has long said that Mama Bear was/is 21 years old (Baby Bear has now said that for over 21 years, you must understand, and no, she was was not prompted to say that age; some how she picked it and stuck with it - Papa Bear is 22 years old), it seems destiny that Papa Bear have this boat. Now all we have to do is find the money to purchase and support it. Papa Bear says we cannot ask our investment advisor for more money than we saved. I suggested we ask our blog followers to contribute, but as they are few and as unlikely as we are to have that much cash on hand for random sharing, we have agreed to dream a bit while we consider all options.

Wednesday was cool and rainy and foggy here, so it was House Cleaning Day! Mama Bear vacuumed and sorted and straightened; Papa Bear mopped the floors and did the bathroom cleaning. It did not take forever and it is more restful to be here with everything clean and in order.

Thursday, after watching the Slovakia - Italy match, we went to Bar Harbor again and did the Shore Path. It runs from near the town dock, by the Bar Harbor Inn, and then on private property along the coast. It is a level (though not accessible) walk. Years ago when we visited on vacation you could see the millionaires' homes back from the shore. Now they have more privacy as flowers, bushes and fenches have been put into place. There are paths back to the town to make a loop, but we walked out and back and enjoyed the day.

Today we were up early for another trip to Bar Harbor - we both had hair cuts. We stopped at the farmer's market in Southwest on the way back, and are now watching the Portugal/Brazil World Cup match.

It is a gorgeous day - much sun and low humidity - so we are contemplating a hike after lunch.

Walk/Run program continues. I am enjoying it greatly.

The Cat has been seen with pencil and paper trying to draw specifications for a screened porch for the House on the Creek. She has yet to share them with us but we can tell what is happening.

Photos today from Shore Path walk and were taken by Papa Bear.

Shore Path
Bar Harbor




Private Home

Porcupine Islands

White Flower

Pink Flower

Yellow Flower

(Title was changed upon reader request. Thanks for the suggestion!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Perfect ...

Papa Bear was joyous to receive his Father's Day gift from Baby Bear and Boo Boo: the perfect mug!! Finding this mug was a quest (of course.) The requirements for the mug were: must hold at least 12 - 16 ounces, must be insulated so that contents do not cool too quickly, must have handle that does not fall off, must be cool (on outside) to touch. And they found it!!! So - to accompany DA Car, and DA Watch, we now have DA Mug!

Last night we celebrated our wedding anniversary by going to the Town Hill Bistro. It was truly a wonderful experience. For an appetizer, Papa Bear had a risotto with pulled duck (an amazing concoction that I will order for myself should it be on the menu when we visit again) and I had a potato leek soup that had fennel and bacon in it (light and delicate and oh so delicious!) For our main course, Papa Bear had a cioppino and I had gnocchi - again, both out-of-this-world (though Papa Bear confessed that arugula is not his favorite garnish, but, fortunately, I love it, so we shared and all was well!) Dessert was a bittersweet pudding for Papa Bear and a chocolate ginger cake with sea salt caramel sauce for me. And, to top the meal, as is customary for the Bistro, we each received a piece of their sea salt caramel candy. I do not know when my taste buds have been so happy!!! It was simply an exquisite meal - portion sizes were just right so that you felt full but not stuffed (even when you ate every morsel!) and the service was excellent. (Reservations recommended.)

Our dinner conversation centered on whether or not we should commit to celebrating our anniversary at the Bistro each year and, if we did that, what would happen to the thought of experiencing the Summer Soltice at Stonehenge at some future date? Which led Mama Bear to thinking that perhaps we need to discover a Henge right here in this country, but then she was told we have one - it is in North Salem, New Hampshire and is called Mystery Hill. Note that there appear to be more than one Mystery Hill in the United Statees, so please be certain you find the correct one in your web searches for more information on the place. Papa Bear also shared that there is a Wood Henge near Stonehenge so the post-meal evening was spent in part exploring these various locales via the Internet. Mama Bear is not convinced that the New Hampshire Mystery Hill is quite the same as Stonehenge in England, and could find no reports of cheers, drums and tambourines there yesterday at the sun rise, so perhaps we still need to explore this Acadia Henge idea ... Papa Bear, being a rocket scientist, should be able to do the calculations for how the stones should be placed. We just need to find a location, and get some large stones (there seem to be tons of stones around here!), figure out how to move and place the stones and get the stones organized properly ... then there would be a local place to experience the Summer Soltice sunrise ... and we could then both do some cheering, drumming and tambourining and still eat dinner at Town Hill Bistro!! There might even be a way to make some money selling drums and tambourines!! A win-win all the way around.

We slept soundly with one window open. This morning is cool and calm. We may do a hike today instead of going shopping, but will need some type of black-fly-discouraging device before we venture out - 'tis the season for these critters and they bite!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Soltice!

Day break arrives early to the House on the Cove but The Cat now lets us sleep until after 7! And, just to prove how wrong I can be, as soon as it warmed outside, The Cat began to take some of her copious naps on the porch, lying in the sun as it streams through the screen. Oh, she occasionally must stand and stretch, but quickly resumes her naps. She seems to love the sun and the breezes, as do we.

Today is the Summer Soltice! The news media is reporting an apparently a huge celebration of the event at Stonehedge in England that we missed (because we were here.) The reports indicate that that were drums, cheering and tambourines. It sounds like a great festival, and those in attendance actually get to touch the stones!! Sounds like an event we need to consider attending one day. Much joy and happiness were reported!! In attenance were Druids, Pagans and Partygoers, as well as news media people observing. I am not certain, at times like this one, that I would want to be a news media person. I would simply want to join the fun. Guess it is good that I was not a news media person.

iT is warmer here. Mid 70's Fahrenheit for daytime high temperature and on really humid days, we must have as much as 50% humidity! Thus far, since the House on the Creek often had levels in the 90's for both of those values, we are loving it.

Father's Day was lovely (all our days seem to be lovely).

I went to church at St. John's the Divine in Southwest where the Reverend Emily Blair Stribling used the story of Jesus casting out demons from Legion to ask us where we see Jesus each day. She used a story from her own life where her child helped her to see Jesus.

And I was reminded of a time when Baby Bear helped me to see Jesus. Baby Bear and I were shopping in the town/city near the House on the Creek. She was maybe five or six. So the day likely was full, and we just had to ride the glass elevator several times from the top floor to the bottom floor and back. After completing that part of our journey, as we were walking down the market area of the town/city, one of the homeless people asked for some money to purchase lunch. I smiled and walked on. Baby Bear followed me but then stopped me with, "Look into my eyes." That phrase was used rarely and only when the talk was to be serious and required close attention. "Why did you not give that man money for lunch? He is hungry." I tried to explain that if I gave him money, I felt he would take the money and purchase alcohol, which I did not feel would be good for him. She looked at me and said, "He said he was hungry." I looked at her. And then proposed that we purchase a sandwich for the man. So she and I stopped whatever we had been about and found a restaurant that would sell us a sandwich to-go. She chose very carefully - white bread (because she liked white bread but was given wheat bread at home), a meat, some cheese, some lettuce, a tomato slice (she did not eat tomoatoes, but recognized that I did and that I thought they were good food and good for you), with a packet of mustard and a packet of mayonaise that could be put on by the consumer of the sandwich. The maker of the sandwich, on hearing what she planned to do with the sandwich, threw in a free bag of chips, and before we left, she reminded me that some water and a cookie would really make the meal, and perhaps a piece of fruit, so a bottle of water, a cookie, and an apple went into the bag. We then had to find the person, and this shy child took the bag and gave it to the man. He took it, looked at her, and said, "Thank you." She smiled at him and then ran back to me. I will never forget the encounter, or the lesson she taught me that day.

The leadership of the Vestry is working with the Vestries of other congregations on the Island to see if there is common ground for them to approach their ministries in a more deliberately sharing manner, but understanding in-detail how others work is needed, so there are long meetings filled with discussion to gain understanding. Information is also going out to the members of the congregation for their consideration.

I have feeling that the Senior Warden of the congregation is feeling swamped today. Had time to exchange a few words with the Senior Warden after worship. My impression (and it is only that - an impression of mine) is that without a pastor, much of the day-to-day work of the congregation is falling on the Warden's shoulders. Some clip boards were available yesterday requesting assistance. I did not sign up, but may next week, if there is something I can do. I am not certain how much assistance from someone outside their denomination would be welcome, so I will ask before I commit.

We watched soccer, investigated the origins of Mother's Day and Father's Day and watched some mindless television (I love NCIS and the good thing about watching this particular marathon was that I had seen many of the episodes and so could nap a bit myself and still not be lost), had a nice dinner that I fixed (it was Father's Day and Papa Bear had cooked on Saturday), and then watched the Red Sox game, which the Sox won. We also read, and played on our computers.

Today is another glorious day. I did my walk/run program and got to run a bit today for the first time, in addition to walking. Slow but sure. Then we took a short hike around the loop (picture is from a neighbor's garden), and have spent the rest of the day playing (I did some drawing, Papa Bear learned how to play music while showing slides on the television: my question was: What? Five hundred ways to bore friends? and his response was: Oh, I think it is easily more than 500 ...)

We are planning dinner out tonight to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and otherwise just enjoying the day. Tomorrow we will to look for a wedding present, and meet with the person who will fix the trim on the House on the Cove.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Perfect Day

Friday was a perfect day in all respects! I heard via email from some friends, Dave watched the US soccer match in the World Cup and while he did that, I ran some errands. There is a farmer's market in Southwest on Friday mornings, I picked up some groceries, and took care of some inquiries we had to make, visited a local potter. Then Dave worked on the trim by the front door and I did some gardening. Rest of the day was spent on reading and playing on the computers and making plans. Oh, there was a nap in there, too. We had the windows open wide to catch the breezes as the heat is here. Yesterday the humidity was low, today we are told it will be higher.

Yes, the Celtics lost. Mama Bear's mother is ecstatic, Boston is sad, though most Boston fans I have met over the years seem to take losses in stride: they happen, there is always next year.

Today I did my walk-to-run program, took care of my WebKinz, played the Merriam Webster word game of the day, played the Cricklers News Puzzle, and we are contemplating how to fill the remainder of the day as Papa Bear completes his last cup of coffee.

The Cat had a hard evening yesterday - she fell asleep at the foot of the bed where Papa Bear puts his feet and when he came to bed, she did not want to arouse and move. This morning she seems a bit tired and has only just now gone out on the porch to do her investigations there. She has yet to see it as a place where she can obtain some of her needed copious amounts of sleep.

We measured Papa Bear for his new scythe the other day (height, cubit, hip to ground) and yesterday we walked around and talked about what we want cut after it arrives. I think we agreed on where to put a rhododendron, some lupine and perhaps some lilacs. I sensed a reluctance on Papa Bear's part to move the trees that are too close to the house (less than six feet - and the trees are small!). I still want to get a local landscaper to help with the plan: I think it will work better with some professional guidance.

More weeding to do today if we do not have other tasks to do. Wish you were here!

End of Jordan Pond, opposite Tea House, photo courtesy of Papa Bear, from hike last Wednesday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Thursday!!

Blogging takes more time than I realized, so I have not been doing much of it. Let's do a quick recap of the week:

Monday we did not go to Bangor but stayed home so I could go to yoga class. It was super! Great stretching, very serene experience and I loved having the mindfulness meditation incorporated. I have a long way to go, but loved my first experience.

Tuesday we went to Bangor. Papa Bear drove from here to the Bangor Mall - through downtown Bangor - without directions. How he knew where to turn, I know not, but he is amazing. We spent some time in the various shops and then came home. The drive to Bangor was a little over an hour (but some of that was road construction delays). The Mall itself has a main section with multiple shops in one building and then several stand-alone outlying buildings. It makes it an interesting place to visit!

Wednesday we hiked around Jordan Pond. This Pond, near the Tea House and gift shop (we visited neither, though we know from previous years that both are fun: the Tea House serves lunch and dinner and afternoon tea on the lawn) is situated so that you can see "The Bubbles" (two mountains) at end of it that is opposite the Tea House end. The loop around is 3.0 miles. It is not an accessible trail. Papa Bear told me it was birch and moss day, picture-wise (you will have to ask him how he knows what day it is, picture-wise; sometimes I think he makes these things up as he goes). Four pictures of the two items (birches and moss) appear at the end of this blog. I understand that more than one picture of ferns was taken by Papa Bear during the hike, too. The other pictures were taken by Mama Bear. I am excited that I am finally able to show you the colors of the rocks under the water ... We walked the west edge of the Pond first. It begins as a nice trail and turns into a wooden walkway for a long time, and then becomes a rock walkway before turning back to a nice trail. The eastern edge of the Pond back is all nice trail. There are a couple of interesting bridges at the end of the pond opposite the Tea House. The wooden walkway exists to protect the marsh area on that side of the Pond.

Today, Thursday, was rainy in the morning so we took the opportunity to run errands, which turned into an all-day event. We had fun, felt like we accomplished some tasks, and were home for the start of the Red Sox game. The Sox game began early tonight so that they can try to complete the game before the start of the Celtics game against LA tonight: it is now 8:30 p.m. EDT and the Celtics game begins at 9 p.m. EDT. It is now near the middle of the 7th inning. The Sox just put in a new pitcher. I think this game is going longer than 9 p.m. EDT.

Sunday is Father's Day, Monday is our wedding anniversary. We are trying to decide if we want to go out for our anniversary or cook in. There are positives about each. How nice to be able to decide between two good choices!!

Weather forecast is for hot and humid. Here that translates to low-to-mid 70's degrees Fahrenheit for a high, with humidity in the 50% - 60% range. I guess when you are accustomed to lower humidity, those levels are high. Knowing that people at the House on the Creek have been dealing with temperatures in the 90's and humidity levels also on the 90 percent range, I am wondering how we will experience these changes. Time will tell!

Birches and Moss - 1

Birches and Moss - 2

Birches and Moss - 3

Birches and Moss - 4

Wooden Walkway

The Bubbles saddle

Rock walkway

Colorful rocks

Friday, June 11, 2010

Observations ... of the random type ...

We have been here a little over two weeks and feel we are beginning to understand the area a bit better. Yes, on Friday we failed to find the cardboard recycling place using verbal directions provided, but we will check maps and learn where to go to accomplish this task. The place appears to be a "transfer station." The bottles - both glass and plastic - can be redeemed for cash at the Hannaford's in Bar Harbor or given to the redemption center in West Tremont as a donation to the Habitat for Humanity effort.

Papa Bear took this amazing picture of Lupine during our quest to find the cardboard recycling place, so the journey had value even if we did not complete that particular quest. My experience is that few journeys here are without some type of value - either a great view, an opportunity to reflect on something seen, completion of a task, gathering a better understanding of this place, etc. Am I simply more appreciative of this place, or am I more present to it because it is new and I am not otherwise focused on what day-to-day task lays ahead, and am therefore more in tune with where I am and what is happening now, or is the lack of pressing deadlines making me more open to the now? The reason matters not, I am enjoying this self-paced journey.

This early in the "season," stores that are open are closing early. We called to order a pizza at 6:30 p.m. last Sunday and were told that the oven had closed. The store was open, but no pizza. Most stores close before 7 p.m. these days (they will be open later as the spring/summer progresses - school ends on June 18th, so perhaps we will see later hours as the high schoolers seek summer employment). No, they do not "roll up the sidewalks" as we have strolled on them and I suspect the Bar Harbor area merchants are open later than here on the "Quiet Side" of the Island.

I was able to Skype a bit for my book club at the House on the Creek this past week and it was delightful to see these good friends of mine and to hear their voices, too. I thank them for their patience as the connection kept dropping. Papa Bear has suggested I try a wired connection to the Internet at the meeting next month.

I am hoping to take my first-ever yoga class on Monday. It is yoga and mindfulness meditation, which I have done in the community at the House on the Creek, so it should be an interesting experience.

St. Andrews-by-the-Lake has services at 8 a.m. on Sunday, but I went to St. John's in Southwest at 10 a.m. today. They are sister churches. I am guessing the pastor at St. John's has been called elsewhere. This morning we were blessed (and I mean that in its truest sense) by the Reverend Vesta Kowalski. She has been at St. John's before when I have attended there while on vacation and I find her theology to be both challenging and often on-target. She speaks simply and directly, from scripture and current events, and shares hard truths and challenges about our calling as being children of God (our forgiving others - even BP - and our accepting the forgiveness that exists for us and our forgiving ourselves). She will not, alas, be there next week, but perhaps God will send us someone equally gifted or who will touch us in a different way with different gifts.

We are having our highest high tides of the month and also our lowest low tides of the month this week. I know not why these do not somehow coincide with the full moon, but they do not; instead, they are at the time of the new moon.

I told Papa Bear that the curly sproutings on the path to the cove had unfurled to reveal that they are ferns. Papa Bear said they were likely fiddlehead ferns, and he is correct. Fiddlehead ferns are young ferns yet-to-unfurl. Some types are edible.

Some buildings here do not have gutters - overhangs about, but no gutters. (There are some buildings with gutters.) The House on the Cove lacks gutters. There is an edge to catch and divert rainwater to the sides of the entrance door, but not gutters.

There are speciality food shops here. It is a blessing. And a danger, too, for within the specialties there are many good things. Yesterday we purchased fresh bread at the Southwest Little Notch Bakery shop. We also purchased some marvelous apple tarts. We used the bread for meatloaf sandwiches last night and will use the rest to accompany other planned meals in upcoming days. I think this is the first time we have bought bread here, other than sandwich rolls. The apple tarts we ate with ice cream. We have hot dogs on the menu for this next week. We will purchase the buns for them the day we have them, likely at a grocery store. The hot dog buns here are split on the top, not the side (as happens at the House on the Creek). Not certain that where the split happens changes the taste of the repast, but it is fun and seems a good approach: top-loading the hot dog instead of side-loading it.

I am impressed with the growth of plants here: there are rhododendrons (now fading, so no picture) that bloomed from ground to the top of the first story of homes, peonys that seem to be double the height of anything I have seen in Virginia (and whose numerous upright strong stalks will soon be bowed with blooms), and, as I have said before, lilacs that were cascading in profusion and lovely lupine everywhere. Perhaps it is the short growing season that encourages the plants to strive to be their very best as quickly as possible. We are told by the winter CareTaker of the House on the Cove (a kind, honest, and gentle person who uses neither computers nor cell phones) that it became warm here in February which resulted in an early spring. The local news people have made that observation as well. We were following temperatures here from the House on the Creek and while the temperatures were warmer than at the House on the Creek most days this past winter, I believe that a) that situation was unusual rather than normal and b) it was not exactly what I call "warm" here, but perhaps warmer than normal is what was meant.

We are still having fun riding our bicycles. Today we went to breakfast at Grumpy's after I returned from worship (Papa Bear loves their corned beef hash), and then we headed to Bar Harbor for some fudge (from Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium) and dark chocolate almond bark (they have some amazing concoctions) and they have ice cream, too. After purchasing cones, we sat in Agamont Park and watched the boats in the light fog in the harbor. then we did some window shopping and found some magnets for our refrigerator and came home for a quiet afternoon of baseball via television and some reading and napping. Tomorrow may be a trip to Bangor. Or not. We will have to see what the day brings after the day arrives.

The Creature of Duck Cove

According to Papa Bear, there is a legend that a creature lives in/frolics in (thank you Peter, Paul and Mary!) Duck Cove. No one knows what it is, nor if it is malevolent or beneficent. Some say that the creature may live on the Duck Islands (off-shore from Mount Desert Island, visible from the Ship's Harbor Trail). Some say that the creature may live in the muck at the bottom of Duck Cove. The creature is named Ducky. We believe The Cat may be trying to contact Ducky as she does her patrols, or simply to keep Ducky away (the Cat is not known for liking to share "her" premises with other critters.) Papa Bear captured this picture last week Is it Ducky???

Ship's Harbor Hike

On Wednesday we hiked the Ship's Harbor Trail. It is a relatively easy path along the coast near Bass Harbor Head Light, SeaWall, and Wonderland on the "Quiet Side" of Mount Desert.. We had hiked this trail in previous years so we saw trees we had seen before, as well as the harbor and Maine coast rocks. We saw one tree that had fallen and died. Papa Bear remembers this particular tree because he has a picture of it when it was still standing. He remembers this particular tree because of the curling shape of its trunk. The trunk makes a complete loop. One wonders how it grew. It was a fun day.

Ship's Harbor is called that because of a local legend that in the time of the Revolutionary War, a U.S. privateer fled a British gunboat into the harbor (must have been high tide when they did it, as at low tide even a kayak would have some problems with the depth of the entrance!) The U.S. ship escaped the British, but became stuck in the shallow harbor.

The pictures do not seem to do justice to the variety of colors we saw and I have no mechanism to convey the smells and sounds. I have often thought of Monet in recent days as we have traveled around and seen places in different lights. I read once that Monet usually had multiple canvases for a single site. Each canvas was worked on at a particular time of day, so that he could capture the place as it appeared in the different light that happens as time passes during a day. Places change over time, and with varying light. We had blowing clouds, so we were able to see the same scene in a variety of sun and shade.

Ship's Harbor


View into Ship's Harbor

Another View in

Duck Islands

Point of land

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Bicycles

We went to Southwest Cycle and purchased our bicycles. They are last year's models, which means we received a great deal. Mama Bear is thinking of naming her bicycle Molly. It is a name she has always liked and the women she has met with the name have been strong, funny, helpful and smart. I like those qualities and hope my bicycle will be all those to me. Well, maybe it will not be smart ... My Molly is quite lovely. Papa Bear has not yet named his bicycle. And may not do so. We have helmets, gloves, kickstands, and water bottles, too. We have had them out on the road a bit and love riding them. Molly and Nameless reside in the basement beneath the stairs.

The gate to the basement has arrived and been installed. The Cat, for reasons unknown to me, went downstairs just before its installation began. After installation, Mama Bear took some treats and went down the stairs. While The Cat was seated next to Mama Bear, Papa Bear placed a treat on the first floor side of the gate, and Mama Bear stuck her hand through the cat opening. Always motivated by treats, The Cat went through the opening, then returned to see if there were more treats to be had from Mama Bear. (Of course there were!)

The Cat has devleoped somewhat of a routine - she sleeps on the settee in our bedroom (the settee that is leaving after the new chest is delivered), arises, is fed, explores the screen porch, has a bit more to eat, takes a nap, goes upstairs to survey the birds in the trees from the second floor window sills, goes downstairs, plays with her toys a bit, takes a nap, explores the screen porch, makes certain the basement has not changed since her last visit, plays with her toys, takes a nap, and so it continues throughout the day. She seems very content.

Our mornings seem to be occupied with paperwork and telephone calls to straighten out paperwork. Mama Bear listed the trustee to receive the transfer of her work IRA as a person, and put the firm's name in the area for the address. She was told the firm was the trustee and that the person's name should have been put into the address area. Papa Bear has received his unused vacation pay and has been in touch with the bank at the House on the Creek to learn how it can be deposited there (there are no branches of the bank north of Connecticut). His first Social Security check will arrive in late June/early July. Mama Bear is awaiting her unused vacation/sick pay deposit. Her first retirement check should arrive in July. We have contacted the Census person who left a note on our door (person came while we were out) to explain that we had completed the Census forms at the House on the Creek. Mama Bear completed her thank-you to-do's and mailed them yesterday.

Today is a wash day - clothes and linens. And maybe a bike ride or a hike. It is gorgeous here: just a slight breeze, blue skies with rare clouds and much sun. Need to check the Maine election results. After seeing all the commercials, I want to know who won the primaries!!

A boutique of photos from this morning follows. They were taken by Mama Bear this morning, just after high tide. And no, we never tire of the views.

Molly the Bike

Bikes in Basement

The Cat

Flowers Near Southwest Cycle

View Across Cove

Gull Cafe Leavings

Cove's End Boat Yard

Mouth of Cove

Cove to House Stairs

House to Cove Stairs

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Papa Bear and Mama Bear have, over the years, undertaken a number of what we call "quests." A quest happens when there is a need for an item or service, research/a search about what the need is and how it can be met has to happen, the results of this phase have to be evaluated, a plan for fulfilling the quest must be crafted and then implemented.

Perhaps our most famous quest was Papa Bear's The Watch Quest. This particular quest is capitalized because it lasted for over twenty years - from the time we were married until we were in the midst of Baby Bear's college quest (that quest being far shorter and much less extensive and so not needing capital letters - after all, Baby Bear did not ask to visit every possible college in the United States, but selected a few and we visited those, all within one year).

During the time of The Watch Quest, passing a place that might contain The Watch for Papa Bear meant that we had to go into the establishment, look at all possibilities, perhaps have a salesperson take two or three candidates from the showcase, examine them, then usually (though not always) walk away when the possibilities were found lacking for one reason or another. By and large, Papa Bear has good aesthetic tastes and he is an engineer, and I am certain that existence of both of these conditions simultaneously contributed to the long duration of The Watch Quest.

With these characteristics influencing the decision criteria, there were requirements for both how The Watch would look as well as how it would function. Mama Bear learned patience, and to look at other items available in the same location during Papa Bear's tireless (and sometimes seemingly endless) seeking/evaluation process. During Baby Bear's visit to schools in Boston, we happened upon a now-defunct business in Cambridge Square and, since it sold watches as a part of its offerings, we had to go inside. And there it was: The Watch. Perfect to gaze upon. Perfect in function. Did we purchase it? No. It was, for us, too expensive and so, having found it, we left The Watch there.

The Watch Quest ended shortly thereafter: Mama Bear, upon our return to the House on the Creek, decided enough was enough and called the Cambridge merchant. She purchased the watch. She does not recall where she found the money nor how she managed to keep the expenditure a secret from Papa Bear, but she did, and he received The Watch as his birthday present that November. It has been wonderful to be able to walk by jewelry stores without stopping. It has been wonderful to watch Papa Bear use and appreciate The Watch. It was well worth every penny spent on The Watch to end The Watch Quest.

Other quests present themselves to us from time-to-time, as has happened here at the House on the Cove. We have the ongoing food quest, the bicycle quest in progress, the quest for furniture to complete the House on the Cove so that we can live here, (instead of visit here) as well as the quest to provide a mechanism for The Cat to have ready access to the basement (where her bathroom accommodations have been located) while providing some protection to others from randomly falling down the steps to the basement through the open door.

The good news is that we have made progress on some of these fronts.
  • We are still exploring food options. We had the freshest and tastiest English muffins from Sawyer's Market in Southwest recently, which moved them onto the list of definite shopping places. This quest will likely continue for a while - how far to drive, how to get what we want/need/can afford, how often to shop - all are factors in this quest.

  • We learned a lot about options for bicycles during our stop at the Southwest Cycle - gearing, suspension, types of handle bars, weights of bikes, etc. - all come into play and consideration.

  • We took a day - a sunny day on Friday - to complete at least some of our furniture quest. We need more places to store clothes. Being here for the summer instead of two weeks means I have more clothes. I think Papa Bear has more clothes than he usually brought for vacation, too. We have a closet and two lingeries in which to store these clothes. We need more drawer space and so would like a dresser. To make floor space in the room to allow a dresser to fit, we would like to replace the present bedside tables with smaller, more traditional night stands. Having surveyed possibilities via the Web, and visited local furniture-selling establishments on a rainy day, and learned that we were going to have to order whatever we decided upon and that it would take eight weeks to deliver said items after they were ordered, and wanting to alleviate the non-storage situation as quickly as possible, we took the sunny day to revisit the stores, make a decision, and place an order. That part of the furniture quest is resolved, though we still need to decide if we want desks (thus far we are working off our laps or the coffee table, and it is not a problem.) If we want desks, then we have another quest to undertake.

  • Papa Bear found (on the Internet) a gate that can be mounted inside the door frame 0f the doorway that leads to the basement. The gate has an opening in the bottom through with The Cat can pass unobstructed, and an actual gate that can be opened when a human wants to descend the stairs. We think it will meet our needs well. Our thanks to the Moderan Lady of Leisure who suggested this type of device might exist and to look for it.

All was not lost during the sunny Friday bedroom furniture quest completion: we still saw some beautiful scenery, as evidenced by this picture of a point on Thompson Island (the Island you cross when leaving the Mainland and heading towards Mount Desert).

Yesterday and today have been foggy, cloudy, and rainy. Perfect days for staying in, doing paperwork, reading ... Still trying to determine how to take a picture of the herring gull that seems to like to sit on the rocks that emerge at low tide. If I try to get close, it flies away; if I am not close, I cannot get the picture I want. Oh no!!! Is this another quest???

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rainy days and foggy days

We seem to be having a foggy/rainy day followed by a sunny/mostly sunny day this week. It is also delightfully cool (sorry people at the House on the Creek and its environs, where we understand it is hot, hot, hot.)

We have been window-shopping for things of late - looking for bicycles (I saw a really nice carbon fiber model that is out of our price range but, as I said, was very nice), some furniture and kitchen equipment for the cottage to make it easier to live here instead of visit here, and just to explore the area a little. The Cat does not mind our being out as long as we come back before her dinner time. Papa Bear now understands my plan for the proposed bedroom furniture arrangement. We are square with the post office and receiving mail at our box there. I also saw a really cool pink Vespa scooter ...

We are still trying different grocery stores to find what we want. Tried a local organic store today - they will give me a 10% discount when I bring them $100.00 worth of receipts from there (and gave me an envelope in which to save the receipts!) Hormone-free beef is still proving a challenge to find (and expensive when we find it.) Perhaps I will suggest it at the general-purpose grocery store we have visited and see what they can do, but I suspect that as Maine is not a beef-growing state, it may be more difficult to find here than at the House on the Creek. Chicken and fish are abundant, but I love the occasional burger.

We saw a deer swim the cove today - the first time I have seen that happen (and the first time I have seen a deer on the Island.)

The house at the end of the road has chickens and ducks (and ducklings). We have learned to enter the road VERY slowly to accommodate whomever might be in the midst of crossing the road.

We love the flowers - the rhododendron are blooming profusely, as are the lilacs and lupine.

We are avoiding the traffic backups in town that are due to construction by taking back roads when we can. It is interesting to note that construction work continues on rainy days: they do what they can in the season they are given to work.

There is a primary election here next Tuesdsay. The commercials thus far are very civil and each candidate seems to talk about what they will do instead of how bad someone else is. I like this positive approach to campaigning.

Am including some more pictures. The fog picture shows our visibility across the cove late today. The lobster buoys were found on the beach after a storm last year. One of our guests found them and hung them beneath the porch. The fact that they were found here attests to lost income for someone - the traps to which the buoys were attached are at the bottom of the ocean someplace off shore. The garden shed is used to keep the tools for the garden a neighbor has each summer. It was more simple when we first began coming here but received this major renovation (it is so cute!) within the last few years. The remaining pictures are more flower pictures. I think we need to get a picture of a rhododendron, too! Maybe tomorrow ...

Fog view across cove

Lobster buoys

Garden Shed