This is a little record of my stay in Maine, mostly so I remember where I went and what I did. And if you can live vicariously through a little Maine adventure, cool. And if you end up seeing some of these spots and enjoying yourself, rad. And if you just give this a miss, no prob, Bob. But I just really need this week of vacation and I’m so grateful that I had the means to make it happen. I really needed to get away for a bit. Just away from my actual life. What a grown-up reason to vacation. That’s a little sad, I think, but the vacation is happy so that works.

I departed Vermont Sunday morning with the intention of stopping in Portland, which was almost exactly halfway to my destination, for lunch and doughnuts. In the event, I walked around Portland a little and just got doughnuts. Holy Donut, potato doughnuts, not my favorite genre but they were certainly good! I got a small variety so that I could enjoy them then and also have a couple the next day as a birthday treat.

Portland is a cute little city. I didn’t see a whole lot of it but there was a nice little historic downtown area with the sort of well-kept or recently renovated old houses (lots of brick, I approve) that one might expect. It was pretty touristy in a not-very-appealing way, particularly around the old port, but it was fine. Didn’t exactly impress but made for a very pleasant stroll, most of the way. And the doughnuts were tasty.

I arrived at my Airbnb in Hancock without difficulty mid-afternoon, headed into Ellsworth for the evening. Sat in a park by water and read for a while before going to dinner, had a Cornish pasty (or at least, what tried very hard to be and did a decent enough job of it) at Airline Brewing.

Also, this is totally an aside but I just had to say it somewhere. There’s a whole region of Maine and maybe sometimes Maritime Canada (the region’s a little fuzzy depending on who you ask and in what context, as many such terms are) called “Downeast” and I don’t like that at all. Apparently, it comes from sailing, which makes me feel better, but it’s still weird to me.

Monday morning, refusing to battle Acadian crowds on my birthday, I took the recommendations of a friend and headed further up the coast. I drove all the way to Lubec, which is at the Canadian border, on US 1 (which was just sort of fun for me) and then took the scenic route back, stopping to hike at a few places. The day started very foggy–enough that I couldn’t see half of the quite short bridge to Canada. It was very Maine vibes, I felt.

First, I went right out of Lubec to West Quoddy Head where there is a little lighthouse and some little trails. Very pretty, very fog aesthetic, good start. Started to get muggy and hot as I was leaving but I survived it. From there I headed to Boot Head Preserve (Maine seems to be into preserves–not government run parks but privately owned preserves that are public land? Not certain how it works but it’s odd to me, whatever works though). Boot Cove had a cute little beach and then a really deeply lovely walk along the coastal bluffs. The fog was starting to break a bit and it was superb.

My next stop along the coast was the Cutler Preserve which featured, surprise, additional coastal bluffs. Kind of Maine’s whole thing. But they are extremely pretty so I’m not mad about it. I didn’t go super far on this trail because I was hot and gross and a little tired and couldn’t fine any milage labeled on the trail but I still managed a pretty good hike.

I returned to my home base area, got dinner from the Steamy Buddha (a nice sandwich with bacon) and ate in the same park reading the same book and it was lovely.

Tuesday morning, I still didn’t want to see crowds (I had luckily not seen too many people on my adventures thus far) so headed to some more nearby preserves. Started with Taft Point in Gouldsboro, I was the first one there! Another wonderful, foggy walk by the sea. No bluffs there but that just meant I could actually touch the water a bit. I really love the sea.

Then I backtracked a little to the Tidal Falls Preserve in Hancock– a cool place where the water is very narrow indeed and the push and pull of the tides creates almost a sort of rapids in the channels beside this little island in the middle of a very small channel.

I continued down to Hancock Point and Carter’s Beach, more of these lovely granite beaches with such interesting rock patterns and lots of kelp and seaweed.

My last main plan of the day was a visit to Lamoine Beach, directly across from Mount Desert Island. We had a sudden fog bank roll in a quickly disappear, but it remained pretty windy. It is a lovely, sandy beach, but the park is pretty small–there’s a state park just up the road but I didn’t bother with it, I imagine it’s much the same.

I also took a little stop at Egypt Bay (because I could not not), an arm of the Mount Desert Narrows within walking distance of my accommodation. Then I headed back into Ellsworth to a) get my National Park pass for Wednesday b) visit Big Chicken Barn antiques and books, because why not, and c) get dinner.

Wednesday, I was on the road at 6:00 to try and see if I could manage some nice non-crowd time at Acadia National Park (everyone in New England seems to know that it’s pretty and also extremely crowded all summer {I guess unsurprising when it’s the only national park in the region and it gets a lot of Boston and New York vacations, along with everyone else}). Please bear in mind, I use the term “mountain” in what follows because that’s what things are called, not because I endorse any of these features to bear the name.

I wasn’t super intent on anything specific in the park so I didn’t mind totally missing some of the major attractions in favor of other hikes that I was confident would still be pretty and probably more enjoyable for me. To start with, I went for the trail to Parkman Mountain-Gilmore Peak-Sargent Mountain. Sargent is, I believe, the second tallest point on the island and, since the tallest is both extremely popular and also has a road to the top, I was perfectly happy with my view of Cadillac (and actually much of the island) from Sargent. It was a pretty difficult hike, lots of ups and downs, but a pretty one. Cute, pink granite everywhere, the scent of balsams, views of water, nice trees, all around good times.

After collecting myself for a sec in the parking lot (wow was I grateful to have gotten a parking spot; there was only one other vehicle when I arrived at 6:40 and when I left, cars were parked along the road for quite a ways–and this was the less popular side), I headed to Beech Mountain. A very brief, hot, crowded hike for which I was one parked on the side of the road a ways away from the parking lot. But it was a lovely little mountain and some neat views from a little fire tower one could climb up just a little ways.

From there, I only had a couple more places I had decided to check out so I got driving. I stopped along the Seawall for some more beachy time and to have salt water in my life intimately again. I love the sea. Then I headed to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse which involved a long wait in the car (no roadside parking allowed) and in the event, wasn’t all that interesting.

The last thing I wanted to do before heading out was stop in Bar Harbor, the main town on the island (there are other towns, intermixed with the park, it was all a little settled-feeling, not my typical National Park experience heretofore but that’s neither here nor there).

Anyway, I learned that some French guy called it the island of deserted mountains because the tops are mostly bare granite, so that’s why it’s called Mount Desert Island (there is a Mount Desert, it’s a pretty small one, not sure how they picked that one). Bar Harbor was cute but so, and I cannot emphasize this enough, crowded. Now, it’s not like it was Disneyland and people were seriously packed it. But it was a lot more than I found at all enjoyable and it was compounded by there being a lot of cars because it’s kind of hard to get to even though they have a bus system that seems decent (I had wanted to take it onto the island but my desire to head out super early won that debate).

Anyway again, cute town, lots of people, got some wild blueberry things because Maine is super into that, I’ve learned, had a little walk, got food, headed back to dear old Hancock for some leftover pizza and time to relax.

Tomorrow, the current plan is one more preserve hike in Hancock (Old Rail), driving over to the Schoodic peninsula which is part of the National Park on the mainland, and then heading to Augusta for the night. I’m hoping it’ll be some lovely nature and a fond farewell to the sea for another while. And then hopefully a nice afternoon/evening in a new-to-me state capital.

This vacation was so needed, I’m so glad I could have my birthday time away from work and life and everything. Moving will still be madness but it’ll be over quickly and that’ll be that. I’m refusing to look forward much because I just don’t want to and that’s okay. Christmas will be here soon enough and that’ll be nice. Something to get me through to December. And then I guess I’ll need to plan my next time to get away and pretend that’s all there is–away.

Just a Little Longer

I’m hoping that this will be the last ‘I’m tired and have little to say’ posts for a while. They’ll be back, inevitably, but hopefully the end of the month will bring some relief. I’m really hoping.

This week was a little extra rough, in no small part because of Very Hot. However, I do count myself lucky to have been able to escape at least partially to a different swimming hole each day, Friday through Sunday, for a little respite. Still hot but with adequate cool off mechanisms in place. So got some nice reading in.

Things seem to be moving ahead with my new living situation as well so also hoping that’ll be settled and also that it’ll be a nice situation. Indications are that it will be just fine, I’m just a teensy bit worried because of who I am as a person but I’m clamping down on it at least until I move in and have some ground to stand on.

It is starting to look like August will be a fairly busy month as well but it will be voluntarily busy for the most part (other than moving) and so that’ll be nice. I’m actually doing things and seeing people and what an adventure. I’ve got two on call days to get through–today and tomorrow–and crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to manage my other job okay too, and then Maine! It’s really what is getting me through, if I haven’t said so a thousand times before.

I’m worried that it’ll end up being a rather stressful trip just because this is not the right time to take a vacation for my undergrad job but it was a great time for my high school job which is what had and expected to keep having when I planned it and, you know, spent money. I’m glad that I can keep it and only be doing one job upon my return but still, lots going on at work for that and it’s probably going to be awful when I come back, regardless if how beautifully my coworkers cover.

Anyway, good luck to us all in reaching the weekend. One step at a time. Have some flowers. And, obviously, cat.

Not Nearly Close Enough to August Yet

It’s been a pretty busy week here. Or, I guess that’s not quite it, it’s more been a draining week. I have not had too much going on other than work and, thankfully, I have not had to deal with too many major issues there. I’ve just been “at work” at home quite a bit this week. I’ve got one more evening on call shift today (after trying my best to take it easy for the day work I need to do) and then I’ve got a three day weekend. After a short morning meeting tomorrow to summarize the night shift for the next crew.


We’re doing our best here and really looking forward to August. I’m hoping that my birthday vacation to Maine will not be marred by stress–work stress since I’ll be done with the one thing but still have lots to do for the other job and life stress since I’ll need to be moving pretty much immediately after my return.

But I am determined to go to Maine and to enjoy myself. It’s been the major thing for me to look forward to since I think February when I booked it. And I will really, really need it. If you have any big Maine thoughts, feel free to share. I’ll be staying near Acadia National Park so I’m excited about that. I may also not end up doing too much else because I may want to kind of zonk out. But I’m always open to suggestions.

In other but related news, I purchased a reusable vacuum-suck mattress bag so that’s exciting. I really like my foam mattress and it had previously been stored in a normal bag that was sealable but not really meant for vacuum-sucking and it probably wasn’t the best way to keep it strapped in for a couple years. This bag seems better, made for vacuums, and comes with its own straps. The thrill of a lifetime (I haven’t actually gotten it yet, just ordered it, so it may end up being a disappointment but we’ll only really find that out when I am actually moving so).

It has also been quite hot here. Not as hot as some places in the world (grateful for once to not be in London) but still plenty, especially when I’ve been attached to my computer the past few nights instead of exploring more swimming holes. But hoping to remedy that a bit in the coming days.

That’s really all for now. I am dreading packing up; I like to think I am good at sticking things in boxes and making it happen but my parents are all much more talented at that than I. Likely, I will just end up making several trips which is fine since it’s not very far but still, bleh. Also, as always, feel free to send pictures of your cats so I can stick them on here. I love all cats and variety is the spice of life.

A Taste of Summer

So I think I have a pretty promising lead on housing which is nice. You know I know it’s not over until it’s over, though, and nothing’s been signed so we’re still just hoping on that. It would be a convenient move and I may save a little money, which is always a benefit, especially in times like these. Really, I’ll be lucky to find anything at all decent and affordable. Time will tell (though I’m hoping I won’t have to wait too long to know, one way or another).

There hasn’t been too much else going on for me this week. Just work bleh and housing bleh. I did make lime bars last weekend which turned out well. With mint shortbread crust. I’m pretty pleased overall but they are so very citrusy that I can only handle about two bites at a time which is a bit of a problem since my landfamily are on vacation so it’s just me eating them. We’ll manage, I’m sure. Lime feels very summery, at least, so that helps.

I’ve been trying to focus on enjoying the sun and green while I may, knowing that the days are already shorter and autumn is right around the corner so it’s basically nearly winter again already. But I’m trying not to think like that! Enjoy the sun and green while I may, enjoy the sun and green, enjoy…

It’s a little frustrating since in most other ways, I cannot wait for July to be over but that also means rushing summertime, which I am loath to do. Sometimes, you just can’t win. Time marches on at the same pace as ever, whether we wish it to move faster or linger. Gather ye rosebuds &ct. I think maybe I’ve been thinking about that phrase (and “while ye may”) too much lately but also it’s probably for the best.

Camaro, Pretty Princess

It has been a very long week for me here. This whole month is shaping up to be madness at work, that’s mostly it. I also need to find a new place to live. And I have the very sad duty to inform you that Camaro is no longer with us.

A moment for this very soft, very sweet pretty kitty

There really isn’t a whole lot more going on. I’d tell you about the Brattleboro fireworks display which I was meant to have a great view of from the back yard but instead I was inside, working. I did at least make a chocolate cream pie earlier that day which was nice.

I’m afraid I don’t have much more blog post in me but at least I will have a three day weekend after what I’m sure will be another long day today. Good luck, all.

More than just Pride but also, Pride

This week, Brattleboro saw its latest sunsets of the year and I spent some time outside to bear them witness. As you know, it is not unusual for me to tear up a bit when catching sight of, you know, the sky or a flower or some trees or some water. I am easily overcome by beauty in nature. Sometimes, my eyes are full because I feel unworthy–knowing what I know of myself and also all humanity–to see such wonderful things. Sometimes, it is simply joy and gratitude. Sometimes, it is grief–that such beauty is fleeting, that it is being destroyed, that it is not available to all.

I have had a couple such moments this week, much needed in the midst of a whole lot going on at work. I am grateful to work, when I need to be in person, on a beautiful campus with some lovely old farm-type buildings and a superb view of the valley. I am grateful to live across the street from a large park and just a couple minutes from a covered bridge and splendid creek.

I am also, as always, grateful for the cats in my life (virtually, at least).

When I think about Pride, I think about a lot of things. One of them is how my pride is all my own because I am a human person with dignity and individuality and beauty. I can celebrate who I am, own who I am, feel at home in my soul. My pride reminds me that while I have plenty of work to do on myself, this one attribute is exactly as it should be.

But this pride is also my community’s as we share in an identity and exist together in a way that we don’t exist with others. We struggle together–among ourselves and with the majority that isn’t like us–and we rejoice together. Our pride reminds us that we aren’t alone, that there are others like us, and that people out there are for us not just against us.

And this pride can also be all of ours–everyone on this planet–as part of the rich fabric of the human experience across time and place. We can learn from one another, if we pay attention in love. In much the same way, this celebration of pride can lead those of us without uteruses to support those who do have them by helping them celebrate and care for themselves in the ways they choose. I wanted to say more about this but I’m not sure what I could add but I thought the least I could do is be clear in my love and support for women and their bodily rights.

Yesterday evening, I went with a friend to finally visit my first Vermont swimming hole. It’s a term I didn’t realize people actually used in this century but people around here have lots of them and they talk about them often, now that it’s summer. It is very quaint, very Vermont. Mostly, they’re just good places in little streams and rivers.

Can confirm, this one was very pretty. And I won’t tell you where it is, you’ll just have to come visit me.

Summertime Ambitions

The summer solstice found us here in Vermont just after five in the morning on Tuesday. I woke up right around that time and spent a moment in gratitude to the sun. In fact, it was pretty overcast all day almost as if to emphasize how important daylight is to me.

Rest assured, weather, I am extremely grateful for every moment of warm sun I can get. Even when it’s too hot, even when I’ve exhausted my sunning allotment for the day, even when my apartment occasionally loses it’s cool. This spring (and now summer), I have been feeling extraordinarily grateful for all the warm and sun and green I can get. I know the long winter of Michigan was rough for me; I can’t tell if this is like that or worse.

Either way, I am trying to focus on the present and not how fleeting this season is in this place. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may &ct &ct &ct. Not that I’ve got any rosebuds waiting for me, exactly, but we do what we can.

I was talking with a friend recently about ambition. I don’t think I’m a very ambitious person but he corrected me by saying, “Your form of ambition is just not the form recognized by our society.” Which made me feel better.

Wanting things from life is a kind of ambition, after all, and I certainly want things from life. Wanting things from life, of course, is different from just any old wanting of things. I want an induction burner and and I want to pet cats and I want to read aloud to friends and I want more ice cream. But what do I want from life? My friend put it very succinctly:

  1. A happy relationship
  2. A low-pressure, friendly working environment
  3. Freedom to enjoy nature
  4. To live in New Zealand

I think that’s actually a pretty comprehensive list. And at least 75% feels like definitively not too much to ask which isn’t a bad ratio. We’re working on it.

And in the meantime, I can just read outside in the sun, exulting in the summer and letting that be enough for now. That’s about all I want of life in this season.

I taste a liquor never brewed–

Remember that time the US totally banned alcohol for drinking? In all its domains? The US had a population right around 100 million in 1920 and was the fourth most populous country in the world. And people were like, yep, sound like a plan, let’s do it. I’m not really a major proponent of alcohol but I just think that’s a super bonkers historical event.

There were so many different groups pushing for prohibition for so many different reasons. But clearly, none of them really understood how the country would react and how the consequences would play out. I think an additional level of wild is how those dry forces didn’t pass a law against alcohol–they made it a constitutional amendment!

It doesn’t seem all that possible to really tell the full effects of Prohibition. There weren’t loads of super accurate statistics about much of anything, much less things that were now nearly crimes (drinking technically wasn’t illegal but since making and transporting and selling alcohol was…). There does seem to have been a modest decrease in alcohol consumption overall and perhaps even in violent crime–though clearly the exceptions to both stand out much more in our collective memory (love a good speakeasy and 20s mob depiction).

Even so, laws are only effective as far as they are enforced and as long as they endure. The repeal of Prohibition after just a few years means, incontrovertibly, that it was not successful to me. Some states continued dry laws into the 1960s and some smaller dry communities exist today but those are easy enough to get around if one wishes.

I would like to share with you a small blurb from the Wikipedia article on the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Now, I know that’s not exactly premium source material and this bit is maybe a bit liberal with narrative but I trust that you will see what I’m saying without further explanation:

The phrase “intoxicating liquor” would not logically have included beer and wine (as they are not distilled), and their inclusion in the prohibition came as a surprise to the general public, as well as wine and beer makers. This controversy caused many Northern states to not abide by the amendment, which caused some problems. The brewers were probably not the only Americans to be surprised at the severity of the regime thus created. Voters who considered their own drinking habits blameless, but who supported prohibition to discipline others, also received a rude shock. That shock came with the realization that federal prohibition went much farther in the direction of banning personal consumption than all local prohibition ordinances and many state prohibition statutes. National Prohibition turned out to be quite a different beast than its local and state cousins.

It feels really relevant to right now but I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, really. Mostly, I just went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and, though I didn’t really learn anything new, exactly, it still felt illuminating. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–governance is hard. But also, like, why is it like this, can we please not

General Not-So-Well-fare

It has been raining pretty heavily all morning so far and I have been loving it. I appreciate the sound on the roof, the thick grey of the near distance obscured by water, the shiny green of everything outside my window, the cool and gentle and diffuse morning light.

Today, I am wishing that my country’s constitution were a better tool to form a more perfect union. I wish that it actually established justice, promoted the general welfare, and secured the blessings of liberty for everyone (though everyone is explicitly not what it says).

Politics is hard, no two ways about it. But how hard–both in degree and manner–is totally flexible. Governance, I guess, might be a less weighty term.

Anyway, cat

Hospitality of the Human Spirit

There’s a phrase I heard some time ago and, like many things, I stuck it in my notes app without any context or attribution as an idea I may someday want to write a blog post about. The time has now come, as this phrase has really been on my mind lately. I don’t have thoughts on it, or not really much to say, but the idea itself feels worth saying: “hospitality of the human spirit.”

Sibling love

One of my favorite choral-orchestral works, Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, concludes with a repetition of “goodwill toward men” (a line of Christmas fame) that decrescendos from triumphant and powerful to whispered and uncertain. It makes me think: where is goodwill to be found? Where is hospitality of the spirit to be found?

Generosity is wonderful. An attitude of kindness is terrific. A moment of graciousness is a gift. I do strive to do all of those things with, I think, moderate success. But today, I’m wondering how it differs–these individual actions–from being possessed of a spirit of hospitality and goodwill. A goodwill toward others that makes us not only desire good for them but also work to see it done.

I read a book this week where a character was desperately searching for some goodwill and hospitality of the spirit–desperately and in many ways subconsciously. He occasionally received it from others, mostly in the form of common courtesy, given without thinking by the giver. And I think that’s a key to making one’s life a life of hospitality and goodwill: to be able to provide them even when neither the recipient nor the giver are necessarily aware that they are being given.

I’m not sure that goodwill is enough to solve the problems of our lives and our world. But I’m not sure solving problems is enough either.