Monday, June 26, 2006

My week of isolation over, I've officially returned to the land of daily toil. There is a certain amount of groundedness to be derived from the daily routine, no?

Here in Maine, the summer season is about to kick into full swing. I confess I'm a little apprehensive. It happens every year around July 4th weekend and continues pretty much nonstop until Labor Day. This summer is special because I'm no longer at the store every day. I'm theoretically free to come and go as I please, although my mind is never quite free.

As those of you who live in tourist destinations may be aware, the arrival of tourist season is rather like the arrival of the locusts. Where I live, we go from a population of 910 to easily 3,000 people.

They all love the area as much as I do, and many of them have a decades-old history with the place. So when they arrive, they immediately claim a certain amount of dominant familiarity that sometimes borders on... arrogance? They're re-starting the clock at precisely the moment they left last year, and we're left to behave as if the last 11 months never happened. Locals freely trespass on these people's property in the winter, peeking into windows, using their beaches, cutting down their trees for firewood, and then they feign complete benevolent ignorance during the summer. Altering their dog-walking routine so that the summer folks can think their "private property" signs actually work. (What a shock to discover that sad truth when I transitioned from summer person to year-rounder. What? You mean everybody knows my supposedly secret, sacred spots?!)

You can see it played ouy on the roads, too. We go from Subarus and pickups to Volvos and too-clean BMW SUVs. They either speed and tailgate and honk impatiently, or they play Farmer John and drive the Volvo at 15 miles per hour because, goodness knows, everybody here is retired, on vacation, and otherwise has nothing important to do.

And that's the ultimate problem, managing the peaceful coexistence of people who are working fulltime and those who are on summer vacation or - in the case of the independently wealthy - on permanent vacation. The locals depend on these people for their livelihood, yet they often despise them for what they see as a life of ease and comfort. And the people from away (PFAs as we call them) distrust the locals implicitly, routinely malign them to one another ("These people just aren't educated," one person actually told me), and yet they depend on them to take care of their cherished summer properties.

Never have I lived in a place with such a stark line drawn between the haves and the have-nots.

Likewise, the dos and the do-nots. It's a challenge to be around nothing but people on vacation and to NOT be on vacation yourself. Not just anybody but very dear friends and family members with whom you want to play. So you dance the dance and do your best and then poof, Labor Day arrives and they all quite suddenly disappear. And after all the annoyance and frustration and challenges, you feel genuinely sad and just a wee bit like a kid left behind at the fair.

So there you have it. Another summer in Maine!

Friday, June 23, 2006

For Bess, who understands that the world cannot possibly create enough peonies to make one woman fully happy (but that we should continue to try anyway)...


Just as the deep fuchsia peonies have started to drop their petals, the pink ones are starting to open up. I keep going outside and burying my face in these flowers to catch just one more whiff of their heavenly fragrance. Why must peonies bloom so briefly?

Enough distraction. Back to work!

The writing continues. I appreciate all your words of wisdom and advice. My so-called "rational mind" knows that everything is right where it's supposed to be. But the irrational mind, ah, that's a different story.

In celebration of having conquered the chapters on sheep and angora goats, and having received four truly stunning finished garments from two Mystery Designers (oh how I wish I could post pictures here), I spent the afternoon dreaming of buying an apartment in Paris.

And tonight, if I manage to conquer Mount Cashmere Goatius, I celebrate with a fish burger from the Country View Drive In—a summertime tradition up in these parts. Life doesn't get much better than this, I say.

p.s.-More delphiniums for Mary

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known to all that on this day, at 8:22am, I officially finished a half-gallon of milk before it expired. I offer the above as proof. This "being at home for a sustained period of time" stuff is nice.

Besides consuming large amounts of dairy products, how is my week of self-imposed solitary confinement going, you ask? Not too shabby. Unless you want to know how the actual work is going. Shabby. I'm finding that my concentration is about as constant as that of this little fellow, who was nipping about in the delphiniums this morning.

In case you're wondering about the inspired day of a procrastinator, it goes something like this:

Get up at 5am in the hopes of catching early inspiration.

Move workspace to another room in the house (in my case the kitchen table, because Casey wants to be on the porch, and he can't if I'm upstairs, which is where my office is).

Make a late-morning tea party complete with tray, pretty doilies, mother's wedding china, and copious amounts of tea. Caffeinated, of course.

Get giant Post-It pad at Staple's and write out entire outline. Decide that the kitchen is too small for Said Outline and move it out onto the porch.

Move cat off outline.

Stare at outline.

Start doodling on outline.

Tape snippets of yarn to outline.

Again, move cat off outline.

Return inside and make another pot of tea. Decide that you've had too much tea, so make lunch instead.

Become deeply engrossed in meal preparation. Decide that what you really need is fish to help with concentration. Get in car and drive to nearest town to purchase fish. Return home with a car full of groceries and research fish recipies. Then research nutritional qualities of couscous vs. rice. Decide on couscous. Decide to clean out fridge while putting groceries away.

Do dishes. Even if there are only two in the sink.

Wipe off countertops.

Decide the butcherblock countertop is dry and needs oiling.

Clear all material off countertop and apply oil.

Wait 30 minutes and wipe off excess oil.

Replace all material on countertop.

Realize that it's 5pm. Time to prepare dinner.

Prepare Said Dinner.

Realize that your workspace is on the kitchen table. Relocate workspace and set table.

Consume Said Dinner.

Gaze outside at a beautiful sunset and promise yourself that you'll do much better tomorrow.

(Oh, and then blog about it.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ahhh, home sweet home!

Hey wait a minute, I don't have goats. What the heck is going on?

Oh yes, now I remember. On my way up the coast I stopped off to visit the brilliant and ballsy Linda Cortright in her native habitat. Linda raises cashmere goats (a brood? gaggle? coven? what do you say for cashmere goats anyway?) including the lovely ones you see here, recently de-cashmered for summer.

In her abundant spare time, Linda also publishes a wee little thing called Wild Fibers Magazine, which I love. We sat out on her Italian marble patio sipping mojitos and being fed grapes by her legions of servants while discussing plans for world domination.

(OK most of that is true except the part about the patio, the mojitos, the grapes, and the servants.)

The drive from Linda's house to mine was lined with legions of lupine standing at full attention. Nothing says Maine in June like the lupine.

When I finally got home, I was greeted by a garden of old friends.

First, and most gratifying: the peonies! In particular, this deep scarlet early-blooming peony that I missed last year because I had to be away. She's a stunning, gargantuan peony with the most heavenly sweet exotic scent. Here she is, in all her glory.

Next on the list... the delphiniums. Oh, how I absolutely adore my delphiniums. In fact delphiniums and peonies are the two reasons I moved back east in the first place. Here's a deep blue one that shot up in my absence.

And finally, summer in Maine wouldn't be complete without rugosa roses. I'm carefully nurturing a mixed hedge of them out front, and they also began to bloom while I was away.

Lest you think this blog is just about flower gardening, all I can say is... oh, how wrong you are. It's about VEGETABLES too! The aforementioned mesclun lettuce and radishes were ready for harvest. As soon as I unpacked the car, I headed out back to prepare...


While I sat at the kitchen table enjoying every delicate morsel of that salad, Casey sat by my side, imagining enjoying every delicate morsel of this bird.

Thank goodness for windows.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh this is PATHETIC! How can it be that someone who produces so many words on a weekly basis can't update one sweet simple little blog for over two months?!

There's no excuse.

I'm headed home tomorrow for 13, count 'em THIRTEEN days--the longest single stretch I've spent at home since March. The latest journey was to Indianapolis for TNNA. I just got back late last night and am still trying to absorb everything I saw and all the people I met. Each TNNA gets more surreal, but this one in particular got to me.

Picture this: You find yourself face to face with someone you've admired since you were a wee lass, someone who had a strong impact on your career and your goals and dreams, someone you've never dared speak to before, and as you're trying to form a few incoherent words of appreciation they interrupt with, "Oh hey, I read your newsletter every week!"

So that was TNNA. There's lots of good stuff hitting the market, making the next few months of KR review material rather fun.

Other key points of the past two months: very busy. I cannot stress this enough. Busy like even a 30-minute phone call or impromptu visit from a neighbor is a serious setback and cause for distress. As someone who has always scheduled time to lollygag on the porch or play in the garden, having every waking moment programmed is not easy or pleasant for me. But it must be done. (BTW I'm currently dipping into bath time to write this. Fortunately you can't smell anything from where you are, so nobody will be the wiser.)

In garden news, the asparagus came up and was delicious. Last I was home, the strawberries were in full bloom and the raspberries were looking rather promising.

I'm looking forward to sampling the crop of radishes and lettuce that have come up since I was last home. I'm looking forward to seeing Casey. I'm looking forward to spending time in self-imposed solitary confinement to make progress on the book. And I'm looking forward to the luxury of buying a carton of milk and being home until expires. Little things make a difference.

And now, since no knitting blog is complete without at least one shot of a cat, here's your gratuitous Casey shot for the month.


Knitting content to follow, I promise.