Saturday, May 26, 2007

This coming week


It’s shaping up to be a grand Memorial Day holiday for Susie and I here in Winter Harbor.

This particular Memorial Day is very special indeed for at least two reasons. First, and perhaps most relevant to this holiday itself is that after almost twenty years and thousands of primary source pages later at last at last the history of the Third Michigan Infantry is available for electronic distribution. (photo: checking lobster traps near Schoodic Point.)

Second we are moving ever forward on our quest to change our lives, from living in the comfort of Vermont where the daily cycles of our world revolved with a known routine and a feeling of comfort and security, to a world of uncertainty and absence of clarity, but one defined equally by truly amazing adventures in both time and space.

The people we have met and the friends we have kept. I like that, for it defines how we have come to see our lives.

As we gear up here in our new home in Winter Harbor, getting workspaces ready for the serious baking Susie is about ready to undertake, the challenges that await both of us working together – that’s right I’ll be doing all sorts of things at Gerrish’s Café this summer as well – as take our evening stroll along the edge of the Atlantic pondering the future and knowing that time in one’s life moves so quickly, as we wonder about where this fall we bring us, take us, lead us, we know only that nearly two years ago we have made the right decision.

Sell the house, pack everything into storage and spend some time enjoying the very brief, time we are given on this earth, looking for the smooth stones to hold and appreciate, always mindful to step over the sharp ones.

This weekend we spend much of our holiday cleaning and preparing Susie’s new pastry kitchen, and doing what we can to help get Gerrish’s Café ready to open in early June.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Friday, May 25, 2007

One extreme to the other: Paris to Winter Harbor


It's hard to believe frankly that it’s been a week since we first moved in to the apartment above Mama’s Boy café in Winter Harbor. It seems much longer. But its been that way now for the past couple of years: move somewhere, rush around getting the necessary things for a household set up, getting into a new groove. Time becomes compressed. (photo: from Schoodic Point, France is right there over that horizon.)

But we are in fact settled in at last; the furniture rearranged, pantry stocked, those seemingly endless number of things one needs to get a home up and running have been put in their respective places (of course I’m still learning where Susan put everything) and we are now ready to get on with the next phase of our life. And each day as we linger over morning coffee, reflect on how truly amazing all this has been, we are here in the first place. If someone had told us six months ago, while we were walking the streets of Paris, that by late spring we would be living, living mind you and working, in a little café along the seacoast of Downeast Maine, not two hours from New Brunswick, Canada, we would have probably though them crazy.

But here we are.

From a city number in the millions to a village barely able to muster a few hundred registered voters. From a city of gardens, museums, and seemingly limitless culture to a village huddled at the end of Henry Cove overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with one Main Street and a tiny music hall to fulfill man’s desire for something more than work provides. From a city of man’s energy to one where man seems content to watch nature work its energy on the planet.

From one extreme to the other.

Our life “there” so very, very far from the life unfolding for us “here,” and yet we could hardly have chosen a place in the United States is geographically closer to France than Winter Harbor (OK probably Lubec, Maine).

Tres cool, eh?

Wish you were here,

Steve

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park

Although we've only been living in Winter Harbor for just a few days we've gotten out to the beautiful Schoodic Point several times already. The entrance is only a few hundred meters from our apartment and is open 24 hours a day so it makes for a nice drive late in the evening to check out the night sky.

Anyway here's a little bit of daytime video footage to give you some idea of what the area is like:



Wish you were here,

Steve

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Settled in at last. Sort of.

We packed the car (once again) and amidst continual rain left Orono mid-morning on Friday. An hour or so later, after several construction traffic snarls on route 1 east of Ellsworth, we cruised into Winter Harbor. As we pulled up to the restaurant where we will be living the rain seemed to intensify, making our unloading challenging. But before long we had the car unpacked and began the assessment of what was needed to get us settled into this space for the next several months. While Susan began cleaning I returned the 25 miles or so to Ellsworth to buy groceries for our larder. (The only grocery store in Winter Harbor is a small IGA with limited, and I mean very limited supply of fresh foods.)

Forty-eight hours later we are pretty much settled in. Sunday things are quiet here in WH although we sense that will change in the next several weeks. Anyway, we’re slowly finding our groove here: in fact I’ve already cooked twice, fresh tuna the first night (fresh fish comes in daily in Ellsworth) and then roast pork the second night. Anyway places to eat out are in very short supply – although the one and only restaurant in WH, the Fisherman’s Inn, is directly across the street from our apartment. Naturally we wonder what the fish is like. . .

We’ve driven to Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Point twice already. The park entrance is only about a quarter of a mile from our apartment, but unfortunately the weather has been so lousy lately we’ve done our exploring by car only. Still it’s going to be a great place to spend some quality time walking and biking (we hope) later this summer.

So we’re home at last – at least for a little while anyway.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Monday, May 14, 2007

Our home in Winter Harbor

Over the years I've been fortunate to have spent a fair amount of time in restaurants, usually eating. Never in my wildest dreams, after all our permabulations in Italy and Paris would I have imagined we would ever be living in a restaurant. Nonetheless Susan and I started moving our things into our new home, a small studio apartment above a restaurant in Winter Harbor, where we will be spending the summer. It is just a couple blocks' walk to Gerrish's Cafe, where we will be working starting in June, and smack in the middle of town overlooking the cove which opens out onto the Gulf of Maine:

Notice the deck on top which is easily accessed through our apartment.

The view from the front of the restaurant is spectacular (although it was cold and rainy when I took these photos):

The restaurant is closed while it undergoes a transformation into a culinary school, so there it will just be the two of us and the ghosts of diners past roaming the cavernous interior. The photo below shows a view of the second or mezzanine level looking across at the stairway to our apartment on the third level (you can just barely see the door to our apartment). The kitchens are directly below.

This view was taken from midway up the stairs to our apartment (you can see them in the above photo) and was designed so the people eating on this level could look right down onto the working area, rather like a surgical operating theatre:

Quite an imaginative design for a restaurant we thought. Anyway, the interior of the apartment is pretty straightforward: simple studio layout, long and rectangular with dormer windows on the opposite side from a well-appointed kitchen that actuallly looks out over the open space of the restaurant. Besides the an entrance from the restaurant there is a door leading to the outside and then onto a spiral staircase that in turn leads to a large deck on the roof. The apartment comes with washer/dryer and a full kitchen.





So we finish moving in this week and hope to have the place shipshape by the weekend. I'll be adding more photos later as well as a video clip or two as we settle in.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Off to Winter Harbor!

Well we're in Orono, Maine.

We drove here in under five hours from southern Massachusetts amidst a regionwide heatwave: 90 degrees is a bit on the warm side here right now but it will cool off tomorrow, particularly once we get to the coast.

Susan and I are staying with her sister Joyce and family in Orono, just north of Bangor and only about an hour drive from Winter Harbor. The plan will be to connect up with our contact in WH so we can pick up the keys to both our new apartment as well as possible temporary living quarters. (Our water in the apartment won't be on until May 16 we're told.) The cool thing is the WiFi is on. . .

So we will head off from here late morning, pick up the keys and check out the apartment to see what we'll need to bring next time and what needs to be cleaned, etc. After dropping off some of our things it's back to Orono for the night.

Once we're settled in we hope that our household goods coming from Paris will have been delivered to Dick and Dorothy's house before June 1 when we'll start ramping things up at the Cafe. Once that stuff arrives we'll drive a rental van down south, pick through the things we'll need for the summer and then bring all that back north. Dick and Dorothy have been gracious enough to let us leave everything else in their basement.

Meanwhile, our things in storage in Rutland will remain there for at least the time being.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the answer is "no," we wouldn't have changed anything at all. This has been and continues to be a grand adventure indeed. I can't wait t get the video clips from Schoodic Point and from the pastry kitchen in the cafe online. . .

Wish you were here,

Steve

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Back to Massachusetts

After breakfast Saturday morning, May 5, we left New Jersey and headed off to Massachusetts. We skirted the NJ Turnpike and the Big Apple, choosing to steer clear of any serious traffic hangups and motored right on through Connecticut where we took back roads to Douglas, MA.

Dick and Dorothy arranged a family dinner that evening and it was nice to catch up (!) with Susan's Uncle Frank and Susan's sister Mary. It was good to be able to just relax for a few days until we have to head north and begin our next adventure: a summer of fun along the Maine seacoast!

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Road trip, Penn to New Jersey

Compliments of Mapquest we easily found our way to Dick and Kathy's house in southeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, to show you how far they live out in the country, we have been to their house probably a half dozen times in as many years and yet we still need detailed directions to end up in their driveway.

But it's always worth the search and we spent a couple of days catching up (of course) and just lounging around with good food and even better camaraderie. On Thursday Susan and I drove over to nearby Longwood Gardens, on one of the old DuPont estates and enjoyed an afternoon out in the beautiful sunshine and blue skies, strolling among the fresh flowers. You can see photos of some of these wonders online. Just click here!)

Thursday night we joined Kathy and the three of us -- dick stayed home with their youngest girl who had homework to do -- went to see their oldest girl in a school play, Bye Bye Birdie. (coincidentally we had seen a niece in the same play some years earlier.) Any way it was a grand time and frankly I rather like school plays -- perhaps it reminds me of when I was in drama club in high school probably one of the best times in my life I suppose.

Friday we had a leisurely morning over coffee and ceral before saying goodbye to our hosts. It seems the past month or so has been a string of hellos and goodbyes. Anyway we piled our stuff in the car and headed north again, edging our way back to Dick and Dorothy's house in Massachusetts.

But before we returned we had one last stop to make, this one in New Jersey to visit Guy and Anna Maria. In fact this was the first time we had seen Guy in the US -- we first met him in the fall of 2005 in Siena and again in November of 2006 in Paris. Now here we were visiting him and Anna Maria in their corner of rural New Jersey, just outside of Princeton. Guy was a consummate artist, having worked in pottery, paintings and now digital photography, and his house was a combination studio and living space.

Friday evening we joined Guy and Anna Maria for dinner at their place, Guy cooking up a series of Italian specialtgies. Also joining us was another couple, Alan and Gail, Princeton locals of a sort -- they had lived there for some 30 years or so ever since they attended Princeton.

It was alively evening of conversation, quiet arguing and gentle disagreements over one thing or another, but we all agreed on the great food. Frankly I loved the lighting over the dining room table. As you can see from the short video below Guy, who has lived in this place for 30 years or so, has strung a large number of different types of colorful lights directly above the dining table. The effect was tres cool.



The next morning we joined Guy and Anna Maria for breakfast at a nearby cafe. Anna maria informed us that she was returning to Paris later in May for work and aske dif there was anyone we wanted her to see and say hi to or if there was anything she could do for us. Susie said you bet and arranged with Anna Maria to have her take a little something to Paris for her friend Misato who works at Pascal's.

So after saying au revoir continued our trek northward.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

In between states

We said goodbye to Mannie and Virginia and their new home in Boonsboro, Maryland head south and east toward Washington, DC.

The plan for the day was to meet up with Ann C at her home in Arlington, have lunch, drive to Alexandria National Cemetery to visit several Third Michigan Infantry buried there, then on to Pennsylvania to stay with Dick and Kathy.

You know what? It worked just like it was supposed to work. Plus we had another beautiful day to work with.

The drive into Washington went smoothly, traffic was light -- we pretty much beat rush hour snarls -- although construction near the city center held us up for a few minutes. Anyway we met up with Ann and the three of us walked to a nearby Metro stop where we caught a train just two stops to Farragut West. (Made us feel like we were back in Paris, sort of.) A couple of blocks later we swung into the Bread Line, a funky salad and sandwich shop where the three of us sat and ate lunch and caught up with all the news. (By now we had become experts in catching up it seems.)

Ann and Susan had been students together at Le Cordon Bleu and became fast friends. Ann quickly found a job in Washington working for one of the major hotel chains and enjoys it. She was eager to hear all about Susan's upcoming pastry job in Maine and of course Susie wanted to hear all about how pastry life was in the hotel business. It was good to see Ann again -- she has one of those infectious personalities that just exudes enthusiasm and optimism and is a just a pleasure to be around.

But then we've been so very lucky to find ourselves surrounded by people who have constantly shown us nothing but encouragement and support. From Maine to Michigan to Virginia to Maryland to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and beyond.

After leaving Ann back at her apartment we drove a few short miles to Alexandria and quickly found the national cemetery but fumbled around the city center looking for the entrance. The quirky thing is that this small cemetery is in fact part of a complex of 13 cemeteries in Alexandria.

We spent about a half hour looking for a half dozen Third Michigan soldiers whose lives ended in nearby hospitals and whose remains rest quietly in the shadow of skyscraper apartments and boutique shops. (Rather like the military section of Vaugirard cemetery in the 15th aqrrondissemment in Paris, where the remains of soldiers who died in the nearby hospital of Les Invalides are buried.)

Leaving the cemetery we quickly found our way to I-95, conveniently located nearby in fact, and headed north to the Mason Dixon line and Pensylvania.

Next stop Pennsylvania!

I have a job, too

It was twenty-six years ago this summer that Susie and I met while working the night shift in SICU back in Virginia and now it seems that we've come full circle.

On May 3 Patrick emailed and asked me if I would consider working at the cafe as well! Apparently they need someone to pick up various loose shift ends as well as perhaps sell at the local farmer's market and whatever else might need doing during the summer. Naturally I said yes!

While there will probably be no water fights this time (but who knows) it plans to be one special summer indeed. This while affair is getting more curious by the minute it seems.

The adventure continues.

Ciao,

Steve

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Detours, Gettysburg

After a wonderful walk along the C and O canal the three of us returned home where we soon met up with Mannie. Since it was getting to be lunchtime we fixed ourselves somne sandwiches and soon afterwards the four of us piled into their car and headed north to the Pennsylvania state line.

Less than an hour later we pulled into the Gettysburg National Park, one of the country's most famous historical places to be sure, although as Mannue reminded us, Antietam is perhaps the most pristine of the Civil War battlefields.

Anyway, Mannie had heard through the ranger grapevine that lots of environmental changes were underway in Gettysburg and we were eager to discover the truth of the rumor.

Rumor in this case turned out to be fact. We noted major clearing projects underway near the Peace memorial as well as between Big Round Top and the Devil's Den (photo below):

Our first stop was at the Peace Memorial where Mannie explained a few of the finer points of being a Civil War cannoneer. As he was talking two guys standing nearby overhead his comments and one stepped over to ask a few questions. Well it you know Mannie you know he is the consummate teacher. Anyway, here's a video clip from Gettysburg:



We also stopped at the Devil's Den, and then the Peach Orchard, near the spot where the Third Michigan Infantry was engaged on July 2, 1863, and which is in the process of being replanted apparently. As you can see from the clip we also stopped at the newly rennovated Pennsylvania monument. You can now climb to the top for a superb view of this section of the battlefield.

We paid our respects to James "Old Pete" Longstreet before leaving the park and heading home. Not before stopping at one of the nearby toy so9ldier stores so Mannie could pick up his birthday present (compliments of Virginia Rose), a selection of Union and Confederate toy soldiers for his collection.

The four of us got back in the car and left Gettysburg behind as we headed back south to the Mason Dixon line and Boonsboro, Maryland. Mannie fixed one of his world-famous pizzas that evening and we slept like babies that night.

What a day, huh?

Ciao,

Steve

Oh, and Mannie eyed this relic near the Peace Memorial which Virginia kindly points out for us:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Detours, C and O Canal and a tower on South Mountain

Since Mannie had some work to do at the park -- actually he was interviewing a descendant of one of the families whose farm was smack in the middle of the battlefield -- Susie, Virginia and I decided it was too nice a day to be inside we we struck off to nearby Williamsport where we planned to walk a short section of the C and O Canal.

We left the car at Cushwa's Basin, where the canal boats used to turn around, and strolled a bit up the canal in the direction of Cumberland, Maryland.

It was a gorgeous day for a walk and we couldn't have picked a better place for it. I recalled with great fondness strolling a part of the canal down by Great Falls many years ago when I lived in Bethesda, Maryland. Anyway I thought it was slightly eerie to be walking in the middle the old canal acqueduct, now with one sidewall missing and dry as a bone. Plus it must have looked rather odd for passersbys in the days when the canal was a going concern to see a boat passing over a bridge spanning a river. . .

Here's just a short video clip to let you see what we saw:



So after we left the canal we drove back to Boonsboro. Just outside of town Virginia took us to the top of nearby South Mountain where we toured the tower there, in Washington Monument State Park.

(For you Francophiles note the English use of the verb "to tour" with tower -- something I learned this past winter, that "tour" is of course French for tower. Ah the oddities of language.)

Anyway here's a short clip from the top of the mountain and the "tour":



And this was all just during the morning! There's plenty more to come!
Ciao,

Steve