Friday, August 31, 2007

Fog and quiet Winter Harbor

Fog again this morning but it stands little chance against the rising sun and is burning off as I write.

Winter Harbor has become quiet of late -- mornings at the cafe see hardly a soul, at least for the first hour or two, when we used to have folks standing outside the door waiting until we opened. Now the big rush is maybe a three-hour window from noon to three in the afternoon, for lunch.

Pastries still sell briskly, though. In fact just the other day Susan just got an order for twelve (12) blueberry pies to be picked up today, Friday! (photo: group sheannigans at Schoodic Point.)

Rosemary is starting to wind down the deli items in preparation for the post-Labor Day slowdown so there will be less food to go. But the cafe will continue to produce homemade baked goods after Susie leaves, since Rosemary will take up the job of baking after Labor Day. (She was trained as a pastry chef.) So breakfasts will still be a major focus of the cafe to be sure. And of course where else would you go for a great cup of coffee?!

The plan is that the cafe will be open 8-5 through Columbus Day, providing a breakfast and lunch menu, and presumably some food to go. The wonderful thing is that all this is homemade and made fresh every day! Something that simply cannot be found anywhere else on this side of Frenchman's Bay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Party at Gerrish's cafe

Monday night Gerrish's cafe closed early -- at 6 pm instead of 8 -- to say adieu to Alex and Lena, two of the Russians (OK Alex is from Byelorus) who will leave Winter Harbor this Thursday. They are off to Bangor then Boston and beyond.

Rosemary grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, shrimp and baby back ribs.

Natalie's mom, Margaret (photo below with Natalie), brought a salad and there was wine and a scrumptious Sangria, also compliments of Rosemary.


How delicious was the Sangria, you might ask? Well check this out: the rims of the glasses were all dipped in a mixture of raw sugar and coriander! Whoa was this stuff tasteeeee!

The original idea was to sit outside but here discretion was the better part of valor and we left the twilight to the mosquitoes (Winter Harbor is also locally know as Mosquito Harbor) and we ate in the relaxing, genteel atmosphere of the cafe itself:

Alex, who is obviously happy to be here:

Lidia, who, along with her friend Guzel, will be staying in Winter Harbor until the third week of September.

Alex and Guzel working for smores on the grill after dinner:

A good time was had by all!

Wish you had been there,

Steve

Less than a week left in Winter Harbor

Well it's official: in less than seven days we're outta Winter Harbor.

That's right folks, the day after Labor Day, next Tuesday we pack up the last of our stuff, say arrivederci and head off to Orono where we'll stay with Joyce and Carl for the night.

The next day, Wednesday, we'll drive down to Dick and Dorothy's house in Massachusetts. They have graciously been storing our stuff for some months now and are willing to take what remains here in Maine as well, and hold on to it until we find a place to settle. Sometimes I just don't know what we would've done without their generosity and kindness -- indeed without the kindness of all our family and friends. Their hospitality and warmth has made this transition in our lives so much easier and enjoyable.

Susie and I will most certainly miss Winter Harbor, though. Our daily walks at Schoodic Point (photo above), which juts out into the ocean (OK the Gulf of Maine), is often the highlight of our day here -- and that's not as boring as it may sound. In fact we went out there last evening. A full moon and a clear night made the view as spectacular as it is during the daytime, the seemingly limitless horizon and openness of the sea is utterly and absolutely addicting. It's gotten so bad that I get claustrophobic just driving to Bangor.

But it's time for the next phase of our lives and so we're off to Providence, RI.

We've already scheduled appointments to meet with one realtor in that small but big city and have identified at least a half dozen places online that might be worth a look. Our hope is to decide on a place and get the purchase process gooing before we leave for Paris so that we can close when we return in early November. Then it's get our stuff out of storage and see exactly what it is we have that we've been able to do without for nearly two years. . . .

Stay tuned!

Steve

(photo: by law everyone over 30 who comes to Maine must wear a goofy hat for at least one day a year.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Winter Harbor, at night

Susan exerpienced her first outing in a sea kayak Sunday afternoon: she joined Gerrish chef Rosemary and her assistant Alex in a three-hour ride around the coves near Corea Point. After she returned we had pizza at home and turned in early.

The heat here has been accompanied by unusually high humidity this past weekend but thankfully moderated by the cooling ocean breezes.

Along with the sticky humidity, however, came a stunningly beautiful sunset last evening, Sunday. (photos: taken from the rooftop of Mama's Boy.)

We have just over a week left at Gerrish's and in Winter Harbor and are starting to develop an eagerness to get on with the next phase of our lives. But more of that later.

Two of the staff finish this Wednesday and so tonight we close early and throw a small party for Alex and Lena who will be leaving for Byelorus and Russia respectively later this week. Rosemary will be grilling up her usual goodies: scallops, shrimp and baby back ribs plus fixing her own particular take on the Sangria concept. Should be yummy! I hope take some photos as well as video so stay tuned!

Wish you were here,

Steve

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fog, heat and broken things

It all seemed to start on last Thursday afternoon. Actually it probably began early that morning while everyone was sleeping. The hot water in the cafe stopped being, well, hot. It was first noticed when Jessica, living above the cafe, discovered that her shower water began cold and stayed cold. Bit by bit the revelation dawned on the staff that there was trouble afoot and no one knew where to turn. At first. (photo: continuing work at the Schoodic sculpture symposium.)

Calls were made to the owners and other calls were made to various technicians scattered in diverse locations throughout the state. Fortunately it wasn't serious since the dishwashers and coffee machines all heated their own water (convenient, eh?). But this was just the tip of the iceberg, like they said on the Titanic.

Early Friday morning a plumber came by and fixed the boiler problem (a confabulator directing heat to a wacamotor in the boiler was in serious need of replacement). Then it was discovered that the dishwasher in the kitchen was broken. (There is also one in the front of the cafe near the coffee machine.) A solenoid had malfunctioned! "My God, not a solenoid!" Whatever will we do! Where will we go? What will happened to the dirty dishes? What will become of the children?

Then lo and behold the ice machine began leaking water -- something that we're told is not supposed to happen and can cause a fairly tricky flooring situation in a cafe.

Adding to this curious set of coincidences is that we found out just the other evening that there was sewer gas leaking into Mama's Boy, where we've been living. The other day we noticed some odd, off-putting smells in the closed restaurant and couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Well, the other evening when Patrick stopped by for dinner he noticed it right off and said that because the drain traps were empty city sewer gas was backing up into the empty traps. so we ran water down them and voila! the smells have dissipated.

It's Sunday now. The heat set in late Friday and if it weren't for the ocean breezes we'd be steaming like the lobsters trapped every day in the coves around Winter Harbor. Anyway, Susie had a short morning Saturday and we headed off to Orono to drop more boxes off at Joyce and Carl's house. Since Carl was alone for the front half of the weekend -- Joyce and three of their kids were down in Providence for a short visit -- we took Carl out for burgers at Woodman's, a nearby American grill.

It has been wonderful to have the Bergmans so close and we will miss not being able to just "drop over" for a quick visit. They've also been terribly helpful in getting our stuff down to Massachusetts -- Joyce even schlepped a bunch of things down to Dick and Dorothy's for us! But our hope is to have all of our stuff together in one place again soon -- and out of the Bergman's house and D & D's basement!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Patrick's back in Winter Harbor

It's been gorgeous here in Winter Harbor the past few days. Fall is definitely in the air in the mornings now -- the temperature was 40 this morning when we went to the cafe -- but by midday the sky always turns bright with blue and the sun still comes out strong. (photo: one of a small herd of Monarchia butterflyus visiting some flowers at Schoodic Point.)

As you might have guessed from the subject heading the big news for us is that Patrick is back in town. He and Jonathan are here checking up on their house in Prospect Harbor and showing Jonathan's dad what the fuss is all about here in Downeast Maine.

Last evening we grilled out some chicken and potatoes and met up with Rosemary who made a great cucumber salad. The three of us packe dup our food and headed out to Frazer Point, just inside Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula. Frazer is a great place to picnic with a spectacular view not only of Winter Harbor but of Cadillac Mountain on Mt. Desert Island and of course the sunset.

We had no sooner opened the wine when Patrick and Jonathan pulled up -- OK it was planned that way. They brought appetizers and bread and the five of us had a grand time talking, laughing and just feeling good about being alive and in this gorgeous place. We hope to all get together again once more before they leave later this week.

And speaking of Schoodic, the Point now not just the Peninsula, the sculptors at the symposium at the old Navy base aren't the only artists hanging about. I came across a small group of painters the other day camped out on the rocks looking for just the right bit of inspiration.



Wish you were here,

Steve

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another storm brings another beautiful day

It seems to be a simple fact of life of living here in Winter Harbor that each storm brings in it's wake a gorgeous aftermath.

Night before last we had a serious thunderstorm followed by torrential rains Saturday morning. By midday Saturday the sky had cleared and turned bright blue; the wind was fresh and brisk with almost fall like temperatures.

The water out at Schoodic Point was tipped with whitecaps, which made just staring out at the empty ocean (or sea or Gulf or Bay or what have you) even more hypnotic.

Indeed folks just can't get enough of watching the empty blue. I know I can't.


And of course there were the sunbathers:

Wish you were here,

Steve

Friday, August 17, 2007

Odds 'n ends Downeast

The weather has been odd here of late: a serious thunderstorm late last evening with the attending lightshow. Quite impressive. Even more impressive was that several communities here on the eastern side of Frenchman's Bay, including Winter Harbor, lost power for several hours. Naturally this produced no small degree of difficulties here at Gerrish's. Fortunately the cafe was closed and Jessica, the manager, lives upstairs most of the time so she was here to shepherd the shutting down of the new computer system and keep an eye on the cold storage items.

Of course this meant she got little sleep. I'm on this morning as the "Sandwich Man" and Rosemary will be here and Susie of course along with Guzel so we should be able to manage for a few hours after opening.

Otherwise things are pretty normal here in Winter Harbor: plenty of fog to remind you where you live broken by stretches of absolutely, simply and utterly gorgeous weather. Of course nothing slows the sculptors out at Schoodic Point. They continue to make progress on turning those blocks of granite into ideas expressed in stone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apartment hunting in Providence

Last Sunday, 12 August, Susan worked a short day and we left late morning for a drive down to Dick and Dorothy's house in Massachusetts.

On Monday we got up early and drove into Providence, RI, to start looking at apartments. The long and short of it is we didn't find anything but we did certainly learn a great deal about the East Side of Providence.

An overcast morning and a few sprinkles, which promised more later in the day, didn't deter us from our primary objective: apartment hunting.

The morning began with an appointment to see a 2nd floor apartment on East Manning. The owners, a wonderful couple with two little boys, lived on the first floor and we had a grand time chatting with them about the advantages of living in the Wayland Square area of the East Side: close to downtown, Brown and RISD but out of the college mainstream, a Whole Foods within walking distance.

Throughout the day we saw seven units, several in the Wayland Square area. In fact we even ate lunch at a small funky cafe, The Edge, in Wayland Square, a nexus of shops and eateries near the intersection of Wayland and Angell streets. We were also treated to a short tour of the Brown Universiy area by a realtor who happens to live in an enormous old Victorian home smack in the middle of the campus -- he also showed us a couple of properties but they were a no-g0 for us.

Most of the units were in double- or triple-decker homes and almost all were on the second floor. One apartment came close to what we were looking for -- this, too, was on East Manning in fact. It had huge kitchen storage space, good countertop workspace and a large kitchen to boot, as well ceiling fans in every room (something unique to this apartment we noted) and even two window a/c units!

The determining factor for us was, ultimately, structural: getting our furniture up the tiny, twisty stairs of these early 20th century double-decker homes would, we felt, be a real challenge.

But we met some interesting folks while developing a bit of a feel for at least one side of Providence. Someting in that to be sure.

So we are moving on. To what we have no clue yet. But we'll keep ya posted!

Ciao,

Steve

Lobster Fest in Winter Harbor

Well the Lobster Fest in Winter Harbor has come and gone for 2007. This past Saturday, 11 August, saw hundreds of folks walking around downtown WH, strolling around the various craft tents set up around the town office and school and it seemed as if most of those folks stopped by Gerrish's at one time or another. Food was available at several locations: crab rolls and funnle cakes, that sort of thing, but Gerrish's was the place to get coffee drinks, ice cream and sandwiches to go. In fact just about everybody who works at Gerrish's worked that day and pretty much all day to boot.

About half past five we closed the doors and everyone went out onto the front porch to watch the parade. The "floats" consisted of lots of fire trucks from surrounding towns and of course the Shriners and their cool g-karts. A couple of bands also paraded. It was all very small-town and the perfect capstone to a beautiful sunny day in Winter Harbor.


You should've been there.

For photos just click here!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Anniversaries and a birthday in Maine

Happy 80th birthday Bernice Audrey!

Today we celebrate the birthday of Susan's mother. She flew out to New England Tuesday evening and has been celebrating ever since. Today Bernice, along with Dick and Dorothy, will drive up to Maine, stopping by Winter Harbor before going to Orono where we will all gather for a big family celebration this evening.

And of course the other big news is that anniversaries are also celebrated this week: Joyce and Carl's middle daughter Melissa and her husband Daniel celebrate their anniversary today, while Susie and I celebrated 24 years of martial bliss this past Monday. More of that in a moment.

This week has certainly seen some crazy weather: tremendous t'storms, lots of rain (Wednesday), up-and-down temps, all culminating in a gorgeous morning today with a champagne sky and a brisk morning breeze in the low 40s.

Naturally Schoodic Point has been packed lately with people eager to come and sit and stare at the open ocean, mesmerized, as if in trance just watching at the endless horizon do, well, nothing.


I can relate to that. It is hypnotic indeed.

Anyway, Susie took off this past Monday, our anniversary, and the two of us drove to Bangor to go to the movies. (I also wanted to stop and check out camcorders since mine had finally recorded its last frame. I'm still looking.) We had not been inside a movie theater since Paris and in fact had not been inside a movie theater in the US for maybe a couple of years or more. Naturally we were eager to experience the wonders found inside a Maine theater and so we drove north, away from the ocean.

We caught a matinee of The Bourne Ultimatum at the Spotlight Cinemas in Orono -- probably all of a a dozen or so people in the theater. But they they had recently installed comfortable, stadium seating, the sound was good, the popcorn was fresh and the movie action-packed. What more could one ask for, eh?

After the movie we drove back to Winter Harbor and Susie fixed pizza for dinner. Not a bad way to spend an anniversary, Id' say. And we're already starting to plan for the Big 25 coming up next year. . . .

So today Gerrish's is quietly getting ready for the big Lobster Fest this weekend. Lots of preparation will begin this evening -- although we will be gone after midday Thursday until early Friday morning, spending quality time with family celebrating a most special birthday!

Oh, and for some more random images I shot recently out at Schoodic Point, just click here!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fog, storms and sundry matters

We continued to have fog here for much of the past several days although that broke early this morning when we experienced quite a sight and sound show as an incredible series of thunderstorms passed through here.

Anyway, we did have a gorgeous day last Thursday, 2 August, which was Susie's birthday. Naturally she chose to work -- rarely a day off for this baker it seems -- and after our regular trip out to Schoodic Point we spent a quiet evening just the two of us together. For dinner we tried something a bit diffferent: we went up to Gerrish's and sat out back in the beautiful cool evening and gilled marinated chicken and potato slices in olive oil. We also bought some of Rosemary's scrumptious tomato-mozzarella salad and split a bottle of Tavel. While we sat out back Susie got several calls from family and friends, a nice touch to a grand evening. (photos: Susie blowing bubbles and talking to family.)




(photo: Susie out at Schoodic.)