Sunday, January 31, 2010

An accident...

Most of you know by now that I totaled my beloved Chevy early Friday morning. My daughter Faye and I were in the car and are both alright. Bumps, bruises, some black and blues and stiffness but we will heal.
The car, however, is totaled. A complication I certainly didn't need right now.

We were on our way to a farmers' market convention in Belfast. The hotel room came with pool and hot tub and I offered Faye a little getaway from her role as wife, mother and restaurant owner. But Route 1 in Jonesport was ice covered and not sanded. Luckily, we were going only about 35 mph. I'm convinced that slow speed and our seat belts saved us.

As we approached a curve, a school bus came around the corner with yellow lights flashing. They immediately turned red and I barely tapped the brakes. We began fishtailing and for just the tiniest of moments, I really thought I brought it back under control. It slipped again, though, and we slid off the side of the road where there was a very steep embankment. We rolled completely over once and then half way again, landing on the passenger side of the car. Strangers who had been following us stopped and pulled us out of the car - they were there instantaneously and we can't thank them enough. They put us in their car to be warm while we waited for the police and a wrecker.

This was incredibly frightening. If I had been alone, I think it would have been easier, but to be responsible for my daughter and possibly hurting her and knowing that I scared her to death (she was so nervous that she vomited repeatedly after the crash - no, she never bumped her head. It was all nerves.) If she had been seriously hurt I could not have withstood it. Even though I have gone over and over the accident and know that I did nothing wrong - I wasn't speeding, we were belted, I was paying close attention to the road and the other cars - I still feel terribly guilty for putting my daughter through that.

We should hear from the insurance adjuster tomorrow about where to go next. Right now I have a rental and that last thing I wanted to be doing right now is car shopping - talk about stress. I have Tuesday off and I guess it will be spent test-driving.

Meanwhile, I will be thanking the universe over and over again for keeping us safe and virtually unharmed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A few photos from the trip....

Talk about a melting pot! This is the ATM near my son Russell's home. Here in Machias, we get two choices: English and French. I don't even know what all of these languages are!

Jackson Pollack at the Museum of Modern Art. I love his creations and was struck by the sheer size of them...

Diego Rivera...

Pablo Picasso...MOMA had several rooms of Picasso, an amazing, varied collection that really showed much more than just his lines and crazy faces....

And the best of all - the only painting in MOMA with its own guard: Van Gogh. This has always been my favorite painting of all time. I got tears in my eyes standing in front of it, seeing his brush strokes and the movement...absolutely unforgettable.

A view of the whale skeleton from above at MOMA.

How many kinds of omelets does your restaurant serve for breakfast? This was at the Brownstone Diner in Newark, which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and other programs on The Food Network. What a great place!

Taryn - what a sweetie!

My Russ - we were waiting in the subway and the lighting made everyone look ill.

This was a fabulous mosaic down in the subway tunnel. Please notice the HUGE dust bunny sitting on Maine.

We exited right through the spot where the World Trade Center buildings once stood. A very emotional experience...

And my last night in Connecticut - my grandsons James and Joseph after dinner and ice cream!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Now let you tell me about my REAL vacation:

It began with a cold - probably the culprit is Miss Kiley, whose poor little nose is always running since she attends day care, a stew pot for germs.
I left home Thursday and by Saturday afternoon the cold was starting to rage.

Sunday it was full blown. I had NO appetite (A clear indication for me that something is very wrong) and a fever.

By Monday, I was back on the train for the return trip from New Jersey and really ill.
I arrived in Connecticut and spent the next two days in bed at my son David's. His wife Lori, herself recovering from surgery, brought me tea and tissues.

By Wednesday I knew things were worse and I had to head for home while I could still drive.
I got as far as Augusta - four hours - and knew I'd never make it to Machias.
I called my BFF Donna and she took me in, fed me cheese souffle and sometime in the night, my fever broke. But I was still really ill. The pressure in my sinus cavities felt like multiple toothaches.
I drove home and finally called Dr. Kathy on Friday. She prescribed antibiotics for my sinus infection but unfortunately it was a bit too late. About 4 a.m. my left eardrum burst.
Let me tell you, this has not been fun.

Excruciating is the word.

I am now on my last day of antibiotics and still congested, my right sinus is still solid and now I am deaf in my left ear. It has been ten days of I am exhausted. Puffs Plus and Tylenol have been my best friends and I must have consumed 43 gallons of various juices...
What a ruined vacation! At least getting to see Russ and Taryn in New Jersey was wonderful...details and pix tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Part of my vacation was by train: the 143, Hartford to Newark

It was a spectacular trip - I boarded at Hartford in darkness - it's a sibling handoff: my oldest son dropping me off so my youngest son can pick me up three states away - and as the sun comes up along the route, I watch the world unfold.
It is like looking under someone's kitchen sink or in a basement closet - this is not the pretty front door that towns show the world.
This is empty warehouses, smiling like toothless men because their windowpanes are missing.
This is junkyards and backyards,
A firetruck graveyard,
Bars on back windows and smokestacks and everything dressed in graffiti: initials, skulls and numbers.
Along the way, as the rails clack and the car sways, there are little glimpses of order:
tidy backyards with now dormant gardens, silent swingsets and small piles of dirty snow.

We stop at the stations: Meriden, Wallingford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and eventually, New York, and the conducter comes along through each car and announces the stops, just like in every movie you ever saw.

We pass tenements and electrical grids.
There are little swamps with ducks in clusters.
Billboards and litter, litter, litter everywhere - pressed against fences, tangled in webs of lovely orange bittersweet.

It's like each town we pass through has its dirty little secrets, its nastiness, its ooze and slime, and all the secrets are hidden down by the railroad tracks all mixed in with the architecture of the past: fine craftsmanship, impeccable masonry, glorious arched windows.

But it has all be abandoned. Rejected and replaced with cold, utilitarian metal boxes surrounded by parking lots surrounded by razor wire in the suburbs.

In New Haven, the 143 switches from a diesel to an electric engine. I noticed no difference when we start up again.
For a while, then, I95 keeps us company. We pass the Duchess Diner, Desi's Corner and Mario's Place. There goes Wally's Liquors and the Connecticut Food Bank. We click-clack past Eppy Computers, and the Greater Love Temple.
Most of the buildings have so long ago turned their backs on the railroad tracks that they have no signs indicating what they are or were.
We pass the Bonton Fish Market and at a Friehofer bakery, at least 200 tractor trailer trucks are lined up to deliver white bread for breakfast toast.
There are acres of metal drums and a surprising number of cemeteries. Do we think the sound of the trains soothes our dead?
There are squatters - shanty huts in the woods with blue plastic tarps for roofs and laundry frozen on makeshift clotheslines.
We keep clacking, past Firestone Tires and Learn-To-Dive with Captain Sam.

Then, between New Haven and New York, there's a surprise: dozens of large new condominiums and a small pine forest. An Audi dealership. But as quickly as it appears, it is gone as New York City approaches and the debris returns.

New York City doesn't loom from a distance, like spotting the Emerald City from the Yellow Brick Road. It just appears, slamming you in the face with its hugeness, its boldness, its raw presence. And boy, Toto, we sure aren't in Kansas. It's a landscape of buildings - like rows of corn in the midwest, buildings are the crop here. There is no end - they stretch forever.

One last stop: Penn Station in Newark and Russ telephones and tells me to look for him downstairs by the benches "that look like pews.'' He spots me first and enfolds me. I am crying since it has been so long since I've seen him, my baby. He feels like Russell should feel. He smells like Russell should smell. And even though I am a bazillion miles away from rural Maine, I feel so at home wrapped in his arms.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Off on an adventure....

I'm headed to Connecticut, then New Jersey and New York City, then back to Connecticut, a couple of days in Pittsfield and then back home! I won't be posting here but wait til you hear of my adventures when I return!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I survived...barely.

Boy yesterday was rough.

I made three women cry.

Well, life actually made them cry but I stuck a stick in their eye and made it worse.

I interviewed three women: two widows of fishermen lost at sea and the wife of an active fisherman. All for a large story I'm working on. How painful it was to have to ask them about the last hours with their husbands and how they learned their boats sank. And how incredibly painful for them to tell their stories.

The tears were for loss: these women obviously miss their husbands terribly and, at least in one case, aren't sure how to go on now. One couple met when she was 17 and he was 15 - love at first sight. They had been inseparable. "I didn't even get to say goodbye,'' she told me.

"I can't close my eyes. I see him floating,'' the other, who had been married for 28 years, told me as tears poured down her face. She still has a son that heads to sea every day to fish, fishing the same bay where his dad drowned.

This is the reality of life at sea; the life many Downeasters experience on a daily basis.

After the series of interviews, I drove to Eastport for two meetings but the day had drained me so emotionally that as I left Eastport, an overwhelming fatigue took me over. I called and canceled the story I was set to write last night (something I NEVER do) and will write it instead this morning. Now I'll go play with 60,000 salmon eggs and get a much-needed haircut.

I'll write four other stories today but you know those women's voices will still be throbbing in my ears....and in my heart.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm in for a rough day, I'm afraid.

Today I start a series of interviews for a large project. It's a profile of Lubec and their fishing culture and how they survive the loss of so many men.

Today I interview two widows and a fisherman's wife, as well as a Dept. of Marine Resource patrol officer...

Wish me strength.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

some accomplishments have been accomplished!

YAY!! I finished the kitchen floor. This involved 2,457,097,597,120,345 hours on my knees and an extraordinary amount of horrible smelling, stick-to-everything-including my feet, hands, stove, counter and somehow, the bathroom sink - adhesive. I'm tooooo old to be on my knees! This is a commercial grade vinyl tile in a sand color - and I think it balances the shock of the green walls very well. When I return from vacation (I'm headed to CT, NJ and NYC next week) my dear handyman Terri will put down the newly painted molding.
Next summer I hope to replace that outdated wooden set of windows with a big French door out to the deck - now that will be nice!

Here's what I found at Hannaford's this week. TULIPS!!! IN JANUARY!!! Tulips fill my soul with hope and promise and I am so happy they grace my table...

And, coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, I finished Russ's tulip painting. The camera really washes out the colors but I assure you it has real richness and depth.

And lookie there - across to the end of my studio. See those three glowing rectangles?? That's HEAT baby, yeah! I'm still terrified of the damn thing - it has an open pilot light flame, but I'll put up with it so prevent my paints and my toes from freezing!

Off to Winter Harbor now to a fish industry workshop - the things I do....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

an ode to propane

oh toasty toes
oh warmed feet
the gas man came today at eight
he didn't even make me wait
the wonderful man
did a magical feat.
He turned a dial and left a treat!

heat, heat,
oh glorious heat.
the propane heater is glowing,
the warmth in the room is growing.
heat, heat,
oh glorious heat.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

heat, almost!

I finally gave up trying to work in my studio/office without any heat except what slithers in from my guest room. Mother Nature and 54 degrees in here have finally defeated me.
Dead River came today to bring me gas (as if I don't already have enough) and hook up the heater in the office.
There were two old tanks out there and the serviceman said one of them was from 1953! And you wonder why this house needs so much renovation....
Anyway, the man was delayed getting here cuz someone else ran out of heat and so I had to leave before he could hook up and test the heater. He was able to tell me, however, in a rambling 10 minute conversation, about how excited he was to see all the deer tracks around my house. Somehow that didn't help me get any warmer...

So...the sun is going down now, the chill is seeping back around my feet and I have to wait until tomorrow for real heat.
Oh Well, I guess I'll go to Eastport. If all else fails, go to Eastport. It is my personal solution for depression, goosepimples, lackluster hair, flatulence, an overcooked meatloaf and unfaithful friends. Go ahead and try it.

The beauty will astound you, even if your feet are cold.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

pre-dawn is a good time for thinking

It is just before 7 a.m. and the sun hasn't really risen. Oh, there are some perwinkle-colored stripes on the horizon, some lightening of the bank of clouds, but the for the most part it is still dark. My coffee is hot and good and warming me well.
All the houses on my street save one are still lightless. My closest neighbor, however, is warming up her car and will head out to work soon.

The crows are conversing noisily with each other - it's almost like they feel that since they are up and about, everyone else should be as well.

Yesterday I failed myself on the weight issues so I'm taking some time to regroup this morning. I ate a fine dinner - peanut sesame chicken, with lots of fresh vegetables (not packaged or take out, homemade), had two boiled eggs for breakfast, but fell right in the toilet with a fluffernutter for lunch. YIKES! No snacking after supper and no nibbling in between meals - that part was good. But no exercise either.

One day at a time. Take a deep breath. Refocus. Smile at the possibilities this day holds and move forward.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Doing a lot of reflecting this week. New year, and all. Since I moved here in June, this was my first major snow storm in Sweet Pea Cabin. It was very snuggly and warm, with the wood stove roaring. And with the long windows on both sides of the living room, I felt absolutely surrounded by swirling snow. I slept in Sunday and that sweetheart Matt was already shoveling out my car and walkway.
It is easy to reflect on having Matt, Faye and Kiley next door. It is an incredible gift.
It is easy to reflect on having a new grandson, Karlin. He is precious.
It is the harder thoughts, thoughts about disappointments and letting go of toxic relationships, setting new goals, challenging myself - these are harder to face and deal with.
No resolutions. I don't keep them.
But I have made some "suggestions" to myself.
I spent much of Sunday cleaning out my office and studio. That's one of my suggestions. A cluttered workspace tends to clutter my mind. I need simple, easy, plain.

I painted a bit - another "suggestion" - give myself more time to paint. I'm working on a special one for my son Russell and his sweetie Taryn. I wasn't happy with it - I think I was trying to hard to paint what I thought THEY would like. Now I've taken control back and I'm painting what my heart says. If they don't like it, they can always hide it under the bed....until I come visit!

Dealing with my weight - of course that is a STRONG suggestion - I struggle every day with this. Now I think I'm getting close to really compromising my health. Somehow I have to find a different way, a different relationship with food. How do you feel satisfied, fulfilled without overdoing it, eating the wrong things, making the same mistakes over and over? All year I said "next week" "next month" "after vacation" and finally "after Christmas.'' Getting more exercise and making good choices were put off time and time again. Taking control isn't easily accomplished, for me. I know I need to change not just what I eat and what I do, but how I FEEL about what I eat and do. This is hard work and I'm still gearing up for it....