Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When fall comes to New England...

Cheryl Wheeler's "When Fall Comes to New England" is one of many songs on the new Autumn playlist I made on the computer this morning. Some are specific like that one, "Autumn Leaves", and "Turning Toward the Morning." Others are more atmospheric, expressing the ideas of transition, yearning, and nostalgia that come up at this time of year. "My Sweet Wyoming Home", "Miss the Mississippi and You", and the classic Tom Rush version of Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going" are examples. (And then there's "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus, Eins, zwei. G'suffa!" No need to explain that one! Or Tom Lehrer -- "Fight Fiercely, Harvard!" They bring fall to mind although it's many years since I've indulged in much beer or football.) What songs would be on your autumn playlist?

Here's a photo of the very beginnings of fall color here in Brunswick.
Onkel Hankie Pants would probably say this tree is stressed in some
way. It's a very tall one, maybe that's why.

Rusty spends a lot of time when he is not sleeping, jumping, or being taken for walks, in the manner portrayed below. He is watching for squirrels. When he sees one, he goes completely crazy, jumping, barking, or making a very odd noise, and scrabbling at the window (or, with even worse effect, the window screens) with his paws. We can hardly wait for the squirrels to hibernate.
You can probably tell that his nose and panting tongue don't do the window glass any good, either.
Today I inveigled him into his crate with a Frosty Paws and escaped to the library for the first in a series of lectures on the topics covered in Field Notes from a Catastrophe. It was about the melting of the Arctic Ice. Only one chapter into the book and I've already learned a new word, albedo. (Look it up! or read the book).
It's a worrying, not to say depressing, topic, but one we all need to be aware of.

I heard today that a friend from Minneapolis will be visiting in October, and perhaps also The Accountant will come from Seattle (not concurrently). I'm looking forward to showing them around Brunswick and environs, taking them to the Farmer's Market -- here's a picture of part of it from last Friday. You can get everything from lobsters to rhubarb jam there; there's also a woman who sells Indian food (naan bread and so on), cut flowers and bedding plants, eggs, and last week, one of the vendors who usually is mostly about vegetables had a sign urging us to inquire about beef hearts and such -- "let's make a deal!"

I've been working on "B is for Berlin" and found some interesting sites to link to.
But just to show that I don't live entirely in the past, I thought I'd update my reader(s) on some more daily activities.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This seems somewhat apropos

Your Birth Month is July

Introspective and intense, you tend to be a deep thinker.
You are quiet and spiritual - and you have a unique perspective on life.

Your soul reflects: Lightness, luck and an open heart

Your gemstone: Ruby

Your flower: Larkspur

Your colors: Green and red

I'm Purple Again?!?!?!

You Are a Purple Flower

A purple flower tends to represent success, grace, and elegance.
At times, you are faithful like a violet.
And other times, you represent luxury, like a wisteria.
And more than you wish, you find yourself heartbroken like a lilac.

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Extraordinary how potent cheap music is"

Toby LeBoutillier is a guy who's worked at Maine Public Radio pretty much since it began. Now, he hosts a Friday afternoon radio show on which he plays hits of the corresponding weeks over the past 10 decades. Today, the first one was from 1907, "Red Wing." Immediately I was about 4 years old with tears streaming down my cheeks as my mother sang me the song, which I found ineffably sad. (Of course, I was a most sentimental child, and even cried at "Oh, Susannah.") My mother was born some years after 1907 and probably learned the song from her parents.
Years later, during the Folk Revival of the 1960s, I learned another song to the same tune, which also came into my head and brought with it thoughts of another relative. Woody Guthrie used the tune for "Union Maid." My daughter-in-law, The Collector of Biomorphic Dishes, is on strike at the University of Minnesota right now with her fellow AFSCME members. Stick to the union and stick it to the bosses, J!
As the program moves on, Toby plays "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi." That makes me think of Onkel Hankie Pants' cousin, The Horsewoman (see June 18 post). Onkel H remonstrated with me at the time, apparently he didn't think that a suitable appellation for his lovely cousin. I told him she was lucky I didn't call her The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, because she was, when she was at the above-mentioned U. I rather think she might prefer The Horsewoman. Those Clydesdales are pretty reliable.
The rest of today's selections were not as evocative, though I've always liked the tune of "Darktown Strutters' Ball" ; however, I've mentally rewritten one line as
"I'm gonna dance all over your shoes
When the band plays the Jelly Roll Blues"
because that's the way I dance!
By the way, the quotation in the title of the post is, of course, by Noel Coward, in his play Private Lives. I make no value judgment on the music, but Bach it ain't. Now I'm off to the first of two nights of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Blogthing just for fun

You Are a Pegasus

You are a perfectionist, with an eye for beauty.
You know how to live a good life - and you rarely deviate from your good taste.
While you aren't outgoing, you have excellent social skills.
People both admire you - and feel very comfortable around you.

I don't know if this one has any validity for me. Some of the questions were easy but some were too hard and i may have answered wrongly. Comments?

B is for Bowdoinham

Although I was born in a hospital in Tilbury Town, I soon came home to a rented house without electricity on the Ridge Road in Bowdoinham. Not long after my arrival, the REA arrived and we got a light fixture and an electric socket. Shortly after that, with a bonus from my father's World War II service, my parents bought land just north of my grandfather's farm on the Millay Road and started building a house there. Through all our travels, we always kept that house and Bowdoinham as our home.

The glory days of Bowdoinham were already over before my grandparents moved there in 1925, a few months before my mother's birth. In the 19th century, it was a shipbuilding town and had many other businesses, as well as farms. A famous bank robbery there netted nearly $75,000, an amazing sum for the time. By the time I remember the town, there were two small factories and 3 stores, and one or two gas stations; some small car repair shops, the smelt-fishing and duck-hunting camps along the rivers and Merrymeeting Bay, and farming completed the town's economic base. Already at that time, Bowdoinham was also a bucolic bedroom community for people working at the Bath Iron Works or the Brunswick Naval Air Station. I think it was one of my Harpswell cousins who scornfully characterized the town as "up among the dust and cucumbers."

This past weekend we enjoyed "Celebrate Bowdoinham" days. Dust was much in evidence, as Friday and Saturday were very hot, and there were cucumbers and other produce aplenty on exhibit in the Masonic Hall. There are now several CSA farms in Bowdoinham.

We began the day by watching the parade, which featured vintage cars, trucks and tractors (these three belong to my Uncle Phil),

puppets, horses, Scouts, and fire engines from three communities' Volunteer Fire Departments. After seeing the above-mentioned produce exhibit, we made our way to the newly-opened Merrymeeting Arts Center, a memorial to Bryce Muir. The old leather mill (it made patent leather) already housed a couple of fine woodworking shops, a studio belonging to a woman who works in shibori and sashiko, and a flea market and dog training center. Now, the Arts Center has been added. Part of it is a museum of Bryce Muir's work; there are also items by local artists for sale, including jewelry, note cards, books, scarves, fine furniture, etc. The plan is also to offer art classes in some of the space. It is a very fitting memorial.

After some lunch and a break to tend to Rusty at home, we returned for the Bean Supper at the Fire House. Here's a glimpse of the table of beans and casseroles and one of the dessert table. I had lemon meringue pie and Onkel Hankie Pants had chocolate cream.

Not only baked beans, but casseroles as well, and you can see that the pies and other desserts are wonderful!

This year was Bowdoinham's 245th anniversary as an incorporated town. (It rather alarms me that I can remember the men growing beards for the Bicentennial!) The town has proven that it can grow and change with the times while still retaining its rural, small-town ambience. I'm proud to be a native daughter.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A is for Algonquin Round Table

When I was a child my parents belonged to the Doubleday Dollar Book Club, and many books came into our house from it. Along with Best Loved Poems of the American People, this book (right) was an inexhaustible source of entertainment for me. It was certainly in its pages that I first met Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, two of the quintessential members of the Algonquin Round Table. You can learn more about the Round table here and see a fine caricature of its members here.

I've read most of the work of Parker and Benchley, as well as Alexander Woollcott and Heywood Broun; through the Harold Ross (first editor of The New Yorker) connection, I've branched out into other New Yorker writers like James Thurber (also represented in the book at right), E. B. White, and Wolcott Gibbs. In college I had trouble studying in the library because the bound volumes of that magazine sang their siren song. A couple of years ago I got the complete run on DVD -- what a great present! (Thanks, Onkel Hankie Pants!)

The members of the Round Table were, for the most part, fairly inept at managing their personal lives. (See the movie Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle for some examples.) They were famous for their witty comments (Warning: Do not ever say to me, "Age before beauty," for I will certainly reply as did dear Dorothy, "And pearls before swine.") but a deep vein of sentimentality lay just below the surface. I doubt I've ever said anything as funny as the least of Mrs. Parker's bons mots, but I have tried -- and the sentimentality is certainly there, as my daughters will attest. So, did I get this way from the influence of the Algonquin Round Table, or did their writings and story strike a chord that was already there? Who knows? I'm grateful to Bennett Cerf for editing the Encyclopedia of Modern American Humor and to my parents for checking off the box that brought it into our home. Our copy disappeared or fell apart years ago, but my public library still has a copy -- I hope yours does too.

Sick as a Dog, and Old Photos

I haven't blogged for several days because Rusty the dog has been ill (diarrhea and vomiting with the concomitant clean-up duties for the humans). He is now all better; he responded well to treatment with Pepto-Bismol tablets and antibiotics hidden in tiny peanut butter sandwiches. It's good to have him his old lively self again. Yesterday we went to the Farmer's Market and he got to play with his Norwegian Elkhound friend and also met a Yorkshire terrier pup -- about 9 weeks old and not much bigger than a kitten. I was afraid he wouldn't recognize it as a dog but a little sniffing did the trick and they enjoyed each other's company.
Another thing that's kept me busy is family photographs. Some years ago my cousin Down East in Princeton sent me on CD my great-great-grandfather's diaries. Included was a disc marked Family Photos. At the time, not having a very sophisticated photo program, I looked at the file names and pulled out the photos of my 3rd and 4th great-grandparents, which were treasure enough combined with the diaries. The other day I decided to take a second look. There are 296 photos! Some are unidentified, some misidentified, and some duplicates of ones I already had, but there were some real finds, such as this photo of my grandfather. I estimate he was about 8 years old (1896) and not too happy about the fancy clothes and setting!