With the recent return of snow, enough so that the sidewalk clearers haven't made it to our sidewalks here yet, I've mostly been walking Rusty along Maine St., which is our main street. It doesn't take more than a teaspoonful of brains to walk the dog, so I get to observe and think about things. Some of the things I've seen and thought about:
- This morning I saw my first Maine Agriculture license plate, and then I saw two more! They are a new addition to the (some say too many) charitable-donation license plates here, and are by far the most colorful, as you will see. We have the lobster plate, the extra money from which goes to lobster research, in honor of my lobstering relatives. There are also the loon plate (facing the opposite way from Minnesota's loon plate, but for the same purpose), the Black Bear plate (I think this one's for U. of Maine - Orono alumni) and the rather generic "UMS" plate for the University of Maine System. And, of course, the standard one with our state bird and flower is quite nice as well.
- There are currently a few "For Lease" signs on Maine Street. The camera/digital photography store, one of a chain of three, has closed, and so has one of the three opticians. A natural skin care store/salon is moving into the optician space, leaving an empty space on the second floor of the former department store where the camera store is now also vacant. A chain video store has closed its Maine st. location, to the joy of the independent DVD rental store and also the game rental shop.
- A year or so ago, the Goodwill store on Maine St. closed, reopening in a new purpose-built, larger building in the next town, near Target and so on. The site was empty for a while, but now we have two new businesses there -- the wave of the future -- one sells gelato, locally roasted coffee, and Simply Divine brownies, and the other is a cybercafe and gaming venue. (I mean of course, the kind of gaming where you go to play Guitar Hero, not Las Vegas-style gaming.) Both seem to be doing well. Two more new restaurants have opened as well, one on each end of the downtown section of the street. As you can tell, all these businesses are dependent on discretionary spending or "disposable income." So far they seem to be doing well in spite of our national and local economic woes. I wish them luck.
- We have an awful lot of banks. Only two of them, as far as I can tell, are out-of-state banks.
- There's not much on the street that was there when I was in high school (business-wise -- most of the buildings are the same, just not their occupants). Off-hand I would say, apart from one of the opticians and the odd dentist, there's an insurance agency and Day's News (where you can get Italian sandwiches and ice cream cones as well as magazines and newspapers).
- License plates again -- Maine doesn't charge as much for vanity plates as some states, so they are quite common. Outside a church once I saw one that said XEGSIS. Last night, by the organic food store, was one that read PRSNKT. But most people, like LEONA B, BABETTE and DE BOYS, are not as creative.
- Rusty has once or twice found a discarded doughnut on Maine Street. He now believes that every municipal trashcan might just hold a doughnut, so he has to investigate each one. Fortunately they are sturdy and he has yet to knock one over.
- Now it's just about time to go for another walk down (or up) Maine Street. And by the way, I did make the biscuits, and they were good!