Posts Tagged ‘True North Gallery’

Day 12: Slow Roll

06 Jul

Because we had nothing truly planned today except for an overnight in Peabody, MA, only about 150 miles south, our exit from Maine was a decidedly slow roll. I had done a great deal of the packing and departure prep last night. In fact, coupling the amount of work I had to do with my crippling procrastination, I ended up staying awake until at least 2am. Which would have been fine, because I had plenty of time to sleep in and still have us on the road before our mandatory check-out time. A really great plan. Except that there was apparently a raucous seagull convention scheduled for this morning that I had been previously unaware of. It was full of noisy, lively debate, and the flock of seagulls show started at approximately 5:45am. Oof. Awake and out of bed that early, I really had time on my side. Our check-out time was 11am, and we milked it almost to the final minute.

I had the typical departure stuff to do. Had to pack the kids sheets after they woke and stripped their beds. Wash the queen sheets we borrowed. Wash, dry, and put away dishes. Empty trash cans. Walk down on the beach a final time to play rock hound to collect new specimens to put in our souvenir lamp. (I have a clear base lamp that I am slowly filling with rocks from our Maine vacations. This area is different geologically-speaking from Kennebunkport, so I got some great chunks of stone that will make a really interesting layer.) And, of course, I also needed to log some more porch time. In fact, after rising before 6am and putting my sheets in the washer, that is the very next thing I did. I am in the process of re-reading the Harry Potter series, and am now into Year 4: The Goblet of Fire. Sigh. This is some very good reading, made even better by the view and a refreshing Maine sea breeze.

After forcing the kids into obligatory pictures in front of the cottage and on the porch, we said a fond farewell to the Nezinscott cottage. We then enjoyed an insanely picturesque drive back through Bailey Island/Orr’s Island/Harpswell, on the first day of the Southbound Leg of CMRT 2019: US History Edition. That’s right, it time to get back to the history lessons. But today was simply our slow roll away, a gentle extraction from my beloved state of Maine. It started with a return trip to the Bull Moose store in Portland. Beau is fairly obsessed with music, and more specifically with his burgeoning vinyl collection. It doesn’t really surprise me that there is a healthy selection of vinyl at the Bull Moose locations, seeing as they are mostly in rather hipster towns. Beau did intimate that the selection at our local Saint Augustine Tone Vendor store was actually superior, but Bull Moose is rather a multi-sensory experience unto itself. And Beau has been very happy about some of the rare finds he has been acquiring. Side note: Be on the lookout for his Go Fund Me, as he is racking up quite the vinyl debt to me, having already blown through his CMRT spending money from Mimi.

Our next stop: Kennebunkport. Sadly, this also seemed to be the next stop of every. single. person. in. the. world! Wow, was it crowded. First time past the free parking lot, and it was totally full with several sharks already circling looking for unsuspecting prey walking back to their car. I figure no big deal, I’m willing to pay for parking, and crossed my fingers that the pay lot in Dock Square would have some availability. Nope. Not a single space in sight. Sigh. Fight some more traffic and get back to the free lot for another look. Luckily, we found a space, and bonus, it was in the shade! Yeah, not only was it insanely crowded in town, it was also one of the hotter days I’ve ever experienced in Kennebunkport. I imagine the locals were melting. The big draw to KPT, and the reason I was willing to fight the crowds, has to do with my favorite art galleries. When I first started visiting Kennebunkport some 18 years ago, I stumbled across a gallery named Northlight Gallery, located on Ocean Avenue, just off of the Dock Square area. I was immediately entranced with the incredibly detailed watercolor works by Jack Standish. I can’t even begin to describe them in words, but I vowed that one day I would own one. (It still hasn’t happened yet!) But I was also enamored with the exceedingly friendly, but laid back gallery owner, Harry Thompson. We struck up a conversation all those years ago and I discovered that he was originally from, of all places, Gainesville, Florida! Over the years I have kept coming back to salivate over the works in Northlight, and enjoy a chat with Harry, who produces his own magnificent oil paintings. Though Northlight Gallery is still in the same location at 33 Ocean Ave, there have been many changes over the years, the most significant of which is the addition of the equally delightful, and also laid back cool, Jill Previti Thompson, and additional gallery space (True North) down in Dock Square. Over the years I have made it a point to always visit both Harry and Jill’s galleries. Jill is an amazingly talented painter in her own right, and it is always a breath of fresh air to talk with her. In the past year they have added an additional gallery space – with more of a focus on photography and jewelry – and Jill’s gallery has been renamed Thompson & Company. Two years ago this September, I took Beau to Maine for his 13th birthday. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday that year, his only response was, “To wake up in Maine.” So, despite the trip having some major ups and downs, I made that happen for him. One of the ups of that trip involved being in Jill’s gallery on Beau’s birthday. Jill really talked to Beau about art and what he liked, asked him questions about himself and listened to the answers. I think she was mostly impressed that he was such a self-possessed 13 year old (who, of course, seemed more like a 63 year old). Just before we left, she took Beau over to a collection of a few of her small abstract landscapes and asked him which one he liked the most. He considered his choice, and talked it out with her, and then chose. What happened next astounded me. She took that beautifully framed painting off the wall, handed it to him, and said, “Happy Birthday!” I was gobsmacked. She then said to me, “And that’s how you make a collector.” Indeed. This year our first stop in Kennebunkport was Jill’s gallery (Thompson & Company) where I recounted the story to her and again expressed my gratitude for her generosity. We had a really nice chat, and then I headed off to Harry’s gallery (Northlight). I was positively salivating over the majority of the work in the gallery, while also having a pleasant chat with Harry. But then my eyes locked on one of Jill’s paintings in the second room of the gallery. Similar in composition to the smaller seascape given to Beau, but with an even richer palatte. It was again the sea, but this sky was a deep, bruised plum color. It was gorgeous, and my eye kept coming back to it. Just as I was about to leave, I walked back over to it and made a decision. Sometimes, it’s Mommy’s turn to get what she wants. So I bought it. I bought a painting today. As if it’s the sort of thing I do every day. It isn’t large, but it’s mine. I’d say Jill’s investment in Beau is already paying off. Maybe I’m the collector she was making.

I was alerted by my very dear Kennebunk-dwelling friend, that the turnpike was backed up for at least 20 miles headed south from Kennebunkport, and I had absolutely zero desire to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. So, incredibly grateful for Mandy’s heads-up, I asked Waze to route us the back way. Slower speed limits, but prettier sights. There were a few patches of traffic even on the back roads, but it was actually an enjoyable drive filled with picturesque farms and quaint little town centers. We were on our way to a brief stop in Portsmouth, NH, because Beau wanted to visit, where else, yet another Bull Moose location! But first we visited the exceedingly irreverent gift shop that we had discovered during his birthday weekend, called Off Piste. And it was worth a return visit. Many people might consider the store’s merchandise offensive, as there are several “grown-up words” featured on things as diverse as tea towels to pencils to magnets to socks. Personally, I think they are f-ing hysterical. Perhaps my favorite thing in the store are the extensive selection of pencils stamped with hysterically irreverent sayings. I would love to stock the pencil cup on my desk with these and watch kids faces when they ask to borrow a pencil. But I enjoy being employed, so I didn’t purchase any at all. After laughing our butts off and pining to purchase things I can’t really show off to their full potential because I’m a public servant, we headed across the street to Bull Moose. Beau picked up yet more vinyl – seriously, please send this kid cash for his upcoming birthday, as I need him to pay me back! I took a flyer on a sealed bag labeled “15 Classical CDs” for $1.97. How could I possibly go wrong? Turns out there is some fun stuff in there – I do love classical piano music. After finding free parking in Kennebunkport, I ended up having to pay for parking in Portsmouth. Well, I should have paid for parking. But I didn’t. And I ended up getting a parking ticket. Ironically, in approximately the same amount I would have had to pay for parking in Kennebunkport in that Dock Square lot. I have no idea how I happened to miss the large parking kiosk located just a couple of spaces down, and why I didn’t immediately look for one, knowing that all parking in these New England towns is somehow metered Mon-Sat. But I didn’t. I think pulling in diagonally like I did put me in mind of San Marco back home. And I just blithely took my spot, and didn’t even think about it being anything other than free parking. Oops! But I’ve already paid my ticket online, and like I said, a fairly equivalent parking assessment to having paid for it on the front end, so no true loss other than feeling vaguely like an idiot.

Overall, today has been a weird mix of emotions. It feels like we left the cottage months ago, or perhaps that the entire thing was just a lovely dream, something fictionalized that never truly happened. I am sad to leave that respite from the world, from reality. But I am also eager to have more new experiences, and ultimately, to return home (though we have 10 days before we’re doing that!) I think today was a nice transition from our life of ultimate ease back into our “road trip” mentality. Tonight we are in Peabody, MA, simply a way-station to our full day of sightseeing tomorrow. For tomorrow we take on the witches of Salem…


Day 12 – By the numbers:

Odometer: 128,643 – 128,801 (158  miles)

Total travel time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

States traveled in/through: 3 - ME, NH, MA

Gas stop: $2.85/gal – Wells, ME

Current standings in the CMRT 2019 Lottery Project: $38 in/ $11 out (- $27 loss) –> It’s not a good year for gambling.

Number of states found in our license plate-palooza: –> Total of 46/51 –> Only missing Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, and, of course, North Dakota!


Day Thirteen: Team Chickpeas, You Can Like Us on Facebook

27 Jun

It started off as another lazy day on the creek. Watching tv, kids fixing themselves a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lazing around the house. I bought some sourdough bread the other day, and made the effort to make some eggs, heat up some bacon, to go with my toast, but there was no urgency to the morning. Eventually, Beau came and asked me if he could go down to the beach by himself. Because the location of our cottage is damn near perfect, and Turbat’s Creek is, frankly, magical, I said of course he could. He needs some time away from me, to explore on his own. Soon his sisters followed suit, heading out to the beach together, under strict orders that if their brother wanted to play with them, fine, but they were not to annoy him if he didn’t. He did pop back up to the house to show me the prize he had discovered on the vast field of seaweed covered rocks – a leather football. Soaking wet, but otherwise in excellent condition. Quite a find. (Later, I did ask the young family renting a house on this street if perhaps it was theirs, and it had just gotten away from them on Vaughan’s, but they said no, so I guess it’s Beau’s now!)

After a bit, I roused myself and changed out of pajamas to take Remy down for his own exercise session. I swear that dog is tireless. I think it entirely possible that he would happily run himself, quite literally, to death. And my goodness has he turned from a dog who loves to fetch into a ball obsessed monster! After awhile I put the ball & chuck-it away, and while the big kids went back up to the house (I’m assuming Minecraft was calling!), Avery & I continued over to Vaughan’s Island. The Lobster Detectives were on the case! The tide was so extremely low, that many of the tidal pools we poke around in were far shallower than usual, and this summer they have also been choked with sea grasses/kelp. Makes it difficult to seek out wildlife in those conditions. But after turning over a rock or two, Avery & I found one baby lobster with a single claw. Feisty, that one. But we just wanted to find them, never touching (have you ever seen how far back a lobster can swivel its claw?!) And after that one, our interest kind of petered out. Now true low tide, Avery headed back up to the house, and I stayed down with Remy, tossing the ball directly into the Atlantic. Watching him bound out into the cold water time and time again. Again I say, he is going to be so angry at me when we leave…

After some beach time everyone made their own lunch, and Beau actually fell asleep on the couch on the screened in porch. I’m guessing this is a growth spurt happening. Fingers crossed it will not necessitate all new clothing! The girls & I got cleaned up a bit and headed into town. I woke Beau to ask if he wanted to join us, but he just wanted to continue napping. We went to a few of our favorite stores down in Dock Square, picking up a postcard here and a t-shirt there. We also had to stop in the Copper Candle to get our Christmas ornament. Every place we travel we get a Christmas ornament as a souvenir. It is always so much fun unwrapping the ornaments in December, and revisiting the memories of our travels and adventures. We now have quite a few Maine ornaments, but I found a new one shaped like a whale, with a hand-painted scene of a lighthouse, and the year. Perfect! As Avery pointed out we went whale-watching for the first time on this trip, and we went to the Portland Head Lighthouse, so it was a good representation of Maine 2016. I also wanted to peruse an antique store or two, but the one I remembered as being so good, is now mostly new things, or vintage reproductions. Still incredibly lovely stuff, and you could easily decorate a gorgeous home from their stock, but I was looking for something a little grittier, some true, you know, old, antiques. I was going to strike out to US-1 in search of some of those we had driven by in the past, but it was getting on in the afternoon, and I figured the kids might not be as excited about this venture as I. So we headed back to the house. Beau was awake, but said he had slept for most of the time we were gone (definite growth spurt). The kids headed back outside to play/explore, and I set about making dinner. Because it was Monday night, and time for another round of responsible parenting…

I know I have mentioned her before, but I have a local friend named Mandy who I adore. She is a nut, just like me. Fun, and funny, energetic, kind, and lovely, and crazy in some of the exact same ways I am, we always have such a great time when we’re together – whether it’s a girls night out, or just sitting side by side on the beach at Turbat’s Creek as our kids play on the rocks and swarm around us. She has a lot going on in her life right now, and has, unfortunately not been available to play with me until tonight. Which I completely understand. I am in KPT on vacation, away from most of my life responsibilities, but she actually lives in Kennebunk, and her responsibilities are raining down on her head daily. But reviving a tradition we started last visit with the powerhouse team of Like Us on Facebook, we met up at Sebago Brewing Company for another go at Monday trivia night. Drinks ordered we began tucking into our potato nachos (normally these things are to die for, but tonight they were overcooked). As I took a bite, I noticed something strange, but recognizable on the plate. It was half a chickpea. Glad that it was recognizably edible food, but what the heck was it doing on our potato nachos? We took it as a sign, and team Chickpeas was born! I wouldn’t say we were exactly crushing it on the trivia, but it’s difficult to properly focus on accessing the useless knowledge storage part of one’s brain, while actively catching up with a dear friend you haven’t seen in two years. And we had much ground to cover: burned barns, gifted children, family, boob wrangling, new/old boy, signs from the universe, microwaved ice cream, and lest I forget, Mandy is now a Major Award Winner, which cannot go un-recognized! My goodness, how we laughed. Deep belly laughs. It definitely counted as an ab workout. And perhaps the most hysterical part was our come from behind victory! Team Chickpeas was quite happily in last place before the Hail Mary round. The final round has three questions, for which you must wager between 1-10 points. If you’re right, you get the points. If you’re wrong, they get deducted. Well, we certainly had nothing to lose, so we intended to bet big no matter what. Here’s the crazy part. We knew the answers to all three questions. Okay, maybe we didn’t *know* the first one, but we both had the same gut reaction answer, so I felt pretty good about that one. And I was positive I *knew* the last two. One of the answers was even “Daytona International Speedway” – holla for the Florida chickpea! Anyway, our score, with an additional 30 points, was good enough for 2nd place!! We were shocked and very amused. Especially since one of the prizes for 2nd place was the metal Sebago Brewing Company sign that I got last week because sweet locals didn’t want their prize. (Funny thing is that as I left the house, Beau had said, “Win another metal sign tonight, Mom. I want one for my room.” I told him no way was I going to let him hang a brewery sign in his room, seeing as how he was only 11 years old, but he shrugged, and told me to win another sign anyway. And we did!) So, in splitting our prizes, Mandy took the sign, and I took the bar towel and bottle opener key chain. Then two boys at the bar, I don’t know if they were the 1st or 3rd place winners, had extra bottle openers, and gave us a few more of those. I’m happy to clip one to my beach bag, and always have a memento of team Chickpeas and our epic trivia adventure.

Another great day, another day I’m thankful that we stretched our rental out to two weeks. It really has been idyllic to just relax in a place we love. Not feel like we *have to* do anything. The kids were even asking me today if we could just buy a house and move here. I loved the innocence of that inquiry. Obviously, my Florida kids, who have only really experienced snow on ski vacations, haven’t the slightest clue what their winter lives would be like, but I do love that they have also come to love, and feel at home in, this place that makes me so happy. Just like Beau’s mug says, I Love ME. And when I’m here, that is especially true for both meanings. I love this place, and I love me. The Maine version of Krista. Me.


Day Eleven: A Walk… into town, in the woods, through a maze

18 Jun

Today started like so many vacation days. Waking early, but lounging in bed. Saying good morning to my ragamuffin children. Having my windshield replaced. Wait. What? Yep, for the second time in three years, having the windshield replaced in my minivan was a vacation necessity. Two years ago it was in my old minivan. This year it was in my only slightly older than a year minivan. Do I know how to drive a car into the ground or what? Started with a chip of unknown origin, that the reputable glass company “repaired.” I did not have confidence in that solution. I wanted it replaced from the get-go, but they said no, that they only replace a windshield if the crack is bigger than a dollar bill. As I only had a chip, they could repair it. But because it was so close to the frame, their machines couldn’t fit to get the right vacuum seal and they would have to repair it by hand. My confidence plummeted even further. So I flat out asked what the procedure was when it began to crack, for I was certain it would, and if I could get service all the way up in Maine. Sometimes, occasionally, I hate it when I’m right. On the day we arrived in Connecticut, the crack was over a foot long and growing. (Ironically, the same location where I first noticed the crack in my other windshield two years ago.) I hated driving around with a cracked windshield, but managed to get this appointment set up for today, and was happy to at least have a new one for the drive home (which is coming up more rapidly than I care to ponder.) The guy who came out to repair it was named Bob. A name that didn’t particularly fit him, though I’m not sure what I would have named him had he been a character in my writing. The best thing about Bob was not his beard, though that came in a close second, it was his accent. My favorite of all the American accents, this particular New England one. There is no way I could phonetically write what it sounded like when he asked me to move my van so he had more room to work without risk of damaging the other car, but it made me smile. I desperately wanted to ask him to say some of Jon Hamm’s lines from the movie “The Town”, when he was playing a Boston FBI agent, especially the one including the phrase “box of quarters,” but I didn’t. I really, really wanted to, but I didn’t. Anyway, Bob was super nice, got my windshield fixed efficiently, gave me good follow-up instructions, and overall it was a very professional and pleasant experience. As much as having your windshield replaced on vacation can be, anyway.

The windshield excitement unfolded as we were just spending the morning bumming around the house. I was teaching Avery how to play Qwirkle (I told you, I’m obsessed.) Beau requested that we once again dine at Harper’s restaurant for lunch. This pleased her to no end and she ran to get her order pad. I internally groaned because I didn’t feel like another 45 minutes of hands-off supervision/assistance with the things I wouldn’t let her do by herself (like cutting carrots with super dull knives). But it all worked out okay, and Beau shocked me by following my lead and ordering a chef’s salad. And then he ate it, every last bite of baby spinach and carrots and turkey. We’re really getting somewhere now.

After lunch I walked the two or so miles into town. First, because I wanted to walk around in town, but also because I have had little to no exercise in about two weeks and I’m feeling the ill effects. It was a pleasant walk, but a little warm in places. Nice when my trail crossed right by the ocean, as the breeze was beautiful, but there were a few baking moments. Though nothing like what that walk would have been like in Florida! My very first stop was my favorite gallery – Northlight Gallery. They have such incredibly beautiful things. In the past I’ve been obsessed with an artist named Jack Standish. His works are so intricate, but also welcoming. Every one of his pieces feels like a room that someone has just left, there is an open door (figuratively or literally), like you are waiting for someone to reappear, or perhaps to step into the scene yourself. One of my first purchases with my one day lottery winnings will be a Standish. Now they’ve added some photography that is also exceptional. It was fun to have a talk with the gallery owner about photographic compositions, and also the merits of frame choices. I always love stopping in at Northlight and having a conversation with Harry, but then I also find myself wishing I could do more than talk.

From there I moved on to his second gallery, True North Gallery. Also exceptional. And full of different works I covet. Jill runs True North and she is just about the coolest, most down-to-earth girl you ever want to meet. It’s fun just hanging out in there with her – fun conversation surrounded by amazing art hung in a comfortable, cozy room. Yeah, that’s fine by me. I soaked it all in for awhile, and once again saddened by my inability to take anything with me, headed off into some of the other shops. I picked up a few trinkets – souvenirs, hostesses gift sorts of things – and then met John & the kids at the candy store. And since what’s a vacation without spoiling your dinner, we had a late afternoon stop by Ben & Jerry’s.

The original post town plan was to go kayaking, as high tide was around 4:30pm yesterday. But it was so incredibly windy, that taking young, inexperienced kids out in kayaks seemed like a bad idea. The boating was going to have to wait. Instead we got in the car and headed out to a place we had visited last year, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Can’t be on the water in Maine? Instead take a walk in the woods! And this place is perfect for walking with kids, even kids in flip flops, because it is simply a flat, hard-packed, clearly delineated trail that winds around in a circle for approximately a mile. At one point I made Harper stop whistling so we could just stop and listen. We heard many different types of birds, the wind blowing through the trees, other wildlife scampering through the brush. It was pleasant. Harper startled at something in the brush, and I assured her that they don’t have snakes here the way we have snakes at home. And that is true. We’ve found at least two varieties of snakes that could easily kill us right in our own yard at home. But no sooner had my assurance that we were unlikely to even see any snakes today come out of my mouth, than we saw a snake. Non-poisonous, of course, but it was still ironic. He posed and I snapped a picture for posterity. We didn’t bother him, and he didn’t bother us. And Harper got to give me that “you’re not quite as smart as you think you are” look she so loves to give.

After a pleasant walk in the woods, we got back in the car for a pleasant drive. Windows down, just tooling along looking for the next adventure. We briefly considered the Ogunquit Playhouse. Shows didn’t start until 8pm, but they were putting on Grease! And then I saw the ticket prices. Gulp! Instead we settled on something we just happened to spot on the side of the road: Wonder Mountain Fun Park. Doesn’t that just sound exciting? Our original plan was to play miniature golf, but since we’re not yet in high season here in Maine, hours of operation are not as extended as they will be in another week or two. Since we were a little short on time, we instead played a bunch of arcade/midway style games for ticket rewards (which we then cashed in on assorted plastic crap we’ll have no use for), and then took a turn in the gigantic human maze. Oh gosh, I wasn’t really expecting it to be, but the human maze was unbelievably fun! And way more difficult that I expected, too! You had to punch a time clock on your way in, then find the four stations scattered throughout the maze to punch your ticket with different letters, and then stamp your time card again on the way out. There were prizes for fastest times, that’s why the time card stamping, but how those people did it is beyond me. We took like 10 minutes longer than the fastest time. But it was so much fun! Something we could all do, and it was funny to see how it brought out everyone’s personalities. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Once we navigated the maze we piled back in the car and looked for a place to eat. We ended up at Duffy’s Tavern & Grill in Kennebunk. It was a good atmosphere, definitely family friendly, and everyone enjoyed their meal. We also got dinner and a show because the couple next to us, a young couple in probably their early 20s, were arguing pretty much the entire time they were sitting there. Mostly about presidential politics. Which made it even more funny because they didn’t exactly look like the types to be arguing presidential politics. And their arguments were, well, let’s just say being impassioned about something does not automatically make one able to carry on intelligent discourse about the subject. But I was glad when we finished up and left because I’m guessing that either language was going to devolve, or they were the type of couple that was going to slap one another and then start making out at the table.

Back to the house from there, and kids directly into bed. It’s funny, I walked away from the house at approximately 1pm, not realizing that it was going to be 9pm before I returned to it. A long, but highly enjoyable day. Tomorrow: beach day. Explore, play on the rocks, possibly put the kayaks in the water at high tide beach day. And our friends are coming back to join us in the afternoon as an end of school celebration. Should be great fun for kids and moms!


Day Ten: These are a few of my favorite things

02 Jul

Ever have one of those days where several things you love just fall into place? Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact the weather has turned rainy up in Maine, today was one of those days. I woke around 7am and made my way downstairs, stopping long enough to peek into the kids’ room to see that the littlest one was still abed. The older two were watching tv and playing on the iPads. I ate a bowl of cereal, sat with them for a bit, and then realized that if I wanted to continue reading I could just as well crawl back into my bed, under the covers. It was already a dreary, rainy day, so it’s not like we were rushing to get out onto the beach. In fact, it was the kind of day that demands one crawl back into bed. After reading for a short bit I felt my eyelids getting heavy, so I laid down my book, closed my eyes, and fell asleep. I slept hard. For over an hour! What an amazing morning nap. The windows under the eaves were open so I could hear the wind and rain in the trees, the children were quiet because they were glued to the electronic crack that is the iPad, I was wrapped up cozy in a quilt against the encroaching chill. Oh my goodness. That hour of sleep was some of the best sleep I’ve had in the past 10 days. And I woke feeling refreshed. A perfect nap. Accomplished before 10am.

A little later in the morning I headed into the little Dock Square area of Kennebunkport to poke around in the shops. There were a few places I knew I wanted to go, specific things I wanted to acquire. Had to get my annual Christmas ornament from the Christmas shop. I go to the Whimsy Shop specifically for their oilcloth bags. And I go to the delightfully quirky Daytrip Society because I want every single thing they carry in the store. Every. Single. Thing. (If only I could afford it!) But despite a valiant quest, I still haven’t been able to find a local store that carries Tervis! I really want one that says, “ME”, you know, the state abbreviation for Maine, but also a clever possessive to have on your cup. Yeah, that would be a good find. But also acceptable would be the initials for Kennebunkport (KPT), or perhaps one with the outline of the state of Maine, or really, anything at all that was Maine related other than just a lobster. And before you suggest it, yes, I already have an LL Bean Tervis. Do you think I’m an amateur?

Managing to exit the shops before bankrupting myself further, I headed out to my favorite galleries in town. The original Northlight Gallery, and it’s sister gallery, True North. I fell in love with Northlight Gallery many years ago. They carry an artist named Jack Standish, whose work I love so much, I swear that if I win the lottery my first stop will be in Kennebunkport to purchase art for the homes I haven’t yet bought. His lines are full of inhuman control, and his scenes are flooded with light, they have the sense of being occupied, yet no figures are in the scene. As if someone has just vacated the room, or is just about to enter it. I’ve been coveting Jack Standish paintings for years now, and am always excited to see a new one. Northlight, may be the original, and it’s always fun talking to the owner, Harry, who is also a talented painter and actually hails from the Gainesville, FL, area, but the new gallery, True North, and owner Jill, is becoming my new favorite. With a new location right on Dock Square it is cozy and well-laid out, like stepping into someone’s home, someone with amazing taste in art. They also carry some Jack Standish, and I like Harry’s work, too, but I’m digging Jill’s new work. I was especially coveting the painting of the whale weathervane. I really have to remember to play the lottery…

After giving up my prime parking space in Dock Square it was time to head on to my favorite bookstore, but I needed a little sustenance first. Last year someone told me that Market Day made great gourmet sandwiches, and let me tell you, that is the truth. I could lie and say that I had difficulty deciding because of their great selection, but the truth is, I knew immediately upon looking at their hot panini offerings what I wanted. The had me at bacon. They set the hook with Brie. And I was happy to let tomato, sprouts, and citrus vinaigrette come along for the ride. Oh my warm, melty goodness. It may have been a little embarrassing how much I enjoyed that B.B.T.S. sandwich.Was it a little more expensive than my typical sandwich? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Now fed and happy it was time to head just up the street to one of my ultimate happy places, the cleverly named Kennebooks (in Kennebunk!) It is a really great independent bookstore. They have a fantastic selection, lots of tags giving suggestions/reviews, a wonderfully stocked and laid out kids’ section. I was disappointed that they no longer have a weekly kids’ story hour, but that didn’t stop us from spending over an hour inside, with everyone walking away happy with new books.

At this point the boys went off in one direction while the girls and I paid a visit to dear Mainer friends, The Nelsons. We first met Mandy and her girls, Maggie & Birdy, on the beach at Turbat’s Creek four years ago. They were just wrapping up a visit from Massachusetts to Kennebunkport, where Mandy grew up, and for two days the kids frolicked together while Mandy and I sat on the beach getting to know one another. Mandy is crazy. And I say that with love, the same way I self-proclaim the adjective. She is hysterically funny, and so much fun to be around. Her girls are sweet, and kind, and playful, also happening to fold in perfectly with mine age-wise. Mandy & I kept track of each other via Facebook, and when the second annual CMRT rolled around, we were hoping to have a reunion in KPT, but alas, the school schedule wouldn’t allow it. The third year, we got to see them for one blessed day as our visit coincided with a wedding they were attending in KPT. Here we are at the fourth annual CMRT, and what do you know? The Nelsons, including hysterically dry-witted patriarch Dan, are now residents of Kennebunk! So we rolled over to their house, which is still in the middle of a surprise renovation (the kind where you have to strip down to the bones because of unforeseen mold and other problems!) and made them take a break from working to play with us. Okay, so Dan kept working the entire time – did I mention they are doing the majority of the renovation themselves?! Wowza. But Mandy took some time off from scrubbing/painting/drywalling/plumbing/electrical repair to walk me through the house (which is going to be amazing when finished!) and then sit and chat. We had much to catch up on, battle scars of parenting to share, gossip to giggle over. Mandy is a force of beautiful, hysterical positivity, and being around her always buoys me up. And the girls disappeared to play in the play room, and to run around outside. Popping in often enough to be noticed, but not so often as to be disruptive. It was a lovely afternoon, and we stayed later than intended. But it was great to catch up with an old friend face-to-face. Hyperactive, loquacious, nerdy girls like Mandy being my people like they are.

Once home it was time to get the little ones tucked off to bed. I read them one of our new acquisitions from Kennebooks, The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. We LOVE this author. He wrote the Mr. Magee (and his little dog, Dee) books – Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee – and also our favorite If I Built A Car, among others. He lives in Maine and every year when we go to Kennebooks we get at least one of his books (though last year we got two – Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, and King Hugo’s Huge Ego). His rhyming prose is clever, but it’s really his illustrations that are so entertaining. Anyway, I read The Circus Ship, and tucked everybody into bed before heading out for some more of my favorite things. This time it was beer, cheeseburger, and trivia.

As I ate my divine sandwich I was flipping through a local newspaper and happened to notice that there was team trivia at Federal Jack’s on Tuesday nights. There is no I in Team, unless you’re going alone and are a team of one, I suppose. And that’s what I was prepared to do. Go it alone. But delightful surprise, my new friend, Stephanie (remember my friend of a friend?) was available to go, too! Thus, team Difficult Situation was born. (Anyone catch the stilted DMB reference? Our situations are anything but typical.) We weren’t expecting to take the purse, but I think we had a respectable showing. And more importantly, we had fun. Not to mention a lovely locally brewed Taint Town Pale Ale. And I almost choked when Stephanie ordered a Captain and Diet. That was Barb’s drink. My former trivia partner who died tragically last November. I have never met another person who drank that. And I found myself getting a little misty when Stephanie said to the waitress, “Cap’n and Diet.” But it made me smile. It’s nice to remember friends gone too soon, and it seemed like a lovely sign to cherish a new friend. It’s always a wonderful thing to meet someone who understands you. We talked long into the night, long after trivia was over, laughing over our similarities and funny situations we’ve found ourselves in lately. It was, overall, a very good night, and no trivial thing at all.



Hot-blooded, check it and see…

20 Jun

I don’t know if it’s the fever that continues to rage on, or the fact that I neglected to eat dinner before starting my prescription Bacardi (hey, my friend is a doctor!), or the fact that the temps reached into the 90s here today and the heat has settled onto all of us, leaving a sticky film, but I feel muddle-headed. Everything is thick and vaguely fuzzy. So it is soon to bed for me, because I found that I actually felt better this morning after being in bed for almost 12 hours straight. (Imagine that!) The late afternoon is when it seems to settle in with a vengeance. The aches, the burning eyes, the denial that I am sick and should probably take immediately to my bed. But we had a lovely day today, despite the Florida-esque heat, and it deserves a brief, little recap.

The first and most exciting to me activity of the day involved a trip to one of my favorite bookstores: Kennebooks in Lower Kennubunk. The bookstore is fairly new, opened in 2009, so it has always been a part of our summer Kennebunkport experience. Last summer we happened to stumble upon Story Hour, which was very enjoyable, so this year I was smart enough to look it up, make Kennebooks Story Hour a destination unto itself. And boy did we ever luck out. One of the things I like best about Kennebooks is the people who work there. I mean, it’s great that the place is so very clean and shiny, neat and tidy. That they stock tons of different books and are laid out in an attractive and efficient way. But it’s the people that make it so lovely. They are friendly, without being pushy, knowledgeable and honest. And the lady who runs the Story Hour is fabulous. She’s clearly very adept at reading to children, and also runs a craft activity after the books. This year it was awesome, because it was the Willim Childrens’ Private Story Hour. Apparently Story Hour is quite popular, but this being the first really, really, really nice day (apparently they think 90 degree heat qualifies as that) everyone and their brother had taken off to the beach. In fact, they expected that no one would show for Story Hour. Leave it to the tourists from Florida to eschew the beach on a hot, sunny day! Anyway, perhaps the best part was when she suggested I just browse around the store while she took the kids upstairs. Um, yes, please, thank you!!! It was such a luxury, to roam around a bookstore, reading dust jackets and back flaps. Picking out books I had heard of and been longing to read, but also taking chances on those who just sounded interesting. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

You all know how pleased I am when someone compliments my children, especially their behavior. So I was positively puffed up with pride when they descended from the reading room and she said, “Thank you for sharing your children with me, they were a pure delight!” Apparently Harper even asked if she could read one of the books aloud, and did so with her siblings consent. Love it. They were happy, the bookstore lady was happy, and I was happy. Trifecta! And we picked up the two latest books from our favorite, just-happens-to-be-from-Maine author, Chris Van Dusen. We fell in love with him after reading “Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee” (a random library selection) and just had to own “If I Built a Car.” Now we’ve picked up his two latest ones and are eagerly awaiting his upcoming release, “If I Built a House.” But sadly we reached the point where we could no longer afford to stay in Kennebooks, and we headed out for the afternoon.

On the suggestion of the very kind Ms. Carmichael at Kennebooks, we set out for Ogunquit, just two towns south. The cove there, Perkins Cove, is just about as small town picturesque Maine as you can get. Luckily we were visiting in mid-June instead of August. I imagine it’s a rather miserable place to visit in August as there are small, narrow streets, and very few sidewalks to walk on. But for us, perfect. In fact, it brought to mind Cabot Cove, Jessica Fletcher’s old stomping grounds. (And if you need for me to tell you that was the setting & main character of “Murder, She Wrote,” then I’m just plain ashamed of you. Or maybe I feel sorry for you, because me & my dad, who’s in his 70s now, both *loved* that show!) Anyway, we asked the boy collecting money at the parking lot, who had a rather quick-witted, New England prep school rebel, Holden Caufield-esque feel about him (Momma like!) where he suggested we eat. The secondary Barnacle Billy’s location won out, a table on the deck and kid-friendly options being the deciding factors. Ironically, as we were waiting to be seated and perusing the photos on the wall (one of which was a really funny one of G.H.W. Bush, Tom Brady, and Bill Clinton – who was contemplating an ice cream cone), one of the hostesses mentions that “Bush Senior” was dining at the original Barnacle Billy’s location just half a block down the street. We asked about his protection detail and how much effort goes into him coming out in the small town and she said since they come by boat it’s pretty easy. Sure enough, we look out at the dock and see his gorgeous 38ft Fountain boat, Fidelity V, tied next to the Secret Service  zodiac. As luck would have it, as we finished our meal his group was reboarding the boats and headed back out, so we got to see them leaving the cove. They say he still drives the boat from time to time. We didn’t have a good enough angle (stupid sailboat that arrived in the interim blocking our view of the dock!), so I can’t say whether or not he was behind the wheel, but the Fidelity is a fast moving boat, and they sure took off once they reached open water, almost daring the SS zodiac to keep up.

After that excitement, minimal though it was, we took a short walk along the Marginal Way. It’s kind of the Ogunquit answer to the Cliff Walk in Newport. A beautiful, paved & maintained path along the ocean-front cliffs, though with decidedly less regal houses. Then again, one of the ones currently under construction might give some of those New port “cottages” a run for their money. Either way, it was, despite the heat, a lovely little stroll. The rocky coast is beautiful, and the waves crashing against the rocks definitely give a different coastal experience.

Back to Kennebunkport and I finagled a little time to just peruse the shops and galleries alone. Ahhh, breathe it in, the beauty of that word. Alone. I have a few favorites that deserve revisiting every year. Most especially the Northlight Gallery, and new this year his companion gallery, True North Gallery, owned by a Florida native who is smart enough to split his time between FLA and KPT. He is a painter himself, with several of his own beautiful pieces hanging on the wall. Most especially was a nude female figure painting. Racy to most, I suppose, but truly beautiful to me. He said it usually takes a buyer from New York City to move one of those pieces. Which is a shame, had I won the lottery or been independently wealthy, I would have gladly walked out of his gallery with “Side Lit.” He also represents an artist named Jack Standish. His watercolors, which are really just delicately colored in intricate line drawings, are exquisite. His rooms are so alive with light and detail, I swear I look at one of his paintings and just know what that room sounds like, smells like. Wish I was in it. Sitting in that window seat, or on that front porch, on laying in that bed looking out the open window. I hope to one day own a Standish. Again, here’s hoping for that big lottery win.

I’ve got some favorite gift shops around town, too. None more so than the quirky, eclectic Daytrip Society. I pretty much want to own everything in the store. Though I am clearly not cool enough to do so. I swear, it’s a shop that makes me want to be cool. And then I realize I’m old, but at least it’s a friendly enough place that I don’t feel intimidated while looking around longingly. I picked up a few knick-knacks along the way. I always buy a Christmas ornament as a souvenir, this time a small piece of stone with a nautical chart depicting Turbat’s Creek, where “our” house is located. I also ran up to Minka, the store directly adjacent to the ever-popular Ben & Jerry’s, to pick up the handmade chowda bowl I’d been coveting for two years. I, of course, intend to eat cereal out of it, but it’s this charming design made to look like a cross section of a birch tree. I love it & hope it safely makes the trip home. My Crunchberries are going to taste that much more delicious!

Thankfully, as I started to feel worse as the evening progressed, it’s been a low-key night around here. I did fail spectacularly in my attempt to make pancakes. Let’s just say that it’s harder than it looks when you don’t have a non-stick pan, nor any cooking spray, and are using an electric range when you’re used to gas. I’m talking a spectacular fail. Luckily the kids went easy on me, despite their excitement about pancakes for dinner, and accepted the quickly prepared pasta substitute.

And now, everyone in their beds after our Chris Van Dusen featured story time, I am nursing my medicinal Bacardi and pondering taking the suggested Advil before crawling into bed. Seriously, I’m done with this mysterious aches and fever routine. Here’s hoping come tomorrow morning it’ll be done with me, too.


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