Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Maine Memoir

Nothing much photoworthy this week, except for a killer Wii (as in Nintendo) tourney at our friend Ben's house on Friday night. He hosted, he won, and as far as I'm concerned, it was rigged.

Dang it! I wanted that trophy. The other prize? A tank top that said: "Some say no, Me say Wii!" I'll be practicing my power serve for next time.

Next week I hope to have lots of photos from our upcoming trip to spend Thanksgiving in Manhattan. But meanwhile, I thought I'd share a little of my writing with you. I've been somewhat inspired by Peter Mayle's
A Year in Provence in which he chronicles his life for a year in a small French village--both he and his wife are British. He devotes a chapter to each month and writes about the quirky village characters, renovating their home on Provencal timelines, and planting a vineyard on their property, among other things.

I thought I'd take some of my own notes on life in Maine, which for me (as a certified West-Coaster) often feels like living in a foreign country. Grab a cup of warm and curl up!

Saturday, October 27

Matt and I woke late this morning after a night of card playing, curry, and wine with Ashley and Elliot. We found ourselves in the midst of an autumn downpour, fat raindrops dripping from the eaves and gusts of wind off the Atlantic driving dry brown leaves from the trees.

After a breakfast that was more nearly lunch, Matt took the Jeep to school and I've been holed up with notebooks and candlelight for a work day on the novel. Breaking late this afternoon I've pulled a chair up by our glass-paned deck door (I'm too chicken to go out, even though it's stopped raining for the moment) and I've got a cup of tea and Armstrong to keep me company while I watch the woods outside.

A light mist interjects itself between the trees and across my vision in floating swaths. It seems the trees have decided today to drop their pretense of modesty, abandoning their fiery fashion for naked, windswept limbs, leaving bare spaces for me to peer deeper into the woods. Stray leaves are swept up in gusts and careen onto our deck, where Armstrong, tail whapping, watches with a constant, nervous purpose.

The weather report calls for freezing temperatures tonight. I'm wishing that our fireplace retailing landlords would have thought to include the mother-in-law apartment in the wealth of fireplaces (five!) built into their home. I'm sure my hearth lust will only grow in the coming months of a Maine winter.

The entire concept of winter here looms large in my imagination as one of the great intimidators of living in the far Northeast. I imagine December and January as a constant near-epic adventure with all the strangeness and stillness of an expedition to the moon, and all the challenge of life in the Arctic. My main concern is driving. I'm assured that the state is well-prepared and that the roads are cleared within hours of a storm. But students in Matt's program share horror stories, googley-eyed about their contractual rental agreements to pay for their own snow-plowing on private roads.

Last winter I slid into a parked car on a hill, two inches thick with ice. Seattle isn't known for its excellent adverse weather preparedness, but the event leaves me traumatized and nervous for the coming months. I only hope the use of salt in the East (we use only sand on the West Coast) will keep the Jeep grippy and out of a ditch.

My only other semi-rational driving fear that has developed since arriving in Maine is hitting a deer, or worse yet, a moose. It all began on our fourth day here when I went to our local State Farm agent to insure the newly acquired Jeep. She warned that the policy covered us for being struck by something other than a car, but not for running into it.
"In other words," she explained, "if a deer jumps in front of your car, it's better to hit the deer than to hit a tree while trying to avoid it."
I looked at her, apparently shocked, because she added,
"I know, it's sad, but that's the policy. But you know, if a moose is in the road, just do everything you can to avoid it. They weigh like 2,000 pounds. You could die." that I have my priorities straight.

I left the office wondering just how common this sort of thing actually is around here and I got my answer at my next stop. I went to the Kennebunkport city hall to pay the excise tax on our vehicle (Maine is known, at least to its residents, for being the most taxed state of the union). On the wall of the cubicle-partitioned cashier's office hung two posters, each showing a map of the state of Maine and covered in red dots. The first showed the location and frequency of vehicle collisions involving moose in a single year. Dots were strewn all over the state, more frequent in the sparsely populated North. The second illustrated collisions involving deer. The red dots made solid spiderwebs, revealing every major rural route and highway in the Southern half of the state. So, fairly common then, I thought to myself.

Driving to the Y for a 7:15 class in the uncanny streetlight-free darkness, I remind Matt to put on the brights when there aren't other cars in sight and I have to coax myself to drive the speed limit, which seems way too fast in the pitch-black. I scour the shoulder for signs of movement or the flash of eyes. One night, I saw two does in our closest neighbor's lawn, graceful in the moonlight. I pray I'll never have to choose between one of them and a tree.

Another night, we went to Federal Jack's with Matt's classmate Ben and his girlfriend Sophie. Ben is from Connecticut and has a mastery of East Coast style crass humor. He resembles Ben Afflek and has his kind of swagger from Good Will Hunting. Somehow he also makes you feel like you are his best friend with a simultaneous boyish sweetness to offset the constant dropping of F-bombs. Sophie, another Western transplant from Colorado, is a tiny blonde spitfire who treks up from New Haven every second or third weekend to visit. She drinks hard cider with me and we suck our way through 25 cent pool games in the back room.

We left the bar around midnight and offered to give the two a ride home. They said they'd rather walk and we headed up to Cape Porpoise while they headed toward Ben's apartment a few blocks away in the opposite direction.

Next morning, Matt listened to a frantic message, peppered with expletives, left by Ben not long after we'd parted ways. Apparently, he and Sophie had come across a moose, obstinately planted in the middle of Ocean Avenue (the main drag from Dock Square that runs along the resorts out to the ocean and all the way to the Bush compound on Walker's Point). As cars approached, Ben and Sophie took it upon themselves to jump into the road and attempt to direct traffic around the moose. Ben, not knowing that moose charge when threatened, began to run at the moose to scare it off the road. Luckily, a (now stopped) motorist warned him and called 911 instead. However, the moose disappeared back into the woods so that when, five minutes later, the cops came barreling past, Ben and Sophie could only shrug and point in the direction they has last seen the moose, to which the cops busily rushed.

To shoo him away? To monitor his position? To tranquilize and helicopter him to the nearest wilderness? What on earth, I wonder, could they possibly do about the moose's presence? One thing is for sure: we definitely live in Maine.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

inside the loft

Hello, Matt here. So I thought I'd give you guys a peek into my world as a yacht design student.

At the moment, we are learning how to make the inside of a boat comfortable for people. We call this the General Arrangement, or the G.A. One might think this is easy since we are around couches and beds and chairs and counters all the time, but when it comes down to it, there are shapes that are comfortable and there are shapes that aren't! It make so much sense, but I had never thought about that before.

Another thing that is unusual about the G.A. is that all the amenities of home need to fit comfortably into an oddly curved boat. It is at this stage that the dimensions of furniture and appliances collide with ever-changing shape of the boat. In order to overcome this dilemma, we turn to a tool that helps us develop a 3-D shape in two dimensions, a Lines Plan .

If you didn't click on the G.A. link above, you might want to do so now so you can see how the furniture would be placed in a Lines Plan. But, the above Lines Plan breaks a boat into three views: the Profile View (top), Plan View (bottom) and Body Plan (right). These three views prove that the boat shape is fair, or consistent, all throughout the length of the shape. It is from these drawings that everything about the boat is derived, like the G.A. Cool, huh?

In case you were wondering

Matt and Joey on Martha's Vineyard, October 7, 2007

Since I've been somewhat absent from the blog these days, I though I'd update you on what's been going on for us here in Maine.

Matt: School has picked up significantly to what the professors say is "almost full-tilt." He's at school until 11 or midnight often to complete projects and every other weekend is spent in the loft plugging away on a lines plan. Despite the long hours, Matt has made friends with the guys and girls in the program and we often find ourselves out at Federal Jack's on a Friday night, playing 25 cent pool games and having a beer or a cider from the Kennebunkport Brewing Company with the other design students and their girlfriends.

Some of the design crew, having a lobster feed at our place

Quite a few of the design group, at Ben (second from the left, center row)'s housewarming party

Joey: I quit my short-term job learning about the culinary world at Pier 77, an upscale restaurant here in Cape Porpoise. I had a lot of fun, but decided to move on when I hit the end of the learning curve. Since mid-October, I've been substitute teaching again and enjoying it, but I've decided to look for something more permanent, probably some kind of office job up in Portland, where things don't shut down for the winter like they do in our little resort town.

Pier 77 foyer. Featured in Down East magazine this month.

Us: We got a membership to the Biddeford YMCA and I started taking yoga classes two nights a week. It's nice to have something to look forward to during the week as things get increasingly more quiet as the weather gets colder. We also usually have game night once a week with Elliot and Ashley, our friends from the design program who live down the street.

In early October, we traveled to Massachusetts visit my extended family for a surprise 65th birthday party for my aunt Becky. Having never lived in the East, where most of my dad's family lives, I met many of them for the first time. It was bizarre how at home with all of them I immediately felt. I can't wait for our next visit with them.

Aunt Becky's birthday wish

That same weekend, we went to Martha's Vineyard to visit a traditional wooden boat building shop Matt had read about in Wooden Boats, by Michael Ruhlman. It was a rainy weekend, but we loved our little B&B and an adventure away from Maine.

We're looking forward to our next big adventure at the end of the month: a visit to Manhattan to spend Thanksgiving with Andrew and Ainsley Sundberg, two of our close friends from Seattle who just moved to New York this fall as well. I am looking forward to seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, a big dream of mine.

That's about it for now, but we'll post again after Thanksgiving. I have some new recipes too... so I might get ambitious and post them. Meanwhile, leave us a comment so we know you've visited us!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Welcome to the world, Lilly Marie DeLatour!

The first week of November I came home to Seattle to visit my new "niece," my best friend Ashley's baby girl, born on October 13. Needless to say, it was really good to be home. Not only did I see friends and family, I also drank flawless double tall nonfat lattes from independent coffeehouses who freepoured my latte into perfect works of art. Thank God for civilization!

I also got to see my sister Jessi and brother-in-law Damion and their sweet baby Lucy, who has doubled in size in the two months since we've been gone. Yay for being an auntie twice in one year! And on top of that, my brother Josh and his wife Catherine are having a baby boy in March. I feel so blessed. And hopefully this will keep greedy grandparents-to-be from laying the pressure on too thickly, although I think it's had just the opposite effect.

Ashley and Lilly, Jessi and Lucy

Daddy Luke and Lilly--she is so tiny!!

And on an entirely different note, my visit just so happened to be perfectly timed to accompany my sister-in-law (and one of my closest friends) Heather to get her first tattoo as a twenty-fourth birthday gift to herself. Although I had my doubts about how she would handle to pain, she was a total rock star. Happy birthday, Heather!