Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer guests

I get a little panicky when guests are coming. This week we we will have nine guests, all family, most of whom will be with us at camp for an extended stay. Oh, yes, and another dog too. I have so many lists, I can't find them all. I have written extensively about my guest preparations in this blog. One story was published in the Portland Press Herald and you can read that here.

My grandson Ben will celebrate his first birthday this week with us here at camp. I can't wait to get him in the water and on the boat (in the new life jacket I bought for him at L.L. Bean). He is walking now. So, another list: things to do to baby proof camp! Today my husband and I will run forty yards of netting around the perimeter of our deck, transforming it into a giant playpen. We will close off the steps with gates. We tried to remove all the splinters from the dock. I kid you not. We Velcroed the shaky book case to the wall and took the heavy tv off the top of the high chest of drawers. The glass knick knacks have been moved to high places, and we plugged up the unused electrical outlets. Welcome to Maine, baby Ben! And everyone else too, of course.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gardening project for camp, 2011

My friend Mary is a master gardener. Her yard makes my yard look pitiful. But every summer I try to beautify the sand pit that surrounds my camp on Little Sebago Lake. Here is this summer's beautification project, with instructions in case you want to do it yourself. I'll bet you do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunsets on Little Sebago Lake

The deck of my camp faces west, and quite often, we enjoy beautiful sunsets as we relax there in the evening in our Adirondack chairs. The most beautiful sunsets are red, and I can never seem to capture them in photographs. Why is that?

I Googled “red sunsets” once. This is what I found out. Sunlight is made up of different colors of light, each with a different wavelength. At sunset, more red light is scattered to us because of something in the lower atmosphere. It’s a little too scientific to explain fully. My enjoyment of our sunsets might be diminished if I really understood why they are red, but I sure wish I could capture that essence in a photograph so I could enjoy Little Sebago Lake sunsets all year round, not just in the summer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Historic Home Visit

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I had “discovered” the Manning house in Casco, Maine, former boyhood home of Nathaniel Hawthorne (he spelled it Hathorne then) and his uncle and aunt, Richard and Susan Dingley Manning. The house was for sale, I reported. Since then, I have toured the house with its owner, Patricia MacVane. She and her husband have lived in the house for 50 years, and most of it is lovingly preserved as it was when the Mannings lived there. It’s a beauty. You can take a virtual tour of the house at this link. Richard Manning eventually built another home across the street for Nathaniel, his widowed mother and Nathaniel’s two sisters. It’s still there also, but no one lives in it.

Two years ago, I did a lot of research on the Mannings and Hawthornes for a book I was writing that included Nat’s boyhood diary (No Ordinary Lives: Four 19th Century Teenage Diaries. Boston: Branden Books, 2009. Print and eBook). My research uncovered that young Nat stood at an upstairs window in the Manning house and watched the burial of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Tarbox, who had frozen to death when they got caught in a late spring Maine blizzard. The Tarboxes left behind several children, and the youngest, a girl, was eventually adopted by the Mannings—a cousin for Nathaniel and his two sisters.

When I stood looking out that same window a few days ago, I could see the old Manning cemetery behind the house. I decided to explore it, with permission of course. It is on private property. I looked for the Tarbox graves, but they either aren't buried there or the graves are unmarked. Richard and Susan Manning are buried there, however. They are waiting for someone to buy their beautiful house.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Walking in the Woods

Once not long ago, I got disoriented while on a walk in the woods behind my camp. I was on a quest to find the old Prince family farmhouse that I was told was at the end of a path that led away from the lake. When I realized that I was lost, silence descended and I felt swallowed by the trees. My heart pounded in my panic. My fear heightened all my senses, and I looked around for something familiar, something I might recognize in the landscape that would set me on track once again. It was the lake that saved me. Suddenly I could hear a boat or maybe a jet ski on the lake in the distance. I followed the sound. When I got home, I felt ridiculous. But I vowed never again to venture into the woods alone. For a while, fear kept me from that which I once enjoyed.
Then one day I left the dirt road and once again walked into the woods. Every day since then, I walked deeper into the woods until I was no longer afraid. Each day I went a bit farther, using the lake sounds as my guide. I never got lost again. All women need to go bravely into the woods. Getting lost can sometimes help you find yourself, and being lost is not the same as not knowing where you are.

From my reading:
“There is nothing to be afraid of in the woods, except yourself. If you’ve got sense, you can keep out of trouble. If you haven’t got sense, you’ll get into trouble, here or anywhere else.”
-–Louise Dickenson Rich 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writer's block

This summer I am trying to finish a book about Marie Peary, the daughter of the Arctic explorer. I may have mentioned this in an earlier post. Fact is, I’m not making very much progress. Too many distractions. First, there is lake living itself. There are lots of things to do here here—listen to the loons, watch the hummingbirds, paddle the kayak, feed and entertain guests, and on and on. The biggest distraction of all, though, is the technology I brought here to help me finish researching and writing the damn book. Yesterday went like this:

I woke up and decided to devote the entire morning to writing chapter 4 (I told you I hadn’t got very far). I sat down at the computer, opened up a new file, and titled it Chapter 4. Hmmmm. How to begin? I reread the draft of Chapter 3 and fiddled with a few sentences there. This all took about 20 minutes and I still couldn’t think of how to begin Chapter 4.
So, I decided to check in on my email. Three messages---all from students (this summer, I have 20 writing students from my university in Ohio). It only took five minutes to read the messages, but one student gave a link to website she wanted me to review as a possible source for her project. That took another 10 minutes. Oh yes, and while I was on the internet, I decided to check my Face book posts. Oops, someone posted something controversial on my wall—I then needed to post and upload a video and link in order to make a rebuttal. First, I had to find the link. Another fifteen minutes.

I decided to knock off for lunch at 11 a.m. and after that I had to watch the news and after that, I was a little sleepy so I took a walk to wake myself up. The walk made me tired, so I decided to take a little nap, and when I woke up, I didn’t feel like writing anymore. Therefore, I decided to devote today to working on Chapter 4 and here I am writing this blog post. Now that it’s done, I think I’ll have lunch because it is 11 a.m. After that, I’ll work on Chapter 4.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lobster at the Lake

If you look at my Face book page for July 4, you’ll see that my family had a lobster feast to celebrate the holiday. I let technology lend a helping hand for that.

There’s an app for everything. Who said that, anyway? They weren’t kidding! I have always been an early adopter of technology gadgets. I am not necessarily proud of that. It is quite addictive, after all.

Last week I downloaded iLobster (lite version is free from the iTunes store; pay .99 for the full feature version that I purchased). This fun app teaches you how to get the most out of your lobster dinner. As if I didn’t already know that, but still, I just had to get it.

The app includes a restaurant locator so you can find the nearest place to buy fresh lobster or order it delivered to your door. The full featured version includes cooking instructions and a video on how to crack and extract the most lobster meat from your Maine dinner.

So how will I use this app? Admittedly, I already know most of the info provided, but it is a fun app to share with guests who want to know (or are unsure about) how to efficiently attack a lobster. If you live in Maine, you’re going to want this app. And if you’re not from Maine but you like to eat lobster, you definitely need it.