This Old House

July 15, 2012 § 9 Comments

The Maine house is old.

It’s a good house.

A pretty shingled house.

It was designed by the famous architect William Barry in 1888 for his aunt, Mary Cleaves Lord Coleman. Her husband Walter Coleman had bought the two lots it would sit upon as a wedding gift to his bride, and though she died before it was completed, he spent many of his summers in the beach cottage until the end of his life.

Over time there were small changes made to the structure of the house, but to this day, the place looks much as it always did.

Once, a long time ago, my mother said she saw a vision of a woman in the doorway from my bedroom (back when it was her bedroom) heading upstairs to the third floor.

I’m a believer in such things; not sure what really happens when we die, but all things being possible, why wouldn’t old souls walk the floors of this historic old house.

One night last week I put the girls to sleep while the sun was still shining, tip-toeing downstairs for some time to myself; a great feat that I didn’t pass out in the sweet space between my daughters.

I wanted to watch my shows, my Showtime shows, whose exquisite writing allow me to escape in half hour increments.

To my delight, Weeds had begun again after a great big cliff hanger last season that had left me praying for Nancy all winter.

The episode (two of season eight) did not disappoint; my heroine didn’t die from the presumed gunshot to the head, but had come full circle from housewife to weed connoisseur to criminal mastermind and back to sweet Nancy.

The episode followed Nanc through the hospital during her recovery.

Upon the final scene, my heroine pulled and heaved to climb a set of stairs which was the litmus test for her discharge to freedom. Wearing knee socks and silver clogs (part of the reason I love her so much is her eclectic and always interesting shoe choices) she wobbled and grasped, careful in her footing and determined to make it to the top.

The camera held still at her back.

I held my breath and sat perched on the edge of the striped upholstered sofa.

Out of my mouth came the exalted prayer for Nancy’s survival. I heard my voice exclaim with hope and certainty, “Nancy! Don’t fall!”

And in the instant that the words escaped my mouth, before she turned to face the screen, came the smack of a picture frame (an embroidered sign carefully enclosed) that chose to leap from its settled place against the wall.

The splat of the frame as it hit face down on the built-in book shelves, which hold the television, the frame, and a hundred other dodads collected by my mother over the years, left an eerie absolution that I was heard. But heard by whom?

My mouth hung open as Nancy’s smile declared she’d won the battle. She’d made it to the top with determination, ferociousness and strength.

Mom, who happened to be seated to my left looked at me wide-eyed and stunned; the moment becoming powerful in the assemblance of the parts.

In every day there are signs that alert us to our paths.

Maybe if the frame had fallen minutes after the show had ended we would have chalked it up to the wind.

Maybe if it had fallen moments before we would have been irritated by the intrusion to our heightened excitement over our program.

But it didn’t. It fell at such a moment that no doubt could be explicated. It was a sign, literal and metaphysical, just for me.

My faith has been wavering as of late (as my divorce is imminent), but that moment let it be restored.

I am not alone, despite the nights that I feel utterly so.

And in that reminder came a new peace, albeit a temporary peace; an assurance and awakening to the fact that there is something greater than I that will be with me as I travel this path I have chosen.

The sign that fell. It’s message strangely appropriate, too.

The built-in bookshelves, the t.v., the frame and the rest of the inhabitants.

We brought home two enormous balloons from cousin James’ birthday party yesterday. At dinnertime we went looking for the red one that had seemed to disappear. We found it hiding up in the eaves of The Elms. Another sign? Ever since I saw The Red Balloon in college, I always wonder what a red balloon is trying to tell me.

I took this picture of a photo in the bathroom at the Edgecomb tennis club down the road. It wasn’t dated, but I’m guessing it is late 1800’s. I wonder if any of the players ever lived in our house, or visited it at least?

Pink screen door.

This old house. It looks bigger than it is. The inside is quite like many old cottages with small rooms and narrow staircases. A lot of the newer owners renovated cottages in the neighborhood making them bigger and more grand. I loathe the choice. Bigger and fancier is not always better.

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#YA

June 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

Before leaving Raleigh the girls and I took a trip to the book store to purchase our favorite quiet time activity to be used as an airport/airplane/traveling diversion; a couple of the Usborne sticker books.

Before hitting the children’s section, however, we made our millionth visit to the public bathroom, passing the young adult section on our way.

As we exited, I glanced toward the packed shelves and ran my hands over the end cap outfacing fiction for young adults, clear in my mind that this was my next writing venture. I wished I had time to sit and investigate on my own without little hands pulling me in the opposite direction.

I could have started writing #YA sooner, but I knew I needed to get to Maine before the words would form and flow and the story would appear.

I was right and on our first morning here it began as I’d hoped. I’m currently a good way into chapter one; my main character introduced with his place in the world cemented.

It’s advised when writing a book to let others read and hear it often, often enough that quality feedback can be rendered and opinions can be shared.

So this morning I read my first 1300 words while Peachie listened intently.

When I finished she said she liked it.

She said it was, “riveting.”

She said it drew her in.

But she is my mother and she has to say that, so I will keep writing and sharing with my closest and dearest; the ones who will tell me the truth; who trust I can handle the truth. Maybe I’ll share it with interested strangers. Why not.

To aid in the task ahead I’ve been taking lots of pictures of this place. I’m excited to write about it, to share it with people near and far, and the pictures are helping me to find the words.

The Maine state motto is Dirigo, which means I lead, and the Polar Star is its seal because if its location at the uppermost tip of our country, the first place you can see the sun rise in America.

But the iconic sign that you see upon entrance to the state proudly proclaims, “Welcome to Maine. The Way Life Should be!”

In so many ways it is. But you have to experience it to understand what that means. Once the seed is planted (the understanding and acceptance of all its parts) the love for the place begins to grow and stick like barnacles on beach rocks.

Beach rocks!

You’ll find them make their appearance someplace in chapter two.

My camera took this photo by accident. Sometimes accidents are happy mistakes.

Some people wouldn’t consider this a beach day. We feel differently.

Flag etiquette. Purists believe that we should always fly our country’s flag at the very top of the gaff. Here, the American flag is below the Burgee, the small triangular flag representing the club where the flags are flown. Below is the Canadian flag for our friends and neighbors to the north who also love this place, and at an equal level is the flag for the state of Maine. I’m a purist. I’ve got to go make a call….

Smoothies, Dead Fish, and Teamwork

March 7, 2012 § 6 Comments

Wonderful Wednesday has left me feeling great!

I’m not sure why I ever veer off from this kind of healthy eating (that I know is so good for me), but when time is not managed properly my diet is always the first to go down in flames. Weeks can go by and I start to feel sluggish. My jeans become tighter and I suck in my stomach extra hard and pose sideways as I pass mirrors. Standing face on reveals the lumpy truth. It’s always at that point when I get out the juicer and start again; such a disheartening cycle.

I drank my smoothie after this morning’s run and it felt like a good choice for recovery. On the way to grab the girls I toasted two pieces of Ezekiel bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter and some jelly. I was feeling the need for crunch so I took along an apple and a cup of lower fat tortilla chips and headed out the door. I know it’s bad to eat in the car, but when I’m on the go there is no other way.

The weather today was warm, so the moms met up at the playground to chit and chat. The kids played nicely and I realized how much I love the group of ladies that come to the lower playground under that big old tree.

Most of the pre-school moms meet up at the enclosed playground where they don’t have to watch their kids as closely. There’s always a flutter of activity up there, but my kids like the swirly thingy that they can wind down and the triple slides, so to the smaller lower playground we go. In a way, it feels a little like high school with all the cool girls up in the quad, while I hang out with the smokers and rebels behind the bleachers. None of the moms I hang out with are actual smokers or rebels, but I like that we are a little off from the bigger group. It’s always been how I roll.

To say I had the best time I’d had all week would be an understatement. I left after an hour of really amazing jibber jabber about boogers and baby weight, cancer and gallbladder removal, feeling happy. Really connected and happy. Isn’t that amazing? That booger talk and gall stone removal could inspire such a reaction in a person? I think it’s why mommy groups were created to begin with, though I wouldn’t know because I never joined one. I thought all mommy groups were created by those girls in the quad.

On the way home I talked my little gals into a little trip to Whole Foods. I reminded them that it’s not a super huge deal if the car cart is being used, so if it was gone we needed to act like four-year olds and not crying babies.

We ran through the doors and spotted the red one; the car with both wheels still in tact.

Like gold had been struck, we ran to it. They hopped in and we roamed around collecting more stuff for juicing and some fishies for dinner.

My kids have eaten fish since they were little. As a Mainer, it is my responsibility to feed them the gifts from the sea and generally they like what they’ve had.

When they saw a bunch of fish still attached to their heads and tails, they got out of the cart for a good look. They examined the fish and asked questions about how they ended up dead under glass. Were they real? Why were they different colors? It was like a spur of the moment Science lesson, right there in the fish department.

I felt proud when Sophie pointed to a crustacean tail and shouted out,” Look mom, lobster!”

Mainers know lobster.

I ended the day with a dinner of quinoa and a salmon burger with fresh avocado. Brian’s bean and veggie salad from last night was the perfect addition and I appreciated his thoughtful preparation. Sometimes we work pretty well as a team, though often it isn’t so obvious.

A piece of dark chocolate and I’m perfectly good and satisfied.

I made it through Wonderful Wednesday. Maybe I should have called it Wicked Wednesday in honor of that Maine lobster under the glass?

Today was wicked wicked good!

Look Ma, dead fish!

Dinner.

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