You Can’t Get There From Here

Getting off I-95 onto the smaller routes in Maine is to delve into the heart of the state. Often, as Highway 26 winds into Route 117 and then Route 118 and then Main Street, then back to itself again, you may find yourself a bit turned around.

An oft-joked about form of response, should you choose to veer off into one of the hamlets found in central Maine, is “You can’t get there from here.” It is to some extent a joke, but is often true.

When traversing this state, not only avoid the flocks of wild turkeys, the abundant deer, and somehow sneaky moose population, but plan for at least an hour added onto your travel time.

And throw that GPS out the window. Unless you like to go “muddin'” (no ‘g’) as the locals call it.

Assume Siri is wrong now and it will save you a lot of car repair bills in the future.

With this preparation, the bucolic sites of the interior of Maine await you.

That is, if you can find them.

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The Art of the Everyday – March 31: Homemade, Local flavor, Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.

W(h)ine Night

Sometimes, you need Frank the Llama.

Sometimes, you need your wine to tell you it loves you.

Sometimes, you need that very wine to remind you your home state is amazing, no matter how far away you are.

Sometimes, you need that very wine to hit a life-fulfilling synergy when it bears the sticker of your new state.

Sometimes, you need good friends to remind you why you’re here in the first place.

Sometimes, you need belly laughter, healthy snark and everything pizza to really fill you up.

Sometimes, a good jolt of good is all you need.

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The Art of the Everyday – March 25: Wine Night – Wherein I whine, and bond, and love, and pizza.

Roberts Farm Preserve

You know what’s awesome? Falling on ice on a pre-existing bruise.

JUST KIDDING.

No but really. Although the icy, downhill, hard left turn caught me and my ass by surprise, yesterday was gorgeous. Even though XC and I are still not the best of friends, I had a great time on a quick early evening ski.

Roberts Farm Preserve sits on a hill above the lake we live on, and is protected by the Western Foothills Land Trust. In the summer, this is where a kids program helps to run our CSA and throughout the year they host everything from skijoring (it’s real), to snowshoe races, to part of the Norway Triathlon.

The relatively extensive trail network (for skiing, snowshoeing, etc in the winter, and hiking in the summer) is accessible, well-marked and really beautiful.

It seemed like around every bend there was more to soak up – but that could’ve been just how happy I was to finally see the sun.

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“Our” lake – Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway, Maine

 

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The Art of the Everyday – March 5: Offbeat and out of doors at Roberts Farm Preserve.

Week of Happy: Bookstore Day

Books and trees – either end of the paper spectrum – are my peace zones. From indie Powell’s to chain Borders to the public library, I  have made some of my most pivotal memories surrounded by books.

Here in Norway, we’re lucky enough to have a small independent bookstore run by Erica and her chubby puggle.

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It’s tough to make it, but Erica keeps up a great selection of bestsellers, classics, kids books and the most thorough section of Maine-related books I’ve ever seen. From ice fishing to deer-only cookbooks, it’s provided some lessons a transplant needs (chiefly: you will always be “from away”).

One of the best things about Books n’ Things is that even if they don’t have it, they’ll get it for you, no extra charge. It’s like a super request machine, okay like Amazon, without the guilt of funding enslavement.

Also like other Main Street staples, it’s a place to run into friends, get forced into conversations with that one old lady you see everywhere, try to escape getting roped into yet another volunteer task, and watch out-of-towners try to get directions:

“Maine is well-known for its disdain for anyone not from Maine (that is, “from away”). These are commonly called “flatlanders,” even though most of the populated sections of Maine are flat and most of the surrounding states and provinces are not. Mainahs delight in giving them driving directions, which always boil down to, “Ya cahn’t git they’ah from he’ah.” Many Maine towns and landmarks are given difficult names for this exact purpose. Others, such as Mexico, Norway, and Peru, are little tricks to scare the tourist into thinking he has overshot everything.”

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The Art of the Everyday – February 6: Week of Happy – Enjoy this series of simple (and some not so simple) things that make me happy while I’m on vacation!

Main Street

Opera_House_Old.298150316_stdClassic American small towns are defined by a Main Street.

When built, these streets were where commerce was centered, where small shop fronts offered specialized services, and where a good deal of gossip was exchanged.

What is amazing about Norway, Maine, is the extent to which the community has rallied together to save its thoroughfare. In the other two towns in this now three-town area (which, to my mind raised up out west, should all be one thing…but that’s a whole other story), they’ve sacrificed any historical sense to WalMart and the like.

Norway’s buildings somehow survived neglect, emptiness, fires, loss of the mill, loss of the snowshoe factory, and were ripe for rejuvenation.

And now, the street really looks just like that historical print. It’s full, vibrant, enjoyable, and quite frankly, adorable.

This week, my boss and all the Norway Opera House businesses were featured on the local news. It reminded me how special our town is, especially in this economic time.

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Being involved through work in two local ventures, and in this week especially, my official one-year anniversary in Maine, I feel deeply connected to the revived downtown landscape. It is a space that works hard with what it has, values what it has been, and reaches toward all that could be.

It may be a tiny town, but it has big ambitions. I’m glad to be at least a small part of it.

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The Art of the Everyday, January 22 – A revisit to a 2013 theme, Homemade.

Lake Walking

The lake is frozen. Super frozen.

It holds up cars, snowmobiles, Norway Lake’s annual SnowFest, ice fishing groups, even the occasional deer and moose.

But it freaks me out. Like all the way out.

I can’t handle it. I tiptoe like I’m on hot coals just waiting for the proverbial crick-crick-CRACK and the ensuing tumultuous sprint away from the cavernous gap.

Obviously this hasn’t happened to me, but every time I’ve gone out, I have a little extra skip in my step.

Until last weekend.

Our great friends/old roommates/general troublemakers came up for a birthday weekend. We tippled the old Allen’s coffee brandy, had a great dinner then thought – hey – it’s a full moon! What better place to see it than the middle of the lake?

So I strapped on my spikes and went along.

Emboldened by some liquid courage and a truly phenomenal sky, I stepped out. Then ran out. Finally getting all the way to a small island in the center.

As we watched the dogs run around, the moon make its arc across the sky, we swapped tall tales and ribbed each other as one by one we all fell traversing the ice pack.

It was cold, it was beautiful, and it was so worth it.

However, you’re still more likely to find me on shore.

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Last year’s SnowFest

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The Art of the Everyday, January 18 – Offbeat: Another tried and true theme from 2013, wherein I go outside. I mean I go outside everyday. But…you get it.

Undercover Flea

Flea malls are the only type of mall I like.

Rural Maine is a treasure trove of weird, awesome, useless and unique crap stuff you really need.

The photos above are just a sweet, sweet slice of some things I’ve come across: oil sheen glass hanging of Dwight D. Eisenhower? Obviously. Fifty Planet Hollywood shot glasses? Meets an everyday need. Cardinal’s Blessing? I’ve been meaning to re-buy some indulgences.

Beyond the bizarre, I’ve found some of my favorite ‘things’ here – my Plymouth Rock Commemorative plate (spoon plate for the stove), wooden map of the bahamas (bookshelf accent), and some replacement 50s-style champagne glasses that match our wine glasses (I break things).

Beyond meeting my everyday need for the weird, and elevated Jesus snow globes, I love looking through these objects – cast off, or sold with obvious love. All pieces of the physical life we build, and rebuild, throughout our lifetimes.

And I’ll always go back for more.

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The Art of the Everyday, January 16 – Homemade: A revisit of one of last year’s themes, where I explore my new community – a fitting tribute to my one-year-aversary in Maine!

Out of Control

I was walking down Rampart Street, and the heavens just opened – I was soaked in less than ten seconds.

Running through the streets of Antiguo Cuscatlan I took off my flip flops (barefoot in downtown San Salvador) in some vain attempt to get to a roof faster. Didn’t work.

Staring at P’s four wheel drive Subaru two days ago as it just sat, cock-eyed, half in a ditch while the hell that is ‘wintry mix’ rained down.

There’s nothing like epic weather to make you feel helpless.

And honestly, there’s absolutely nothing you can do.

I’ve been back in Maine for six days and have logged two calls to AAA for stuck vehicles, one to a new ‘sand guy’, called out of work twice because I couldn’t get out of my driveway, and once worked from the local cafe because of a power outage in my neighborhood.

But damn, it’s sure pretty.

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The Art of the Everyday, January 7: Helpless – that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

Francisco!

Guys. Guys.

It’s CHRISTMAS.

Sparkles. Glitter. Dead Trees. Tributes to Freyr.

I am so into it.

I didn’t really do a lot this year (okay, yes, I’m currently drinking Bailey’s on ice, by the crackling wood stove and festive tree, listening to the Nutcracker on the radio…) but for some reason my first “solo” Christmas, with just P and I, feels different.

Despite the fact that by purchasing new board games, I may have had my identity stolen from Target (think they’ll take the student loans?), I am amped about this winter season.

This was a huge year. A year I could’ve never expected and one I’m definitely okay leaving behind.

So much about this year, and this blog (happy almost-year-aversary!), has changed me. I lost deeper than I knew how, and then I lost deeper again, I finally gained some literal and metaphorical space, and just sat for a while to think. 

And I don’t know where I’m going.

You know what?

That’s okay.

At 28, I guess I’m supposed to have it sorted, but I don’t. And I’m happy.

Strike that, joyous. In a way I think I’ve found at least a little slice of peace. (And gin.)

I guess you’re traditionally supposed to wait for the new year to make ‘resolutions’, but this will be the first in a series of looking back/looking forward, as I think deeply and excitedly about how to write better, ponder better, do better.

I’m oh so glad you’re along for the ride.

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Sara, this one’s for you.