Monday, June 18, 2012

Spring In Maine

Now Playing -  This Could All Be Yours Someday by Guster

Life -  
Spring in Maine... Doesn't exist. They have the Thaw. And Mud Season. And Blackfly Season. And at some point, in between or after or all at the same time, Summer arrives. It is here now in the Bangor area, and it's pretty great. Temperatures in the mid seventies, a light breeze, rain every eight days or so, just enough to keep everything green, green, Green. 

Everything is beautiful right now. The grass is green and lush, the forests teem with ferns and all manner of life, from slugs to adorable baby deer. We've seen five deer in our backyard in the last few weeks, to say nothing of the hundreds of birds. Red Winged Blackbirds, Starlings, Jays, an Owl or two, Robins, Sparrows, all manner of seabird that I would embarrass myself by trying to identify, woodpeckers... Anyway, there's a lot of birds. And it gets light at around 5 am and they waste no time in getting to singing. Our entire property is filled with birdsong until dusk, around 9pm, when the frogs take over. 

We have told ourselves this year that despite countless other projects we're working on, Etsy, Writing, Weight Loss, Home Improvement, Moon Base Construction (Not a real project) We'd find some time to explore and enjoy the area we live in. That could be rough, neither of us have a lot of free time and with the schedules we work, our days off together are far and few between and there's usually so much to do during them that finding time for something leisure related is tough. 

A few weeks ago we managed it though and took off for a road trip in Stormalong with the boys. Our goal was to find a place to go camping later this summer, probably July. We checked out a small local camp that was privately owned and  while it was decently secluded and near a small lake and only about 20 minutes from the house, it was also clearly geared towards trailer campers and had a large amount of sites for seasonal rental - some with full fledged cabins installed for the season. "Upta Camp" as the locals call it.

So we went further afield, up North about an hour to Sebec Lake, where we found a great little state run campsite. The rates are reasonable, the campsites are cute and mostly secluded, very shady and tent friendly. They remind us a lot of our camps out West. They have a little path down to the lake and full facilities, including bathrooms with showers and dish-washing sinks. And they're dog friendly. Excellent!

After our drive, we made a small detour to Monson, where we loaded up on Bar-B-Q, including a sublime cheesesteak with smoked beef and made another plan for the summer - to attend our second Swap Meat this July 21st. A heavenly event where barbecuers around the East converge on a tiny town and do their best to out smoke each other. We went last year with my mom when she was visiting and had a blast. There was a burning pig. What could be better than that, I ask?


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Going Home Again - Part Four

Now Playing -  Say Goodbye by Norah Jones
Life -  
 When we were headed back to Idaho, I had actually been concerned that the thinner mountain air would cause some difficulty for me. I've never been the best when it comes to breathing - I always feel stuffy, but I'd read that many people have trouble making the switch back after being gone for a while. I did not have that problem. In fact, I loved the thin, sweet mountain air. I'd missed it.

What I had forgotten was how incredibly dry the air is in Idaho. I felt like a sponge on a hot sidewalk as the days passed. My skin dried up, my lips cracked, my nose bled more frequently. Even my hair seemed more brittle. My heel cracked up the back and started bleeding. Now, some of this was my fault. We were spending hours a day in sheds and garages, shuffling through boxes and papers and it was in the mid to high eighties the whole time, as opposed to the sixties and seventies we'd been having in Maine and I wasn't drinking as much as I should have been.

The last few days of our trip were better. Yard sale over, we were still very busy, but it was with visits and friends, barbecues and reminiscing, the good stuff. We had a smaller BBQ at Rich's for closer friends and family and a large picnic at a park for extended family, where I was blessed to see my uncle Maynard (Isn't that a great Western name?) who has been battling illness for a long time - his doctor wrote him off and he keeps on fighting, even growing an enviably wavy head of hair back.My crazy and hilarious Aunt Carroll came too, which was great - She's the second greatest influence on my interest in reading and writing after my mom. And the ever increasingly large Marley Clan sent their representatives. Not everyone - just the cool ones. haha

After the park, on the last night in Pocatello, we got together with some friends and family and went to a late night 3D showing of Avengers, which was spectacular, stopped by my old Walgreens to say hi to Mr. Wizard and stumbled to bed at 2am.

We didn't get out of town the next day until after 11 - had a leisurely breakfast at Butterburr's, loaded a few last things into the dumpster and then slept in the car most of the way to Salt Lake City. We didn't fly out until midnight, but we'd promised Lindsay's brother that we'd spend the day with him and his family. This turned out to be a fantastic idea. We had a low key, laid back evening grilling burgers and playing with a freaky little bunny and headed to the airport.

I love Red-Eye flights - There's something very apocalyptic when you are flying over the lights of a city at 3am and usually, you're one of just three or four people awake on the plane. The problem with them is that I can't sleep during them at all - I have an easier time sleeping during day flights so my next day is a little rough. The flight itself was a typically squalid affair - Delta again - crappy snacks, pokey armrests with the added inconvenience of inconsiderate people in front of you reclining their seats. The thing goes back 3 inches, tops for the person sitting in the chair, yet somehow reduces the amount of space the person behind has by half. I despise it.

When we touched down in Bangor (After a flight in a humorously tiny plane) the difference in humidity on our skin was immediate and jarring. My fingers felt pruny. It was a fine trip and we were very glad we did it, but man, it was good to get home - see our kids and sleep in our own bed again.

Was it all it could be? It was worth doing - we loved seeing family and it was incredibly reassuring to re-pack and go through our shed, but it was no vacation. Next time, we plan to fly right over Idaho - rent a house on the Oregon coast and let any family that wants to see us drive a few hours and hang out on the beach in front of the Pacific with us. That's a vacation. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Going Home Again - Part Three

Now Playing -  All A Dream by Norah Jones

Life -  
 The next few days were a bit blurry, we continued sorting through the shed, taking time out to eat Mexican food, chat with friends and family, eat more Mexican food, dividing boxes of books and comics and generally working or moving around from 6:30am to 1 or 2 in the morning.

The shed got finished, mostly, everything re-boxes neatly and labeled and re-stacked, this time with a protective layer of plastic over things. We had a few nice meals with people, took a couple retrospective drives around town,  and generally wondered whether it was really supposed to count as a vacation if we never really had time to catch our breath.

Saturday and Sunday we had our yard sale, the first day in the yard of the house and the second in the parking lot of Rich's music store; Budget Audio Video. We did well. There was still a TON of stuff left - far more than I'd imagined m- enough for three weeks of yard sales, but we made around $200 each day and moved enough that we felt successful. The rest was neatly packed away for my mom to use in a charity yard sale later this summer. A hint - even if all you have is a bunch of terrible, ratty comics - find a short box to have at your sale - we made $60 off of them at .75 each or 5/$3 and more importantly, the word Comics! on the sign brought a whole passel of folks our way. The clothes, on the other hand did nothing. I think we sold an old Eagles jersey and a t-shirt. Out of a few dozen large bags of clothes, we made less than two bones. Bah.

My mom was a huge help and it was a lot of fun spending so much quality time with her and her quirky little dog. Looking back, it's disappointing how much time we spent prepping and running the thing, but it's comforting to know that our remaining boxes are stacked better and the profits from the sale helped offset the money we didn't have but spent on plane tickets out.

On the subject of Budget Audio Video - We were actually quite worried about being there. My wife grew up working in her dad's store. I worked there. We met many friends there. I amassed a ridiculous collection of DVDs and CDs there. It was a huge part of our lives for a long time and while we were in Maine, Rich made the difficult decision to downgrade the store into semi retirement mode. He rented out 2/3 of the building and cut back on his stock dramatically; no longer carrying new CDs, doing special orders and selling a larger portion of their stock online. For the last few years, their profits had been shrinking, the business harder to find and he'd been getting more and more traffic for his audio and video transferring services.

It was the right move to make, but Linz and I were worried. We'd heard he was a little depressed initially with long time customers' reactions to the new store - it had been in the old form for over 30 years, after all. I loved the new store. It has a small, hole in the wall vibe with plenty of vinyl and a couple walls of used CDs and DVDs and a large area in back for their online sales and conversion processes. I'll always miss the old Budget Tapes and Records, but Budget Audio/Video is pretty awesome.