Monday, June 24, 2013

Vacation Preview

Yesterday, we trekked up to Portland, Maine, with Mike's parents to do a dry run of the ferry trip over to Long Island in preparation for our big family vacation there next month. With Maggie's school year finally ending this week, I'm just starting to turn my thoughts to our summer plans and getting ready for this trip. It's going to be the quintessential New England summer vacation and I can't wait, but the tough part is going to be getting twelve people, a car, maybe some kayaks, beach gear, and a week's worth of luggage and groceries on and off the island. So we decided to do a day trip over to get the lay of the land and sea and check out the house we rented.

Kate at the ferry pier, looking at a schooner that was moored there.

Maggie and Gram and Portland

Compass on the Pier

Patiently waiting to board

Maggie's Don't-Take-My-Picture Face

All Aboard!

I don't know what they're doing here, but the ferry trip was fun and the girls loved it. It's about 45 minutes and stops at several beautiful little islands in Casco Bay before we get to Long Island.

Arriving at the dock on the island.

The harbor from Wharf Street

The general store. We bought a can of Moxie there. Tastes a lot like root beer.

Lobster traps. Interesting tidbit - half the cars on the island don't even have license plates; they just say "island car." The other half of the cars seem to have tags from Caribbean islands or Aruba!

We had a picnic lunch here next to this idiosyncratically parked sparkly pink golf cart with a pink flamingo and Mardi Gras beads hanging from the interior.

Chestnut Hill Inn - our soon-to-be home away from home

Kate is playing in the dirt in the street. There isn't much traffic 'round these parts, but everyone who does pass by (whether it be in a golf cart or a battered minivan with "FUNWAGN" plates) waves to you.

My favorite spot - the fire pit with Adirondack chairs!

A quiet spot to rest in the corner of the yard. The guy across the street must be a lobsterman: the yard is full of traps and buoys.



...and more porches.

The ocean at the end of the lane. It's about a 10 minute walk from the house. There's a second beach we didn't have time to see called Fowler Beach!

A beautiful house with an amazing garden at the end of the street which has this view...

South Beach

Plenty of fun rocks to climb around on in addition to the sand

Another gorgeous house down the road

Ocean Avenue (at the other end of the island from the beach) That building renovation should be finished by the time we get there. It will be a restaurant, ice cream shop, and gift shop.

Island Avenue - the blue building is the Post Office!

Boarding the ferry to go home

Kate was passed out cold before we even left downtown Portland! We all desperately needed coffee and friend clams before we could hit the highway back to New Hampshire!
OK, Fowlers, get pumped. This is going to be an awesome vacation! We're going to be just like the Kennedys - everyone bring your topsiders boat shoes and your crisp, white button-down shirt and your LL Bean khaki shorts with the little embroidered lobsters on them. Start practicing dropping your R's - and then I guess moving them to other parts of words where they don't belong!

It's going to be wicked pissah.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim. Too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I'm out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.
I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own songs and to sing the kind that knock you down farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


My cousin Amy sent me an email telling me to check these guys out, which is kind of hilarious because I've always been the rocker and she's the country/western chick. But I totally agree with her. You've got to check these guys out: Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. They do a series on YouTube where they record themselves playing covers in their van while they drive from gig to gig. They're amazing!

I could post ten more of these videos, but there just isn't room. You'll have to go on YouTube (or follow the link above) and waste the rest of the day watching them all like I did. Here are a few of my most favorite:

Here are a couple of their own songs, to give you an idea of what the band really sounds like:

Yes, she has on a wedding dress and they are wearing ruffled tuxedos. The video calls it "The Wedding Party." Hilarious!

I'm digging that 70s FM Gold vibe. Rock on, Sister.

Monday, June 3, 2013

How to be "a better version of the person that you actually are"

Oh, no. I don't know how. I was hoping you knew. I was asking, um, for a friend!

Actually, it's a quote from this blog post I read over at HuffPo, although it's making the rounds of the internet right now. If you haven't read it yet...

To parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud


You’re not a terrible parent.

You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.


One of the most rewarding things about having kids is the way it forces you to face your own shortcomings and encourages you to work harder to rise above them for the sake of your children. There are other life events that can have the same effect on a person's soul, but child-rearing will inevitably hold that mirror up to make you take a long, cold, hard look at yourself. And if you are already a bit self-critical, as I am, even healthy personal growth can still feel like the whip's lash.

In the end, I have to remind myself that I'm a human being and limited. There will always be a long list of things that I can't do or can't bear to force myself to do. I can't be the perfect mother for my girls every day. I'm not even perfectly myself every day, and being their mom is only one of the things that I am (doing poorly). It's good that they have a lot of other, different, kinds of people in their lives.

Because I am great at encouraging them to eat well, but I am terrible at encouraging them the make friends with strange kids on the playground.

I excel at reading to my kids and teaching them to love books. I dread (and have avoided) having to sacrifice my own free time for their involvement in organized sports.

I am super at being prepared for any contingency. I am awful at rolling with the punches.

I am good at comforting them when they are truly hurt or scared, but I am unable to keep from rolling my eyes at their petty grievances and irrational fears.

They always have clean underwear and signed school forms. However, I'm not a very good listener.

Even when I'm the most impatient with them I surely have far less patience for myself.

I am hopeful that my love will force me to be kinder to all of us, myself included.


For a long time now, whenever I get in one of these self-punishing moods about my parenting or anything else, I remind myself about the Pigasus.

John Steinbeck used the Pigasus as a symbol of himself, and even had a stamp made of it, along with the Latin inscription "Ad astra per alia porci" (To the stars on the wings of a pig). If the great John Steinbeck can define himself as "earthbound, but aspiring," then I too can be a little porky, but hoping to fly.

I should get this tattooed on my butt.

You have to laugh.