log (2008/08/01 to 2008/08/07)

In case anyone's still reading this neglected ol' weblog, but really as usual mostly just for me, it's time to say

Happy Roughly-Ninth Anniversary of This Stuff!

We have a pretty good 'net connection this year, but I think I'll continue the tradition of writing this entry slowly over the week, and then posting it back-dated once we get back. (That way the Wired Burglars who constantly scour the intertubes for evidence of houses being empty won't find out we're gone until it's too late.)

We are, as usual, up in Maine; the air is, as usual, breathtakingly sweet and cool, the water heartbreakingly lovely. It's (let's see) Tuesday at the moment, and everyone is rustling around getting ready to walk down the road to the Ocean Point Inn for the Buffet Breakfast 7:30-10:00 Open to the Public.

Less as usual, "everyone" is five of us: us four, and the little daughter's (gasp) boyfriend). Can you imagine?

(Ah, amazingly enough everyone seems to be pretty much ready to go, even though it's only 09:15; so I'll see ya in a bit.)

Ha, we're back! That was very nice. Idyllic an' all. Full buffet, plain and blueberry (mmm) pancakes, French toast, oven-browned potatoes, scrambled eggs, ham an' asparagus quiche, sausages, bacon, fruit an' danish an' coffee an' assorted fruit juices, US$11.95 each (cold side alone, US$6.95, but no one did that).

We're in the Boothbay area again this year, not right in town like last year, but rather south down the same peninsula that the very first house we stayed in is on. Down past that very first house, in fact, down in Ocean Point, south of Linekin, which is south of East Boothbay (bustling downtown East Boothbay, with a postoffice and a restaurant), and south of Bayville at the head of Linekin bay there.

Because there aren't all that many houses or people, the only post office is in East Boothbay, so as far as Official Addresses are concerned Linekin and Bayville and Ocean Point are all in East Boothbay, but that's boring.

This year I took Thursday and Friday off from work, and we stopped in Rhode Island on the way up to visit with friend K before coming up here on Saturday. That was fun; haven't seen her in all too long. We drove up to Boothbay on Saturday, stopped at the Hannaford to get food (not having packed much so as to have enough room in the car for a boyfriend), and then went to the downtown East Boothbay restaurant for my first lobster (mmmmm) of the week.

On Sunday morning I made Bisquick (tm) pancakes for breakfast and fudge brownies from mix (the little daughter's idea) for after that. We did the traditional run into Boothbay Harbor for ice cream and general wandering around, and then went out along the road eastward to our traditional informal outdoor lobster warf. Unusually, it was full to bursting with motorcyclists; so many that the street in the immediate vicinity was closed off, and we had to park over behind the church and walk over.

We had, it turned out, come over just as the 28th Annual Stoney's Lobster Run passed through East Boothbay. A whole mess of people with motorcycles, many leather jackets, T-shirts many black and/or with skulls, many men with big bellies and women with big (or at least proudly displayed) chests, people laughing loudly, waving arms in the air, calling to each other across the crowd, and in general being boisterous.

We ordered and started eating our lunch among them; it was great fun. A few minutes later someone announced over the warf loudspeaker that they'd be heading out, and soon afterward there was a really earsplitting noise for rather a long time, that slowly diminished with distance, and then they were gone.

On Monday (yesterday as of this writing), we had cereal for breakfast and drove to Bath, stopping at a more or less ordinary suburban mall's GameStop to buy a Nintendo DS or something charger (because ours had all been left behind), visiting Halcyon Yarns ('cause M likes yarn an' stuff), and then randomly strolling around scenic historic downtown Bath. Through random good luck we stumbled on and had a most excellent lunch at Beale Street Barbecue; good jazz, local microbrew beers, friendly staffpersons, very delicious foodstuffs.

On Monday evening the little daughter and the boyfriend went for a walk and got pleasantly rained on by a passing shower (they were in swim things anyway, since they were planning to play on the rocks and look for a beach), and then later I walked down the same way and found the Ocean Point Inn and their Breakfast Buffet sign, which brings us around to the start of our story.

I'm being very straight-up narrative, aren't I? That's allowed, though; I like to narrate. *8)

Somewhere in the middle of the paragraphs above the kids and I went off to Popham Beach (M once again staying home to relax, not being a big fan of beaches). This resulted in two Heartwarming an' Gratifying Stories. Here is the first one:

The kids and I got down to Popham Beach without any trouble (not even any traffic through Wiscasset), and it was a lovely day. Such a lovely day, in fact, that when we got near the beach parking area the road was solidly lined with parked cars, and then there was a line of cars waiting to get to the entrance, and then at the entrance there was a nice man in a park uniform and little hat, patiently explaining that the lot was full and turning cars away.

"So what do we do?" I asked.

"I don't know!" he said, "You might try Percy's."

So not knowing what else to do we drove onward along the road, and after quite awhile there was a little sort of town, and in that town where was a Percy's General Store or something, and it had a not-quite-full parking lot, and in that parking lot was a sign "Beach Parking $7".

So I told the kids we'd drive back to the park entrance and drop them off there, and then I'd drive back to Percy's and park, and walk back to join them.

"What if Percy's is full when you get back?" they asked, and "That's a really long way, are you sure you want to walk that far?", and I said well what else can we do we'll cope.

So we drove back to the park entrance, and when we got there the gate was open and they were letting people in, so we paid the largish parking fee, and parked, and went to the beach.

And that was nice.

Wasn't that Heartwarming an' Gratifying? Or at least easy to skip over, due to the variant formatting?

Here's the second one:

I was sitting on the blanket reading when a little pink girl in a pink two-piece swimsuit came up to her mother, who was sitting in the next bunch of towels and chairs a yard or two away, and held up her arm in an upset fashion. There was a velco strap around her wrist, and trailing from that was a black elastic cord that was clearly supposed to, but did not, lead to one of those floating "boogie board" things that kids flop around on in these decadent times.

The mother made vague notions that the little girl should look for it, and the little girl made sounds to the effect that she already had. I got up and went down to the water.

There was no sign of a loose board floating on the water where the little girl had come up from, but the surf was flowing pretty strongly to the right (I had to keep looking gradually rightward all afternoon to keep an eye on any of my charges that were in the water), and down aways to the right, just at the edge of the water, was a boogie board, near but not obviously associated with a couple of people. I started down that way just as the owner of the board and her mother arrived and started scanning nearby waves.

As I approached the suspect board, a wave caught it and began to tug it off further to the right, but someone grabbed it and held it out to the people standing there, who seemed uncertain about the whole thing.

"Is this yours?" I asked, and they said that no it wasn't but they'd just put it higher on the sand so it wouldn't get swept away. I said there was a little girl looking for one just up the beach, and they handed it to me.

When I got back, the little girl and her mother were just turning away from the surf, which they had been examining on the apparent theory that the board might have been impishly swimming up-current and hiding under the surface of the water. They didn't notice me until I held the board out and said "Is this yours?"

They looked quite surprised and said yes it was and I gave it to them and said that it had washed up down that way. They said Thank You and all, and I went back up to my towel.

And that was nice, too. I don't know why I find the "mysterious stranger who suddenly appears from nowhere and solves the problem and vanishes" role, but I do. *8)

So yeah wow that probably didn't deserve nearly that many column-inches, but there we are. Oh, here's something else! Not heartwarming or gratifying, especially, just sort of odd...

Maine Traffic Phenomenon: Route 1 is a major thoroughfare in these parts, along the coast here, and in particular in Wiscasset the highway bridge there is the only practical way between points around say Bath and points around say Boothbay.

Wiscasset is a pretty little town ("the prettiest town in Maine" the sigh says, roughly), and down at the bottom of the hill, just before (or just after, depending) the bridge, Route 1 is a small local road, with a couple of intersections (at least one of which is lacking a left-turn lane), a couple of crosswalks (giving pedestrians the right-of-way), and a couple or four seafood places, one of which (Red's Eats) is a tiny shack that invariably has a line, sometimes stretching down the street.

The effect of this little small-town intersection on Route 1 is that whenever the volume of traffic and the density of tourists reaches a certain threshold (as it apparently does pretty much every afternoon in the summer) there is a miles-long twenty or thirty minute backup on Route 1 in both directions, often stretching all the way across the highway bridge and up and down one or more hills in the southbound lane, and all the way through Wiscasset town and out into the fields in the northbound one.

I wonder about this. Surely the state (or the county, or the town, or whoever) know about this. I wonder why they haven't added at least that missing left-turn lane, and for that matter a pedestrian bridge or underpass or something. Or rerouted that bit of Route 1 around the intersection, perhaps. Seems unlikely that the mess is good for business, all things considered; there are always cars turning around and going back the other way when it's bad, and in fact we did that ourselves on Sunday, which is why we didn't get to Bath until Monday. But maybe Red's Eats likes it?


Wow, what alot of typing already! Right now the windows are open and there's an almost-chilly twilight breeze drifting in, and outside the little daughter and the boyfriend are playing their guitars and singing, and the music is drifting in with the air. I think I'll stop writing things down for now; not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow (the forecast is calling for rain). Maybe I'll give you the traditional (and I'm sure eagerly awaited!) list of books that are lying around the place.

Today, Wednesday, it rained pretty much all day. I slept late, went to the grocery to restock the bread and milk (and deli meat, and ice cream, and brownie mix, and...), and did very little else. Had Texas Garlic Toast with Sardines in Mustard Sauce for lunch (the rest of the family were all like Ewwwww Yucch). Checked my various personal (but not work!) emails. Read Man-Kzin Wars stories. Dozed. Looked out admiringly at the world a few times.

Mmmmmmm, lazy...

I think my mind has gotten quieter, sleepier, over the years. Not spontaneously thinking up bundles of CGI scripts to write, or new designs for the website, so much anymore. Lack of sleep due to SL? Or a channeling of ideas into SL? Or just advancing age (and, presumably, wisdom!)?

I'll think about that more later... *8)

Yesterday, Thursday, we went into Wiscasset, ate at the very nice cozy friendly Sarah's by the waterfront, just across from Red's Eats, did our bit to contribute to the traffic problem by crossing Route 1 a few times, walked by and looked over the fence at the Ancient Cemetery (1753), looked at antique stores and the Old General Store, found a present for the boyfriend's mother. I had lobster again at Sarah's; delicious and guilt-provoking as usual. And we made brownies again.

Today we were going to go on a Whale Watch out of Boothbay Harbor, 'cause we've never been and I like to get out on the water somewhere at least once, but it was cancelled because of the rain of all things. Stupid rain. So I get to mope and feel sorry for myself. *8)

Nothing else to do on a rainy day has occurred to us, so we may just spend our last full day here sitting around in the house again, listening to the rain again, reading, playing games on our iPods and things. Maybe it'll let up enough that I can at least go for a walk; I'd like to do that.

Ooh, let's do the piles of books thing, just for old times' sake. No links, 'cause I'm not sitting close enough to the modem to plug into it, but you can look on Google or Amazon just as well as I could.

I finished "Man-Kzin Wars" the other day; it's upstairs in my bedroom. It was fun, although I've probably read it before; "The Warriors" is the logically-first Niven story about the Kzin, Poul Anderson's "Iron" a good if somewhat too long story about plucky humans outwitting a Kzin force, and Dean Ing's "Cathouse" a good and also somewhat too long story that includes some Kzin females from back before language was bred out of them. Also up here are some other books I bought for a dime each at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store in Boothbay Harbor and haven't read yet: "The Family at Tammerton" ("The Very Best in British Mystery"), "Judge me not" by John D. MacDonald, "Hope of Heaven" by John O'Hara (which doesn't appear to be either SF or mystery; how did that happen?), and "Vor" by James Blish (safely SF). And on the subject of old SF novels with short titles, there's also John Robert Russell's "Ta", whose cover features a dandelion with breasts, which I finished the other day and which was fun but silly.

And also also up here, on top of the pile of Buddhadharmas and Wireds and New York Times Book Reviews, are Buckley's "Right Reason" and Bunnie Hwang's "Hacking the Xbox" that I brought from home, and Italo Calvino's "Numbers in the Dark" and Xam Cartier's "Muse-Echo Blues" that I bought at a used book store in Providence on the way up.

(There will now be a pause while I lie back on the bed here and read a story of two of Calvino. Ha, he's a genius!)

Downstairs is Ellery Queen "The Dragon's Teeth", also from the Friends of the Library Used Book Store and also unread; it's downstairs because I took it to the beach with us the other day. Also Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita", which I got from Amazon ages ago for reasons that I've forgotten; I'm about half-way through it and it's strange and good. And then Man-Kzin Wars IV, in which I've read Kingsbury's "The Survivor", interesting because it's so much from the Kzin's point of view, and am just starting Greg Bear and S. M. Stirling's "The Man who would be Kzin" (haha title).

And that's about it. And now the sun's come out! Maybe I'll put on outside clothes and go for a walk...

Ah, that was nice. The sun stayed out just long enough, and there was no rain to speak of. A nice walk in that incredible Maine shore air, and I'm not sad anymore. We're probably going to all go out somewhere together and eat (maybe that barbecue place in Bath again even).

What is sorrow? Pain says "that's damaging us; don't do that!". Does sorrow say "things aren't as good as they were, or aren't as good as they could have been; don't do that!"? I was sad, just a small sorrow, that I wasn't going to get out onto the water as expected, didn't get in a real swim. That the sand dollar that the little boy found at the beach got broken in the bag on the way home. That this summer doesn't have the blissful (and probably time-imagined) glow of the first few? Sorrow that can be dissipated by the sweet air in my face, by feeling that this, now, is very very good, Whale Watching or not, swimming in freezing water or not.

There is something very subtle, I think, in a brain, in a mind, that determines whether or not this, now, is good, feels good, gets counted as good. Upbringing, philosophy, hormones, neurotransmitter balance? Air temperature and pressure?

Now it's nearly midnight on Friday; up early (or at least earlier) tomorrow, then the long drive home. It's been a good week, despite the rain; I feel rested, and if not distinctly energized then at least not tired. It's been fun doing personal email, and Plurk, and yet not spending too many hours online; I think I accidentally hit a good middle-point there.

Maybe I'll post this tomorrow. Or the next day. Happy Saturday and/or Sunday! *8)