Thursday, December 18, 2008


We stayed in Maine from just before Thanksgiving until December 13, hanging out with Sarah’s family. After Thanksgiving, it was a pretty quiet couple of weeks.

The day after Thanksgiving, Sarah, Mom, and Amy went to a Peacox Productions holiday show. The show was a charity fundraiser that consisted of a series of numbers with men dressed in drag, lip-synching to holiday or oldies songs. The first few numbers were entertaining, but after a while the numbers started to look awfully similar. We were glad that we left Dad and Brian at home – there were only a few men in the audience and without exception, they got harassed by the “ladies”.

On Sunday, Amy went back to school. She had a couple of weeks to go to finish up the semester.

During the week while Sarah’s parents were at work, Sarah caught up on some reading. She read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It wasn’t as good as his more popular work The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but it did offer some interesting insights into how America got into its present food mess and some practical suggestions for how to avoid the worst of the American diet.

While Sarah was reading, Brian was alternating between doing sudokus and fighting with the internet. Sarah’s parents have dial-up, which is painfully to use because it is so slow. We also went running a few times when the weather was decent.

We spent a couple afternoons at the local library using their wireless internet because that was the only way to really get anything done online. The library is essentially one room, but the librarian, Penny, has worked hard over the years to get grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups. As a result, it’s amazingly technologically advanced for such a tiny library. The library always brings back good memories for Sarah, as she spent a lot of time there as a kid.

Sarah did lots of cooking since both her parents were working. Since we haven’t had a kitchen in over a year, she didn’t really mind. She tried out some new recipes, some of which were tasty and others of which were questionable. Oh well, that’s always the way with experimental recipes. On two nights, Sarah and her Mom had lobster while Brian tried out Avinash’s steak cooking process and cooked steak for him and Sarah’s Dad. The steak turned out perfect and Sarah was delighted to get lobster, which is one of her favorites and a rare treat.

On Saturday, Brian and Sarah went to the Norlands Christmas celebration. The Norlands is a living history center that’s comprised of an old farmhouse, church, library, one-room schoolhouse, and a few other farm buildings. Today, it’s preserved and run as an education center.

Earlier this year, the barn burnt to the ground. Fortunately, they were able to save the attached farmhouse. Here’s where the barn used to be.

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Here’s the farmhouse.

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Nearly all of the furnishings were moved out of the house during the fire in order to save them. Some of the furniture was damaged by smoke or water so much of it is still in storage or being restored. The only piece of furniture that didn’t get moved out of the house was a piano that was too heavy to move on short notice. Playing carols on the piano was our friend, Jerry, who was the minister at our wedding.

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We hadn’t seen him in years, and he wasn’t expecting to see us – he looked quite shocked when we walked in.

We listened to carols for a while then continued on to another room where they were playing old-fashioned games. The kitchen had cookies and cocoa, and another room displayed plans for rebuilding the barn. After our tour of the farmhouse, we drove down the road to the one-room schoolhouse where we learned about school in the 19th century. We were surprised to learn that children didn’t get Christmas off if it fell on a weekday.

That afternoon, we went to a ceremony celebrating Sarah’s cousin, Brandon, becoming an Eagle Scout. Sarah sat behind several Boy Scouts wearing ties that said “cook, camp, hike” on the back. Sarah couldn’t help but wonder if she was qualified to be a Boy Scout after her year of experience. Joking aside, becoming an Eagle Scout is an impressive accomplishment, and we were glad to have a chance to attend the ceremony.

During the week, we visited with some more friends and family. Sarah went to see her high-school friend, Terri, and got to see her impressive collection of Christmas lights. We had breakfast with Jerry. He’s an armchair traveler and peppered us with questions about all the places we’ve been. We also visited Sarah’s Aunt Norma. When we arrived, she was baking as usual. On this day there was a chocolate cake in the oven and a cheesecake and sheet of cookies sitting on the counter waiting for the oven to free up. You’d never know to look at her that she’s such a baking fanatic. Apparently she owes her slender figure to the fact that even at 74 she still runs six miles on the treadmill several times a week.

On Thursday, we began the process of repacking our car. In addition to all the stuff that we’d brought with us, we had multiple boxes of stuff that had collected at Sarah’s parents’ house, Brian’s skis (which Amy lugged back from Colorado last winter), a huge box of Sarah’s clothes that Amy had borrowed for the year, and Sarah’s toy box that somehow didn’t go with her when she moved out of the house. Sarah’s dad just shook his head and said that there was no way this stuff was ever going to fit. Sarah’s a master packer though, and with some creative shuffling, everything fit back in the car, though admittedly not with much room to spare.

At lunchtime on Thursday, we went to Grammy’s house and cut a Christmas tree that Dad had scoped out earlier in the year. We’d heard it was a little spindly, but it really didn’t look bad. We practically drove right up to it – it must have been the shortest Christmas-tree expedition ever. The entire excursion only lasted 35 minutes.

Overnight, it snowed then rained then rained some more, leaving a nasty slushy, icy mess on the ground. We were glad we weren’t leaving that morning. Sarah’s mom had taken the day off to hang out with us and was also glad she didn’t have to drive to work.

We put up the Christmas tree after lunch, stringing lights and an old string of popcorn that Sarah and her Mom made when she was little. After that came all the ornaments. It’s always fun to look at the ornaments that have been collected through the years. After we had the tree decorated, Brian did a little pruning here and there (a natural tree isn’t as symmetric as a farmed tree) and we called it done. Sarah’s Mom would probably spend a few days adjusting decorations to get it just perfect, but we all thought it looked nice.

That evening, we watched The Grinch, which is somewhat of a tradition for Sarah’s family, and then called it a night early since we had a long day of driving ahead of us in the morning. Next, we were heading to Ottawa to visit Brian’s cousin then on to Chicago for Christmas with his family.

1 comment:

Rake said...

Sounds like a great time to be home and celebtate with family.