Saturday, February 3, 2018

Favorite Read: All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with JaneAll Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part travelogue, literary critique, and memoir, this was a very different book that I loved. Very appealing were the descriptions of traveling in the Latin American countries the author did. As I read this book I realized that I have done no reading of books by Latino authors and only a few, very few, maybe 1 or 2, set any place in Latin America! I have had the luck, however, albeit for a very short time, to spend a month in Santiago, Chile, so I felt a little kinship with her time there. It was also very fun to hear literary critiques of Jane Austen from readers in that part of the world. Smith's plan in taking her year-long sabbatical that led to writing this book was to lead book club discussions about Jane Austen books! This is a quick, fun nonfiction read that will appeal to lovers of travel writing and literature, especially Jane Austen. She weaves the story of her own real life romance throughout these pages as well. It's a real treat.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Maine Season: Survival of the Warmest

Winter can be long, especially in the northern or middle states of the U.S. This winter's cold snap has been record-breaking in many ways across the United States. Maine saw nearly two weeks of below freezing temperatures and nights and days below zero with wind chills that made it even colder. reports that Bangor, along with many other cities, had a record cold stretch from December 23 to January 5. Whatever the exact temperatures and wind chills were, trust me, it was frigid. It was a long two weeks until we saw the thermometer climb to over 20 degrees!
This young calf knows how to stay warm!

Here's what's helped get me through this already long winter.

Vacuum the house
Like my neighbor's calf I saw in the hay feeding trough, I'd like to just climb in some place warm and stay there and eat all day too! Some days I've found myself so chilled that sitting on the couch under piles of blankets still wasn't very warming. It was too cold to go out for heart-pumping exercise, so instead I layered up and got out my vacuum to suck up some of that winter dirt, dust, and dog dander. In 5 minutes I was warmed through and felt that I had accomplished something. (And the dog was entertained by barking at Mr. Ambassador, as I call my 20-year-old Electrolux)!

Tea (and water)
I love to drink tea, and especially this winter I've been drinking a lot. With it though I've found I still need to drink as much water as I can to stay hydrated especially with the dry winter air. And have you heard that simply 8-8 ounce glasses may not cut it any longer? WebMD reports that drinking a half an ounce to an ounce per pound you weigh is a more accurate measure, especially for trying to lose weight! Check out this helpful article on all the great benefits of water to feeling good all year long. Tea also have been lauded for various potential health benefits. I can tolerate tea better than coffee and apparently it does have less caffeine than coffee plus possible antioxidants. Mainly I just like my warm tea.

Crossword puzzles
I've taken to looking for the crossword puzzle first when I read my local weekly. It gets me out of my head and using my brain as well as away from the annoying tv.

Winter greens
During winter I always crave fresh summer produce. Maine grocery stores, although offering more diverse produce than when I was a child, still sometimes seems to fall back onto mostly offering apples and citrus fruits in the winter because maybe that's all that is available after a time. I'm finding that frozen berries from my freezer are invigorating to eat this time of year. Mixed greens, such as kale and spinach, with clementines, pomegranates, nuts, and a balsamic dressing taste very good after all the sugar and carbs of the holidays. I also made one with apples and a dressing that called for maple syrup this weekend. Here are some ideas!

I am an avowed bookworm and have been reading a lot this winter, which is great way to spend indoor time when cleaning and the cold are too wearing. I will remember my reading couch time fondly this summer when I am running between work, games, and practices while trying to fit in relaxation (and reading) at the beach.

Bundle up
Sometimes despite the wind and weather, a walk is the only thing to help me feel that I'm not turning into a complete blob. Even if it means wearing multiple layers, the dog and my heart will appreciate the exercise and that cup of tea or hot chocolate will taste all the more appetizing!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Reed Mansion is Gone!

The town of Waldoboro sat in the shadow of the Reed mansion for years since about 1815. On April 2, 2017, it burned to the ground. The historic house, on the historic register, was reduced to charred wood, brick, and crumpled metal. I never had the chance to go inside the house. In my lifetime it was always a private residence or apartments. The current owners were investing in it to make it into an event center, although that idea had been put on hold when neighbors expressed concerns about traffic. According to the Lincoln County News' story about the fire, the owners exchanged tack and were planning live there. Now they are planning to sell the lot. Its a story too-often heard--historic landmarks going up in smoke, lost forever, with only photographs and historical records to remember them by. It changes the landscape of a town forever. I only have photos of the devastation. I never took a photo of it standing! I have linked to the news articles, and there are images of this beautiful home online. I've been sitting on this blog post for months because I didn't know what more to say about it. But it was a big newsworthy event in the life my small hometown, and therefore to me as well.
The house's name, Reed, is for Isaac Reed, who was a prominent citizen of Waldoboro, Maine, in the early 1800s. According to an article written by Jean Lawrence, Isaac Reed purchased the site of the mansion in 1811 from a minister who had started but couldn't finish the house he had planned to build. Reed enlarged the site and the building plans. He married a wealthy widow, Jane Smouse, who had three children. They went on to have six more children, and Reed began a successful law practice on Main Street. According to the article, Jasper Stahl wrote about how Reed signed his name into the wet foundation cement.
The charred remains of the Reed Mansion and tangled
 flag (above) appear in stark contrast to the beautiful views.

A wood fence stands guard around new landscaping cut
 into the hillside lot of Reed Mansion

The iconic house may be gone but historians and townspeople will remember it as a beautiful house with historic memories as it is the place that the Maine state seal was designed. Isaac Reed was a part of the committee that was charged with creating the state seal!
Click the seal to read more about the Maine State Seal!

Favorite seasons: A White Christmas

Maine has snow now. I love the first snow, and who doesn't want a white Christmas (that is, if you live in a place that gets snow in December)? I took a walk in the falling snow with my dog, who loves the snow, and I snapped photos of the scenes around me. In a few weeks, I'll be tired of shoveling, the cold, and cleaning the floors from the boots and dog leaving snow and mud puddles everywhere, but the first snow is exciting, refreshing, and romantic. Winter in Maine, though, can be anything but romantic at times with the incessant shoveling, slipping on ice, driving on icy roads, and heating and plowing bills. Its the time of year when food banks and many advocates remind us that there are people who have to choose between heat or groceries. (Ugh!) This is also a season that seems to go on forever in Maine. April, when spring should be fully in bloom, can sometimes have a wintry Nor'easter. There are winter seasons in life as well, when someone you love is sick, your job is hard or your career dreams are on hold, or life just feel blah for whatever reason. This is the time to find what is still good about the season. 
I, too, am experiencing some anxieties in the season of life I'm in, just as many people don't enjoy winter or worry how they are going to get through another one. So during the snowstorm, I decided to gear up and go out in it. I am also trying to face my anxious situations in life head on with prayer (and by asking for prayer) and with a hopeful attitude. I am also trying to communicate my anxieties to the people who may be able to help me sort things out during the changes at hand. I am trying to look for the unexpected blessings and opportunities as well. On my walk this weekend, I found many things to revel in. These pics show some of what I found. I hope that whatever season of life you are in, you can find something to rejoice in, be thankful for, or just enjoy, no matter how simple it seems. Remember there is beauty in every season.