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.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Favorite Read: Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2)Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alexander McCall Smith is my favorite modern day writer. His books are highly entertaining, although I gave this a three because I "liked it," but it wasn't "amazing." The "Scotland Street" series' characters lives and story lines at times feels fairly banal, but my life is also fairly boring and ridiculous at the same time. My favorite character is by far Bertie and I am rooting for him. I realize I'm a bit behind on this series, but I do recommend it if you enjoy Smith's work or would like to check out a very fun series that also makes a lot of wonderful insights into human nature.

The most meaningful part of this second book in the series for me was when Domenica decries modern society to Pat. "I don't know, Pat. I don't know. I have the feeling that we've seen the dismantling of civilisation, brick by brick, and now we're looking at the void. We thought that we were liberating people from oppressive cultural circumstance, but we were in fact, taking something away from them. We were killing off civility and concern. We were undermining all those little ties of loyalty and consideration and affection that are necessary for human flourishing. We thought that tradition was bad, that it create hidebound societies, that it held people down. But, in fact, what tradition was doing all along was affirming community and the sense that we are members one of one another. Do we really love and respect one another more in the absence of tradition and manners and all the rest? Or have we merely converted one another into moral strangers--making our countries nothing more than hotels for the convenience of guests who are required only to avoid stepping on the toes of other guests?" p. 341 and 342 in my edition

Well said, Domenica; well said, Alexander.

Read and reviewed 2017
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Favorite Read: The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

The Tumbling Turner Sisters: A NovelThe Tumbling Turner Sisters: A Novel by Juliette Fay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like historical fiction that is more fiction than history, illustrates a slice of cultural history, and touches on big issues, this book is for you. Its also a great book club read and fits the bill for strong female characters. I think everyone in my book club loved it; I know I did! This book follows a family of three sisters and one enterprising mom, who take their show on the road--to vaudeville. Along the way, they experience love, look racism in the face, and face further tragedy (the book starts with one huge setback that launches them into this courageous enterprise), but also along the way they find out what each of them individually, and their sisterhood, is made of--love, commitment, and sacrifice. I highly recommend this book. It is not all serious because the characters are so likeable. I was rooting for the Turners every step of the way. It is written from two perspectives, but it was not jarring to flip between the two voices. The device works well for this story as its actually a story about 4 to 7 people (depending on how you look at it), and the two perspectives adds a lot to telling the story authentically. I am not much of a fan of the flip-flop device (between characters or place and time), but some writers do it well. Fay does it wonderfully in this very "good" read. It is now one of my favorite books. I passed it around all summer, and I think four or five women in my family read it before the end of August. My copy is quite dog-eared. It would make a great gift for a women reader in your life as well! It would also make a fabulous movie or short-run tv series perhaps. If you read The Last All-Girls Filling Station by Fannie Flagg, this book has the same flavor.

Read and reviewed 2017.

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