Archive for September, 2008

Maine Part II

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Ronin has slept downright “well” these past few nights. I’m amazed and quite relieved; I’d be a lot more enthusiastic about it if she managed to sleep beyond 6am this morning. It’s still DARK at 6am. It’s just not right. Previously, she was taking upwards of two and a half hours to get down at night, nearly every moment of which was a whine or all out shriekfest and naps were no better. You would think we were killing her instead of laying peacefully on the bed with her, rubbing her tummy or whatever. It may have been the discomfort of growing teeth or maybe she’s about to break out a new milestone for us. Crawling maybe. Or ordering clothes online with my credit card.

Back to Maine:

Dead River oil and gas company

Does anyone remember the Ashland band Dead River? Doug Hill, some other guys… Anyway, we were amused so see a Dead River company (and convenience store) in Maine. Except instead of being an alcohol-steeped college band from the early 90s, it is an oil and gas company. Dead River. An oil and gas company. Is this not weird? *

Jefferson Cattle Pound

We sped by at 45 mph, because all the roads in Maine are small two-lane affairs and windy, and caught sight of this… thing on the side of the road. We turned around and drove back to check it out. The lintel had engraved, “Jefferson Cattle Pound Built by Silas Noyes in 1828 for $28.” We then spent hours pondering how exactly $28 1828 dollars had been spent to make the thing. Labor? Materials? Buying off officials? Why did they bother to mention the price tag; was $28 an astoundingly great deal for a cattle pound? Was Silas Noyes ripped off and now nobody would ever forget it? We had no answers.

Coffee on the east coast is sub-par. I’m sorry all you Dunkin Donuts fans, but that shit is nasty. Whatever it is they use for cream (and you don’t even know what it is because they don’t actually allow you to self-administer your own coffee accoutrements) leaves an evil pasty-gritty feel in your mouth after drinking. The donuts are just ho-hum donuts (in their defense I have only Voodoo doughnuts to compare) but I have to warn everyone: what they call an “Old fashioned” on the east coast is NOT what they call an “Old fashioned” here on the west. Basically I was left gritty-mouthed and hugely dissatisfied after my Dunkin Donuts experience.

Jamie's Pond Hallowel Maine

What everyone else in the world calls a “Lake” is called a “Pond” in Maine. I always equated ponds with green scummy water, ducks, and quaint willow-clad islands in the middle. Maine’s ponds are crystal clear, swimably warm (mostly), and surrounded by lush mosquito-clad foliage.


We got lucky in that the weeks before our arrival were rainy and dreary. During our stay, the weather was brilliant and clear and the mushrooms were popping up all over the place. Generally when we go mushrooming in Oregon, we set out with a target species and find perhaps three or four predominant species, maybe a few randoms, and that’s pretty much it. In Maine, we found an incredible variety of different species, the most notable of which was the Amanita bisporigera, or “Angel of death”/“Destroying angel.” While we have seen zillions of Amanita phalloides (“Death cap”) on the west coast, we maybe have seen only one Angel of death (the species generally found on the west coast is Amanita ocreata, which looks about the same but a bit more robust). The ones on our walk at Jamie’s Pond were numerous and pristine. They are really a very beautiful mushroom, perfectly clean and snow-white.

Amanita bisporigera, Destroying Angel

Amanita bisporigera, Destroying Angel

[Some identifying characteristics are that they are entirely white (gills, spores, stalk, cap), they grow from a bulb or volva (ball at base of stalk), they have a ring (annulus; the skirt-like thing dangling off the stalk).]

Amanita muscaria eastern yellow variety

[Big pretty Amanita muscarias were around too. We never saw the red variety on the east coast.]

[I don’t know what this is but it’s cool.]

[We didn’t have our book with us this day; we thought this might be a grisette of some kind.]

[A great big bolete of some sort; there is a bitter-tasting eastern bolete we though it might be.]

[Another unidentified gilled, scaley-topped mushroom. Clean and pretty.]

[“Dyer’s polypore,” Phaeolus schweinitzii. I think.]

[We saw a lot of different corals, mostly these two. I wish I knew more about corals because when we find them, we generally find a LOT of them. Unfortunately, they are tricky to identify and many are not good to eat.]

* Okay – I googled “dead river” hoping I’d come up with something about the very famous and well known band from Ashland and all I found were river rafting trips on the Dead River in Maine. So it’s not as weird as I initially thought but it’s a creepy thing to call a gas and oil company.

Portland Juggling Festival

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

The 16th Portland Juggling Festival is this coming weekend (Sept. 26-28). In addition to local talent, performers at the Saturday night Vaudeville Extravaganza include Kaori Matsuzawa, Thomas Dietz , Tony Duncan, and Reid Belstock.

The story of Maine! Part I

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Yes I know I haven’t posted squat lately and it’s because every single spare moment has been taken up lying down with Ronin trying to get her to FALL ASLEEP ALREADY OH MY GOD CAN YOU BE ANY MORE FLAILY AND CRANKY??!! By the time she finally goes down, it’s all I can do to keep my brain from trickling out my ears or the drool from making the top part of my shirt all soggy and so I haven’t really been on the writing ball as of late.

So… to catch up with things…

We returned home from Maine triumphant! Flights to went swimmingly, and flights from—aside from teething, a delay, an unexpected overnight hotel stay, teething, and three-hour time change—went a heaping crap-pile better than I could have expected. When the lady trapped in the window seat by a squirming eight-month old says that our baby did “really well” during the flight, she is either hopped up on corn sweeteners or… or… I guess that means WE WIN! And I suppose she won too, but of course not as much as we did.

We’re still trying to break it to Ronin that we are now on Pacific Time, and that 4am is NOT an acceptable time to get up in the morning. Basically, after a fitful night of six hours sleep, then the longest day of her life (20 hours! Yeeg) cut up by unorthodox (upside down! I fell asleep while holding her) and sporadic naps, she arrived back in Oregon not knowing what day it was and we had to force her to go to sleep because it was night and, well, keep forcing her to stay asleep because it was still night for god’s sake.

I mentioned she was teething. Of course, she started drooling and gnawing on things at three months but it was not until about day two of our Maine trip that she developed a vicious snotty nose and an incredibly touchy personality.

“Here, meet our wonderful child!” says I.

“Meh. Whine. Whiiiiiiiinnnnne. Eh eh eh eh… SCREEEEECH!” says Ronin.

We feared initially that she was coming down with the dreaded Airport Sickness and because Alden was also grumpy and snotty, she may have given it to him. We were about to award ourselves the Guest Of The Year award when, one morning, Alden’s nose stopped running and he popped a tooth! Can you believe it? Sharp little bugger too. We were all astounded and spent the morning shoving our fingers into Alden’s mouth feeling up his poor little gums. So that’s what a tooth looks like. I started on GumWatch 08 with a renewed vigor. It took a full week of serious grumpiness, random shrieking fits, and a whole lot of nose-bulbing until we finally noticed a funny little pucker in her lower gum. Just a dot. But I spotted it the moment it was visible and felt around in there (nothing sharp yet). The next day it was about a millimeter long and every day it grew a little until it was a small slit. A week later the other side did the same thing. Here we are two weeks later nearly and the tooth itself only made an appearance a day ago. She makes clicking sounds when she chews on glasses and she bit me the other day for the first time. We still are giving her acetaminophen on a daily basis—I can’t believe how long they are taking to come up.

Ronin and Alden got along famously; we were sad to have to tear them apart at such a tender age. They sat near one another and grabbed toys from each other’s hands. Ronin liked Alden’s toys and Alden liked Ronin’s toes. We had avoided the freakish plastic “jumperoo” electronic “mary-had-a-little-lamb”-spewing toys thinking wholesome, tastefully designed wooden toys were best, but of course Alden had a jumperoo and damned if Ronin didn’t think it was the Greatest Thing Ever. It was simultaneously horrifying and heart-melting to watch how absurdly happy she was playing on it. I fear this is a trend that will continue until she is old enough to get her own apartment.

[Alden had all the cool toys.]

Interestingly, Ronin picked up a “word” from Alden: “Nai-nai-nai-nai”—she does this when she is getting irritated at stuff or just plain tired and ready for a nap. It’s hard to believe they actually learned words from each other but she never said this before and this was a pretty typical Alden thing to do in the exact same context. In all honesty, it’s pretty catchy: I noticed Ilana also nai-nai-naied when she was frustrated at something and I now find myself saying it at times too. It’s surely all downhill from here and I’ll be speaking in monosyllabic babble within the year.

[Two of our lovely hosts (Ilana and Alden).]

Mount Desert Island

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

[Joshua, Ronin, Cheryl, Larry, Peg, Cheyenne]

We hiked up a trail that was labeled “intermediate”, but turned out to be pretty strenuous clambering over boulders. We aren’t sure what “difficult” would mean in this context but we’re pretty glad we didn’t take that trail. For the record, “Easy” means wheelchair accessible.

The grandmas.

The cat. Camping with a cat?! Chandler spent most of her time in the tent or straining at the end of her leash trying to get back in the car.

Amanita muscaria

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Mount Desert Island, Maine

A yellow variety of Amanita muscaria common in Maine. Do not eat.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell