History, Maine

Island Stories

Vinalhaven is another of Maine’s islands with a year round population and an interesting history. At one time it was known for quarries where granite was cut for use in buildings in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. among other places.

DSC00085Today the quarries are abandoned though there remains evidence of their existence.

DSC00138Quarry men are of the past and now most of the residents depend on lobstering for a living and, to a lesser degree, tourism.

DSC00080 (1)Well known folks have lived on the island.  Until his recent passing, Robert Indiana maintained a studio on Vinalhaven and it was a favorite place for  Margaret Wise Brown. If the name isn’t familiar, her children’s books likely are. Particularly notable is Goodnight Moon still popular all over the world.

DSC00150She had two cottages on Vinalhaven, one she named The Only because it was the only one on that side of the island.

DSC00077Close to it she built another small quirky cottage with no electricity or running water and it became a favorite retreat.

DSC00067Inside are reminders of her presence. In the kitchen are cookbooks from another era.

DSC00068In the  simply furnished main room are nooks close to the fireplace where she would warm an evening brandy.

DSC00070There are shelves lined with children’s books, of course including some of hers.

DSC00118Margaret loved fairies and on the property is a flat area she called the fairy ballroom and a water filled quarry which is the fairy pool.

DSC00096How she must have loved the views from atop a defunct quarry.  They are some of the most stunning views of Penobscot Bay I have ever seen.

DSC00073The islands in the distance, bisected by the ferry that runs from Rockland, are breathtaking making it very easy to see why Margaret Wise Brown was enchanted with the island.

DSC00153It is here she rests. She died when only 42 suffering an embolism after a relatively minor surgery. One day she will be joined here by the man to whom she was engaged and to whom she left this beautiful place.  I believe she would be happy to know that three generations continue to enjoy her special place and share it with friends.

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Art, History, India

Jodphur Revisited

By the time we got to Jodphur during my fall trip to India, I wasn’t feeling too well, and the only thing I wanted to do was go to bed.  That meant I missed most of what the Blue City had to offer.  Little did I know that I would get a second chance to experience its wonders at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

IMG_1020Peacock in the Desert is an exhibit representing centuries of royal treasures never seen before outside palace walls.  What they represent is the history of the Rathores who are still Jodphur’s royal family.  This incredible exhibit reminded me of so many things I learned and loved during my travels in Rajasthan. 

IMG_1023The lavish life of the maharajas made such an impression.  Whether they were transported by elaborately adorned elephants,

IMG_1045born in splendid palanquins

IMG_1077or driven in a Rolls Royce theirs appeared to be a pampered lifestyle.

IMG_1037 (2)Royal wealth and power were often depicted in art.  A maharaja was regarded in so many ways: a warrior and diplomat, a connoisseur of the arts and material pleasures.

The material pleasures were many be they weapons or beautifully cast pieces of gold and silver.

IMG_1050On the trip, I was very curious about the role of women so it was interesting to study the exhibit in this context.  In the royal environment, women appeared to have a good life.  They often maintained personal shrines, such as this one dedicated to Krishna, where daily worship rituals were conducted.

IMG_1053Royal women had baradaris, a pavilion that could be taken apart and transported from place to place for festivals, game playing or formal state occasions.  It struck me as fun to have a traveling entertainment center!

Then as now, women seem to be drawn to sparkle and adorned themselves with bangles and colorful and bejeweled clothing.

IMG_1056What they received for their dowries wasn’t bad either!

IMG_1061Throughout the exhibit were wonderful paintings that brought back memories of the intricate and detailed pieces that were observed throughout Rajasthan.  

IMG_1072So small are some of the images that one has to look closely in order not to miss them as in this hunting scene.

IMG_1042I loved this piece not only for its detail and color but for the peacock in the clouds which seemed an early reference to flight.

IMG_1038For the boys in the family, I bought turbans so I was quite drawn to this colorful wall of turbans which taught something new.  A turban represents pride and valor. Though made from similar materials, each unique style identifies community.

IMG_1075There was so much to see in Peacock in the Desert, perhaps more than I would have had opportunity to view in Jodphur so spending several hours roaming the space at the museum was a wonderful experience.  When I saw the model of the palace where the royal family lives today, I was somewhat blown away wondering how if would be possible to care for so many rooms.

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MLK Memorial-Washington, D.C.
MLK Memorial-Washington, D.C.

There are some events that stay locked in your memory bank.  For me, the death of Martin Luther King is one of them.  

At the time I was a flight attendant for Delta Airlines on a trip returning to Atlanta from the west coast.  Mid trip the pilot came on the PA  saying, “I have sad news today.  We have just received word that Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis. We believe the shot to have been fatal.”  

For a brief moment, there was total silence, the kind that follows shock.  In the following moments, however, there were differing responses, and I remember being saddened and surprised that anyone would express anything other than sensitivity to a senseless killing.  Remember, though, the late 60’s were still sensitive when it came to civil rights, and not all people were appreciative of MLK’s efforts.

As I sit here thinking about that day, I once again feel sadness not just for his loss of life but because in some ways we learned so little from MLK’s nonviolent approach to easing tension between people.

Linda  057As I look again at these words, my hope is for all of us to learn to stand peacefully in difficult times.

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