Maine

Island Stories

Of the more than 3,000 islands off the coast of Maine, only 14 have year round inhabitants. One is Islesboro with a population of less than 600 people. It has a K-12 school and, unlike most islands, it is accessible by ferry leaving from Lincolnville Beach which  makes it possible for islanders to work and attend school on the mainland.

At the ferry landing there is a lighthouse which, like so many others, is no longer active.

If one doesn’t mind climbing narrow, rickety steps to the top,  there is a nice view of Penobscot Bay and the mainland.

There was a time when Indians summered on Islesboro, fishing and trapping.  Early white settlers earned their living farming and fishing.  Some of the history of these early inhabitants is in the Islesboro Sailors Memorial Museum and the Islesboro Historical Society and Museum.

At one time, Islesboro was home to the largest commercial shipping fleet in Penobscot Bay.  Life on the island changed, however, in the late 1800’s when wealthy folks from away discovered it and built stately homes, many of which are being used today by fifth and sixth generations of families.  As wealthy folks began spending time on Islesboro, the islanders adapted to their needs by becoming  carpenters and gardeners thus livelihood became more dependent on summer people.   Would you be surprised to learn that it took some time for the islanders to develop a cordial relationship with their new neighbors?

Islesboro, with its beautiful vistas, is like stepping back in time.

It is peaceful and a wonderful setting for relaxing or exploring.  A number of celebrities have found it a place to spend time without being bothered. For many years the pace was slow and transportation was by horse drawn carriage. It wasn’t until 1932 after summer people were gone that islanders voted to allow cars on the island.  That was a radical change, but it made life easier for those who were there year round.

Islesboro is just one of Maine’s islands with a rich history, and it’s fascinating to learn about past and present life on many of them.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

entertainment, musings, Random

Hamilton: My Take

23658880_2002841116409422_3647036226683360056_nWhen there is as much hype surrounding an event as has happened with the block buster show Hamilton, one can only wonder if it is as good as advertised.  The answer is an enthusiastic YES! I held off going during its Houston run because the tickets are pricey, but at the last minute there were some single seats available for a somewhat reasonable price, and I bit ending up with a great seat close to the stage.

What immediately grabbed me is the energy of the production which the audience responded to in kind.  Throughout the performance, theater goers were showing their appreciation with cheers and hands together.  I was among them, but there was something else that generated my response, and that is the sheer genius of the show.

41Va8thFjQL._SL500_As the story goes, the creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was inspired by Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton.  Now, I read the book and while I learned much about Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries, I got so bogged down in detail that I couldn’t imagine being creatively inspired.  Thankfully, Miranda did not have the same response.  As a result, he presents American history with a lesser known founding father, Hamilton, as the central character surrounded by the more familiar Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others.

There is no question that Hamilton is successful theater, but I think it is more than that.  It is a reminder that perhaps we don’t know as much about history as we might.  Alexander Hamilton has been little more than a blip on the screen with reference to him being that he was the first Secretary of the Treasury and that he was killed by Aaron Burr.  What the play does is enlarge his role among the founding fathers and engage an audience by entertaining with fact.  There were a lot of young people in the theater, and I doubt they were thinking about Hamilton being a learning opportunity but there it was. As I observed their faces and responded to their cheers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be inspired to pay more attention to history and current events if it were presented more creatively.

Not often do I leave theater with so many thoughts swirling in my head.  I have such appreciation for Chernow for having written a book about a relatively obscure historical person and for Miranda whose unique creative response has had such impact.  Not everyone will have the opportunity to see Hamilton on stage, but I’m betting its influence will be felt far and wide.  It is not theater that I will soon forget, and it will be interesting to see what the followup is.

Oh, if you happen to have opportunity to see the show, I recommend listening to the music in advance as it makes it easier to follow during the performance.  The soundtrack is on uTube.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Art, Travel

Roma: A Quick Stop

These days when we travel a long distance we give ourselves a day or two to recuperate and adjust to the time change. This trip involved flying into Rome, a great place to get your feet on the ground.

This being a short visit, we didn’t want to spend hours waiting in line for some of the major attractions, so we opted to visit Galleria Borghese where we’d never been. The gallery is located in the villa begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. The cardinal used it as a country villa at the edge of Rome.

Borghese was an early patron of Bernini, and the sculptures in his collection are amazing.

From every angle there is such detail.

Up close the expressions tell a story of their own as seen here between Daphne and Apollo.

Just as there is great strength represented in Bernini’s creations,

there is grace and beauty.

While it was difficult to pick a favorite from such magnificent creations, David preparing to slay Goliath may have been it. Again, a story is depicted so powerfully.

In addition to sculpture, there is a great collection of paintings with works by such names as Carvaggio, Raphael and Titian.

As much as I liked the paintings, what fascinated me were the ceilings in every room.

It wasn’t just that the work was beautiful, it was that it was so three dimensional as to make some of the work seem more sculpted than painted.

Finished marveling at the work inside Galleria Borghese, we began walking back to our hotel with a slight detour to the Spanish Steps. There you can always count on merging with masses of humanity which reminds you of all the people who visit Rome to experience the wonder it has to offer. If one has to make a quick stop, this is a wonderful place to do it.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Houston

This Is Houston

In Houston, the old continually gives way to the new meaning that much of  what represents its history has been lost.  Smack dab in the middle of this city, however, is an oasis where a few old buildings telling something of a different time have been located.

This is Sam Houston Park surrounded by the tall buildings that are Houston’s skyline and busy freeways.  It is 20 acres first established as a park in 1899.

I’m thinking this sprawling oak tree may be as old as the park.

In addition to its open space where people gather for quiet moments or to play a noontime game, the park tells a story of various segments of society.

There is a modest cottage nestled there

alongside a mansion that belonged to prominent citizens, including William Marsh Rice who founded Rice University.

Another has all the conveniences that were available in 1905.

There is an church built by immigrants in 1891

and a cottage once belonging to freed slaves that dates back to 1823.

Though little is left of the original belongings, the houses contain pieces that are representative of the period in which they were built.  These have been donated or carefully curated by The Heritage Society, a nonprofit that maintains the buildings.  The park itself is a City of Houston Protected Landmark and a State of Texas Historical Site.

Former governor John B. Connally stands tall in its midst welcoming visitors like you and me to Sam Houston Park.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 

 

Maine

Last Flight

Exploring the Moosehead Lake region, we spied a sign pointing down a dirt road to a B 52 Memorial. We couldn’t imagine what that would be, but there was only one way to find out and that was to take the road.
It was a bumpy, dusty ride made tolerable by magnificent fall color .
In the distance were mountains, one of which we commented resembled an elephant. We later learned that it was called Elephant Mountain and was part of what we were about to experience.

Seven miles or so down the road, we arrived at the site to be welcomed by a sign giving indication we were going to experience something we’d not expected.

Before we’d walked too far, we saw what was the first of many airplane parts.

Needless to say that was sobering.

Debris was scattered throughout a heavily wooded area which made us wonder how and when such an obviously devastating accident had occurred.

As we continued further into the area, we became more solemn as even larger remains littered the forest.

At last, we came to the place where some questions were answered. We were surprised that anyone could have survived such a tragic crash and wondered how the survivors were rescued in such an isolated area.

When we returned to the inn later in the day, the first thing we did was research the event. It occurred January 1963 on a routine exercise that you can learn more about here. What was astonishing is that the two survivors withstood -30 degree temperatures in a snowy terrain for hours before being rescued. With today’s sophisticated location equipment they would have been found much sooner.

Needless to say, we were very moved by what we saw and appreciative of the effort to honor the men whose lives were lost.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Road Trip, Travel

A Quick Stop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my daughter moved to Franklin, Tennessee, several years ago, the hubby thought that good enough reason to drive the long road from Houston to Maine and back again.  It’s a long way for a quick twice a year stop, but I always enjoy the time we have there not only because of the visit with the daughter’s family but because Franklin is part of my earliest memories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWould you believe I was born there right in this building that at one time was a hospital? My first view of this unimposing structure stopped me in my tracks as it triggered a distant memory of a photograph of my mother standing on those steps holding an infant that was me, otherwise I would have walked by it with no thought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow the spot is identified with a historical marker that names Dr. Tandy Rice as one of the hospital’s founders.  It was he who brought me into this world and got me started on life’s journey.

Most of my Franklin memories revolve around my great grandmother’s house.  What a wonderful place it was to play hide and seek, and she had an old out of tune pump organ that kept me entertained for hours.  The house is still there, and not too long ago I knocked on the door, explained to the current owners my history there and they were kind enough to let me in.  The old place has been updated, but the wonderful crown molding and stair railings are still there.

My memories are of a very sleepy small town, but that is not the case today.  Franklin is a very hip place with trendy shops and eateries.

One that many of you may know is the City Farmhouse that in addition to the shop hosts popup shows that draw visitors from all over the southeast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADowntown doesn’t claim all the changes. The area around Franklin, including some of my family’s former property,  has become home to large estates and horse farms.  Many belong to country music stars and a few Hollywood types.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing that hasn’t changed in Franklin is its southern pride.  Right in the middle of town is this towering sculpture honoring the fighting men of the Confederacy. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook real close and you’ll notice part of the soldier’s hat brim is missing.  It is said to have broken during the shipping/installation process, and it was deemed appropriate to leave it.

FranklinIf memory serves me, Franklin was the unintended site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. That battle transformed Carnton Plantation into a hospital and a burial ground for the men who died there.

Yes, Franklin causes me to wax nostalgic, and I am glad that it is part of my history.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine, Random

Destination: Castine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of our favorite boat outings is to Castine, Maine, one of the oldest communities in North America.  Since the 1600’s it has been continuously occupied by settlers from France, Holland, England and  colonial America.  It has also been home to several Native American nations, so as you might guess, Castine has a rich and colorful history.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACastine is not a big town.  Most of the shops and eateries are right in the center.

Were it not for the Maine Maritime Academy where young men and women are trained for a life involving the sea, there would be few full time residents.

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In the 1630’s, the French built Fort Pentagoet, which was later destroyed by the Dutch.

IMG_4889Today, an historic inn is all that bears the name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocated up the road from the original fort, the inn is on the site of a hall occupied by English troops in the 1800’s.  Are you beginning to get a feel for Castine’s varied history?

Back to the inn, it is a trip back in time which makes it desirable for visitors.

For us, it is an annual destination where we meet boater friends for cocktails on the porch and a delightful dinner.

It is always fun to stroll around Castine to see stunning examples of Federal and Greek-Revival style homes that were built by wealthy pre-Civil War merchant families. For a peek inside one of these beautifully restored old homes, it’s worth taking a look here.   Many of you will recognize the work of one of your favorite fellow bloggers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn any given day, Castine is a wonderful lunch destination, and for us, it takes less time to get there by water than by car. It is a treat to tie up at the public dock and walk a few steps to Dennett’s Wharf for a tasty bite.

While there, you never know what you are going to see happening in or on the water.  Yep, Maine is the way life should be!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind