Summer is almost over, winter will be here soon. I can't wait! I've been itching to hit L. L. Bean with my multitude of gift cards to buy some warm clothes, maybe even a down comforter. Things have been going well here. Services at St. Alban's are going great, and people seem to like me OK :-) Choir starts next month, then they find out the truth. Ha. It's been very hot and humid... when that happens we find ourselves hanging out at Mark's house by the pool (or, once I took a dip in the Androscoggin river), but on a few of those muggy days, we were stuck outside putting up our new fence. Almost 400 feet of privacy fence! The dogs can now run freely and we don't have to tie them up. We've been visited by a few folks from VPC - Diane Hartley and Mel Mounts. Mel lives here in the summer, and next week he's taking us to the theatre at Monmouth which is a big deal theatre up in these parts. Pam and Frank are visiting us in the fall, and of course, Pam will play her beautiful oboe at St. Alban's.
No news on the teaching front. Folks just don't want lessons in the summer. I get it! Hope it picks up in the fall when school starts. That's what the other local teachers tell me, so fingers crossed.
I drive a lot less here. St. Alban's is 38 - 50 minutes from my house, but I only go there 2 or 3 times a week. Otherwise, everything is within a few miles of my house. I'm not used to that convenience, but I love it!
Oh, I guess one notable thing I did this summer was attend the Massachusetts Boy Choir Course. It was held at the Groton school in Groton (imagine that!) and it was a lot of fun. We sang a lot of English repertoire and the chapel on the campus has amazing acoustics. The week ended with the participants singing the Sunday morning service at Trinity church on Copley Square in Boston. We also sang the later Evensong service.
That's all for now.... WINTER IS COMING. Football! GO PATRIOTS!
I know I'm still in my honeymoon phase. I totally acknowledge that. I'm loving every day in Maine! We've had a lot of rain since we've been here, but we just came off a stretch of wonderful weather! The house closes on the 17th and we can finally move out of this hotel. Wendy, Jazz, Journey, and I are all done living in tight quarters. I'll be moving all of our stuff from storage into the house, and St. Alban's has graciously offered to pay for my organ and piano to be moved professionally. One of the parishioners owns a moving company, so that's really helpful!
Since I've been here, I've had the opportunity to take several trips to Boston. Some were business related, some were not. I'll start with the business related trips. I shadowed Richard Webster and Colin Lynch at Trinity Episcopal Church at Copley Square. Wow - what a music program! They are both top performers in their fields and it was wonderful to be with them. I sang in the choir and observed the way they ran rehearsals. I turned pages for Colin during one of their performances. I know I was more nervous than he was! Some pics are below.
We've been spending a lot of time at our friend Mark's house. Here are some photos. I learned how to do this thing called mowing. They have REAL GRASS here!
Wendy and I took a trip to Boston just to do some fun stuff. We walked most of the Liberty Trail in the downtown area.
We had a great time visiting our Arizona friend Diane Hartley! Hope to see more Arizona folks traveling to New England soon. I start at St. Alban's this Sunday. I will post more about that church later. Keeping busy!
It took us 4 days to get to Maine from Arizona. I'll say this now that I've arrived safely, but the guy at the tire store in Arizona told me one of my tires probably wouldn't make it across the country without blowing out. Well, I showed him! However, I really do need to get new tires... The cost in gas from Maine to Arizona was about $140. I filled up for the last time in New Jersey, and they pumped my gas for me... I forgot to look at how much the last tank was. Oh well, pretty good still! The dogs traveled perfectly. I never heard a peep from Jazz, and she was happy to get in her crate after each rest stop. We passed our moving truck on the road! I know, because I took note of the license plate number. The moving truck actually showed up on time, and thankfully, the unloading was much quicker than the loading. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a house in time, so our stuff just went from storage in Arizona to storage in Maine... But we are under contract on a house already! It's a nice colonial home (box) in a really nice neighborhood, and I'll be able to teach piano/organ lessons from my home studio. It's close to our friends and close to downtown Brunswick and Topsham. The perfect location! Although, it is a 45 minute commute to St. Alban's.
I don't start work yet at St. Alban's. I will start playing for services on June 16th. This weekend I'll be in Boston shadowing the assistant music director at the large Episcopal cathedral. I've already booked a gig with a Portland Theater for the fall - I'll be playing keyboard for the musical "Matilda."
The weather has been pretty nice. Some rain, some sun, hovering in the mid 40s to mid 50s. It did get in the 60s one day... summer is on the way! Of course, Wendy and I have already had lobster and haddock (my favorite). Once the house closes I get to rent a UHaul and move all our stuff into the house. Hope the weather is good for that!
That's all for now!
Joel: In our last week here we've done a lot of swimming and being outside. I think I got more tan than I do in Arizona! My hair is also lighter because of the pool and sun.
Wendy: We spent one beautiful afternoon at Popham beach (that's the fort in the background). We saw a few interesting sights, like the guy and his dog taking a nap together after playing fetch in the ocean, and the dive-bombing birds catching fish (video below), and the several Joel sightings on the beach!
Joel: In addition to lots of swimming, we've been attending outdoor concerts. The Brunswick area is very artsy and full of talent! We heard a group called "Pretty Girls Sing Soprano" and another band that mostly played two-step dances. The Soprano ladies were especially wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, we went to the local farmers' market a few days later to hear them again!
Wendy: Three part female harmony - that's my kind of music! If you want to hear my favorite song they performed that day, click on the link below.
Wendy: A discouraging and unsettling trend we saw during our visit here was the conversion of what were once churches into more secular-use buildings. The one on the left below is now a fabric shop, and the one on the right is an arts center.
Wendy: We also took one day to visit Camden, Maine. We sat on a dock and ate lunch looking out at this view, then we shopped in the shops and spent lots of dollars. :-)
Wendy: We also made a trip to my old hometown, Farmingdale (and Hallowell), where I met up with my childhood best friend, Heather (below on the left in green) and several others who went to school with us. Foolishly, I did not take a picture of us, but this photo was taken shortly after we had left while they were all at trivia night. Hallowell is yet another town that has weekly, free, outdoor concerts. We happened to catch part of one that night.
Joel: Other musical events included a lot of playing the community piano in downtown Brunswick and going to free concerts and an open mic night at the local Irish Pub. That was interesting. I also took the opportunity to attend the local Episcopal church service one Sunday morning (below). The music director was on vacation and they had a sub organist and soloist. It was pretty good and the organ was very cool looking (and LOUD). What got my attention was the organist playing from an ipad! I have some friends that do this as well, but I've always been afraid of doing something like that... what if the program freezes?? I talked to him about this after the service and he said he'd never had any problems and loves it. Friends from Arizona and New York also confirmed this, and the next thing I knew I was standing in the apple store in the Portland Mall. So now I've got that to look forward to at VPC! Hope it works...
Wendy: Once again I failed to get photos of some of our adventures, but we spent several days with the people below (Mark, Rob, Dee, John, and me - Joel took the photo). Mark, John and I all went to high school together. We had dinner one night with John and Dee, took this photo the next afternoon in John's back yard (after visiting our second farmer's market this visit - strawberry rhubarb pies, haddock casseroles, Maine strawberries...yum!), then all met up again at an Irish pub the following night for open mic night. John and another classmate used to perform at the open mic nights, but the other person moved away so now he mostly enjoys them from the audience. We saw quite a variety of talent that night. John and Dee were just married two weeks before this photo was taken so congrats to them!!!
Joel: It's our last day in Maine and the state is crying to see us go. It's been drizzling all day with some major thunderstorms predicted in a few hours. Not sure if we'll get to experience those, but I know we'll get to live through some storms when we get back to Arizona. It's been a great trip full of seafood, friends, and (with the exception of two days) great weather. We'll be back again soon, so I'm not entirely sad to leave.
Wendy: For our final lunch in Maine we went back to the place where we had our first lunch, Day's, and I had the exact same lunch - steamers and a lobster roll. I'm going to miss this!
Joel: This will be our last blog entry for this trip as we leave early in the morning. There's typically nothing too interesting to report while driving across the country... especially Texas! What a drag! A long, never ending drag...... See you soon!
Joel: Since arriving in Maine, the weather has been extremely hot! In fact, Mainers have been saying this is one of the hottest weeks they've had in years. It's been in the 90s with somewhat high humidity. I still don't think it's been as bad as South Carolina. As I write this blog entry, I'm sitting outside on our porch and it's about 68 degrees. The hot weather, it appears, is behind us. Luckily, we have been able to go to our friends Mark and Rob's house to swim. It's rare that someone in Maine has a swimming pool, but we were very grateful for the cool waters to swim in this past week.
Wendy: In addition to Mark's pool, we also managed to get to Mel's lake! We've been talking about seeing Mel (from our own choir at Valley Presbyterian in AZ) in his Maine home for a few years, and this year we finally made it happen. He (and his nearby adopted family members) not only took us out on his boat, but he fed us lobster rolls while we were out there!
Joel: We've been doing our normal day to day stuff here in Maine. Visiting our favorite places and restaurants, enjoying the views of the farm we're staying at, seeing friends, and discovering new places. I'm in love with the green here (even if it brings the bugs!) and I never get tired of looking across the field here at the trees. I know the farm where we are staying is beautiful in the fall!
Wendy: We didn't do as much sight-seeing this week because of the hot weather, but we did make it out to Fort Edgecomb. We like visiting the various forts in Maine and this one was on our list for this visit. Unfortunately, you can't go inside this one. Still, it pretty cool to stand on a piece of history and imagine what it must have been like in days gone by.
Wendy: On the way to the fort we drive by the Taste of Maine restaurant. They have added an accessory in the past couple of years (the big lobster on the roof) and it's quite shocking to see. Compare it to the size of the cars in the parking lot to get a sense of just how large it is.
Joel: There have been 5 cases of rabid animal attacks on humans since we arrived in Brunswick. The locals say this is normal, but it usually happens toward the end of summer, and the incidents are isolated and disappear as fall sets in. Because it's happened so soon in the summer, there has been a warning issued. The problem will only get worse over the summer, and people should take extra care when walking dogs, or being outside in general. It's put a damper on my running schedule... but I plan to go running in the morning! I figure I can hop into a tree if a rabid fox attacks... just kidding, I'll be fine!
Wendy: We had a few options for the 4th and decided to stay close to "home" and go to the Bath Heritage Day fireworks. We sat on the shore of the river right beside the bridge, and watched them being shot off from a wharf on the other side with two of our closest friends here.
Wendy: My involvement in dog rescue over the years led me to look into the situation here in Maine, and I had planned to visit the local Humane Society. However, when I began to look them up I found they had very few animals and I wondered why. Turns out Maine has basically cured their pet overpopulation! So much so, that demand exceeds supply here and they import dogs from out of state (helping states that haven't solved the problem) just to try to keep up with the people here who want to adopt. Dogs are HUGE in this area, you see them everywhere (walking with owners, in stores and in restaurants, etc.) so it's not really surprising, but still, WOW!
Joel: We still have lots to do before we leave, but we are enjoying ourselves immensely while we are here. I think often of those back in Green Valley and Tucson, especially on Sunday mornings. Can't wait to be back in the saddle!
Wendy: Our AirBnB is a farm with sheep, goats, a mini horse, chickens, and lots of pretty property. We've been visited by wild turkeys and deer already during our stay here. This is right outside our front door.
Wendy: We've already spent several days with our friend, Mark. His family was all in town and since it's quite warm here this week, we are making good use of his pool.
The Bath bridge, with Bath Iron Works just behind and to the right.
Joel: Several nights a week they have live music on the mall in Brunswick. It's hard to see in the picture, but the performers are in the gazebo. People young and old attend, and they bring their dogs too!
Wendy: One day we walked across the foot bridge in Brunswick and visited the little beaches along the walking path. A curious duck seemed to think we might have packed a picnic lunch, but he was a duck out of luck.
Wendy: There used to be a wooden road here under the railroad tracks that went across the river, only one car wide. Just a few years ago they tore it down and it makes me sad to stand here and not be able to drive across anymore.
Joel: We didn't waste any time going to our favorite local seafood shack. We've been eating a lot of seafood!
Joel: What a great time we had seeing friends in South Carolina. The weather was not very pleasant though. It was hot and humid pretty much the whole time, but we still managed to have a good time drinking, going to the beach, attending a beach wedding, helping making the wedding events go smoothly, eating, going to a wax museum, and a lot more. I even upgraded my Samsung phone! We're in Maine now, enjoying the much cooler weather. We're staying on a farm, so we're surrounded by fields and animals!
The bride, my daughter Chelsea's best friend, was beautiful, and what a dress! Her husband cleaned up nicely, too. ;-)
When the whole event was over, a few of us dropped into chairs and had a great little sit and visit, with lots of laughs. So many memories were made that we will all reminisce about in the years to come.
When our time together was done there were a lot of tears. Our families were best friends when we all lived back in Michigan and our time together these days never enough.
Joel: Next day we got to Birmingham, AL and stayed with our friends Carl and Connie.
Wendy: Carl and Connie co-founded the dog rescue in Michigan with me (Canine Companions Rescue Center) back in 2004 and were some of my best friends back in Michigan. They moved to Alabama a few years ago and now volunteer with the Birmingham Humane Society. It was so great that things worked out for us to visit and spend a night with them. Also in the picture is Carl's mother, Margaret and their dog.
Joel: On the third day of traveling we made it to our first destination, Myrtle Beach, SC! It's HOT and HUMID. It's staying around 90 degrees with above 70% humidity, so that's special. We are here attending a friend's beach wedding on Friday and we decided to scope out the area where the ceremony is going to be held. I got a chance to dip my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and it's really warm! I'm not used to ocean water being that warm... totally could swim in it, except I'm afraid of sharks and they recently had two Portuguese man-o-wars wash up. No thanks! The seafood here is good, but I'm trying to save myself for the real stuff in Maine. MMMMMmmmmmm, lobster, haddock, and crab.
W: Note to Anne Morrison - I've already eaten crab twice!
J: Keeping the air at 69 degrees in the hotel room. It's necessary!
J: As you'll read in Wendy's last entry below, the last week of vacation was spent visiting friends. Now, the following photo isn't meant to freak anyone out, but the people, sights, smells, and good times I experience every time I visit Maine make me feel at "home." I saw this t-shirt in a store in Freeport and had to pick one up.
J: Below are a few pictures I did not have a chance to upload while on the road. They are from various points of the vacation.
A double mimosa from Sunday brunch at "Sea Dog's."
Our trusty Prius. 8,350 miles total for the trip. Averaged 50 mpg the whole way. $82 in gas to Michigan and $142 in gas from Maine to Arizona.
The old paper mill in Brunswick. These days it is home to a variety of businesses, including a pretty good Thai restaurant.
Now this is how you enjoy vacation!
W: After returning from Jackman, we had a pretty full week. Much of our time in Maine was spent with our good friends Mark and Rob (far right in the picture below). Though neither Joel nor I tend to drink very often (or very much), Mark kept the margaritas flowing whenever we were at his house. On this particular evening, we were joined by my high school classmate, Ron (second from the left), and his husband, Ken. Rounding out the party was Diane, a hilarious and wonderful woman we met through Mark. The evening was filled with laughter and I'm sure we will be talking about "the book" for years to come ("Are you mad?", "Wait, let me get a picture for the book..."). I'm amused by this picture because Rob and Joel were looking right at me, while everyone else was oblivious as they focused on whatever story Mark was telling.
W: On another night, we had a second dinner with John and Dee. John was also a classmate of mine in high school (first love, really, but that was 35+ *cough* years ago). John and Dee are engaged to be married next year, and I'm so happy for their happiness!
W: On a side note, at our dinner with John and Dee I had the prettiest sushi I've ever eaten (and yes, it was good).
W: It was a busy last week for sure. On this night I met up with three classmates. Patti lived on my street and we shared a bus stop from the time we were five until I moved to a different school as a sophomore. She and her husband Barry, along with Peter and Mike and Mike's wife, Vicki, joined me and Joel for dinner. I really enjoyed spending time with all of them and catching up.
W: We spent another of our final days in Maine with my friend Ron (and his animals, haha). Joel tried out Ron's inversion chair, with Molly's assistance, but wasn't a fan of the feeling of having his blood rush into his head. Chapps (Chapperdoo) the cat had a much more relaxing effect.
Ron lives on a lake, a gorgeous spot on a point, and as we walked around the property enjoying the weather and the views, he took Molly out in the canoe so we could see that she's not only a perfect passenger in the car, but in the boat as well.
W: I took a ridiculous amount of foliage pictures (and a few other sights) and rather than boring everyone with them, I've decided to post them all last so you can browse as few or as many as you'd like to see. Some of them are pretty spectacular.
On October 5th, we left the Brunswick/Topsham area and headed north. We got to Bar Harbor in the afternoon and spent the evening checking out the downtown area. The weather was once again perfect! Sunny and not too warm. People were laying out on the grass, watching the boats and cruise ships in the harbor - the place was packed! I guess that's a downside of Bar Harbor, and one reason why I've always preferred Boothbay Harbor. Boothbay is a little less crowded, and they have my favorite shop of all, Enchantments!
W: Every time we pass one of those big wooden pictures with the faces cut out I ask Joel to take a picture in it (see blog from our previous trip to Maine :-) ) and this time I couldn't get him to do that, but at least he was a good sport and sat for a picture with this lobster in Bar Harbor.
J: Now, the Patriots played on Thursday night so one of the things we had to do was find a local bar to camp out at so we could watch the game. We found one and hunkered down. At the bar, I had some awesome Downeast Cider, which I plan on ordering once I get back to Arizona. We stayed through halftime, then decided to watch the rest of the game from the comfort of our hotel room. Better news this week - we won! Hurray.
J: The next day, which sadly was the most gray day we've had, we drove up Cadillac Mountain. The views were awesome and we enjoyed our time on the mountain that is the first to see the sunrise in the United States!
J: After coming down the mountain and driving around the island for a bit, we headed even more north. We were headed to Jackman, Maine, which is near the Canadian border, although not at very top of the state. Now here we saw some color! Beautiful reds, oranges, yellows, dark reds, purples, and greens were everywhere! This area wasn't quite at its peak, but it was pretty darn close.
W: We took so many pictures of the colors that we're going to make them their own blog post. Stay tuned for that.
J: The night we arrived in Jackman we took a drive at dusk in search for a moose. In all my trips to Maine, I've never seen a moose in the wild. Sure, you see all the signs: "Moose Crossing!", "Break for Moose!" ... yeah, yeah, well I've never seen one so they don't exist! Finally, I was proven wrong. We were headed down the highway and we noticed a car pulled over. If a car is pulled over in New England, there's a good chance the car has stopped for deer or moose. We thought what the heck, we'll pull over too, and sure enough there was a female moose munching on a snack on the side of the road! We watched if for a few minutes, then I turned my head to the other side of the highway and there was a male moose eyeing the female moose! I'm told it is rutting season after all... We warned approaching drivers of the moose in the area until the male moose was able to safely cross the road to the female. They disappeared into the grass and we heard.......... moose sounds.......... I'm not gonna ask, we'll just keep driving...
So, yes, I can now confirm that moose do indeed reside in Maine.
W: Please forgive the video quality - it was dusk and that proved challenging for my cell phone camera.
J: The next morning we drove 35 miles east to Moosehead Lake/Greenville. The first thing we did when we got there was drive 8 miles down a dirt road to a B-52 memorial site. On January 24th, 1963 a B-52C bomber crashed. There were three people aboard, one was killed and the other two survived. At the memorial site, which was a .5 mile hike in the woods, we saw wreckage from the plane all over the place. They say that the wreckage was picked up but eventually returned to the site, so we weren't sure if the pieces in the trees and on the ground really landed there, or if they were scattered in the general area after the fact. In any case, it was still cool to see, and the 8 mile drive to the site had some of the best colors we've seen!
W: On our second night in Jackman we took another drive to see if we could find more moose. We were so lucky on this trip! First we saw two females (or a female and a young one, first two photos below), and then a bit further up the road we saw another bull moose. He was practically right next to our car. If that wasn't enough, we also saw a doe and a buck, and the doe (video below) was very curious about our car and approached very closely.
J: Tomorrow, we'll head south back to Brunswick. This time, we won't be staying in a hotel because we got a cabin between Brunswick and Freeport. Should be great!