Vacation Day 3

For today’s entertainment, I stopped by the Tate House, which is in the Stroudwater neighborhood here in Portland. Oddly enough, it’s the only one of the open historic houses in Portland that I have not been dragged to sometime during my school career.

The house was built in the 18th century for George Tate, who was the senior mast agent for the Royal navy, which meant he was well to do, and the house has been dressed with period furniture (some authentic, some reproduction), to reflect this. I noticed that they have garden tours on Wednesday, so that was why I went. The house backs down to the Stroudwater River, and there are terraced rows – six currently, of which four are original – that are set up as a period herb garden. It’s smallish now, but they have interesting plans for the place.

I ended up with a personal tour of the grounds and the house, being the only one there at 10:30 in the morning, which was the pretty cool. I’d definitely recommend the stop to any Colonial history buffs.

On an interesting side note, I did find out something interesting about the flock of geese that live along the Stroudwater. I drive by here every week day on my way to work, and Spring, Summer and Fall, there is a flock of domesticated geese that hang around along the river. I’d always assumed they belonged to someone in the neighborhood who sent them somewhere warm in the winter. Turns out, no one owns these geese, and no one knows where they disappear off to every winter. They must be incredibly hardy buggers. I’m just astounded that they take care of themselves.


Terrier – Tamora Pierce

Read for the YA Challenge 2008.

I love Tamora Pierce. I discovered her when I was actually a member of the YA demographic, and have continued to enjoy her work ever since then. Her latest series goes back in time in Tortall, the setting for her original series (about the knight Alanna) to tell the story of Beka Cooper, the ancestor of George Cooper.

The story is told in journal form, and details Beka’s first year in the Dogs, the guardians of the capital city of Corus. It’s different than the prior Tortall books, because it’s set in the Lower City, where the nobility only comes for brief periods of time. It’s a great, fresh look at this world, and I admire the author greatly for being able to do that. I’ve experienced too many of my favorite worlds going completely downhill from over use, but I don’t see any danger of that happening in this re-imagining. It was incredibly smart to take the story to a different time and set it among different people.

Beka is a great character. She’s painfully shy, but already growing, and I’m looking forward to the rest of this series, although the next book isn’t out until next year, even though the back of my copy of Terrier says it will be out in 2008. I saw that and was hoping it was already out. Oh well. That will give me time to check out the Protector of the Small series, which is the only Tamora Pierce series I have not yet managed to read.


So here’s a little something I whipped up for the birthday BBQ we had for the BF and my younger brother last night. It’s a watermelon, fresh mozzarella and basil salad with reduced balsamic vinegar as the dressing, and it’s GOOD. The mozzarella soaks up the flavor of the watermelon, and with the balsamic on top, well, let’s just say I had to make a very conscious decision to save room for birthday cake. It’s help up well as leftovers (the dressing was most definitely kept separate for storage).

On a side note, if you want to freak out your neighbors, try reducing vinegar, and wait for the wild stories of them running around their apartment, trying to figure out what they did to cause that smell 🙂

Vacation Day 2

I will first quickly mention that vacation day 1 was taken up with the epic task of cleaning up my desk. This somehow turned into the epic task to clean up my crap in the bathroom cabinet, the pile of badness on my bureau, and the stuff on my desk. I’ve completed the bathroom and bureau portions of this task (actually, the bureau is now so unstacked, I may have to find something to put up on the wall to break up the white space), but the desk is only about half done.

So, for my first day out of the house, on what is supposed to be the best day this week, I decided to hit Freeport for some shopping. And since I was heading in that direction anyway, I decided I should check out the yarn stores in Brunswick. Apparently, the Purl Diva isn’t open on Tuesday, so I only hit The Knitting Experience Cafe. I think I’m actually glad I was only able to hit one, because I promptly blew about eighty bucks on some needles and sock yarn.

The top yarn is some Panda Cotton, which I’ll be using for socks for my mother (yeah, those Nutkin socks I made her for Mother’s Day? Too small. So I’m going to them to my sister, but I’m really mad about that, because Mom loved them, and they were really perfect for her on a number of levels other than the size). For myself, I bought some Spunky Electic (middle) and some Schaefer Anne. I really love the Schaefer Anne. The colors are amazing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like knitted up.

I definitely liked the Knitting Experience. I had a lovely conversation with Chesley, and the selection was quite decent and varied. (Totally could have bought more sock yarn, but managed to restrain myself.)

Freeport on the other hand, was a disappointment. I did get a present for my MIL for Christmas (she collects crescent moon ornaments, and I found a pretty cool one done by one of the local design companies), but LL Bean was completely out of Tevas that are not flip flops (I really need new ones. My current ones have reached critical stink mass.), and Abacus has stopped carrying the necklace I’ve been lusting after for ages, but have not found an excuse to buy. However, I did make plans to hang out with T on Thursday while sitting in the Freeport parking lot, so some good came out of being there.

My remaining task (heh) for the day is to read a book. I love vacation!

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Read for the TBR Reading Challenge.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is the story of Henry DeTamble, a man suffering from chrono-displacement, which means that he travels back and forth along the length of his life, never knowing where/when he’ll end up, and his wife Clare, who plods along the linear path of time.

This was my first Paperspine book. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but it’s never in the library, which speaks well for its popularity. I was also amused to see it in a recent issue of Bookmarks in their first part of a survey of science fiction. While I do agree that time travel is a very science fiction sort of subject, I can’t help but label this book as pure fiction. It simple doesn’t ring any of my scifi bells.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of this novel going into it. The only thing I’d read prior was several mentions of it in a forum thread about books that people hadn’t been able to finish, where a number of people listed this book because they were completely sceeved by Henry’s relationship with Clare when she was a child. I actually thought that part of the book was rather sweet. I rather enjoyed the entire story. It was a fascinating look at what your life would be like if you weren’t living it linearly. There were several story points that were particularly interesting, but in fairness to anyone that hasn’t read the book yet, I won’t list them here, because the resolution of those story lines is the fun of the book, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Mackworth Island, Falmouth, ME

As a celebration of my first day of vacation freedom, I headed over to Falmouth for a walk around Mackworth Island. I was almost foiled by the dang truck attending to the portapotties, which was taking up half the already tiny parking lot, but I managed to get in.

It actually wasn’t that great a day for pictures. It was hot. And very sunny. Which was kind of funny, because there was a huge fog bank lurking off shore (those aren’t just very low clouds in the above picture), so there were fog horns going off left and right as I was sweating my way around the path. It was still a lovely walk. You’re guaranteed to get a good breeze on the ocean side of the island, and today was definitely no exception.

What today was good for was butterfly/moth pictures. They were all over the place! The below is just a sampling of what I saw. There were also bees and other pollinating bugs galore. I felt like I was wandering through a giant buffet.


The good news is, the garden is coming along. The phlox, liatris and echinacea are all blooming, and we’ve gotten a decent amount of rain, so everything is looking pretty lush. The bad news is, we’ve gotten a decent amount of rain, so the phlox, liatris and echinacea have all come in sideways, due to the all the water spilling down in the garden. I also haven’t had time recently to go in and neaten things up, so things are getting a little weedy. I am resolved sometime in the next week to go down either early in the morning or later in the evening and straighten the side bed out.

The back bed is looking pretty good. The hostas are getting chewed a little more than I’d like, but the coleus and begonias have filled in quite nicely.

Knitting Notes

Slight change in socks I’m making for L. I switched over to the River Rapids sock pattern, since I’m working with a more or less sport weight yarn, and the Waving Lace pattern was not doing it with the yarn I’m using. It’s a pretty simple, cool looking pattern, and I’m definitely enjoying it. It’s also got a really well reinforced heel, which means these will work as boot socks, which is a definite bonus.

I frogged my Icarus Shawl for now. I hadn’t enlarged the pattern, so was getting massively off just a few rows into the first chart. I definitely need to copy it so I can start marking off the rows I’ve already done, which will then help me keep on track for the row I’m currently doing. I also realized that a shawl will probably be a better Fall or winter project. I’d briefly started the Elizabeth I – Gloriana scarf (which I’m hoping to have done for Christmas for my MIL), and that just seems like a better summer project. I’ve actually frogged that one as well, as I started it out on the recommended size 1 needles, but it wasn’t looking lacy enough. I’m going to purchase some size 2’s and see how that goes. I also now have the size 3’s available since Icarus is currently snoozing.

The last thing I started last night was swatching for the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket. It was nice, easy knitting, and will probably be a good side project once I get the socks out of the way.

Inkheart – Cornelia Funke

Read for the YA 2008 and Mythopoeic Reading Challenges.

Inkheart is an absolutely charming story, definitely one of the better YA books I’ve recently read.

Being an avid reader, I have on occasion wished that the story that I was reading could come alive, but this story is great cautionary tale of why that might not actually be the best idea. Meggie has lived a life somewhat on the run, with her father Mo, but doesn’t realize why until the fateful day a man named Dustfinger comes to the door.

It turns out that Meggie’s father Mo has the ability to read characters out of books, and one of those characters, Capricorn, has been trying to find her father for years, to get him to finish the job. Before you know it, Meggie, Mo and Meggie’s aunt Elinor are caught up in a web, trying to escape, and then defeat Capricorn, before he’s able to bring his worst henchman over from this story.

The characters, especially the villains, are great, and there are several interesting twists and turns. I really wasn’t sure up until the very end how the story felt like it should end. Very enjoyable read.

I’ve also picked up the sequel, Inkspell, and while I’ve heard it’s not as good as Inkheart, I’m still looking forward to the next chapter in the story.

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question seemed fairly apropos, because my vacation is next week, and I’ve actually been pondering what that will mean for my summer book buying:

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?

Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?

What/Where are they?

Books are pretty much the first thing I think of if I want souvenirs. (Well, if I’m in this country. I’ll think twice when out of the country due to exchange rates, different pricing, etc, but that’s another post.) I usually bring books with me when I travel, but I almost always underestimate my needs, so the souvenir purchases usually go to good use soon after I buy them.

One bookstore I enjoy visiting when I’m in the area is the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, though I don’t usually consider it a vacation stop, since it’s near the BF’s family home in Bennington, so we’re usually in town for something non-vacation related. Anyway, it’s a really great independent bookstore, with probably the best selection of any indy store I’ve ever seen. I particularly like their bargain books, because they tend to actually get books I’d like to read in that section, unlike your typical Borders or B&N. Oddly enough though, I think I may have bought more stationary there than books lately. Indy stores do tend to have really unique, interesting stationary, and this place is no exception. That was the only thing I bought there on my last trip, last weekend.

If we’re on the kind of vacation where we’ve going to be doing a lot of driving, both the BF and I love finding used book stores. New England is definitely a great place to do that. Four or five years ago, we did a whole week around Vermont and New York, with the pass back through New Hampshire to get home, and we hit around a dozen used book stores. I brought home a large shopping bags’ worth of books that took me about two years to get through. Heaven.

Used book stores are definitely hit or miss, but when you find a good one, it’s like finding buried treasure. My favorite used book store is the Big Chicken Barn, which is on the outskirts of Ellsworth, Maine, where my father lives. We don’t do a visit up in that area without a stop at the Chicken Barn (if nothing else, it’s a great rainy day stop). I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out their with less than half a dozen books.

Other than that, I actually like hitting Barnes and Noble when I’m on vacation. We don’t have one where I live, and I find I like their selection a heck of a lot better then Borders. I definitely prefer indy stores, because you absolutely never know what you’re going to find, but I will seldom resist the siren call of a B&N. If nothing else, I usually come out with a list of books to add to my find at the library list.

I’m actually spending my week long vacation this year home based, and I find I’m missing the idea of being able to do book shopping in a foreign land, as it were. I think I took the worst of the sting of that with our stops in VT and NH on our long weekend trip last week, but I’m still trying to decide if some sort of book day trip is order. I’ve half resolved to head up to Brunswick, as they have two yarn stores I’ve heard great things about, so I may have to investigate what kind of book stores are available in the area. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem like vacation without at least one new book from a new store.