Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Grave Dancer

There was one other literary result of our travels in Maine.  It has taken longer to complete than the blogs full of pictures.  Jack and Jane Pronovost introduced us to an old Maine legend about a burial monument in the town of Bucksport, Maine, that is mysteriously marked with the outline of a leg and foot.  They even drove us past the cemetery where the foot-printed tombstone still stands.
If you would like to read a more factual account of this mysterious phenomenon, and see pictures of the marked monument, you'll find an interesting article at  This writer recounts the legend of the burning of a witch; other versions feature other causes of her death, including her hanging
But, of course, I had to give that legend my own interpretation, which I include below:
1. I stood alone in the prisoner’s dock, no one to give me aid.
The judge looked down with an angry frown; "My judgment has been made."
"But, Your Honor, I’m not guilty of the crimes they have accused.
Not demon-possessed; I’ve cast no spells, nor witch-craft have I used."
CHORUS: "But I’ll dance on your grave with great joy and glee
And I’ll haunt you for-ever if you hang me!"
2. Though innocent, they hanged me high, in the square for all to see.
But those who came from far and near shed not a tear for me.
Not many moons hence, that judge also died; an unexpected demise.
The folks in town who called him friend grieved him with tear-filled eyes.
3. I kept the promise I had made, and there, like smudge of soot,
On the judge’s gravestone, when un-veiled, was the outline of my foot!
They wiped and scrubbed; they sanded and chipped; but it would not go away.
Ah, justice at last, for my footprint remains on that judge’s grave to this day!

(I'm working on a tune to set this poem to, but that's much harder to send by e-mail!)
I hope you enjoy my poetic version of that old Maine legend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Macro-headaches from a micro-wave

The microwave made some unique and ominous noises last Friday evening but it still ran.  Saturday morning it moaned instead of humming but the turntable still went around.  It would not, however, heat anything, not even a cup of water.  Its heart (heating unit) had stopped.  It had died.

 We were in Maine about 20 miles from the nearest city and farther still from an RV supply store.  However, on-line, Bruce located a Camping World in Chichester, New Hampshire who had a replacement in stock that was the same size as our recently deceased model.  The only problem was that their service technicians could not schedule the installation for three weeks!  We ordered it anyway.

It was 97 degrees with very high humidity the day we arrived at Camping World.  The microwave we had ordered was ready and Bruce decided that installing it couldn't be very difficult.  So he planned to do it himself. 

There was overnight space for RV parking in the lot beside the store, but there were no hook-ups.  That meant that the job of getting that new microwave into the space where it belonged would have to be done without air conditioning.  That kind of "heat stress" is not good for old folks like us.

Nevertheless, we proceeded with the job.  The old, dead unit came out quite easily.
The new unit was the same size as the old one.  Unfortunately, however, the trim panel on the new one was too big for the existing opening!  We looked at each other and said, "We wish Joel (our son) were here. He could do it!"
I suggested that we take it back and get our money back -- but that's not Bruce's style.  While I napped, he went off to the local hardware store to buy the tools he would need.  I awoke to the sound of a sabre saw enlarging the opening!
It took lots of head-scratching, a little expense, and gallons of sweat, but somehow he did it!  We tried it out for breakfast this morning -- and it worked!  Another pitfall on the RV road of life successfully bridged!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lobster Dinner

Lobster Dinner
(pronunciation: "LOB-STAH DIN-NAH")

The pain in Maine stays mainly in the lobster pot;
Must dunk the living critters when it’s boiling hot!
They may wiggle, squirm, and cry,
But they were born to die,
To feed hungry Mainers who like them a lot.

The lobster’s an ugly beast with crusty brown armor;
Pinchers large and vicious so that none can harm ‘er.
But boats with traps and fishermen
By the hundreds pull them in
And send them off to plates that are much warmer.

When cooked in boiling water, the critter turns bright red.
Then it's pulled forth dripping. Oh, what fun lies ahead!
With nutcracker you must
Crack open his crust,
And search out bits of meat from tail to head!

It’s juicy, hard work and it makes quite a mess.
But, if you get lazy, you’ll harvest much less.
So crack, dig and eat awhile,
As you eat, you’ll surely smile,
An experience to last a life-time, I confess!

The cuisine of the world tastes great from west to east.
There’s curry, borsch, tofu, for man and for beast.
Don’t forget truffles, bratwurst, and rice,
Or fish and chips, and pastries so nice.
As for us, we’ll remember our Maine lobster feast!

Acadia National Park

This destination off the southeastern Maine shore has been on our "Let's go" list for a long time.
We finally made it, Stop #24 on our 2013 Summer Tour, thanks to Jack and Jane Pronovost,
our Winter Texan friends who live in Maine.
The beauty of the place surpassed our expectations.
From the entrance road,
past majestic granite boulders,
to this view from the top of Cadillac Mountain, tallest peak on the U.S. eastern shore.
The sights were breath-taking, but, unfortunately, interrupted by other tourists!

We didn't try swimming in the waters of Sand Beach
where the sand consists of crushed shells,
but we heard the screams of those who jumped in without realizing how cold it was!
Thunder Hole didn't thunder for us since the winds were out of the wrong direction,
but, again, the views of the Atlantic Ocean were gorgeous.
We stopped at Jordan Pond House and enjoyed this view of the Bubble Mountains.
We also enjoyed "popovers," a delicious pastry for which Jordan Pond House is famous.
(Too bad we can't include aroma and taste with this blog!)

Acadia National Park is divided into two areas.  The larger part occupies the eastern half of Mount Desert (in Maine, pronounced de-SERT) Island off the southeastern state coast, south of Ellsworth and Trenton.  It lies on the western shore of Frenchman's Bay and the major city on the island is Bar Harbor.  This seems to be the area that most tourists find.
Our hosts also took us to the Schoodic Peninsula.  A small area on the southwest corner of  that Peninsula, located on the eastern shore of Frenchman's Bay, is also a part of Acadia National Park.  The major city on Schoodic Peninsula is Winter Harbor.  We were delighted that most tourists apparently can't find it and we had it almost to ourselves. 


Quiet and calm enveloped us as we drove slowly along its rugged byways.
Waves breaking on the rocky shore
have an almost mystical effect on me.
Here and there, in the midst of the rugged landscape, there are spots of beauty,
such as this wild iris,
and wild blueberry bushes.
Then the shadows grew longer, the air got cooler,
and it was time to say "Good-bye" to Acadia National Park.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Many Moods of Maine

The state of Maine is a wonderful and unique kind of place.  It has a culture and dialect all its own.  Visiting friends there, we discovered that it is also a place of many "moods."

Old Orchard Beach
 There is the 'BEACH COMBER "mood":

Old Orchard Beach
And the ARTISTIC "mood"
Edgecomb Pottery
Edgecomb Pottery
Edgecomb Pottery
Boothbay Harbor
The SEAFARER "mood"

Boothbay Harbor

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
And, of course, the NATURE LOVER "mood"

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Cabin at the Pronovost camp
Sunset over Donnell Pond at the Pronovost camp
Like the rest of us, however, even Mainers are not immune to collecting status symbols!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Liberty Park, Jersey City, New Jersey

We headed toward New York City!  We've always avoided it in the past, going round it on a way-out outer belt.  But this time, Bruce had found information about an RV Campground in Jersey City just across the Hudson River from The Big Apple.  So, we pumped up our courage -- and our tolerance for heat since they said their full hook-up sites were all reserved -- and we drove into downtown Jersey City to the Liberty Marina and RV Campground.  We were rewarded with an open site with full utilities.  How thankful we were for the air conditioning with temperatures and humidity in the low 90s!

Just as the advertisement said, we could, indeed, see the Statue of Liberty from our campground!  She was almost hidden by the RVs packed in so closely together, the cars in the parking lot next door, and the masts of the many boats in the marina on the bay.  We could see her -- but we wanted a closer look!

So, Summer Tour 2013 Stop #23 was a walking tour of Liberty Park.  The park is on the Jersey side of the Hudson River directly across from downtown New York City.  The above view shows the skyline of Jersey City on the left and, in the distance toward the right, the high rise buildings of New York City.

The new One World Trade Center building, towering 1776 feet into the air, dominates the waterfront skyline.

Directly across the river from that new building there is a 9-11 memorial in Liberty Park. The scorched and twisted steel beams are reminders of the physical damage caused by two aircraft used as weapons.  Inside the the two upright walls are inscribed the names of some of the victims of that attack, a reminder of its human toll.

Other less famous memorials also grace Liberty Park, such as this Bridge of Nations.

But we had come to see Lady Liberty!  So we began walking along the Hudson River walkway toward those two famous islands out in the harbor.


First, we came to Ellis Island, the arrival point of over twelve million immigrants to the United States between the years of 1892 and 1954. (Descendants of these immigrants are estimated to make up one-third of the U.S. population.)

This island had served the Native Americans as rich oyster beds, and the New York military as a gun battery.  But, in 1890, the Federal government allocated $15,000 to convert it into an immigrant intake center as the numbers of persons coming from other countries to live in the United States swelled.  The high point of its use was in 1907 when 1,004,756 persons passed through the Ellis Island center.

In 1990, parts of the facility were converted into a Museum of Immigration, open to the public.

Finally, a little beyond Ellis Island, is Liberty Island with its famous inhabitant, The Statue of Liberty.  She is 151 feet, 1 inch tall and stands 305 feet and 1 inch on her pedestal.  Her proper name is "Liberty Enlightening the World."  She was designed and built by French sculptor Frederick Auguste Bartholdi and presented to the United States as a gift from the French people in 1886.

She is modeled after the Greek goddess of freedom, Libertas.  She holds aloft a torch in her right hand and in her left hand is a book, representing the law, which is inscribed with the date 4 July 1776.  At her feet lies a broken chain.  

She was received gratefully by the American people, who had raised the money to build her pedestal.  However, there were critics among the populace.  The dim glow of her original torch prompted one to complain that "[she looks] more like a glow worm than a beacon!"

In 1883, noted New York poet Emma Lazarus, wrote a poem entitled "The New Colossus" to help raise money for the statue's pedestal.  A portion of that poem is engraved on the base of Lady Liberty:
          "...'Give me your tired, your poor;
                      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
           The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  
                      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
            I lift my lamp beside the golden door.'"

May Emma Lazarus' words outlive the Border Wall in defining our nation's stance on immigration!

Philly on the Fourth (almost!)

The Fourth of July holiday week-end found us in Somerdale, New Jersey visiting another cousin and family.  Philadelphia, the cradle of U.S.independence, is just across the Delaware River from New Jersey.  So, on the 3rd of July, we took the PATCO (Port Authority Transit Company) train from Somerdale into downtown Philadelphia to meet and have lunch with yet another cousin and his wife, our summer tour stop # 22.

After a delicious lunch at a nice Italian restaurant, our Philadelphia cousin took us on a walking tour of some of the downtown sights of the city.  We intentionally stayed away from the Independence Hall area of the city, fearing the holiday crowds would make sight-seeing difficult.

John F. Kennedy Plaza, where this fountain welcomed us, was one of our first stops.
Behind the fountain, the Philadelphia City Hall is visible with a statue of William Penn gracing its peak.

Philadelphia School of Art and Design introduced us to several interesting and creative sculptures.
First, the enormous orange-tinted paint brush seen to the right of the school building.

Even more unique was this sculpture entitled "Grumman Greenhouse" by Jordan Griska.

He has used a crashed World War II bomber to make a strong social statement,

for the inside of the wrecked plane is filled with live, flourishing plants.
It raises the unspoken question: could other tools of war be turned into peaceful uses?

Our tour was drawing to a close as we walked past the Friends Center (administrative offices of the Society of Friends) and the nearby Friends Select School.  Our cousin-guide had retired from the school after years of teaching and serving as Assistant Head Master.

We had a round of good-bye hugs as the rain drops began to fall lightly again.  He climbed aboard his bus home and we headed for the PATCO train that would take us back to New Jersey.  It wasn't quite the Fourth of July but it was a great celebration after several years since our last visit!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Longwood Gardens

Free tickets to tour one of the most outstanding gardens in the United States!  What a generous gift our cousins gave us.  So our 21st stop on our Summer Tour was Longwood Gardens in the Philadelphia suburb of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Some of the 1077 acres now occupied the gardens were originally purchased around 1700 by the Peirce family from William Penn.  They developed an arboretum, Peirce's Park, open to the public.  By 1850, it was one of the finest collections of trees in the United States..

By 1906, however, the park was on the verge of being sold for lumbering when Pierre S. DuPont purchased it.  It became his private estate for the next 26 years during which he developed and greatly expanded the scope and beauty of the gardens.  It now includes twenty outdoor gardens and twenty indoor gardens which include over 11,000 different types of plants and trees.

Last Saturday, June 29, it was bright and sunny as we set out to tour the gardens.
We walked along coleus-bordered pathways,
past Italian-style fountains and up elaborate stone steps,
past a small lake adorned with water lilies in varied colors,
to a wooded area where we admired rhododendron blooms,
oak-leaf hydrangeas
and chuckled at the antics of a nosy squirrel!
Other paths led us along to

 meadows and sculptured gardens,
through a topiary garden of sculptured trees,
and past a small reminder of Texas!
The afternoon fountain show gave us a chance to sit down,
rest our feet and feast our eyes on a different kind of beauty!
Now the Conservatory called to us to come inside.  It is over four acres under glass and contains more than 5500 different types of plants, many of them exotic imports,
 such as this cheery red Flamingo Flower,
and this enormous Bouganvillea tree.
Twenty indoor gardens in the Conservatory include
the Fern Room,
 the Cascade Room, the Mediterranean Garden,
the Orchid Room,
and the Palm House.
Even the hallway to the public restrooms was beautified with live greenery
and is called The Green Wall!
Even the water lily ponds displayed more kinds of aquatic beauties
than we ever knew existed,
including this gigantic South American species called
a Water Platter.
We had toured and walked all day, feasting on the beauty of the growing things
and the music of the bell carillon above this peaceful pool.
Now it was time to go home, preserve our memories of the day
and share them with you in this blog.
We hope you've enjoyed them.