Book Corner 2021.47

It’s 1975, and 14-year-old Mary Jane takes a job for the summer babysitting 5-year-old Isabelle “Izzy” Cone. Mary Jane lives a happy, sheltered life controlled by her mother, who is a 1950s caricature of an orderly Stepford wife gone mad. Mary Jane likes to cook, clean, sing show tunes, and sing in church. But the Cones are a 1975 caricature of laid-back grooviness, and Izzy is a live wire. Mary Jane immediately takes to Izzy and providing some order and good home-cooked meals to her home. Meanwhile, the Cones, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Cone’s rock- and TV-star resident patients, Jimmy & Sheba, return the favor by opening Mary Jane’s horizons to possibilities she never imagined, starting with objects strewn about the house and ending with free love and talk therapy and beyond.

Mary Jane is loveable and sympathetic. The other characters, however, are one-note; Izzy’s being a particularly shrill note. She is always shouting, being lovable, loving anything Mary Jane wants her to do. She never gets cranky or difficult.

Even so, I liked the story. I like how it showed that Mary Jane’s orderly well-trained background was a plus as well as a sometime hindrance to her; she both contributes and takes from her relationships with the others. As things come to a head with her parents at home, she realizes and tries to explain to her mother that much of what is so loveable about her, Mary Jane, why the others love and need her, are things that came directly from her upbringing; her mother should be proud. And eventually, she is. The father’s another story.

Blurbs on the cover draw apt comparisons to the movie ALMOST FAMOUS. There it’s a sheltered, controlled male who comes into the orbit of rock stars, whose Mom back home has to be made to realize that his growing up and apart is necessary, and that she can not “approve” but still be proud of who he is.

Tomato Salad Every Day

Everyday lunch: homegrown tomatoes sliced in half, drizzled with a bit of olive oil & balsamic and salt. Tear up a couple of homegrown basil leaves. Toast a piece of bread. Slice up an ounce of mozzarella. I had been throwing the mozzarella in the salad but decided I prefer it toasted on the bread. Enjoy… it’ll frost soon enough.

Book Corner 2021.45

I was interested in air conditioning. But not this much.

And talk about your flowery language. I consider myself a bit of a word person. Even if I can’t define something to the letter, context will usually let me fill in the meaning. But I declared defeat when I encountered “cathexis of mortido.” This sounds like a really bad Batman villain. (It’s something Freudian.)

It certainly does contain the best step-by-step explanation of how CFC’s deplete the ozone layer, and I do feel better informed than I was before – one would hope for such after 400 pages! And just in time for me to come across a small blurb in the paper: this year’s ozone hole over Antarctica is significantly larger than usual. Joyous news. Climate change was going to be bad enough, but, barring a really bad tidal wave, at least SOMEWHAT gradual. A severely degraded ozone layer is going to be super nasty super quick. At least it gets my mind off COVID.

Book Corner 2021.44

by Catherine Raven

This is a very unique book. Indeed Catherine Raven is a very unique individual. Here she tells a lot about herself by documenting her two-year-relationship with a fox that lives on her property in Montana. Raven lives alone in a cottage on a remote plot of arid land; she’s obtained a degree or two, served as a park ranger, and taught college, but doesn’t know what to do next with her life. When a fox starts visiting her at her cottage, she starts reading to him; she names him “Fox”, and rendezvous with him regularly at the same time and place.

When I say she lives alone, I mean without others of her species. Her other friend is a magpie. As I said, Raven is a unique individual. I admired and envied her closeness to the land she chose to call home. I grew to love Fox as she did. I love how she tells us her life situation without self-pity and with directness, and I love the conclusions she came to over the course of the two years she knew Fox. While at times this book felt a little repetitive and confusing, given the poetic way Raven would skip back in time sometimes to retell a scene in a different way, I would not say I was ever bored.

The central question for Raven was: was she “anthropomorphizing” Fox, and was she within her rights to say that he was her friend? If she had tamed him, or if he had been a domesticated animal, nobody would laugh at her attributing humanoid characteristics to him, or naming him, or saying he was her friend. Why is it different with a wild fox?

Quotes:

“I tried lashing myself to the land, but it wasn’t reciprocating.”

“The American student sits long enough to rival the most sessile organism ever to evolve on planet Earth.”

“Each [elk] cow was searching for her perfect partner, and despite years of research, no scientist has ever been able to discover the criteria that females use when choosing mates. Maybe it’s because each cow chose for herself alone, the one bull that would most displease her mother.”

“On days when I worried over a pile of applications for university jobs that I didn’t want but should have been applying for anyway, I remembered I owned land in a high-altitude desert where tiny five-headed ball cactuses bloomed in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, and I stopped worrying.” I would too.

Acadia Page-a-Day: Day 6

Witch’s Hole Pond

Day 6 was the Schoodic peninsula. The day, and our easy little hike, started rather rainy but cleared up entirely. I have lots of pictures of crashing waves. But to pick just one photo for the day, I have to pick this one; an evening walk we did out our motel back door, to the park carriage roads and up to Witch’s Hole Pond. I really just have a thing for evening light.

Acadia Page-a-Day: Day 5

A really red mushroom

Rainout. So went to the Abbe Museum to learn about the indigenous peoples. Then found a wonderful little place where we could walk along nature trails and see birds including raptors unable to return to the wild. This place was called Birdsacre and was smack in the middle of the ugliest sprawliest most confusing part of Ellsworth Maine. Walk just a bit along the trail and feel a million miles away. Shown here is a really red mushroom.

Made a late lunch/early dinner at Atlantic Brewing with Mainely Meat complementing the libations. Closest we needed to come to indoor dining; we ate right by the open door, so I don’t count it.

Worst weather day of the trip, yet we pulled a good time out of it.

Acadia Page-a-Day: Day 4

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

This was one of the best days, which we spent in “Sara’s Neighborhood,” near Southwest Harbor. First off, Xopher got his bike pedals replaced at the wonderful Southwest Cycle. Then we put those pedals to the test by biking from Seawall to Bernard and seeing all the sights in between.

We stopped off at the Wonderland Trail, which was such a pleasure with so many lovely woodland and waterfront vistas – and true wonders, as Xopher managed to find a sweet potato on the beach. I thought this was so hysterical I couldn’t resist remarking to the very next couple that we passed, “Hey!! We found a potato!!” They gave shocked and confused looks, then laughed, and the guy said, “That IS a wonder!”

We went down to the Bass Harbor lighthouse, shown here. We went up and around the inlet. We had a satisfying waterfront lunch which also served as dinner at Seafood Ketch.

On the way back, we did another trail, the Ship Harbor trail, with more lovely and dramatic vistas.

Looking through my photos, I see that the wildlife sightings that day included cormorants, possibly loons, deer, and a heron.

Xopher called it a “fun area.” High praise from him.

Acadia Page-a-Day: Day 3

Oh! You Pretty Marsh

Backtrack two years ago. We are in Acadia and we take a long walk straight from the motel. We rest and then look at the map, and Xopher (I’ll throw him under the bus) says, well, the shortest route back would be this way. “This way” turned out to be over the park’s goddamn highest mountain by the most difficult route. We just fail so hard.

So two years later, these two idiots are ready for their redemption. We’re going to hike Cadillac Mountain, the EASY way – North Ridge Trail. It’s still not a picnic, but it doesn’t have me screaming THIS ISN’T A THING! the whole time like the 2019 adventure.

But rather than give you the trite “Me on Top of the Mountain!” photo, or the photo of the view that doesn’t do it justice, instead I’ll give you this sunset picture of Pretty Marsh. Pretty Marsh is a lonely spot on the west side of MDI. Don’t you just love the light during the evening hours this time of year.