Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maine-ly Photos - A Cautionary Tale Of When One Combines Crustaceans And Photography

And the de-I said:

Bring Forth Photos

And as it is hurricane season the photos were brought forth in torrents.

Of Things Lobster-ish

Ye Olde Lobster Roll
Sweet, naturally ocean salt meat with just a touch of mayo
Far, far down one of a hundred peninsulas a nondescript shack
But behind it a bucolic scene
For we have found
And our true destiny
So fresh, so good, so inexpensive!

Scenes of Maine

The Craft Distiller
They use hand made, direct heated, pot stills as in Cognac
Happy distiller showing us the grain that goes inside the whiskey
Of sea kayaks

Of lobster fishing gear
The shipyards of Maine produced hundreds of Liberty ships and other vessels during WWII
Yarmouth Maine is the home of GPS giant, Garman and, appropriately enough
A Gigantic Three Story High Globe!

A Study of Lighthouses

Including from inside one

A study of (Maine-ly) Wife

Study of water, rocks, and harbors

Friday, September 8, 2017

Crustaceans And Photography

Day Two of the expressed purpose of flying all the way to Maine so one can eat lobster at the source. Yesterday was a good start. The lobster roll at the Lobster Shack at Two Lighthouses was filled with plenty of very sweet meat and just a touch of mayo on the top so it wasn't a lobster salad. (Turns out today when we were all done, I read in a magazine that was in our Airbnb of a woman who did a state wide lobster roll tasting marathon. She rated the Lobster Shack as her #2 favorite. Cool!)

But today the goal was to have a for real steamed lobster dinner. I did some research and settled on Pemaquid Seafood in Pemaquid Harbor. This IS NOT on the beaten path to anywhere. It is totally lacking the uber tourism of so many places. But we will get back to that later. Wife and I decided we wanted to have our lobster meal in the mid-afternoon as our main meal of the day. So we had a lot of time to kill and the other thing we had planned to do is photograph. Our wonderful Airbnb hostess told us the drive to Bailey's Island was really nice so we headed there.

The Maine coast is a wonderland of peninsulas. You go down one, drive back up, go down the next, on and on. We found a lot of good places for picture taking. I was focusing on composition only especially the use of lines to direct viewers attention. You know what this means of course (insert ominous music here). There will be a post of 'art type' pictures coming in your future. Bwahahahahahaha!

At around 12:30 we started out toward Pemaquid Harbor. It would be a drive of one and a half hours. We had to schlep along US Route 1 which goes through many a tourist town and brings traffic to a crawl. Finally we headed down the peninsula we sought. Our Tom Tom GPS was very confident in its directions but it seemed like we were going far from any place that was going to have a restaurant. Finally we arrived driving down a small road that came over a ridge and looked down upon one of the millions of Maine harbors. On the ridge was a small building and outside were a number of picnic tables. Below was a dock where lobster boats were coming in to unload their catch. As we got out of the car, a couple who had finished came to theirs to go home. They were from Virginia and had been coming here for 27 years. They told us we would not be disappointed. A second woman we passed going it said the same. They were right!

We placed our order. It took around 20 minutes as everything was cooked to order. Wife had the lobster dinner which included a whole steamed lobster, an ear of corn, cole slaw and bread. I had a dinner that added a pound of steamed clams to that. There is very little that is better than the sweet taste of really good fresh lobster. This was top of the line. The clams and corn were equally good. And to top it off, the whole meal cost us no more than our two lobster rolls at the Lobster Shack! Crazy! $44 for two lobster dinners?

Feeling pretty good, we went on and did one more sightseeing/photo stop then headed back toward Yarmouth where we are staying. It was already late. We had plans to stop at Freeport, the home of L.L. Bean to maybe go and shop at their outlet store. There was also a place associated with Beans, a restaurant that lobster bisque and lobster stew, which we thought would make a nice light dinner back at the Airbnb. But then it started to pour. Wife was driving and we were both not excited about walking about in the rain. I said I would skip the shopping.

We entered Freeport and the rain started to let up. We drove right past the parking for L.L.Bean. We turned at the next street and there is the restaurant we're supposed to go to. Just a block down the street is free public parking. Drive in and get a parking place right away. I look across the street and see and Orvis outlet store. I had almost bought an Orvis quarter sip outer merino wool sweater just before we left (for our next trip) but delayed buying it because I thought it would arrive while we were gone. I told Wife as long as we were right outside the door, we might as well take a chance that they had one. They did! In my size! It was $50 compared to $125 with shipping to get it online. I have channeled my inner Armenian Deal Hound and Buffalo Deal Negotiator. Right up the street we get our bisque and stew, get back to the car just as the rain starts again. The whole process only took 30 minutes.

We had our dinner in our rooms. Both Wife and I felt the soups were good but the lobster meat (of which there was a lot) did not match our meal of earlier. Nonetheless we both felt pretty sated as far as lobster goes. We have had each of the things we wanted and top quality. Now it is off to North Carolina.  The hurricane storm track looks like it will go inland and miss the Atlantic coast where we will be.

Crustaceans And Lighthouses

Getting all the rust off of the travel mode here. After our eventful trip to Maine, we were off around the greater Portland area where there are a number of photographable lighthouses. Wife has a fondness for lighthouses so off we went. It was grey when we started out but as the day went on it cleared up. On our list was the state proclaimed "most photographed lighthouse in Maine" whose name I have conveniently forgotten. We were using a variety of navigation tools including our Tom Tom GPS, Google Maps GPS on our phone, maps and dead reckoning. We got misdirected a few times but generally speaking no serious damage was done to our marriage as a result of driver/navigator interaction.

We finished our day by going to a craft distiller. This was a fairly new operation. The material we were using to scout this place out said there were tours and sampling for free on the hour. We carefully timed ourselves to arrive at 4 PM. There was like no one there. But yes, there was one employee. At this time of year, visitors are scarce. He was wonderfully informative. This place uses an old distillation system employing copper kettles over direct heat. They had to have the kettles made by a guy in Portugal as he is the only one in the world who still does the craft! We bought a bottle of their rum to take with us.

The mandatory lobster eating was a traditional New England Lobster Roll at the (evidently) famous Lobster Shack at the Two Lighthouses are near Cape Elizabeth (for those who are mapping).

I've lots of pictures but the internet where we're staying is super slow so they will have to wait for the next locale.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

MUPGT & DI - Doing The Travel Tango Again

Truly the relationship between the Magical Unicorn Pony God and Travel and yours truly is transitioning in its own right to a more mature and respectful relationship between adversaries.

Wife and I are currently in Maine (for the single and sole purpose of eating lobster) before we head down to the North Carolina Outer Banks to be washed out to sea by a dreadful hurricane...NO...I mean to meet up with my brother and his clan...the washed out to sea by hurricane will just be an unexpected amenity that we hadn't anticipated or even had to pay for!

On Wednesday we headed out to the airport in Albuquerque. I was feeling pretty good. We'd already gotten upgraded on our leg from Chicago to Portland Maine. My Uber ride was going to cost me all of $18, less than half the cost of a van or taxi. All was good with the travel world...until I checked my United app and saw that our flight to Chicago was delayed. The estimated delay was going to leave me only 30 minutes to get to my flight. And the gate we were to arrive at was about as far apart as one could get from the one we needed to depart from.

As we sat and ate our sandwiches, I saw the time on the delay increasing. I told Wife, "I'm going to start putting in place what we need if the flight is delayed." I then:
  • Called United and got a standby seat on a flight early the next morning
  • Emailed my Airbnb host in Maine and told her I might likely not arrive tonight. She told me not to worry there would be no charge if we arrived the next day
  • Went to my Hilton app and found there were three hotels at the airport I could book a room at and not go bankrupt. 
  • Got my Hertz phone number ready if I had to delay the rental car
Now it was out of my hands. The plane took forever to board. By the time we took off they were estimating that our getting to the gate would be only 10 minutes before my connecting flight pushed back. That's essentially missing your flight as they shut the doors 10 minutes before departure.

As we landed at O'Hare, I was pretty much resigned that we were done as far as getting out that night. The flight attendants started to announce the gates for the connections as at least 70% of the fight had close connections. She didn't mention ours until the end. We were told our plane was actually running 10 minutes late and that the gate was just two from where we would now be arriving. There might actually be a chance of our making it!

As we pulled into to the gate, the gate attendant announced, "Passengers on the flight to Portland, your plane is at gate C25 just next to this." It was the only announcement like that made. We and three other passengers made our way where they were holding the plane for us. There was even room for overhead for our bag. And when we pushed back from the gate the captain said they just had to wait a bit for the bags of the last connecting!

We arrived at Portland. Our bags were off first. We were first in line at the rental car company. We arrived earlier to our Airbnb than we expected.

Good match MUPGT.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cooking - Transition Style

A little of a year ago, I announced my retirement from the world of large scale entertaining cooking. Although this came as a part of my overall transitioning and recognition of the limitations that come with the aging process, it would be a mistake to assume that I gave up cooking. Instead the delight of gastronomy has transitioned as much else has in my life. There is more a focus on how to make a small amount of food taste very good, how to innovate with diet limitations and how to make things that might replace things we would buy.

The emphasis on reducing portion sizes substantially might lead one to not make certain types of foods that can only be done in a large amount like a roast or to not grow certain things because you would have more than you could eat. But I have adjusted by making these things any way and then breaking them down into smaller portions for freezing.

This Labor Day weekend was a case in point as I spent much of Saturday and Sunday doing various types of cooking and food prep. Among other things I:
  • Processed many tomatoes into tomato pulp for freezing
  • Made pesto from my quantities of basil
  • Smoked two racks of ribs to be cut into individual ribs and frozen
  • Made a home-made salsa from my plethora of tomatoes
  • Made my FIRST EVER cake - an orange flavored Spanish style flourless cake
  • Whipped up a dip using the pesto with sour cream
With all the food I had made, we invited our friends Cabinet Lady and Dr. Debbie to come over. They contributed a Greek style orzo salad and a warm German potato salad.

So I may not be doing the mega-entertaining but the cooking continues.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Manifest Destiny

This is a post about sleep and sleeping. So you might ask why would I refer to it in terms of the philosophy (manifest destiny) the philosophy that justified the expansion by the fledgling United States to expand over the entire continent until it ran into the Pacific Ocean? Read on and all will be revealed.

First, I may or may not have revealed in a past post (I did a cursory search and couldn't find one but that doesn't mean anything as my labeling of posts has been poor in the past) that Wife and I sleep in separate bedrooms. This was a the result of a LONG and drawn out process of recognizing and talking about how our sleep habits had been changing and causing A LOT OF mutual unhappiness and lack of sleep. Did I mention how good sleep is really important to overall happiness? About a year or so ago we finally got over our preconceived notions and admitted we'd both be a lot happier, sleep better, and love each other more if we didn't share the same bedroom. Once done, I started to learn that there are a LOT more folks out there who have learned the same thing. That made me feel a whole lot better about our decision.

Now roll the film forward to the last few months. During most of my life I was very used to sleeping in a tight space. My Mother used to accuse me as a child of sleeping with as little movement as possible to allow the process of making my bed as easy as possible. Then as a married person over the many decades, I was used to 'staying on my side of the bed'. It was a drilled in habit. Even when I traveled on business, I would usually just stay on one narrow part of the bed.

But a few months ago, I had this realization. I was still just sleeping on a narrow part of the bed even though I had the whole bed now (a King size bed!). It dawned on me that I was wearing out the mattress unevenly. That was silly. I wanted the mattress to last a long time. I needed to use more of it.

AH HA! suddenly I discovered freedom, the ability to move over, to take over more space, my Manifest Destiny to conquer the entire bed and make it my own was unveiled! What a relief to my aging muscle ached body to just sprawl out and fling myself however I wanted 😀

There is the slight problem that when we are traveling and have the occasion when we have to share one bed that if feels like prison, but that is a small price to pay compared to the conquest of the entire bed at home!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dealing With Death

Not anyone in my family but with one of my clients. And not an actual death, but a client who has developed a particularly virulent form of cancer.

It is an aspect of growing older that death processes and events start happening with more frequency. For me personally, the death first of my mother, but much more intensely, that of my father brought the whole dying process and all that it entails into clearer focus.

This year I've had two clients contract cancer that has led to planned succession processes to being accelerate up. In the first case we were already in the process of doing a sale to the proposed successors. In the second case, the cancer diagnosis came out of the blue. The client is only in his late 50's. The cancer is particularly bad with no track record of responding to traditional treatment.

We found out about this in May. Since then my partner and I have been working in overdrive to put into place a mechanism to fulfill the client's goals of taking care of his wife and seeing that his company would continue beyond him. While initially the path to attaining his objectives seemed to be difficult, I can say that we along with the firm's attorneys have managed to put in place a fairly simple (a relative term) process to obtain the client's objectives.

Today we were meeting with the proposed successor owners and then with the client, his wife and his attorneys to try and make major progress on our proposed solutions. The meetings went well but it was very emotional. This is not the kind of work that you seek out to do, but knowing that you are trusted and making an exceedingly serious contribution to someone's potential end-of-life event is really an honor. To be honest, I'm a bit drained.

But on another level, I feel blessed not just to be of serious assistance to the client and his wife, but also to just be participating and learning from the process. It might sound morbid but I think a lot about dying and how I want to manage my own process. I mean it's going to happen. Each one of these experiences that I participate helps me formulate my own personal game plan. (Think Kirk Douglas and the old movie 'The Vikings' - maybe hard to do on the Rio Grande)