Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sailing (Sorta...)

After being basically (and blessedly) untouched by Hurricane Irene (the worst of it for us was a flicker in the power every now and again), the day after the storm was absolutely glorious. A perfect day for a little late afternoon sailboat ride.

Now, I must admit, for the record, that I'm not awfully crazy about the water. As much as I absolutely adore living near the water (and have pretty much always lived near the ocean), and feel that I might somehow suffocate if I could not live near the sea, I have not had much experience actually being on the water.

Thankfully, my son does not feel the same sort of trepidation when it comes to boating. His grandparents own a smallish sailboat, and he often goes motoring (not actual sailing) around Passamaqooddy Bay with them. So when the opportunity came up this afternoon to go for a little motor cruise around the bay (again, not actually sailing) he and my husband were surprised when I expressed an interest, especially since I had not been on the boat all summer.

In an attempt to keep the boat safe from the ravages of Irene, my father-in-law, Paul, and my brother-in-law, Damon, had moved the boat from its usual mooring and maneuvered it into the safe shelter of Eastport's breakwater. Today's mission was to return the Chance to its usual mooring, about a half hour away. Would we like to come along for the ride? Usually, I don't even consider it. But the day was so gorgeous, with just the faintest hint of fall in the air. And I think I just wanted to mark the end, or almost the end, of this lovely summer I've had by doing something different. The opportunity to take a boat ride with my family seemed just the ticket.

So that is what we did. With Damon at the tiller, we took a lovely little motor cruise. Complete with beer and barbecue chips.

***Cool Giveaway Alert***

Photo courtesy of Flourish
I must tell you now about a sweet giveaway at my friend Caitlin's blog. Please click here to check it out. It's simple to enter, and you have the chance to win two cool, leather bracelets like this!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Smoking Mackerel

This post is dedicated to my crafty husband, Heron. No, he didn't sew me a pantsuit (do people actually wear pantsuits anymore?) or create my likeness in a life size collage using nothing but pasta shapes (though that would be cool). My ingenious husband concocted  a nifty little contraption to smoke mackerel.

In August, many locals, and lots of tourists, fish off the breakwater downtown. (A picture of the breakwater lined with said folks would be pretty nifty here, but you'll just have to use your imaginations.) They are fishing for mackerel, an oily fish that's not bad eating so long as you cook it shortly after you catch it. Actually, many folks don't even eat the mackerel, simply throwing them back in the ocean along with the sculpin that also often ends up on their jigs. But does Heron fish purely for pleasure? Hell no! He wants dinner! However, catching the fish and doing something easy, like pan frying, is just no challenge. Oh, no. Heron had long dreamed of a way to smoke the fish. Right in our own backyard. And wouldn't you know it? This clever, clever man finally figured out a way to do it. Check this out!

Just look at these smoked beauties!
So here's what he did. He pushed all the coals over to one side (it looks like he's added some smoked apple tree wood in there, too). He then cut the top off a tomato cage and placed that over a drip pan. The mackerel were brined in salt water for a couple hours. He then tied two fish together at the tail end with baker's twine and hung them over metal skewers that were placed atop the tomato cage. He put the cover over the whole thing and let it smoke for an hour and a half, I believe. And by all accounts, they were very good! It really worked!
Happy Heron with the fruit of his labors.

Kieran was also involved in the whole process. I think he actually caught more fish then Heron did on this particular afternoon!
Heron even made some sort of pate which he, Kieran, and Uncle Damon ate on fancy crackers. Now that's class! Actually, the real classy act was watching Heron and Kieran clean and gut the fish! Kieran was elbow deep in fish guts and loving every minute of it. He liked to discover what the fish had consumed for their lunch. He then proceeded to toss the guts to the chickens, who gobbled up this stuff like candy. Lucky chickens!
How wonderful that Kieran gets to fish for his dinner, and pull food out of our garden.
In other news, my budding scientist, who happens to love volcanoes, created one himself. Here's a look!

Check out the look on Kieran's face. He is in heaven! How I love this child...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ain't We Got Fun

Okay, if my big goal for this summer was to wallow in pleasure and have tons of fun, I feel as though I'm succeeding.

Let me prove my point by sharing with you just two of the most recent examples of some of the kind of fun and frivolity we've been experiencing around here.
  • Example of Fun #1: Candle pin bowling in a foreign country with some extremely fun, and surprisingly athletic and competitive (Dana, I'm talking about you!) women.
Okay, so the foreign country is Canada, the St. Stephen border crossing being about 30 minutes away. But candle pin bowling? Very exotic!

I just realized I have absolutely no photos of us actually bowling. But, here is the group of gals that participated in our over the border bowling extravaganza. Don't they look like a fun group?

It was such fun hurling those tiny balls down the lane at lightening speed (this may be a slight exaggeration). However, I paid for this "hard and fast" bowling strategy with a pretty sore shoulder for the next couple of days Ouch! Actually, a few of the girls I spoke with after our night 'o bowling fun complained of various sore body parts. Who knew bowling was such a workout?
  • Example of Fun #2: Heron and Lindy attend the KahBang Festival in Bangor. Just the two of them. And they spend the night at a campground outside of Brewer. Just the two of them. Now that's fun.
Yes, the fact that one of our favorite bands (of the moment) was participating in this festival a mere two hours away was just too tempting. We decided to leave our little guy with his grandparents and have a night to ourselves. This is something we don't do very often. In fact, we've never done that before. But this is just the kind of effect Chromeo has on us. We felt like this was our opportunity to show them some "bonafide lovin'".

The whole festival is nine days total, featuring tons of bands, art and film. So we only saw a fraction of what was on offer. But along with our beloved Chromeo, we enjoyed Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Surfer Blood, and My Morning Jacket (who were the big headliner act).

There we are. Two lovebirds out on the town with no child in tow. Look out, Bangor! Actually, Heron looks a little worried, doesn't he?

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
I was quite taken with the intricacy of the staging and lights. Really quite beautiful.
While enjoying Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, I took the opportunity to sit and knit. The weather was absolutely lovely. Sunny and warm with some gentle breeziness.
We scored a great (free!) parking spot very close to the venue. We had only to walk through a little park and cross the street. At one point we decided to head back to the car for some snacks and bevvies.
Chromeo. And yes, those are illuminated lady legs holding up their synthesizer thing-a-ma-jigs. They're pretty classy like that.
These pictures stink, but I feel compelled to share them anyway. Dave 1 is on the left. P-Thugg is on the right. Did I happen to mention that these guys use lots of robot voices? And that my son wants to dress up as P-Thugg for Halloween?
The headlining act, My Morning Jacket. I must confess we, only stayed to hear these guys for a little while. For us, Chromeo was a pretty tough act to follow. Besides, we were ready to get on with the camping portion of our adventure. And as you may recall, I love camping!
I can count on both hands the number of times I've been to a really big concert. And though this one wasn't huge, I was nonetheless impressed with the incredible quality of the sound. I could literally feel the bass in my chest. It was at times a little alarming, but also invigorating and exciting at the same time. Also, just being around so many other folks who were just as pumped to be there as we were was truly awesome. It didn't matter how old you were, what you looked like, or where you came from. When Dave 1 and P-Thugg (yes, that's right, I said P-Thugg) asked us to put our peace signs up in the air, we all raised our arms in the air at the same time, all of us under the spell of the music. I'd forgotten just how incredible live music could be.

But of course, the most fun thing about our Bangor adventure was that it was just the two of us. We sort of planned this little adventure on the spur of the moment, threw a tent and some sleeping bags in the car, and just did it. I'd like to say it took me back to the old times, back when we were courting. But honestly, we never did this kind of stuff when we were younger. We're much cooler now...

Next stop on the train to funville is the Blackfly Ball in Machias. I've never attended this particular extravaganza, and from what I've heard this should be quite the adventure, indeed! Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Camping is Cool

I love camping!

Here are a few reasons why:
  • Lounging all day long on the beach with some of the best folks you'd ever hope to meet. 
  • Looking out onto the vast expanse of nothing but sandy beach. I wish I could convey in pictures or in words how beautiful this landscape looks to me. Being a born and bred Downeaster, I'm used to shorelines of the rockier variety. To walk, run and skip on nothing but sand seems almost surreal.
  • Watching the "camp kids" race across a practically empty, early morning beach at low tide. They somehow magically manage to shed their clothes while at the same time racing like maniacs toward the sea. I loved spending that hour or so with them. They raced excitedly from one wonder to the next, lost in their own adventure while I observed them from afar, (who could keep up?) sipping my camp coffee.
  • The fact that our campsite was this year's "hot spot". Each year we sort of choose a central campsite where we do the majority of our cooking and gathering. This year it was us. 
  • Seeing Kieran race around with the big kids, and watching how they treat him with such kindness.
  • Laughing with friends around a campfire late into the night.
  • Camp food. We don't just settle for hotdogs and hamburgers (although they're always on hand in generous supply). Our group includes some very adventurous camp cooks. Fried rice, salmon, spam casserole (that's right, you heard me), marinated organic chicken breasts, steak, and pasta w/sausage and fresh veggies. We were even treated to a cast iron skillet of wild chanterelle mushrooms sauteed in butter that were foraged in the forest (how cool is that?). We all stuffed ourselves silly.
  • Being completely leisurely. There are no hard and fast rules when you're camping!
  • Listening to your friends and your husband play "Two Truths and a Lie" while you are supposed to be asleep in your tent. Very informative...
Camp kids. Kieran's cheek is stuffed with cherries!
I kept finding these man-made structures of rock and wood. Actually, three to be exact. They intrigued me for some reason, so I had to take pics of each one.
The water is not really that much warmer here. I mean, we're only about one and a half hours away from home. But somehow the war just feels a little warmer. I think it's all that sand...

From the beach, you're looking at New River Island. And on a truly clear day (which it was, the first day we were there) we could see all the way to Grand Manan Island.

Chanterelles. They were beautiful. I'm not a mushroom lover, but I had to try them.

A pic of my new summer hat (oh yeah, and that's me in the dark glasses).
Part of the provincial park includes a system of trails, some leading you through boggy areas. Pictured here are a pitcher plant and a baked apple berry plant.
The walking trails consisted mostly of boardwalk trails like these, which made our hike seem somehow extra special. I loved walking on boardwalks as a kid, and I still find them a treat!

Here we all are!
 For those of you who are interested, we were camping at New River Beach in New Brunswick, Canada. It's a lovely provincial campground with woodsy camping sites, many of which feel (and are) cozy and private. You have complete access to the gorgeous beach. There's even a cool playground and a little place to get snacks. Check out this link for more info and photos. I would encourage this spot for any of you looking for a family friendly  place to camp.

Now to finish unpacking all that camping gear that's still sitting in the mudroom...

I hope you and your families indulge in a little camping adventure this summer!