Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting Ready to Return to Mexico

We are, at last, wrapping up our Maine visit and preparing to head to Gloucester, Massachusetts where my brothers have gathered with their families for a vacation. Then, on Saturday, we’ll fly back to Guadalajara.

The weather in Maine has been almost picture-perfect since our hot and humid stretch in early July. We had fewer days at the Kennebunk beach than I thought we would, but we did have some good beach time watching the surfers and relaxing in the sun.

We noticed, not too surprisingly, that the Maine seafood restaurants down by the harbor were, to say the least, very pricey. Since Pixie, every year, loves to have a fried clam dinner, this presented a challenge. Our friends Ron and Jean, who live here most of the year, helped us by bringing us to a local restaurant frequented by the locals. Pixie’s friend clams were great, while I enjoyed a fish ‘n chips dinner myself.

One of our good friends from Central Maine Community College put on a party one evening at her country home n rural Leeds, Maine, for Pixie and I. They invited many of our good friends for an evening of recollections, updates, and a lot of fun. She has a beautiful home she and Jim build themselves and share with some chickens, sheep, ducks, and quails. They invited us to spend the night so we wouldn’t have to make the trip to Kennebunk late at night. Here is Lucy our host, hamming it up with fabric artist and professor, Don Talbot. At right is Ethel and her new husband, Jeff. Below are our friends Lloyd and Kathy and a photo of Lucy's husband, Jim, watering the ducks and sheep in the morning.

The following night, we joined up with three-fourths of our gourmet dinner group. When we lived in Maine, we gathered every month or two with three other couples to cook a special dinner at one of our homes and had wonderful times. We shared the cooking and some wonderful moments together. We, of course, abandoned the group when we moved to Mexico, as did Marlene and Elliott, when they moved to Aiken, South Carolina. We gathered with the other two couples for a reunion at Kathy and Doug’s home in New Gloucester, Maine. Kathy and Doug visited us last winter in Mexico. Gene and Betty were there, as well, so we had 75% of the group there. After dinner, of course, we put in a conference call to South Carolina so we could include Marlene and Elliott in the fun. From left; Gene, Betty, Kathy, Doug, and Pixie

Every year when I come back to Maine, I get together with by former gym buddies, Don and Larry. This year was no exception, as Larry treated us to a meal at Pat's Pizza.

We revisited our old Unitarian-Universalist Church one Sunday and reconnected and brought greetings from our UU Fellowship in Mexico. It was good to see some more friends that day. We had brought a small bag of Mexican jewelry for them to sell at their Christmas fair to raise money for the church. Then, we spent the rest of the day with our daughter Wendy and her partner Troy at their apartment in Lewiston. We had a wonderful dinner and good conversation. Wendy is in the final stages of finishing her undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation, and plans to complete an MSW degree when she finishes. Troy is also planning to start graduate work in the fall of 2011. They may need to move away from Maine for their studies. We’ll see how that works out.

We were busy last week with some hearing/audiology appointments for me, where we confirmed that I am suffering from some hearing loss and was fitted with hearing aids. Pixie spent a few days with her sister, Liana, and her family in Gray, while I returned to Waldoboro to visit my dad and stepmom again. Pixie’s brother , Tex, and his daughter Jan came by for dinner one evening. It was good to have some one-on-one time with them.

Then, last weekend, Pixie, Wendy and I made the trip to the University of Hartford to attend the art show and dinner honoring this year’s graduates of the MFA Illustration program. This was the first time we had been on campus and met Cassie’s classmates and professors. Amazingly, many of the students are already professional illustrators looking to get the MFA as a teaching credential. The art show was phenomenal. Cassie’s work was the artwork for a children’s book about a Pug named Gertie. It was very complex pen and ink work. Every one of the twenty or so exhibitions were very different from one another and phenomenal, both in terms of their expertise and creativity. We were happy to see that Cassie was loved by everyone who knew her….but of course we were not surprised. Alana, Cassie’s partner was there as well, along with her mom, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. We had never met them before…a very special family. Here Cassie poses with her images from her "Gertie" book, and with Alana and her mom and sister below:

Last Monday, we enjoyed a pizza dinner with Cassie and her partner, Alana. We were able to see their apartment right near the ocean on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, and meet their wonderful puppy, Yo’te.

We even entertained while we were staying at the condo. On one of our last nights there, we had good friends from our UU church for dinner, Kevin and Judy and Mary Kay and Claire. Other UU church friends who own the condo, Mark and Beth Ayotte, also came for dinner one night. Here are Mark and Beth, on left, and Claire, Mary Kay, Pixie, Judy and Kevin on right.

From writing all this it’s easy to see why we didn’t have as much beach time as we had anticipated. We were too busy. Need to return to Mexico to get some rest from our vacation!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Isabelle Meets a Lobster

We have been in Maine for about two and a half weeks, about halfway through our trip north for the summer. The weather has been sunny most of the trip, but we have had some of the hot and humid weather we avoid in Mexico. We have been enjoying our visit here, spending time with all of our children, enjoying good Maine seafood, celebrating my dad’s 90th birthday, and, of course, enjoying a wonderful week with our only granddaughter , Isabelle, and her parents.

We spent our first week in Waldoboro with my dad and stepmom, Joy. We had been unsure they would make it to Maine this year because of my dad’s health challenges this winter, but he was determined to make the trip north from Philadelphia, and they did. They have arranged for some personal care assistance in their home, and they are enjoying being here. We celebrated his 90 years simply with Pixie, Joy , and her daughter, Beth, who helped them make the drive north. They had had a big celebration with family and friends before they left.

Here are photos of Dad with his cake, posing with me, my stepmom, Joy, and her daughter, Beth, and Cassie and Dad.

From Waldoboro, we headed down to Kennebunk, about two hours south, to move into the condo. We arrived and had a couple of days to get prepared for Eric, Crystal and Isabelle to arrive two days later. They arrived safe and sound, and we had a busy week. Isabelle has become more of a little girl than a baby, and she was quite conversational. We were able to watch her several times while Eric and Crystal enjoyed some child-free time alone. We went to the beach in Kennebunk, drove over to Walker’s point in Kennebunkport to see the Bush estate, viewed the fireworks over the ocean, visited the botanical garden and a Chinese restaurant in Boothbay Harbor, and enjoyed a lobster dinner. Here they are at Walker's Point, Isabelle taking great pleasure in tickling me, Isabelle at the beach (for an Indiana girl, this was her first time at the ocean!), Isabelle getting creative with chopsticks at the restaurant, sitting at the botanical garden, and looking skeptically at the lobster.

We were able to capture a wonderful photo of us with all three of our children and their significant others. Top row, me, Pixie, Troy (Wendy's partner) and Wendy. Seated, Alana (Cassie's partner), Cassie, Eric, Isabelle, and Crystal.

Now that they’ve gone home, we are enjoying time with friends. We spent Sunday night with our friends Ron and Jean at their camp on Long Lake in Belgrade Lakes. We enjoy a unique relationship with Ron and Jean because, although they live in Kennebunk, they spent last winter in Ajijic, and plan to spend six months there next winter. So we spent time with them in Mexico and here this summer. We had a grand time at their beautiful camp and learned to play Canasta. The next day we went into Belgrade Lakes village which I remember from my youth when we spent time near there every summer while my dad taught at Colby College. Last night we spent the evening with Curt and Judy Webber who hosted us for thirteen weeks last summer and have visited us three times in Mexico. They treated us to dinner at our favorite Auburn hangout, Pat’s Pizza. It was wonderful to catch up with them. Here are Pixie and Jean preparing to be pulled behind the boat in "Big Mable" and a view from their camp porch.

Of course, we also enjoy picking up few things we cannot find easily in Mexico. This year we shopped for new sandals, clothing items, books, and vitamin supplements in large quantity bottles. Our friends in Mexico report that they have been having an abundance of rain, even during the day, so we’re not missing that much. Our house sitters, Mike and Christi, report that they are enjoying time with Chuy, as he continues to entertain them with his eccentric habits. We miss him and are looking forward to our return at the end of the month.

I have had a small medical issue relating to my previous problem with blood clotting. Apparently, my Coumadin level had dropped a bit too low before our flight north. As a result, I developed a few small deep vein clots in my right leg. So, I am now in the process of raising my Coumadin level to a new maintenance level and taking heparin shots in the meantime to keep my blood anticoagulated. A new ultrasound yesterday showed no new clotting and some shrinkage of the new clots. So things are resolving themselves, and I’ll just need to monitor my Coumadin levels a bit more closely when I return to Mexico.

We are looking forward to seeing more friends in the next couple of weeks, including a party Friday evening at Lucy Coombs’ house. She replaced me as department chair in the Humanities department at Central Maine Community College. She has invited many of our colleagues from CMMC to the gathering, which should be fun. Then, on Saturday, we are reuniting our gourmet dinner group with Kathy and Doug, who visited us in Mexico this past winter, and our other friends Betty and Gene. Next week we’re heading up to Waldoboro to see my dad and stepmom again, then on the 23rd, we’re off, with our daughter Wendy, to Hartford to see Cassie graduate with her MFA in Illustration. After we leave Maine, we’ll be heading to Gloucester, Mass. to see both of my brothers and their families before flying back to Guadalajara on July 31.

Busy days, but satisfying and relaxing.