Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Dress Up

We seem to be on the historical music beat. Last week we did a concert at the General Henry Knox Mansion in the Oval Room. Henry Knox was the man who transported cannons captured in Ticonderoga 300 miles across the wilderness to lay siege to Boston (and created Route 20 in the process)

This building is a replica of the original. Built in 1929, it contains many furnishings and objects from the original mansion.

The Oval Room is, in fact, an oval room. The doors are even curved to match the curve of the walls. The acoustics are wonderful and the ambiance led us to wear our late 18th century duds. The tailcoat is hot and the cuffs on this shirt tend to get in the way, so playing the guitar or violin can be a challenge. I don't have the waistcoat yet. I wonder if there is an air conditioned outfit for Florida?

An Afternoon Stroll

The early autumn weather has been brilliant. We went for a walk down to the shore with Julia's cousin, Tracy. We live in an area where there are many protected areas with public asset. This preserve is called Laverna. The trail goes about a mile through the forest to a section of the coast which is totally undeveloped.

As you can see, it wasn't always this way - nobody EVER built a stone wall through the woods. This area - indeed, much of Maine south of Bangor - was devoted to sheep farming until the end of WWII, when wool uniforms for the military were replaced by synthetics.

The trail winds through the forest, crosses a wee burn (stream) or two. The worst of the wet places and the burns have bridges so you can get to the shore mostly dry. This time of year there are very few bugs. There are still many plants and flowers to see.

Sometimes you can find faerie houses. There was a large community of faerie on Monhegan Island until about five years ago when they were all evicted and their homes destroyed. Many have migrated to the mainland but still live near the ocean. Some of the humans on the Island objected to the fairie aesthetic of building from found materials. It's odd, considering the famous Hermit of Manana lived nearby in a house built from driftwood.

Eventually the path comes out to a rocky shore. This is on the west side of Muscongus Bay. We are blessed to live in a place like this - sometimes we take it for granted and don't avail ourselves of all the places we can go around the peninsula to enjoy nature.

Small Harp Sighting
We spotted this harp at Helen's Restaurant in Elsworth. The place is decorated with lots of flotsam and jetsam. This little fellow is about 18 inches high. (The chair behind is miniature, also). It's too small for us humans and a bit too big for our local faerie.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Emergency Dessert

Julia and I were invited out for dessert a couple of days ago. The idea was that we would bring something to share. Julia had planned on making one of her fresh fruit pies. This involves making a bit of fruit sauce and pouring over uncooked fruit which is on cream cheese in the bottom of a cooked pie shell. She has made this with any kind of berries.

But the #&@!! oven wouldn't light so she couldn't bake a pie shell.

Julia had already made the blueberry sauce that goes into the pie. AHA! We could go to the local convenience store and get some cake shells for shortcake. No go. They don't carry them, so she got some plain doughnuts instead. The result: the Bristol Doughnut Shortcake.

Mike Stevens suggested we add ice cream, but would that be too decadent?

How'd that there hole git in that doughnut?

Did you ever wonder where donuts came from (in a historical sense)? The Portland Press Herald ran a great piece about the origin of the donut - more specifically, the origin of the hole that makes a doughnut a doughnut.

Hansen Gregory - a Rockport, Maine, ship captain - regaled the invention in an interview with The Washington Post on March 26, 1916:

"Now in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes, and also into long strips, bent in half, and then twisted. I don't think we called them doughnuts then -- they was just 'fried cakes' and 'twisters.'

"Well, sir, they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough. And the twisters used to sop up all the grease just where they bent, and they were tough on the digestion."

"Well, I says to myself, 'Why wouldn't a space inside solve the difficulty?' I thought at first I'd take one of the strips and roll it around, then I got an inspiration, a great inspiration.

"I took the cover off the ship's tin pepper box, and -- I cut into the middle of that doughnut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!"

Read the entire article from the Press Herald:
Maine's historical firsts include a leap of doughy inspiration

It was quite a challenge finding the doughnut info. Most of the donut history websites have nothing to do with donuts except for the name of the site. Am I missing something?

Weather -- or Not?

We have been having a run of beautiful weather here in Round Pond - the usual result of storms in the Gulf of Mexico pumping dry Canadian air down into New England. Our hearts go out to the folks in Florida who got 26 inches of rain last week and to all the evacuees from New Orleans this week.

Next week will be the last display of the Blue Angels in Maine. The Brunswick Naval Air Station is being closed and the squadron shifted to Jacksonville. I think it's a mistake myself. With the military presence gone from northern New England (bases in Limestone, ME and Portsmouth, NH, closed a few years ago and the base in Bangor a few years before that) there is nothing to keep Canada from invading Maine and annexing us to the Maritime Provinces. They pretend to be polite and self-effacing but can you trust them?