Thursday, June 30, 2005

cup 6: Beach Pea

Where: Beach Pea, Kittery, ME
When: 8 am
Who: Ethel LeClair
What: house French Roast

cup 5: only half a cup?

Where: Curti Residence, Kittery, ME
When: June 29, 8 am
Who: Chip and Ernie
What: Equal Exchange

No chance for a picture this morning. Sorry. I should have known. Mom said she'd pick me up at 8:30 am to go to Brenda's, but of course she showed up 45 minutes early, and I only had time to chug half a cup of coffee before she wanted to leave.

Brenda's was remarkable, as expected. Brenda is the self-proclaimed "Bag Lady of Lee." She is the queen of, well, stuff. She goes to yardsales and picks through trash at the dump to find things of questionable value and then finds ways to give them value. Today she had a case of what appeared to be 8.5" x 11" paper cut into thirds, the long way. She was trying to find a way to make these 7500 2.8" x 11" sheets useful. She'd tried glueing then ends of stacks of them together with a hot glue gun with acceptable results only to realize that just one pad was enough to take down all the phone numbers and create all the shopping lists you'd want to for years to come. So she was looking for other uses. Mom needed a stand for her new apartment so we went through the basement and the shed looking for furniture. So much stuff! Floor to ceiling of years are yardsale finds. There's one room devoted entirely to McDonald's Happy Meal Toys (just McDonald's, other fast food toys are in a different area). Another room is just for Legos. An area of the shed has so many baskets hanging from the rafters that you can't see the ceiling, and there's another area devoted entirely to prints of every sort. The stuff goes on and on.

Brenda has rules when going to yardsales: You can never pay asking price for anything at a yardsale. You can never leave a yardsale empty-handed. The latter rule has led to some interesting collections. Brenda let me in on the secret to never leaving empty handed. You choose something to collect every yardsale season, and make sure it is something that most people would consider so worthless that they wouldn't even put it in the yardsale. One year she choose plastic flowers. At the end of the summer she made a giant mountain of flowers to engulf her mailbox. She left it like that for a while, then sold all the flowers at her own yardsale the following summer. She's more selective about her fake flowers now. She gets very realistic ones, and matches the flowers to whatever is in season outside, leaving them up only while the real flowers are in bloom outside and changing them to match the changing season. She delights in fooling people into thinking the fake flowers are real. It is important to note that she often has the real things growing right outside the door and could go out and cut the same flowers to have inside, but that wouldn't be as fun. Now Brenda is acquiring fake fruit. She doesn't know exactly what she's going to do with it all yet. That is half the point of getting it, though. When she has enough, inspiration will strike her and the fruit will take its place in the grand scheme of things.

Sadly, this trip, coming so soon after my big move, I wasn't so much in the mood to acquire more stuff. I think in a couple months I'll take a trip down again. I did manage to find a candy dot maker in amongst all the stuff. Seemed like a perfect way to use some of those 7500 strips of paper.

On returning to the Curti house, I found the remaining half cup of coffee sitting on the counter where I'd left it. I took a swig. Yeah, it had been sitting on the counter in 90 degree heat all day, but the acid in coffee will keep cream from spoiling (I think) so as long as it doesn't tast bad or have chunks, you're OK. Unfortunately, there was a chunk, and I had a brief moment of "swallow or spit?" thinking it might be just a breadcrumb. I spat it out into the sink and it tried to crawl away. A black and had found its way into my coffee. I was pretty grossed out by now. My addiction must be somewhat subsided now, because I dumped the rest of the coffee out and didn't make any more.

So THAT is why I only had half a cup of coffee today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

cup 4: friendly again

Where: The Friendly Toast, Portsmouth, NH
When: June 28, 8:30 am
Who: Jessica Brakeley
What: house

cup 3: pug ugly

Where: Curti residence, Kittery, ME
When: June 26, 7:30 am
Who: Chip & Ernie
What: Equal Exchange something-or-other

cup 2: The Friendly Toast

Where: The Friendly Toast, Portsmouth, NH
When: June 26, 8:30 am
Who: Jessica Brakeley
What: House blend

Cup 1: Marky

Where: The Bohemian, Brunswick, ME
When: June 25, 10:30 am
Who: Mark Leaman
What: Bohemian Uprising

Yes indeed, the Bohemian still exists. On my previous visit to Brunswick I got the mistaken perception that it was gone, replaced by Little Dog. Actually, it had just moved around the corner. Mark met me at Little Dog, then dragged me over to the Bohemian. It was the only place in town that met Mark's criteria at that moment: WiFi and air conditioning.

I'll probably get letters for saying this, but honestly, I liked the old Bohemian better. I can understand why it moved. The old place was crappy and falling down and had nowhere to sit indoors, but it was, well, bohemian. It felt like a West Coast coffee house, one of those places that existed before the masses discovered you could make money selling good coffee. The new place is about as bohemian as a Starbucks. It is crisp and clean and polished and air conditioned and wi-fied. The coffee is an order of magnatude better than Starbucks. BOHEMIAN : STARBUCKS :: STARBUCKS : FOLGERS, and the people watching is better also. The Bowdoin College crowd is just lovely to look at.

The Bohemian was a stopover on the way to my sister's, where I'd be spending the week looking after their pugs and chickens while the family vacations.... (more later, gotta run...)

Friday, June 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Where: Home, Belfast, ME
When: 8 am, June 23, 2005
Who: just me
Coffee: Avalon Organic French Roast
Mood: happy

Welcome to my new home! This isn't particularly a good shot of it. I was trying to capture as much as possible of it, and include the coffee resting on my knee. To my right are peonies. There's actually a whole wall of them beside me and I can sit there and drink in the smell. The scent of peonies, I've come to realize, is the Platonic ideal flower smell. Every other flower scent is just a variation on this smell (well, except for carrion flowers...). Peonies throng the front window, too, and when the wind blows just right it is pure wonderfullness. Just above my knee is a lupine. "Pine cone and tassel" is the official state flower. Lame. It should be the lupine. This time of year the lupines are in bloom, and you'll be driving down the road and turn the corner and there'll be a hill or a field turned purple by lupines. The site is so magnificent I've almost gone of the road because of it. The patch of mud on my right is what will be a flower garden. I've planted a mix of short and medium annuals and perrenials. I need to find something tall for the back. These will grow and fill in, hopefully. Behind the hedge of lupines I've started a perrenial herb garden. Peeking out between the house in the middle and the trees is the Atlantic Ocean. That's right. I can see the ocean when I drink my morning coffee!

I'm loving this place!

Meanwhile, I wrapped things up in Pembroke last week, which, except for a few days in July, I'm on "vacation" until September. I'm going through withdrawal at the moment. After months of being on the go from waking in the morning to collapsing at night, I am free to do what I want. I feel like one of those poor saps in the Allegory of the Cave, though. I've been in the cave of constant work for so long that now I am out of it I am just dazzled by the light, paralyzed by freedom. The real world hardly seems real. The responsibility of choosing my own destiny, even if it is just deciding what I'll do this one day, is overwhelming. So I'm taking this week to chill, veg out, think no deep thoughts. Next week I'll start engaging with the real world again.

Meanwhile, here in a new town, I've realized that my relationship to humanity in general is pretty messed up. In a nutshel, I've forgotten how to make friends. It seems like I knew how at one point, but when you've been a workaholic for years you start making sacrifices. Making friends was something I cut out. So here I am in a new town and I don't know anyone but Jessie, who moved here with me, and our landlords, who live upstairs, and I'd like to meet new people and make new friends, but I just have no idea how. No idea.

So, I'm going to start another 100 cups of coffee. Sunday is my tentative starting date, but I've got a lot of driving/hanging out with friends & family that day so it might get pushed back. I hadn't planned to, but I'm feeling the need. The first time around was for artistic/learning purposes. This time around it is for personal growth. My whole life has changed. There's been a whole lot of endings in the past few months, and now, after an interlude, things are beginning. My therapist was always after me to write things down, but I really have a hard time writing without an audience. So please, join me as I live and pay attention and drink coffee and talk about it. Feel free to jump in whenever you want!

Oh, and you're all cordially invited to join me for a cup of coffee if you're in the area. Just drop me a line!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Interlude 2: Serenity

Thursday we woke up to the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean, and then noticed the sunlight reflecting off the ocean onto our ceiling. It was the first sunrise we've seen at our new home. It rained almost constantly for the month of may, so seeing the sun for the first time felt miraculous. Then it hit us: this is our home. We really, honestly have a plce with a bedroom that overlooks the ocean. And that is just one of the little wonders that keep catching us off guard. Things we knew all along, but there's a difference between knowing them as a fact and actually experiencing them. Like walking through the park that overlooks the bay and seeing that incredible view and realizing that this isn't just some place we're visiting, this is our home now. Or walking home from downtown along the ocean. Or discovering a vegetarian restaurant just four blocks away from our apartment. I didn't even realize there were vegetarian restaurants in Maine other than Little Lad's.

Wednesday was the first full day I'd been able to spend in Belfast. It was also our first sunny day in weeks. I spent most of the day outside in the garden, weeding, planting the handful of perennials I rescued from my former home in Orono. It was the first time I really started to feel like I was living in Belfast. The morning before I went to 17 Margin St., Orono, ME 04473 for the very last time, to help my mother finish packing and cleaning the last few things before the new owners took over. The past weeks have been heartbreaking. This has probably been the most difficult time of my life since my dad died. Letting go of Orono and the family home really has been like losing a family member, and losing part of who I am. The new owners had started moving furniture in before we moved out. Big, tacky, expensive leather crap that stunk so badly of cigarettes that I had to close the doors on it because it stank up the house. In the garage they left a HUGE bar, larger than I'd seen at most real bars. So my ancestral home will become a party house for rich kids whose daddy is buying them a house to go to college in. I really hoped for better for it. Tuesday was cold and rainy, a perfectly depressing day, a perfect day for endings. I stood in the cold after everyone left and wondered how I felt. I'd gone numb. "I'll just have to blog about it later, and then read the blog, and find out how I felt," I told myself, and drove away from 17 Margin for the last time.

I talked to my mother on Tuesday night, after she'd made it down to her new home in Kittery. "I'm not going to miss the place," she told me. "Too many bitter memories." She's right. We moved there because after my dad's brain aneurism he couldn't hold a job anywhere, and we needed a place to rent, and Nana LeClair rented us the top half of the house for cheap. But she was an absolute bitch, and dad kept getting sick again and again, the neighborhood went downhill, we had Faye the psycho lawn mowing neighbor...

A week ago I had Faye for the view out the front window. Now I have sunrise over the Atlantic. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sometimes you can be holding onto something so tight you don't even know what you're holding onto. And then when you let go, there was nothing there at all. You just didn't realize it because you were clutching so tight. Suddenly I find myself in a place of beauty and opportunity where all I saw was loss and heartbreak, and all I had to do was let go.