Albert Bierstadt, On the Saco (found at Laudator Temporis Acti)
Albert Bierstadt, On the Saco (found at Laudator Temporis Acti)
Quality Asian food staples are not easy to come by here in Downeast Maine. A few stores carrry the wonderful Huy Fong family of sauces, and it’s not much effort to find small bottles of decent soy sauce, mirin, Chinese black vinegar, etc. Anything more exotic involves a trip to one of the cities. If I can’t make it to Boston — which is unfortunately more often than not these days — Portland is a fine backup.
Since the kids and I were driving back home from New Hampshire yesterday, a stop to replenish the pantry seemed in order. My usual Asian market was closed, so we stopped at the flagship Hannaford store off of the Back Cove. I loaded up the cart with sauces, rice sticks, nam pla — whatever I thought I might never get again should the state decide to end all imports of tasty foods and demand its residents stick to the potatoes and sticks that made Maine #1 in rickets and scurvy throughout the country in the early 1900′s. Then, on the way to the registers, I spotted this beauty:
A can of baked squid. Not only “non-fried,” but also “crispy and fun!” I couldn’t resist. $2.09 for 80 grams of “Squid, Sugar, Salt, Chilli, Soybean sauce, MSG (plants), Capsicum Oreoresin (plants), FD&C Yellow No. 5 (synthetic).” But there were warning signs:
We crunched forward, nonetheless. They look almost exactly like Waffeletten without chocolate, and the initial taste is nearly as sweet. The flavor quickly turns fishy and lightly spicy, with a light crunch. And like most odd Asian snacks I come across, I’m hooked.
This time of year, coastal Maine is the most beautiful place in the world. It makes up for that in February, though.
I showed up to vote at 8:30 Tuesday morning and found that I could not vote. I may be part of a teeny tiny district, but ALL obstructions to our electoral process must be uncovered and the responsible parties punished, regardless of party affiliation. If this happens to you, don’t take it sitting down. Stand up and fight. Record everything you can about the situation: time, names, descriptions of people, and every last word of the confusing legalese they’ll use to keep you from voting, like “polls open at 10:00.”
“This place is great! Let’s eat some sort of mollusk or crustacean again!”
“Saw old Millie Beals again down at the gas station. She was buying her weekly ration of Riunite and Pabst. For a 50-year-old woman, she looks like a fantastic 90-year-old. I threw it in her anyway, of course.”
“The water’s out again. I drank my own urine to stay alive because the ground is too frozen to dig a new well.”
“The goddammed deer are back again. The same doe I shot at with my thirty ought-six last week keeps nosing around the compost bin, even though there hasn’t been anything edible in there for years. I threw it in her anyway, of course.”
It’s not that another tax season just ended, reminding me of my powerlessness against the entitlement programs I fund but will never benefit from.
It’s not that Pedro got lit last night like Ted Kennedy on fire in a room full of flashbulbs.
No, it’s even more sinister than that. It’s what’s falling outside my office window this very moment:
And to the guy I just heard say “At least it’s not sticking”: Shut up. Shut the cow up.
UPDATE: Oh sweet holy God of all that is decent, the Sun has swept clean the sky and is shining warm love upon the face of the island. Um, ignore that other stuff, please.
I stopped by a local pound yesterday to grab a couple of chickens for my fabulous homemade lobster fra diavlo. While I was waiting for them to be plucked from the tank, I took a long whiff from my underarms and realized I hadn’t had a shower in a few days. What luck, says the lobstermonger, there’s hot showers right here at the pound. One-stop shopping for crustaceans and personal hygiene — we truly live in wondrous times.
The shower facilities weren’t in top shape, and $2.00 seemed a little much for five minutes of hot water. But the guy sold me the bugs for boat price, so it only seemed fair to toss a small amount of profit his way. I stripped down, pulled the vinyl curtain shut, and dropped eight quarters down the control chute. Something under the building rumbled like forty lawnmowers starting at once, and a few moments later the spray issued forth from the shower head.
And oh goodness, what a spray it was. This wasn’t water — at least not pure water. No no, this was shower soup, a stream of restorative ingredients that was long overdue. While a gentle abrasive scrubbed away the thick film of bad attitude I developed over this long Maine winter, glucuronolactone seeped through my pores to eliminate the endogenic and exogenic noxae that have clogged my creative channels for so long. A tasty espresso/Antabuse mix cascaded into my mouth, instantly sharpening my concentration while steeling my internals toward temperance; perhaps the New England Heavy Drinking Season was about to come to an end. There was even a rust inhibitor for my undercarriage.
Five minutes later, I sprang from the stall a new man, a changed man. This wasn’t just a new spring in my step, I’d gotten a caseful of Slinkys implanted into my feet. I strutted back into the pound to the dumbstruck looks of customers and proprietors, open-mouthed at the transformation I’d just experienced. I took my lobsters from the shelf and announced my rebirth to all nearby. “Hibernation is over,” I bellowed. “And this bear’s got a lot of hikers to maul!”
Then I noticed I hadn’t gotten dressed. I sure was happy the lobsters had rubber bands on their claws.
Guess what, Winter? Screw you again. Yesterday morning, I thought you’d beaten me for good. All it took, though, was an overly metaphorical shower in an unlikely location to get you off my back again.
Forget Saddam, feh. This is real news.
What have our animals been doing lately? Dominating the local news media, that’s what!
Both island newspapers were consumed with the story of a golden pheasant, unknowingly released upon the community by my two-year-old daughter. Front page news with a color photo, baby. Don’t tell me exciting things never happen up here.
From today’s Bar Harbor Times:
A call came in Saturday morning from a fellow working at the transfer station in Southwest Harbor. He had seen and caught a large, colorful bird on the premises and wanted to see if I would take a look at it. You never know where a call like this may lead, so I loaded my weekly garbage into the truck and headed for the “dump.” The bird that he had caught and placed in his office was definitely a non-native species, and it was extraordinarily beautiful. The plumage on the head was bright yellow, the back of the neck was barred yellow and black, and the front of the neck and chest was crimson red. Patches of yellow also adorned the base of the tail, and the tail itself was about 2 feet long and multicolored. An iridescent quality added to the striking effect of the plumage.
The bird in question turned out to be a male golden pheasant. This species of pheasant is so flashy that early European naturalists discounted its existence. Accurate depictions of it taken to Europe from China were attributed to the work of overly imaginative artists. Many decades passed before Western science actually recognized that this showy bird exists. All 48 species of pheasants, with the one exception of the Congo peacock, are native to Asia. The golden pheasant’s natural home is central China. The golden pheasant, like his relative, the wild turkey, is not a migratory bird and rarely flies more than a few hundred yards at a time. This particular bird obviously had escaped from someone who had been raising it in captivity. Hopefully, pheasant and owner can be reunited in short order.
A scan of the article will appear shortly. A scan of this earth-shakingly important article.
A horrifying story to report today: The Maine Chainsaw Massacre.
MOUNT DESERT—Police responded to a complaint about a party in a cottage off Main Street on Aug. 9. The caller told police that the partygoers were not being loud but that he heard what he thought to be a chainsaw started up every few minutes. Police met with some people who said there was no chainsaw. They believed the sound could have been coming from a mixer they were using to make frozen margaritas.
My God: I own a chainsaw and a mixer. What if I get them confused some day? O, the carnage!