Monday, December 6, 2010

Travel Piece: Summer Lodging Maine Style. Book Now.

Many of the day trippers from Portland disembark from the Casco Bay Line ferry on Peaks Island, Maine and make a bee line for one of the "happening" restaurants there. The first is a whopping 20 yards from the gangplank. They lose their inhibitions and sobriety downing margaritas to the tunes of (who else) Jimmy Buffett. Some will rent bikes and peddle the charming lanes for a few lazy hours. But there is another Peaks that is not so "happening," where you may have a hard time sifting out the past from the present.

Just past Long Point is the Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial, a lodge and Civil War museum. Come for a stay or for the tour alone. Either way you will have the treat of Mr. Dick Adams bending your ear on island lore. And he should know it too. He first came to the lodge as a baby in 1928, and he's been here ever since, save for a few years spent where Mainers call, "from away."

Mr. Adams started approached me for the tour in his friendly way. He wore a purple, green, and navy nylon slicker, faded black jeans, and a cap with a harness racer on it. He has a ruddy complexion and skin that draws around the cheeks, gill-like, when he smiles. His nose is as red as any drunkard's in a Peter Paul Rubens tavern picture. His days of being the manager of the lodge are behind him; his son took the mantle some years back.

Every so often Adams will tighten his neck muscles, purse his lips, and strain out a punch line. Sometimes it's not even a punch line, but some term he thinks might need a little emphasis: "pup tent," or "ping pong."

Before you get into the fun stuff, Mr. Adams will show you to the old double schoolmaster's desk that supports the guest register. You might think it's a relic for you to ogle at. It's actually a work in progress. You sign into the lodge just the way guests have since 1924. Somehow the past doesn't seem so distant.

It's a noble pedigree. The Eighth Regiment Maine Association started in 1872 for its soldiers to get together to commemorate their trials during the Civil War. Colonel William Macarthur led the men in the war's last year. He won $75,000 in the Louisiana lottery. When the wife of Captain Smith, provost of the regiment, told Macarthur the wives were tired of living in pup tents during reunions and that he should build a place, Macarthur built the lodge.

Some things have stayed pretty constant since those days. Each family still gets a little gas burner assigned for cooking their own meals. And they have this status system, being whoever sits closer to the window in the basement dining room, has the most status. One fellow made a reservation and said, "Put me by the window." Mr. Adams told him, "If you come for 40 years or 60 years, you may get there."

The window side table aside, every guest here has no problems with getting his share of the intangibles. You can see Whitehead, a prominence named after Chief Whitehead, and Graham Island Light from one of the many window banks. You can also see "The Witch's Cauldron," a little shoal off shore where Mr. Adams' father once slipped on the slime while fishing and had to be rescued by the fire boats. The only real danger now is to the kayakers who shoot its miniature rapid for a few seconds of thrill.

The Eighth is a hulking, brown structure with wraparound porch. Its weathered shingles cling to it like the scales of some fish that crawled onto land from the sea, some 40 yards from it, depending on the tides.

The summer breezes waft in and blow dappled sunlight around in swirling eddies. It’s hard to feel separate from the waves outside. Memories are arrayed on the walls. You can an etching of the Eighth at Hilton Head, South Carolina. The regiment took freed slaves to Jacksonville, so they could fight The South.

Mr. Adams' great-grandfather, George Cappers was in the regiment.
Adams can only show you the lithographs of Civil War days, but not so when it comes to another war. He is the living keeper of World War Two memories on the island.

He tells you how his grandmother, coming back for the summer on Peaks, couldn't accept that you couldn't drive around the island due to wartime restrictions. So she took a group of folks around on foot. She ignored the sign clearly saying, "military reservation. No trespassing," and got them all in a heap of trouble. A gal whose parents ran the lodge piped up, "Where are you going with my folks from the Eighth?" The officer said they were in serious trouble. This gal, Phoebe, said, "'Well so are you, 'cause if you don't take them back right now, you'll never have a date with me tonight or any other night,' " said Adams. He adds, "This fella she had in the afternoon. She might have had a different one at night."

Adams remembers how some boys his age found the charred bodies of three German U-boat sailors during the war. The cemetery board refused to bury them in the cemetery. There were also 3 live German sailors who made it in from Portland one blustery day in January. They were dressed like shipyard workers with coveralls they probably got from sympathizers, relates Adams. They bought food at the little store that's still there and made it out on a little rubber dingy to a waiting sub. Convoys of our ships used to assemble off the coast within sight of Peaks.

The blackout paper over the transom of one of the guest rooms is a reminder of those perilous days. The only danger around here now seems to be the treachery of "The Witch's Cauldron.

There is danger of another kind these days. Some island folks are losing their homes. Others help out. They want to stay due to a kind of love affair with the island only islanders can understand.

Adams shows you a painting on piece of the old pear tree that Col. Macarthur did not want to cut down when he bought the lot. Visitors used to get engaged under that tree. Love affair.

Adams also shows you a highchair his grandmother from up-country sat in as a kid. Now, all his grandkids and maybe a great grandchild will sit in it. It and that desk register keep the line between the past and present a little fuzzy.

Stuart Kurtz
July, 2009

Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial Association
13 Eighth Maine Ave.
Peaks Island, ME 04108

Tours of the lodge/Civil War museum are daily at noon and 3, closed Mondays. Suggested donation $5 per person. For large parties (over 6), please make a reservation, so we can accommodate you.

Casco Bay Lines
Commercial & Franklin Sts., Portland, Maine
FAX 207-774-7875
The ride is 17 minutes to Peaks. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Give Peas a Chance


Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Thiamin, niacin, metabolism, magnesium, potassium
This-ium, that-ium, ium ium ium
All we are saying is give peas a chance
All we are saying is give peas a chance

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Legumes, heirlooms, spring blooms, and crop booms
Snap peas, snow peas, wasabis, and Black-eyed, Bye bye, Bye byes
All we are saying is give peas a chance
All we are saying is give peas a chance

(Let me tell you now)
Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Can revolution, freezing solutions, innovation, scarification, soil rotation
oxidation, lipid creation, mite invasions, infestations
All we are saying is give peas a chance
All we are saying is give peas a chance

Evr'ybody's talkin' 'bout
Split and sugar, minty marjoram, rosemary,
Little Marvel, Chef Emeril, Gregor Mendel
dominant-recessive, Bean Stalker, Betty Crocker
Ho ho ho Green Giant
All we are saying is give peas a chance
All we are saying is give peas a chance

By Stuart Kurtz
Parody of Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back to Feudalism?

Have you got your tunic on? Plow hitched to your ox? No?
Maybe you are lucky enough to be a baron or clergyman. Or maybe even luckier. Maybe your a lord.

In feudal times, also called The Middle Ages, land management was in the control of lords, who divided their vast holdings into parcels, or fiefs, and put local barons in charge of them. Barons held local power but still held loyalty, or fealty, to the lords.

The church was the other great governing body, and it held and divided great plots of land.

Ten percent of the population were clergy, barons, or lords. Everyone else was condemnded to be the peasantry, working the land for the lords and barons in exchange for meager food and protection from invaders.

Feudalism still existed in weakened form in Europe and elsewhere for centuries after Medieval times in that an overwhelming peasantry supported a minute noble class (the King, Tsar, Emperor in China.) The French Revolution and the American Revolution put the ax (or the Guillotine in France) to the system and ushered in a large middle and upper-middle class. Soon the French Bourgeosie consolidated its power, and a new consumer class fueled the Industrial Revolution (which had started around 1770 in England).

Pundits say America is doing away with its middle class. This country has the largest one in history, and these events pose an enormous problem. We need a large middle class to purchase imports from China and services from our own country. If we shift the wealth to a larger, but still small upper class, and create a very large lower and working class, we will be, in some way, going back to a kind of Feudalism.

The other problem is that under true Feudalism the serfs were all completely uneducated. In America we have a huge amount of college-educated and skilled people who are being forced to settle for jobs beneath their skills and education, or, worse, to remain among the unemployed or underemployed. You can't maintain a large educated underclass without friction. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Tyranny of Manners

Lots of smiling lately. What's going on with all the intense manners? I'm suspicious. In fairness, many people say we are becoming a ruder society of line-jumpers, road ragers, professional sports brawlers. True, yet, at the same time, I notice a politeness trend running concurrently. It is not appropriate to show anger or displeasure in this current. It is not good manners to go against the grain. Do your work. Enjoy all the consumer options. What have you got to complain about? Smile.

There is a scene in How Green was my Valley in which one of the sons of the Morgan family proclaims he will join the coal miners' union to fight injustice. His father chastens him for speaking when not spoken to; it's bad manners. The son, defiant, says good manners or not, he will support the union and move out if he has to. The father's breeding teaches no matter what the social circumstances are one should never defy authority with a show of impropriety.

The idea is that social codes are meant to keep us all civilized. Now what, you might ask, is my point? Is this man saying we should be rude to eachother? Reach over the table to retrieve the salt? I am not. There is a place for civility, and the reason for it is to show respect and kindness to others.

But aside from a necessary binder of respect, the enforcement of good personal manners is used for a far more incidious end. As papa Morgan showed in the movie, manners also keep us from speaking our minds, from speaking up against injustice, for taking on unjust authority. They are appropriated as a form of social control.

Two employees reflected the cowed among us. One has a professor who taught her that we should not complain about the lack of jobs in this economy, as "there are others less fortunate than you." In other words, shut up, and don't make trouble. The other was shocked to hear Michelle Obama wrote a college paper once condemning white America for its ways of keeping minorities in poverty. This employee thought that was wrong of her - in other words "manners before morals."

As antivirus software protects our computers from threats, threats to the extablished order are met with social "viruses," public disapproval, as the main trunk of society clamps down on anyone not with the program.

While manners are the ostensible target, I believe the real threat is those who dare to defy power. That means social and political power, but, in its basest form, it is economic power. That is the greatest threat to those in power.

Something far worse than lack of protest is going on. A loss of individualism is happening to us, the unsuspecting victims. We know what a repressed culture America created under The early Cold War, and its forms returned with the age of George W. Bush and Globalization. In favor of "good manners" many of us are forgoing creative, challenging, and, yes, confrontational thought. We are becoming a country of mesmerized consumers lulled into contentment by shopping networks rather than human networks.

I don't like what I see. It makes the Reagan era look radical. Afraid to speak up for fear of being impolite, most of us keep quiet, while our souls petrify to stone. I won't be intimidated. I won't take it lying down. And I'm not smiling. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recipe from Chef Robert

Hello and welcome readers,

Below is a veggie recipe from Chef Robert. He conducts food tours of Boston too. He will show you how to navigate the farmers markets in Boston and how to prepare organic vegetarian recipes. Eating without preservatives has been proven to be healthier. See below:

Nutrition & Health Series June 2007 presents: Red Lentil Chili
Lentils are an excellent source of Folic Acid and Iron.
Folic Acid helps in cellular growth and essential for women of childbearing age.
Iron helps in the development of blood and muscles.

PREP TIME: 12 Minutes Total Servings 6
COOKING TIME: 50 Minutes
RED LENTILS 2 cups red lentils (dry) 278 Calories per serving
4 cups water 42 grams carbohydrates
1 to 2 tablespoon vegetables oil 14 grams protein
1/2 teaspoon salt 10 grams fiber
CHILI 2 tablespoons canola oil 6 grams fat
1 diced white onion
2 minced garlic cloves
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 large carrot and green bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, oregano, paprika each
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
2 ounces parsley or cilantro (fresh or ground)

Red Lentils: 1. Place washed lentils into a large pot and cover with 4 cups of
water or to one inch above the bean,
2. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil to prevent boiling over. Season with salt.
Gently boil with lid titled for 30 minutes until lentils are tender.
Chili: 1. Heat two tablespoons canola oil over medium high heat. Add onions
and garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables are soft.
2. Add tomatoes, diced carrots and green peppers, and cook for 4 to 5
minutes until vegetables are tender.
3. Stir in lentils and herbs: chili powder, oregano and paprika. Heat uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes or until heated thoroughly.
4. Top with cheddar cheese. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.
Serve in bowls.
1 tablespoon canola oil 100 calories 1 can diced tomatoes 100 calories
1/4 cup cheddar cheese 135 calories
MEAT & BEANS, Food Pyramid Chart
Choose low fat or lean meats and fish
Bake, broil or grill
Vary your selection of protein
Select more fish and beans
Eat 5 1/2 ounces every day
Meat group includes meat, fish and beans.
The equivalence to an ounce of meat is 2 ounces of cooked beans.

P. O. Box 766 Brookline, MA
(617) 283-2532

NEOP web blog:
Recipe and food clipart from NEOP.

The recipe recipe flyers were designed by Nutrition Education Outreach Project-cProject Coordinator Robert Sondak.Robert is a Apple computer designer witha background in Food Science and Dietetics.Robert worked as a Clinical Diet Technician previouslyfor the New England Medical Center.
bosonma@yahoo.com design and Jennnifer Goeden logo design. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill: Thought

The BP oil platform disaster and resulting spill may be a blessing in disguise. It may convince more world citizens that alternative fuel is the way of the future (and present). Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thought for the Day

If we didn't have critics, Dumb and Dumber would win the Academy Award. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo