I visited my uncle’s house for the first time in many years, which is really terrible since we live only 15 minutes away from him. My uncle is like a stoic Maine superhero – he eats only meat that he has hunted himself (he has a freezer full of venison and a moose heart!), he is a tuna fisherman and knows his way around a lobster boat, he built his house and is an accomplished cabinetmaker, he had solar panels and his own cistern for watering his garden before conserving was cool, and he is an amateur geologist and astronomer.
He has a little curio cabinet stuffed with geodes, minerals and crystals that he has collected over the years, and showed us solar flares and sun spots through his telescope while we visited. He also raises his own chickens for eggs, and his bountiful garden gets him through the winter. In short, he is awesome. I’m trying to convince him to take my sister and I hunting this November, when I’ll be spending even more time in Maine.
Styrofoam deer – my uncle practices his bow skills from the second story window of his woodshop.
He lives on about 6.5 acres of beautiful secluded woods.
His brood of ladies. He lets them rove around eating clover, and then leads them back to their coop by making Donald Duck-esque noises at them.
A moose he got 2 years ago. Supposedly moose meat is incredible, but he only had one package left when I visited and it sadly had a rip in it so I didn’t get to try it. Every year Maine holds a moose hunting lottery. Hunters pay to enter, and the money from the lottery goes toward preserving moose habitat and youth conservation camps. He had been entering every year for 25 years. Very few hunters are allowed each year to hunt moose. It is strictly regulated according to yearly moose populations. After finally getting a chance to hunt, he was able to bag one of the biggest mooses (meeses?) the taxidermist had ever seen in the US. His geology wunderkammer is to the left.
Squash bounty. My sister and I made a delightful squash mash with one of these.
Buoys, rusty anchors, and bleached white seashells.
Most southern Mainers know about Fort Popham, a never-finished fort built for the Civil War, which saw some minor action, yet was abandoned in 1869. But my sister Erin introduced me to the much more intriguing Fort Baldwin and abandoned batteries across the river on Sabino Hill. Away from the tourist hubbub, the assortment of crumbing structures waiting to be discovered down a beautiful path in the woods is one of the best Maine secrets I’ve ever come across. These were built long after Popham was abandoned, around the early 1900s for WW1.
Please forgive these awful pictures – I just got a new phone and was trying out the “retro camera”…I didn’t realize how blown out these would be, or that these goofy frames would be on the final photos. I found a much better camera setting – I promise I’ll never use this one again.
The wooded path leading to Fort Baldwin
Fort Baldwin – full of dark, damp rooms and passageways to explore. One room had a beautiful brick fireplace, but was too dark to photograph.
The fort and batteries were built against a hill, with stairs to climb up to the roof and the places where cannons were kept.
Sister Erin and family dog Benny
The inside rooms were dark, eerie, beautiful, and not filled with trash and homeless people the way they would be if they were in New York.
Battery Hardman, so pretty with its green pasture of a roof.
Observation tower built for WW2. Erin says it used to be open so people could climb to the top, but it was tightly sealed when we were there.
Obligatory Maine beauty shot.
Please join me this Saturday at Observatory, where I’ll be hosting an incredible talk by author Mary Cappello and artist Lisa Wood on objects swallowed!
Swallowed and Saved starts at 7:00 at Observatory, and admission is $5.00.
An American half-dollar. An unspent matchstick. A beloved miniature swan stowed in a biscuit tin. A beaded crucifix. Tooth roots shaped like a tiny pair of pants. A padlock. Scads of peanut kernels and scores of safety pins. A porcelain doll prised from a throat. A metallic letter Z. A toy goat and tin steering wheel. Frozen twigs. Penny wafers. A Perfect Attendance Pin.
One of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum is the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection: a beguiling set of drawers filled with thousands of items that had been swallowed or inhaled, then extracted nonsurgically by a pioneering laryngologist using rigid instruments of his own design. How do people’s mouths, lungs, and stomachs end up filled with inedible things, and what do they become once arranged in Dr. Chevalier Jackson’s aura-laden cabinet? Animating the space between interest and terror, curiosity and dread, author Mary Cappello and artist Lisa Wood will stage an illustrated reading based on two distinct but companionate projects to have emerged from Jackson’s foreign body display: Wood’s thirty-three original assemblages (The Swallowing Plates) and Cappello’s nonfiction book, Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them (The New Press). Like Jackson’s design and deft manipulation of endoscopic instruments, like his endoscopic illustrations and his scrupulous attention to the nature of each foreign body caught, Cappello and Wood’s work excavates the relationship between corporeality, desire, and the object world. Their dossier of images and of incantatory texts promises to combine the uncanny, the beautiful, and the informative.
Note: Several of Lisa Wood’s plates will be on sale and on view, and attendees will be treated to a sneak preview of Cappello’s book which appears this January 2011, as well as details regarding the re-design and grand re-opening of the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Exhibit in the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Does every human being have one of these Things to show for himself in his life’s hereafter?: as if to say, here is what is left of me: what’s left of me is that-which-was-once-within-me.
For more on the Mary and Lisa, please go to the Observatory website