Maine Easter

I know Easter happened over a month ago, but I'm not overly concerned with timely sharing. Doing it late is better than not doing, right?

Green bridge from Topsham to Brunswick, and a little sunset for color.

Beautiful little roadside pull-off on the way to Reid State Park - my sister promised me that a friendly beaver would swim up to us when we arrived. It did not. Maybe he was having an early Easter dinner with his family.

Oh my god why is she so cute? This is my niece with her face-crumpling smile, sitting on a hay bale.

Woods in the morning.

Reid State Park, many footprints, but no people.

Benny helped me rake leaves by standing on them.

Crocuses! It's spring!

Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling–invented in the mid-1800s in Massachusetts–is New England's version of bowling (primarily Maine, Mass, and New Hampshire). The balls are similar to bocce balls, and the pins are, you guessed it, shaped like candlesticks. There are few things I love more than regular, non-candlepin bowling, but I have to say, there's no substitute for the sound that little wooden ball makes when it knocks over those little wooden pins. Also, unlike standard bowling, you get to roll three balls on your turn, and the pins you knock over each turn are not cleared away, so part of the strategy is to hit fallen pins in hopes of sending them spinning into those left standing. While visiting my mom and super awesome sister in Maine this weekend, we bowled a few strings at the Bowling Bowl in Brunswick. Seeing that I had a camera, the owner asked if I'd like to go behind the lanes and see the pin-setting mechanism, which dates from 1941. Would I?!

Thanksgiving in Bristol and Bath

Thanksgiving at my mom's house in Bath, ME is much like any other - lots of eating, lots of Christmas movies, lots of naps. But for the past few years Dylan and I have been trying to make time to get out and do a little exploring of Maine. This year we took a long winter walk around the grounds and woods of Hyde, a beautiful brick boarding school, and the next day we drove down to South Bristol to Christmas Cove (see Dylan's film).

A low mist on the grounds of Hyde.

Hyde School

What a winter sunset in Bath

More winter sunset (there are about 50 pictures of this sunset, I really had to hold back from posting them all)

Dylan at Christmas Cove in South Bristol

Miss Ashley's on the Wharf in South Bristol makes the best $2.50 grilled cheese you ever had.

Looking in the window of a closed antique shop, the South Bristol swing bridge (one of only three in Maine) in the background.

Heh. Master Baiter. Heh heh.

The traditional turkey soup made from turkey leftovers, and a Thunder Hole Ale to wash it down.

Fangs of Maine

Fangs of Maine from Dylan D. Thuras on Vimeo.

Finally back in Brooklyn from a restorative Thanksgiving in Maine, at which my uncle gave Dylan some old Konica lenses that he never used. Dylan and I took a drive out to Christmas Cove in South Bristol, and Dylan played with his lenses while I played around the ocean. He turned his footage into a cliched indy video for fun - here's what he says about it:

"This is a little indy style music video I put together from footage I took while on Thanksgiving vacation in Maine. It manages to incorporate nearly every cliche of indy music videos: overexposure, slow motion, shots of nature, squiggly font, mismatched audio / video, soft focus, etc. But I still like it."

Vanquishing Animation Meeting

I've spent the last few months working on an animated fairytale for the forthcoming documentary, The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga, by good pal and incredible director, Jessica Oreck. This week I'm in Portland, ME with Jessica and Devin, the animation's talented illustrator, at Devin's studio, storyboarding and motion testing. I'm very excited to be working on this one, it's going to be amazing. More photos of the team at work over at Jessica's journal, Myriapod Productions.

Devin - the illustrator, Rachael - the producer, and that's me, hunched over the in corner like a creep.

Christmas Snowstorm

Perhaps you heard about the snowstorms that swept the East Coast this Christmas. I heard New York got it pretty bad, and I wish I had been there to see it - I love when the city shuts down. Take that, New York. You're not always on top of everything. The snow will always getcha. Maine is a different story. They're well prepared for this kind of thing. At the first mention of an impending snowstorm, you can just hear hundreds of plows rev their engines. We decided it was necessary that we enjoy the storm before the plows got ahold of it, so as the snow started to fall, Dylan, my sister Erin and I bundled up, filled thermoses with hot chocolate, and braved the storm. We sang as many Christmas carols as we could think of (because we're dorks like that) as we headed towards the old Victorian center of Bath, about a 20 minute walk away. We were amazed to find a bar open, as everything else had closed up for the night, and we congratulated ourselves for our get-up-and-go over a few pints. It was the highlight of Christmas (with teaching my 2 year old niece that snow is soft enough to toss oneself into as a close second).

(Can't take credit for the charming photos - Dylan's getting pretty good with his new camera, huh?)

The Dead Leaves are Greener

When you live in a big city, the grass is definitely greener anywhere that is not in a tiny apartment surrounded by concrete. I'll be in Maine for the next few weeks staying with my family. Though I grew up here, it's been a good 10 years since I actually lived at home, and in those 10 years, I've romanticized it to the point of obsession. Today I took some time to rake the leaves in the yard, and I think it was the most fun I've had by myself pretty much ever.

If I lived here full time, raking leaves would be a chore, but instead it's a delightful treat. I'm also available for shoveling snow, clearing brush, pulling weeds - as long as it's manual labor and it's outdoors, I'm there.

These piles are modest but they got bigger, I swear. With my good buddy by my side. I found a flower in late November in Maine! It's a Christmas miracle!

Fluffy things!

My Uncle, the Maine Superhero

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.

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Styrofoam deer - my uncle practices his bow skills from the second story window of his woodshop.

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He lives on about 6.5 acres of beautiful secluded woods.

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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.

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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.

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Squash bounty. My sister and I made a delightful squash mash with one of these.

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Buoys, rusty anchors, and bleached white seashells.

Abandonded Batteries in Phippsburg, Maine

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.

Fort Popham

Fort Popham

shot_1287594181784 The wooded path leading to Fort Baldwin

shot_1287594378240 Fort Baldwin - full of dark, damp rooms and passageways to explore. One room had a beautiful brick fireplace, but was too dark to photograph.

shot_1287594964232 The fort and batteries were built against a hill, with stairs to climb up to the roof and the places where cannons were kept.

shot_1287595683263 Sister Erin and family dog Benny

shot_1287595671176 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.

shot_1287595085936 Battery Hardman, so pretty with its green pasture of a roof.

shot_1287595841790 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.

shot_1287597142013 Obligatory Maine beauty shot.