Flander's Lane, Washington Maine

Flander's Lane is named after my grandfather, Roland Flanders. It is a short dirt road with a few camps set on Washington Pond. There are tales that Flander's Lane is haunted. At least that's what my grandfather says.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Union Fair

Goats at the Union FairOne of the things we were all looking forward to when we made this year's trip to Maine is the annual Wild Blueberry Festival known as the Union Fair. Every year growing up here in Knox County as a child, there was nothing I looked forward to more than the Union Fair. The best part is, very little has changed.

The Union Fair is still a real farm fair with lots of animals, an old time farm museum, midway rides, bingo, handmade crafts, fried dough boys, cotton candy, and games. We loved it this year, as I have every year I've ever come here.

The only things I miss, that are long gone due to the times are the hoochy coochy girls, and freak shows. Sure, I was way too young to go into the hoochy coochy girls tent to see the show, but I remember all the men outside cat calling as the girls danced out on the front stage to lure the men inside to the paid show. They would all be dressed in scantily clad garments that would accent their body type, and attempt, one by one, to get the attention of any red blooded man in the audience. I always wondered what went on inside that tent. Now that the hoochy coochy days are over, I'll never know.

Fun HouseThe freak shows did allow kids inside, and I remember seeing strong men, bearded ladies, tattooed women, and my favorite, the Seal Boy. Seal Boy was a man that had no arms or legs, but he still had hands and feet that came out of his shoulders and body. He would flop on his belly up to the stage, get out a straight raiser, smear his face with shaving cream, and shave his face as he told his life story. True or not he would tell a tale of being locked up in the attic during childhood, being brought a daily bowl of leftover food, hidden from the world as some kind of family embarrassment. He would tell us that he lived only off the tips we would give him, and that he made nothing from the admission fee we paid to get in. We would all put a dollar or two in his cup on the way out.

I think all the politically correct folk nowadays would rather these kinds of people collect welfare and sit alone in low income housing out of sight than travel the world under the big top, center stage. I remember the summers when my mom worked at the fair running The Mouse Game, I would hang out with the Seal Boy or Snake Man. They would tell me that the freak show saved their lives, making them stars, allowing them to see parts of the world they might otherwise have never seen. I wonder where they are now, and I hope they are happy. I miss that stuff.

Union Fair still has demolition derby, and motorcycle stunt riders. You know, the guys that ride motorcycles inside mesh spheres around and around, sometimes several cycles at a time. The mufflers are shortened so the bikes make a loud racket. So dangerous and amazing. Makes me so nervous, so much could go wrong. In fact, more could go wrong than could go right it seems with that kind of stuff. Like, how do you practice that?

My wee one didn't like the loud motorcycles or fireworks, but she did like to watch the pig scramble, which was just as loud. This is where they drop a bunch of baby pigs into a dirt ring, and give a bunch of kids burlap potato bags, and whoever catches a pig gets to take it home. It's a hoot to see all these kids and squealing pigs rolling around in the dirt. It's even funnier to see them with a big ole' bag of pig walking around the fair later on. I wonder how many parents are surprised when their kid comes home with a baby pig. So funny.

Ferris WheelI was surprised when my 2 year old wanted to ride the ferris wheel over and over. I don't even like the ferris wheel, but I had to respect her enthusiasm. After a few rides on the merry go round, she got bored, pointed up in the air and said, "how 'bout that?" There was no height requirement, so off we went, all the way up, and all the way down, over and over.

I made sure to go to the fair on opening day so that I could have a look at the knit items on display in the 4H building. Many of the crafts folk that display actually put a price on the handmade items, so I wanted to be sure to get the chance to purchase what I wanted, just in case I saw something that struck my eye. I found a nifty Halloween sweater in orange and black with a bat, Jack-O-Lanterns, and cats that fit my kid perfect. The handmade sweater was priced at only $25.00 so I paid the lady right away, and got a receipt so that I could pick it up on closing day. What a treasure!

To top it all off, what would a day at the Wild Blueberry Festival be without a piece of blueberry pie? Without a doubt, it was the best pie of any kind I've ever had. Perfect crust, balance of sweetness, and ripe blueberries. I just could not get enough of the stuff. Those grannies really know what they are doing.

The week passed fast, and my kid is still asking to go to the fair. We have to keep explaining that they packed it all up and went away. I think it's hard for her to believe it. It's hard to imagine all that stuff going anywhere. I already can't wait until next year.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pit Mice

Pit MiceMy fire pit is constructed of cement blocks. I dug a really deep hole, and I lined the hole with cement blocks, two blocks deep and wide. Then I built up from the ground around the hole with another row of cement blocks, making the entire construction three blocks deep in all.

While digging a hole large enough to build the fire pit in, there were a ton of rocks I had to dig out. The ground here is mostly rocks. I used all the rocks to decorate the outside of the cement blocks to give the fire pit a more rustic look. I like to hide the cement blocks with the stones, so I just piled them up all around the outside of the cement blocks.

The pile of rocks create a little network of catacombs, hallways, and niches that a small city of mice have made their home. When ever I have a fire, they all come out, and enjoy the warmth and campfire food along with me. Here are two nibbling the leaves while I tend to the fire.

Pit MouseI'm always amazed at how close nature and critters are to our everyday activities. The Pit Mice scamper around, going in and out of the stones that decorate the outside of the fire pit. My kid likes to sit and watch them poke their little noses in and out of the crevices. Little Pit Mice are sooo cute!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Gloves

glovesWhen I first began to work on the cabin I purchased several sets of gloves. This is the third pair I've used up just doing stuff here. Now I'm down to my last pair of gloves to get me through 'till we leave Flander's Lane in the Winter.

The set I retire today has done so much work this summer. Together we replaced the cabin's floor, fixed the sink, dug holes, built the fire pit, cut wood, cooked campfire food. They protected me while I carved several small sculptures from apple wood.

These gloves have saved my hands from multiple injuries. The knuckles are all worn out from carrying cement blocks, and the hole in the finger was from a chisel that came loose. I sure am glad that hole is in the glove and not me.

I always have a struggle letting go of old friends like these two gloves. We've been through so much together. But now dirt and debris gets into the holes, making the gloves uncomfortable to work with. They no longer provide adequate protection. The new pair will have to step up and take their place.

Already the cold air blows over the lake at night, and I know the summer is over. These are my summer gloves, and when I toss them out, I am some how moving on to Autumn, Fall, and Winter. My summer hours relaxing on the lake are over. Now it's 'back to school' ads, Halloween, and the Holidays to look forward to. I'm going to miss my summer gloves.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Swimming with a Fish

Swimming with a fishThe weather has been so hot, that we pretty much live in the lake these days. The water in Washington Pond is like bath water, so warm and inviting. My mom came down to have a swim, and get in some Grandma time with the wee one.

The trout and sun fish don't seem to mind that we have taken over their turf. They just join us in our daily swim time, seeming like it doesn't matter to them one bit. In fact one trout was nibbling on Grandma's toes for a while, and it made her giggle.

We just got ourselves a nifty waterproof digital camera that also takes videos, so what to do? Bring it down every time we have a swim! I was amused that the fish here in the lake would just swim around our legs, so I put the new camera into video mode, and got a little fish action on video. The best part is, that Grandma was teaching my little two year old how to swim, so I got a little of that too. What fun it is to learn how to swim along with the fishes here in the lake. I figure, who best to learn from than a sunfish or a trout?

I'm pretty happy with our new GoPro Digital Hero 3 Mega Pixel Waterproof Wrist Camera, although that's a long name for such a teeny tiny camera. It doesn't have a zoom, but it's nifty because all these action shots near the lake are possible because the camera is waterproof. Check out the little video I took today: my kid swimming with a fish.