Faith in Maine

My favorite selection in a particular book was written by Robert P. Tristram Coffin. So good were his words that I did not want to come to the end of them. His subject was “Cathedrals of the North,” a celebration of the Maine barn and the “worship” that is performed therein. He speaks of the fullness of summer being brought into the barn and stored against the leanness of winter. It is fed there to the patient beasts under the farmer’s care.

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The bear must have come up our driveway

did it come this way?

We’ve had critter encounters, sort of. The phoebe-bug-spider observation. A phoebe, in-flight, drove a bug into one of several webs, then backed off as a giant spider began feverishly winding it. But the bug escaped! The phoebe gave chase, snatched it back flit across to the powerline and swallowed it! I stood at the porch door looking through the screen, watching the web and drama, surprised.

The bear must have come up the driveway. The image, of course, is not of the driveway, but our ragged wildish landscaping.

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o canada!

The Frontenac Hotel was our destination, the old city of Québec with its old world mystique top-heavy fronts and tarnished copper roofs and turrets; statuary, carriages, dignitaries and redcoats and rebels and tourists; its outdoor cafes and squares.

The boardwalk above the precipitous shore and beneath the high city, the yet higher battlements with cannon sending forth its smoking charges and celebration, cannonading with thrilling power.  As a decade before, landing on Loyalists Day in St. John, New Brunswick, quite by accident, so it was with this day; with our rising into the city in our pickup truck on Canada Day. Continue reading

editing the editor

A warm day was promised, so I went out early to water the transplants. I didn’t notice while watering, but the no-seeums were out in force and biting me all over (wasn’t wearing much). Noseeums are so small that sometimes you miss them. Then the itching begins. In a way they’re like a metaphor for an internal irritation, surfacing after the initial unconscious encounter. That’s the only connection with Maine this post will have, so we might even consider it off-topic.

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The Trump Bump

This is not a post about politics but a play on current events. Really, I just want to interest readers in The God’s Cycle. The setting of these six books is actually 35 years ago–or 190, if you count The 1808 Monster on the sidebar (available everywhere, print or e.). In the U.S. America, time is now right to capture attention for rural qualities. These books are full of what it’s like to live here now, not just 35 or 190 years ago. (Although the population has grown through influx.) Some industry has gone from Maine, wood-turning, shoe-making and textiles for instance; and much of the paper-making. The only other thing missing in the early-mid 1980s (or 1808) setting is the device in your hand — or otherwise at your fingertips. Maybe our fancy doesn’t need that gadget appearing during the invisible imaginative experience?

These books are sold individually or together in one volume.  They are on the Amazon author’s page (sidebar link below) and elsewhere–full of community, character, mountains rivers woodlands diners and the I.I.C.E. (International Institute of Coordinated Experiments). Also love, loggers, mechanics,  paper and pulp mills, uncanny animal critters, and hell.

What’s not to like?

 

fiction: rural town community roles

After leaving Ohio we moved a dozen times and finally got a home of our own in Maine. We need a self-cleaning house, because the down side is maintenance and cleaning. The upside is everything else. Or, we could hire a domestic.  Yes they work here in rural Maine. But they need to earn a living so that’s out for us.

oral history transcribed

How do you create a cast of characters? Start with societal roles and extrapolate with details related and unrelated to these roles. For instance, a writer has in mind a role of doctor in the community. Or shop-keeper, volunteer, lumberman, domestic, deputy, journalist, pastor, server, selectman, club-woman, and other roles, all helpful in developing characters. These roles or jobs are archetypal, starting writers on the road to peopling their novels. If you start with these in earnest, the muse may suggest quirks and morals, humors and tastes, suitable for these roles…or even carrying them off in new directions. You can also add in tiny bits you know from personal experience. So you’ll be an artisanal character quilter, taking tiny patches of incidents from life and using in mosaic to make these characters’ lives.

There are reasons for choosing roles aside from sub-creation of character. One of these is thematic.  A major theme of THE GOD’S CYCLE is small rural towns in transition.

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The Overgrown Road

I’ve got cleaning! No, there is no smiley. I’ve got gardening! (okay, bit of smiley). So here’s something past. In Maine Metaphor R. is called Allen. (In case you are wondering.)

As pictured in the Press Herald, Paul opposes casinos in the county. 

“The Overgrown Road” is the name of a chapter part of which tells of our visit up to Paul’s place. If one is not possessed of a rugged four-wheel-drive vehicle, one huffs and puffs her way up his hill. As we neared the top, Allen and I saw the stone and cedar-shake house through white spindly birches. From here it looks like a modern spacious Middle American home. But, as we gained the summit, a difference appeared: His stonework is rustic, made of glacial till from his gravel pit. It’s not the precious professional masonry found in upscale neighborhoods. The sunny house, sitting above the surrounding garden plot, and circled by the pale green of spring trees, had its roof raised by friends and neighbors on a Saturday morning.

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