Christmas working

Our 3-part working Christmas series begins HERE.

I arrive in Auburn down route 4, glide past the empty parking lots and deserted stores of Center Street and down into the inner business district, pull to a stop at the traffic light and wait for it to change. A young happy-looking man in a red windbreaker walks in front of the car… now looking like reaching for the doorhandle, so I stretch out a forefinger and press the lock, averting my gaze from his smiling face, ashamed. I suspect he’s developmentally disabled and feel ungenerous for refusing to share even a smile with what could be an angel in disguise. Neither of my sons, I think, would have refused him. My hard suspicious nature has robbed me of a telling moment. It is Christmas Day.

He passes away down the main street toward Lewiston and, more waiting, then the light changes and I turn that way myself. I cross a bridge over Maine’s Androscoggin River and enter the old textile milltown, stopping to make another collect call on the pretext of determining whether I unplugged the coffee pot before leaving earlier. During the exchange JD and I wish one another Merry Christmas again and I’m listening for a tone, a timber in his voice to determine if he’s unhappy about being alone. His tone is light, uncomplicated, content. I hang up and sigh.

The morning’s coffee has triggered the bodily system and I find myself in need of relief: but where can one find a public toilet in a deserted city on Christmas Day?

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working xmas

Winter thematic Maine Metaphor may be published next year.  Hopefully. This entry, here with some notes, is part of that experience–our experience in Maine. first those notes:

Working Christmas. 4:45 a.m. make coffee, plug in the white-lit wreath, turn on the radio to the Mt. Washington station playing Christmas carols.

Marginalia: read Brault’s French-Canadian heritage in New England for info on Sts. P. & P. and the people, remember theme of despised and rejected. Here in Maine the French were so treated in the established Yankee culture.

Relate when I’m inside; interspersed with service. Something on the language – the need to retain it. The Québécois newcomers retained their agrarian small-town mores and language in the mill towns of Maine. “Lose your language, lose your faith,” went the saying.

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Maine. Recommended Reading

The House that Jacob Built (New York: William Morrow, 1947). Maine, as everywhere, is in transition but this gives a solid reading experience of the Maine way.

Some books I’ve enjoyed, not in order of preference:

The Walk Down Main Street; and also The Spoonhandle, by Ruth Moore.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I disagree completely with this Maine play on the Columbine shootings.  Schools in each situation are not comparable, nor does he get the socio-economic level right in regards to the shooter. I do not think it would happen so in Maine, even today (18-21 years later). But other than that he gets much right and this, as HBO production, is good, I think. I’m fairly sure I read the book, too, but the show images are much stronger in my memory. Take care in these kind of media passes.

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is creativity to happen?

on meeting Pat and beginning maine metaphor, I happened to hang out with the birches

Continuing from last week’s post, here’s more on my nontraditional undergrad experience with the author of Waiting to Begin, who now holds the BFA chair at UMF.  Unbeknownst to either of us at that time, she was helping me begin the MAINE METAPHOR series.

I was not meeting with other creative writers. I was designing my own major around Maine studies, topics of which abounded among course offerings, but formalizing such a degree was not an option at that time. So I asked my mentor to work with me, saying I wanted to study and write mythic literature in an independent study. Neither O’Donnell nor the chair of the English department would sign onto the project. If I had waited perhaps a semester they might have been more receptive because by that time Joseph Campbell’s groundbreaking studies in the power of myth were popularized. Public television had begun doing this series with Bill Moyers and Campbell. (Recently Pat told me she would not have felt qualified to work on this type of writing.)

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Mountains of Pi Trivial?

Archimedes developed the polygonal approach to approximating π.

How embarrassing. A sentence below contains a disagreement, an error, of tense.

Evidently it was published that way owing to (my) poor proofing. I’m posting it today in honor of pi. International Day of Pi. …Also coinciding with an almost infinity of snow flakes coming our way. If we survive (for not having stocked up on pie), there will be mountains of infinitely patterned six-sided flakes to shovel and haul.

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visiting the eastern uplands

image-cover-mm-visting

double-click to enlarge and read the fine print!

 

The embarrassing admission:

The editor in charge of cover text asked for a back-of-the-book description to surmount its blurb by Jake Meador.  I chose part of something from the book I particularly liked—heavily influenced by Annie Dillard. By JRR Tolkien. In the way of metaphoric memoir, the description was written in first person.  The editor’s reply? It must be third-person description. Being low energy, I gave them what you see in this cover image. And …I just wanted that passage! Here is the original unedited from inside the book:

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timber framing is what.

 

R.'s image taken this morning

R.’s image taken this morning

 

On our bike ride this a.m. R. took the image of post and beam timber-framing going on at the house we lived in, briefly, on moving to maine … after an even briefer season of needing a roof over head. It was a gift to live for a few months on this pond. Later we got to know the area enough to write a cycle of books, and a series, one fiction, one non. Here’s a fragment from the first, about a rural town in transition:

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nettie marries, records life in the hamlet

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.55.22 AM

we lived on this road and knew about Nettie, the girl who lived on a berry farm on the mountainside above. she was born and raised to be her parents’ keeper in their aging, as some parents did in the late 1800s. your last child was to be yours, not living for his or herself. she did the unexpected and got married. she became a photographer.

nettie's camera

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