Monday, February 20, 2012

Christmas in New England - Portland Head Light, Victoria Mansion, and home

December 27

Portland Head Light
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We're on the plane at Portland Jetport, getting ready to take off – and I just realized that my camera is not I my bag!! A woman in the next row up said an announcement was made at the check-in area that a camera had been found, but we were long gone from there by then. So, on the good side, I had to switch memory cards today, and most of my pictures are on the card that isn't in the camera. And I have that card. Yay! However, the pictures of the stunningly Christmas-decorated house...gone... I bought a souvenir guidebook, but that doesn't replace my photos. The flight attendant helpfully suggested that we call the airport to claim it, but, really, what are the odds? We'll see. And here I thought I was going to make it through this trip without a single major mishap on my part. Sigh.

Backtrack. So, this morning, Harry didn't want to get up, though it was the only morning on this trip when it was important for us to do so. I admit it, I was a tiny bit irritated and started taking the linens off the bed while he was still in it...heh heh...

We went to Sue's for some quiche left-overs for breakfast, and Harry and Jim and I waited for Melissa and Sue to come back from taking care of some business at the notary public. We settled in, expecting the transaction to take a while, but they were gone for maybe 20 minutes total! They said they drove there, walked right in, had the notary witness the signatures, and drove right back. No wait, no hassle. I love this place.

[When we arrived at the airport, there was no line at the check-in counter. There was no line at the TSA checkpoint. The airplane went straight to the runway and took off – no wait. Things are how they used to be. As I said, I love this place.]

Sue decided not to go to Portland with us because of Jim's injury. Jim, by the way, is taking the calls for his son's “side” heating oil business for a couple of days. As I said, Jim hates to just sit around. Business is good, and the phone is ringing off the hook.

Jim went to the orthopedist today and will be having surgery tomorrow. His Achilles tendon is torn all the way through, and he won't heal up properly without the surgery. [The surgery went well. Several months of physical therapy should help him to recover completely.]

We said good-bye, which is always so very hard to do, especially with such lovely, kind, generous, hospitable people. Parting is such sweet sorrow, eh?

Portland Head Light
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We loaded up the car, turned the heat down in the duplex, locked up, and off we went to the Portland Head Light, which I've heard is the most photographed place in Maine (if not on the East Coast). Who can blame anyone? It is entirely stereotypical and photogenic. The cute cottage front, the add-ons and (presumably) storage areas in back, all connected to the lighthouse in an inverted “T” so you don't have to go outside to get from the house to the lighthouse. Which is a good thing, because I imagine it gets rather chillsome on a blustery winter's day. Such as today, for instance. The wind is reaching right through my jeans with its glacial fingers. Brrr.

You've got your rugged coastline, your boiling waters frothing over the rocks, and your wintery gray skies with pink on the horizon and the faded sun hiding behind clouds. Altogether, it is a picture-perfect winter scene by the seaside. It looks like a postcard at the gift shop, which it is. And the homes on the waterfront are enviable.

Portland, Maine
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We then drove in to Old Portland, which reminded me of Boston's North End, and we had lunch at The ThirstyPig, an Irish pub with one employee on hand for the busy lunch hour. The poor fellow was the greeter, waiter, bartender, cook, busboy, dishwasher, and checker. Harry had a bratwurst sandwich, and I had chicken-apple sausage. I asked for it to be served on greens, but it came on a roll. I didn't have the heart to send it back. And I gave the guy a huge tip, 'cause he totally deserved it. He was doing every job in the place. [I later learned that my credit card had been compromised, possibly here. I hope it wasn't you, dude.]

Beautiful Victoria Mansion
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Melissa's high school friend Michelle joined us at the pub for lunch, and then we all went to the Victoria Mansion, which was unbelievably decked out for Christmas. Every room. Every corner of every room. Every surface in every room. And there were many, many rooms. The ceilings, which are always of great interest to me, because my grandfather was a craftsman who did the fancy ceilings, were amazing. They were plaster, painted with frescoes to look like inlaid wood, with little cherubs and things – very impressive. The woodwork and paneling in the home? Impressive. The fireplaces, mirrors, and mantles? Impressive. The carpets? Impressive. The furniture? 90% original...and impressive.

Over the top? Maybe.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The house had forced-air heat, hot and cold running water, gas lighting (now converted to electric, of course) with chandeliers that pulled down or pushed up, depending how much light you needed for the leisurely task at hand. Very advanced for its time, ca. Civil War. They even had indoor bathrooms. The water pipes wrapped around the chimney to warm the water. Smart use of energy, eh? Those Mainers have been “green” for a long time.
Leaving is always a bummer.
Photo by Chris.
And then we headed to the Jetport, and here we are, flying to (shudder) O'Hare, where we'll change planes. Harry's been pointing out some cool stuff in the Sky Mall magazine...always shopping, that one. The “special edition” humidor with a Blu-ray copy of “Scarface” for $729.99 is a must-have, no? Well, it does come with 100 cigars...

Amazingly, my camera had indeed been found...and turned in to the airport, complete with memory card. It was retrieved by a friend of Sue's, and Sue shipped it home to me. Would this happy ending have happened in most places? No, it would not. And so, it's just one more reason for me to love Maine and the people in it. Thank you so much!

Our arrival in San Francisco was delayed just enough that we missed the last BART train by ½ hour and had to take a cab across the Bay and back to Zack and Mel's. It's a toss-up between the getting there and the coming back as to which is the least enjoyable part of travel; but, on the plus side, the getting there has the benefit of anticipation. What do you think? Do you most dread the getting there, with all its accompanying nerves and unfamiliarity and tantalizing promise of new adventure, or do you most dread the bittersweet separation from a new-found love and the long road home that, at least, ends in the comfort of your own bed?

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