“First Chop Wood”


My next job had several aspects, so it will go on for several posts. My family had a friend, Tom, who had started a construction company with his younger brother. In 1969 it was more a couple of guys building things rather than an actual company. But Tom decided it was time to hire someone to organize an office. That was me. He recruited me away from my insurance job, a none too difficult task.

His “office” was a drafting table, a couple of file cabinets, a phone and tons of pieces of paper lying about in no particular order. It was in the basement of an old house and was actually just a room, probably originally a work shop. Plus it was freezing cold.

I asked Tom what he wanted me to do in this “office.” He said he really had no idea since he had never had anyone work for him before. And oh, by the way, if I got cold I should chop some firewood for the old wood stove in the space and build myself a little fire.

And he went off to build.

“Can You Insure Him?”


I have no idea how I went from writing up bus tours to selling substandard auto insurance, but I did. I had lasted about six weeks at Trailways. One of my last memories was of eating at the bus depot and watching a cockroach walk calmly across the counter. It was that kind of bus depot.

I worked for an insurance broker who placed difficult to insure clients with what was called substandard auto insurance. When a client went to a regular agent who couldn’t insure him, the agent would call me and I would call around to various companies to see if any would take him. Our typical client was a 23 year old male with five speeding tickets, one DUI and a sports car. It turned out that for a high enough premium I could usually locate a company willing to insure the driver. I might have to call several different companies, starting with the easiest and going down the list until for an astronomical amount of money I could place the client with the likes of “No Driver Too Awful for Us to Take His Money Insurance Company.” Amazingly, I found those terrible drivers often had enough money to buy the insurance. I guess that is why those companies could stay in business.

I definitely encountered the racism prevalent in the insurance industry at the time.(And still present according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports.) One of my calls was to insure a Cadillac for a man with an excellent driving record. I asked the agent why he was seeking a substandard policy for the man. He told me that the man was a Negro janitor, and “what was he doing driving a Cadillac anyway?” So he wouldn’t place him with a standard company.

This job and I were a poor fit for obvious reasons.(see paragraph above) I tended to voice my disgust with this practice and I groaned a lot about the very rich kids who were driving drunk and smashing into other people. Thank goodness another job was in the wings.


“Leave the Driving to Us”


I graduated from college and returned to Portland, Oregon where I had grown up. I had a bachelor’s degree from an Ivy League college, and I assumed I would be able to land a good job. In fact, I had been promised at job at a local TV station–not opening mail! Unfortunately, the woman vacating that job decided to stay at the last minute. So I had to start a job search from scratch.

At the Oregon State Employment Office, the worker told me bluntly that I would have had an easier time getting a job if I had not gone to college. Remember this was 1969, and there were no guarantees that a woman could get any job she wanted. I looked all over for work and was either “overqualified” or couldn’t type fast enough. “Overqualified” was always vague, but seemed to support the employment officer’s statement.

I finally asked the father of an old grade school friend who ran the local Trailways Bus travel agency if he had any work I could do. He kindly offered me a job selling bus tours. I worked upstairs from the very dirty bus depot answering phones, promoting various tour options, and filling out reservation slips. It was deadening work in a dismal setting, but it was a job, and it enabled me to move out of my parents’ home and into my own apartment. I remain grateful to Mr. Kneisel for the job offer at a time that I was utterly unable to find work. But I knew I couldn’t last long, and another opportunity came in along in a couple of months.

“Mystery Blogger”

I don’t usually respond to these awards, but I am so fond of “dys-adventures” posts that I am thanking her for the nomination. She writes about her dyslexia, among many other things, and she reminds me of the many students over the years that have persevered in writing even though they struggle.

Her questions are fun too.

My favorite toy was a plush rabbit which I still own, 70 years on now.

I blog at my desktop IMac, which I love. I am all Apple, all the time. When I travel, I post from my Ipad.

The book I  read over and over is anything by Jane Austen.

If I were an animal, I would be a sea otter. They like to eat, play and float on their backs. A perfect life.

When I am sick, I watch Lifetime Movies since they always are so awful they make me feel better!

I was unable to copy the image that goes with this award. I also am not going to nominate more people since most of the ones I follow have similarly opted out of awards.

Thanks to dys-adventures.

“Fond Farewell to Maine”


We came home last night after our lovely Maine adventure. Pictured above is my husband exploring the granite outcropping at Mt. Battie in the Camden Hills State Park in Camden, Maine. On this clear day, we could see down to the port of Camden and across Penobscot Bay to many islands. Looking north we could even spy Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.

While my favorite Maine activities are hunting for little bowls, looking at Wyeth and Homer paintings        , and eating halibut, my husband’s favorite Maine activity is walking around on solid rock. He had several chances to do that both here and later at the lighthouse at the end of Pemaquid Point. He also found numerous small rocks to bring home at the area around Giants’ Steps and the spit of land out of Boothbay itself. We sport quite a collection of rocks around our yard, bounty from our trips.

I get anxious watching my husband clamber over rocks, even though he has excellent balance and prioperceptive sense. I left the above scene and went to another part of the park to watch the ocean waves. Another way we have found to each enjoy our trips.

Now that we have explored several different regions of Maine, from the southern town of York, through the central town of Bangor, to the midcoast area around Boothbay Harbor and throughout  “Down East” Maine to the New Brunswick border, we have decided we enjoy the Bar Harbor area the best. Bar Harbor has the unbeatable National Park with its several different sections spread out along the coast. Numerous artists have their open studios back among the trees. And Bar Harbor itself, though overrun many days with cruise ship passengers, quiets in the evening and hosts a number of excellent restaurants.

But next year we intend to go to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, to Cornwall. That should be another adventure.

“The Sunday Paper and Thou”


My photos weren’t communicating with each other yesterday, so this post is a day late. We spent the morning in the gorgeous Coastal Maine Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. They are enormous with cultivated gardens close in and acres of woods reaching back for a mile or so. They are meticulous with labels, so it was easy to identify plants we didn’t recognize. I was most interested in their lavenders, since we have trouble keeping them through hard winters. But I suspect that they may be in a slightly warmer zone being close to the ocean.

We had purchased the Sunday New York Times on the way to the gardens. After I had my fill, I sat in a meadow in an Adirondack chair and read to my heart’s content. My husband went on an hour long hike in the woods. We find that a perfect day means different things for each of us, and we leave space for such solo activities. One lovely man sat in a chair next to me and said how much he was enjoying just sitting. Unfortunately we soon heard a plaintive “Martin, Martin” He said that for the sake of his marriage he better rejoin the group tour. I was once again grateful for our way of spending the morning.

“Halibut Hiding Out”


In order to have halibut, you first need an ocean, in this case the Atlantic Ocean off Bailey’s Island in Maine. As readers of my blog may remember from our last year’s trip to Nova Scotia, nothing touches my soul like waves crashing over rocks. I had read of a landmark called “Giant’s Steps,” and we drove to see it. The path has a tiny sign, but the town thoughtfully has three spots to park near it. The area is residential, but someone had gifted this stretch as a conservation spot.

The steps are giant boulders which tumble down to the ocean. They do look as if a giant could thud down them for a dip. Or to catch a halibut! I just enjoyed the sun, waves and sea birds while my husband explored the rocks. We saw only a few people and I marvel that such beauty exists to be shared with visitors. I’m grateful for the ones who set this area aside with only a dirt path to interrupt its setting.

The inn where we are staying serves a big breakfast and then sets out snacks, warm cookies and iced tea in the afternoon. This has definitely meant a reordering of my halibut every night plan! If I can even manage a salad tonight I will be surprised.

“Wyeth at 100”


I had to just use a screen shot for this post since I couldn’t take photos at the Farnsworth Museum’s wonderful celebratory exhibit of Andrew Wyeth’s pencil drawings and watercolors. The Farnsworth in Rockland, Maine devotes three separate well designed spaces to showcase Wyeth’s long summer residency in Maine.

We had the pleasure of seeing many of father N.C. Wyeth’s and son Jamie Wyeth’s art along with Andrew Wyeth’s work in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania. The Farnsworth added to my appreciation of Andrew’s technique. Working with just a pencil, he did numerous studies in preparation for a painting. One of the exhibits showed all the studies for “Dr. Sym,” a painting of a skeleton figure in a military coat next to a cannon. A chilling image, made more so by the realization that Wyeth used his own body as the model for the bones.

No halibut today, but lovely sweet lettuce, roast beet, goat cheese salad. Tomorrow we set out to explore a peninsula south of here to a point called “Land’s End.” I will try to get an interesting photo of something called “Giant’s Steps.”

“I Spot a Moose(or a replica)

IMG_0545Ok. So it is a wonderful painting of a moose displayed at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine. The fourth floor of the museum has a whimsical collection called the menagerie, and this painting is prominently displayed. I think it captures the moose-mania in Maine. They have moose everything here, from onesies for babies to  moose tracks ice cream(don’t ask!)

Everything that is except a living moose. We did see two stuffed moose at the L.L. Bean store, but that was it.

Last night I ate the promised halibut dinner at a terrific restaurant in Portland called Scales. It turns out if you bathe it in browned butter with hazelnuts you achieve an unbelievable flavor. Of course butter generally improves most dishes! IMG_0549

Portland Maine turns out to be food-centric. We could have eaten amazing food for days. But it was time to head north to Boothbay Harbor, stopping at that L.L. Bean complex in Freeport. The quest for more halibut, more little bowls and Wyeth paintings continues.

“Little Bowls”


One of our favorite vacation treats is finding local artists’ galleries and studios. This trip I am on the hunt for little bowls. Ice cream should always be eaten in a little bowl as far as I am concerned!

We found a Maine potters cooperative shop in Portland, and I bought four little bowls including the two above. Made by a potter in Farmingdale, Maine, they will perfectly hold a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. After this first use, they will be available for other flavors, too.

I believe you can never have too many bowls of all sizes. It seems whenever I reach for one it is missing. I don’t like to lay blame, but there does seem to be a direct correlation between my grandson’s pop-in visits and my diminishing bowl inventory.