Category Archives: Maine

Bayside, Maine

Carmel CottageWe spent two mid-July weeks in Bayside, our ninth year renting a cottage in this 19th century Methodist campground, now cottage colony, on Penobscot Bay just south of Belfast.  This year, after six straight years in Cameo Cottage, we switched to Carmel Cottage in Auditorium Park,  which was originally the location of the auditorium where the worship services took place. The cottages in this area are named after the Maine towns whose church members shared them in the summer: South Thomaston, Unity, Union, Rockport…

Carmel Cottage was the fourth cottage from the water and had a lovely view of  the bay, although not as spectacular as the 180 degree view we had at Cameo.

My favorite thing about Carmel Cottage was the porch, which had two classic New England rocking chairs at the corner where the most breezes could be caught. It was heavenly sitting and rocking and reading early in the morning or at sunset or any time of day. The porch was shady most of the day. Sometimes I listened to sacred music in my headphones as I rocked, which I guess was quite appropriate in this old Methodist campground.

View from Porch
I brought along a folding café table and two chairs so that we could have our meals on the porch.  I always bring a selection of blue-and-white dishes and some fine china and nice linens along to the cottages we rent, as they give me so much pleasure, and I wouldn’t enjoy eating on ordinary dishes. Breakfast in the fresh air at our little table was one of the best times of every day.

Several years ago I read a study of retirement from the Gerontology Department at U. Mass/Boston, and I remember that not everyone was happy about all aspects of being retired, but the one thing almost all retirees liked was a leisurely breakfast.  I have not had trouble with any aspect of retirement, unlike some of the people studied, but I agree that a leisurely breakfast is one of the nicest things. Every day is a gift, truly, and at breakfast the new day stretches out before me so luxuriously….  I refuse to hurry, after all those years of having to watch the clock and rush to get to work at 9:00. These days I seldom have to be anywhere at any particular time in the morning, and I can drink a pot of tea and talk with Peter about the day ahead or any other thing that comes to mind. In Bayside there was the fabulous cool morning air and the view of the water in addition to all the usual blessings.

Breakfast on Porch
We had many lunches on the porch too, on the days when we weren’t out and about.  The food tasted so good outside, and the iced tea was so refreshing. I do love black unsweetened iced tea when it’s hot.

Lunch on the Porch

I had a small tea most afternoons if I was home at the cottage. One day just before our time at the cottage was up, I finally got Peter to join me for tea and scones. Actually, he doesn’t drink tea, but he likes scones with cream and jam!

Tea Table on the Porch.jpg

The little streets of Bayside are lined with sweet cottages, all with porches. My dream house would definitely have a front porch. I wish I had been lucky enough to have one of these cottages passed down in my family. Many of the people in Bayside have been coming for decades, if not for generations, to their beloved cottages.

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Fiber College in Maine

On the first day of fall semester at MassArt, rather than starting another academic year, I drove to Maine for Fiber College–that really made me feel retired! It was a gorgeous sunny day, and once I broke free of the Boston traffic, I was filled with excitement and anticipation as I drove up 95, taking the quick route to Belfast.

My class at Fiber College was called Thinking Outside the Circle. The teacher was Maryly Matthewman from New Hampshire. This is her piece:

Teacher's CircleI loved this and was excited about making something like it. I’ve been away from quiltmaking for a long time (twenty years or so!) and thought this would be a good way to dive back in. I had to dig out my sewing machine, clean it, oil it, re-learn how to thread it, and practice to see if I still knew how to sew, which fortunately I did.

The circle piece is made in an improvisational manner, without templates, without precision piecing. Maryly said that she too had been away from quilting for a long time, until she retired a few years ago. When she came back, improvisation was an important strain in the quilt world, inspired in part by the Gee’s Bend quilters, and this interested her much more than traditional quilt making.

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Detail: Quilt by Stella Mae Pettway

Three of the Gees Bend quilters were actually at Fiber College this year, Stella Mae Pettway, China Pettway, and Revil Moseley. On opening night, held in the church at the Maritime Museum in Searsport, they got us off to a rousing start, processing down the aisle singing spirituals, praising the Lord even as they told us stories of the great hardship they and their community had been through before the discovery of their quilts by the art world. China Pettway spoke of her love of color and how fantastic it is for her now to be able to go into a fabric store and buy the colors she wants. When asked if she quilts by hand or machine, she replied, “The Lord has given me a sewing machine, and I use it!”

Quilt by China Petway (2)

Quilt by China Pettway

Inspired directly by the Gees Bend quilters, our teacher Maryly changed her original plan for our class. First we cut circles of different sizes, freehand, arranged them, and stitched them down, leaving raw edges. The new twist was the next step: we had to take the rotary cutter and cut our circles into quadrants and give three of them away, keeping only one!  We all put our three giveaway quadrants into a box and took turns pulling out three other people’s pieces, which we then had to use to sew our circles back together with zigzag stitch.  “Use what you have and be grateful.” Make it work.

The results were definitely richer and more complex than our original circles.

Our Circle Class

What a fun class! We all loved it. My piece is the second from the left on the top row.

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Deep Peace over Penobscot Bay

The cottage we rented in Bayside, Maine this June for my big birthday was a really special one, right on the shore of Penobscot Bay.   Our week there was heaven.

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