Thursday, September 04, 2008

the FDR to the Hutchinson to I-95 to I-91 to I-84, and so forth

Shouldn't we have left for Vinalhaven by now? I couldn't agree more, and we're finally leaving tomorrow. It's been a long time to wait for pine trees and granite and buoys bobbing in Penobscot Bay, but things have been complicated here.

Last year's post regarding the portable kitchen still looks pretty complete to me, so this year I'm thinking about the other things we drag all the way to Maine. It is a long way! It is 7 hours from Manhattan to Rockland by car, and no one comes 'round with a drinks cart.

Luckier travelers, from superbomba's photostream on Flickr.

Because of the timing of our drive and the ferry schedule, we spend a night in Rockland before we arrive on the island. There's not a lot to do there. There's a wine bar we like for dinner, and a really great little market for picking up things for the cabin at the last minute. There's an unusually attractive movie theater and there's the Farnsworth Museum, but after being in the car all day our minds are thoroughly jellied. The remaining source of entertainment: hotboxing behind the Navigator. Please don't knock on our car window, you'll startle us.

the Navigator

Just kidding, Navigator people!

Early the next morning we try to get on the first ferry out, with our tickets and our dog and our toothbrushes and our iPods and all the rest.

Fact: It is always raining when we leave Rockland.

Once we're there we spend most of our time on the deck, and we like to identify the birds we see. An Audubon guide is essential.

we try to identify the birds we see

We see bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers and woodpeckers. I intended to get some sort of insect guide this year because I always want to know what I am looking at and it's always a mystery. Can any of you recommend one?

craaaaazy caterpillar

yellow spider

Can't tell you about these; I need a book.

I'm in the market for a guide to mushrooms, too. I know that chanterelles grow on the island; our neighbors there mentioned harvesting them on their property, and many times I've opened a cookbook in the cabin we rent and had a chanterelle recipe clipping land in my lap. So far we've only stumbled across brightly-colored mushrooms that can't possibly be edible, so please light a candle for us or consult your Santería lady on our behalf, etc., because I WANT CHANTERELLES. Lovely frilly chanterelles, not something scarier that would require dialysis after dinner.

A sip of Laphroaig while walking in the woods looking for mushrooms would really contribute to one's sense of well-being, or at least help pickle one's kidneys as a precautionary measure. This tooled leather flask is made to order and has "a protective finish to protect it from drinking binges." I can't believe I don't have one already.

Flask, $60 from Moxie and Oliver on Etsy. It has taken a lot of willpower for me to not order it but I am saving my pennies for a new camera (maybe this one).

Vinalhaven in September is going to be cold in the mornings and evenings, definitely cold enough for sweaters. This is ideal vacation weather as far as I'm concerned. It's hard to look purposeful when it's 80 degrees.


Vladimir and Véra Nabokov on vacation, scanned from Stacy Schiff's Véra.

I recently came across this photo of Lady Rhoda Birley in her garden and it's to blame for the pile of brightly-colored cardigans I'm packing, and my fervent desire to wear them all at once.

Photo of Rhoda Birley from Juncus Effusus on Flickr. I first read about Birley at An Aesthete's Lament, where she was described as "an eccentric Irish beauty and talented gardener." If you know anything about her milliner, please speak up.

The fall APC catalog has me dying to wear a blanket, too.


I didn't want to spend quite so much cheddar on it, though, so instead I ordered a small Hudson’s Bay point blanket.

Hudson's Bay capote blanket, which I say is a jacket, $131 from Woolrich.

I am going to try to pin it together over all my cardigans with one or two of these (pins, $6 on Etsy from A Minor Thread), and if it doesn't look right we'll just have a picnic on it.

yes but what will we be reading?

I try not to bring too many books to Vinalhaven because I never get through as many as I think I will, but what if it rains?

Having finally finished Jude the Obscure, I won't feel bad if I only manage bits and pieces of this-and-that, and many of the books coming with me this year are well-suited for reading a few pages at a time:

Pasolini Stories Nadja Walser Selected Stories

Beaton in the Sixties Against Nature Bishop

I sometimes feel that I shouldn't keep going back to this place that I found just by chance through an ad in the Harvard Crimson. I should probably go to see more art, cathedrals and so on. But I'm so crazy about it that I keep going back. You can see the water, a great expanse of water and fields from the house. Islands are beautiful. Some of them come right up, granite, and then dark firs. North Haven isn't like that exactly, but it's very beautiful. The island is sparsely inhabited and a lot of people who have homes there are fearfully rich. Probably if it weren't for these people the island would be deserted the way a great many Maine islands are, because the village is tiny. But the inhabitants almost all work—they're lobstermen but they work as caretakers . . . The electricity there is rather sketchy. Two summers ago it was one hour on, one hour off. There I was with two electric typewriters and I couldn't keep working. There was a cartoon in the grocery store—it's eighteen miles from the mainland—a man in a hardware store saying, 'I want an extension cord eighteen miles long!'

We have reliable electricity in our cabin but the caretaker is always a lobsterman.

facing Vinalhaven from the North Haven casino

Vinalhaven viewed from the North Haven casino. A casino in this context means a place where people gather before and after dinghy racing, not a garish gambling hall filled with dazed, hippopotamus-shaped tourists clutching plastic buckets of coins in their sweaty paws.

yes but what will we listen to in the car?

I made muxtapes for you, reader, but then muxtape shut down. So I made mixes for you at but — are you sitting? standing then? — they are only 8 tracks each. You and I both need more than that, so there are three of them: the A-side, the A-and-a-half-side, and the B-side. is not the most comfortable way to listen to music, so if you send me a nice email, I will happily send you AN ACTUAL CD. IN THE MAIL. All these songs, on one CD, for you! I will try not to get crumbs and dog hairs in the envelope. Naturally this offer is limited to a reasonable number of persons, to be determined by me. I have maybe four readers (five or six if I publish something that mentions boobs or peen), so there shouldn't be any problem if you want one.

The A-side starts out very calm, as is appropriate for getting off of the FDR and through all that bullshit right after it. We will be sipping coffee and munching breakfast from Sunny & Annie's (Avenue B at 6th St.), and making sure little so-and-so is cozy in the backseat. Mr. Banquet doesn't like The Fall as much as I do so there will be no Fall early in the morning. He likes Joy Division more than I so there's some of that later on. The A-and-a-half-side gets a bit shambolic but it won't make anyone feel super-edgy, I don't think.

NYC to Rockland, A-side
Serge Gainsbourg, Scenic Railway (from Confidentiel)
Orange Juice, Untitled Melody (from You Can't Hide Your Love Forever)
Jeremy Jay, Oh, Bright Young Things (from A Place Where We Could Go)
Young Marble Giants, Brand - New - Life (John Peel session, 1980) (from Colossal Youth - Expanded Edition)
The Jam, That's Entertainment (demo version) (from Snap!)
David Bowie, Drive In Saturday (from Aladdin Sane)
Pylon, Stop It (from Gyrate)
The Monochrome Set, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens (from The Independent Singles Collection)

NYC to Rockland, A-and-a-half-side
Bill Callahan, Day (from Woke on a Whaleheart)
Mrs Pilgrimm, Drop My Name (from Mrs Pilgrimm)
Devendra Banhart, So Long Old Bean (from Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon)
Lee Hazelwood, After Six (from These Boots Are Made for Walkin': The Complete MGM Recordings)
The Fall, Iceland (from Hex Enduction Hour)
Au Pairs, It's Obvious (from Perfect Unpop: Peel Show Hits And Long Lost Lo-Fi Favourites - Vol 1. 1976-80)
Jeremy Jay, Airwalker (from Airwalker)
Orange Juice, Three Cheers for Our Side (from The Glasgow School)

NYC to Rockland, B-side
Buzzcocks, Boredom (from Spiral Scratch)
The Fall, Fiery Jack (from 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong (39 Golden Greats))
The Kinks, Wicked Annabella (from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society)
Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Seal of Seasons (from Unicorn (Expanded Edition))
Joy Division, Transmission (from Peel Sessions)
Smog, Ex-Con (from Red Apple Falls)
Johnny Thunders, All By Myself (Live) (from You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory)
Antony and the Johnsons, Fistful of Love (from The Lake EP)


  1. Your island and vacation sound idyllic. I probably said that last year when you went. But, still, it's the first thing that comes to mind when I read about it. Hope you have a wonderful vacation.

  2. Interesting post, Is the old lady in the first photo smoking on the plane??;-)
    X M

  3. Thanks Matin. Yeah, I think she is. And all the smoking and drinking seem to have done wonders for her health; she looks radiant and untroubled!

  4. Ihre Fotos sind sehr prächtig.