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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Pier Paolo Pasolini, Stories From the City of God. A collection of short pieces about Rome by one of my favorite filmmakers.
- André Breton, Nadja. Often described as a "Surrealist romance." I'm not sure what that means but I am hoping for a combination of Locus Solus and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. It can't possibly be that great so I'll probably be disappointed. Hence the other books.
- Robert Walser, Selected Stories. I don't know anything about this; I bought it solely on NYRB's description of Walser as "a Paul Klee in words."
- Cecil Beaton, Beaton in the Sixties: The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them, 1965-1969. I read The Unexpurgated Beaton (his diaries from the 70s and 80s) years ago and enjoyed it, and I'm sure I'll like this too. Beaton was very witty and he knew everyone. I was going to say he was bitchy but really it's just that he was so good at observing others; it's not his fault if at moments they were boring or creepy or interested in all the wrong things.
- Joris-Karl Huysmans, Against Nature (À rebours). Somehow I didn't know of this until I finally saw Withnail and I, and now I feel like I ought to have read it years ago.
- Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters. It's only appropriate to bring this along; I didn't realize it until very recently but Bishop spent time on the next-door island of North Haven. In a Paris Review interview from 1978 she explained that she was drawn to the island:
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.
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 8tracks.com 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. 8tracks.com 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)