Friday, August 31, 2012

Maggie's Store - Part Five

Maggie's Store
Part Five 

            The smell of composted hay and the curiously thick, fluffy, dry dust it forms was, at Maggie’s Store, formally introduced to me.  This introduction was because to get to the desirable unexamined things in the store that were “for sale”, I had to sort of dig in-under and around into places where the other customers didn’t seem to go.  Fact is, what would actually happen is my mother or grandmother would “make me” “go in there” and “see if you can reach me that” “No:  That other one”.  This was because, over the years Maggie’s Store had been in business, she had never cleaned it out or... anything and so had just layer upon layer piled it up and over and under until a whole lot of areas were best accessed by a very small, young and agile boy who would “fetch that” “for your grandmother”.  Now once I was “back in there” it was pretty clear even to me that this “stuff” had been there awhile because some of it WAS from WORLD WAR II and that “stuff” caught my eye all along even though “THEY” kept making me “hand all of that” other stuff out to them.
            “IT” or “THAT”; all this stuff, was filthy as it was covered with this hay dust compost.  Some THICK.  So I was a black-brown when we ever DID get home and that’s when the ritual of my grandmother yelling at me to take my clothes of in the shed and “DON’T COME INSIDE” began.  I know now they were lucky as having their own auction hall porter to have me to do all that grub work for ‘em and I also know now how come we was always going there.  That’s because Maggie’s Store held these mounds of treasure that if these two witches-on-broomsticks MINING ENGINEERS could just get the little grub-boy MINER to “dig it out” of the MINE they’d... discovered in Maggie’s Store... :  I should have been paid better.
            But it was neat because Maggie had kept everything so I’d find about twenty layers of old soda signs and boxes of ancient mouse eaten candy bars mixed into a mound of boxes with boots and glassware sets and a whole display rack of “LOOK AT THESE” “old fashion” flashlights that NOW some collector has in his LIVING ROOM and his WIFE “HATE’S EM” but even she admits that “EVERYONE” “talks about them”.
            The true irony of all that excavating is that ninety percent of that really great stuff I excavated in there one couldn’t GIVE AWAY for the first TWENTY YEARS I was in business.  As I write this the SAME people that “don’t want THAT” back then would TODAY “SHINE THE FLASHLIGHT FOR YOU” “to find that”.  So would I.  But not MY GRANDMOTHER.  SHE was stuck on those Windsor Chairs or what they called “the looking glass” and her always mentioned “old settler things” or “some old sea captain’s” this & that.  MOST rarely could any of THAT stuff hold my attention such as like that time I found this leather covered square box that had letters and papers and a knife & fork, and an OBVIOUSLY OLD jack knife and all... that.  “They” didn’t say TOO much about it AT Maggie’s but THERE AFTER it was kept out in the very, very front of my grandmother’s house under the stairs where she would keep what were her very, very “best things”.  That was because no one but THEY could read and it turned out to be this box of letters from a man who was in the Civil War and when they read them out loud to me I could understand THAT IF he had not been SO lucky as to have been “only” hit in the left arm they would have “cut off” more and he’d NOT been able to write about “what happened”.
            “What happened” to THAT box beats me because, out there; in the very, very front best stuff area, things changed.  The only difference between a change THERE and out in the shed and barn was that the people who went out there (and my grandmother would only let ‘em through the front door OUT THERE because for some reason NOW very clear to me she didn’t want ‘em to “come through the house”... [because it was full of... “great stuff”... she’d “kept”]) was that these were always what one would call a “good customer” and “better folk”.  That still didn’t prevent them from getting all huffy over something out there, under the stairs.  They’d fold their arms and walk around and sit on a sofa and talk on and on and stand up and fold their arms again and FINALLY old Mr. WALLET would consummate all this ...intercourse.  NOW… I KNOW what THAT was “all about”.
            And that was a long way from Maggie’s Store and that box of letters when I found it because I was working along this bench by the window on the side of the little room and that had these old tools buried under all these boxes of stuff that I’d had to “hand out”.  NOW THERE; on this bench, it was clear to me that this was some sort of some MAN’S workspace because of the tools and THEY said HE had one arm and my grandmother “remembered him” but I didn’t understand THEN that Maggie had lived THERE all her life and that the people of hers had TOO so that, when one looked BACK into who’d lived “there” “forever” it was ALL the same family and NOW I know this was one of the... REAL reasons that my mother and grandmother kept going to Maggie’s store.  This was especially true I guess because of the way THEY kept always saying “how when they built the second house” it was the biggest “on the interval” so that it eventually was clearer to me that the “small barn” was originally the first house but most people would never “KNOW THAT” They said.  That house was from “right after the Revolution” They said “when they moved up” from Massachusetts.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Maggie's Store - Part Four

Maggie's Store
Part Four

            Well:  Does that mean I was growing up on the porch of Maggie’s Store?  Seems to me quite a bit came my way there... that didn’t seem to... come any other way... so... why don’t we ALL have a “pop” on THAT!
            MEANWHILE, back inside, commerce was in full swing and this was because if one was to run such a store as Maggie’s way out in the middle of No Where, Maine one was in a position to have a very broad selection of “merchandise”.  AND I don’t mean the “DEER HIDES BOUGHT” sign or “FISHING LICENSES SOLD” sign or... the “CRAWLERS”, “FRESH CORN”, “MAPS”, “CIDER”, “MAPLE SYRUP”, “FIREWOOD”, “FLY DOPE” and “ESKIMO RUBBERS” signs.  These last were actually printed wooden boards that made up a wall by the door of the little room “out” “back”.  NOPE:  MY grandmother weren’t there for no... FLY DOPE.
            “Anything Maggie?” was an opening to the “YOU CAN WAIT OUTSIDE IF YOU WANT” period of the visit and that old fat proprietary HOG; deer hide buying, in-grown blackhead faced, candy bar gobbling WOMAN sold the ANTIQUES too.  HOLY “DON’T SPILL YOUR SODA!” and “THEY” were going into HER HOUSE and into HER BARN and, “CANDY CORN!”, that sun was going to SET before “WE” “got out of there”.
            Is it “we got out of there” or is it “WHAT we got out of there”?  “That’s hand made” and “That’s old” and... “IS THAT a REAL powder horn?”.  HOLY BLOODY GROUND and I CUDDLED THAT ALL THE WAY HOME.  You’d ah TOO if you were five and... DANIEL BOONE.  I didn’t even know WHICH SHOULDER to hang it on and “IF I ONLY had a MUSKET”.  COONSKIN CAP did I begged my grandmother to “get me one of those I know you can”.  An “Old Critter” “musket” was TWICE as tall as I was.  “YEAH, yeah, yeah and YOU don’t know ANYTHING anyways unless YOU’S been to Maggie’s Store” summarized my age five philosophic view of …ALL.
            THEN I didn’t know what was happening to me but NOW I know that I was what is called “be’en inFECTed” by the “antique bug”.  That’s what ...they... called it THEN.  And THEY was already SOME infected because before we left Maggie’s we always had what is known as “a” “load”.  And you know what:  MY GRANDMOTHER would actually KEEP some of the things she “bought” from Maggie’s Store.  And I know what that means NOW but back then, except for OBVIOUS THINGS like that powder horn, that was WEIRD for “her to do”.  Course it all wouldn’t “fit” in the “car” so “her man” would “come down” and “fetch it”.  And of course that BACK SEAT had to “be able to get THAT in” chairS “with me” and the “bag” of “DON’T BREAK IT!” “china”.  “Old china[1]” that is... OLD CHINA to go with the OLD glass and all “not packed too good” so “careful” “on the bridge”.
            “The GREEN kerosene lamp YES that one.” and “I don’t know Maggie as that’s more than the LAST one.”
            “No:  The blue one YES that and how much again?”.  It was endless!  THEN I had to have the stuff in my FACE all the way home.  But that was OK because I was too busy thinking I was gonna barf from all the unsupervised candy I ate.
            And I pissed in the old outhouse out back before we left.  No one ever used that except me I’m sure because it, well, was OBVIOUS no one was gonna “butt down” in there because these creepy weeds were growing up out of the hole and they were this starved yellow-green color proving that they come out of the hole just to try and get OUT of the OUTHOUSE.  But it didn’t smell except sort-ta like old composted hay.  And everything smelled like that.  And no one ELSE ever used the outhouse except that... once or twice... I DID see a little tuff of NOSE tissue tossed into that one hole with NO weeds and, well, THAT meant that some woman “from away” had “been allowed” to “use it”.

[1]:  These two witches did not use the word “paste” for this “old china”.  It would be near another ten years before I’d pick (hunt antiques) with someone who called it “paste” or “old paste” or... “THE old paste” but, I’ll get to that in another story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maggie's Store - Part Three

Maggie's Store
Part Three

            I now have reported the cemetery legend and the my mother & grandmother gravestone bracelet find.  We have never made anything out of the occurrence AND I have not stopped visiting and “cleaning up” old cemeteries and their edges.  Returning to the whole tale…:  Going out included “a” “stop” at “a cemetery” “too”.  In fact, all along the way was “trunk it” and that was either an “anything” or “get that” or even the desirable “better wrap that one up”.  And more:  “HERE NOW we were going BY and SEE THAT” old table in the yard and that was NOT there “last time”.  Or more likely; the very tip of an old table just very slightly toward the barn door so that all one could see from the road was, to me, then, NOTHING.  But I “learned” “how to do” “that”; to “see” “stuff” in barns from... THE ROAD.  Before long and including the words “The Doctor” we’d be “in there” (inside the FARM HOUSE) and I’d be bored to death unless there was a molasses cookie tossed my way so as to buy time out of ME... .  Tedious and took the WHOLE DAMN DAY.  Except, of course, IF we “went” “somewhere good”.
            I was near two decades old before I “KNEW” somewhere from the “WHERE ARE WE?”.  This latter was my as-brought-up mental image of this …into the wilderness... travel in the back seat.  The endless hill and dale, “UP” the “interval”, “DOWN” “the river” or “CROSS” to the “flats”... would STILL befuddle me if I had not done extensive map in hand research since then.  I have and to relocate “lost” spots has been career long for me for I soon learned that I ...could “do a better job at it” (buying antiques from the old places) than “They” did IF I could just …FIND the places... again.
            ONE of these places... WAS... “Maggie’s Store”.  I liked going to Maggie’s Store.  It was “somewhere good”.  This is because when we went “there” I could always “buy” “as much” “candy” as I “wanted”.  There was a two folded reason for this but I honestly didn’t care about that at that time.  ALL I knew was that this woman, who was as round as a field pumpkin, as big as a hay pile, as jolly as Santa Claus and as profane as are not EVER gonna be... would come barreling out of the back door of her old farm house as soon as my grandmother pulled in toward “the store” and she’d be in that store’s rear door behind the counter before we’d be in the FRONT door and there... time stops for me.
            I’m not one to be nostalgic and I can prove that I’ve stripped to the bare walls (bought everything out of) place’s like Maggie’s Store AND I also know that I learned to DO THAT (“strip ‘em) before it was “popular”[1] so, IN FACT, have sold AWAY cheap more nostalgic country store “collectibles” so that even if someone took their EMPTY BASEMENT and their FULL Mr. Wallet and played serious collector till a BLUE MOON, they are not... gonna... ever.  And... I am dead serious here... the stuff... is not the same... out of context (no longer resting in its original little Middle of No Where, Maine Maggie’s store setting).  Collectors should not be bothered by this notice and their collecting is fine but… it took ME twenty years to learn that and all I’m doing is passing MY hard learned expertise on to you.  UNLESS you were at a “Maggie’s Store” when you were four... AND fourteen years later stripped closed up Maggie’s style stores… after stores… of ALL the “stuff” in them … and sold “it all”… into “fine” “collections”... IT IS BEST TO TREAD REAL CAREFUL on this “subject”:  The “stuff” is better (more poignant) when in its original setting.
            This is because it really is not JUST the stuff... that made the store.  It had to include the sun, just after high noon, beating down on the car window behind which I sat.  It had to include the sand on ground in front of the store that made the little bit of dust and the little bit... of tire crunch when we pulled in.  And my grandmother saying “Don’t touch anything”.  And the little sloped porch with the soda pop and candy signs.   And the ... “coke machine” that was actually a red metal lined wooden box with only the very tops of “all kinds” of “pop” bottle necks sticking out of water with ice in it... .  Then a little jingle from a bell on the screen door that one “kicked in” or “pulled out” and had a sign advertising something on that too AND never closed right and... inside we would go after saying something to someone (usually an old male) who sat outside on the porch stoop next to the “pop”... “machine”.
            These stores... had... no lights, no sales girls, NO cash register, no place to stand if you were a “large party”, no counter space, no... OPEN shelf space.  IT also had NO cracker barrel, pickle barrel, checker board or ole wood stove for the “old farts” to gather “around”.  That’s because these WERE NOT “old” “county stores”.  The only appliances were the “POP MACHINE” and the “gas pump” and THOSE were outside.  OTHERWISE the dark, dirty, fly buzz filled, crammed full of “EVERYTHING” “store” was “YOUR ON YOUR OWN” service that included Maggie, who, should she not know you and everything ABOUT you, was coolly eyeballing you, your companions, your car, your license plates and YOUR WALLET.  Get along little doggie.
            “WOW!” was and is my still effervescent opinion of “THAT PLACE”.  “GONE” is what I was “in there”.  I don’t know WHAT Grandma and MOM did... because I “WHO CARES!”.  SO the fishing tackle was “no good” but SHE SOLD bows and ARROWS; “real ones”.  And below the candy counter were boxes and boxes of “this stuff” that I didn’t know what it was but UP ABOVE where the boxes of candy bars “are” was this shelf with a “REAL” World War I GERMAN helmet.  “Huh.” to that because I never dared ask to touch it.  AND anyway, there was enough “other stuff” so I didn’t have to what I’d call “dwell” on that.  Behind me, which was at that candy case, was “a real lot” of “other things” that seemed to be of interest to “THEY” who were “with me”.  Then there was this little slit between the cases that “lead” behind the “counter” to this, well, “area” that had “there’s more” and this side door to this side room “out back” “TOO”.  Now to me, then, this seemed to have things like gloves and socks, stacks of clothes, boxes of this & THAT, some table top trays of smaller offerings I’d call “curiosities” because I wasn’t supposed to “touch those” but did handle EACH specimen in ...EACH tray... including the “snaps”, “smoke bombs”, “stink bombs” and well, that store sold EVERYTHING as far as I was concerned.  So the moment I was out of the car I wasn’t much of a problem to the “They” “go’en out” and IF I got winded... I’d go outside and drink a “Pop; anyone you want:  YOUCANOPENIT on theSIDEOK.” And sit... out there just like I was suppose to because anyone who came acted like I was supposed to be drinking a “Pop” there and that my mother and grandmother were SUPPOSE to be inside and go to talking to them about “The Doctor” and even every now and then some OLD guy would come and sit with me and tell me AGAIN about how he went “to school” with my Uncle and HOW he “couldn’t understand “WHY” he didn’t “BAIL OUT” like the “rest of the crew” and... did I know he “had a son” which I DID NOT except for these old farts telling me how he was “wild” and “married this French girl (French-Canadian) from Lewiston” and “had ah son” that NO ONE in my family EVER mentioned.  So I had pretty much... another soda “pop”... when I got into one of those HEAVY conversations and since “no one seems like to care” and “Here, get me one too; the cream soda” so I did for him “too”.

[1]:  There was a certain moment, about 1970-71, where I “learned” by accident, from a woman whose dead now, about how to “go around” to these “little stores; you know what I mean” that were “being forced to close” because “everyone” started going to those “new stores” outside of the towns that TODAY are “strip malls”.  At these little closed stores once run by the Maggie’s of the little world, I’d buy “everything”.  And I mean “everything”; the building would be “empty” and all the exterior “signs” “taken off” and even the “globe” to the gas pump... AND I would take the pump too but most time it was “TOOMUCHOF A PROBLEM” to “get” so I DID leave that.

Maggie's Store - Part Two

Maggie's Store
Part Two

            By far the most poignant legend of this era of my career is the splendid specimen, told for decades now, of “how” “your grandmother” “taught you” “to steal stuff” “from cemeteries”.  A great moral lesson it is not.  But too true it is.  Stopping at an any cemetery, we would “ashes to ashes” YOUR “the ashes” of YOUR… not cooled off… dead distant great aunt.  Nobody ever was cooled off because right at THAT particular not cooled off moment the flowers would “litter” that “fresh hole” and... a lot of times... NOT TOO MUCH care was taken in “what” they PUT the “flowers” “in”.  “ANYTHING will DO” and if ANYONE took inventory of them “vessels” it was my grandmother.  She would chuck them “over that bank” (the flowers) and “trunk it” that vessel and the next thing I’d know that Judge would be HANDING IT through the window of his car to HIS WIFE and she’d be making that hen-laying-an-egg noise so that even I knew what that meant.  Of course the recent actions of Mr. Wallet “helping” “negotiations” was never mentioned to “that stuck bitch” so everyone was always “pleased” that “she liked it”.  This legend of my grandmother incessant “skill” of “cleaning up” cemeteries be SO VIVID an exercise in the dealerly “recent acquisition” that I report a follow up incident now twenty years old for you to hold and ...behold.
            Of course I can’t go “anywhere” “up there” without residue such as “THAT” legend being told “over and over” and as soon “as she could walk” my daughter “learned” that I weren’t just “looking” over the banks, walls, tree lines or what ever of the “that border” a “the cemetery” so:
            ONE afternoon we (the family of three) were “up near ” THE cemetery where my family is buried just being good antiques dealers and rare book scouts with a “truck’s full” fresh load of antiques and the “we ate something” lunch behind us and...:  “WHY DON’T WE ...just... GO BY YOUR MOTHER’S GRAVE!” (next to my grandmother’s, grandfather’s and “uncle” who was a pilot and died in W.W.II when his plane crashed).  Of course I understood that when a daughter is growing up it takes a while before she understands that the “they” are dead and buried “there”.  Perhaps, I thought, being NINE years old now AND maybe… having the same name as on the tombstone of the dead grandmother (my mother) a graveyard visit could “make sense” “now”.  So we went there.
            We parked next to the family plot.  We got out of the truck.  We had not stepped but a foot and half from the truck …and two seconds time more… when my daughter reaches down between the two gravestones of my mother and grandmother and brings a “LOOK WHAT I FOUND” right up there in her hand of a… gold (solid 18k) and seed pearl bracelet of such fineness and quality as ANY feminine young thing twice HER age (and ever older) would “delight to wear”.  I was stunned.  I was taken aback.  AND Mom was too.  Both of us just stood there with our jaws dropped open.  Again:  This happened within seconds of exiting the truck.  But there the gold & pearl bracelet now ON my daughter’s wrist be.  If THAT doesn’t prove what… TWO generations of antiquarian witches, dead & buried, can do FOR the distant rising FOURTH generation name sake AT GRAVE SITE... well... I’ve learned along the way the THIS is how THESE TWO operated.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Maggie's Store - Part One

Maggie's Store

Part One

            “Don’t touch anything.  Remember that.”
            Those were my grandmother’s instructions.  They were always the same instructions.  They didn’t mean anything because I always touched everything and nobody said anything when I did.  I never broke anything either.  I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with this disparity between command and action.
            I was very young then; much younger than being an antiques dealer can be and... be one.  That’s OK for to relate the influence my grandmother had on my development “in the trade” I must begin well before I could have grasped the concept of “antiques”.  For the rare book community this means “years” before I could “read”.
            They were going out.  “They” was my mother and my grandmother.  We were at my grandmother’s home in ****, Maine.  The year would be 1958 and the years may be continued to 1962.  These were formative years for me... in the trade.  I was four in 1958 and my grandfather had just died.  I don’t remember the “died”.  I remember that he was “sick” and was told that he “died”.  I sort of remember the latter.  The former I remember because I recall being told he “is sick” and that I was being taken to see him.  This was in his bed; “The Four Poster”, a big bed in a big bedroom that was way in the front of the upstairs of my grandmother’s house.  This was on Main Street, across from a “Hall”, “the newspaper” and next to the “drug store”.  It is (for it still be) a very large Greek Revival home at the front end by the street.  This shrinks back from the street to an earlier homestead attached to “the barns”.  “The barns” were only known if one could, at age four, manage to “get there”.  The cause of that problem was that most of the domestic life took place at this older rear homestead of the whole “house”.  That definition excluded “the barns”.  Also due to this I faced a problem of the FRONT section of the “house” as “get there”.  The front was, and remains to my mind to this day, a separate house.
            Anyway:  Way, way “up there”, “miles” from the warm wood stove heated kitchen where my grandmother made donuts and hung them to cool in the summer kitchen just outside the kitchen door on a special rack where... I could eat “one” as soon as I “can touch it”.... I went to see my grandfather with my mother on what I now know was his death bed.  I remember looking up at the bed’s edge which was flush with my forehead and seeing this large prostrate form under the covers and hearing that form make noises that are pretty much what one thinks a bear would make in a cave if it was asleep.  I don’t have to remember much because I wasn’t there very long and nothing else happened.
            Then he died.  I guess.  I don’t remember that.  I don’t remember if my mother went to the funeral or anything.  All I remember is that everyone always referred to him after he “died” the same as when he was alive which was “The Doctor”.  That’s what he was called before he died and after he died.  He’s still called that to my face today by a wondrous world of folk who vividly “remember” him, tell me about it (the same story for the 100th time but that’s OK) and will never read this story because they are far out there... in the Maine woods... and can’t read that well anyway... or are dead.  All that  doesn’t matter.
            NOW I am not sure but I’m PRETTY sure that my grandmother got along pretty well without him.  To understand that has taken many moments of thought for most of my life and I don’t have anyway of affirming my thoughts because everyone is dead and I can’t ask them “HEY:  SHE WASN’T ALL THAT UPSET WHEN HE DIED, HUH?”.  But I have got the drift, over the years.  My grandfather was a stern man in addition to being “The Doctor”.  Being a doctor in rural Maine from the “end of the War” (WWI) till he “died” was enough to make even YOU stern for one had to do really great things like go miles and miles “UP” in to some place in the woods “NOW” because “someone” “is” and, well, like HE said:  “Maybe we don’t need to get there too fast.  What am I going to do with a half dead man in a canoe?”.  My grandmother was his nurse so... went too... a lot.  Sometimes “there weren’t no point” and he went “alone”.
            Babies are born sideways and backwards and with no brains and on and on in the Maine woods so even if I did eat ALL of the donuts while they were still “too hot” I couldn’t escape from being all to familiar with the various “places” he “went” and “what happened”.  Additionally, out there at the front of the house, was his “office” which was this series of old off-white rooms filled with off-white metal furniture and this… off-white “table” in the very front room to the south so the “good light” came in on this table where people were ... “sewed up”.  THAT was some room if you were four years old and just sort of deciding things for yourself for the first time like “I DON’T WANT TO GET A SHOT”.  That room, and it was so far away from the warm kitchen with the wood stove that one “couldn’t hear anything”... was what I’d call today “SOME ROOM” in an old house.  Outside of the door to that room was his roll top desk and his book shelves of medical books and a gun rack with his different “hunting” guns on it.  That one room was always real light and warm and my mother would say things to my grandmother when she’d come out to the kitchen to get more “hot” water like “You’ve been in there a long time”.  I think I know a lot more about what THAT meant NOW then I did then.
            Anyway:  He died and years later I had a whole box of the “tools” from that room that even included this hand clamp that you grabbed a baby’s head with and “pulled it out”.  After that; the “died”, the people would still come to my grandmother because she “knew what to do”.  WELL she DIDN’T know what to do but she DID DO and that was good enough and always included a lot of the phrase “The Doctor”.
            That room gradually fell out of use and it was pretty much a quarter century later before I was actually “out there” “swamping it out” (in 1982).  My mother had been dead near a decade and my grandmother had just died then after having pretty much “another life” of her own and I was selling the “Anything you want?” to a dealer I knew from Farmington but he didn’t want all that much of it “either” so I “ended up” with “it” in my barn and... even to this day I “still use” one of them off-white metal tables that just the slightest glance at will assure you that YOU don’t want to get “sewed up” on... “that”.
            My prose has seems to have drifted from my opening of the “They were going out” but that’s because I wanted throw a hard ball at you about what is was really like in the warm donut smelling kitchen in 1958 when I was four years old and they (my mother and grandmother) said that and then DID “go out”.  The going out was actually “GOING OUT BUYING”; an antiques dealer term for a preferred above all other activity that IS done when EVER IT CAN BE.  My grandmother had become an antiques dealer very far back in HER life and well before MY life.  As near as I could ever find out it “began” “during the Depression” when “they” (her & The Doctor) “didn’t get paid” “much” so she started taking “stuff” instead of “cash”.  Then she’d sell it.  To this “Judge” in “Portland”.  I know who that was and so do the rest of us up here in The Maine Woods but it is here unnecessary to elaborate on that except to note that THAT “Judge” knew what he was doing... too.  Therefore, it was NOT an accident that “out in the shed” and “out in the barns” were these “piles” of “stuff” that I “could play in” and ...eventually... PLAYED STORE IN... and that “these people” would come “down the driveway” to the shed looking “for your grandmother” and she’d come out and “dicker with ‘em”.  After the “dicker” some THING(S) would either “come in” or “go away”.
            “After The Doctor died” and coinciding with me “growing up” seems to have been a period of “growth” of this seemingly “nothing” taking place “out there”.  “Huh” is my hindsight but if your in the trade that “huh” has a lot of impact that I still use.  Seems to me there was “a lot more” “stuff” that came and went “then” (“after The Doctor died”).  And more “people”.  These were not ordinary people.  NO, no these “people” were (and are) ALWAYS different and they ranged from old crow bait ministers who’d just purloined a bag of “old coins” out of some widow or THAT SAME widow “I’d drop by” with “That sugar bowl you’ve always wanted” or the guy with the mustache and “this rug” “I know it’s old because I took it out of MRS. *** front room:  This morning:  An hour ago”.  And the “Judge”.  He was special because... he brought Mr. Wallet with him and that was by far a bigger Mr. Wallet then anyone else ever brought… into the warm donut smelling kitchen.  He’d come with his “wife” and she either “talk with my mother” in the kitchen or “wait in the car” or ... to everyone’s great relief “DIDN’T COME UP THIS TIME!” for she was “some stuck bitch” in the classic rural Maine sense and we (the whole family in the warm kitchen later) would always make fun of her and how we “felt sorry for the Judge”.  Every time he’d buy “pretty good; but not as “good” as when he was “alone” for then (but even when “she” was there) he’d often buy “enough” that “it’d be best to have it (the purchased lot) go down on the train” which it did and my grandmother’s “man” would do “all that” “later”.  THAT was antique dealering where I grew up.
            So at an incredulously EARLY age I was “go’en out buy’en” “with them” but had absolutely no notion as to what that was.  Or what I was doing especially as it turns out forty years later to be very concise to me that to have the kids “along” was a “good foil” in rural Maine.  All that went right by me THEN and I dutifully report that “go out” meant getting in the back seat of my grandmother’s “car” which today would be called a “monster” and “classic” and... more but THEN ...I hated... because all I could see from the “JUST SIT THERE” position was the sky and the telephone lines with the pole tops and these DID NOT flash by but slowly proceeded in little crescents from pole to pole for seemingly “hours” that we drove “incredibly slow” off into I had no idea where.  This included stopping by railroad tracks to pick blueberries and other “We’re gonna just leave them some” visits that were NEVER short and some actual doings that have now become “legends”.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August in Maine: Blackberries, Rosehips and an Old Barn Clean-Out

August in Maine:
Blackberries, Rosehips and an Old Barn Clean-Out

            August’s “last three weeks” are very active for antiques.  Crescendo scale antiques shows and antiques auctions fill “all my time slots” reports a local woman collector.  For myself this annual “Maine summer” stretch begins with “The blackberries are ripe.  I just ate some”.  Everyone sounds that alarm… then display their berry picker’s signature purple stained hands and scratched arms and legs.

            Also:  The rosehips are ripe.  These are the fruit of the wild roses that grow by our Maine farm backdoor, shed door and barn door.  We didn’t plant them.  I do “encourage them” meaning I do nothing to them ever except “trim them back” when they are “in my way” …sort of.  No one ever mentions them; the roses or the rosehips.  I taught my daughter how to eat rosehips when she was four.  Decades later I still see her eating them.  She does it just as casually as a hummingbird visits the bee balm.  Please see the bee balm post (label: Garden) for a Maine farmyard antiques story.
How do you eat a rosehip?  Hold the blossom bottom in your finger tips and bite off the top getting all …and only… the fruit above the seeds.  That’s the biggest bite.  Then nibble around the side …again avoiding the seeds.  Then pitch that seed core away and get another rosehip.  The birds love the tossed seed core.  What does a rosehip taste like?  A tomato. 

Old Barn Clean-Out.

            The state road blacktop stopped at the head of the farm’s soft sand “drive”.  The farm was back behind an overgrowth that hid it from view.  The yard was shaded on the “small cape” house side by tall, full growth, White Pines.  The barnyard side was barren with the sun scorching the whole area.  “The people” were still staying in the house until “we go BACK on SUNDAY”.  We wouldn’t have access to the house contents until MONDAY.  But since we had “paid in full” for the whole estate contents …including agreeing to the Sunday – Monday departure / access terms… THEY (“the people”) said WE “could start in the barn if we’d like”.
            “We’d like.” I told them and then showed up on THURSDAY morning with three trucks and three “men” (besides myself).  Directing the back-up-to-the-barn-door positioning of the trucks, I quickly set up the core “stripping the good stuff” procedure that …began right away without commentary nor, surprisingly, any of “the people” coming out of the home to… “bother us”.  I went ahead of the threesome reviewing, with camera in hand… “what” was “going out” in this first load.  In less than an hour and a half, there was “not a good thing left” in that old barn.  There was plenty of “stuff” left in that old barn… but we’ll get back to all of that at the end of this week.  We started "in the house" this past Monday.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How We Make Lobster Rolls at Home in Maine

How We Make Lobster Rolls at Home in Maine

First and the same as we did for our lobster salad post, we purchase a pound of the best and freshest lobster meat.  As in our lobster salad post, we stopped at Day’s just north of Yarmouth.  Again we note we were “in and out” in three minutes with truly a “best and freshest” pound of their lobster meat.

Once home and at the kitchen counter, we prepare the lobster meat first.

We sort and inspect the lobster meat on the cutting board.  The claw meat is across the top, the arm meat at the far left.  The tail meat is across the bottom.

Next we slice the meat.  We slice it into just a little bit smaller and more even pieces than we sliced the meat for lobster salad.

We put all the meat, evenly mixed together, in a glass serving bowl and put it in the refrigerator.  The meat will stay in and be served from this bowl for the short two days it lasts.

Now we make the dressing.  We do not use commercial “mayonnaise” (or whatever that stuff is).  We make our own dressing that is similar to a mayonnaise and has a complimentary green color that further highlights the lobster.  First we put an egg yoke in a mixing bowl.

Then we sort of measure… one half cup sort of… of grape seed oil (the source of the green color).

Next we add two tablespoons of mustard to the mixing bowl with the egg yoke.

Then we add “this much” salt noting the photograph with the salt in the hand below.

Whisk the bowl lightly.

Add and Whisk in A LITTLE grape seed oil.

Then add and whisk some more.

Then add and whisk some more again.  Repeat that until it’s a creamy mayonnaise like spread.

Now juice one whole lemon.

Pick out the lemon seeds.

Add the lemon juice to the mixing bowl spread and whisk it in.

Transfer the dressing to a small serving dish.  We keep this dish together with the lobster meat “ready to go”.

I select a couple of “buns” for MY sandwiches.  Nothing special or big for a bun.  The “roll” does NOT have to be a hot dog roll.  It can be a bun and that makes a little bigger “lobster roll”.  Hungry men like that.  Remember that this is about the lobster and not about the “roll”.

I toast my rolls whole.

Spread on the dressing.

Add a lot of lobster meat.

And eat them.