Thursday, July 28, 2016

So long New Hampshire (and Vermont and Maine) ...

So long New Hampshire (and Vermont and Maine), it's been a fun week or so. Here's a little farewell from Robert Frost:


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She's one of the two best states in the Union.
Vermont's the other. And the two have been
Yokefellows in the sap yoke from of old
In many Marches. And they lie like wedges,
Thick end to thin end and thin end to thick end,
And are a figure of the way the strong
Of mind and strong of arm should fit together,
One thick where one is thin and vice versa.
- From "New Hampshire" by Robert Frost (from the classic 1923 collection, New Hampshire)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What a spirit of adventure, what wild ambition! Sarah Orne Jewett form A White Heron

"A White Heron" from A White Heron and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett

What a spirit of adventure, what wild ambition! What fancied triumph and delight and glory for the later morning when she could make known the secret! It was almost too real and too great for the childish heart to bear.

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He can make them rich with money; he has promised it, and they are poor now. He is so well worth making happy, and he waits to hear the story she can tell. No, she must keep silence! What is it that suddenly forbids her and makes her dumb? Has she been nine years growing and now, when the great world for the first time puts out a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a bird’s sake? The murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears, she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak; she cannot tell the heron’s secret and give its life away.

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I'd read Jewett's Country of the Pointed Firs (often considered her best work) a number of years ago. A significant figure in American regionalist literature, she lived and worked in Maine, just across the water from Portsmouth, NH where I'm spending some summer vacation.

Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849 – June 24, 1909) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet, best known for her local color works set along or near the southern seacoast of Maine. (Wikipedia)

Photos on this page from the Sarah Orne Jewett Historic Site, South Berwick, Maine

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... on the lonely coast of Maine stood a small gray house facing the morning light. - Sarah Orne Jewett, "By the Morning Boat"

Selections from two stories in Strangers and Wayfarers by Sarah Orne Jewett

THE QUEST OF MR. TEABY
In such weather I found even the East Wilby railroad station attractive, and waiting three hours for a slow train became a pleasure; the delight of idleness and even booklessness cannot be properly described.

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BY THE MORNING BOAT.
On the coast of Maine, where many green islands and salt inlets fringe the deep-cut shore line; where balsam firs and bayberry bushes send their fragrance far seaward, and song-sparrows sing all day, and the tide runs plashing in and out among the weedy ledges; where cowbells tinkle on the hills and herons stand in the shady coves,—on the lonely coast of Maine stood a small gray house facing the morning light. All the weather-beaten houses of that region face the sea apprehensively, like the women who live in them.

Jewett House #maine IMG_20160723_115417 2016.07.23-DSC08247

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 * * * * * 

(Pictures above are from the Sarah Orne Jewett Historic Site, South Berwick, Maine)

I'd read Jewett's Country of the Pointed Firs (often considered her best work) a number of years ago. A significant figure in American regionalist literature, she lived and worked in Maine, just across the water from Portsmouth, NH where I'm spending some summer vacation.

Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849 – June 24, 1909) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet, best known for her local color works set along or near the southern seacoast of Maine. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

To feel the wind, sea-scented, on my cheek, / To catch the sound of dusky flapping sail - Celia Thaxter

To feel the wind, sea-scented, on my cheek,
To catch the sound of dusky flapping sail
And dip of oars, and voices on the gale
Afar off, calling low, -- my name they speak!

O Earth! Thy summer song of joy may soar
Ringing to heaven in triumph. I but crave
The sad, caressing murmur of the wave
That breaks in tender music on the shore.
-- From "Land-Locked"

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835 – August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, first on White Island, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was a lighthouse keeper, and then on Smuttynose and Appledore Islands. (Wikipedia)

Across the lonely beach we flit, / One little sandpiper and I - Celia Thaxter

2016.07.22-DSC08209Across the lonely beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I,
And fast I gather, but by bit,
The scattered drift-wood, bleached and dry.
The wild waves reach their hands for it,
The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
As up and down the beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I.
- From "The Sandpiper"

(NOTE: the bird at the right is not a sandpiper)

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835 – August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, first on White Island, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was a lighthouse keeper, and then on Smuttynose and Appledore Islands. (Wikipedia)

Sweet sounds on rocky shores the distant rote; / O could we float forever, little boat, / Under the blissful sky drifting alone! - C Thaxter

"Off Shore"

Rock, little boat, beneath the quiet sky,
Only the stars behold us where we lie, -
Only the stars and yonder brightening moon

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On the wide sea to-night alone are we;
The sweet, bright summer day dies silently,
Its glowing sunset will have faded soon.

Rock softly, little boat, the while I mark
The far off gliding sails, distinct and dark,
Across the west pass steadily and slow.

But on the eastern waters sad, they change
And vanish, dream-like, gray, and cold, and strange
And no one knoweth whither they may go.

We care not, we, drifting with wind and tide,
While glad waves darken upon either side,
Save where the moon sends silver sparkles down

And yonder slender stream of changing light,
Now white, now crimson, tremulously bright,
Where dark the lighthouse stands, with fiery crown.

Thick falls the dew, soundless on sea and shore:
It shines on little boat and idle oar,
Wherever moonbeams touch with tranquil glow.

The waves are full of whispers wild and sweet;
They call to me, - incessantly they beat
Along the boat from stern to curvéd prow

Comes the careering wind, blows back my hair,
All damp with dew, to kiss me unaware,
Murmuring "Thee I love," and passes on.

Sweet sounds on rocky shores the distant rote;
O could we float forever, little boat,
Under the blissful sky drifting alone!
-- "Off Shore"

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835 – August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, first on White Island, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was a lighthouse keeper, and then on Smuttynose and Appledore Islands. (Wikipedia)

Sarah Orne Jewett's "On Star Island" ... and being on Star Island (Isles of Shoals"

I'd read Jewett's Country of the Pointed Firs (often considered her best work) a number of years ago. A significant figure in American regionalist literature, she lived and worked in Maine, just across the water from Portsmouth, NH where I'm spending some summer vacation.

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Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849 – June 24, 1909) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet, best known for her local color works set along or near the southern seacoast of Maine. (Wikipedia).

I took a short day trip out to Star Island and Jewett pretty much captured the experience, from the little chapel, the little graveyard, the clusters of people on holiday,

Here's Jewett's poem, "On Star Island":

 High on the lichened ledges, like
    A lonely sea-fowl on its perch,
Blown by the cold sea winds, it stands,
    Old Gosport's quaint, forsaken church.

No sign is left of all the town
    Except a few forgotten graves;
But to and fro the white sails go
    Slowly across the glittering waves.

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And summer idlers stray about
    With curious questions of the lost
And vanished village, and its men,
    Whose boats by these same waves were tossed.

I wonder if the old church dreams
    About its parish, and the days
The fisher people came to hear
    The preaching and the songs of praise!

Rough-handed, browned by sun and wind,
    Heedless of fashion or of creed,
They listened to the parson's words --
    Their pilot heavenward indeed.

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Their eyes on week-days sought the church,
    Their surest landmark, and the guide
That led them in from far at sea,
    Until they anchored safe beside

The harbor-wall that braved the storm
    With its resistless strength of stone.
Those busy fishers all are gone --
    The church is standing here alone.

But still I hear their voices strange,
    And still I see the people go
Over the ledges to their homes:
    The bent old women's footsteps slow;

The faithful parson stop to give
    Some timely word to one astray;
The little children hurrying on
    Together, chattering of their play.

I know the blue sea covered some,
    And others in the rocky ground
Found narrow lodgings for their bones --
    God grant their rest is sweet and sound!

I saw the worn rope idle hang
    Beside me in the belfry brown.
I gave the bell a solemn toll --
    I rang the knell for Gosport town. 2016.07.22-DSC08165

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An unfair comparison of the Shanghai Subway and the Washington Metro

I'm just back from a trip to Shanghai. Short version, the subway is amazing! I was staying primarily in the old French Concession area of the city and was able to use the subway for quick and easy short and long trips.

With over 365 miles of track, 364 stations and daily ridership of over 8.4 million, it is simply a wonder. (Wikipedia). The subway opened in 1993 (so has the benefit of being merely 20+ years old) and covers an extensive area. In the downtown area, the stations were all very close together, trains came very rapidly (within minutes even in off peak hours). Transfers were quick and easy, navigation sites within the vast stations was ridiculously easy (large arrows on the floor that guided you step-by-step).

Oh, and it was cheap (at least by my standards), with most rides costing only 45 cents (and I didn't get the frequent rider card).

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Contrast that with our current 40 year old Washington Metro system. This is a particularly bad time for a comparison with any system since Metro is currently operating under SafeTrack which is basically a service slowdown to keep people from dying during their ride.

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As a lost note, wow! An actual practical real-world Maglev train! Shanghai offers  the Shanghai Maglev Train from the Pudong International Airport to an area near downtown (the Longyang Road Station where you can transfer to the regular Shanghai subway). The train covers the nearly 19 miles from the airport in a zippy 8 minutes and costs around $6.00. The train hit about 301/kph on my ride, but hit can go as fast at 350/kpm.
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Dinning out at the iAPM Mall in Shanghai

I was spoiled by my location in the old French Concession portion of Shanghai. I could come back from a busy day and roll right into the IAPM Mall (one of the newest and fanciest in Shanghai) and have a choice of a number of great restaurants.  My four stops were:

Greyhound Cafe | Website| Dinner
A "Thai/Italian" fusion place. Food was just ok, service was just ok (I don't think that the "kids" running the place were really excited to see me arrive).

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Paradise Dynasty | Website | Dinner
I don't have as much experience with the XLB as The Shanghai Kid, so I'll have to take his review of Paradise Dynasty as face. I must say that I really enjoyed the XLB (aka the Xiaolongbao Shanghai soup dumpling)

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Ginza Bairin | Website| Lunch
Tasty pork cutlet served with a pork miso soup and some other tasty sides. A perfect lunch!

Gu Yi | Website | Dinner
Some very tasty Hunan style food. I got the hot wok that was very good.


Oh, and there's also a Starbucks there!