m’Maine Man, Stubdude

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October 22nd 2015
Published: November 28th 2015
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Photos from this (our first) day in Maine

Maine is a very special place on this planet for me, not just because of the natural beauty that flows through the land and consequently from the people who live there, but because of the most enjoyable times spent there over the years. My cousin, writer James K. Straub, aka Stubdude, and his wonderful wife, artist June Kellogg, have been living there since the 80s, and I visit the fun nearly every October. I choose October rather than the popular summer months because that’s the Maine I love. The money changers, so to speak, and consuming crowds traditionally leave by Columbus Day, October 12th, and the state is left with only real Mainers –the ones who brave out the winters. Earlier this year we visited Alaska. Their version of Mainer is called a sourdough, and there’s quite a story that brought out that moniker.

Many friends have accompanied me on these Maine journeys in the early years, but in 2011 and 2012 my daughter Celeste made the pilgrimage with me. Then, in 2013 my reluctant-to-drive-12-hours wife Barb actually made the adventure. We traveled with 3 other couples from the Northeast Photography Club, and broke the trip down to small advances, shooting lighthouses along the coast. That way the ride didn’t seem so long. This year my son Matt joined me. With Stubby & Juno living so far away, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, so I was really looking forward to Matt forming his own special memories of people and place. Now, the only one in the family who hasn’t made the trip with me is my daughter Ashley. She is more of a warm-sunny-beach type gal, so maybe we could arrange to meet Stub & Juno somewhere in St. Maarten someday.

Matt & I also traveled to Nashville this year with many photo stops along the way, turning the 12-hour journey into a 5-day event followed by 3 days in Nashville and a straight ride home. Our basic plan for this trip to Maine was to leave early on a Wednesday and drive straight through to Brooklin where Stub & Juno live. Stubdude is off on Thursdays & Fridays this time of year, so that would give us the most quality time with him. Juno had to work, albeit at home, on her teaching projects Thursday, and go in to teach on Friday, so we looked forward to more time with her on Saturday. Sunday we would leave on a 3-day journey home, stopping at 4 of the same lighthouses I visited in 2013.

The 12-hours getting to Brooklin flew by like a supersonic jet, although we barely broke the speed limit. It was a lovely day, the traffic was easy and the conversation was an interesting mix of humor, philosophy, social studies, photography and music, to name a few of the tangents Matt and I would traverse. Matt & I have always enjoyed a special bond. Back in the day when his sisters and mom would be at dance competitions, Matt and I would fend for ourselves. We developed some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever experienced, and Stubby was another with whom that is true. So I couldn’t wait to hear the sparks fly when those two got together.

We arrived in time for a special supper prepared by Juno, and coasted to slumber with plenty of rounds of laughter to encourage our hopes for tomorrow. When we awoke at no particular time, I immediately wanted to take Matt across the street to the granite-strewn beach to get a feel of just how lucky our Maine cousins are. It wasn’t a great day for photos, but it was a great day for us. We actually never made it to the beach until the next day, but we had a great morning with Stub. On our way into Blue Hill for lunch, Stub brought us to a couple spots along the shore where Matt & I photographed the overcast beauty. Those stops resulted in the first 15 photos in today’s gallery.

Later in the day when the Sun, although still hidden, was casting better angles of light, albeit overcast, Juno took Matt & me down to the end of the road on Naskeag Point where we shot scenes of lobster boats flanked by boulders that appear to have waded into the ocean. That accounts for photos 16 thru 43. Notice the noose Matt is shooting in photo 43. In photos 27 & 28 I imagine the fate of the poor fishermen who come in empty.

Stubdude & Juno are pleasantly different than most hosts in many ways, and one I particularly enjoy is the tribe-like atmosphere. By that I mean, for example, where evenings are for telling stories, playing games and laughing with the pleasure of each others’ company. The TV is almost never on, and when it is, the remote is always in one of their hands ready to mute the commercials. Never will anyone sit with their face toward a phone or computer screen instead of another human. This was Thursday night, however, and during football season, there is a game afoot. Stub and his sister, Slimmo (Patty), are competing in a fantasy football league, and there is potential for some serious screen focus. Still, it was more than a few times the sound was never unmuted when the commercial was over; the ostensible oversight was in deference to either the quiet or the conversation –or maybe occasionally when Stubby would nod out.

Our first full day of our Maine experience was over, and I’m sure Matt was getting the sense that you never get your fill of this place –and these people.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Photos from this (our second) day in Maine

Again, except for the sound of an occasional toilet flushing in the early hours, I was the first one up –that is, after Juno left to encourage her art students. I intended to start processing the photos from yesterday while enjoying the rising Sun bathing Juno’s artwork hanging in their living room. It was cool how the 3-D media she used in those pieces was accepting the early light, and how they were presenting a distinctly different visual reward from the interior lighting of last evening. Before I got to opening my laptop, Matt came out of his room nearly ready to cross the street to see how his enriched cousins live.

I don’t remember if Stubby was up and about before Matt & I left, but I’m sure we would have left him fresh coffee if he wasn’t. The shutter for the first photo in today’s gallery was tripped at 09:05:35. Although we were there a little while before that, you can see Matt & I were in no hurry. When we finally went outside, we were immediately hit by a chilling wind which quickly turned into a freezing gale by the time we reached the open shore. I moved slowly along the ankle-tuner rocks allowing the wind to wipe away the desire for the next shot. It’s interesting how we can be in the same place when the weather is comfortable and find a plethora of photo ops, then be there in uncomfortable conditions and we think, “Ah, there’s nothing to shoot here.” I fought that feeling for Matt’s sake until I figured he might be fighting it for mine, too. Then I remembered he wasn’t the little guy I missed when I used to be here without him, and he was old enough to brave the cold for his own muse. I said, “See ya up there, but take your time. We won’t be going anywhere for awhile.”

He pulled his hood over his head and said, “Yeah, I’m done for now, too,” and walked with me back to the path to the Stubdude Ranch, see photos 12, 13 & 14.

On this day, Friday, the day Juno had to work, we eventually decided to have a late lunch in Ellsworth. Stubby picked a few good places to stop on the way back, and Matt & I got to experience a little more of the Maine beauty. We got back just ahead of Juno. She came rushing into the house excitedly announcing, “Get your cameras quick. There’s great color in the sky at Amen Farm.”

Amen Farm is less than a half mile up the road from their house. Matt & I scrambled to her car taking what we could quickly gather and leaving our backpacks behind. We got to the spot, which is actually the view from Amen Farm, hopped out, opened the tripod legs, composed with the distant lighthouse bathed in the quickly dissolving glow, and… For me, nothing. My battery was dead. By the time I ran back to the car to get my SX50 the magic moment that caused such excitement in Juno’s voice had passed. I shot the lighthouse framed by Amen trees for photo 28.

June took us, after stopping by the house for more gear, back down to Naskeag Point where the scene was much better lit than last night. The Sun was setting quickly yet we seemed to work at a much slower pace. Often the best light for photos is the one that comes from over your shoulder. But what do you do with your shadow when the angle is closer to the horizon?Silhouette Selfies was my response for this evening, and I continued the style whenever the situation was right throughout the rest of our trip. For photos 32 & 33 I was using the 24-70mm at 24mm. For photos 34 & 35 I lowered the legs a bit, took a step or two to my right, switched to the fisheye lens at 13mm, lined my shadow against the rock and shot it. Then I got a couple last shots of the noose while Matt was shooting sunshine on shoreline stones, and we headed back for another wonderful night of tribal dancing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Photos from this (our third) day in Maine

It’s anyone’s guess as to who got up first this day. It was a day for getting up, then going back to bed when noticing no one else was up yet. Eventually we all gathered about without much morning comment until Juno got the coffee poured. It was another gloomy day that reminded me of home. Matt & I were aware that these are the days that Stubdude & Juno have off during the week, and are used to getting things done or doing nothing. We were able to fit right in to that mode. If it was sunnier, we could have spent the time enjoying the beautiful outdoors on our own. As it was, we had a great day enjoying the inner beauty of our hosts indoors.

Eventually us guys went out hunting for lunch and ended up at the same great place we ate the first day, Marlintini’s Grill in Blue Hill. Juno went to do errands and gather some of the things we’d need for the lobster diner she was planning for that night. My favorite part of the meal is her special (and famous) potato side dish.

There were no stops along the way this day, so I shot a few things around the house when we returned. You can see their house in photos 2 & 13, and the car I just bought a couple days before Matt & I left in photo 3. In photo 7 you might be able to find my waving reflection in the window of Juno’s studio with her car and house beyond.

You can also see Juno’s studio beyond her Budda. He looks like the laughing Budda of prosperity, Ho Tai, but it’s more of a smiling Budda. Regardless of the intended symbolism, it reminds me of Juno’s giving personality. Her idea of abundance and prosperity have little if anything to do with material accumulation. Her personality prospers with an abundance of love for her fellow creatures. Check out June’s art to see that love shinning through. My daughter Celeste has one of June’s paintings from the Earth Connections or the Maine Earth Connections series (I’m not sure which), and I have two (the only “set”) from The Creative Spirit series. When Barb & I were designing and building our house in 2003, we made a special wall for those two treasures. It is a wall that can be seen from most of the main two floors. Our granddaughter Charley lit up as a newborn when I first carried her by them. Whenever she was colicky, she would usually stop crying and reach out to touch them as I paced her by. She just had her first birthday, and now walks over to them and asks me to pick her up so she can touch them. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder and she someday wears some paint away with her touching appreciation, this beholder will surely see it as even more beautiful.

When we all gathered back at the house, we took a ride to pick up some live lobsters and beer. Our last day with Stubdude and Juno was quickly coming to its end –sadly in the background, but with delightful joie de vivre in the living room. Juno invited me out to the picnic table to photograph our entrées. They were already too lethargic to race, so a couple fisheye shots seemed appropriate.

There were so many more nearby points of interest that Matt & I could have visited –places like Deer Isle, Stonnington, Caterpillar Hill, Blue Hill and Flye Point to name a few. Many of them unnamed. But none of them could ever replace the thrill of a good tribal dance with Stubdude leading. Now, like for many of us, those other places are for Matt to profess as excuses to return.


29th November 2015

Nice state ... nice shots!
Although I haven't been in Maine myself, the photos remind me of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which I know well. I like the saturation and your coverage of the various sites. Thanks for sharing them.
29th November 2015

Thanks, Fred. Yes, they are quite similar.
2nd December 2015
Wading Boulders

Your photos are stunning. Thanks
2nd December 2015
Wading Boulders

Thanks so much. Maine has a beautiful and inspirational coastline.

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