It feels more like spring/fall than summer around here (though today is the summer solstice) so I made an apple pie on Thursday night. I was pretty sick last week, and didn't slow down like I should have--I kept going to the gym, kept going to work--so although the sore throat and congestion are long gone, I still felt worn out well into this week. On Thursday night, Stephen went out with friends, but I stayed in and sliced apples while listening to NPR. It was incredibly restorative. The smell of cinnamony things baking can correct a multitude of wrongs.

Making pie always reminds me of my first grade class back at Duzine Elementary. During Writer's Workshop one day, I raised my hand to ask the teacher how to spell "pie". She told me to try sounding it out first. So I did what you're supposed to do when you sound things out: I went through the word, sound by sound, writing each out phonetically.

What sound does it start with? Pa.
And then that vowel sound. Ie, clearly.
But if you say the word reeaally slowly, as you do when you're sounding it out, you'll notice that there's also a quiet ya that follows the ie sound.
Therefore: paieya.

My teacher had to laugh when she saw what I had written: "Way too many letters!" I remember thinking, after she spelled it correctly for me, that it would have been much easier for both of us if she had just told me the three letters to begin with.

My June book has got me thinking about housekeeping and homemaking. I don't know what the "real" difference is between those words, but to me, housekeeping is managing logistics: paying bills, changing the smoke detector batteries, putting up storm windows. The stuff that maintains the house as a functioning structure. Homemaking is much more abstract, complex, emotional, personal--the process of making the house into a home. Making the bed, planting a garden, baking bread, making conversation, sitting and reading. Certainly, there's a lot of overlap in the housekeeping/homemaking Venn diagram: taking out the garbage, for instance, is something that must be done, per contract with the landlord (ergo, housekeeping), and also makes the house much more pleasant to live in (homemaking).

What surprises me is how much I like doing the homemaking stuff. I guess, on some level, as old-fashioned as it sounds, I identify as a homemaker. Not full-time, clearly, but perhaps a homemaking... amateur? enthusiast? dilettante? Shouldn't be surprising, really, since every woman in my family subscribes to Martha Stewart Living, and we all love to bake. It's just something I've never put a name to, I guess.



We took the Downeaster to Portland, Maine last Saturday. As usual, we miscalculated our travel time in both directions, and ended up arriving atboth the Boston and Portland train stations with just minutes to spare. (When we got to North Station at 8:48 am, the man at the ticket window said: "You've got two minutes. Track 7. GO!")

One of our main reasons for visiting was to see the biennial at the Portland Museum of Art before it closed. We spent an hour or so afterward checking out the rest of their collection, and were impressed at the breadth of artists represented.

The first time we visited Portland, a couple of years ago, we didn't do any research beforehand and ended up wandering, hungry, around the Old Port for a while and then eating a somewhat unsatisfying lunch at an empty restaurant around 3pm.

This time around, we spent a couple of hours compiling a long list of places to visit from various web and print sources. Unfortunately, some were a little out-of-date, like the one that recommended a visit to the Portland Public Market, which apparently closed in 2006. Boy were we pretty surprised to peek in the door and find bulldozers inside!

Here are the places we visited, in case I forget before we go again:

Lunch: Walter's
Stephen got a burger, I had the Caesar salad. Both were satisfying. We sat upstairs in a quiet, sunny room.

Dinner: Flatbread Company
Louder and darker than our lunch spot, but the food was delicious here, too. We split one of their specials, a flatbread with asparagus, aioli, chevre and scallions.

Simply Scandinavian
I was so excited to see a Scandinavian import store on the map when we arrived. They had gorgeous (and expensive) Marimekko fabrics, imported sweaters, handpainted clogs, and shelves and shelves of Dala horses.

Leroux Kitchen
We tend to visit kitchen stores whenever we go on vacation. This one was pretty fun. I managed to stop myself from buying the heart-shaped Le Creuset oven (the thought of toting around an 8 lb. cast iron pot for the rest of the day was too much), and we left with just a garlic peeler.

Material Objects
Stephen got a pair of Clark's for $10 here, but I came up empty.

Places we didn't visit but hope to next time:

Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe
I was really thirsty after our trip to the museum so we ran over to Maine Squeeze, but it was already closed.

Beal's (or any other local ice cream place)
Cold Stone was the closest option when the ice cream urge hit, and the people there were super friendly, but I'd prefer something local.

This place looks fun, but I'm not sure I'll be able to convince Stephen to sip tea and get a pedicure with me.