In the Woods

img_2076_2.jpgI´m not dead – just off to Maine. Which some of you would say is the same thing … well, I´m back now, anyway. In my haste to pack the Ship of Fools and prepare for a trip during which I wouldn´t be online — including getting all those lovely folks to cover my posting days — I forgot to let more people know about my departure – and my apologies to those of you I worried with my unannounced absence.* We drove, which was less crappy than I´d anticipated with six of us and the dog in the car. I appear to be raising a brood of decent travelers.

The great thing about being in Maine with the things we can´t do (no phone, no internet) is all the things we can do. We stayed in a cabin so close to the water I could hear the waves lapping the shore. We slept with the windows open, under extra-large heavy duty wool blankets. It fogged and rained and sunned and I didn´t care. I built enough fires in our small wood stove that the Big Cheese took to calling me Jack London.

It´s not like I´m some outdoorsy gal. The great thing about not having any pride in that department is, I can ask advice and experiment with impunity and feel no shame. I have that geek curiosity. We were staying at a camp, with a lodge and other outlying cabins, and so I asked folks about the tides, lobster pots, bears, and the amazing, hard-core gardening going on there. How do you eat a lobster? How to cope with the wind and tide in a kayak? What´s the best way to build a fire in a stove (as opposed to a grate in a fireplace)? Can I bank the coals and/or work the draw to a degree that I don´t have to start from scratch twice a day? I had a little ongoing contest with myself to see how little kindling I could use.

I kayaked. A lot. Kayaking is the perfect boating exercise, as far as I´m concerned. Rowboating is a hell of a lot of work, sailboats are tedious with all the prep and rigging and what have you (although I´m happy to sail as long as someone else is doing all the work, and we did sail, it was a magnificent day, and I loved it). But a kayak is a one-person moving meditation. It´s silent. I don´t need, or want, help. I got a two-person boat so I could take the kids out, but I could also go out by myself and haul as hard as I wanted to, out to an island and back. The water´s so cold it´ll kill you eventually, or so I´ve been told, so I never got too far out. We saw harbor seals, and the porpoises came so close to the boat you could hear them blow. The kids just rambled around with their cousins and built fairy houses out of moss and sticks and waded in the cove on low tide. I taught them the fine, lost art of s´mores. I read a lot of books. We saw two black bears and plenty of mosquitos.

img_2114_1.jpgThis is where I´m supposed to be moving on to sticking in a quickie fragrance review, and I fully intended to do that. Having written the above, though, I´m going to blow it off and address something else. Tasha Tudor died while we were up there, and my sister-in-law and I got into a friendly argument/discussion about Tudor after we read a brief article about her death in the Wall Street Journal somebody´d left on the front hall table. Now, let me emphasize here that neither of us knows anything else about Tudor other than what was in the WSJ (although I´m now going to get a biography), so our disagreement was philosophical rather than fact-based, if you follow me.

Tasha Tudor was born in the early 20th century (1915?) but loved the 1830s and, as a young adult, went “back to the land” and lived on a farm, eventually in a house her son built by hand; she raised four kids in a New England farmhouse with no electricity or water. She wove her own fabric and dressed, if you have seen photos of her, like a woman from the previous century, which I suppose I must have known on some level but never really thought through – in long dresses and lace caps. She was twice divorced and lived, as far as I know, on the earnings from her considerable output of books and illustrations, which are charming, idealized stories and images of hearth and home. (BTW this is off the top of my head, feel free to correct factual errors.)

Anyhow – Kate was mildly horrified by all of that, as outlined in the WSJ, although she´s as fond of Tudor´s works as I am, which is to say: very fond. She though Tudor must have been nuts, and it bothered her to think about what it was like for Tudor´s children, being raised by a woman who seemed determined to live in the previous century.

And I found myself arguing with her, because I was … well, strangely charmed. There have been times in my life when I thought how appealing something like that might be. Okay, not as hardcore as Tudor (we´re not taking water and electricity off the table) but – I don´t know. To go put on a bonnet and a long skirt and chuck the TV and get the hell out of here.

But what does that mean, exactly? Let´s posit for this discussion that Tudor had enough independent wealth from her books that she could garden and weave and etc., but nobody was going to starve to death in a harsh winter if her cows died or whatever. On some level she had the comfort of choice – she could go buy food and provisions if she needed to. I´m not talking Back To The Land in a life-or-death way.

So, if you could have the fantasy, would you? Would you go move to (pick one) a rural Connecticut farm, or near a deserted beach or island, or a ranch in the scrub in New Mexico, assuming you had enough income that you didn´t have to bust your behind making the thing work for your survival? You could grow some stuff, but you could still drive to Kroger´s? What if you had kids? What about those renegade Mormons in Texas? Separate from issues you may have with some of their religious/lifestyle choices, and I know that´s a huge hump to put aside, is it wrong for their parents to raise them the way they do? No sugar, no TV, praising the Lord and respecting the elders? Living in some ways like it was 100 years ago? What about the Amish? How much of an obligation do parents have to put their kids in the swim of 2008?

I´m not trying to provoke anything here. This just happens to be a topic I spent several hours thinking about, alone, over the course of my vacation. What does it mean to leave? To opt out? To go to the ranch or the convent? Is it play-acting? (Heck, isn´t it all play-acting?) Do you have the right? What about people who don´t have the choice, like your children? On a lighter note, am I the only middle-aged woman who´s looked at re-enactment clothing online and fantasized about buying myself a calico dress and an apron and moving to just outside some little town, just to hear myself think? And would I die of boredom in five months if I did?

img_2094_1.jpgOkay, I have a pile of work on my desk (typing this Monday) I haven´t done, and I need to get on it. I won´t be hurt if you punt this post; I´ll see you tomorrow or Thursday for perfume.

*This doesn´t belong in this post, but it´s so long at this point I´m sticking it in anyway. Some of the rest of you probably read the New York Times magazine article a month or two ago about Emily Gould the blogger, and how she also had a “private” blog, and how all her general snarkiness and over-sharing the personal details of her life eventually converged into something that blew up in her face. Separate from the specific people and details involved, reading the article got me thinking – hard – about how and what I share on here. Writing helps me think, and I like to write about all sorts of things, and this is my writing outlet for the time being. But I worry sometimes – e.g., what if someone reads my kid-related stuff and uses it as some sort of ammo that I´m an unfit mother? What if I embarrass my kids? I have already been startled a couple of times by the discovery that some of my kids´ friends, and the occasional teacher, and even some adult acquaintances of mine, lurk on the blog. Where do I draw the line? In the end I didn´t have much sympathy for Gould´s predicament, but parts of the article and her thought processes felt uncomfortably familiar. I am still trying to determine – in this brave new world of online information – where the boundaries are, at least for me.

photos: Buckethead and yours truly in the kayak; Diva’s photo of a daisy, and maybe I should get that girl a camera, she’s got an eye; Hecate and our sub-standard poodle, Kai; Tasha Tudor image from WSJ article; how I gained 5lbs. in one week (the lobster rolls and onion rings from the Bagaduce Lunch, which btw just won a James Beard commendation, only they didn’t go to the ceremony because it was their daughter’s high school graduation and who the heck is James Beard, anyway?); Diva takes the tiller on God’s perfect day sail.

  • clare stella says:

    Wow, I don’t usually read every single comment when there are this many but I was intrigued by all the diverse points of view. Thanks for a post that inspires so much though and intelligent discourse. I myself have no wish for a primitive lifestyle. I love modern conveniences and am especially grateful for the medical care we have in this period of history. I hate outhouses and go crazy without my computer. That being said, there are some things I wish were different about our modern world – worship of celebrities, the “keeping up with the Joneses” stuff, the fact that many kids are obese because they sit in front of some type of screen all day long. I walked everywhere in my suburban town when I was a kid and it was definitely to my benefit. We didn’t have a television when I was in high school (I’m not quite sure why) so I sometimes felt “out of it” when kids were discussing popular shows of the day but I read, read, read all the time. I guess there are good and bad parts of every lifestyle choice. Thank you for inspiring us to think about this questions of “the good old days” vs. modern life. Thanks too for wonderful and insightful comments.

  • Gail says:

    While I don’t mean to be a downer, I did grow up in fairly isolated circumstances, and was “over-sheltered.” When at last I “got away,” I did not go wild as sometimes people assume! I did feel like I had been thrown into the deep end, and had to invent a life from scratch. I still struggle. Our culture is complicated. Living without dishwashers or air conditioning is one thing, and we can easily romanticize “the simple life.” It is something different to grow up taught by your parents that popular culture is something to be avoided, even evil. It is even worse when you are taught that there is only one rigid political or religious way to think, if only because if you go outside your system you will bump up against others who believe differently.

    • Erin T says:

      Gail, very interesting to read this honest and thought-provoking comment – thank you for sharing! My in-laws have a cottage near an Amish community and after reading this post, we spent some of last night discussing whether a period spent in “the modern world” would actually change the world views of Amish young people. After growing up in such a community, I imagine it would be very difficult to get sustaining employment in an urban environment, for example, and the process of potentially feeling comfortable in contemporary society would take many years. I would think that many young people would be eager to return to the culture they grew up in rather than struggle to adjust. What do you think of this?

    • March says:

      Gail (and Erin) — we could kick this around for quite some time, couldn’t we!

      For us … hmmmmm, trying not to step on any toes. While we were living in the southwest, we met a lot of people (older, our age, young kids) who had grown up in very remote places and then had a great deal of difficulty entering a larger, more demanding society. I mean, for some of them the “urban-ness” of 60K people in Santa Fe was overwhelming. Now, obviously this is not a blanket truth — millions of folks like my dad grew up on farms, etc. and then ran to the city and never looked back. But it did concern us – the big fish/small pond thing. In my experience, it was relatively easy moving from a city to the country — tedious in some ways you’d expect, but not frightening. I am/was not sure the opposite was quite so true. We moved back to DC for a lot of reasons, but I wanted my kids to be comfortable with a city — many races/cultures, public transportation, traffic, etc. There are things I miss very much and would have valued for them living in a small town, though.

      • March says:

        And PS — I didn’t touch on part of your comment — obviously an overt religious component or societal rejection on the part of the parents can affect significantly the way their children view the outside world — The Enemy vs. simply somewhere else. I think that may have helped my dad – he was an only child on a farm in the middle of nowhere in the Depression, but he was bright and bookish and his dad (bless him) never expected my father was going to take over the farm. They sent him out into the world with no regrets, or at least they kept them private… @};-

  • Andy says:

    Love the poodle!

  • DianaWR says:

    I think I would really struggle without the internet. I might learn to live without a TV, though I’d yearn for a dvd player b/c there are some truly magnificent works of art out there on the celluloid, but really, it’s the online shopping I could not live without. I love the idea of being able to get things without leaving the house.

    That said, I’ve always wanted to live in a beach house. As close to the water as possible, even a house boat has come under consideration recently. And I want a garden to grow food in, I love cooking and jarring and baking, and I love books. On the whole, I think I wouldn’t miss people as much as I’d miss the convenience of modernity, but that doesn’t mean I could not live without it.

    • March says:

      I want a beach house with the internet. 🙂 This is our fantasy, yes? I could easily live — forever — without a TV, since I am the only person here who doesn’t watch it. The ‘net is also a work and communication device… and depending on how my tomato experiment goes this year, maybe next year I’ll fulfil my fantasy and put in an actual small veggie garden.

  • Robin says:

    Have thought about this off & on all afternoon, and no, have no such fantasy. I would die of boredom in about a week.

    But, have family in Portland and love it there, although like you, don’t think I could take the winter. But lobster rolls & onion rings by the water on a chilly summer night…heaven.

    • March says:

      I could easily spend the summer in Portland and various surrounding areas. Just cannot fathom those winters. Although — friends from northern climes argue that if you live there, you actually get geared up for it — all the right clothes and toys — and make it work for you.

      • karin says:

        After years of living in CA and moving to Maine, I have to say, that the winters don’t really bother me. In fact, I’m actually loving the seasons. Yes, the amount of snow we had last year was ridiculous (we didn’t see our yard from November to April), but it was also BEAUTIFUL! You make adjustments and it’s really not so bad at all. Believe me, the benefits far outweigh any negatives! I love it up here! My biggest complaint – perfume shopping is non-existent here. No shops available to sniff fabulous fragrances…and Macy’s, Sear’s, and Penney’s surely don’t count! But Boston is a short 2-hour bus/train/car ride away, so not TOO awful!!!

  • Eileen says:

    Glad to see you back and blogging! Your trip sounds like a great time.. You must have been able to clear your head some and think, as you really hit a lot of philisophical points in this post. I’ll be pondering some of this until bedtime, I’m sure! 😕

    I’ve always had the idea I’d like to live somewhere remote and quiet. Not at the end of the earth, but maybe just outside the last town before the end of the earth. Of course, there would still be running water and electricity :d And I’d need someone else to grow the food or I’d go into town to buy it — my gardening is mediocre at best.

    But all that peace and quiet! All that space without traffic and McDonald’s wrappers and streetlights washing out the night sky! Of course, a year of this might have me going slightly batty, and this is where I give Tasha Tudor so much credit — she went past the obvious fantasy lure of the situation and made it real. It was work, but I bet it was satisfying in a way that many of us never feel.

    • March says:

      I think we’re in agreement, not off the grid or the end of the earth, just somewhere more quiet. I am surprised to see how many people find the idea appealing. Of course, you can’t help but wonder if the reality would mesh.

  • KevinS says:

    March: what an enjoyable post. YES, I certainly have my opt-out fantasy: Me and Partner somewhere along the coast in the south of France (though I love Tasha Tudor I think I’ll use COLETTE as someone to emulate here), in a stone house with turquoise-colored shutters, surrounded by huge (self-tended) flower beds and a vegetable patch and followed around by at least 15 pugs/French/English bulldogs. I’d certainly need the royalty checks for vet bills alone. I think Tudor’s children, all of them, stayed near her and were involved in her business…and ‘lifestyle.’ They are also going to keep the business running. They all seemed to have enjoyed the life growing up in the “wilds” of New England. I recently looked thru my copy of Tasha Tudor’s Garden, right before she died, and, as always, am calmed by the images of her, her animals, the great freedom she must have felt…having the choice of living her life the way she wanted to. Kevin

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s interesting! So they didn’t all flee from her in horror… the WSJ article did say her son Seth built her house, so I figured at least one of them hung around. I am going to the library tomorrow to see if I can find a biography. And I find your fantasy to be a completely palatable alternative!

  • sariah says:

    Hi March – Maine sounds lovely, I have friends who just moved up there so I am thinking about a road trip.

    • March says:

      Go! It’s a long drive. Actually, for one person, I’d consider flying to Portland from Dulles, I bet it’s a cheap ticket.

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi, March.

    Glad you had a good time in my native state, and I hope you will be back again before too long. You certainly chose one of the nicest parts of the state to visit. I need to get myself over to that area this summer on a somewhat tedious family errand, and I’m hoping that the scenery and a stop at the truly wonderful Bagaduce Lunch will make the day go better.

    Re the Tasha Tudor question: that’s pretty much the track my parents took many years ago when they returned to my mother’s family farm way up on the Canadian border to take care of my aging grandparents. Mostly, I’m grateful they dragged me along. I get a lot of satisfaction from the 19th century domestic skills my grandmother passed on to me. Going to a one-room school turned out to my ticket to to college scholarships–my odd background made me into a diversity prize, expanding the breadth of acquaintance of my upper middle-class classmates who could afford to pay full tuition.

    It’s interesting to me though, that I didn’t make the same choice for my own children that my parents did for me. I raised my kids in the city, taking full advantage of every cultural institution it had to offer. But as soon as they were out the door, I sold my city house and bought one back here in Maine. There are all kinds of people coming back to the land here, or trying to. It’s both more and less rustic than you might imagine. One one hand, you have to deal with things like woodchucks living under the woodshed and popping out to eat all the peas in the garden. On the other hand, even people who have lived here all their lives buy Starbucks coffee at Mr. Market, the local grocery store. The only difference between here and the city is that you have to be your own barrista. Perfume is possible; the UPS guy just came with a bottle of L’Ete en Douce.

    Tasha Tudor’s pre-industrial romanticism pushes it a bit far for me. Having once lived without hot running water, I have no wish to ever be without it again. Nor would I want to be offline for any extended period of time. However, her flower garden was extraordinary, and I do fantasize about her roses, poppies and foxgloves. I haven’t found a perfume yet that captures it; mostly they seem too lush and sweet, and the one that is closest for me so far, Tauer’s Reveries au Jardin, is too alpine and astringent.

    What do you remember smelling while you were here? For me, L’Eau de L’Artisan gets pretty close to the kind of coastal Maine herb garden that Sarah Orne Jewett wrote about in the Country of the Pointed Firs, with a seaweed note in it to fertilize the lemon verbena growing by a picket fence. Neil Morris gets the pointed firs pretty well in his Earthtones #3 Northwoods, although I would find that one hard to wear. Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel, which I haven’t smelled yet, sounds promising. It’s said to be inspired by a coastal town in Brittany surrounded by saltmarshes. I wonder how different that would be from where you must have been in Maine, not all that far from Frenchman’s Bay.

    • March says:

      I made the same choice you did (although less radically). I was living in a sophisticated small town and uprooted my two small children to move back to the DC area, for the culture and good schools, although also very much to be there for our collective parents in their last years (I’ve still got my dad, but the Cheese lost both in the last couple years). So our reasons were more complicated. Still, on balance, I think it was the right choice. But I can see picking up and moving to someplace small and rural once they are grown.

      I wouldn’t want to live like Tasha Tudor did — but in some odd way I admire her for wanting to, just as I admire people who take some monumental task upon themselves (building a plane or boat by hand) and doing it. I suppose on some level I’m a dilettante admiring someone else’s single-mindedness?

      I love Maine in the (brief) summer. And I’m wild for Portland! I wish I’d gone to college there. I’m a weather wimp though; not sure I could hack the winter.

      I didn’t wear any fragrance at all while I was there. It seemed so … wrong. I put on something once and wished I hadn’t. I wanted to smell rural coastal Maine in its perfection.

      • Kathryn says:

        Actually, what I was wondering was not what perfumes you wore or sniffed, but what notes you picked up in the air. And if those brought any perfumes to mind. What I’m after is a perfume not so much to wear when I’m in Maine, but when I have to be in places that I like less, so that I can remind myself of home. Particularly in the winter, I’m often in MA where my husband still works for most of the week.

        On the ME coast in the summer, I notice rosa rugosa, bayberries, resinous softwoods, sweet fern, saltwater, and seaweed. Inland, it’s more woody, less salty, and there is more hay. The smell I most love in Maine is a kind of poplar called balm of gilead, populus candicans–something that I was surprised to find in Colorado, too, when I was there in May. There is supposed to be a poplar note in Gobin Daude Seve Exquise, but I haven’t been able to find any to smell. In the fall, which many of us think is the best season here, there is a dry, leafy smell throughout the state that is quite lovely.

        You are certainly right about not wearing perfume in the circumstances you were in. Apart from aesthetics, it wouldn’t be sensible to wear much perfume outside on the coast because you’d turn yourself into a mosquito magnet. Most often, people on the coast smell of bugspray and sunscreen. When you get further inland, you’re likely to pick up fairly frequent whiffs of chainsaw oil.

        • March says:

          Kathryn — please peek below (above? I get confused) I’d answered your question separately, having saved my message too quickly. A lot of the things you noted I smelled as well!

          I find it … difficult to find a fragrance to capture the place, although I understand what you are saying. I searched for years to find something reminiscent of the Russian olives that made me think of New Mexico, or some other aspect of that dry, resiny smell. Eventually I settled instead on a product (a room spray) they make out there that I used a lot while I was there, so it was more like a scent association than a recapturing of the place. I’m not sure there’s a scent that would do Maine justice.

    • March says:

      Whoops, and the smells! Well, the first thing I notice is what I don’t smell — the city. I live in the burbs and don’t consider the air here especially polluted, but a trip to the Maine coast is a reminder of how much of my daily life is manmade smells, good and bad (exhaust, tarmac, garbage, Indian food, etc.)

      So. Clean air. Hint of salty tang. Surprisingly, not as resin-y as I expected — you go in the woods in New Mexico and the evergreen smell is almost overpowering, not sure what that’s about. Loamy. Wild roses, hot rocks. Brief, faint cooking smells in the background breeze on occasion. Frequent woodsmoke. And my favorite: the cabin we stayed in, which was perfectly civilized (hot water etc.) but unfinished on the inside — plain wood planking, no drywall. Some of it recently redone. It smelled precisely like the inside of the camp cabins of my youth — warm pine or whatever that smell is. New fresh wood. They’d replanked the bathroom and the smell almost made me weep, it was so lovely. I’ve wanted an outdoor wood shower forever…

      • Kathryn says:

        Thanks for putting words to loam, hot rocks, woodsmoke and freshly cut wood; you’re right, of course, and I hadn’t considered those ever present background smells. I think the resin in the evergreens comes out more when gets hot and dry in late July and August. June in Maine tends to be somewhat cool and damp, as perhaps you noticed. But even at their strongest, Maine resins are much milder than the desert resins I smelled when my husband-to-be lived in Tucson. Water content, maybe? But if you went into LL Bean’s or any similar place, you might have noticed little pillows filled with balsam fir needles and small packets of pine incense for sale. Those aren’t just for summer visitors. It’s the smell of home for a lot of displaced Mainers.

        • March says:

          I have seen those little packets of pine needles, and now I know they serve the same purpose as the Cedar Light products from New Mexico! 😉 And that makes sense about the Maine resins — it must be a function of the dryness and heat. Walking in the woods with that smell is a delight.

          I think the desert is resin-y. Sages, dry things. Agh, making myself cry thinking about it.

  • Disteza says:

    OK, let me try to answer the questions in order here to give some semblance of a coherent response. What does it mean to chuck it all? It means some hard living is in store, no matter where you decide to do it. It means a couple years off of your life, and more than that off of your complexion. It means no longer having to worry about dieting and exercising; but you will probably have to worry about starving, freezing, or ‘occupational accidents’. On an aside, Amish people usually don’t go to hospitals, but when they do, it’s reeeeally bad. Like, face-kicked-off-by-a-horse bad. I’ve been to places where the facilities consisted of a hole in the ground and there was little food other than what you found along the way. Can’t say I’d want to go to that extreme, but if I was forced to, I imagine I’d survive. I’ll caveat this: we only have one tv, which mostly stays off, I never keep my cell phone on, and I have gone for weeks without internet access and was just fine. AND I’m under 30.

    If you really want to give the chuck-it-all living *with fancy dress* a try, you can always volunteer at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. Their website ( has details on volunteering. They help you out with the clothes, and you get to do the farm chores (it being a real working farm). I do some demos there on market days, and I hear an awful lot of volunteers complaining about being burned by candle wax or getting kicked by a sheep.

    I am also addicted to playing derss up. I own a thirty pound dress that looks like something out of Versailles and the three-foot tall be-plumed wig to go with it, amongst other things. I’ve got a full-on Spanish royalty from the renaissance kit, a couple of colonial reenactment suits and dresses, and a whole slew of fabulous retro hats and dresses that I occasionally wear out of the house. If I had to pick a time period to live in, it would be a french nobleman during Louis XIV’s reign: the music was great, the perfume was great, champagne had been invented, fencing was something you could make a living and a reputation by, and look at the wonderful clothes! :((

    Almost entirely unrelated, if I had money to burn, I’d burn it on the costumes here: or here . If I thought I could get enough people together for a costumed masquerade ball, I’d throw one in a minute.

    • March says:

      Heh — another dress-up nut! Although you’re more hardcore than I am. Those websites are extraordinary! I’d go to a costume ball in a heartbeat.

      I am fairly confident a week or two of historical reenactment would put me off my fantasy. Did you watch the show (I think it was national geographic) where they took three families and had them go out and build their houses in the Colorado wilderness or some such? Milking the cows, strangling the chickens, etc. A vicarious, fear factor thrill for us all.

      • Disteza says:

        I remember watching something like that, although my favorite show from that genre has to be ‘Iron Age Family’, which aired on PBS. They took 14 Brits, including two families with children, and subjected them to 6 months living as an Iron Age village complete with Viking raids. That made for some very interesting viewing.

  • karin says:

    Hi March! I live in Maine…sorry I missed you. 🙂 Though Maine is not quite going back in time and giving up luxuries, it’s a much quieter life than the one I had in the SF Bay area for 19 years! Whenever I travel to MA, the traffic, the craziness. Oh my. So glad I’m out of that type of environment.

    Re: daydreaming about a simpler life, I’ve always yearned for an interdependent lifestyle, where families live in close community. And women hang out together, talking, crafting, cooking, etc. We’ve totally lost that sense of community in our culture. I remember watching the movie Witness and being fascinated with the Amish lifestyle. The whole community came together to help a man build his house (or was it a “barn raising” thing)? I LOVE that!!!

    So, yes, I share some of your fascination with simpler times, though there are many luxuries I definitely would hate to part with! I have a friend who’s in the Sudan right now, and she posts photos on her blog of community life there. One image that sticks in my mind – a toilet that is basically a hole in the ground with a not so private thatched fence surrounding it. Apparently, the cockroaches like to gather around it at night. Though a “simpler life” may seem somwhat glamorous from the outside, our modern luxuries definitely have their attraction…

    • March says:

      As your Sudan story points out, we’re talking about the fantasy vs. some of the grimmer realities … I have friends who regale me with stories from the Peace Corps, and no thanks. (And hey, you can still get giant cockroaches in budget motels. shudder)

      I remember when we lived in a smaller town, coming back to DC (or another big city) was briefly overwhelming. You forget how to drive! And I adore Maine — if it weren’t for the winters!

      Gah, you have *totally* stumbled into my private commune fantasies… before it was talked about in some hippie sense. When you had more of a community. It makes me sad that I have — literally — nobody close by to call in an emergency.

    • Olfacta says:

      Ah, yes, outhouses. Hadn’t had the pleasure in a long time, but that’s what they have on the back roads in Alaska. They come in varying degrees of disgusting, and the smell clings to your clothes long after you’ve used one. Or perhaps that’s just because of that finely tuned olfactory sense! Why not just use the woods? Because a grizzly might stumble upon you!

      Other modern conveniences I’d rather not live without include:

      effective birth control
      grocery stores

      The simple life does sound so romantic, doesn’t it?

      • March says:

        Hey, my simple life fantasies include mail-order, hon! Playing the dream rather than living it…. having heard lots of stories from my elderly dad, I don’t actually have a ton of fantasies about the bad old days of the Depression and earlier.

    • Kathryn says:

      Hi, Karin. As a fellow Mainer, or Maineiac if you prefer, I have the same question for you that I have for March: are there any scents that you particularly associate with Maine? ( The nice parts, I mean–i.e., not lobster bait, end-of-the-week summer traffic stalled on the highway, or, god forbid, smokestack emissions from the paper plants.) I’m working on a list to summon peaceful memories when I need to be in MA or other frantic places.

      • karin says:

        Hi Kathryn! How about BUG SPRAY!? Ha ha. Seriously, though, I’ve never thought about associating a scent with a state. I’ll have to think about that one!

  • Erin T says:

    On the TT issue: as you suggest, everyone’s children are forced to enact their parents’ dreams. Not getting to choose the way you live your life is part of being a kid. I don’t think that what TT did is any more crazy or harmful to her children than the way many “modern” parents raise their children.

    That said, she’s crazy. I have always been much more a fan of Ambedkar than of Ghandi. Not knowing anything about her other than what you wrote above, I don’t find the way she lived charming – I find it romanticized, self-centered and vaguely offensive (for the reason travelling Elle hints at above.) It must have taken determination and hard work to live the way she did – but there are lots of crazy determined, hard-working people out there. Some of them even wrote good books. (Hey, Leonard Cohen!)

    • March says:

      I’ll grant you crazy and determined. And as I said I know nothing else about her, so I don’t know how crazy/determined she really was.

      Still on the fence about the offensiveness, though. Look at all the weird, random stuff folks afflict on their children — e.g., their sports obsessions (to name one that irritates me particularly). Could it really have been that much worse to live without electricity?

      • Erin T says:

        Oh, I agree about the children bit, as I tried to convey (not very successfully, I admit.) I do believe there could be a lot of advantages and happiness in living that way. I guess what bothers me is what you wrote about her books, almost like her writing is a sort of promotion of that way of life (Kingsolver, too? I don’t know much about her.) It comes down to the Ambedkar/Ghandi thing for me: it’s all very well to spin your own loincloth and talk about God’s children and the beautiful simplicity of the village when you came from a wealthy background and you didn’t lose half your siblings to beautiful simplicity. To give up your advantages is not the same thing as never having had a chance at them. Don’t know enough about TT’s background to know if she really fell prey to this type of thinking – but obviously she is of her own time, and can’t disown that.

        • Erin T says:

          And yes I spelled Gandhi’s name wrong TWICE. Ugh. No coffee and concentrating on Ambedkar….

        • March says:

          Erin, you probably saw this elsewhere, but having now spent a little time on the TT website, I’m a little less enamored… it all seems so disconnected from reality (although darn lovely to look at!)

          And I looked in our library and did not see a single bio of Tudor, am going to look online.

  • AnnE says:

    Welcome back, and thank you for the wonderful post, March! The photos are great, and yes, I think a camera would be a fine gift for Diva. And I will take this opportunity to say how much I love your nicknames for your family. They are so funny yet loving.

    You bring up a huge topic, and I don’t think I could live “away from it all” for very long, maybe a few weeks. I do love the comforts of modern civilization, such as plumbing and electricity (if only for my refrigerator). If I could pick and choose, I would make a mish-mash of qualities from today and from times gone by.
    A previous poster hit on the mainspring of living happily, which is having the means to live well. And this usually boils down to having the financial resources to do as one pleases without harming others; i.e., living as an 18th century person, yet providing modern education and healthcare to one’s children.

    p.s. There is no such thing as a “sub-standard” poodle. 🙂

    • March says:

      Thanks. I missed you all and the blog. 😡 And I am not sure if my girls think their nicknames are as funny as I do, but there you have it. Diva never addresses me as anything other than “dude” anymore, so too bad for her.

      Well, yes! The loveliness of the past with all the mod cons! Having lived through the aftermath of the 2003 hurricane here, with no electricity for 10 days (and 13-month-old twins) was so horrible. Just trying to sort out what to feed them that wouldn’t kill them. The first few days were funny, though — everyone emptied out their fridges and freezers (why not?) and got out the gas grills. It was one giant neighborhood MeatFest until all the perishables had perished.

      PS And you are correct. Well, maybe a couple of those inbred pocket-toy poodles are substandard… poodles in general are magnificent. I am lucky to be married to a man who grew up with standards and never suffered from the misperception that poodles were sissy dogs. We only joke because Kai (at 40 lbs) is really too small for a standard and too big for a mini. He’s a perfect size – you see them that size all over Europe, but almost never here.

      • tmp00 says:

        That’s the size I grew up with and the size that I think should be standard. They also neatly answer those people who think dogs aren’t sentient; ours was nearly human in his moods and certainly in his cunning! What can you say about a dog that preferred Caesar salad and fresh peaches to kibbles?

        • March says:

          Poodles are amazing. And Kai was some cheesy breeder’s mistake; I will be heartbroken when that sad day comes far in the future if I can’t find another poodle a similar size. Really, I like having a dog that isn’t enormous.

          And poodles are radically intelligent. He is like a person in a little fur coat, and I’m (to be honest) not one of those super-soppy dog people. He’s a little too smart for his own good, maybe? But what a blessing he is.

          • MattS says:

            The smartest dog I ever had was a poodle. They’re so easily dismissed as foofy dogs and nothing could be farther from the truth. Weimareiners (sp?), on the other hand…

          • AnnE says:

            Yep. I’ve had moments when I’ve been seriously tempted to get one of those bumper stickers that says, “My poodle is smarter than your honor student.” LOL! With absolutely no offense meant to any smart kids anywhere, honest!

            And March, a neighbor has a mid-sized poodle and the breeder coined the term “moyen” for it. Sounds very classy, non?
            (Although the AKC people sniff their noses at the term, we don’t care. We don’t show our poodles, we just live with ’em.)

  • Olfacta says:

    There we were in East Nowhere, Alaska — seriously, you had to take a bush plane taxi through 13,000 ft. mountains to get to the lodge where we we stayed. No phone, no cell signal, no TV, no radio, nothin’. But one morning there appeared, in the dining room, a very American guy tapping away on his teeny little laptop. The other guests, most of them Dutch or German and there to hike the glaciers, chuckled as they passed him by.

    I heard him boast to somebody that the particular table he was sitting at was a wi-fi “sweet spot,” the only one for many miles, and that hardly anyone (but him) knew about it.

    The whole point of being in such a remote location, or so I thought, was to get away, but unplugging isn’t for everybody I guess!

    How long could you stand to be unplugged?

    I was offline for 10 days and didn’t miss it, but sure was glad to get back to the Posse and catch up. Of course, I’m a little (okay, a lot) on the distant side of 30.

    There is this perception out there that everybody under 35 or so is compelled to blog compulsively, spilling every mundane or dramatic moment of their existence out there into — what did it used to be called? Cyberspace; now the blogosphere. Is that true? I’m not in much contact with Gen Y so don’t really know.

    Incidentally, CDG Incense Series Zgorsk goes well in the woods (or in the car anyway; for a rustic lodge dining room where everybody sits together at dinner, scentlessness seemed more more appropriate.)

    • March says:

      What a wanker. If I were in remote AK, my idea of the “sweet spot” wouldn’t involve my nose stuck in my laptop.

      I could definitely be “unplugged” for longer in the … emotional sense? Not sure that’s the right word. My problem is it’s too difficult work-wise. We’re self-employed (together) but you can’t just punt all that stuff. Even with most of my bills on Autopay, stuff happens. And you should have seen my inbox! With the assumption that most people are plugged in 24/7, if someone doesn’t hear back from you in 8 hours it’s a crisis. That’s the bit I need to figure out how to manage (hire a gal Friday?) Then I’d bail for … two months. That feels right.

      The stress on my two teens was interesting. Seriously. No computer/phone was KILLING them.

  • G Knight says:

    Welcome back March! It looks as though your time away was very well spent and from the sounds of things needed. I think that blogging is a bit personal but I don’t recall you ever being over informative about your life. It is great to have this outlet and be able to commune with kindred spirits without ever having to leave the comforts of you own abode.

    As far as getting out of here and away from the muck, chaos and clutter of city life..I think everyone who has lived in a major city has had the desire to get the heck away and enjoy the serenity that a life like that would bring but I personally could have that type of haven for a vacation residence but never as a primary. Being away from all the bright lights, big shows, celebrations and etc. that city life bring would always eventually bring me back near some big city. What can I say growing up in DC ruined me I am a city boy at heart:d

    • March says:

      I am, and always have been, a city girl at heart. A small, sophisticated town struck a nice balance, as long as I could travel a few times a year to a bigger place. But there is definitely something about living in a bustling place that triggers escape mode.

      I wonder how many people who know me would read my back-to-the-land yearnings and wet themselves laughing? I mean, I’m always happy to find the local Starbucks.

  • Patty says:

    Diva does need a camera.

    You know, as long as I had a choice to live some other life, I think I could live that “old fashioned” one for a while. The older i get, the more appealing it is, but I’m pretty sure I’d be nuts inside of 6 months.

    There are days that I worry about “living my life online,” but i don’t live that much of it out here, most of it is lived in private, with hints of my life coming through. What is weirder, but not unwelcome is that a lot of people I’ve never met know me through what I write, but I don’t really know them at all. It’s an unbalance thing when you actually meet in person, and sometimes it startles me. But I still think it’s great.

    • March says:

      I need someone to pester about the camera, I have to make some decisions.

      I wondered about you, growing up on a farm. I half expected you to say, never ever again! But I guess solitude is always welcome, in the right doses.

      And yes, that is weird, I know some things about some people on here, but not a ton. And like Matt thinking Hecate was my child’s real name, some of my assumptions are wrong.

  • Judith says:

    Wonderful post and great pictures! I am going to Maine for a long w/e in a few weeks–looking forward to it even more now.

    Your questions about TT (who looks lovely in that picture) are very thought-provoking and, well, , , ,I need to think about them. The closest I ever came to anything like that was a week trek (camping) in the mountains of Peru (and, of course, our food was bought and brought). I concluded that electricity was not absolutely necessary to me, but indoor plumbing–well, that’s another story. I think there would be definite gains in living such a life, but frankly, I don’t think I could do it except for brief periods (as a sort of retreat– I think it would be very useful).

    I second what most people have said about your writing about your children. None of it has been REALLY personal, and teenagers are always going to be embarrassed (and later proud). But I sympathize with your concerns; even as a mere commenter, I was shocked when I met someone here from my “real” life (hi Billy–I know I still owe you perfume samples; sorry–I’ve been crazy with trying to finish my book)–but then, I decided it was alright (and kinda fun, in fact):)

    • March says:

      I keep thinking about it, and I’m a poseur — I want my indoor plumbing and my electricity, because I want my refrigerator. And anyone who spends as much time thinking about the *clothes* as I do should probably be thinking a bit more seriously! 🙂 Really, though, I never outgrew dress-ups. I still think of clothing as costume.

      I hope the book is going well. And funny when you meet someone in real life, yes!

  • Anne says:

    If memory serves me, and recently it often doesn’t serve me too well…… what I can remember about the Posse posters and their families is really not too much more than personal stuff you would share at the office. Now if we’re talking private perfume info, now we all have stuff on each other there.

    Yes I would go back in time. Surviving here in Miami post hurricane without air conditioning, would lead me to ask the goddess to set the “place” knob on the time machine somewhere with cooler summers.

    • March says:

      Giggling at “private perfume info.” Yes, we have the goods on each other! And I would hate to spend much time at all in central/southern Florida without air conditioning.

  • Louise says:

    Darling, so good to have you back >:d< To answer your last question first (my twisted mind processes better this way) James Beard was a fabulous chef, food writer, and general "eater of life"-just a fabulous gastronome and more. He came from my home town, Portland (OR) and spent his summers in the small coastal town where my family vacationed. I never met him, but he retained a certain Northwest friendliness well into his years of fame, and was particularly kind to my mom. She wrote and re-wrote an (unpublished) cookbook over many years, and he offered her help and suggestions along the way. Which does lead back to your post. I think it not at all odd to spend as much time as you can in Maine, or anywhere away from the crush and complexity of D.C. This all ties back to your post of several weeks ago re. the rudeness of locals here, and the intensity of everyday life. I don't yearn for another century, or bonnets and cow pie, and wouldn't ever want my internet connection down for long. But I do miss the relative simplicity of living and growing up in a stunningly beautiful, much less busy, enormously friendlier place. Oregon still keeps a lot of what I miss here, 50 years later..even with more crowds and traffic, it's very easy to slip away to the woods, or to engage the person next to you in line at the local coffee grinders. My cure is to get out hiking as often as possible, to try to institute healthy rituals (yoga, etc), and to seriously consider a Big Move in a few years. I don't know to where...but I have dreamt (literally) since early girlhood of a messy small house near a coast. Time to pay attention? As for boundaries, we all play with them often (the "hmm-did I say/reveal too much/too little to the right/wrong person self-evaluation), but the internet adds such a new dimension. My sense of you, sweetie, is that you know when to rein in, and when to open your heart, and I'm glad for it all @};-

    • MattS says:

      I know a laid back coastal town that would love to have a friendly, eclectic Oregonian join its denizens… you may end up bored Sh!tL$$ but I know an entertaining fella there whose good for a laugh or two…

    • March says:

      Actually (heh) it was the husband-wife owners of the Bagaduce who couldn’t figure out who James Beard was and didn’t care overmuch. My mom was a cookbook nut (as opposed to, you know, a cook) and we had a ton of James Beard’s stuff. I am glad to hear he’s a nice guy, what a sweetie to your mother!

      I am interested in the choices people make to get away from here. Many, many of them go to the local beaches, like Bethany — where it’s DC on the beach. They think it’s great — all the same people! Internet and cell phone! Ugh, what’s the point of THAT?

      A little messy house near the water sounds pretty perfect.

  • MattS says:

    Welcome back, Grizzly March. It looks as though you had a wonderful, well-deserved vacation that actually might have been kinda fun, despite the lack of hot tubs and wet bars.

    If I were to remove myself completely from civilization, be it island, desert, or magical forest, do I have to give up internet and cell phone? As long as I have these items and the obligatory running water (or maybe a mountain stream would work just fine), sign me up. Gimme privacy, gimme seclusion, but gimme access to ordering scents, shoes, and occasionally messaging friends. Oh, and a hot tub would be nice in my magical forest; I’d let the unicorns drink out of it.

    Now. As far as exposing the kids to this primitive lifestyle goes, I kinda have mixed emotions on that. As the son of a Baptist minister, I dealt with these issues, on a much smaller scale. We had the necessities, but not the luxuries. A pretty strict upbringing with no video games, no R- or PG-13 rated movies, no running around at all hours with whomever. But as much family time with cousins and aunts and grandparents and Walt Disney as we could stomach. Church was Mandatory, three days a week, even if you were bleeding out your eyes. It all seemed miserable at the time and I felt like a complete mutant, but I appreciate every moment of it now. I’m polite and relatively well-behaved and my cousin is now my best friend as a result. But I had no freedom and no choice and the minute I was out the door on my own I discovered both, in abundance, and made what might be considered some bad decisions. But had lotsa fun in the meantime. Anyway, my point is if kids are denied everything that is otherwise going on around them, chances are they’re gonna go hogwild first chance they get and try everything that’s going on around them. Yet, I’m still a strict believer in firm discipline and no video games–it’s made me the man I am today. :d

    I’ve rambled far too long, but on the subject of internet disclosure (you’ve brought up so many topics today and not a mention of scent), I just realized Hecate wasn’t actually your daughter’s name. I thought you and the Big Cheese were just kinda free-spirited, maybe a little pagan, maybe dabbling in some Dark Arts. This all after realizing Hecate wasn’t your cat. Anyway, I wonder also about disclosing too much, ’cause Lord knows I run my mouth on here quite a bit and I’m always talking about the site to anyone who’ll listen and one day someone’s gonna check it out and it might be the Southern Baptist minister dad and he might put two and two together and realize his son is gay. Whew! Screw it. If he’s visiting a perfume blog, he deserves to know.

    End of ramble. Love you, glad you’re back. Now tell me something fragrant. 😡

    • Musette says:


      I’ll tell you something fragrant, while March puts away the peanut butter!

      I just fell in love with leather…in SUMMER! Yowza! Very silky, those little leathers. I’m so surprised – I’d sort of fallen in love with leather in the very early spring (read COLD) but wasn’t totally over the moon – something was sort of harsh and rakey ….then I tried a bunch of them these past few days, when it was cool in the am and hothotHOT by noon. Totally different experience. They all bloomed into these wonderfully nuanced fragrances…..such a surprise!

      I banished the bulk of the citrus from the current rotation (except for a couple, when I have to visit conservative clients who wouldn’t understand the sillage of Cuir Ottoman in 90F:o

      You’re all giggling, I’m sure – you probably already knew this8-|

      • March says:

        We did a post awhile back about seasonally inappropriate scents, and I remember being surprised at the number of folks who liked to wear heavy scents — orientals and leathers — in the summer and reported that it worked great. I’m glad you’re finding the leather love!

      • MattS says:

        I’ve followed your advice, love, and have been rockin’ the Cuir Ottoman. Bandit as well. I’ve been cravin’ leather like a madman for some reason. I need more, more, more.

    • March says:

      Well, there’s the rub, isn’t it? In some ways your conservative, restrictive, orderly upbringing was good, and in other ways… btw years ago I dated the son of a Baptist minister and that boy was a total hell-raiser, I wonder if that’s a phase one goes through?

      That is HILARIOUS about the names!!! That was part of my “sharing” decision — I don’t know why, I just didn’t put their real names on there. Although each nickname is its own jokey statement — Hecate is very much into everything and an interesting little ball of electric trouble. Her twin bro Buckethead earned his nickname by running around — yep — with a bucket over his head, into the wall. Diva is Diva, and Enigma is my private burrito of mystery.

      • tmp00 says:

        I’ve always meant to ask, is it Diva (DEE-vah) like a soprano or Diva (DIVE-uh) like Diva Plaistow in the Lucia books?

        Just gave away more personal, nerdy info I guess….:d

        • Musette says:

          Right there with you, baby! Long live Lucia^:)^

        • March says:

          Oh, marry me, you fool!!!! You know Mapp and Lucia?!?!?!

          It’s destiny. Let’s meet and go shopping.

          I suppose I meant Diva as in “I am too fabulous to wash those nasty dishes in the sink, and why can’t my sister do them? and can you drive me to the mall?”

  • Elle says:

    Welcome back! Your vacation sounds blissful. But, first things first – get Diva a camera! Brilliant shot!
    So sorry to hear about Tasha Tudor. Have been too busy traveling myself and missed that. Never read her children’s books, but have two books of photos of her garden and home that I *adore*. She had the garden of my dreams and made me seriously consider moving to Vermont for a while just because I so coveted her damn gorgeous crabapple trees and flowers that I just can’t grow in the South. However, must say I was less than taken by the interior photos of her home. I’m seriously addicted to all the mod cons. Have spent way too much time in parts of the world where people don’t have them and it’s not a choice. And choice – that’s where I have a problem w/ how she raised her kids. Whatever one thinks about the modern world, it is what it is and I think it’s essential to give one’s kids a choice. I’m horrified to the core by the Texas situation and it really has nothing to do w/ their beliefs. I just ache for those kids who I feel are essentially imprisoned. I’ve heard that the Amish give their kids a choice to go out and be in the “real” world for a couple of years. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but, if they do, at least that helps some. I myself would really love to just escape everything and live quietly somewhere for a time, but…I’d *need* civilization nearby.

    • March says:

      You’ve raised several important threads. First off, I think it’s true about the Amish (called rumspringa or something similar?) that at least some of them go out and have to choose to re-enter the community. And you and another commenter further down I think raised the important difference of the religious/cult component, that it’s a much more complicated situation than just, I’m going to reject a bunch of that modern technology. I too feel bad for those kids because I think it would be very difficult for them to enter a mainstream, modern life.

      I’m going to the library in the next day or two, I really want to read more about Tudor’s life. We have quite a few of her books, which I love to read because the illustrations are so gorgeous and detailed that “reading” is really picking over the illustrations for 45 minutes…

  • Gail S says:

    First let me say that I’m so glad you’re back!!!! I WAS worried but was afraid to ask on the blog because who knows what may go on that we may not need to know about?

    Speaking of that, I don’t really know where to draw the line regarding personal information-sharing either. Since you never give your DH’s or your children’s actual names, hopefully the casual reader would be unable to reconstruct anything that could be used against anyone?

    As for the getting back to our roots question, I have always had the perfect outlet. My paternal grandparents had a farm about 250 miles from me and it’s still in the family even though they’re gone now. It’s out in the middle of nowhere and I used to spend summers there as a child and can still get away to there if I feel the need. There is TV, but only two channels so I’m not sure that even counts in this day and age :d Going to shop for anything (groceries, clothes, whatever) is an event because it takes 1.5 hrs both ways to get there. Neighbors are few and far between. One window unit air-conditioner, a water well, all relatively rustic. I do feel that my daughter missed out because my grandpa died when she was two and grandma’s health declined shortly thereafter so she didn’t have the experiences that I did. She is completely a creature of the technology age and I hadn’t really even thought about that until you brought it up! Hmmm, maybe we need to go stay in a cave for a while….

    • March says:

      I came back to several worried emails, which made me feel terrible. Of course I’d have done the same thing. I won’t go missing again without some notice!

      Oh, your solution sounds perfect! Someplace like that would add a wonderful dimension to any child’s life. And again, yes — maybe not the way you’d want to live year after year, but the sheer, shocking change of it for the summer! It sounds like paradise for a child. Life at a completely different pace. I hope you visit there when you can.

  • Lee says:

    Well, as you know hon, I’ve had my own ‘sharing too much’ experience. I’m still rethinking.

    Your holiday looks marvellous. Though I’m useless at kayaking, I’d love to have the same sense of silence and solitude. But then, that’s what my gardening’s all about..

    I do seriously think of going off-grid sometimes. Some kind of self-sufficient bearded nut job who irritates all the ecowarriors by getting it wrong constantly. But I thrive to much on human company I think – whether irl or online…

    Love to you.

  • While I was in graduate school (writing on cave walls, it was so long ago) I read hundreds of journal entries from immigrant women in New York of the 1890s. They were personal,detailed and without them, we would have very little knowledge of how life was perceived and lived on a day to day basis. Sure, there were newspapers, but these journals weren’t NEWS, they were life. And those journals were the day to day hopes and dreams and yearnings that real life were made of. Without them, I would think life was Godey’s Lady’s Book advertisements and fashions. I also read the journals of women who trekked across the country to settle the West. That’s where I learned what real courage is–leaving everything you know and striking out to follow a husband or a dream, or both, often with little skill and no sure knowledge.

    Your journaling is a similar record, only now it’s online. It doesn’t matter what your kids think, it’s your journal. You embarrass teenagers by your very existence, and I trust you aren’t thinking of changing that.

    It’s much harder to do live simply today. When my son was young and I refused to get a TV, it created a problem–was I keeping him from being “normal”? Without a TV, could you show your face socially? In his case, the answer was yes. He’s an adult now, and this summer backpacking through Mongolia. For someone else it might be “no.”

    There is a big difference, in my mind, of belonging to a cult of any sort, because a cult (or even a very strict religion) sets out to have all the answers, leaving you no choices and no unanswered questions.

    Ms. Tudor was asking a lot of questions. Not so different from Barbara Kingsolver in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” Just in different clothing. I’d love to follow that lifestyle now. When I was 35, I would have rather eaten glass.

    Keeping a journal is vital and develops a GPS system for your life’s journey. It allows you to think and dream, and plan and re-plan. It helps you choose the direction and correct things that aren’t working out. And it leaves a trace for others to know you.
    I think it’s vital, and I think the vacation was perfect for that.

    And, full disclosure, I teach journal-keeping. But I came to that from standing in a long line of women who wrote down their lives and left enough of a trace for others to follow.

    • March says:

      Yes! She was asking questions, that’s it exactly. It’s easy to sneer, giggle or judge someone like her or Kingsolver, if it pushes your buttons. But I admire their resolve, to try to live that way, to say, I choose this. And the no TV thing — good for you! I think some of my angst is prompted by this very thing — we live in such a profoundly consumerist, info-laden way that I was fascinated by the drastic change in our daily routine just by unplugging. Just being in a no-cel-signal area, yes? But we drift along like this — and the irony of me typing my angst into a computer onto a blog isn’t lost on me. I loved the disconnect of our time in Maine. The children were in some weird way happier. They had all this freedom that we had as kids, out there.

  • tmp00 says:

    I read that story about the Tudor lady, and I thought it was wonderful. Personally if there’s a tailor-made hell for me it will involve weaving my own clothes and a no cell phone, but that’s her choice and one that she managed to support all on her own. In my perfect world I would be paid to try on perfume and to diss the taste of people with more money than I, but there you are.

    As for her kids, well, she didn’t deny them education or medical care and frankly I think that most kids could use a little time away from the computer and out in nature (back in the day when I was a lid we had to climb up a rock cliff to get to school with hungry Raptors nipping at our heels, both ways)

    I know you share; I do on my own blog, and on Marina’s as well. Enough that if someone really felt like it they could figure out who I am. Enough of you have my home address from swapping, and even a few of you know where I work. But hell, I post more info on Linkedin, so what is privacy anyway? The difference is I don’t write about what happens AT work (course if I ever get canned; I signed no NDA) and I tend to be circumspect about writing about both myself and my loved ones.

    I know, you’re thinking “jeesh, if that’s circumspect

    I hope you were able to have a lobster roll when you were there, and that you enjoyed it. I have this sinking suspicion that it’s like Marina’s cheesesteak experience but the combo of lobster, Hellmans, chopped celery and a grilled hot dog bun is for me the quintessence of summer…:x

    • March says:

      And that’s the interesting center — what IS privacy? I assume it wouldn’t be too hard for a random stranger to figure out exactly who/where I am. Full disclosure – that was part of a last-minute minor freak-out, when I didn’t put “going on vacation” on the blog because I got a wave of paranoia that the rest of the sentence was “…. so come rob my house!!!” I wonder if part of it is generational — I think of “privacy” and “sharing” in a very different way than my own children do. For younger folks everything is public…

      You made me giggle with the weaving thing. I can’t believe she wove her own fabric! And let me know if you find that job, I’d like to sign up to work with you. 😡

      • Musette says:

        I think it was very smart of you to not put ‘going on vacation’ on the blog. It’s a mean world out there…and house-robbing isn’t unheard-of; witness the awful practice of robbing homes of funeral-bound folks (my former neighbor’s fears were such that when her dad passed she asked if my 3 Rotties could hang out in her yard while they were all at the funeral (the back was the most vulnerable and the funeral info was listed in the Chicago papers). A neighbor tried to come through the back gate to deliver a casserole……I did say THREE Rottweilers, right?:o

        Luckily, casserole and neighbor were unscathed, though snarky words were spoken later, though not to the dogs…

      • tmp00 says:

        I think there would be quit a flock of us in that position, wouldn’t there? But it would be entertaining, as long as one weren’t the object of our derision…

  • Musette says:

    Wow! What a holiday! It sounds divine – truly. I spent a few minutes this late morning at the farm of some friends and I was amazed at just how ….quiet…everything got when we were out there among the tomatoes (we’re talking 10 acre truck farm here) and the corn, etc….his mom says when she comes to weed, after about 10 minutes she can actually feel her blood pressure dropping.

    No time to think about the Tudor options – will repost anon – but I do want to address ‘sharing’ on the blog. I think you share a reasonable amount – after all, we’ve sort of adopted a family stance here on th blog – you don’t really give out much info on your children, nor should you. The blog is NOT private and it’s a scary world….but it’s nice to hear the lovely things that you do as a family and your thoughts and wishes for your children, etc.

    I’m sure, as your children get a bit older, they will be horrified:o to know you posted ‘personal’ info about them …but they’ll be teenagers who will be horrified 😮 that you breathe the same air as them and their friends so it’s just one more 😮 in a lonnnng line of them. It’s remembrances of trips like this one that will keep you from killing them through the :o:(([-(b-(>-)8-x

    years. And then, before you know it, they’ll be adults and they’ll be charmed by your blogging chronicles of yore….

    I think you strike a good balance. and the sub-standard poodlelicious is just delightful! So glad you had a good time.

    did you bring me back a lobster roll? Please say you did![-o<

    • March says:

      Bleh, back from the grocery store for re-stocking. Can I tell you how bored I am with grocery shopping after umpteen years? If there’s a hell, I’ll be grocery shopping with a wobbly-wheeled cart for an eternity, looking for the peanut butter.

      I mailed you a lobster roll. I’m sure it will be fine! 😉

      • Musette says:

        I used to enjoy grocery shopping…now all I can think of is Dawn of the Dead….

        • March says:

          Dawn of the Dread. $160 worth of groceries every five days or nine days, meal prep, lots of complaining, clean up.

 What I need is a wife.