Thursday, February 28, 2013

If you write to impress...

Thornton Wilder Late 1960's, Photos from our Archives

“If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.”  

Thornton Wilder

Our Town, for which Wilder won his second Pulitzer Prize, took place in a fictionalized Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apparently I'm a style icon. For men. Prep androgyny and Amelia Earhart...

Click on the picture to see the article. How could I not put this one up?

Monday, February 25, 2013

New England Clam Chowder: The Preppiest Food?

Chowder at Newport's Black Pearl
Some have asked, what is the preppiest food?  It could easily be New England Clam Chowder.  Admittedly, the preppy culture's contribution to the world has not been overly gastronomical, so it may win this moot court simply by default.  However, a better case can be made. It is traditional.   It tastes best using fresh, local ingredients.  It can be served on the dock or at a wedding.  Or, ideally, at a wedding on the dock.

And it invites conversation.  One of the oldest and most hotly debated New England questions is "What kind of clam chowder is the best?"  This can elicit not only the digging up of old recipes, but a weekend-long road trip to taste samples first hand.

Some swear by Cappy's in Camden.

Cappy's, 1991
Others say Black Pearl in Newport serves the best.

At the Black Pearl

Some inevitably prefer the "variety" that was first created in Rhode Island, and was the subject of such state-wide pride that they quickly named it "Manhattan Clam Chowder."    But this "chowder" was so offensive to so many New Englanders that in 1939 a bill was put forth in the state of Maine that would have made calling clam chowder made with tomatoes illegal.  It came close to passing.  (Some New Yorkers deny all knowledge of it, and swear they've been framed, wrote

Life Post Crown Pilots

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guest Post: A House in Winterport, Maine

From the Bank of the Penobscot River
I asked an old and dear friend who had lived in Maine for 10 years and then moved down to Connecticut to share her thoughts.  These are her words and her pictures.

Muffy and I both love Maine.  So when she asked that I write a guest post, I was happy to oblige. May it serve as a thank you for the many gifts she has given me, including her sense of humor, clothes and accessories (in exactly the right shades of pink, green and blue) and a gift of apples and cider left on our porch.

Most of the Nutmeggers I know who travel to Maine are familiar with Ogunquit and its sandy beaches, but the best is saved for those willing to drive, at least until the Wiscassett bridge on Route 1. It is there that the rocky coast and weathered towns just begin to come into focus as the modern landscape recedes into the rearview mirror.

It is hard to put your finger on exactly what Maine offers that other places do not. The most obvious is the beautiful scenery and lack of convenient shopping, although that is changing (a section of Rockland now has a Home Depot and looks as if it’s in Connecticut). But I know I miss it and haven’t found it anywhere else.

I now know that whenever a choice is made, such as between a beautiful setting and modern malls, that something is gained and something lost. You have to decide what you are willing to sacrifice.  I’ve gained friends in Connecticut, but dearly miss the sense of peace and awe inspired by the Maine landscape. I also miss the diversity of lifestyles – there are individuals who intentionally choose to live without much material wealth and the wealthier residents don’t make a show of it, if they have any sense.

Last summer, I was fortunate to visit some relatives in Maine who don’t live on the coastline, but are in close proximity to the natural beauty the state offers, including lakes, rivers and the sea. My hostess, Jane, lives in an 1820’s colonial on a hill, white with black shutters, built by a sea captain, reached by a long driveway, lined with trees.

Jane appreciates the history of the house and says she often imagines long skirts rustling against the bannister as she ascends the main stairs.  Jane has a particularly close attachment to her house as it was the one in which she grew up as a girl, when not living overseas as a young woman and adult, and is the place that she and her daughters, also world travelers as adults, call home.

Jane’s parents now live down the road in a smaller, more manageable dwelling, but they were the ones who first noticed the house on the hill, before it was even for sale. Jane says that her father, who was at college at the time, used to come home every weekend to visit his wife-to-be in Monmouth, near Augusta. He set out one Friday, hitched a ride with a man who “took him as far as the driveway.” The person driving the car was Mr. Jones, who sold the house to Jane’s father 30 years later.

Jane said that Mr. Jones worked for a paper company and did all the renovations. He put in the bathrooms and created a summer room, once a carriage house and woodshed. Before him, the previous owner created an apple orchard, remnants of which exist today.

Two summer’s ago in Maine, there was a happy reunion of all three of Jane’s daughters. The youngest, Quincy, was having a birthday, as well as celebrating a new job and apartment in Belfast (which has changed drastically since I first rented there in 1989, but still retains a rough-around-the-edges charm) and the second oldest, Caitlin, was home for a visit from the Netherlands where she works and studies. The oldest, Molly, was also home and lives in Maine, but often travels to Asia for work. There were also two couples from the Netherlands, one couple working in the states, while the other was taking a vacation, which all four often do together.

The house, decorated with its treasures from away, reflects the values this family holds dear. They are not afraid to experience the world, but they also know that there is a safe harbor waiting for them to which they can always return.

And isn’t that something to which we all aspire, no matter what your style of car, clothes, home or accessories?

Valerie Bannister is a freelance writer who lives in Chester, Connecticut with her two daughters.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What to Wear with Nantucket Reds

A  palette for Nantucket Reds
One of the most frequently asked questions  is, "what should I wear with Nantucket Reds?"  For most,  the palette is very narrow: blue, white and natural.  Stay away from pink and red, and green is difficult.  Then use motif belts to add some color if desired.

While this is limiting, here are a handful of possible pairings.

(Note:  Belts are from Leather Man Ltd.)

With Striped Button downs

With Navy or White Polo Shirts

With Seersucker

With Navy Blazers

With Oxford Cloth Button downs

A little Kelly Green goes a long way.

With Cotton Cable Knit Crew neck Sweaters

With Cotton Fisherman's Knit Crewneck

With Norwegian Birdseye Crew neck Sweaters
Nantucket Red Shorts

With Wool Irish Fishermn's Crewneck

Other Nantucket Reds questions:

Q:  Are Nantucket Reds from Murray's Toggery Shop the best of breed?
A:  Murray's Nantucket Reds are now imported from China,k although they have begun to add a made in the US line.  Other options/sources of "Breton Reds" include:
Q:  When is the correct time to wear Nantucket Reds/Breton Reds?
A:  While summer is traditional, many think of theirs as three season, as long as they can comfortably go sockless.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine is a hub, and some would the jewel, of mid-coast Maine.  It is a tourist destination during the summer months but is also a bustling year round town as well.

The architecture is wonderful, and often starchy white.

Camden is also the source of Pop! Tech, enabled by John "Trust me - I am so visionary I fired Steve Jobs from Apple" Sculley. 

Water is everywhere.
Even the Government offices are beautiful

The green is perfect for lunch, with benches down to the water.  It is also a great place to see dogs; Camden may compete with Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia for volume of strolling dogs.

The view of the harbor is always impressive.

The library is the heart of the town... meetings and festivals alike.

The Back of the Library

Open Air Theater

Many come to the  Camden library to get some work done.  That more libraries across New England have freely available and better-than-hotel speed WiFi (even when they are closed, as long as you huddle close by) is such a public good.

The windows provide their familiar and spectacular view of the harbor.

The Windjammers,seen through the window, are always inviting.



The entire scene one could drive by in about ten seconds, yet walking and looking could fill days.



The Mary Day \on the horizon from Lincolnville.