Tag Archives: Maine

Patriotism

A European friend of mine was recently naturalized as a United States citizen and an intimate brunch was planned in his honour.

The gracious hosts tactfully and judiciously adorned their modern home with patriotic décor – just enough paraphernalia to clearly set the celebratory theme but well safe from being labelled as, for lack of a better word, “cheesy.”  Mark my words:  they decorated with flair, not with flare. There is a very fine line between the two and it’s far too easy to border on kitsch.  We’ve all seen the hideous displays of rampant Americana:  Uncle Sam garden crafts, star spangled wind chimes and table skirts, Stars and Stripes’ chip & dip trays, the Confederate stuff, etc.  My friends are too classy to succumb to such depths of despair.

Party decorations were downplayed and limited to small flags lining the delicate roof edge and red, white, and blue balloons floating at the ceiling.  It was the guests who generously contributed cliché gifts, their thoughtful gestures mostly tongue-in-cheek:  a cake in the form of a flag, a straw mat with ‘Welcome’ inscribed, a jar of Marshmallow Fluff®, a small burgeoning tree, the book A Patriot’s history, and various ‘catchy’ bumper stickers.

To commemorate the special occasion, the newest Yankee made a touching speech to the invitees.  Right afterwards, one jovial guest broke into song, rousing the small group to belt out the national anthem, “America the Beautiful”, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  I could feel a strong sense of pride resonate through the bunch. 

Listening to them strike even the high notes, I got to thinking that national pride never leaves you.  I get goose bumps when I hear my anthem, I am thrilled of (our) accomplishments big or small, and I’m embarrassed when we make a faux pas, especially on an international scale.  I’ve unwaveringly defended my Canadian roots whenever someone teased me or my beloved homeland – often for no other reason than ‘to get a rise outta me’.  I have been proud to distinguish myself while living in Boston this past decade.  To this day, retailers and cab drivers [here] still ask me where I’m from because they pick up on an accent, subtle because I don’t even notice it.

The Olympic Games in Vancouver brought out my Canadianism, big-time.  In all honesty, I was concerned from the get-go that we wouldn’t be able to pull it off.  Watching the grandiose spectacle in Beijing in the summer ‘08, I heaved a groan, knowing full well we could never ‘up’ the Chinese’s performance.  Suspending my disbelief, I eagerly watched these XXI Winter Games’ opening ceremonies that turned out to be lovely.  Perhaps not matching the levels of ‘awe-inspiring’ as Beijing or Athens – our budget was but a fraction – but we did our version:  the unfolding of Canada’s story.  Sure, some mishaps ensued but you can’t expect it to go off without a hitch.  It was reaffirming to hear the crowd’s deafening response to the athletes walking in the Parade of Nations.   And for many of them, who had no hope of ‘medaling’, that was their podium. I gave a cheer when athletes from the little nation of Latvia – my mother’s country – entered the arena, only to be disappointed that that was precisely when the television network chose to go to commercial.

During the Games, I joined a Canadian Expat Meet-up group here in Boston to watch a few events, most significantly the final hockey match.  It was almost as good as being home for the big game and we geared up to watch Team Canada take the gold.  Standing elbow to elbow with 80+ of my countrymen, none of whom I actually know, yet all of whom had also made a point of wearing maple leaf red, we cheered and fretted in unison.  High drama indeed – you couldn’t have scripted a more gripping finale to the Olympics.  My cohorts were visibly entranced by the event as Canada narrowly beat the USA in a match painfully drawn to overtime.  FULL-ON PRIDE.   Stephen Colbert said it best when he noted that “losing a hockey game is anathema to the Canadians, considering it’s our national past-time”.

Those two weeks passed far too quickly.  I had looked forward to watching events nightly, hearing of the international success stories, controversies, and record-breaking.  Friends of mine also admit to being recovering Olympic Games ‘addicts’, now finding themselves in withdrawal.  After all, there’s something pretty awesome about nations coming together to celebrate the human spirit.  The closing ceremonies were alright, albeit a curious cultural selection.  They were light-hearted with a cavalcade an appropriate amount of Canadian cheese:  inflatable Mounties and oversized beavers and moose, to name a few.  Hey, we’ve got our fair share of that too.

Interestingly, I have heard the word ‘Canada’ uttered on television more times in these past 2 weeks of American Olympic coverage than I have in 11 years here.  I’m just sayin’…..

A top weekend in Maine

With all this worldwide attention on the goings-on in Vancouver these days, why not switch gears and behold some February pictures of Maine?  Ok yeah, kinda random, but that’s what I got to share.

I like to make day and weekend trips.  And living in Boston this past decade has afforded me scores of such opportunities because there is an endless array of things to see ‘round these parts.  In just a couple of hours, you can get to:  Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, the Berkshires, Cape Cod & the islands and lots of other cool places in Massachusetts.

During the wintertime, without countless tourists lurking about, eating lobster and history buffs, drawn by the rich presidential history, avidly retracing steps of days past, many of the quaint spots in New England are transformed into sleepy towns.  Not a whole lot is going on there so we stroll, camera in hand, until the cold wearies us and we pop into a nearby café or shop.  Anyway, here are some snaps of Portland and Portsmouth, both worth a visit if you get the chance.

All White Party

ramp up

Friends of mine hosted their annual All White Party at their fabulous home in Eliot (Portsmouth), Maine.  Now hold on – it’s a stringent all white dress code I’m referring to – not segregation in full swing in the Pine Tree State (oft referred to as Lobster State). 🙂  As an architect, it was particularly thrilling for me because Jim and Rui live in an LVL home, a metal and glass house on a stunning watery site.  metallicCustomized to fit their wishes, it’s based on a standard design by Rocio Romero, the first designer to bring modern design to U.S. prefab (kit) homes since the 1950s.  The efficient and minimalistic design combined with the practicality of the simple manufacturing and construction made it economical.  I liked the airiness, the abundance of natural light, and the clean lines of the interior and exterior.  The owners furnished the interior with classic pieces of furniture, the latest fixtures and gadgets, and friends’ original artwork.

The swanky affair’s 60+ guests delighted in sweet and savoury dishes that seemed to effortlessly replenish themselves, summery drinks, white chocolate-covered strawberries and countless vanilla cupcakes.  Dancing was an all-night event with lots of 70s-80s music and a projection screen blasting images.  It was quite a sight:  bodies, dressed in white Capri pants, tees, tank tops, mini skirts, and pearls flung themselves all over the dance floor.guests In stark contrast, a few pairs of black leggings did show up to the party – those who dared to wear such atrocities were (well, just short of) raked over the coals and sent home with forewarnings regarding their attendance at next year’s event.

Walking the site, taking in the full moon’s reflection on Spinney Creek, I regarded with delight the glowing light box full of friends.  A bedazzling sight!

samplingcupcakes

hose

lady

light box