Skip to content

June 23, 2015

Spring in Maine / Snow’s finally gone / Photos & Music / The best Presidential story gets better! – Life in Maine with family & music – the Marcrescue blog

by Marc Ratner

Greetings All,

It’s been a very busy few months since I last wrote an update about life in Maine and the workings of a very independent music company.

If you read my last update – there was a story about how my family has a handshake connection with Abraham Lincoln.

At the end of this letter – I’ll reprint a reply to that story from a friend of mine that has a similar story about another great American president. Side by side – the two stories are astounding and remind us that our history is not as distant as we might imagine.

When I last wrote – Maine was covered in snow.

Which impacted our annual spring Maine Maple Sunday visits to our favorite maple sugar / syrup producers. They open their doors up one day a year for everyone to visit and celebrate the process.

We hit our three favorites again this year – first off stopping at Sparky’s – where they were busy loading wood onto the fire that boils down the syrup in a contraption that resembles nothing else.

The first thing you notice is that unlike most years there was still snow on the ground – a lot of it:

IMG_8164
Of course this is Maine.

A reminder of that:

IMG_8165
It takes a lot of wood to make maple syrup. On average it takes boiling down about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup:

IMG_8166

IMG_8168
We also love stopping at Simmons & Daughters Sugar House (always a party goin’ on) for MAPLE cotton candy – nothing like it:

IMG_8206

IMG_8213

IMG_8217
And there’s no one more helpful and friendly than Mark at Bradstreet Maple Farm – he spends the entire day educating everyone about the process:

IMG_8183

 

This year was going to be a complete mystery on how much syrup he was going to be able to produce.

Every season he has a chart of the previous year’s production and holds a guessing contest on what this year will produce.

Winner gets free syrup:

IMG_8203
This year will be off – because putting in the taps on the trees was a bit more difficult. As Mark demonstrates – this was how deep the snow was – that he had to work through to place the taps:

IMG_8198
You might think real maple syrup is expensive – but when you figure it out – I’m betting the producers don’t even come close to making minimum wage.

They don’t do it for the money – they do it because they love it.

This year we hit a another maple celebration in Vermont when we went to visit family.

Another state that takes it seriously:

IMG_8280
They had lots of different maple products for sale at the festival but nothing came close to how wonderful these were – homemade donuts with fresh maple cream.

Forget about Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme etc.

They got nuthin’ compared to these:

IMG_8295
And ya can’t beat the entertainment – free for kids:

IMG_8306
Speaking of delicious.

Spent a few days in Philadelphia at the annual Non-Comm Music gathering – where public radio stations and music folks get together for meetings and amazing musical performances.

I was so busy running from one great performance to another I didn’t have a moment to stop to take any photos this year.

Except for the one time I slowed down for the yearly trip to Jim’s Steaks:

IMG_8343

IMG_8348
Thank goodness I don’t live near Jim’s or Nellie’s Donuts.

How do people resist the temptation?

I have no idea.

Of course the food in Maine isn’t too shabby either.

Backing up a bit to the end of winter – a snowstorm on Valentine’s Day is no surprise – but that didn’t stop us – a great night out at the Fog Bar in Rockland. Movie’s projected on the wall, a great new duck and sweet potato Shepherd’s Pie and fresh oysters!

Valentine's Night - Fog Bar - 02-14-2015
But that winter of snow & cold seems long ago now.

Our indie music company Mishara Music released some very cool albums this Spring.

First a new EP by Cass Dillon – an amazing songwriter and performer. Second – an album unlike any other – poetry, storytelling and some great guitar licks by Dave Morrison and then – containing a track from both – our 6th free song sampler on Amazon.com:

Mishara Spring 2015 release
Listen to Cass at our YouTube listening channel for his EP “Oregon Road”. Amazing melodies:

Listen to Dave on Soundcloud – storytelling like you’ve ever heard before:

We’ve found that encouraging people to sample free songs from the company builds our audience exponentially.

Here’s a sampling of some reviews on Amazon from our samplers – you’ll understand why we do this – we’ve been building a brand:

Amazon Reviews June 2015
For our latest offering on Amazon this spring – we put together a sixpack of free songs:

Amazon Singles Sixpack
Brand new this week on YouTube / Spotify / Soundcloud – is a 10 tune playlist of some of our favorite songs – with the kicker that they’re all available as free downloads on those Amazon samplers.

Here are the listening links.

YouTube link:

Spotify:

Soundcloud link:

So now here’s the link to Mishara Music on Amazon – where you’ll find those ten free songs and another 60+ additional free downloads:

http://tinyurl.com/MisharaMusic

How do all those free tracks do?

Charts on Amazon (and iTunes) change hourly – but checking randomly right now as I type this – here’s what Mishara Music has on the Top 100 Free All Format Chart on Amazon at this moment.

10 of the top 100:

Amazon 10 Top 100 06-22-2015
As I tell our artists and anyone else that will listen to me.

Build your audience – build your brand.

More new music, artists and always additional free songs are coming this summer.

In the meantime – maybe we can sneak out a bit and enjoy this wonderful change in the weather.

The blooms on the apple trees this year were the most bountiful in years:

IMG_8368
I have two favorite types of flowers and both are almost wild in Maine – they’re all over the place.

My favorite aroma flower is the lilac:

IMG_8377
And my favorite visual flower is the Iris:

IMG_8433
We also have that wonderful giant bowl of water called the Atlantic Ocean nearby.

The sailing schooners in Camden harbor have been prepping for a busy summer season.

You can sail on the biggest of schooners for a week:

IMG_8449
Or for two hours on the “Owl”:

IMG_8456
My wife lives for being outdoors in the summer.

We try to make the most of it.

A road trip ends up with a great view of the sunset over a small beach:

Chairs 2 at Sunset
Our favorite used bookstore is only open on weekends in the summer in a small shack on an ocean cove tucked away on a side road in the middle of nowhere.

You’d be amazed at how many people find their way there.

(Of course – you need a lot of reading material around here startin’ about November for about five months or so):

IMG_8410
Do people visit lighthouses because of the lighthouses?

Or because they just happen to be built in the most scenic spots?

I suppose we could do a survey – but once you’re there – who cares:

IMG_8413
Got our first camping trip in.

For us camping is not so much about going to a different place physically – it’s more about the psychological change.

So we went all of about five miles down the road to Camden Hills State Park:

IMG_8427
We can walk the path along the ocean and glimpse a view of a schooner sailing by and of Islesboro Island out beyond:

IMG_8426
Our favorite campsite is in a wonderful stand of beautiful trees:

IMG_8422
And if there’s one thing most important at the end of a great day of hiking and camping – it’s roasting marshmallows over the campfire:

IMG_8428
This past weekend was fun.

Saturday was the annual Summer Solstice street celebration in our neighboring town Rockland:

IMG_8464
Big fun – restaurants giving out free samplers of their dishes, games for kids, demonstrations, booths and on every side street they had music playing – acoustic musicians on one corner, a dj on the next, then a rock band – here’s a local jazz orchestra:

IMG_8458
But my favorite this year was the Juke Rockets Blues Band.

What’s the old saying? “Youth is wasted on the young”

As you get older you learn to never underestimate anyone.

My suggestion – don’t ever walk up to the guy with the big white beard and say “Hey, you wanna have a blues guitar showdown?”

You’d lose.

Come to think of it – if ZZ Top is ever looking for an additional guitar player – I got the guy:

IMG_8463
Sunday was Father’s Day.

I ran into a T-Rex at a showing of Jurassic World:

Jurassic World Father's Day 06-21-2015
Remember when I talked about a couple of my favorite foods up above in the letter?

I gotta say – there’s nothing better than home cooking.

I got treated like royalty on Father’s Day.

First off Kim made a bbq hash for brunch – with smoked turkey from our favorite bbq joint – “4 Points BBQ” in Winterport, Maine. Smoked turkey, onions, garlic, peppers, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, some secret seasoning etc.

Alas no photo – but – here’s a photo of a similar hash from a camping trip last summer – that used some “4 Points” beef brisket instead of the smoked turkey – you’ll get the idea:

Beef Brisket, Sweet Potato, Potato, Onion Hash cooking Searsport Shores 07-27-2014
I thought that was my treat for the day – boy was I wrong.

Dinner at Kim’s mom was a total surprise – homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert – using corn bread instead of a hard biscuit – so much better – but the big treat was my favorite dish of all time – Crayfish Etouffee – made by Kim’s mom – who learned to make it when they lived in Lafayette, Louisiana years ago – with fresh flown in Louisiana crawfish.

I ate more food in one day than I usually eat in a month.

Nothing like Father’s Day with the family:

Father's Day Crawfish Etouffee Strawberry Shortcake 06-21-2015
Which reminds me – let’s revisit that Lincoln story.

In the last post I wrote – I described the story of my father and uncle meeting an army veteran that my grandfather brought home from the “Old Soldiers Home” for dinner in the 1930’s when they were young kids.

Mr Carpenter shook their hands saying “Shake the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln”.

Turns out President Lincoln came to meet with his generals in 1862 and Mr. Carpenter was a young soldier at the meeting location and was part of the line that Mr. Lincoln walked down – shaking each soldier’s hand.

Which means that my father and uncle were two handshakes away from Lincoln.

Which means that I and my son (who’s 9 and has shaken the hand of my now 91 year old uncle – (who’s got his own great stories – read about him in the last post) are only 3 handshakes away.

150 years after the end of the civil war.

Pretty amazing.

But with this letter from my friend John Baker – who’s hand both my son and I have shaken – it gets better.

Here’s John’s story:

At my prep school in Groton, Mass, was a retired teacher, Mr. Richards, who had taught both my father and grandfather (class of 1909). Mr. Richards was revered. He died before I actually went to the school, but not before my older brother did.

On a “Parents’ Weekend” as it was called, in 1959 my father called on Mr. Richards (now THERE’s an old phrase) with me, my brother and my mother.

My father, after tea, became solemn, and asked Mr;. Richards to “tell my sons about the very elderly man you met and spoke of to my class back in 1934, my senior year, which was your annual story for the senior class.”

Mr. Richards nodded slowly, looked at us, and said “I haven’t told this story since I retired on 1951, but your father has asked.”

In 1888 when I was a student at this school, and home for Easter, my father introduced me to an aging member of our church in Boston. The man, it turned out, was over 100 years old. My father, who had seen and spoken to this gentleman many times, asked me to remember and revere that handshake, because, he said, “You have just shaken the hand of a man who, as a young boy, shook the hand of George Washington.”

Father then said that we two boys were to remember that we had just shaken the hand of a man who had shaken the hand of a man who had shaken the hand of the “Father of our country.”

Mr. Richards died a year later at the age of 90, and I must think that we may have been the last of his “boys” to hear that story.

John

So let’s recap.

History seems so long ago.

But in these instances – it’s close up and personal.

If we happen to run into each other and we shake hands….that means that you will be four handshakes away from Abraham Lincoln (I’m three) and five handshakes away from George Washington (I’m four).

Even better.

My son is nine.

In 2076 – the 300th birthday of the United States he’ll be 70.

And astonishingly – only three handshakes away from Abraham Lincoln and four away from George Washington.

I love history.

But history doesn’t need to be about events hundreds of years ago.

I was lucky enough to celebrate history earlier this year.

For my son’s birthday in January we did a 3 day road trip to NYC.

We ride the rails:

On the road again - 01-04-2015
My wife and I were lucky enough to have signed up for a pair of tickets to a show last October that came through in December when we’d almost given up hope.

I’ve been in the entertainment business for over 40 years and actually had been to the show before – escorting one of the guests appearing that night – lady named Cher. Now that was an experience.

But tickets to this show – for the audience – were never given out to anyone except regular people that wrote in for tickets.

They never cared about catering to any VIP’s or the record companies.

You want tickets – you write in like everyone else.

They even warned you – if you’re chosen to receive tickets – you have to answer a random trivia question about the show.

I knew the answer to the question when they called.

They only wanted real fans in the audience.

My wife and I were real genuine fans.

Watched every night.

And miss him so much.

But we got to spend one great afternoon in the theatre for a taping.

IMG_8039
I got a hat. A treasure:

IMG_8357
I was there for a part of history.

Marc

PS We’re all busy these days.

Everyone I know is busier than they’ve ever been.

But I guess there are still people out there that find the time to do the unexpected.

Have a bit of fun.

Something I have to do more of.

Don’t know who and don’t know why – but I sure did appreciate it:

Stop
Marc Ratner

Mishara Music

 

E-mail: marcrescue@gmail.com

Website: http://www.misharamusic.com

WordPress: http://www.marcrescue.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marc.ratner

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/marcrescue

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: