Well, nobody asked, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

When I started this blog, I had no interest in writing about myself.  Although utterly and unrepentantly self absorbed, I leave the how I spend ‘my day’ style of blogging to the original blogger, the estimable Eleanor Roosevelt, and her spiritual descendants.  I wanted to improve my writing skills, and I thought I’d stake out a relatively untapped area of the blogosphere—architecture, design, gardening, and landscape with a New England, and particularly Maine, bias, and chosen mostly from the era of my childhood backwards.  This choice was not from a sense of nostalgia, although nostalgia is the inevitable result, but because the newer work is already being well covered by a number of magazines and blogs, and because I noticed that too much of the good stuff that had gone before was not being valued on its considerable merits as it once had been or should be,, and I wanted to make a gentle plea for a gentler hand on the work of the past.   As I continued to post, I found myself rambling around, and sometimes surprising myself with where I wound up.  And I found delight in the thoughtful, intelligent responses that came as some posts resonated with readers.

In the last few weeks, several months of cumulative overload have caught up with me and slowed down blogging.—-especially store renovations that seemed to go on far longer than they logically should have.   This of course was the fault of my cheap labor, who seemed to learn on the job: my electrician,  Dilettante Electric, my sheetrocker, Dilettante Drywall, and my carpenter, All Thumbs Dilettante.  And we won’t even talk about the incredibly sloppy Dilettante Painters.  The worst.

 A corner of the renovations that never end:  Notice test vignette in background, with unfinished window frame at left, mitre saw at the ready in foreground, track lighting (finally installed eight hours ago) on the floor.  The end has been in sight for days, yet it doesn’t arrive.

Just as I was beginning to see daylight, my marvelous father, 84, a delightful guy who has been refusing all entreaties to visit his doctor for months, finally capitulated—as in “okay Dad, you have two choices:  come willingly, or over my shoulder, but whichever choice, it’s going to be NOW”  A former politician, pragmatic, he chose willingly, and off to the emergency room we went, followed by ten days of follow up visits and tests.  With the store opening date well past, and my inner electrician, drywaller and carpenter all preoccupied with worry for my  elderly father, I was needless to say, fully booked.

The awful moment has arrived.  Exterior painting.  What color shall the doors be?  Tasteful, classic Essex Green?  Boring Taupe?  Orange Popsicle?  Maybe Sky Blue?  This is the sort of decision that can paralyze me.  As it is, I’ve left the interior in Primer White for the summer.  Oh dear, I feel an attack of Exterior White coming on…..

 Then, just as my father was stablizing and improving, came the heat wave.  If there’s one thing in the world the Dilettante hates more than mean conservatives or silly social climbers, it’s heat and humidity in Maine.  Perversely, I find it very appealing in tropical locations in all winter months, and will willingly pay thousands to put myself in the same soupy weather I get for free up here every July. Here I just fold up and melt.  And complain.  A lot.  My brain and body both turned to thick syrupy goo, unable to function at any speed, yet there I was, hammer in one hand, paint roller in the other, and wire crimpers held in my teeth.   Life just couldn’t get better.   Or could it?

Now, for those who think this is leading up to a decision to stop  blogging, or continue the hiatus, guess again.  I’m going to tell you even more about my week, and as promised, burnout is the operative phrase. 

I was driving the official Dilettante minivan (yeah, I know, antiques dealers drive the coolest cars.  Try hard not to be jealous), returning from a trip to the dump (the perfect errand for 95 degree weather—-one comprehends the Decameron far better after such a journey. I was watching the heat shimmer on the highway ahead, when suddenly, a pick-up truck appeared behind me, in high agitation, honking horn, flashing flashers.  Pulling over to let him by, he didn’t go by, but rather stopped alongside and announced in an urgent tone:  “your car is on fire”.   I got out, he pulled over, we dialed 911, and then, a minute later, the car exploded.   By the side of the road, in 95 degree heat.  It was most spectacular.   Traffic piled up in both directions, tourists with movie cameras took pictures, as the flames and smoke spiraled up 30 feet, a neighboring tree caught fire, and yes, it really does look just the way it does in the movies, only without Vin Diesel.  Then arrived the fire department.  They sprayed some goo, and the fire was out.   Unfortunately, I was planning a trip to Brimfield the next day, and the car was packed with overnight clothes, and with some architecture and decorating books and magazines en route from office to home.  Oh, and some gardening stuff, likewise homeward bound.   And some tools, including my great-grandfather’s level.  But I was unharmed.   And the Good Samaritan stayed for the whole thing.  Friend Sidekick came out to get me, and here I am.  On rte. 172, the burn site, with its scorched earth, and crater created by the explosion, remains a minor tourist attraction.  Obama is visiting nearby Mt. Desert next week, and I expect the interest in my crater will die down while he’s here.

And you thought I was joking about blogger burnout?  How about blogger flameout?

Beirut by the sea: The remains of the van were towed to the local garage, which enjoys a pleasant harbor view.  From this angle, although twisted and battered, it doesn’t look so bad. Notice the remains of engine on the ground in front…

But, from the side, the effects of the explosion and fire are more clearly seen.

 Inside, the manufactured interior of the car—upholstery, dashboard, carpet, door panels, are completely destroyed, yet a magazine ad with a picture of Penshurst place survives.  Notice the skeletal seat frames.  Not comforting to know that we are riding on something so combustible.  Thanks to Sidekick for the shots

And that’s how I’ve spent the last couple of weeks.  Down East Dilettante will be back, blogging about the usual–pretty houses and pretty things, in a couple of days.  Maybe I’ll start with my Fourth of July post……

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