FREE fall/winter 2019 â&#x20AC;˘ vol. 22, no. 3
Resurrecting the Past Preserving the Harriman Barn plus
the big idea maine dwelling a tree falls in lovell fierce girl
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Critical thinking, vision, inventiveness . . . they are all means to an end. Without them, daily life tends to follow a fairly predictable process. It’s when we think outside the box that things begin to get interesting. Unlike rote learning and the accumulation of facts, critical thinking relies on our ability to reason and reflect upon the logical connection between ideas. Not everyone has that ability (or inclination) but, thankfully for us, there are those who do. This issue of Lake Living features quite a few of those people. All of the people involved in preserving Harriman Barn were able to envision the end game that would turn a neglected two-hundred-year-old barn into the beautiful home that it is today. As owner Robin Chiarello says in the article about her new home, “you have to have the mindset to adapt to change and use creative problem solving.” Michael Lyons would surely agree with this statement. “The Big Idea” is about his notebook of ideas for inventions and the process he has relied on to turn them into realities. I’m guessing Stephen Schmitt, whose renovation process is guided by his initial vision of what each house he tackles will look like when he’s done, would also agree. Even felling a tree requires vision, not to mention trigonmetry and physics upon occasion. In each story you’ll find within, observation precedes action. Perhaps the common denominator in critical thinking is the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. We could all use a little more of that. Laurie LaMountain Editor & Publisher Laurie LaMountain Staff Writers Leigh Macmillen Hayes Photographers Ethan McNerney, Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Diana Fallon Graphic Designer Dianne Lewis Proofreader/Copy Editor Leigh Macmillen Hayes Lake Living is published quarterly by Almanac Graphics, Inc., 625 Rocky Knoll Rd, Denmark, ME 04022 207-452-8005. lakelivingmaine.com e-mail: email@example.com ©2019. All rights reserved. Contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher. Annual subscriptions are available by sending check or money order for $20 to the above address.
fall/winter 2019 • vol. 22, no. 3
6 resurrecting the past
16 why retire to maine
10 the big idea
18 a tree falls in lovell
12 maine dwelling
20 book reviews
14 fierce girls
24 a good keeper
by leigh macmillen hayes
by laurie lamountain
by laurie lamountain
by laurie lamountain
cover photo by ethan mcnerney baby jane bakes a cake
by leigh macmillen hayes
by leigh macmillen hayes
by the owners & staff of bridgton books
by laurie lamountain
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Resurrecting the Past Preserving the Harriman Barn by leigh macmillen hayes
uilt between 1800 and 1820, the Harriman Barn in Lovell once housed horses and hay on Slab City Road. In notes Cathy Stone of Lovell Historical Society shared, “According to the Fox family, who sold the structure, it was reported that the barn came from ‘down the street, probably on Heald Pond Road near the Gardiner’s home where an early foundation could be seen.’” David Harriman had it moved to property on Slab City that he’d purchased from Sampson Heald’s estate in 1845. The homestead was later sold to Charles H. Fox in 1916 and Frederick C. Fox in 1988. The building was originally a 30’ x 34’ hand-hewn English frame (eave entry). Eng-
lish style means that the main doors were on the barn’s side wall rather than the end gable wall. It would have been organized as a four bent, three bay system with the center aisle or bay serving as the threshing floor and two outside bays: tie up on one side; and the mow (pronounced MAU, not MOE) on the other where hay or grain in the sheaf was stored.
“Twenty to thirty percent of antique frames have either been moved once or cut from other frames,” explains local timber framer J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post and Beam in Fryeburg. “It’s important to save these buildings. Many have been neglected for 60 or 70 years since they were built for farming techniques that were basically dated prior to the Second World War. It’s amazing that some are still standing. A great way to save a barn is to disassemble it.” Like many Maine barns, this one had fallen into disrepair. Just before it was about to be razed as an exercise for the Lovell Fire Department, Scott invited Interior Designer Robin Taylor-Chiarello, who serves as a board member of the National Council on White House History and associate member of the American Institute of Architects, to look at it. “Scott and I stood on a knoll with the sun streaming through the trees onto the rusted roof,” says Robin. “It needed attention and I fell in love with the beams and in awe of what had happened in it for the past 200 years. I’ve been intrigued by the design of old barns and their history and potential for creativity. It’s about not only saving them, but also relocating them and then the creativity involved in adaptive reuse.” “When we walk inside, they speak to us,” says Scott. “Older buildings have soul and we feel it and see all the work that went into it.” Before he could take the frame down, Scott had to strip the building by peeling off all the tin and wooden shingles upon the roof, and removing doors, windows, and siding. He salvaged as much as possible, including the floor boards, but he said that an enormous amount couldn’t be saved. Once the timber frame was exposed, he began to document it with scale drawings. Beam by beam, he drove out the pegs that held the frame together and measured, tagged all the parts and noted those corresponding tags on his drawing. “I use a grid system to label the parts depending on how it’s oriented, for instance G-1-1 means Girt One in Bent One,” explains Scott. “I label everything on the outside, which is not as pretty as the Roman Numeral marriage marks chiseled into the wood by the original builders.” As he began disassembling the barn, Scott noted that there was a 46’ sill timber underneath so he surmises that a 12’ bent was added after it was moved to Slab City.
Scott transported the beams via a flatbed truck to his workshop on Portland Street in Fryeburg. There, he pressured washed and lightly scrubbed each piece with a mild soapy solution to lift any loose dirt. Then, using many of the same hand tools a carpenter would have used in the 1800s, he began making repairs. Some of the wood had rotted, so that meant he used a technique called scarfing to repair it—patching in a piece of wood of similar age and patina using traditional mortise and tenon joinery. “I try to make repairs seamless,” says Scott. “It is there, but with the correct joinery it looks like it fits.” Because old barns were built low to reach hay lofts, and Robin desired eight foot ceilings in her new retreat, Scott added two feet to the bottom of each post. When the site was ready, with a crane and the help of a few others, he reassembled the frame and then added a new 18’ x 24’ timber frame to accommodate a guest bathroom and dining room.
After that, he handed the project over to local contractor Bryce Thurston of Thurston Homes. Bryce’s job was to close the building in while keeping the timber frame visible on the inside. Not all the lines were exactly straight given that the fifth bent that had been added in about 1840 was a bit tweaked. “We had to string a chalkline,” says Bryce, “and get an average straight line. It was tricky to board. Everything is nailed to a new exterior
frame, but it looks like it’s nailed to the old. We had to come up with ways to make it look right but be structurally sound.” After the exterior walls were up, the roof was next. “We didn’t want to rely on the purlins (horizontal timbers that connect and support rafter trusses) for weight,” says Bryce. So . . . above the roof peak is an engineered beam not visible to the eye. Though the challenges were many, listening as Bryce and Robin share their part
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of the story, it’s obvious that they loved trouble-shooting together. For instance, there were no stairs in the barn and Robin wanted a comfortable step, so Bryce used hemlock to create deep risers and added stringers on the side to fit in with the timber frame. At first they had considered a wrought iron railing, but thought that would not do justice to the setting. Bryce found the solution by cutting out a slot in a left-over purlin to make room for a hand to comfortably grasp the railing. Where plumbing was needed to reach the second floor, a short beam was added beside another. If Bryce hadn’t pointed it
out to me, I never would have noticed. Bob Rugg, who works with Bryce, hollowed out a shorter beam that now hides a PVC pipe. In the master bathroom Bob also figured a way to get electricity from a conduit in the first floor to the second by splitting a beam vertically, tucking the wires inside, and putting the beam back together. It now blends in as if it had been there all along. In addition, Robin wanted windows to capture the magnificent view of the White Mountains, but not interfere with the frame that was already in place. They found windows that fit behind the braces and tie beams, which seemingly enhance
the view and make it feel as if the outdoors has come inside. The challenges allowed for creativity, and an obvious bond developed and sense of humor prevailed throughout this twoyear project while Bryce along with his two colleagues, Bob Rugg and John Bartlett, fit the pine paneling to the old timber frame and completed the finish work. “New timber frames are easy,” says Bryce. “I prefer the challenges of older ones. It makes the job interesting. Robin was gracious to take the old barn. I walked in with Scott and thought, ‘Oh My God.’ But once you got rid of the clutter, I could see why she wanted to save this old girl. I could just see the farmers carving it out with a hatchet. Why not save it?” “We all went into it knowing we had to be flexible,” says Robin. “You run into things unforeseen because it’s not new construction. You have to have the mindset to adapt to change and use creative problem solving.” “Robin’s vision saved the barn and kept it in Lovell,” says Scott. “There’s an energy in these old buildings. Even if we move a building to a new location, the soul is still there.” Her dream is that the Harriman Barn will serve as a rural retreat for her and her family. The house features an openconcept living room/kitchen, dining room, master bedroom suite and guest bathroom on the first floor with two bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a tucked away playroom on the second. As owner of Robin Taylor Design for the last 30 years, the barn allowed her to follow her passion to fashion the atmosphere she desired combining the simple lines of the timber frame with other materials. Nick Nataluk of Fieldstone Landscaping complemented the design with interior and exterior stone work, including the wall surrounding the living room chimney and behind the master bed. Accents include gliding barn doors, a “Cowboy” bathtub, and imported porcelain tile flooring that looks like reclaimed timber. As much as possible, Robin used the work of local artists such as Rod Blood of Rod Iron Designs, who created the lamps, and paintings by Roger Williams, Pat Thurston, Joelle Goff, and Gail Freeborn. Thanks to Robin and the team she assembled for the resurrection, a Lovell barn has been preserved through adaptive re-use that represents a physical reminder of the town’s agricultural past. And it’s a work of art. R
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The Big Idea by laurie lamountain
lmost all of us have had an idea for an invention that could make us fabulously rich, but few of us have what it takes to turn that idea into a reality. We applaud our cleverness in coming up with the concept and then summarily dismiss it. The “inventiveness” required to design, patent and produce a product is rare. It takes a combination of obsession, tenacity and endeavor, along with a bit of luck, to actually invent something. The most common patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are utility and design patents. According to the USPTO, utility patents, which protect the utility or functional aspects of an invention, account for 90% of all patents. Design patents protect the appearance, design, shape or ornamentation of an invention, but do not protect the utility of a product unless a utility patent is also filed (more on that later). The USPTO currently receives around 600,000 utility patent applications and 40,000 design patent applications each year, of which roughly half the utility patents and about two-thirds of the design patents are granted. But before you rush to file an application for your big idea, consider what it takes for those applicants to achieve their end goal. One of my favorite NPR programs is “How I Built This.” I was intrigued by the story of Yvon Chouinard, who was born in Lewiston, Maine, and in 1973 started a little company called Patagonia to design and manufacture clothing and climbing gear he couldn’t find elsewhere. I was fascinated to hear how, at 27 years of age, Sara Blackly created a line of women’s undergarments called Spanx that, according to a 2018 Forbes report, put her net worth at $1 billion. I marveled that in 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a bagless vacuum cleaner, the design of which took him five years to perfect and is now one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world. Dyson had earlier inventions as well as several after his signature vacuum cleaner, but the Dyson Cyclone is his greatest achievement and what made him a multi-billionaire. In a 2007 interview by
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U.S. Patent Jun. 7, 2016
Fast Company magazine, he acknowledged the importance of failure in the invention process in particular and life in general. “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.” That’s a really important point to ponder. It’s rare that an inventor gets rich quick, which is probably why there aren’t more of them. It takes a special kind of stick-toitiveness and willingness to accept failure that few of us possess. Michael Lyons is one of those people. Several years ago, we featured a piece about the front pocket wallet Lyons designed in response to the almost immediate relief from back pain he experienced after following his chiropractor’s advice to stop wearing his wallet in his back pocket. When his quest for a comfortable front pocket wallet turned up empty, he designed one using the front pocket of his jeans as a template. He applied for a patent and five years later was
granted both a design and a utility patent for his wallet. Rogue Industries, the company he founded on the basis of that wallet, now produces around thirty variations on the original front pocket design profile. Lyons points out that of all the patents that are issued, only about one percent become commercially viable. And while a patent will prevent others from stealing your idea, there’s still all of the development, prototyping and marketing to be done. “It’s almost dangerous as far as being an inventor. You have to be careful. I’ve got files of probably sixty ideas that I said, ‘I’m not going to pursue these.’ I might work on it, I might tweak it, but I’m not going to go through with the actual patent process because so few items actually have commercial success,” says Lyons. It’s a curious fact that most inventors are serial inventors. One can surmise that they are either inventive by nature or find the invention process addictive. Another prolific Maine inventor was Rufus Porter, whose obituary described his “long career of usefulness as an inventor of turbine water wheels, windmills, flying ships, rotary engines, and sundry contrivances for abolishing as far as possible agricultural labor.” Porter was born in Massachusetts in 1792, but moved to Maine as a child. He even attended Fryeburg Academy for a while. Besides calling Maine home for at least part of their lives, Porter and Lyons also have in common that they are serial inventors who design(ed) with similar intention. While Porter excelled in finding ways to shift the burden of labor from man to machine, Lyons is good at inventing ways to save our backs. Besides the front pocket wallet, Lyons has designed and patented a fluke propulsion system for kayaks that takes foot and leg power via a linear pedal system to propel a tail mounted in the stern of the vessel. The concept is similar to that of a dolphin’s tail
in lieu of the flywheel on a rowing machine and the result is greater propulsion with less effort. He has also designed, patented and prototyped a dual keel system for kayaks that takes the strain off the lower back by allowing the paddler’s heels to rest below the hull of the kayak. The twin keels also allow the vessel to track better. A third and unintended advantage is that they improve stability, making it easier to get in and out of the kayak. He recalls when he brought a brand new Lincoln kayak to a boat builder in North Yarmouth and asked him to cut two holes in the hull for the molds, the guy was skeptical but did it. Even though he holds patents for both inventions, he has shelved the fluke propulsion patent because it would add too much weight (45 pounds) and require 104 components. The dual heel keel patent, however, he feels is feasible, though he is inclined to license the technology to a manufacturer who has the equipment to produce it. In both instances, despite years of development, Lyons has reached the conclusion that his kayak inventions have too narrow a market to justify his risk. When I make the observation that the difference between him and us is that we quickly dismiss the feasibility of our big idea, while he will take it through the patent process and even move into the prototype phase before facing the possibility that it won’t fly, he replies, “Almost every guy out there needs a wallet. On the kayaks, it’s not every person that’s out there. It’s a niche within a niche. Any idea you have, and I mean any idea, whether it’s a kayak propulsion system, whether it’s a wallet, whether it’s a new way to make bread, you are going to get detractors and if you’re going to be an inventor, you absolutely have to go into it not taking that personally. You have to not only anticipate that, you have to plan on it being part of the equation,” says Lyons. “You have to have some ego in the game, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to deal with all the rejection you’re going to get, but at the same time you also have to be able to let go and say ‘OK, I think this is a really cool idea, but is it realistically viable?’” One possible reason inventors tend to be serial inventors is that problem solving is an ongoing and evolving process that, once activated, tends to stay in motion. I also think good old Yankee ingenuity has a lot to do with it. The entrepreneurial spirit runs strong in New England, driven in large part by necessity (the mother of invention) and
a demanding climate: think ear muffs, L.L. Bean boots, snow shovels and snowmobiles. Lyons’ latest invention is a snow removal tool that fits into his ergonomic equation of taking stress off the lower back. “This came about because something happened with my snowplow guy, his equipment broke down, whatever, and I ended up shoveling for over three hours. I took my time, but as I was doing it I was thinking, there has got to be a better way. And I did not want to do it
“I think that a lot of people feel as though they have to have a technical degree in order to be an inventor, and the fact of the matter is, some of the best inventions are developed by people who don’t have specialized degrees.”
with a gasoline powered snowblower.” His design is similar to my 25-year-old sled shovel that I push along the driveway to scoop snow, but is immeasurably advanced by a foot pedal that ejects the snow from the scoop. Recalling his childhood pastime of chucking an apple off the end of a stick was the big idea behind the ejection pedal. The shovel/scoop is in the design phase and has a provisional patent that protects the concept. He hopes to have a prototype completed before snow flies and even has a freezer full of snow from last winter to test it. If and when he puts it on the market, I’ll be first in line to buy one. “I’ve always been intrigued by the creative process and I’ve always worked on designs. But when I worked for GTE Sylvania, my background was not in engineering so they didn’t want me working on the intricacies of actual product design. They wanted me to stay in my silo of marketing research. New product development had always been an area of interest for me, but I could only participate in portions of it previously.” When I express my surprise that only three of his sixty ideas have been patented, he tells me he had an idea for a bifurcated blanket that works on the same principle as dual-zone climate control in a car. Having written another article for this issue on menopause, I react with enthusiasm and suggest he patent it as “The Menopause Blanket,” but he tells me someone beat him to the punch. I wonder if it was a woman. Lyons’s advice to would-be inventors: “I think that a lot of people feel as though they have to have a technical degree in order to be an inventor, and the fact of the matter is, some of the best inventions are developed by people who don’t have specialized degrees. It’s not a prerequisite. If someone has the technical expertise it’s fantastic, and if they have degrees, that’s a plus, but it’s not an absolute necessity. The other thing is that the patent process will take longer than expected. You’re dealing with a government agency that’s dealing with a massive backlog, so it’s going to take years. You should plan on rejection. I approached twenty-four companies [with the front pocket wallet] that said no. I really believe that being obsessive is an attribute. You have to be reasonable about it, you have to be pragmatic, but you have to be willing to go deep on these projects because, if you don’t, you’re not going to come up with something which is different enough to be patentable.” R
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maine dwelling by laurie lamountain
ife sometimes has a way of taking you down an entirely different road than the one you intended . . . with surprisingly good consequences. In was on just such a journey, seemingly navigated by the ghost of Yogi Berra telling him “when you come to a fork in the road, take it!” that Stephen Schmitt ended up in Maine. He had been living in Connecticut and working in New York City for a hedge fund/private equity firm when fate and circumstance led him north. Ironically, the road to Maine turned out to be more of a detour than an altogether different route. The company Schmitt worked for in New York purchased pools of bankedowned properties that they would put back into the housing market by selling them to other brokers and banks. He points out that by the time one of those properties hit the MLS, it had probably been bought and sold several times. During his off-time, Schmitt helped a friend in Connecticut flip a family home that, when listed, sold within four hours for $100,000 more than the realtor had previously said it was worth. When he made the move to Maine and was unable to find a similar position working in finance for a hedge fund company, he reasoned that he had successfully flipped a property in Connecticut and could do it in Maine. He bought his first property, a ranch in Biddeford, for cash and spent the next four months preparing it for resale. It sold to the first person who looked at it on the first day it was listed. His second house sold an hour and twenty minutes after he listed it.
Schmitt checks the MLS every day for REO (real estate owned), bank-owned foreclosure properties and is finding there are fewer than there used to be. The reason for this is that banks are realizing they have an opportunity to renovate the houses they own and then put them back on the market as financeable properties for which they can then provide mortgages. So these days, in addition to renovating and staging properties that he has acquired doing business as Maine Dwelling, Schmitt is relying on his experience in finance to work with banks who hire him to renovate houses they have acquired through foreclosure. They specify what they want done to the house to make it financeable and request a bid from Schmitt to complete the work. “It’s still sold as a foreclosure, but it’s a turnkey, renovated foreclosure. The banks see that they can earn the profit that a house flipper would earn, so they want to do it themselves. They would rather pay somebody like me to go in and flip the house for them so they can recoup as much as they can.” While he’s conscious of the fact that the owners of the houses he renovates lost them through foreclosure, he points out that derelict properties can sit on the market for years. And who wants to look out their windows at a property that’s slowly rotting away? Renovating foreclosed houses rejuvenates the neighborhood and increases the value of surrounding properties. The difference between working on his own and with banks is that they will not take their properties to the extent that
Schmitt does his. He has never staged a bank-owned house that he’s been hired to renovate. The twelve bank-owned houses that Maine Dwelling has bought through cash sales with the bank over the last four years are a very different story. They represent what Schmitt calls his soup-to-nuts process. Every one of those houses has sold for full price or more within the first week. Northwest Cottage, a house on Sebago he recently finished and put on the market over Fourth of July weekend, sold above list price in four days. The one before that sold to the first person on the first day for full price. The one before that was listed in the middle of winter and sold within a week. His longest listing was seven days. When I ask him why he thinks they move so quickly, he replies, “You have to know your audience. That’s the secret sauce. I never buy an ugly house. A lot of people who flip houses want to put lipstick on a pig. They want to get in and out quickly, where I spend a lot more time.” Part of his soup-to-nuts process includes showing the houses he flips. He feels certain that no one will sell them better than him because he knows them inside out. He had sixteen showings for Northwest Cottage in four days, the last of which was with the buyer at 8:30 in the morning on July Fourth. He also gives his staging credit for quick turnaround. He points out that a lot of people, especially younger ones, don’t have the time or inclination to “fixerupper” the way baby boomers did. They don’t even want to paint, let alone redo a kitchen or bathroom. He also feels most buyers don’t have the vision to see a house the way they would ultimately like it to be. A third and significant factor is that while they may have the credit to purchase a house, they don’t have the capital to buy a lower-priced house that requires a substantial outlay of cash for repairs and renovations. They would rather buy a turnkey house that will qualify for a mortgage. “Most people don’t want to buy the ‘broke down palace,’ which is what I call them. I want to buy a broke down palace and make it pretty. Every house I go to look at I ask, ‘is this something that I myself would buy?’ Because if I wouldn’t buy it, then I won’t have the vision to renovate it and sell it.” He does caution that house flipping is not the glorified process they depict on HGTV and in house flipping seminars, especially when you’re dealing with “all things New England.”
When he bought what he christened Northwest Cottage it was in the dead of last winter. There was a 27’ derelict boat blocking the driveway, 4’ of snow on the decks and 3,200 pounds of trash to be hauled to the dump. To make matters worse, the boat was filled with ice and snow and was not on a trailer so that it could be carted away. Schmitt’s father, who is an engineer, calculated it held 11,000 pounds of ice. Over the course of an entire week, Schmitt drilled holes in the ice and filled them with 200 pounds of organic ice melt. When it was finally empty, he discovered the boat had no engine, so he cleaned it up and put it on Craigslist for free. “Come and get it! For anyone who wants to flip a house, the moral of the story is, there’s not always an ass for every seat,” says Schmitt. “It’s not a 9 to 5 thing. You have to really buy these right and fix them up the proper way to make them sellable. And my whole thing is, it might cost me a little more money and a little bit more time, but I want to make sure everything is done perfectly. I think the reason why these sell so quickly is because I’m so nit-picky that I make sure everything is done. It’s good to be a little OCD.” For each house he flips he keeps a renovation list that includes everything he has done to it. He’s always amazed when people don’t ask questions, like, what about the electrical, how’s the plumbing, what about the septic, how old is the furnace? He wants people to know what’s been done that isn’t obvious or cosmetic. “The renovation part of it—the heating system, the plumbing, the roof, the siding, the windows—that’s the stuff you either have to do because they’re falling apart or you do because you have a conscience. But all that stuff you do is kind of a means to an end. You have to do all that to do the fun part, which is making it pretty with staging. That’s what motivates me.” With each house he tackles, he first imagines what it’s going to look like when he’s done. He actually tapes out where the fixtures and furniture will go and then backs into the renovation phase. The kitchen layout for Northwest Cottage came about after two solid hours of just thinking it through. By envisioning the final product in this thoughtful and methodical way, he’s better able to plan the entire process. “Every house that I do I buy and stage stuff that’s just for that house. Like those antique water skis, I didn’t have them laying
“You have to know your audience. That’s the secret sauce. I never buy an ugly house. A lot of people who flip houses want to put lipstick on a pig.” around. I bought them specifically because when I bought the house I thought it would be cool, and I sold them with the house. When I bought a house on Lake Arrowhead, I went online and bought antique pictures of Lake Arrowhead and framed them for that house.” For Northwest Cottage he bought pictures of Sebago Lake. He feels personalizing each house gives his buyers more of a turnkey experience. “It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive to make it cool.” The journey from New York City to Maine Dwelling has been an interesting detour for Schmitt, but it turns out it was the right one for him. R
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guys, let this serve as a disclaimer for the subject I am they are regularly purging the excess iron through menstruation. about to address. Even though most of us “women of I attribute my acceptance of what others termed “the curse” to a certain age” are aware that you go through your own change of the fact that I’d attended a middle school where they taught sex life, which I refer to as “manopause,” I want to be sensitive to the education, which although laughably sanitized by today’s standards, fact that the subject I’m about to explore is not one with which a lot prepared me for what was in store, as well as to my mother’s reof men are comfortable. Of course, I would argue that you should sponse when I informed her I had gotten my period. She first made read this for that very reason, but I also want to make sure you are sure I had what I needed and then happily stated that now we were forewarned: this in an article both women. In the roseate about menopause. Before we haze of my memory, she go down that road, howmay have even hugged me. ever, I’m going to take you So when it came to the in the opposite direction. next big change, I felt a loss. When I was about sevenI actually grieved the end years-old, I went through of my reproductive phase, a phase in which I fantaeven though I’d chosen sized about being a nun. I not to take advantage of it. remember it as a very inThe fact that it coincided ward period, when I made a with my brother’s death hobby of rehabilitating small complicated my grief to an animals and insects and my extreme. To this day, I’ll brothers teasingly referred never know how I might to me as Sister Laurie. Being have handled his death if I a nun appealed to me as a hadn’t been so emotionally way of life beyond the order compromised at the time. (pun intended) of the averIt felt as though I’d been age woman’s life, i.e., wife, bisected and for the first mother, grandmother. Nuns time in my life I felt like I struck me as being safely just might be crazy. For all outside the realm of gender of you men who are still or age. In retrospect, though with me, please consider I had no concept of it at the that menopause comes at a time, I think I saw them all time of life when we women by laurie lamountain as in a state of suspended begin to lose loved ones;
menopause. a little compassion goes a “I can sense, as I sometimes do, that I am back where I was My nun phase inevitably long way. before menstruation—a fierce girl ready to take on the world.” ended and I readily emWhich brings me to a from flash count diary: menopause and the vindication braced the order of womanbig part of the reason I’m of natural life by darcey steinke hood seven years later, at writing this piece. I think what seemed to me at fourteen, much later than all my friends. men are afraid of menopausal women. And to some extent, that’s Menarche is really the first “change” we experience as women. It’s understandable. Menopause has been so swept under the rug, like all about the hormones. For the next thirty-odd years, whenever I a shameful stain, that we’re all a little confused. Let’s face it, if men became intensely emotional, the men in my life assumed it must be don’t know what we’re experiencing, they sure as heck won’t know my “time of the month.” Male classmates more crudely assumed I how to react to it. As the saying goes, people fear what they don’t was “OTR.” I also recall the word “crazy” being leveled at me more understand. than once, which, FYI, is the surest way to drive a woman crazy, This is also true for women who have yet to experience menoor really piss her off. pause. I remember working at a health food store around the time Despite the occasional excess of emotion, my reproductive years I turned thirty. Besides myself, there were a few older women who were relatively easy. I rather liked the rhythm that existed between came in occasionally to break down and bag the bulk items for sale. me and the moon and I loved the sexiness of being a reproductive They sat around a table in the back room, chatting as they worked. I magnet, even though I had no desire to become a mother. I still miss vividly remember whispering with the owner, who was the same age that rhythm. Women who experienced five days (or more) of hell each as me, about how odd they were. Now that I’m where they were, month look at me like I have two heads when I tell them that, but it’s I get it . . . and I’m guessing there are young women who find my true. At it’s highest level, it was proof of the supreme power women current self a bit odd. alone possess—to create another human being—and at its simplest it We’ve all heard stories about cultures where menopausal women was a monthly bloodletting, the benefits of which include increased are revered and respected, but ours is not so kind when it comes to immune function and a possible reduction in the risk of cancer and menopause. There’s a poignant scene in the movie “Love Actually” heart disease. Consider this, women who have inherited the gene that when Emma Thompson’s character confesses to her husband that causes hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body retains too she feels fat. No doubt she’s hoping for some assurance that she’s much iron, rarely become symptomatic before menopause because not, but there’s a vulnerability in her admission that I’m willing to
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bet resonates with every woman over forty. The threat of losing one’s waistline along with her sex appeal is daunting—especially in a culture as youth obsessed as ours. Almost overnight, it feels as though the power you enjoyed for the better part of your life dries up. As one friend put it, “there’s hair growing where you don’t want it and the stuff you want is thinning.” Thinning is a recurrent theme in menopause. We begin to feel like a wintered-over apple. To make matters worse, there’s a double standard when it comes to how men approach this phase of life. The stereotypical red sport car and much younger woman exist for a reason, but that’s another story. Of course, every woman’s experience is different, so I sat down to talk with a few of my friends and document their experience of menopause. Some of them felt liberated and some, like me, felt a loss. Those who had suffered terrible periods were glad to see an end to them and I think all of us were happy to be relieved the expense and potential embarrassment of menstruation. And then, of course, there’s the very real freedom of sex without fear of pregnancy. The downside—hot flashes, weight gain, sleeplessness, brain fog, loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness—are a different matter. They are what contribute to the notion that we’re losing our minds along with our youthfulness. In a culture that idolizes youth and makes every conceivable effort to thwart aging, menopause has become the real curse. But I like to think that is changing, thanks in part to our willingness to talk about what was once taboo. Partly out of curiosity and partly as research, I ordered Darcey Steinke’s book Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life. Steinke’s memoir takes menopause “out of the closet” and provides observations that may be as reassuring to a woman entering it, as sex education was for me in sixth grade. This statement in particular resonated with me: “I’d argue that it’s the call to authenticity that menopause provokes, the urge to root out segments of life that are fraudulent, that at least in part upset and realign sexual life.” I’m inspired by Steinke’s ultimate observation that there is both power (authenticity) and beauty in the post-reproductive years of a woman’s life. And I am thankful to my friends for sharing their thoughtful observations regarding their individual experience— “It’s nice not to be in pain. There were months when it was excruciating. Advil every four hours or 500 milligrams of Motrin,” says a 53-year-old friend. For nearly all of her reproductive years, she dealt with heavy periods and later ovarian cysts. Like me, she never heard or heeded the tick-tock of her biological clock. Neither of us have any way of knowing if our experience with menopause would have been any different if we had. When I ask her how she’s dealing with it now, she hesitates. “It’s only been a year for me and the hot flashes just recently started, so I’m not really sure. I’m truly surprised by my lack of brain function and the hot flashes are annoying. Talking with friends, having them share their experiences, letting me know what to expect, has been great, but everyone is different. My husband needing the extra blanket and me throwing it off the bed. It’s what it is. I can’t change it. I’m accepting it begrudgingly. I will add that having had painful periods and hearing ‘Can’t you just be nice?’ from the men in my life makes me wish there could be some consideration. It’s not like they don’t know this happens regularly.” A 55-year-old friend notes that even though menopause has been around since Eve, it is “one of the least discussed, least explained, least understood and accepted rites of passage.”
It’s perhaps due in part to this lack of discussion that her experience was as follows: “After enduring some fairly crazy decades of raising children, wading through turbulent waters of my first spouse’s alcoholism and an uber stress-filled job in the news business, I asked my gynecologist to test me for menopause during my annual check up. She looked at me and said, ‘You’re too young for that.’ At 44, it may have appeared I was too young for the ‘M’ word—that is, if you lumped me in with the average onset age—yet, I felt it, deep inside. I just knew that my own natural progression had altered and I needed to stand by my own feminine intuition. ‘Please, all the same, just humor me!’ The test is simply an additional lab order taken from a routine pap smear. She obliged, adding that she’d be really surprised if I had been begun menopause and that it can last a very long time. A day or two later, I received a call from my doctor’s office informing me of my lab results. ‘Your test not only came back positive for menopause, we think you are already finished with it!’ There it was. Confirmation of my beautiful intuition at work. Now, while menopause is not something I wished for, at least I knew what I was dealing with. There are parts of it I would gladly give back. Yet, to deny the divine nature of it, to try desperately to grab what was before the ‘M’ word is futile. Instead, I choose to share my story, to delight in the wisdom of surviving to this age at which my experience can help others, and I vow to never stop asking questions—particularly of my doctors.” Another friend, who is 58, struggled with weight gain. It wasn’t a lot, but it was stubborn. She’d been athletic all her life and even through three pregnancies had never gained much weight, but the ten to fifteen pounds she put on during menopause were not budging. “After my children were born, my cycle was just a nuisance. As I got closer to menopause, it became a problem. I was struggling with anemia and constantly tired. Menopause was a relief for me—or so I thought. Hot flashes are no fun so I am thankful that they don’t plague me as much as they used to. I remember standing in front of a class of high schoolers and asking them if the room was hot, as they sat shivering in their sweatshirts. They said, ‘No, but you are sweating really bad!’ I would say that losing muscle mass is frustrating me the most. I am not as strong as I used to be and staying in shape is much harder. I gained a lot of weight. I weighed the same as I did when I was nine months pregnant. It took me two years to shed the excess weight but it was worth it. Menopause has been a wake up call for me. I am aging and I want to be as healthy and as active as I can be so that I can enjoy this part of my life. I may struggle, but I will not go down without a fight.” A fourth friend, who is 61, experienced a decrease in energy and sex drive during menopause. The latter was certainly exacerbated by the fact that sex had become painful. After researching her options, she engaged a medical professional who reviewed her medical and family history and ordered targeted lab tests to evaluate her hormone levels. Based on the results and her doctor’s recommendation, she embarked on a program of bioidentical hormone therapy (bHRT). “I am aware of the debate surrounding hormone replacement therapy, but I feel the increase in quality of life I’ve achieved with bHRT makes it the right choice for me.” I’m struck by how much my friends’ biographies are woven into their individual experiences of this biological shift. In the final chapter of her book Steinke writes, “Menopause is situated at the crossroads between the metaphysical and the biological. It is as much a spiritual challenge as it is a physical one.” I couldn’t agree more. No matter our stories, we are all fierce girls. R
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Why Retire to Maine? ost people journey south during their retirement years, but two local couples chose the opposite. In their former lives, Linda and Heinrich Wurm lived in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he worked as an anesthesiologist, while Elna and Tom Stone had made their home in South Miami, Florida, for 32 years and owned a contracting business. Both couples, however, had had their eyes on the lakes region of Maine as a place to retire to once they’d finally given the time clock one last punch. The Wurms first discovered Lovell in 1980 when they began to spend a week each year vacationing with their family at Gilmore Camps on Kezar Lake. They later purchased a cottage that had been built in 1912 overlooking the lower bay. The building stood on rocks at the water’s edge and it shifted with the weather. Local contractors didn’t like to shim it so the doors would close because of the water snakes that inhabited the rocks. In 2004, the chimney collapsed, and soon the rest of the house followed. It was then that the Wurms made two major decisions: take the house down to rebuild, then move to Lovell full time. Their three daughters resisted the change at first because they feared the
concept of a new place where walking in with wet feet and bathing suits would be a thing of the past. The town allowed the Wurms to build a new house with one-floor living for aging in place, which also gave them the opportunity to have more than just wood as a heat source. It sits on a slab close to the lake, but not above the rocks as it had previously. For the Stones, there were generational ties as Tom’s family had settled in Bridgton in 1802. And though his grandfather had moved away after serving as the principal at both Bridgton High School and Sebago’s Potter Academy in the early 1900s, and Tom and Elna both grew up in New York, his family had always vacationed by Highland Lake. “When we got married,” Elna says, “the plan was to work very hard and plan to retire at age 55.” Their impetus was that Tom’s father had retired at 55, built a house in Bridgton and died of cancer one year later. About thirty years ago, they purchased land on Highland Lake that had previously belonged to Tom’s cousin, Joanna Stone Benjamin. Tom designed the house, which was built by a local contractor. The Stones started by spending six months in Florida and the other six in Bridgton. “We did six months,” says Elna, “because our grandchildren lived in Florida and they were young. They would come here for summers. We finally moved to Maine full time in March 2005 and that June flew back to Miami to help our daughter and her family move to Lovell.” Prior to moving in on a year-round basis, they also had to make renovations to their camp, including adding a heating system
Linda and Heinrich Wurm
Tom and Elna Stone
by leigh macmillen hayes
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and basement as they converted their summer home to a winter oasis. Eventually, they inherited a farmhouse from cousin Joanna that had been in the Stone family since 1859, so now they summer by the lake and winter just up the road. According to retiretomaine.com, “Data from the U.S. Census suggests the state is becoming an increasingly popular retirement destination, with more than 6,000 people aged 55 or older moving to Maine.” A few of the reasons to retire here that the website highlights in an article by Meadow Rue Merrill are the following: abundant outdoor activities, safe cities and towns, flourishing art scene, easy to be green, and you can expand your horizons (and do good). For both the Stones and Wurms, the decision to leave behind the fast-paced life came naturally. “When we realized how bad the traffic was, it made it easy.” says Linda. She does admit, “Last winter was tough, but summer is like a slo-mo TV show. The lake is always changing. When it turns to ice, however, and then snow, it transitions from dark green to white and gray. There is surprisingly little change in the winter, except for the occasional cross-country skier. Otherwise it is static and I find a need for color.” Heinrich actually counters her comment with this, “I enjoy winter. It’s a challenge that keeps me going. I like to work rather than use an exercise machine, so I don’t mind shoveling. I also enjoy cross-country skiing and ice skating. Winter allows me time to sort through my photographs and yet, I am too busy. There is no down time. I need to do something. I decided that since I wouldn’t be working in a hospital here, I had no reason to stay involved in the things I’d done for the last 35 - 40 years. Why not change completely and get involved in science? Learn about water quality, threats to the lake, climate change resiliency, and what we can do?” The Wurms had long ago bought into the philosophy of the Greater Lovell Land Trust and realized the need for mammal corridors, recreational space, and land preservation, especially to protect the water quality of the lake. Linda had served as a volunteer docent by leading hikes for the land trust since before making the permanent move to town. Currently, she also manages the GLLT’s airbnb cabin rental on Whitney Pond in Stoneham and is a property steward along with Heinrich. She’s also immersed herself in the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library.
“A library is the pulsing part of a community and I had volunteered in a library before, so it was easy to become part of this important resource.” One of her many duties is to work in the Book Cellar, where used books are sold. Heinrich continues to gain a better understanding of the watershed and how it all works, especially through his work with both the GLLT board and Kezar Lake Watershed Association’s board. In the former, he serves as secretary and on the Executive Committee; for the latter, he is Director of Water Quality and a Loon Ranger. Currently, Heinrich also has been appointed as a fill-in for a position on the Lovell Planning Board. And when they aren’t involved in those activities, the Wurms spend time on their
hundred-acre woodland that is conserved with the Greater Lovell Land Trust and located adjacent to a GLLT reserve, thus enhancing the corridor for mammals. Likewise, the Stones jumped into the Bridgton community by filling a variety of roles at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, including he as Junior Warden where among his duties are organizing work days and overseeing the Memorial Garden, and she on the Altar Guild. Both have long led the In-Reach Committee as well, making sure to meet the needs of the parish family. They also enjoy working at church suppers. In the community, they worked at the recently closed Bridgton Hospital Coffee Shop on Mondays for the past 18 years (including during those years they spent six
months in town), and as a painter Elna was a founding artist at Gallery 302 and served on the board as secretary and treasurer. In addition, they belong to a group of kayakers and bowlers who meet each Wednesday and Friday respectively for a couple of hours of fun and fellowship followed by either a picnic lunch or pizza at a local joint. Some of the members of the two groups are cross overs and lately they’ve delved into day trip adventures to Portland and beyond. One of the great take-aways from chatting with the Stones and Wurms about retiring to Maine is the importance of becoming part of the community through unselfish acts of volunteerism and discovering or rediscovering your passions and interests. Why retire to Maine? Why not? R
asked both couples what they have learned about themselves, this place, its people, their concerns, and any advice they have to offer others considering retiring to the lakes region.
a big boat and going fishing on the ocean. In Florida we were always trying to keep up with the neighbors. Moving to Maine, we learned to live the old fashioned way. You don’t need a fancy car.
About themselves: linda: I have filtered out so many things I used to do and used to feel were a necessity. Now I can sit for a long time with or without binoculars and watch hummingbird moths. It’s amazing how important the natural world has become in our lives. heinrich: I’ve learned whether it is medical or something else, you don’t change how you approach a topic so I’m working hard in the environment. I love to do things for a purpose in a beautiful place, like going out in a kayak to check on and collect data about loons. elna: Moving here is when I started painting seriously. For seventeen years I completed twelve paintings of Bridgton and the surrounding area that were turned into calendars. All the money went to St. Peter’s Outreach Programs. For the time we’ve been here, it seems like we’ve gone through so many stages and and we’ve done lots of things. We’ve never been bored.
About its people: heinrich: I had hoped I’d find more people doing what we are doing, but so far that’s not been the case. And I do feel like I’m missing out on spending more time on social issues (this from a man who donated a kidney to a total stranger last year) elna: It’s almost the opposite of what we knew in Miami. The more money the people here have, the crappier the cars they drive. Everyone talks to you. I remember last fall standing in the checkout line at Hannafords and everyone in line shared their mouse problem stories. I love going to the grocery store where it takes a long time to shop because you chat with everyone you know. Unlike Miami, everyone is friendly here.
linda: We rented out our house in Waltham for the first year, giving us a potentially reversible process. Spend a winter here while you still have the option of going back. And become associated with others who do what you enjoy. I might play cribbage next winter; they’re a raucous group at the library. heinrich: Retirement is a learning process. Apply your mind. This is the place to do it. If you like new things, you will learn new things about yourself and your environment. Get involved in groups, but also connect to the town by attending town meetings. linda: It’s a good place to live, but it does help to leave for a few week’s vacation. We get a lot of mileage out of dreaming about vacation. She shows me a bowl of shells from Sanibel Island in Florida. “I can’t hear the ocean,” she says, “or put my feet in the sand, but I can gaze and remember.”
About this place: linda: It’s so much quieter. It’s different having a septic system than being on sewer. And you have to plan your trips to town. Getting involved in local politics has been an eye opener. heinrich: While a lot of expertise is all around us, I’m surprised that it’s not all applied. I’ve learned that it’s important to be present. tom: It’s a change of lifestyle from having
About their concerns: linda: We are both concerned about medical care here and it’s difficult to know where to turn. We were spoiled rotten in the medical world of the city because of Heinrich’s liaison. It was a three minute drive to Newton Wellsley Hospital. tom: (who recently celebrated his 80th birthday) At my age, I’m not looking forward to winter again and I may need to get someone to help with snow removal. Advice to others considering retiring to Maine: elna: Don’t wait. And don’t invite all your friends from away to come here all the time. Instead, make new friends in your new place.
A bonus: Because the Stones’ daughter, son-inlaw, and granddaughters moved to Maine shortly after they did, they’ve been able to watch the girls grow up and attended all of their activities during their public school years. They have all since graduated from college and moved away, but still love to return for visits. Likewise, the Wurms suddenly found themselves as the central location between their three daughters and their families, thus their home continues to serve as the gathering place where childhood activities have been passed from one generation to the next.
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A Tree Falls in Lovell by leigh macmillen hayes
t all begins with a seed. A native seed. The seed germinates and a tree grows. And so does a relationship bud between the tree, an arborist, a sawyer, and a furniture maker. Meet Eli Hutchins, an ISA-certified arborist and owner of Hutch’s Property and Tree; Brent Legere, the sawyer and owner of Western Maine Slab Works; and Eugene Jordan, the carpenter and owner of Jordan Custom Carpentry, Inc. The three men formed a business relationship that finds them turning local trees into custom-made slabs and furniture that decorate homes in Lovell. For the sake of our story, let’s say the seed grew into a hazardous tree, where the risk it presents outweighs its intrinsic value. That’s when Eli steps in, dons his PPE (personal protection equipment), inspects his gear, and sharpens his chainsaw. He learned the ropes of cutting down trees while pursuing a forestry degree at the University of Vermont and working for an
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arborist in Portland during college breaks. And though he says, “I was an adrenaline junkie as a kid,” and he still gets that rush when he climbs, safety is extremely important to him because there is a lot of danger involved in felling or dismantling trees. Rather than using a bucket truck or aerial lift, Eli and his men employ ropes and harnesses to reach seemingly inaccessible trees. With his small crew, Eli figures out hazards and tries to mitigate risks as much as possible before revving up the saw. “Measure twice, cut once,” is his motto as the team develops a plan of action and determines how to rig the tree so that it falls in the intended direction. “If the tree is straight up and down and has balanced limbs,” he says, “it will go exactly where we aim it, but if it’s leaning or unbalanced, we need to compensate by using trigonometry and physics to guide our use of wedges or a rope set to redirect it with a block.” On the day I watch, Eli and his two employees, Paul and Aidan, go about their respective roles to toss a fourteen-ounce weight attached to a two-millimeter throw line up into the branches and set the rigging to create a 3:1 mechanical advantage. Then Paul and Aidan move to the end of the ropes and position their bodies to pull while Eli begins to cut. I move out of the way as two trees fall exactly as intended. Standing over them, Eli considers their destiny. Branches are cut off for brush or wood chips. The trunk is another question.
Firewood? Or Brent’s saw mill? Many of Eli’s trees go to Brent, who prefers the lower third that is two feet or larger in diameter. Eli tries to cut 12- or 14-foot lengths because he knows that’s the size Brent can use. As he explains this, his wry humor comes into play: “It’s easy to cut, but hard to glue back.” Though he seeks to provide Brent with the best quality, Eli appreciates that his colleague sees worm holes and other defects as opportunities rather than problems. “Our finished product is Brent’s beginning product,” says Eli. “I don’t care if they are knotty or have branches,” says Brent. “For slabs it’s nice to have knots and character.” Brent had a career in photography before moving to Lovell and making a change. His first job in western Maine was as a carpenter for Jordan Custom Carpentry. It was then that he began to notice a need for wooden boxes and started Lovell Box Company. While cutting and milling trees for his business and his parents’ farm, he sold some of the wood he’d cut and soon realized there was a market for live-edge slabs. Thus, Western Maine Slab Works was born. The first saw mill Brent bought could cut twenty-inch wide boards, but his customers preferred 26 inches, which equates to a standard countertop. To keep up with the demand, he purchased a 32inch saw. At a certain time, however, that became a limiting factor, so he added a 52-inch Alaskan saw mill to his operation.
On his lot, he moves the logs into position on either of the mills. Once a log is in place, Brent knocks the dirt off with a wire brush, explaining that it could dull the blade. And then the fun begins. Wearing noise protection ear muffs, safety glasses, chaps and gloves, he explains that he has to sharpen the blades of the band saw often because when slicing trees cut in someone’s yard, frequently he’ll discover nail hazards. I watch as he walks a blade down the grain of the log, which is turned on its side. The band saw slices through much more quickly than the Alaskan saw. The latter, he says, “Is the biggest chainsaw you can buy on a 57-inch bar. Each cut takes a lot of work as it’s bigger and slower.” The saw has an auxiliary oiler because the machine requires so much lubricant, but
Brent purchases a Husqvarna oil developed from a vegetable-based formula that he’s grateful he can feel safe about dripping onto the ground. It’s the actual cut, however, that really jazzes Brent. “As I cut down through,” he says, “each layer reveals more of the history of the tree and I start to see hidden knots and scars from injuries created by man-made objects, cracks from storms and lightning strikes, contours from burls and limbs. They all become part of the character of the slab. That’s really where the joy of the process comes from for me. I love seeing the grain, shapes, and colors as with each cut the slabs take shape before my eyes.“ The wood dries in a solar kiln that has a clear roof and black painted back wall to absorb sunlight. Two fans are angled so air
travels across the slabs, hits a plastic front and flows beneath the wood. Circulation is important to keep moisture out. “On a hot day in full sun,” he says, “it can get up to 140˚F in the kiln.” When a customer or contractor has a need, Brent has the slab ready. “Eugene can see past the rough cut,” says Brent. Eugene Jordan says that his number one priority has been carpentry since 2008 when he started Jordan Custom Carpentry, Inc., but on rainy or snowy days, his crew now delves into creating furniture from Brent’s live-edge slabs. “The only slab wood I buy for furniture,” says Eugene, “is from Brent.” The majority of the slabs find their way into homes as built-ins, fireplace mantels and benches. But creating free-standing furniture became a new outlet for Eugene and his crew this past year. Working the slabs is labor intensive and requires debarking if that’s what a customer wants, washing, sanding, and finishing. Eugene, or an employee, draws a knife against the outer edge over and over again to remove the rough bark. Other tools of the trade include a router, planer, and band saw. “We use a combination of traditional power tools, modern power tools, and hand tools,” he says. Certified as a sponsor of the Maine Apprenticeship Program, Eugene hires high school and college students to help prep the wood. “With the apprenticeship program,” he explains, “I get young people who are learning how to work, and use their bodies and tools to make small, primitive furniture.” He finds it to be a morale booster as everyone has his or her hands on a piece of furniture, especially on rainy days. Even as a youngster, Eugene had wanted to own a business and at age 18 he became a carpenter because he wanted to become a furniture maker. The expense of school, however, was a deterrent. He did take a couple of classes and then was hired to help build houses. Working daily with wood, he learned the trade, but decided the cost of making furniture was prohibitive . . . until now. You can see the finished products in his new furniture gallery on Route 5 in Lovell. “I think I just really like making things with wood,” says Eugene. “I find it satisfying creating something. It’s just you and the wood.” It seems it’s the same for all three entrepreneurs. Theirs is a cycle. Grow. Saw. Mill. Build. A tree falls in Lovell and three young men set into action to turn it into a piece of simple, artful furniture. R
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book reviews FROM THE OWNERS & STAFF OF BRIDGTON BOOKS
It looks to be a bountiful harvest of Maine authors this fall, with three of our favorite literary heavyweights weighing in with novels. Richard Russo’s Chances Are takes place on Martha’s Vineyard where three college buddies in their 60s reconnect after decades apart. There is a mystery component to this story: Jacy, a woman who befriended the “Three Musketeers” in college, and one whom they all fell in love with, vanished soon after they all spent a post-graduation weekend together over three decades ago. Russo captures his characters’ humanity, while always interspersing his trademark humor. If you liked Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and want more, I recommend the sequel, Olive, Again. It is written in somewhat the same style as her first, which introduced the surly Olive through a series of thirteen vignettes; each story consisting of a different townsperson interacting with the titular character in her small Maine town. Through these encounters, you progressively get a deeper picture of her and the circumstances behind why she might be referred to as a “difficult” person. More cohesive, Olive, Again reads more like a traditional novel than the first book.
I haven’t had a chance to read Stephen King’s new novel The Institute, but early reviews look really good. I will say that his last wonderful novella, Elevation, is due out in paperback this November. It is not a horror story, but does have a supernatural element to it and is set in a small Maine town. King’s real and genuine characterizations of ordinary people in extraordinary situations continue to amaze and entertain us year after year! I haven’t marked up and highlighted a book as much as I did Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind since I was in college. Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari is brilliant; the history professor you wish you had but never did. His non-fiction book is unique in that it looks at humankind objectively; as a species. So many history books tend to be dry with an overabundance of banalities to plow through to get to the interesting stuff. Not so with Sapiens, which is simple and succinct. Some of his ideas are fascinating and mindexpanding, and this was just a pleasure to read. Harari also does a great job providing a modern day context for historical events. It’s always healthy to read something outside your everyday routine, and Blake Crouch’s last two novels were like a breath of fresh air. Dark Matter and Recursion are fast paced, speculative thrillers that read like Michael Crichton at his best. I can’t tell you too much about Dark Matter without spoiling a surprise, but it has to do with multi-
dimensional travel, and it is a barn burner! In Recursion, scientists have harnessed the power to invent and create memories, therefore altering our reality. Naturally this would only be used for the common good, right? Guess again. You don’t need a PhD in physics for either of these novels, just an open mind. I was saddened to hear Tony Horowitz passed away while on tour promoting his new book Spying On The South. A combination of history, travel, and socio-political commentary, Horowitz always referred to his books as “participatory history,” and this book fits the billing. In it, he treks through the deep South following the same path Frederick Law Olmsted took in the 1840s. Also a writer, Olmsted went there to report on the divisiveness and discord that eventually led to the Civil War. Horowitz sees some parallels between then and now, as he rides a coal barge on the Ohio River, takes a hilarious mule trip in Texas, and always manages to engage people and get the lay of the land while offering valuable insight into the way our country is evolving. The Lost Man, Jane Harper’s third mystery, takes place in the Australian desert, where every vehicle carries a mandatory survival kit and a breakdown can be a matter of life or death. So why does Cameron abandon his working, supply-laden car, walking miles away until he finally succumbs to thirst/heat exposure? His brother Nathan tries to piece everything together in this superb whodunit that will have you guessing until the end.
Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a fascinating story of the great patent dispute of the late 1880s. Thomas Edison was suing George Westinghouse for $1 billion over the light bulb patent. So who did invent the light bulb, Edison or Westinghouse? That is what Westinghouse’s young, inexperienced lawyer, Paul Cravath, was determined to find out at all costs. Although this book is fiction, it’s a well-researched account of the actual events and individuals involved. A while back I reviewed Moloka’i, one of the best novels I’ve read, so when Alan Brennert wrote the sequel, Daughter of Moloka’i, I immediately started turning its pages and was not disappointed. The author tells a very moving life story of Ruth, who was orphaned at birth because her parents were quarantined at the leprosy settlement on Moloka’i. She is eventually adopted by a Japanese couple and spends most of her
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life in California. One day, Ruth receives a letter from a woman who claims to be her birth mother and she finds herself faced with a potentially life-changing decision. Fans of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared will have a great time reading Jonas Jonasson’s sequel, The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man. Allan and Julius’ adventures begin when the hot air balloon they are in crashes into the Indian Ocean. They end up at the center of a diplomatic crisis involving uranium and several modern day political figures from various countries, including North Korea, United States, Sweden and Germany.
With sciolists, snollygosters, and blatteroons monopolizing everything these day, fudgeling and spouting tortiloguy full of fabulosity and flapdoodle, intelligent people can best maintain sanity by calling quafftide, pouring a homerkin, and curling up in a suitable snuggery with a good book. For clarification of the italicized words see The Little Book of Lost Words by Joe Gillard, a perfect gift for any word lover. I believe it would improve daily conversation immensely if these words and others, like eyeservant, sloom, snool, and pingle, were brought back into circulation. This eclectic little dictionary, illustrated with complementary historical paintings, is a start. Don’t latibulate, froonce! Hazards of Time Travel is the first book I’ve read by the prolific Joyce Carol Oates, and it probably won’t be the last. In a near-future dystopia, high school class valedictorian Adriane Strohl is arrested after rehearsing her graduation speeh. Her crimes? “Treason-Speech” and “Questioning of Authority.” Her punishment? “Deletion” and becoming Mary Ellen Enright, a
student at Wainscotia State University in Wisconsin…in 1959. As she negotiates her unsettling new existence, Adriane/Mary Ellen uncovers startling revelations about history, resulting in a chilling, disturbing conclusion on the nature of reality. This one will stay with you for a while. Claire Adam’s debut novel, Golden Child, is as disturbing as it is eloquent. An ordinary family trying to live a decent life in rural Trinidad is blessed with extraordinary twin sons. The boys are very different, yet they each have talents. When one fails to return home one night, their father goes searching, knowing that time is quickly running out. This beautifully written story of love, betrayal, and heartbreak is as luscious, stunning, and tragic as the deeply troubled island itself. In The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, four New York City siblings visit a soothsayer who tells each one the day they will die. This information is revealed in 1969 and influences the characters’ lives over the next 40 years. The siblings take chances, avoid hazards, and break down— but not necessarily how one might expect. Ultimately, the book is about the power of words and begs the questions: Would you want to know the day you will die? And how would you handle that knowledge? Also set in New York is City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert. In 1940, at age nineteen, Vivian Morris is kicked out of Vassar, moves to New York City with her eccentric Aunt Peg, becomes enmeshed in the theatre scene, and essentially never looks back. This exploration of relationships, love, and family captures the energy of New York and its people as they rush headlong from pre-war innocence into the dizzying modern age. For fans of Lisa See, I recommend her latest, The Island of Sea Women, a story of the “fierce female divers” of Korea’s
Jeju Island. Spanning the decades from Japanese colonialism in the 1930s to 2008, this is the story of two friends from different backgrounds and their very different fates. It is brutal at times, but shines a light on the impressive and fascinating, yet little-known matriarchal culture of the haenyeo divers. The bouquet of bundled kale sprouting French fries on the book cover is an apt representation of The Way We Eat Now by British food historian Bee Wilson, a study of the tremendous shift in food and eating habits that has occurred over the past few decades: “the good, the terrible, and the avocado toast.” Ms. Wilson offers insight into the dichotomy of “skinny fat babies,” the tyranny of junk food, the bizarre concept of “mukbang” (watching people eat large amounts of food on the internet), and other culinary and dietary phenomena in this well researched, very readable account of how food has transformed our lives and the world in which we live. I am now drifting along the currents of a simpler, bygone time sailing the South Seas in Wayfarer, a memoir by James S. Rockefeller, Jr. Born in 1926 to wealth and privilege (half Rockefeller, half Carnegie), James is rather a black sheep of his family, choosing a wandering life of adventure and travel over banking and finance. He writes beautifully about sailing, the people he meets, and the sea life such as “the little porpoises of the Pacific” that turned somersaults around their boat. Now in his nineties, James lives in Camden, Maine, where he built boats for twenty years and founded the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Wayfarer is a perfect book for reading by the fire in deep winter while dreaming of turquoise blue waters and exotic faraway lands . . . Remember to rizzle after eating to prevent wamblecropt and avoid smatchets and quidnuncs!
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book reviews FROM THE OWNERS & STAFF OF BRIDGTON BOOKS
PAM’S PICKS FOR KIDS & YOUNG ADULTS
Do Princesses and Super Heroes Hit the Trails? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle Follow Princess and her Super Hero companion on a coast to coast outdoor adventure through twelve famous National Parks of America. Kids will enjoy spotting a moose in Acadia, riding a mule deep into the Grand Canyon and waiting patiently for Old Faithful to erupt in Yellowstone. Each page spread highlights a different national park, illustrating an adventure paired with rhyming text. Ages 1+ The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry No one dares go near Scarecrow. He stands tall and alone, guarding the field while watching the seasons pass. One spring day, an injured baby crow falls from mid-air. Scarecrow does the unexpected, breaking from his perch to embrace the crow. Discover the fate of baby crow and Scarecrow. Ages 2+
Aiden and Jacob’s Autumn Adventure by Justin and Pam Ward Who’s Moxie? That’s what Aiden asks Jacob on Snack Rock. Determined to find Moxie, the boys visit Highland Lake, LEA’s Discovery Course, the Fryeburg Fair and other local attractions searching for clues. Readers will have fun following Jacob and Aiden through familiar territory to discover the real Moxie. Ages 2+ A Wolf Called Wander by Roseanne Parry Chaos erupted in Swift’s family den when a large pack of wolves challenged their territory. Defeat came quickly as Swift’s pack was outnumbered. Separated from his family, Swift tried to reunite with his siblings. Using the survival skills taught by his father, he sets out on a long and perilous journey in search of family and companionship. Based on a true story about a wolf named Journey, the book ends with interesting wolf and animal facts. Ages 8+ Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis Eleven-year-old December believes one day she will turn into a bird. The scars on
her back prove she will sprout wings. The only memory of her mother is a note she left behind saying “In flight is where you’ll find me.” December has spent years studying birds and practicing jumping out of trees, hoping her wings would unfold. Living in foster homes is troubling and she views them as temporary places until she can fly among the birds. Her optimistic case manager places her with a foster mother who rescues injured animals. Although December is determined to take flight, she begins to question her future. Ages 10+ Endurance by Scott Kelly Scott Kelly holds the record for the longest consecutive days in space as a US astronaut. His awe-inspiring memoir, adapted for young readers, follows Scott from early childhood days as an average student and daredevil kid to his risky year spent in the confines of the International Space Station. Ages 11+ We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler Victoria needed to escape her abusive father. With her mother gravely ill, she feared the wrath of her father when her mother passed, so she chose freedom and ran. The VanDrexel Family Circus was in town. Mesmerized by the show, Victoria applied for a job using a fictional name. Fifty years later her granddaughter, Callie, only seventeen, was thriving as a beautiful, daring and accomplished tightrope walker, a skill passed on from her grandmother. When her mother accepts a job in Florida, Callie is forced to leave the circus. Adjusting to being a normal teenager is scarier than walking a wire sixty feet in the air, but the discovery of handwritten notes from her grandmother helps her navigate her new social world. Ages 14+ A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese Reviewed by Adina Baseler The town of Cliffs Donnelly knows suffering. It also has a legendary wishing well. When eleven-year-old Ernest fulfills a promise to clean out his grandfather’s attic, he discovers a collection of oddities he feels are magic. After a series of events lead Ernest into the well’s crumbling foundation, he overhears a stranger’s wish and decides the items in his grandfather’s attic may not be as odd as he thinks. In fact, they may just be the drop of hope his town so desperately needs. Ages 10+ R
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know it’s autumn when the front yard at Weston’s Farm in Fryeburg is covered with pallets piled high with winter squash. The pop of contrasting colors is in itself a fall palette—rich with orange, yellow, green and gold. Even though most winter squashes are good “keepers,” it’s difficult to restrain myself from buying too much. Particularly since there are so many varieties that provide the perfect amount for one or two people. Delicata, acorn, butternut, buttercup, red kuri, sweet dumpling . . . the list of win-
ter squashes is long and varied. I love them all, but do favor the sweet, nutty taste of delicata above all. Roasted, it’s like having dessert with the main course. A few facts about winter squash before we get to the recipes. Squash, which is derived from the Native American word askutasquash, is of the Cucurbita genus and, though considered by most a vegetable, is botanically a fruit, since it contains seeds and develops from the flower-producing part of the plant. Though harvested in the fall, they are termed winter squash because
they store well into the cold winter months, provided they are blemish- and bruise-free and are stored in a cool, dark place. Winter squashes are naturally low in fat and calories and deliver an impressive number of nutritional benefits that include improved digestion, increased immunity and bone mineral density, and reduced cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Cucurbitacins, the unique compounds found in this genus, deliver anti-inflammatory benefits that may lessen symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Rich in vitamins A, B6, C and E, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, they are a nutrient-dense and uniquely delicious addition to your diet. In the case of vitamin A, a single serving (1 cup) of winter squash contains up to 60% of your daily recommended intake. This is in addition to impressive levels of carotenoids and other phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant effects on the body. Although the calorie count is quite low, at only 76 calories per cup, roughly 90% of those calories come from carbohydrates, as winter squash has high levels of starch, including pectins (organicfacts.net/winter-squash.html). They are also extremely versatile. Their sweeter, denser flavors complement a surprising spectrum of seasonings and lend themselves to soups, casseroles, warm salads, main dishes and even desserts. If you’re looking for a way to add flavor, nutrition and a pop of color to cold-weather meals, you’ll find it in these recipes. R
roasted squash and caramelized onion galette
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, gently work the mixture, breaking down lumps of butter in the dough. Repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375˚. Peel squash, halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt. Roast on foil-lined sheet for 30 minutes or until tender, turning midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne. Raise the oven temperature to 400˚. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Bake galette until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.
A Good Keeper by laurie lamountain
smittenkitchen.com For the pastry: 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp salt 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt 2 tsp fresh lemon juice 1/4 c ice water For the filling: 1 small thick-skinned winter squash (about one pound) 2 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons 1 to 2 tbsp butter 1 tsp salt Pinch of sugar 1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste 3/4 c fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage leaves
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butternut squash hummus 1 c cubed butternut squash 1 tbsp sesame oil sea salt black pepper 1 15-oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed) 2 tbsp tahini 1 clove garlic (crushed) 1 tbsp sesame seeds (plus more for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 400° and place cubed butternut squash onto a foil- or parchmentlined baking tray. Brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for around 30-35 minutes or until tender. Once the butternut is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer the squash to a food processor and add the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and sesame seeds. Process until smooth. A hand masher will also work if you prefer a little more texture. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with sesame seeds and a drizzle of Meyer Lemon White Balsamic vinegar from Tasteful Things in Bridgton.
roasted acorn squash soup with horseradish and apples marthastewart.com 3 acorn squash (about 3 pounds total) 3 1/2 c homemade chicken stock or lowsodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 1/2 c apple cider 1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish 3/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 tart apples (about 1 pound) Juice of 1 lemon 1/4 c coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves Olive-oil cooking spray
Heat oven to 450˚. Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet coated with olive-oil cooking spray. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Combine chicken stock, apple cider, 1 teaspoon horseradish, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Scoop squash flesh out of skins and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 cup stock mixture, and purée until smooth. Stir squash mixture into pan with remaining stock and keep soup warm. Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4-inch dice. Transfer to a small bowl, add lemon juice and remaining 2 teaspoons horseradish, and toss to combine. Heat a medium
sauté pan coated with olive-oil cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add apple mixture, and sauté until golden brown. Serve soup garnished with sautéed apple mixture and chopped parsley.
and minced cilantro on top. Serve with the remaining miso harissa sauce on the side.
miso-harissa delicata squash and brussels sprouts salad
epicurious.com 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed 1-pound delicata squash 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 c white miso 1 tbsp harissa paste 2 tsp honey 3 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar 1/4 c toasted almonds, roughly chopped Minced cilantro for serving
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice each half into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. You can leave the peel on the squash, as it is edible. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, miso, harissa, honey, and vinegar. In a large bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts and squash with 1/3 cup of the harissa miso mixture. Use your hands to coat the vegetables evenly. Spread the vegetables out on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the squash is tender and the Brussels sprouts are slightly crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Toss the veggies halfway through cooking. While the veggies roast, heat a small dry skillet over medium-high. Add the almonds and toast until they are golden brown, shaking the pan often, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour them from the pan to a plate, and when they’re cool enough to handle, roughly chop them. Divide the roasted vegetables among the bowls and sprinkle toasted almonds
creamy vegan butternut squash pudding This creamy vegan butternut squash pudding is a delicious, 10-ingredient dessert that’s perfect for fall! Great for Thanksgiving or winter holidays, it’s gluten-free and comes together in 3 easy steps. Serves: 6 1 large butternut squash, 5 to 6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 1/2 c coconut cream 1/4 c maple syrup 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp ginger 1/8 tsp sea salt 2 to 6 Tbsp almond milk (depending on thickness of coconut cream) to blend
Optional toppings: coconut cream, chocolate shavings, toasted pecans Preheat the oven to 425° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the squash cubes on the baking sheet and toss with just a little bit of olive oil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. (Note: the squash does not need to be golden brown, just very soft). Transfer the squash to a blender and add the coconut cream, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Blend until smooth, adding almond milk, if necessary, to reach a blendable consistency. Taste and adjust the sweetness and spices to your liking. Transfer to ramekins or bowls and chill 4 hours or overnight. Serve with desired toppings.
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