FREE fall/winter 2020 â€˘ vol. 23, no. 3
Marking Time plus
partnering color and pattern the heart of the home full of beans
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If ever there were a time when our sense of time is exceptional, this would be it. Our human habit of marking its passage in hours, minutes and seconds has been radically altered by technology, to the extent that many people on the planet are unable to tell time by looking at the face of a clock. Digital timekeeping has quieted the perpetual ticking of the clocks and left countless timepieces frozen in a long forgotten moment. Cell phones have further rendered them obsolete. Ironically, our perception of time right now has also been radically altered by time itself. There’s a collective desire to want to turn back the clocks to a time when life was “normal.” And in this interlude of pandemic, it feels like time has become a rollercoaster that speeds up or slows down, depending on the demands of the day. With this preternatural reminder of its relativity, it feels fitting that we would tell one man’s story of preserving the mechanical marking of time. Mark Beever’s curiosity about mechanical things and later appreciation of antiques naturally combined in horology. That it would lead him to open a clock shop after a thirty-five year career in veterinary medicine is testimony to the vicissitudes of life. We may be able to mark time, but we rarely know what it has in store for us. At no point in our time on Earth is this more apparent than the present. For better or worse, we’ve been given a greater awareness and appreciation of its unpredictability. Carpe diem. Laurie LaMountain Editor & Publisher Laurie LaMountain Staff Writers Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Perri Black Photographers Ethan McNerney, Leigh Macmillen Hayes, Maillett Photography, Perri Black 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: firstname.lastname@example.org ©2020. 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 2020 • vol. 23, no. 3
6 marking time
by laurie lamountain
10 before suitcases
by leigh macmillen hayes
12 partnering color
by laurie lamountain
14 the heart of the home
by laurie lamountain
16 view from the galley
by laurie lamountain
18 a partnered project
by leigh macmillen hayes
20 the bookshelf
reviews from bridgton books
24 full of beans
by perri black
cover photo by ethan mcnerney
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Marking Time I by laurie lamountain
have four watches that quietly keep each other company in a dresser drawer; a Tissot, Swiss Army, Relic and Citizen. The Tissot is stuck on the 3rd of some month and the Swiss Army on the 26th. The other two don’t mind what day of the month it is; nor do they bother counting down the seconds. I also have a Movado Museum watch that once belonged to my brother. They all need batteries to operate but none of them is digital. I am old enough to remember when clocks and watches required daily winding and one could, occasionally, dial the operator to ask the time. It all seems so quaintly distant now, in this time when our sense of it has been so strangely impacted. These days, it’s not uncommon for me to question what day it is, let alone what time of day it is. And yet, one of the more grounding sounds for me right now is the ticking of the clock on my bedside table. It reassures me that as strange as this slice of time we’re living in is, time does not measure it any differently than it ever has. It just keeps marking it in its continuous, incremental way—like the beating of a heart. There is a town I visited once that is known as the watch capital of France. Besançon is not far from the Swiss border, where it ironically rose to its rank after the French Revolution so that France would no longer have to rely on imports from Switzerland. According to a New York Times article, the clock and watch industry in Besançon reached its pinnacle in the early 1900s, when it employed 20,000 workers. As of 2018, when the article was written, the industry had dwindled to around 1,500. The decline was the result of “La Crise du Quartz, the sharp downturn in mechanical timepiece production and sales that followed the rise of quartz watches in the 1970s.” Thankfully, the article goes on to say, horlogerie, the heritage of clock and watch making, is experiencing a renaissance in Besançon. Heritage is a powerful thing. It has a way of asserting itself on an almost cellular level. It makes me wonder if Mark Beever, owner of Hickory Dickory Doc Clock Shop in Cornish, Maine, might have horlogerie in his blood. He recalls his grandfather and mother keeping many clocks in their homes. His curiosity about mechanical things and later appreciation of antiques forged an early interest in horology. Then, while seeking help with a problem clock in 1999, Mark was introduced to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) through the state chapter. He began taking classes and attending workshops to learn
proper repair techniques. After a successful thirty-five-year career as a veterinarian, he opened his repair shop and now spends his days fixing clocks and watches instead. Oddly enough, Mark has known several veterinarians with an avocational interest in clocks. The professor he had for equine surgery at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine had a clock repair hobby and used to repair campus clocks. Mark attributes the connection to the satisfaction derived from working with ones hands; fixing things. With a goal of preserving antique timepieces and restoring them to working condi-
Heritage is a powerful thing. It has a way of asserting itself on an almost cellular level. It makes me wonder if Mark Beever, owner of Hickory Dickory Doc Clock Shop in Cornish, Maine, might have horlogerie in his blood. tion, Mark carefully follows the Standards and Practices for Clockmakers established by the American Watchmakers and Clockmakers Institute. While it sounds like it is older than, well, time, the AWCI just celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. When it organized as the American Watchmakers Institute (AWI) in 1960, it was effectively a merger of the United Horological Association of America and the Horological Institute of American. Similarly, the NAWCC was first organized in the 1940s by members of the Horological Society of New York and the Philadelphia Watchmakers’ Guild. Both organizations continue to set national standards for the horology profession, while NAWCC has achieved worldwide membership status and operates the only specialized horological library in the world. Mark has served as secretary for Maine’s Chapter 89 of the NAWCC for the past several years. The showroom at Hickory Dickory Doc Clock Shop is marked by the unsynchronized ticking and hourly chiming of tall clocks, shelf clocks, novelty clocks, and wall clocks. Because he doesn’t have a preferred era, the styles vary from Early American Banjo clocks to very ornate Victorian to mid-century. Banjo clocks, so called because
of their shape, are Mark’s favorite. They were the first major American design from the early 1800s. There are also ship’s bells that divide the day into six four-hour periods known as watches; an antique time card punch; anniversary clocks that theoretically need only be wound once a year; moon dial clocks that display the phases of the moon, pendulum clocks; and even a couple of cuckoo clocks. With the exception of the newer novelty clocks and wrist watches, all of them are mechanical. Mark likens mechanical clocks to an old car. Despite that worn out or broken parts may need to be repaired or replaced over time, they don’t have the complicated electronic circuitry of a quartz clock. By the same token, while it’s easy enough to find parts to repair newer clocks, he has found it increasingly harder to get parts for older mechanical clocks. When he’s unable to source them or pilfer them from a similar clock, he has resorted to making his own levers, pinions, wheels, etc. on a jeweler’s lathe.
All but one of the clocks in his showroom have parts made of brass and steel. The exception is a tall clock made in Winchester, Connecticut, in the 1830s that has works made entirely of wood. He explains that in the early years of American clockmaking, brass and other metals were only available through the European market and were therefore very expensive, so clockmakers in New England began crafting wooden works. Clock plates were made of quarter sawn oak, wheels were cut from cherry, and arbors (axles) from mountain laurel. The 1820s-30s marked a transitional phase when sheet brass became more available and American clockmakers shifted over to brass and mass production techniques that allowed them
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to make large numbers of affordable shelf clocks. Bristol, Waterbury, New Haven and Plymouth Hollow were the center of the clock making industry in the 1800s, although there were many talented clockmakers in the Boston area, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania well before that. Mark points out that in the beginning clocks were a utilitarian device to help farmers with planting and keeping appointments in town, but over time competition led to more ornate and elaborate designs as different companies tried to distinguish themselves in a wider market. Brass finials, reverse painting, inlay and marble cases were just a few of the artful embellishments. One other notable exception to the mechanical clocks in the showroom is a master clock that Mark rebuilt with his son.
It has a super-accurate mercury pendulum and runs on DC battery power to send wire impulses to a number of slave clocks as part of a synchronized network. However unfortunately named, they were common in factories, offices, and schools in the 1900s. “A lot of clocks have been modified and parts combined from others. Clocks that are completely original are worth a lot more than a clock movement being put into a different case just to try to assemble something. It takes a little evaluation to figure out the degree of originality,” says Mark. “A lot of times there will be a label that the maker pasted into the back and that can add a lot of value.” He opens a clock to display a label documenting it as a Seth Thomas from Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut, and adds that Seth Mark is caretaker of the 120-year-old Cornish Town Clock, which resides at the old Odd Fellows Hall in the village. After restoring the function of the unique mechanism that strikes the large bell, some neighbors were disturbed, so he invented a night shut-off device. If all is working properly, the Town Clock strikes the hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. He serves on the Tower Clock Committee for Chapter 89, which maintains pictures and historical data on all
Thomas was so instrumental to the growth of Plymouth Hollow that it was renamed Thomaston in 1875. Beyond the showroom lies Mark’s workshop, complete with two watchmaker’s benches, jeweler’s lathe, test stand for tall clocks, and all the accouterments of watchmaking and repair. What began as a hobby twenty years ago is, in Mark’s words, getting pretty serious. He finds he really enjoys the mechanics of it, as well as the satisfaction of restoring a family heirloom, and is starting to get more calls through word of mouth. According to his wife, Sharon, “he is really quiet and reserved—and he can just fix anything.” There’s a saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day, but there’s another that says that clocks in disagreement are worse than no clock at all. Precision is an essential aspect of horology. A timepiece that doesn’t keep proper time is unreliable. The earliest recorded weight-driven mechanical clock was installed in the priory of a Roman Catholic Church in England in 1283. It indicated the time by striking a bell, hence the Latin word for bell, clocca, was adopted. It was by no means a precision timepiece. When Christiaan Huygens devised the first pendulum clock a few centuries later in 1656, it was 100 times as accurate as its predecessor, reducing a typical gain or loss of 15 minutes a day to about a minute a week. In 1675, Huygens devised the next major improvement, the spiral balance spring. Quartz crystals have since greatly improved the accuracy of our timekeeping instruments; nearly all computers contain a quartz crystal clock to regulate their operation. Atomic clocks are even more precise and they will surely be replaced by something even more precise in the future. Interesting to think, though, that no matter how precise our ability to measure time, the fact remains that it is the one thing of which we will never have enough. R To arrange a time to meet with Mark to discuss your timepiece, call 207.625.7403 or visit hickorydickorydocclocks.com. of the old mechanical and public tower clocks in Maine, and more recently has been a part of the restoration team for the historic 1925 Hay & Peabody’s Seth Thomas clock located on Congress Street in Portland at The Francis hotel. It is one of only a few four-dial street clocks produced by Seth Thomas Clock Company, and will be keeping time with its original pendulum and an electric motor to re-wind the weight.
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BEFORE SU ITCASES by leigh macmillen hayes
“Trunks have been around for thousands of years. They’ve been around trees even longer.” linda edestein and paul pat morse, Antique Trunks: Identification and Price Guide
t’s crazy to realize that the first trunks were hollowed out from trees, but it does make sense when you consider the name. Trunk derives from the Latin word truncus meaning “trunk of a tree, trunk of the body.” Stripping away the covering and glue, Connie Upson of Connie’s Trunks in Naples, Maine, never knows what she may discover on the outside and inside of an antique trunk. Sometimes it’s the grain of the wood or knots that fascinate her. Other times, there might be a label or some other clue about the manufacturer. Always, there’s the wonder of whom did the trunk originally belong to and what voyages did it take? For years, Connie had worked as a national sales manager at a footwear company, but before that she refinished oak furniture so when she began restoring trunks as a hobby,
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she had an inkling about how to go about it. After taking early retirement, her hobby became a full-time business. “I do restoration,” says Connie as we sit on her deck overlooking the shores of Sebago, “but I also give the trunks a new life. It’s a new identity.” While it’s easy to want to call all of the antique trunks Connie refurbishes “Steamer Trunks,” many do not actually fit that description. To be stowed under the berth on a steamship, companies imposed a restriction that the trunk be no more than 14” high, but lengths varied. Another fallacy she learned along the way is that many people believe because their great grandparents immigrated from Europe, their trunk must have been manufactured there. The reality is that most trunks were American-made between 1860 and 1920 and then shipped to Europe, only to find their way back when the ancestors crossed the high seas. At the beginning, the trunks were plain in style and all hardware hand forged. After the Civil War, trunks were manufactured and took on more sophisticated appearanc-
es. Wealthier travelers tended to have dometopped trunks, while others had flat topped. The average size was 32 - 34 inches because people needed to be able to pack their clothing and belongings before traveling via ship, wagon, or train. Today, a dome-topped version typically finds its way to the foot of a bed while the flat-topped trunks become display surfaces for a variety of objects. Due to the helter skelter way any luggage is handled, the trunks Connie acquires have seen a lot of wear and tear and most have collected dust and a musty aroma from their hideaways in attics or basements. The first thing she does when she finds one, is hose
it down with a cleaning agent to get rid of the bugs and dirt. After the trunk has dried, the real work begins. With a sharp utility knife, she cuts and scrapes away the outer covering. “Every trunk, when I first take the canvas off, it’s like, wow, look at this,” says Connie about her astonishment at what she might find underneath. “You can have two identical trunks sitting side by side, but they differ because of the characteristics of the wood. They’re built by the same company, but when refinished they are different.” Then there is the glue to wet and scrape off. Sanding follows. The revealed wood,
usually pine with oak slats, is sanded again and again because often there are dings. Sometimes repairs must be made. If the covering includes a sheet of metal embossed with a design, she removes any dirt, rust, and paint. Once satisfied with the result, Connie applies a coat of tung oil and stain mixture or polyurethane to achieve a furniture-like finish. The final step is more sanding, waxing and buffing. Any strapping must be cleaned or replaced and she uses a sand sponge and wire-wheel drill attachment to work on the hardware. Sometimes she needs replacement leather straps or handles, or a certain key to fit the lock. For that she turns to her long-time mentor, Churchill Barton, owner of Brettuns Village in Lewiston. Connie is quick to credit Churchill with encouraging her to create a website and for the past ten years that has been her sales point. That said, she continues to seek guidance from Churchill as needed. “He’s a wealth of knowledge,” says Connie. The entire process takes at least a week, with some drying time thrown into the mix. To date, Connie has refurbished over 600 trunks, completing about fifty each year. The repetitive work has taken a toll, but still she does it. “I’m doing something I love,” Connie says. “I never thought I’d be as busy as I am.” Locating trunks is a creative pursuit that comes easily to Connie and because she’s refurbished so many over the years, she knows what characteristics draw people. She also knows which ones to walk away from, especially if they are in horrible shape or have lost their stability. And it seems Connie gets as much joy out of pleasing people as she does in completing the work. “Every trunk is my baby,” says Connie. “I take pride in what I do, and I love the end result. I treat each trunk as if it’s going into my home, But, there’s not enough room so I actually only have one that I’ve kept.” Some of her customers have ordered several trunks from her and others have asked her to refurbish those they’ve had in the family for several generations. “I love how people respond. It’s a new treasure, whether it’s new to them or an heirloom they wanted to save.” Before suitcases . . . there were trunks and as her license plate states, Connie is a trunk nut who has made it her mission to save them for others to enjoy. R FMI: To restore or sell a trunk contact Connie via her website: conniestrunks.com.
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PARTNERING COLOR AND PATTERN by laurie lamountain
hen she was in her 20s, Janine Dowling already felt interior design would be her second career. At the time she was using her master’s degree in social work as a couple and family therapist in Boston, but when the agency she was working for merged three times in three years, she realized it no longer aligned with her reasons for going into social work. In addition, she felt her work lacked creativity. She started taking continuing ed classes in interior design at night. “It was like a fire just ignited in my brain. I would go home after every class and I’d fall asleep and dream and have these vivid, colorful, three-dimensional dreams about whatever I was learning.” She did some research and discovered that Boston Architectural College (BAC) specializes in night classes to accommodate those with day jobs. Then in her 30s, when offered a position as a design assistant at Wells and Fox Interiors and a job as a paralegal in a divorce mediation firm on the very same day, she decided to take the leap. Janine took the position with Wells and Fox and started at BAC three months later, completing her certificate in interior design and sustainable design at night. “Those little serendipitous things that keep coming up when you go to school and learn on the job at the same time, they mutually layer the building blocks,” observes Janine. After completing the BAC program, she was asked to teach courses there, beginning with Introduction to Interior Design and most recently an Advanced Studio in Interior Design. Seven years ago, Janine made the decision to slowly transition from senior designer at Wells and Fox Interiors to owner of Janine Dowling Interior Design. Heather Wells (now Heather Wells, Inc.) was both encouraging and accommodating throughout the three months it took Janine to establish herself. “Whole house interiors have consistently been my sweet spot. With the jobs we’d get with Heather, sometimes we’d start with plans. Or we’d start when it was just framed, so having that experience to see how full interiors come together—kitchens, bathrooms, trim, molding, hardware, lighting—and then having the ability to impact what’s on the walls with the soft interiors.” Her client and project management experience as a therapist, advantages that Wells recognized thirteen years earlier, have been invaluable in building Janine Dowling Interior Design. She credits them with giving her the ability to read behaviors and ask questions and listen deeply to her clients. Because it produces such an emotional response, color is a key component. It provides the means for her to develop the emotional mood of each project in a way that reflects her clients’ personalities. Partnering color and pattern to reflect her clients’ personalities is where Janine excels. “Knowing how far to push color theory and understanding the psychological impact of color in general and then on a client. There are some clients who maybe are more internally charged,
This client loves layers of pattern and color and especially loves bright colors. The palette was based on the colors in the drapes – blue, salmon and green – and informed every other color. The drapery fabric is by Sister Parish, a designer historically known for layers of pattern and colors. I call fabrics that have the full color palette “connector” fabrics, as they are the key that unifies a diverse color scheme. They harmonize everything. Clients who love a mix of color and pattern still benefit from harmony.
that if you gave them a serene, soothing room it agitates them. I have to give them a more charged environment and then they calm down. That’s where my background in understanding psychology and what makes people tick, marrying that with interior design, I think it helps bring forth the emotional mood and I really do try to capture the right emotional mood. And then it’s also attractive, pretty and functions well, but I do like paying attention to that.” But she’s quick to add that it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is if it doesn’t function. Janine begins by sketching out a floor plan and identifying how the client wants to function in their home. Understanding and listening deeply to how they live and use a space is essential to her process. Then there’s regionality. Having designed interiors all over the country, Janine is mindful of the fact that every region has a different feel to it. Being on a lake as opposed to the ocean is really significant. And a Victorian row house in Boston is about as far as you can get from a log home on a lake in Maine, both of which she lives in. Personally, she prefers a transitional style because it feels more timeless. She loves mixing interesting vintage or antique pieces—like arts and crafts with mid-century modern. In Maine, she has created an interior that feels soothing and energizing at the same time. For her Boston row house, she used a softer, more subtle palette and curves to contrast with the more linear architectural details of an 1880 Victorian. When it comes to her clients, however, she doesn’t have a preferred style because every client is different. “I am not my project. They’re the client and it’s my job to figure out their best style and to educate, rather than dictate. I always try to get their story and educate them on the pros and cons of using x,y, z. Because it is their house—they are the client—and I really want them to find out who they are in their home.”
This client loves a modern style with pops of color. Once again, you see the “connector” fabric in the pillows. These colors have higher contrast and are considered a triad on the color wheel. There is more energy and vibration between colors that are farther apart on the color wheel than colors right next door. When clients like their room to be more energizing, introducing colors that have more contrast, while low in pattern, is a way to go. A bright color palette also makes a modern style feel warmer than the typical stark colors.
This condo living room not only needed to function for three generations, but also for a family member in a wheel chair. Coordinating the colors of the textiles with the artwork creates a sense of modern energy. Fabrics were chosen to withstand grandkids and a dog. The oval ottoman is faux leather and on wheels. The angles in the sectional mimic the walls of the room. The sectional itself provides enough seating for the whole family, without sacrificing space or style.
Mixing patterns in a narrow color palette offers clients ways to create energy without a lot of different colors. Blues and coral with a neutral of soft beige set the tone. Then, the diverse patterns provide a transitional contrast in the drapes, rug, pillows and chair. This provides energy in a softer way to a room.
She points out that one of the toughest parts of doing traditional projects is that the market has changed for product and there are fewer fabric houses making traditional fabrics. To be equally creative in a truly traditional environment that’s inspired by classic English or French design, which is what we do in New England, is getting more difficult because they’re simply not making the fabrics or trim anymore. Then there’s texture to consider. “Texture makes a huge impact when the seasons change so rapidly. In New England, no matter what the client wants it to look like, the fabrics need to have a certain consistency to them. And it needs to be flexible, so it doesn’t feel cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and it wears well with kids, dogs and wet bathing suit bottoms.”
Whether it’s interior design, architectural interiors, a new home consultation or a paint color consultation, Janine makes no distinction between her clients. She is who she is with every single client and they all get 100% of her. The result is a very diverse portfolio. “When you look at my portfolio every project is really different, but I think they all have a similar emotional feel; there is a calmness that comes forth. No matter what style you’re working with, if you use good scale and proportion and pay attention to color theory, that’s where the calmness comes from. The Greeks and Romans figured all that out a few thousand years ago and when we stick to those true design elements, it doesn’t matter what style it is.” R To view more of her work, visit janinedowling.com or find her on Facebook and Instagram.
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The Heart of the Home
text by laurie lamountain photos by maillett photography
In general, I like to make sure that there is enough space for you to be able to have three different types of things happening at the same time. Because when are you ever just making one thing when you have people coming over? Do you ever find yourself just making bread or just making cookies? Or are you making the pot roast while you’re making mashed potatoes, while you’re making brussel sprouts, while you’re prepping dessert?
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t twenty-five, Hannah Guilford is a force to be reckoned with: forthright, energetic and incredibly focused. She and her husband, Cody, launched Heart & Hammer Homes in March of 2019 and have been busy ever since. As a team, they provide home remodeling, general contracting, and interior design. ous owner in order return the kitchen to its The couple met when Hannah was fiforiginal structure and gain space. Walls and teen and Cody seventeen, and married five floors were shored up and reframed for propyears later. Their first house was a fixerer structural integrity, and trim work was repupper that they quickly flipped. They then licated to fill in where it had been removed. bought a piece of land on which they built Part of Hannah’s design process was their second home. While they were building researching and having a sense and underit, they decided to build a business. standing of the era in which the home was Hannah has always had a flair for design built, and using that as a driving force in and an entrepreneurial spirit (she made creating her own design. jewelry and headbands as a kid). Despite the fact that the kitchen was in “I remember constantly trying to change disrepair and didn’t flow well, most of the the paint color in my room, trying to redecoarchitectural interior was intact, allowing rate the house.” her to preserve the 1800s authenticity of the She recently completed her first high-end kitchen, while adding some of the decidedly kitchen redesign in an early 1800s New Engmodern elements the owner desired. And, land farmhouse for a client who has modof course, make it an attractive and fullyern, eclectic tastes and likes to entertain. functional 21st century kitchen. After meeting with him several times, “His knowing what he wanted actually both in person and virtually, to determine helped me to be able to push his boundaries a layout that suited the way he, an experiand bring in new things that he might not enced home chef, and his family function have chosen otherwise. He had a specific in the kitchen, Hannah’s vision sufficiently floor tile and backsplash tile that he liked,” impressed him to give her free reign and a says Hannah, “and from there it was my nice budget with which to work. responsibility to find other elements that The first order of business was removing a worked well with them.” bathroom that had been added on by a previ-
A German smear, made by mixing a wet mortar of Portland cement, lime, sand and water, had a three-fold effect on the chimney. Not only did it seal it, it blended it with the wood-look floor and backsplash tiles and turned it into a less conspicuous, though central, architectural element in the room. She worked with a local cabinetmaker from North Conway, NH, to come up with a layout and design for the white Shakerinspired cabinets. Dark stainless hardware was added to give them a modern twist. Locally-sourced Jet Mist granite from Granite & Cabinet Creations in Bridgton was not the first choice, however, it proved to be an excellent alternative to the quartz soapstone she had intended. Given that the second half of the renovation took place during Covid, there were issues getting certain materials and quartz soapstone was one of them, but the high quality, non-porous granite she found locally actually turned out to be a better choice for a working kitchen. “Growing up on a farm, it was important for me to give him a big sink. I grow vegetables and can all my summer goodies, so I appreciate having space to do that.” A window was added to bring more natural light in. An industrial-style pot rack replaced a lower, wooden pot rack. Appliance garages and a wet bar
were added at one end of the kitchen. While she was staging the kitchen she came across framed prints of famous figures the owner had received as a wedding gift and had yet to unwrap. She asked for permission to use them and promptly hung them on the chimney, adding the eclectic touch she’d been searching for. She softened the overall look by adding decor made of natural materials; a concrete planter, wooden bowls, and succulents for greenery. “The kitchen is the heart of the home. I love to can, I love to cook, it’s kind of my happy place in the house. I find that I tend to move myself toward the kitchen when it comes to design. I wish I could say that I plan everything out, but I feel like design is the better side of me that’s willing to kind of go with the flow. I have certain things that are controlled and planned, such as cabinet and appliance layout, but other things I’m willing to change as the project unfolds. Sometimes you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It can push you a little bit into new things.” With that in mind, she looks forward to her role as lead designer for a 4000 sq.ft. addition to an historic 1800s farmhouse that Heart & Hammer Homes will break ground on in the spring. R
“I find myself constantly inspired by nature. When I say this, I don’t just mean the birds and the bees, flowers and trees, but rather what nature has created over the years and how we, mankind, have formed it for our use. The nature of stone, polished into a surface, clay molded into brick, wood cut and planed into trim and cabinetry. When I design, I always aspire to blend these elements and combine them with local items that help emphasize them. To completely modernize an 1800s farmhouse just doesn’t do these original elements justice, rather my goal as a designer is to exploit the original and charming elements that draw one to that home in the first place. To design for a client is not much different than polishing stone to create a counter, for the roots of the design are already planted, I just need to urge them which direction to grow. The client’s ideas and vision are usually already there. It’s up to me to elevate them, polish them, bring them to light.”
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View from the Galley by laurie lamountain
here are two things in particular that have informed Julie Whelchel’s interior design process. Perhaps foremost is her love of boats. “I grew up sailing with my dad, who was a NASA engineer, and he was really clear and precise about how things should be done, not how he wanted them done, but how things should be done and why they should be done that way. In his mind there was only one right way to do things. He really taught me how to observe things and make the best choices about my actions and part of that came out of sailing.” The second influence is really an offshoot of the first. After her father retired from NASA, he imported Swedish yachts and from them Julie came to appreciate how functional the inside of a sailboat is; there is nothing superfluous. She majored in Industrial Design in college, focusing on design of small, non-static spaces, with a goal of designing the interiors of boats. But while Industrial Design initially seemed like the logical avenue for her, after embarking on a career in the automotive industry in which
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she focused specifically on the child safety seat market, she graduated with a degree in Industrial Management. Julie found herself, as a detail-oriented person with an artistic drive, in the very technical role of designing systems so they wouldn’t fail, or if they had non-conformities, tasked with solving the problem. Essentially, she found herself a professional problem solver with an inner artist wanting to share the stage. In 2003, she and her husband, Rick, left their careers in Ohio and made the bold move of becoming New England innkeepers. They bought the Noble House Inn in Bridgton and immediately began renovating and restoring the inn to its original 1903 Queen Anne Victorian features, including the exterior stonework and piazza stairs, using the original blueprints for reference. “Our time as innkeepers helped inform how I designed those spaces. It was really an unintentional study in human behavior, in terms of how people use spaces,” says Julie. Ironically, Julie and Rick were part of that study. They converted a third floor suite
to serve as owner’s quarters. Given that it was an attic space with eaves along the sides, Julie was tasked with carving living space, bedroom, bath and storage space out of a long, low-slung space. By designing everything with a low profile and so that a lot of the spaces could do double duty, she was able to make their private haven feel much more spacious and serve them functionally for the ten years they owned the inn. In 2009, they bought the historic 1873 H.O. Moses Apothecary on Main Hill in Bridgton and worked on it as they could until selling the inn in 2012. The Whelchels then took a “gap year” to painstakingly restore the ground floor to house J.Decor, a retail source for handcrafted furniture and home furnishings carefully chosen by Julie to pay homage to the craftsmanship of that era. Given that the impressive architectural details of the space had not been compromised, the apothecary itself was a major preservation effort with minor restoration. The 2000-square-foot owner’s apartment on the second and third floors was a different matter. Both floors were in need of major restoration and added renovations to meet their 21st century needs, such as heat, bathrooms, and laundry. Julie was faced with a host of challenges redesigning the apartment in keeping with its Victorian roots. The rooms are large and high ceilinged, which presents its own challenge. “When they’re too big for the intended use, you’ve really got to start thinking, how do I break it down into small, useable spaces? That’s what we did in this kitchen. We have a built-in banquette with a dining area in one corner because I love eat-in kitchens. We have an island floating in the middle that creates a practical work triangle, with fridge, stove and sink, in a more compact context within the larger footprint.” Dropped ceilings that had been added to hide botched plumbing attempts were removed, allowing her to take the transom cabinets up to the original ceiling height; bringing the kitchen back into perspective and making it feel bright, spacious and alive. Crown molding proved helpful in solving the problem of rooms out of plumb. The opposite of breaking large rooms into smaller, useable spaces is designing small, narrow spaces so that they don’t feel cluttered or confining. Julie points out that a lot of people think that if you have a small space, you need to furnish it with small things. “I love working in small, existing homes.
Big new homes are easy, but when you have a pre-existing home, and frankly up here in New England there are a lot of small, early homes, there are challenges. And I love to work within those envelopes to create solutions.” This past spring, she worked with a client who owns just such a home. The rooms in the original Cape portion of the house were small and the library was long and narrow to boot. She notes that there are a lot of long, skinny rooms up here, and while capturing lake views may have been a determining factor in their layout, they present an interesting challenge when it comes to actual use. A dining table that accommodates more than four people or sectional sofas might not be an option, but multiple seating arrangements go a long way toward solving the problem. For this client’s library she created an elongated seating area with large leather-clad Morris chairs. She put all of the weight on one wall, like a galley. Over the course of a varied relationship with design, it makes sense that Julie would end up in interior design. Drawing on her experience as a professional problem solver, following her father’s advice on observation, and circling back to her appreciation of boat design have all informed her interior design from a very practical sense. She researches what other designers have done, views a lot of spaces, and breaks down what she sees as having been done “correctly” and what has been done for the sake of the visual experience, noting that those two things don’t always align. Her formal career required her to take a lot of information and pare it down into a concise package; to look at chaos and pull a precise little nugget from it. That same skill allows her to look at a large house and be able to pare it down, or look at a buggered-up kitchen and see how to streamline it into a nice, logical space. “One thing that came out of working in industry is that I was good at what I did, but I wasn’t having fun. The inn was fun and J. Decor is fun and I want to continue having fun, but when our lives are out of balance it’s not fun. There’s more to our lives than hit repeat, play again.” With that in mind, she and Rick recently made the decision to close the retail end of J.Decor so that Julie can focus solely on the design end of the business with both large and small-scale design projects. Rick is retiring but will happily be around to help with heavy lifting. To arrange a design consultation, call 207.647.5555. R
Facing page: the apothecary at J.Decor. This page: owner’s apartment kitchen at J.Decor (top), owner’s quarters at Noble House Inn (middle), client library and living room (bottom)
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A Partnered Project by leigh macmillen hayes
“When the work fell into the hands of us boys we hired a husky man to push the work, paid him $3.00 a day while others paid $2.00. He would hustle us out about three A.M. and rushed that way until we got through. The result was that we beat everyone in the neighborhood and made money by it . . . We worked at least sixteen hours every day during haying season. It was pretty tough to get up so early, but Old Bill said, ‘Come on, boys’, and we came. This will give you an idea of what we could do when pressed to it.” ~Edwin Peabody Fitch, 1840-1931, Ninety Years of Living A few years after the Town of Bridgton incorporated, William Peabody of Andover, Massachusetts, built a house for his bride, Sally Stevens. The large, two and a half story house with a center chimney, was surrounded by over 200 acres of fields and forest upon which they grew crops, raised livestock, and created maple syrup, butter, and cheese. In 1823, William and Sally’s fourth daughter, Mary, married George Fitch of Sebago and about 1828 the Fitches took over the workings of the hilltop farm, said to be the highest cultivated land in Cumberland County. Thus, within the home lived Mary’s parents, three of her younger siblings, plus the Fitches and their growing family. To accommodate all, George added an ell with a new kitchen, larder, pantry, and two bedrooms. He also built an attached shed and carriage house.
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After George Fitch died in 1856, the property stayed in the family but over time declined significantly in value. By the mid1930s, the farm had fallen into disrepair and the Town of Bridgton put a lien on it for back taxes. A friend who owned property nearby informed the recently widowed Margaret M. Monroe of Providence, Rhode Island, about the South Bridgton property. Margaret saw through its deficiencies and fell in love with the entryway and carriage house. Really, she fell in love with the entire place and purchased it not only to preserve its original elements, but also to serve as a summer and holiday retreat for her family. In 1987, upon Margaret’s death, the property she’d long ago named Narramissic, meaning “Hard to Find,” because she and her late husband had long searched for a Maine property to purchase, was bequeathed to the Bridgton Historical Society. Over the years, through staff and volunteer hours, donations, and grant monies, BHS has worked to restore the farmhouse and out buildings and host various events. In the 1990s, for his Eagle Project, Boy Scout Adam Jones created a blue-blazed trail to a quarry on land beyond the upper field that remained in possession of Peg Monroe Normann, Margaret’s daughter. Still, the property seemed “Hard to Find.” All of that is in the midst of changing, however, as Loon Echo Land Trust recently
purchased and conserved the 250-acre Normann property that surrounds Bridgton Historical Society’s Narramissic farmstead on three sides. LELT appropriately named it Peabody-Fitch Woods. Loon Echo’s Stewardship Manager and BHS Vice President Jon Evans was the impetus behind the collaborative effort of the two non-profit organizations though he is quick to turn the credit highlights to others. “I actually spoke with Carrie Walia (former LELT Executive Director) in 2010 about conserving the lands around Narramissic or conserving the farmstead’s grounds. It didn’t have a lot of ecological values so it never gained much traction the first time. And even the second time, it didn’t appeal to typical funders.” What people didn’t realize was the connectivity value in relation to other conserved lands. When Jon approached the next executive director, Thom Perkins, about the project, he said, “Thom saw it from 30,000 feet and knew that it did connect a lot of conserved land, plus he appreciated that by conserving the land and stewarding it, Loon Echo’s presence might benefit another local non-profit.” After Matt Markot took the helm as LELT’s Executive Director, he made the dream a reality because he was able to acquire the funds through grants and individual donations that made it happen. “Actually though,” said Jon, “a lot of folks made it happen.” Ned Allen, executive director of Bridgton Historical Society recently said, “For decades we were worried about the 250 acres surrounding the farm.” Thus, with the LELT purchase, he feels like BHS is starting a new era. And indeed it is. Though the two local non-profits had worked on a few projects in prior years, their relationship has grown significantly as they work to protect the natural and cultural history of the abutting properties. Their most recent joint effort includes a graded gravel walking trail with manageable slopes built to universal standards that winds past the house and barn and through the woods. A large parking area to access both properties has also been constructed at the top of the former strawberry field behind the Temperance Barn. Through a public process as deemed necessary by the State of Maine’s Recreational Trail Program, a significant funder for the project, Warren Excavation of Bridgton produced the most competitive bid. “We were delighted because we thought that the
Warrens also had the right experience and the right equipment to build the trail in the way we imagined,” said Matt. Ned added, “We’d worked with them on the barn restoration and couldn’t have asked for better people to do it.” Both organizations felt that the Warrens were sensitive to the whole property and weren’t thinking just about building the trial but were considering the potential impacts to the existing structures and land. After 40+ years in the business, Bruce Warren is quick to credit the late Alan Ordway of Winona Camps on the shores of Moose Pond for initially teaching him how to look at the land and create the atmosphere in the woods that he desired. Though Jon had previously flagged a trail that looped around a large field above the farmstead, he was open to interpretation. And that’s just the formula Bruce works with best. “I have a sense of what to look for and try to create a peaceful experience for others,” said Bruce. “We take enough brush out of the way to see the forest. It’s as if we look at ourselves as we walk these paths and we can see there’s more there. We’re taking the brush away from our own lives.” Kyle said his father would move along in his skid steer, cutting trees as he went, then stop and determine a curve. “Dad’s always had an eye for different things, seeing through obstacles and taking in the big picture. It can be challenging at times because it’s not always about taking the path of least resistance. We’d weigh the pros and cons of the situation: water run-off; vantage points; character along the trail. You go from mature forest and wet area to gray birch grove and old field feel. We wanted folks to see through to all of that.” To create the gravel trail that anyone might experience, they built a five- to sixfoot-wide surface that provides plenty of room for people to physically distance yet still walk near each other. In some places the gravel is over six inches deep in an attempt to keep the trail as smooth and easily walkable as possible. One of the most exciting aspects of this collaborative effort is the fact that it’s a unique offering in the lakes region. As Matt stated, “We live in an area with abundant recreational opportunities, but not many are available to everyone. People of all abilities can enjoy the new loop. We wanted to be able to highlight some of the best cultural and natural features of the property so that people who are on the trail can see
the farm and the fields and look into the woods.” Beyond the gravel trail, ATV and snowmobile trails are also part of the mixed use of the land. Because the new walking trail traverses in front of the barn and farmhouse on the historical society’s property, the two groups again worked together with BHS granting LELT a trail easement, thus adding another layer of permanent protection to the infrastructure so that no matter what happens down the road, public access will always be available. When you visit the trail, you’ll be wowed. But also know that for both organizations, this is a work in progress. And to that end, your continued financial support is needed. Among other projects to maintain the farmstead, Bridgton Historical Society hopes to build a bathroom facility so they can host events such as weddings. Likewise, Loon Echo Land Trust would like to add an information kiosk by the parking lot, rest areas along the walking trail, and interpretive signs on the hiking trail along the quarry loop. Between the two organizations, thanks to contributors, grantors and other partners, they’ve already invested over $750,000 thus far in the buildings and trails. The overlap between the cultural and natural history brought these two organizations together in a partnered project and the end result is something everyone can benefit from, whether young or old, agile or frail. That’s hard to find elsewhere. R FMI: Bridgton Historical Society: bridgtonhistory.org Loon Echo Land Trust: lelt.org
Ready for Business by leigh macmillen hayes
“In the spring we plowed and worked the ground with both horse and oxen. Riding plows were not known. We wanted to work the horses as well as the oxen and they were too lively to hitch directly to the plow so we took the forward pair of wagon wheels, fixed a seat on top, hitched the plow to the axle; now, with a boy in the seat, we were fixed ready for business.” ~Edwin Peabody Fitch Just as the Peabody-Fitches operated a family business upon the Narramissic/ Peabody-Fitch Woods land, so have others to make this project possible. Due to the current pandemic, three days a week Kyle Warren’s young family, Tillie, age six, Hazel, age four, and Archer, age 2, were on the job site. And that doesn’t mean just hanging out while their father and grandfather worked. “When we found we were awarded this job,” said Kyle, “we met here and talked about the basics of the project and I expressed to Ned, Matt, and Jon, that my kids come to work with me and I was fully transparent. They were very supportive, which is great because that’s the kind of people you want to work for, those who have a sense of family and a sense of importance.” Kyle was quick to add, “I will say, none of this was forced upon the kids. We had purchased a truck and adjusted the foot pedals for them and they were excited to drive it around the yard. And then when we ended up being awarded this job, we purchased the second one. For the girls, it was a sense of pride. They would drive the trucks around the yard and then they insisted I fill continued on page 23
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the bookshelf BOOK REVIEWS FROM THE OWNERS & STAFF OF BRIDGTON BOOKS
With so much turmoil and uncertainty in the air, it is comforting to be writing another book review for our favorite magazine. This Tender Land, a novel by William Kent Krueger, was one of our best selling books of the summer and takes place during another trying time in American history. Set in the midwest during the Great Depression, it follows Irish American orphaned brothers, Odie and Albert, who are the only white boys in a school where Native American children are sent to be “reeducated” from their ways and culture. Odie is regularly targeted for punishment by an evil superintendent they refer to as the “Black Witch.” The brothers are suddenly forced to flee for their lives, and along with their friends Mose and Emmy, head out on the Mississippi River in search of a new home. Krueger is a decent writer, but a superb storyteller, and I enjoyed his homage to Homer’s Odyssey. If you haven’t read Ordinary Grace, also by him, I’d highly recommend that as well. I was too young to understand much of the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, when it came out, however, the fight scenes on camels fascinated me. The non-fiction book Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson enlightened me with an in-depth portrayal of Lawrence and the World War I Middle Eastern Theater. As the Ottoman empire floundered, Lawrence, an Englishman, was a prime instigator in getting the Arabs to revolt against the Turks. His study and embodiment of Arab Culture and politics, along with his knowledge of desert travel and warfare, was instrumental in the war. Scott gives a great geo-political overview of the period not just through Lawrence’s eyes. The author also details Aaron Aaronsohn, a Jewish Zionist, who set up a spy network for Britain; William Yale, an American working for Standard Oil; and Curt Prufer, a German spy from the other side. Occasionally a publisher will change the title of a book (much to my irritation) in the hopes of bringing it new success. Richard Roper’s novel How Not To Die Alone was changed within a year between hardcover and paperback editions to Something To Live For—a smart move considering our current healthcare crisis. Actually a witty, romantic comedy, Andrew tells a lie in his
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job interview, which comes back to haunt him when he gets the job. In a large city, there are always people who pass away with no known friends or family nearby. Andrew’s job entails going through their belongings to ascertain whether they have relatives or not, and to determine if the deceased has enough assets to pay for burial. He lives a very mundane life with colleagues so abhorrent they are comical, until Peggy joins the ranks and turns everything upside down. Books about rock bands are usually not my thing, but when it came to David Mitchell’s new novel Utopia Avenue, I made an exception. Utopia Avenue is the name of his fictitious British Rock band from the ‘60s, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are rich and well developed, the music scene rings true, and the band’s rise from obscurity is delightful with many side tracks. This novel is more accessible than some of his masterworks such as Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, and Mitchell just spins a really good yarn, while including references from his previous novels into his new one, as is his style. While I’m on the subject, Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins, is an American ‘70s rock story written in documentary form that is also lots of fun. Mikel Jollett had an interesting childhood to say the least, and his new memoir Hollywood Park is spectacular. A fantastic writer, Jollett has a simple, honest style which effectively bares his soul to the reader with empathy. As a child, he was raised by Synanon, a cult with no family structure. Eventually, his mother steals him back from the cult and they go on the run. She has her own issues, and it is a wonder Mikel grows
up to become a functional human being and successful musician. There are plenty of autobiographies full of family strife and addiction, but Jollett’s unique perspective makes his work stand above. It is hard to describe in words. Just pick up the book and read the first chapter, and you will see what I mean. The Warehouse by Rob Hart is a compelling work of speculative fiction taking place in the near future. The Cloud is America’s largest employer by far, selling almost everything to almost everybody after having wiped out all its competitors. Each Cloud warehouse is its own virtual City State, and since people don’t have many other options, the company always has plenty of disposable workers to choose from waiting at the doorstep. Paxton was looking for a new start after his own business went under due to the Cloud undercutting his prices. Zinnia joins the workforce at the same time, but she is a corporate spy working for an unknown entity. There is intrigue and suspense, but the surreal setting of this book alone makes it a tour de force. Miracle Creek by debut author Angie Kim is a clever courtroom drama with a good mystery woven into the plot. Newly immigrated from South Korea, Pak and Young Yoo pour their dreams and savings into a hyperbaric oxygen treatment business; essentially an immersion tank where people breathe in pure oxygen in the hopes of treating and improving whatever malady afflicts them. When an explosion kills two people including an autistic boy, the boy’s mother is charged with murder, but it is much more complicated than that.
Wow, what a year! Everything has turned around, leaving us to deal with a “new normal.” Perhaps as a coping mechanism, I have been drawn to books that involve great change. First was A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Cole, a fascinating study of how the American diet evolved from World War I through the economic and environmental upheavals of the 1930s. Tremendous changes took place, including the discovery of vitamins, the beginnings of school lunch and other government food programs, and the rise of processed foods, all of which continue to impact our lives. I was reminded of other favorite books set during this time: The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, and, of course, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I just started The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson and I can’t put it down. This is the way history should be presented. Ms. Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,200 people over many years, listening to the stories of challenges they and nearly six million other black citizens faced as they moved from the South to the North and West between 1915 and 1970. She focuses on three individuals at different times during the migration, but their stories are linked with others to form a compelling, enlightening and long overdue record of one of the “great untold stories of American history.” Once again, I’m plugging Jacqueline Woodson because her writing is just so darn good and her story is also part of the Great Migration, albeit on a rather zigzag path. Read about her journey in her memoir, brown girl dreaming, which I reviewed for the summer issue of Lake Living. Her first adult book, Another Brooklyn, is about human relationships, specifically between four young girls becoming women in 1970s New York City. Woodson’s lyricism and impeccably chosen words make this exploration of memory, loss, and home a moving and memorable read. I’m also looking forward to reading her newest book, Before the Ever After. In Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In, self-proclaimed “total geek” Phuc Tran narrates his own migration story from Viet Nam to America, beginning in 1975. Caught in the cultural and expecta-
tion gap between traditional parents and his new world, Phuc struggles with fitting in and finding his way. He discovers punk rock and skateboarding, as well as art and classic Western literature, which ultimately open the door to his future. Phuc now lives in Portland, Maine, where he teaches Latin and runs a tattoo parlor. His clever, funny, and inspirational TEDxDirigo talk “Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive” is wonderful—listen to it! Two novels set in the not too distant future—When the English Fall by David Williams and Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy—offer unsettling versions of what may lie ahead. Williams tells how members of an Amish community handle their relationship with “the English” (non-Amish) as the trappings of modern civilization begin to collapse in the aftermath of a cataclysmic solar storm. In Migrations, climate change has decimated most animal populations on Earth and wanderer Franny Stone hopes to follow the migration of the last Arctic terns from Greenland to Antarctica across oceans virtually devoid of fish. Her troubled past is gradually revealed as she tracks the birds to their final destination. Both books serve as a warning for us to pay attention and protect
what is precious and essential. For a complete change of pace, try Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a deliciously creepy story true to the classic gothic genre, including a spirited heroine, an alarming letter, disturbing dreams, and a seriously spooky house. Young, vibrant socialite Noemi Taboada arrives at High Place in the Mexican countryside to find out why her newlywed cousin has sent a letter of distress. Noemi gradually falls under the house’s spell, discovers horrible secrets, and tries to plot an escape. A worthy successor to the great masters of gothic, supernatural, and horror such as Poe, Lovecraft, Blackwood, and M.R. James, it would also make a great movie with many opportunities for spectacular special effects. I end by suggesting Geography of Home by Akiko Busch because most of us have been spending a lot more time there recently. These charming, witty, and philosophical essays take the reader room by room through a house, explaining the history and evolution of each one. It is a gentle and amusing entertainment offering a few intriguing surprises—my favorite chapter is Laundry. I wish you all a happy season of reading at home!
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the bookshelf BOOK REVIEWS FROM THE OWNERS & STAFF OF BRIDGTON BOOKS
PAM’S PICKS FOR KIDS & YOUNG ADULTS
The Belonging Tree By MaryAnn Cocca-Loffler, Ages 1+ Ma, Pa and Zeke Gray live happily in the center of an oak tree amongst other squirrels. Summer arrives and so does a family of loud and bossy blue jays. Their arrival infuriates Ma and Pa. Zeke, on the other hand, embraces the new neighbors. With every passing season, other families encroach on their piece of woods. No trespassing signs are posted, but eventually Ma and Pa have had enough and decide to move. Readers will discover an unexpected twist with a great message for unifying diverse communities. How to Read to a Grandma or Grandpa By Jean Reagan, Ages 2+ Grandparents have always loved sharing the joy of reading with their grandchildren. This book puts kids in charge of teaching grandparents how to read with them. The experience starts with knowing where to find books, then moves to using the perfect voice while reading. The fun doesn’t stop when the book ends so enjoy the journey with this great book. How to Find a Bird By Jennifer Ward Bird watching for kids has gained in popularity over the years. This delightful and beautifully illustrated book shows kids different ways to spot a variety of bird species found across the USA.
Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom By Louis Sachar, Ages 8+ Wayside School reopens its doors and it is just as hilarious as previous books in this series. The builder apologizes for constructing the school thirty stories high with only a single classroom per floor. The school bell system is critical to learn so the kids can get to their classroom before the late bell. Todd reaches Mrs. Jewl’s 30th floor classroom one second late and “detention” is scribbled under his name on the board, and that is the start of his day. Scary Stories for Young Foxes By Christian McKay Heidicker, Ages 9+ Seven baby foxes beg their mother to tell a scary story before bedtime. The kits yawn as she retells boring stories. Mother fox warns them that deep in the woods lives an old storyteller who knows the most bone chilling stories, but the woods are dangerous and they should stay close to the den. Once mother is fast asleep, the kits quietly step into the deep dark woods in search of a terrifying story. The Girl and the Witch’s Garden By Erin Bowman, Ages 10+ From the outside, the majestic Mallory Estate with its manicured lawns is beautiful, but whispers of strange happenings have the neighborhood kids on high alert. Piper doesn’t fear the estate like the others, but she also doesn’t want to spend her summer vacation there with her mother. She wants to be with her sick dad. When Piper befriends a band of orphaned kids with magical talents who are determined to discover the secrets hidden within the estate’s neglected garden, she joins the search in hopes of discovering a cure for her father.
Sisters of Sword and Song By Rebecca Ross, Ages 13+ Reviewed by Sophia Berry Two magicless sisters in a world bursting with magic must find their way. One sister, Halcyon, is a soldier and the other sister, Evadne, tends the family’s olive grove. Their lives change when Halcyon is convicted of a murder she says she didn’t mean to commit. Sensing there is more to the story, Evadne takes the last five years of her sister’s sentence and quickly realizes that something is happening that could shake the foundation of her world. My favorite part of this novel is the masterful way Rebecca Ross switches between the perspective of the two sisters. Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain By Tod Olson, Ages 13+ Although Mt. Everest stands at 27,988 feet, K2 is technically more difficult. Houston’s first attempt at K2 in the 1920s helped fuel his obsession to return and summit, fifteen years later he traveled back to basecamp to fulfill his dream. While there are lots of mountaineer books available, what I found interesting about this YA book is how ill prepared they were by today’s standards. Foolish Hearts By Emma Mills, Ages 14+ Trapped in a bathroom at a friend’s house party, Claudia accidentally overhears the school’s hottest couple, Iris & Paige, breaking up. Her cell phone chimes at the worst possible time as they discover their conversation exposed. Things go further south when Claudia is forced to try out the for the school play along with Iris. Iris’s dislike for Claudia is obvious, but they must work together as Iris deals with her break-up and Claudia falls for the lead character in the play. This story for teens has it all: a bromance, a romance and exposed vulnerability. Emma Mills doesn’t shy away from teenage struggles. A Breath Too Late By Rocky Callen, Ages 15+ Regret . . . it only takes one second, and then there is no turning back. Ella reflects on her pre-suicide life from an out-of-body state and questions how she got to this place and why she’s there. Ella’s mom repeatedly promised to escape her verbally and physically abusive husband, but each time he begs for forgiveness with a promise of change. People don’t change without help and Ella knows that. Even though this book left me speechless, Ella’s story of losing the fight must be told because there is help out there, and she found that out one second too late. The book ends with a list of domestic abuse hotline numbers.
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continued from page 19 a bucket with water and car wash and they would spend hours washing the trucks because they didn’t want them to look gross.” Kyle explained that they might whine and have some morning issues at home, but when they hopped on to their equipment, they were 100% better and willing to work together. Fruit snacks, Coolattas®, a small purple picnic table, beach umbrella, Tonka Trucks® for Archer, and mounds of dirt kept the kids entertained when they needed a break from work. They, however, hardly considered what they were doing to be work despite the fact that the girls helped lay out at least two tenths of the trail. Their grandfather would load their trucks, they’d drive them across the field and dump the dirt or gravel, which their father would spread while they went back down for the next load and so it would go. Instant gratification came in the form of Kyle spreading the dirt or gravel as soon as the girls dumped it so that when they returned with another load, they could see that ten more feet of the trail had been constructed. Said their dad, “It gave them a sense of value and importance. And now they get to come walk it and know that they built it. Forever this is going to be a part of them.” Of the trail and work, Tillie said, “I enjoyed running my track truck back and forth. I liked moving dirt. When we caught up, we could pick blueberries and I found mica.” For Hazel, “My favorite parts were helping dump the dirt and daddy helping me. And beeping my horn. It’s very loud.” Archer didn’t say much. He didn’t have to because his sisters talked for him, But his joy was evident in his eyes. At the end of the day, much like we imagine Edwin Peabody Fitch and his siblings, and the Monroes and Normanns who followed, the Warren kids were exhausted, hungry, and disgustingly covered with dirt. They were as ready for business as those who had come before them. R
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Full of Beans by perri black
ome people inherit fine jewelry, valuable artwork, or large tracts of real estate; I inherited jars and bags of dried beans, and not the kind that grow into giant beanstalks leading to castles in the clouds. While not redeemable for significant amounts of hard currency, these beans are a welcome and nutritional part of my family legacy. My mother was a big fan of dried beans, especially the heirloom varieties she grew to exhibit at the Fryeburg Fair. Mom was a historian who earned her second degree in New England Studies from the University of Southern Maine. She focused on traditional rural home crafts, such as spinning fibers and weaving textiles, and I’m sure dried beans appeared somewhere during her research into 19th century New England life. At any rate, something sparked her interest and she began to grow dried beans in our vegetable garden. After her first harvest, she was hooked. She continued to grow different varieties of dried beans over the years and won many prize ribbons, including blues, at the Fryeburg Fair. To enter the fair, however, one needs only enough beans to fill a few halfpint jars; the rest of the harvest is presumably consumed by the farmer. Not so with Mom—she wasn’t interested in cooking. Despite my protestations, she continued to grow several kinds of dried beans every year; she’d shell some to enter in the fair and leave behind paper bags full of the rest, still in their crispy pods. Thus, my inheritance.
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I’m not complaining, though. I whiled away many autumn evening hours shelling those bags of beans and fondly remembering my mom. The beans are very decorative in their jars lined up on the shelves and they are delicious in salads, soups, and other recipes depending on the season. I have also given some to friends who will carry on my Mom’s tradition of growing the beans to exhibit at the fair. Beans are culturally ubiquitous, versatile, and good for you. Most cuisines include some of the thousands of varieties—think soybeans in Asia, lentils in India, Italian cannellini beans, Mexican black beans and navy beans in the U.S., to mention only a few. Beans are high in fiber and protein and can serve as a low-carb substitute for potatoes in many recipes, particularly soups. They are also inexpensive, easy to cook, and freeze well. Properly stored dried beans will keep virtually indefinitely in the pantry but for the best taste and nutritional value they should be consumed within two or three years of drying. As an added bonus in these pandemic times, the (usually undesirable) flatulent effect of beans may encourage social distancing and wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Perhaps the CDC should include bags of dried beans in their list of essential Personal Protective Equipment. There are a number of ways to cook dried beans so experiment to find which way suits you best. I always soak beans before cooking. Beans dried from the current har-
vest won’t need much soak time, maybe as little as a few hours, but older beans require much longer—I’ve soaked some for as long as three days. My mom cooked her beans in a crock pot and I usually do, too. Drain soaked beans and put three parts water to one part beans in the crock pot; cook on high for three hours. When the time is up, taste the beans and, if necessary, continue cooking, tasting every 20 minutes or so until desired tenderness is reached. You can also bring the soaked beans to a boil in a large pot, cover the pot, and simmer on the back burner until done, tasting every 20 minutes after about an hour. Like soaking, the length of cooking time will depend on the age of the beans. I often put a halved onion, some whole garlic cloves, a few black peppercorns, and a couple of bay leaves into the crockpot with the beans to add a little flavor. Other spices and herbs can be added depending on how you intend to use the cooked beans. The jury is still out on whether or not to salt the beans before they are fully cooked (apparently some think salt toughens the bean skins). I salt mine after cooking, just to be safe. There are too many recipes for traditional New England baked beans to include here—I’m sure most people already have their own favorites. I prefer the English version with Heinz baked beans (vegetarian in a tomato sauce) on toast topped with chopped onion and grated Cheddar cheese, anyway. But I will share a few of my favorite bean recipes that most people seem to like. R
quick, easy bean salad
2 to 4 servings as a side dish This delicious salad is very free-form and has endless variations. It can also be doubled or tripled to take to potluck dinners or picnics. Use whatever beans you like and have on hand. Vary the amount and type of sturdy fresh salad vegetables depending on taste and availability. Use a pre-made bottled vinaigrette dressing or make your own—try experimenting with different types of vinegar. 1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas (1 can) or other beans of choice 1/4 c each diced onions, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, and cucumber salt and pepper to taste 1/4 to 1/2 c vinaigrette dressing* *Classic French vinaigrette: In a small bowl mix together 1 tbsp vinegar, 1/8 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper until salt dissolves. Whisk in 4 tbsp olive oil and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard until thoroughly combined.
Combine beans and vegetables in a bowl. Add ¼ cup dressing and taste. Gradually add more dressing plus salt and pepper, tasting all the time (as cook you decide when it’s right!). Chill at least an hour before serving. Refrigerate leftovers for a great lunch.
creamy white bean and fennel casserole
From Aaron Hutcherson in The New York Times, 4 to 6 servings
6 tbsp olive oil 2 large fennel bulbs (about 2 lbs.) salt and black pepper 2 garlic cloves, minced 3 c cooked dried white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, navy) or 2 14-ounce cans 1/2 c heavy cream 1 tsp fresh lemon zest plus 2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs (use chopped nuts for a gluten-free dish) 1/2 packed c finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 c diced carrots 2/3 cup thinly sliced celery 3/4 c thinly sliced leeks 10 ounce pkg. frozen spinach, thawed, or equivalent fresh Salt and pepper 4 to 6 slices baguette or country-style bread, toasted Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425˚. Trim fennel, reserve and roughly chop about ¼ c fennel fronds. Cut bulb in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until softened but retaining a little bite, about 12 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Pour 1-1/2 c cooked beans (or 1 can with liquid) into a blender. Add cream, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp oil; puree until smooth. Add remaining beans to the skillet along with the bean puree. Stir and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix panko with remaining oil in a small bowl. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and ½ tsp pepper, toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly over fennel/bean mixture in skillet. Bake until bubbly and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Broil 1 or 2 extra minutes until topping is browned in spots (if desired). Top with reserved chopped fennel fronds and serve hot.
If using dried beans, soak overnight and drain. Heat half the olive oil in a large pot and sauté garlic and onion without letting them brown. Add the beans and ham/pork, pour in 9 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chili pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Simmer covered for an hour. Heat remaining olive oil in frying pan and sauté carrots, celery, and leeks 3 to 4 minutes stirring continuously. Add vegetables to beans and meat, simmer 50 minutes. Add spinach and simmer another 20 minutes. Set oven to broil. Remove meat from soup and chop into small pieces. Set aside. Remove half the soup to a bowl or blender and purée using an immersion or regular blender and then return to the pot. Add meat and season with salt and pepper. Put toasted bread in ovenproof soup plates or bowls and sprinkle with half the Parmesan cheese. Ladle in the soup, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and place briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.
ribollita (Tuscan “reboiled” bean soup)
Adapted from Soups and One-pot Meals by Christian Teubner, 4 to 6 servings
8 1/2 ounces dried (or 2 cans) white beans (cannellini, navy, Great Northern) 4 tbsp olive oil 2 cloves garlic, diced 2/3 c diced onion 5 ounces ham, meaty ham bone, or pork chop 1 small dried chili pepper 2 thyme sprigs and 1 rosemary sprig, or 1/2 tsp each, dried
cassoulet with lots of vegetables
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook, 4 to 8 servings I make this is my slow cooker. 2 tbsp olive oil 1 pound Italian sausages, bone-in pork chops, bone-in duck breasts, or mushrooms 1 tbsp minced garlic 2 leeks, rinsed and sliced, 2 sliced onions, or 2 small sliced fennel bulbs 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 2 zucchini or 1 small head green cabbage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces Salt and pepper 2 c chopped tomatoes (canned are fine – include their juice) 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried 2 bay leaves 4 c cooked beans of choice (canned okay, reserve liquid) 2 c stock (vegetable or chicken), dry red wine, bean liquid, or water
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add meat or mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes for meat, a bit less for mushrooms. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and transfer to slow cooker (if using) or plate. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, leeks, carrots, celery, and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their liquid, herbs, and meat/mushrooms (if not using slow cooker) and bring to a boil. Add beans and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. If using a slow cooker, transfer everything to it now. If not, reduce heat so mixture bubbles gently and continuously, cook 20 to 30 minutes, adding stock or other liquid about halfway through cooking if mixture gets too thick and vegetables are melting away. For slow cooker, set to high and cook 2 to 3 hours, checking on progress starting at 2 hours. Add stock or other liquid if mixture looks too dry. When ready to serve, remove meat (if using) and debone (if necessary) and chop into chunks. Discard bay leaves. Return meat to pot, add a pinch of cayenne, cook another couple minutes to warm through (may take a little longer with a slow cooker). Taste and adjust seasonings. These recipes are lovingly dedicated to Sue Black, who passed away on June 22, 2018, and is deeply missed by her family.
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