Apple Cider Time!

cpgrindinglast year we dropped by the neighbors for a quick visit during there cider pressing weekend..  and we immediately made the decision to return for the full day this year.. so glad that we did!     If you study the picture above, you will quickly figure out that this is no ordinary cider pressing operation.   In fact , the entire set up is based around using bikes and people power to drive the machines at each step of the process.   In the picture above, two cyclists are working together to run the machine that chops up the apples..

The apples that are being loaded into the hopper have just come through a washing process that is operated by a single cyclist.    cppresing I have to apologize for the lack of clarity in this pic..  i was riding the bike as i took the picture…  this is the station that does two things..  it provides the power to operate the pump which presses the cider.. and it also  runs the grinder that you see in the foreground..   what is the purpose of grinding corn when running a cider press?   you  might ask..

cplunch can’t answer that question at the moment because it is lunch time!   you will note that this is no small operation..  lots of folks show up for what has become an annual event.. people from California, Michigan, and lots from Massachusetts where Ben, the inventive mind behind all of these machines, went to school..   who would have imagined  that a degree from MIT could lead to a story like this!

While lots of folks were sorting, and washing, and crushing , and pressing apples,  a few were busy preparing a huge pot of vegetable stew  and when “lunch time”  was called, there were a lot of grateful, hungry people ready to eat..  note the use of a cooler to keep the stew hot…  great idea….

cpciderthe effort proves to be well worth it..   there will be cider for everyone to take home…   this is a wonderful example of community gathering and working together for the common good…  nothing like it to generate a sense of camaraderie and satisfaction  and well-being..

During the afternoon, a small group has been working in the back of the barn..  preparing a huge pot of chili ,  apple crisp, and , perhaps you have guessed it,  corn bread!   Now you know the “rest of the story”  as Paul Harvey would say..    not only did we grind corn, but also rye which went into the corn bread as well…


CPdinnerTime to celebrate a job well done..  and to eat lots of chili , cornbread and  apple crisp.. with fresh cider to boot…

I can’t make a lot of predictions for the year 2019, but I sure can tell you what we will be doing towards the end of October  a year from now 🙂      Thanks to our neighbors, Emily and David for sharing this opportunity with us…   Life is good in Georgetown!


Reid State Park – Georgetown Maine


We have been evaluating life on Georgetown recently… one of the items that is surely on  the positive side is the fact that we are  just 10 minutes away from Reid State Park which happens to be an awesome gateway to the ocean..   ( also a wonderful bike ride when the weather is conducive ).

Today we went to the transfer station – formally known as the dump –  this is at least a weekly social event here on Georgetown as it is elsewhere in New England – but maybe we will leave that for another post sometime!   On the way home we decided to swing by the wharf at Five Islands – I did not take any pictures there, but we were greeted with  the scene of waves crashing around the islands and immediately decided to head to the beach.   We were not disappointed.   I wish that I was able to load movie clips on this blog – the waves were the biggest that I have seen in our time here on the island..


huge pieces of driftwood were strewn all over the beach..  not the kind that one would collect for a bonfire, but instead, the kind that would demolish the bow of a fast moving boat!


somewhere out there in that large breaking wave there are two surfers –  as we made our way down to them  we watched as the front half of one of there surf boards washed up on the beach..  they were Colby students, and I think it would be fair to say that they had been pretty beaten up on their ride in.    I don’t believe that the one whose board was still intact had any desire to head back out in the water!

It was a great day to visit the beach – a wonderful reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to live on Georgetown Island…

Goodbye Summer 2018


One of the projects that I worked on this past summer was this deck in the front of the cottage that we all home – at least for the summer… We have actually had a number of  mosquito-less mornings and evenings to enjoy on the deck..   but just last week we began the move from this cottage to the one where we will be spending the winter.. our second in Georgetown.

During the past few weeks we have enjoyed the opportunity to get on our road bikes  Our first ride was to Reid state park.  it is just 6 miles away, the the distance suited us just fine for the time of day that we left.   I did not have my phone on the ride, so no pics to share.  But we did get to explore the Todd’s point beach for the first time.. it is about a mile beyond the beach that is closer to the park entrance.

Our second ride was the park loop road at Acadia.. we took a day trip up to Mt Desert to visit our friends at the Mt Desert Campground.   It was a beautiful day and so enjoyable to visit for former colleagues there.   The ride around the loop is about 22 miles… It was crowded – and traffic was heavy till we got beyond Thunder Hole.. but after that the roadway was pretty easy to negotiate… These are some pics from that ride…



we had a packed lunch along with us, and stopped at this turnout to eat…




We have so many fond memories of the 3 seasons that we spent working at Mt Desert Campground…   a beautiful spot to live and to play!

Our most recent cycling trip was on Westport Island..  the tip of the island is only a mile or so away from where we live..  but it is about a 45 minute drive to get there by car.   We decided to park at Norm’s used car sales and to ride from there..   that made it about a 22 mile drive.    Westport Island is off of rt 1 near Wiscasset.. you really will only end up there if you are intending to go there..  it is a quite town with very few businesses, so the traffic was fairly light compared with the road down to Georgetown.   It was a great afternoon.. beautiful weather..  nice road surface..  a perfect ride.    We met some folks along the way – talked about life on Westport Island..  and even made plans to return the following Monday evening for  pizza at the  Squire TarBox Inn!    I have just a couple of pics from the ride..

a beautiful example of New England architecture..

fp3and a place to buy our next pie…


Some of the other pics that I took did not turn out so well…   the  pizza on Monday night was delicious..  there was a band playing some blues music , and a nice crowd of locals who obviously appreciate the opportunity to have a place to socialize on what is otherwise a very quiet island..

Another trip that we took recently was to Monhegan Island.. this was not a trip for bikes, but rather, an opportunity to do some great hiking..   A few years ago I posted about a trip to Monhegan with some students…  this was Janet’s first visit.   The weather report called for a foggy morning  which would clear with sunny skies by afternoon..  that never happened, but it was perfectly ok.. we enjoyed  the mystique that began with a 10 mile boat ride through the fog.. to land on this small island, known for its appeal to artists..    it is certainly an experience!

fp9this is a shot looking down on the landing.. there is a great little cafe there  where we got a sandwich and soup while waiting for the boat on our return…

we headed out on what I suspect is the typical hiking pattern of a counter clockwise direction around the island.. fp12

the hiking is great.. lots of cliffs on the east side of the island..  it can be pretty dramatic..


we made it a good way around the island and then headed back to the village via the Cathedral Woods trail..   we picked this one because it is known for its fairy houses..



it is so neat to see the creativity that folks put into their creations…

On the way back, the boat captain took us close to some shoals where seals like to  rest on the rocks..   we saw a bunch of them… and then we filled out a customer satisfaction survey on the boat, lured by the prospect of winning a free trip.. which we never win..  except, wait.. Janet Thatcher.. yup.. she won.. looks like we will be heading back next year!


I just took this photo yesterday..  the light of summer is gone… fall is definitely in the air, even though we still have a number of beautiful days ahead of us… we know what is coming, and it is time to prepare..  maybe a little more wood for the stove ( there are still some standing dead oaks around)   putting the summer clothes in bins and getting the warmer ones out… finishing up some painting projects while we still have some warm air…  all in all,  Life is good in Maine!      comments or questions?     email me at

Summer 2018 – where did it go??

s1Sometimes I get to the end of summer and lament the fact that I fell short of reaching the goals that I had set for myself at the end of spring..  I almost caught myself doing it again, but putting together this blog post has made  me realize that we actually packed quite a bit into the last three months.   The picture above was taken at the wharf at Five Islands – it was the opening weekend of  5 Islands lobster company, and it seems like forever ago!

s2On of our jobs last fall was to plant bulbs around the meadow and along the stone walls..  these lasted a long time and brought us a great deal of pleasure…  perhaps this photo pre-dated the actual summer.. but it needed to be here just the same!

s3an early summer project.. the big brother to the shed that I built at the campground two years ago..  we needed a place to stuff some stuff!

s4 perhaps we did not use the kayaks as often as we would have liked, but we did have some great paddles –  early morning and later evening when Robinhood Cove was still…

s5it wouldn’t be summer without strawberry shortcake!

s6sailing on Boston Harbor in the evening with a friend… what a treat that was…

s7sitting on a bench in Harvard Yard, watching prospective students take tours…

s8Tuesday evening  open mic sessions at the Robinhood Meeting House…

s9enjoying a visit with friends from our old neighborhood in PA.. just had to take them to Pemiquid Point…

s10an evening sail out of Boothbay Harbor  on the schooner Eastwind ..  there actually wasn’t an easterly wind that night..  in fact, very little wind from any direction.. but so pleasant just the same…

s11cleaning oysters.. that is what one does when living at an oyster farm!   the work can be a bit tedious , but the view is awesome and there is usually company and stimulating conversation…

s12a visit to MacMahan Island.. just a hop skip and jump from the landing on Georgetown, but it is a bit like going back in time….

s13enjoying views of sailboats, eagles, herons  and seals from the deck..

s14spending time with family.. this is my grand daughter, Wren,  enjoying her very first concert.. Old Crow Medicine Show  at the L L  Bean outdoor concert series…  oh yea.. that is my son Erik too 🙂

s15 a visit with Aunt Sue and Uncle Allen..  and dinner at 5 Islands on a foggy evening…

s16a few stops at Round Top Ice Cream in  Damariscotta …  we found that  we can buy their ice cream by the half gallon at a local ice cream shop..  total pleasure….

s17Watching my step daughter, Aria,  interact with my grandson, Maris, and his new friend, Willa…

s18visits to Reid State Park – just a few miles down the road..  a favorite destination…

s19 sunsets over Robinhood Cove  from the porch…

s20using very local materials to build a raised bed for a garden for next year…

s22adding trim and cedar shingles to  the barn that was raised on the property this summer…

s21it wouldn’t be summer without peach shortcake either!


s24it is exciting to be able to begin harvesting tomatoes from the garden, but, at least in Maine, that also signals the end of summer… out of nowhere, Labor Day was upon us.. and just like that the traffic will begin to diminish as the summer visitors return home..

It has been a productive summer…  and the barn work will continue well into the fall..   there is plenty to do to prepare for winter..  more firewood to split and move ..  painting to fit in before the temperature drops too much..   and planning ahead for next summer.. who knows what opportunities will present themselves!  I hope you all had a wonderful summer too – would love to hear about it..

Five Islands Lobster Company


Five Islands Lobster Co opened this weekend – I guess that the season has officially begun!     For the next month or so, it is only open on weekends, and the menu is limited, but  opening day deserved some attention, so we  went down and  enjoyed some french fries ( missed the chowder since we got there late in the day)   and the view.

When we pulled up, I pointed out the fog bank that appeared to be way off in the distance.     We placed our order and Janet picked up  an application –  just for the fun of it…   and I took another picture.


is it my imagination, or does that fog bank hiding behind the islands getting closer….

We enjoyed our french fries with lots of ketsup..  and then Janet got down to the business of filling out the application –  nothing like  a summer job that one can bike to!

And then I looked up…


I wish that I had a video showing just how fast the fog was moving in.. it was a sight to see..


From clear and sunny to    grey, and misty in a matter of just six  minutes….   mariners beware!


wasn’t there an island over there just a minute ago?

Do you remember filling out your first job application?   Turning it in with all sorts of anticipation and hearing ” We will let you know if anything is available..”   or some such response.

Janet turned in her application  ( with just a little french fry  grease on it) , met the owner and had a job in 5 minutes..  faster than it took for the fog to roll in..  she starts next Saturday..

Leader of the Day


Four months ago, I took a photo from a similar vantage point with snow falling and hints of a long winter to come..   and now the grass is lush, and the students at Maine Coast Semester are walking around campus in shorts and t shirts, and the summer camping programs at Chewonki are preparing to welcome campers for fun and adventure.

One of the many roles that both students and faculty get to share is  that of Leader of the Day.  As a part time faculty member, I thought that I had missed out on this opportunity, but last week a student alerted me to the fact that my name was on the calendar.  I had somehow missed that, but sure enough, when I checked, my name was there.   I immediately began thinking about how to fulfill this commitment.

The leader of the day helps to keep the day flowing beginning with the very first commitment – morning gathering  –  at  6:55 each morning.  This is a quick check in where a quote or a thought for the day is offered by the leader before students head in different directions to complete their morning chores before breakfast.    The next duty is to offer the community a reminder that breakfast is nearly over and that morning meeting begins in 10 minutes and then running that morning meeting.   During this time, the Leader begins by offering a prompt for community members – both students and faculty –  to discuss with those sitting next to them.    After a student shares a current events story, the Leader then shares a personal story which is then followed by some announcements before we all head off and prepare for the days classes.

At lunch, the leader talks about the menu, describes what items at the table are from our own farm or locally sourced,  and then offers a quote before the meal begins.    He or she then manages the announcement period following lunch.    The final duty is at dinner which is much like  lunch.    By the end of the semester,  students and faculty have each had an opportunity to be Leader of the day 2 or more times, but, due to other commitments,  this was my first time to play the part – this was the first day that I had an opportunity to spend an entire day on campus.   I thought I would share here my  experience as Leader of the Day…

Morning Gathering:

I am thinking back to my sophomore year in high school – studying Julius Caesar  with Mr. Vacarro  at Quakertown Community Sr. High School –   I have often thought of a quote from the first act  where Ceasar was talking to Mark Anthony about Casius and describing him as one who … hears no music…    I emphasized to the group how that simple phrase from a much longer quote struck me as a student in 10th grade.   Mr Vacarro went on to explain that  Shakespeare repeatedly used the idea of one who hears no music throughout his writing and that it indicated a person who, at the very least, was very sad, and who more likely was suspect and one who bears watching…   of course, in the end,  Ceasar was correct about Casius..        I then encouraged the students to take time to listen to the music around us.. and I paused,  and we noticed how the air was filled with the sound of busy song birds..  and then I told them that I hoped that they had a song in their heart and wished them a good day!

Morning Meeting:

I opened the meeting by diving in and singing  ” I love you , a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap,  a barrel and a heap , and I talking in my sleep about you… cows and chickens , are going to the dickens, cause I love you a bushel and a peck, you bet your pretty neck I do.. ”    yup.. i even included the part about the cows and chickens…    and then I said that this was a song that was corny when it was written, and a whole lot more corny today!   ( what I did not say was that  as a new teacher at 25 years of age, I would not have ever considered singing this to a group of high school students in the morning.. but at 58,  who cares! )

I explained that this was the first song that I  taught my daughter, Alison, when she was a young girl, and then I asked them to turn to their neighbor and to talk about the first song that they learned as a child..    it was fun to look around and to see smiles break out as they spoke with one another.

After the news, I shared the story  of  Bill Nash who was the music teacher  at my junior high school.   Although, as a young child,  I used to go with my mother    to a nearby nursing home where she led singing with the residents,  and I grew up in a house filled with  music,  it did not immediately occur to me to join the chorus when I entered junior high.  but one day, early in the year,  Mr. Nash stopped me outside of the library and told me that he had heard me singing in music class and that he wanted me to join the chorus..   and being the person who never wanted to disappoint anyone ( still that way)  I said “sure”.   So I joined the chorus… and the following year he said, “I want you to try out for county chorus. ”   I had no idea what county chorus was, but I said “ok/”    we practiced the audition song and went to the audition and, along with the rest of the group who auditioned, I  was accepted..  how fun was that!     And what followed  from that point on was  district chorus and regional chorus  and state chorus in my junior year..   I got to travel clear across the state of Pennsylvania to Pittsgurgh on my own to go to the state chorus festival.. and I  had a wonderful time and liked being in the city and later decided to go to college there.   And because of my participation in at States, I was invited to join a chorus that toured Europe the following summer…

And then life got in the way, and I did not have an opportunity to sing for a number of years,  but I rediscovered the joy of singing as an adult in a community choir in Wolfeboro NH – the Clear Lakes Chorale.  And, when I moved back to Pennsylvania to teach, I had the opportunity to join a Chorale there where eventually,  I met my wife Janet..

And then I pointed out how all of this unfolded because Mr. Nash took the time to stop me in the hall one day and said “Hey, I heard you sing in music class, and I want you to join the chorus.”


Quote –     “Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.”   George Eliot

by the way..  as always, lunch was great –  the kitchen crew at  Chewonki are very passionate about preparing food,  and meals are a highlight of each and every day!!


I tried to keep this quick.. like every day,  it was long and filled with activity.. But I told the group about listening to  the radio personality  Paul Harvey years ago, and looking forward to the segment at noon when he would share the news and when he would tell us “the rest of the story”  – sharing  some interesting tidbits or twists about stories with which we, his radio audience, were already familiar.    And then I told the group that I had to share “the rest of the story.”

When I returned to Pennsylvania in 2000 to teach at Wyoming Seminary,  I stood for a group picture, along with the other new faculty and staff, and the picture later appeared in the Alumni Journal..   and not too long after that, I got a note from the Alumni Office.   I learned that Bill Nash has grown up in Kingston and was, in fact, an alum of Wyoming Seminary.  He had seen my picture in the journal, and  contacted the office to get my email address.   It was easily 25 years since I had last been in touch with Bill, and he was Mr. Nash then..  but here was the same guy, now taking time to reach out and re-establish a friendship.. and I gladly accepted..    In addition to music,  Bill and I shared a passion for boats, and he got me involved with the  local chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society which was based at Harvey’s Lake where he had a summer home..   He would address me as “my friend”  and we shared numerous warm conversations at Grotto Pizza over lunch or on his porch at the lake.  We enjoyed reminiscing about the days  at  Strayer Junior High and later at Milford Junior High where he finished his teaching career.   Bill rarely said a negative thing about anyone..  he was an optimist who focused on the good in people.

One night in the winter when I was sitting by the stove, I thought about the impact that Bill had on my life, and I wrote him a note, outlining all that I had shared at  Morning Meeting.  A week or so later, I got a call from him.. he had received my note and was calling to express his appreciation, and we agreed to meet at Grotto in the spring when he returned to the lake.    But that was the last time that we spoke..  a month or so later, I learned that he had passed away.   I often wonder if he knew all along that he might not make it till spring as he has been battling illness for quite some time.

Although the story ended on a sad note.. it was really a celebration of having an opportunity to share with Bill the impact that his life and work had on me and on so many other students.   I finished by encouraging those in attendance at dinner to  reach out to others to share thoughts of gratitude.

And then we sat down to another fine meal.. and I rounded out the day by working with my fellow faculty members on the dish crew…   and I left  to return home around  7:30 as the community was settling down to  study hours..     I left with a deeper appreciation for the work that my colleagues are doing on a daily basis..  their dedication to the students and to the program at Maine Coast Semester…     And I feel so fortunate to have had an  opportunity to teach at MCS  and to get a taste for the unique experience that it offers.

chew2The garden is a wonder to watch with each passing day.. signalling the full onset of spring but also reminding us that Semester 60 is quickly drawing to a close.  Tomorrow is the last day of formal classes, and in just a couple of weeks, the students will be saying good bye – they are already becoming sentimental – and so am I…

60 Hour Canoe

60 hour canoe

Well, in fact, the title of the book is   Building the 6 hour canoe , but why would we spend only six hours having fun when we could stretch it into 60 ( give or take a few)!    Two summers ago I was talking with the son of the owner of the campground  where we were working, and I floated the idea of building a boat.  He seemed interested, so I lent him the book which described the project in great detail, and I figured that if he read it over the winter and got inspired, he would say something when we returned the following spring.

It was all I could do to keep from broaching the subject early in the season last year, but I resolved that if he was really interested, he would initiate the conversation…   My patience was rewarded when ,  soon after finishing school, he said that he thought he would like to build the boat!   At that point, I wasted no time and  started to collect materials.   I was thrilled to tackle another boat project, to  putting the shop on the property to good use, and to be working with my new boat building partner !

But, he had a busy summer planned, and we had to work around camp, and entertaining friends, and all sorts of other summer distractions..    In the ideal world, with all of the parts cut out and ready to go,  we probably could fabricate the boat in six hours..    That is the design purpose..  the plans were designed so that young students, with the help of mentors, could put a boat together  and be on the water in a weekend….   a minimum of materials and expense rewarded with a great deal of immediate fun and satisfaction    and, perhaps most important,  an experience which plants the seeds of interest in wood working, boat building and boating that will only grow over a lifetime!

The time table that I had in my mind did not quite work out.. but that is nothing new for me 🙂    The picture at the top of this article is from last weekend when we returned to the camp ground with the specific purpose of putting the final touches on the construction phase.   My young boat building partner was joined by two friends as we fit the keel and  gunwales and then declared the boat finished, save for some final sanding and painting.

6hr6this is from last summer when we first started laying out and cutting the pieces of the boat.


things take shape pretty quickly when constructing a boat out of  just two sheets of plywood – but we added the steps of covering the boat with fiberglass..  not only an introduction to woodworking but to working with fiberglass and epoxy as well…

6hr4no, this is not an advertisement for West..     always good to have a bottom on the boat.. This is about how far we made it last fall…

fast forward to last weekend !


when I first walked into the shop three years ago, and saw all of those clamps.. I thought, what a great place to build a boat..  and it is!

that is my wife surveying the progress… I think that she was beginning to feel like the project was going to get stuck in boat limbo..  like some of my other projects  🙂    Of course, I will get around to finishing all of them one day…


and there it is..     So why is a boat such a great project for kids..   well, we found that we could break the job up into a bunch of  little pieces and spend no more than an hour at a time..  given the demands  and the distractions in the world of young teens these days,  that is about as much concentration as we can get at one time.    But it also teaches the understanding that the way to tackle a big project that seems insurmountable,  is to split it up into manageable pieces..

I would like to think that completing this boat will contribute to building a level of confidence that will  inspire my young friend to dream and to tackle similar and even more complex projects on this own..  time will tell.