Lifestyle – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel http://www.centralmaine.com Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 ‘Annie the Musical’ to open Dec. 1 in Waterville http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/annie-the-musical-to-open-dec-1-in-waterville/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/annie-the-musical-to-open-dec-1-in-waterville/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:40:01 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=779948 ‘Annie the Musical’ to open in Waterville

“Annie the Musical” will be stage Dec. 1 through 10 at The Waterville Opera House, 93 Main St. in Waterville.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 1, and Dec. 2 and 8 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3, 9 and 10.

The curtain rises on Annie, a heartwarming young orphan, who desperately wishes to find her parents. Life inside the Municipal Girls Orphanage is hard, but Annie remains positive and looks out for her friends while plotting to escape and find her real parents.

Just like in real life, Annie faces some challenges as she goes on a grand adventure, experiencing some setbacks but making friends along the way- including a billionaire and the President of the United States.

The local cast of community actors performing in Annie the Musical includes: Evelyn LaCroix, Kate Walters, Riveria Moon Hernandez, Emmy Carlson, Tatiana Ames, Katie Boston, Molly Haggerty, Kay Warren,Kristen Thomas, Mike Gilbert, Katie Libold, Chad Boothman, Nate Towne, Paul Herard, Zach Dickey, Greg Wiers, Taylor Kruse, Isaac Tardy, Holly Collins Gannett, Robyn King, Isabelle Grignon and Hannah King

Tickets cost $24 for adults, $22 for students/seniors, and $49 for a family pack in 2nd Balcony.

For more information or to reserve tickets call 873-7000 or visit operahouse.org.

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Royal appearances thrill crowd at European premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/12/royal-appearances-thrill-crowd-at-european-premiere-of-star-wars-the-last-jedi/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/12/royal-appearances-thrill-crowd-at-european-premiere-of-star-wars-the-last-jedi/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:33:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1301496 LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry joined the cast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at the film’s European premiere Tuesday, delighting fans who braved the London cold for a glimpse of Hollywood stars and British royalty.

But cast and crew were silent on reports that the royal siblings make a cameo appearance in the much-anticipated film. The tuxedo-clad princes walked the red carpet at London’s Royal Albert Hall for the black-tie gala, a benefit for their Royal Foundation charity – though without William’s pregnant wife Kate or Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle.

Royal officials have refused to comment on reports that the princes recorded a scene playing Stormtroopers in the sci-fi saga when they visited the film’s set in April 2016. At the time they were filmed meeting crew members, battling with light sabers and hugging a Wookie.

Star John Boyega has said the royal duo filmed a scene during their visit to London’s Pinewood Studios, though it’s unclear whether it made the final cut.

Cast members on the red carpet at London’s Royal Albert Hall pleaded ignorance, and director Rian Johnson would not comment on the reported royal cameo.

“I can neither confirm nor deny it,” he said.

London-born star Boyega was joined on the red carpet by fellow cast members including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Benicio del Toro, Anthony Daniels – who has played C-3PO in the “Star Wars” series since 1977 – and Mark Hamill, who returns as Luke Skywalker.

Hours before the screening, hundreds of fans lined up on one of the coldest days of the year for a glimpse of the stars, the royals and a phalanx of Stormtroopers who marched in formation up the red carpet.

“You never get used to this kind of passion and enthusiasm,” Hamill said. “It’s just wonderful. The fans have been so supportive over the years. Their enthusiasm is infectious.”

The eighth film in the “Star Wars” series, “The Last Jedi” had its world premiere Sunday in Los Angeles. The adventure is a follow-up to “The Force Awakens,” which brought the franchise back to movie screens in 2015.

It is the last film to feature Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Fisher died in December 2016 at 60, shortly after completing her final scenes.

Hamill said fans were helping him get through his sadness at Fisher’s death.

“I shouldn’t be upset she’s not around, I should be grateful for all the time I had with her,” he said. “She was hilarious, adorable, (and) as tough as she acted, she had a vulnerability.”

“She was so much fun. You’re going to love her tonight, she’s great in the film!” he added.

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/12/royal-appearances-thrill-crowd-at-european-premiere-of-star-wars-the-last-jedi/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/12/1301496_Britain_Star_Wars_The_La44-e1513128757192.jpgRumor has it Britain's Prince Harry and his brother have a cameo in 'The Last Jedi.' Tuesday.Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:38:58 +0000
‘Coco’ keeps top spot at weekend box office http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/coco-again-tops-at-box-office/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/coco-again-tops-at-box-office/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:41:10 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/coco-again-tops-at-box-office/ LOS ANGELES — The animated family film “Coco” has topped the box office for a third time on a quiet, pre-“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” weekend in theaters.

Disney estimated Sunday that “Coco” added $18.3 million, which would bring its domestic total to $135.5 million.

The weekend’s sole new wide release was the Morgan Freeman film “Just Getting Started,” which launched to a meager $3.2 million from 2,161 theaters and barely made the top 10.

Most studios have chosen to avoid competing against “The Last Jedi,” which is expected to dominate theaters and moviegoer attention when it opens on Dec. 15.

Thus, most of the charts have looked quite similar for the past few weeks. Warner Bros. and DC’s “Justice League” took second place with $9.6 million and Lionsgate’s sleeper hit “Wonder,” which has now passed $100 million, placed third with $8.5 million. Warner Bros. also crossed the $2 billion benchmark domestically Saturday – the first studio to do so in 2017.

This quiet period before “Star Wars” has allowed some of the indie and prestige titles to thrive in limited releases and expansions, like James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist.” The film, about the making of one of the worst films of all time, “The Room,” expanded to 840 locations in its second weekend in theaters. It managed to bring in $6.4 million, landing it in fourth place.

Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film “Lady Bird” also added 363 locations and placed 9th in its sixth weekend in theaters. With the $3.5 million from this weekend, “Lady Bird” has netted $22.3 million.

The Guillermo del Toro-directed romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water” expanded to 41 theaters in its second weekend and earned $1.1 million.

– From news service reports

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/coco-again-tops-at-box-office/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/12/1300392_Film_Box_Office_79952.jpg-3.jpgDisney estimated Sunday that its animated film "Coco" added another $18.3 million to its blockbuster earnings.Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:16:41 +0000
Jane Fonda’s 80th birthday benefits a cause http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/jane-fondas-milestone-birthday-benefits-a-cause/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/jane-fondas-milestone-birthday-benefits-a-cause/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:29:06 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/jane-fondas-milestone-birthday-benefits-a-cause/ ATLANTA — Jane Fonda used her 80th birthday celebration to raise $1.3 million for her foundation.

The two-time Oscar-winner held the “Eight Decades of Jane” fundraiser at an upscale hotel Saturday night. The event recognized Fonda’s life achievements along with her foundation, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, which she created in 1995.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit focuses on teen pregnancy prevention and adolescent health.

Guests included CNN founder and ex-husband Ted Turner, her son Troy Garity and producer Paula Weinstein. James Taylor and Carole King performed “So Far Away” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

– From news service reports

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New ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres to cheers and praise http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/new-star-wars-movie-premiers-to-cheers-and-praise/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/new-star-wars-movie-premiers-to-cheers-and-praise/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 14:30:56 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/new-star-wars-movie-premiers-to-cheers-and-praise/
LOS ANGELES — There were cheers, gasps, droid photo opportunities, casino games and more than a few standing ovations at the jam-packed world premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Saturday night in Los Angeles, which many are already praising online. Rian Johnson, the writer and director of the eighth installment of the franchise, dedicated the night to the late Carrie Fisher, who died after filming had completed.
“She’s up there flipping the bird and saying, ‘Don’t bring this night down with solemn tributes,’” Johnson said on stage at the Shrine Auditorium. It was in that spirit that Johnson excitedly introduced his cast, including Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac. Hamill and composer John Williams, who Johnson called one of the “greatest living film composers” were among the few who got standing ovations.
“Let’s watch a Star Wars movie!” Johnson exclaimed as the cast took their seats, the lights dimmed and the yellow Star Wars logo and iconic scrawl appeared on screen to signal the start of the film. The enthusiastic audience laughed and cheered throughout much of the two-and-a-half-hour film. One audience member even shrieked “What?!” at a key scene deep in the film.
The elaborate premiere featured a massive assault vehicle and a procession of Stormtroopers and droids that preceded the first showing of the film in advance of its Dec. 15 release. The mood was joyous and pregnant with anticipation for the highly anticipated and guarded film, which sees the return of Hamill’s Luke Skywalker as well as Fisher’s final performance.

Daisy Ridley arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Formal reviews won’t be out for a few days, but journalists and others at the screening who shared their initial reactions online said “The Last Jedi” packed the adventure expected in a Star Wars film, but took it into new territory.

J.J. Abrams, who directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and will return to direct Episode IX told The Associated Press that the film was “great” and that “Rian killed it.”

“Logan” director James Mangold also praised the film’s director, calling the movie “a great chapter of a blockbuster franchise,” that also had Johnson’s “voice shining through.”

Producer Adam F. Goldberg wrote that the film made him feel like a kid again.

Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican said the film “will shatter you and then make you feel whole again.”

Many who posted online about the premiere said they were still processing the film.

Attendees at Saturday’s premiere were the first people outside the cast, filmmakers and top executives at Walt Disney Co. and Lucasfilm who had seen “The Last Jedi.” Director Edgar Wright, Patton Oswalt, Greta Gerwig, “Stranger Things” actor Gaten Matarazzo, and Constance Zimmer were among the attendees Saturday.

Wright, who makes a cameo appearance in the film as a rebel, added on Twitter that the film was, “Really great.”

At the after-party, which was modeled after Canto Bight, a casino-based city in the Star Wars galaxy seen in “The Last Jedi,” attendees could play blackjack, roulette and craps to win commemorative Star Wars pins.

Fans at the premiere were also treated to up-close looks at new characters, including an elite squad of guards clad in red armor as well as a collection of droids, including the droids C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, who walked and rolled down the red carpet before the film’s stars arrived.

“It’s a Star Wars movie, and the energy tonight is pretty amazing,” said a beaming Andy Serkis, who plays the villain Supreme Leader Snoke.

Ridley, who plays Rey, arrived wearing a shimmering dress adorned with stars. Ridley was in good spirits, saying about her dress, “I mean, it’s just fun. It’s fun. And I feel fun. And it’s got stars on it.”

Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran wore a bright red dress with a lengthy train behind it. John Boyega, who earlier in the day tweeted that he might miss the premiere because a snowstorm had snarled travel out of Atlanta, arrived sporting a dark blue tuxedo and turtleneck.

Secrecy about the film remained in place on the red carpet. Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, told a reporter looking for details on the film, “I’m going to let you work out everything for yourself.”

“The Last Jedi,” which arrives in theaters on Dec. 15, is one of the year’s biggest releases. Early box office projections are for the film to debut in the $200 million range for its first weekend.

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TRAVELIN’ MAINE(RS): PORTLAND http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/travelin-mainers-portland-10/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/travelin-mainers-portland-10/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=783934

George

This week, we’re going to feature one of our favorite places we enjoyed over the first seven years of writing this column. We’re always looking for great new places to tell you about, but we’re hoping you’ll enjoy a look back.

We first visited Hot Suppa in Portland in 2012, after our friends Rusty and Sue Atwood recommended it. It quickly became a favorite, with a menu featuring tasty southern cuisine. Anytime someone wants to meet with me in Portland, I insist it be at Hot Suppa.

So, it seemed appropriate to revisit one of our favorites this time, especially considering that our daughter, Hilary, flew into the Portland Jetport that day to join us for Thanksgiving.

Alec and Mo Sabina have created a popular restaurant, focused on the southern cuisine that Mo fell in love with when he attended college in New Orleans. Mo’s the chef and Alec the manager, and before they opened their restaurant they traveled the country, checking out the cuisine.

I especially enjoy the artwork and photos on the walls provided by Alec’s partner, Angela, who also produces a wonderful podcast for kids (check it out at storyspectacular.com).

I’ll let Hilary and Linda tell you about the food, but I have to admit that I almost always have their Cubano, the best I’ve ever had anywhere — including New Orleans. And yes, I enjoyed it again.

Hilary

We did a family Travelin’ Maine(rs) column at Hot Suppa a few years ago during the holidays, so I was very excited to hear that I would be joining in for another travel column visit there.

The Southern fare at this small and cozy restaurant with exposed brick walls and local art is both exciting and comforting at the same time. A spicy shrimp and andouille chowder, fried green tomatoes or hot Nashville-style fried chicken will all warm you up on a cold November day.

At our lunchtime visit, we were able to order from either breakfast or lunch menus — very convenient for a diner who is craving their famous corned beef hash and a fried green tomato BLT at the same time. The fried chicken sandwich, with spicy aioli and red cabbage slaw on a toasted ciabatta roll, was crispy, crunchy, tender and satisfying.

Don’t miss a cup of the spicy and smoky corn, shrimp and andouille sausage chowder. I hadn’t tried that soup before, but will definitely order it on a return trip. It was the standout of a very impressive spread.

A crispy waffle topped with homemade Maine blueberry sauce and freshly whipped cream was an excellent finish to our lunch feast. We would never have ordered dessert on account of being so stuffed from our meals, but thank goodness our server, Alison, brought us a plate. It was spectacular.

Linda

Hot Suppa keeps drawing us back with its home-cooked meals with a southern flair. We have several favorites here, but as I perused the menu I found many more items I still needed to try.

The one item I will never give up is the fried green tomato appetizer. Hilary, George and I all shared, and I thought I held great restraint in not ordering another plate. Yes, it is that good: tart tomatoes in a crispy crust served with an extraordinary remoulade.

I ordered the falafel wrap, ($11), a flatbread filled with falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and tahini yogurt sauce. This is a huge wrap. It is served wrapped in foil and absolutely packed with ingredients. I did manage to polish it off, however.

Hot Suppa is well-known for their side dishes. In fact, my sister-in-law, Edie, says she gets the “four sides” plate every time she goes. There are about a dozen choices in sides, from soup to yellow-eyed beans. We were drooling over the corned beef hash side being eaten at a nearby table.

We managed to get four sides between us for this lunch. I noticed Geechie Boy Grits on both the breakfast and lunch menu, ($3), so that’s what I went with. This was my favorite part of the meal, even though everything was really good. I asked for cheesy grits, and they were delicious. They were creamy, yet had texture and lots of cheesy flavor. Hilary and George raved about them, too. I was surprised how well grits went with a sandwich.

Alison was full of personality and fun to visit with. Hot Suppa has a wonderful atmosphere and you can’t help but feel happy dining here. It is on our favorites list for a reason, and once you try it, it will be on your favorites list, too.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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Green Plate Special: A little schmaltz wouldn’t kill you http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/schmaltz-everything-old-is-new-again/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/schmaltz-everything-old-is-new-again/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1298994 EDITOR’S NOTE: Green Plate Special columnist Christine Burns Rudalevige will return next week.

I’d like to think that my Jewish grandmothers could have told me how to use chicken skins with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their backs. After phoning my parents, I’m not so sure.

“Did your mom make schmaltz?” I asked my 91-year-old dad. That’s Yiddish for chicken fat.

“I haven’t the slightest idea,” he said. “You know how I eat. I eat what is put in front of me.”

He put my 89-year-old mother on the phone.

“Schmaltz?” she repeated back at me. “I don’t know what it is. Is it chicken fat? No. No. We didn’t eat like that.”

“How about griebenes?” I pushed on, the Yiddish name for the crispy bits of chicken skin that are a byproduct of rendering the fat.

“No. I never heard of it,” she said. “No, I’m sorry, dear. We didn’t do any of that. My father was a butcher. We ate the best meat.”

It was happy hour at Atria, a retirement community outside New York City where my parents live. I could hear another resident correcting my Yiddish pronunciation as he listened to my mom and me. “Would you hand him the phone?” I asked my mom.

“Yeah, sure. We ate griebenes. Definitely. My mother used to make them,” Kurt Rothschild told me, speaking with a slight German accent (he fled, all alone, when he was 14, on a ship to America; it was November 1937. Does Jewish food always comes with a side of melancholy?). “It’s from the skin, small pieces, and you fry it in fat.”

Griebenes (fried bits of skin) remain after the rendering process.

Did he like it?

“Absolutely. Skin and fat, what’s not to like?” he said. “It’s not very good for you. But people didn’t know that. It didn’t hurt me, and I’m 94.”

HERITAGE

“The best meat” when my mother was growing up was most definitely not schmaltz or griebenes. Rendering every drop of fat from a chicken, eating every bit of skin is poverty cuisine. It’s making the most from what (very) little you’ve got. By the time my parents were growing up, their families no longer had to scrimp. By the time I was growing up, we were busy assimilating. I did not know schmaltz or griebenes from Adam. Or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Moses either.

Today, though, making schmaltz and griebenes aligns precisely with a number of the food world’s most hyped trends: wasting less, using more, celebrating (rather than fearing) fat, and elevating ingredients that were once dismissed as poor man’s food – oxtail, brisket, seaweed and the oddments of chicken skin.

I called around seeking a larger supply. Many phone calls and many chats with butchers later, I’d managed to gather an additional 11/2 pounds of chicken skin – thank you, kind butchers at Rosemont Market ($1.49) and Whole Foods ($1.11). It may not be easy to source, I discovered, but chicken skins are unquestionably a bargain. (If you don’t want to go the DIY route, Rosemont sells schmaltz for $4.99 per pint.)

An egg salad sandwich made with schmaltz.

Rosemont also lent me a cookbook it had hanging around, Michael Ruhlman’s “The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat.”

“Because the fact is this: nothing tastes like schmaltz,” he writes. “It’s utterly unique, with an aromatic savoriness as distinctive as a great olive oil.”

RENDERING PLANT

I can attest to that aromatic savoriness. For days after I rendered the chicken skins, my house smelled like a big, enveloping hug. Another bonus – after handling all that grease, my hands felt soft as a newborn’s.

Peggy Grodinsky chops eggs for an egg salad sandwich made with schmaltz.

Rendering chicken fat requires some time, but not much work. I chopped the skins into small bits and put them in a cast-iron skillet over very low heat. After 10 minutes, they’d released a little fat, and I stirred in a chopped onion. I left the pan at the lowest possible simmer for an hour or two, stirring whenever I happened by; the recipes I consulted said one hour; in my own experience, it was more like two. I strained the fat, which was now plentiful and a satisfying golden color, into a jar. Following Mitchell Davis’ nontraditional advice in “The Mensch Chef,” I then baked the skins until crunchy and a nice deep brown. (Disclosure: Mitchell is a friend, and I’d follow his cooking advice to the ends of the earth.) Tossed with salt, they make griebenes, a sort of Jewish pork rind, and they are addictive.

TO-DO LIST

I now had a jar of schmaltz, a pile of griebenes and a good conscience, as I’d practiced what on-trend chefs call “total utilization.” How to use these old-fashioned riches? It was almost noon. The answer was staring me in the face: lunch. I made myself an egg salad sandwich on rye toast, using the cooled schmaltz in place of mayonnaise along with some chopped fresh dill. I folded in a handful of griebenes and topped my creamy-crunchy open-faced sandwich with pickled onions. Meanwhile, I “buttered” a baked potato with schmaltz and piled on more griebenes. Heaven.

I needed a nap.

What else? Hanukkah starts on Tuesday. I’ll be the one frying latkes (potato pancakes) in schmaltz. I intend to try it in a savory pie crust in place of lard, too. Any leftovers I’ll freeze – as a hedge against future hunger and as assurance of future solace. Visions of matzoh balls and kreplach dance in my head. These meals – and many others – could only benefit from a handful of griebenes.

Schmaltz can be used where otherwise another fat might be chosen.

CHICKEN SCHMALTZ

From Mitchell Davis’ “The Mensch Chef” (with a note or two of my own).

2 pounds chicken fat, skin and scraps, cut up

1 large onion (about 8 ounces), cut into eighths

Place the chicken fat and skin in a small, heavy saucepan, and set over very low heat. After about 10 minutes, when about 1/2 inch of fat has rendered on the bottom of the pan, add the onion and stir. Continue cooking over low heat for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until all of the fat has rendered from the skin. As the process proceeds, the chicken skins will decrease greatly in volume and the onions soften and turn translucent. Do not allow the onion or the chicken skin to color – the liquid fat should be golden yellow, no darker. Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cool, cover, and refrigerate or freeze until needed. There may be some dark liquid on the bottom of the container. This is the juice from the onion and chicken scraps, not fat, and should be ignored.

GRIEBENES

From Mitchell Davis’ “The Mensch Chef.” I’d cut my chicken pieces quite small, so they took less time than Mitchell calls for here; keep your eye on them. They can be spelled either griebenes or gribenes, as Mitchell does.

Strained chicken skin left over after rendering schmaltz

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using tongs, remove any pieces of onion mixed in with the skin. lay the skin on a baking sheet; make sure the pieces aren’t touching. Set in the middle of the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until the skin is dark brown and crisp. Turn two or three times. If the pieces begin to burn, remove them from the oven. Remove the browned gribenes from the oven, lay on a paper bag or paper towel to drain, and toss with salt.

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For author, editor and blogger Amanda Blake Soule, life is not just serenity now, it’s serenity always http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/for-author-editor-and-blogger-amanda-blake-soule-life-is-not-just-serenity-now-its-serenity-always/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/for-author-editor-and-blogger-amanda-blake-soule-life-is-not-just-serenity-now-its-serenity-always/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1299010 In September 2011, Amanda Blake Soule sat at the kitchen table in her Maine farmhouse breastfeeding Annabel, the youngest of her five children, while discussing the future of SouleMama.com, the popular blog that had already turned her into an icon of motherhood, sustainable living and handcrafted glory. SouleMama had led to three books, and at points had even funded the farmhouse life itself.

Two of her longtime blog sponsors, Jason Miller and Ted Blood, co-owners of Vermont-based Nova Natural Toys, had reached out to her with a proposal to take the lifestyle and mothering blog out of the internet world it lived in and into something more tangible – a magazine.

“As we were talking about this magazine, we realized we wanted to do a whole life magazine and not stick to these early childhood years,” Soule said. “That there was so much more to what we were doing.”

She had also reached a point where she was less interested in blogging every day. Her oldest children were growing up, and she wanted to protect their privacy; as their lives grew more complicated, it felt less “appropriate for me to share it.” Then there was the issue of her own creativity.

“I don’t know how many times I can make a beeswax leaf crown in the fall and be excited about it,” Soule said, laughing.

Forty-one now, she began blogging in 2005, when she and her husband, Steve, were living in Portland with their two children, Calvin, then 5, and Ezra, 3. She was pregnant with her third child, a daughter she would name Adelaide. Life felt like a blur of small children and knitting projects and hand-sewn clothes. Then too, she was looking for a way to preserve more than food; blogging was a form of documentation. “It was just kind of a way, at the end of the day, to have something tangible that we had done,” she said.

They left the table on that September day with a game plan and the first issue of Taproot magazine came out early in 2012. So she conceived, created and published a magazine in three months?

“Maybe four?” she said. “When I decide to do something it happens fairly quickly.”

She told this story sitting at another table, a big square set in the back half of Milk and Honey café on Cove Street in Portland, the new home of Taproot, a quarterly with the tagline “the magazine for makers, doers & dreamers.” The advertising-free magazine Soule co-launched at an improbable economic moment today has 9,000 subscribers ($42 a year) and sells an average of 36,000 more copies on newsstands. And it’s growing, with plans to add two more issues a year.

The table is mostly empty – among the many methods this South Portland native uses to get things done, quickly, is inviting creativity by removing clutter. Nearby are stacks of the latest issue of Taproot, Issue 24, themed “Rest.” What does that mean? Articles on spoon carving, botanical art, making feta, natural food dyes, a pattern for a cardigan and another for a stuffed cat for children, suggestions for winter cakes and a long piece on making a quilt from scraps. It is the kind of magazine that makes it seem just fine to curl into winter, ideal even.

This office, which represents the editorial side of the magazine, came together on a timeline even speedier than that first issue of Taproot. In September, after several months renting space at Think Tank CoWorking on Congress Street, Soule met Lauren Pignatello, the proprietor of Milk and Honey.

Amanda Blake Soule of Taproot and Lauren Pignatello of Swallowtail Farm’s Milk and Honey talk with a café customer early this month. The magazine’s new office is located in the café.

“Everyone assumed we already knew each other,” Pignatello said. That’s because she and her husband, Sean, have seven children, all born at home, like Soule’s, and Pignatello is also a maker and entrepreneur. She runs an herbal apothecary and a creamery that produces yogurt and cheeses, as well as the café. Pignatello was sharing the space with various enterprises, including until fairly recently, the Portland Winter Farmers’ Market, and making the rent had become a struggle, she said. But she didn’t want to let Milk and Honey go.

Soule had a proposition. They could share the space and not only would the magazine have an office with coffee, tea and meals at the ready, Taproot would also have room for a showcase for the handcrafted, made in the U.S.A. items that Soule was already curating for an online Taproot “pop-up” twice a year.

After a renovation accomplished on nights and weekends by their combined big families, the Taproot market sits behind Pignatello’s counter full of goodies and off to the side of Soule’s big table. There are back issues of six years’ worth of Taproot, a collection of books about fermenting and growing your own vegetables, even one on picnicking. There’s also a tempting array of children’s blocks made from polished driftwood and bound in fishing nets; candles that smell exactly like wood smoke; and stacks of ceramic garlic graters in the palest, most serene of blues.

It would be tempting to describe 84 Cove St. as Amanda Blake Soule’s serenity now, but that would be to suggest her tranquility is fleeting. With Soule, it seems more like serenity always.

‘EVERYBODY’S MOM’

Soule is an eighth-generation Mainer. She grew up in a house near the Coast Guard station in South Portland, the oldest of four daughters. Her mother, DeeDee, had her children young and ran a daycare center; she was, Soule said, a “pretty classic” homemaker. “It was really important to her to keep a clean house.” Her father, Tom Blake, has been mayor of South Portland (three times), started the neighborhood association and helped establish the South Portland land trust (he’s still on the board of directors). “He has five jobs,” Soule says. “He’s busy and has a lot of energy and loves community.” The Blakes are still in the home where Soule and her sisters grew up.

On Instagram as soulemama, the author/blogger/editor tagged this photo “Afternoon plans!” Jennifer Reese, a reader and blogger in her own right from California, says Soule “has a beautiful vision of home and family that is very real.”

When she was a child, Soule spent a lot of time with her grandparents, particularly her grandmothers. Her fraternal grandmother was a seamstress who lived in Falmouth, her maternal grandmother a farmer in Madison. Soule spent much of her summers in Madison, and when she was away from that grandmother, wrote to her religiously every week. It was her mother’s mother who told Soule she’d be a writer and tucked those letters away. “She saved all of them,” Soule said. “It was such a gift.”

Her grandmother the seamstress would take her to JoAnn’s Fabrics on a Friday after school, let her pick out fabric and over the weekend, they’d make something that Soule would then wear to school on Monday. “It was this double-edged sword of not wanting to draw attention to myself but loving making a skirt out of vintage ties.”

When Soule arrived in Orono to attend the University of Maine, her plan was to study journalism. She admired her mother’s life and wanted her own big family, but as a teenager, “I thought I wanted to do more.” Still, an urge to create a home for herself, even in a dorm where conformity is typically the rule, kept surfacing. “I would move out every piece of dorm furniture,” she said, replacing it with flea market finds, until it felt like a true home. She became a resident advisor. “I was everybody’s mom,” she said. “It was just the role I always had.” She majored in women’s studies and English, with an eye toward a life of activism.

Which is what, she says, she found, although it is a different kind of activism than the sort that involves developing an intimate familiarity with say, the hallway outside Sen. Susan Collins’ office in Portland. Her activism was more about lifestyle: homeschooling, home canning, home-having. She found the right partner for it, Steve Soule, when she was just 23. Again, she was decisive. “I moved in with him after 10 days,” Soule said.

A monthlong farm-sitting gig at Broadturn Farm, where they had been CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers and then become good friends with farmers Stacy Brenner and John Bliss helped convince them they wanted to farm themselves. Soon they were actively looking for a farm somewhere within 60 miles of Portland, with an old house and room for their growing family and some livestock; it took years to find what they wanted and could afford.

“I think in some ways I wrote the life I wanted to live,” Soule said. Life led the writing, she added, “and the writing sort of leading us to where we want to be.”

Taproot, on display at the magazine’s Portland office.

Her arrival on the national scene – entirely through word of mouth – was well-timed. The national mommy blogger movement was catching on. Utah-based Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com was the edgy stay-at-home mother who lamented about appliances that didn’t work and the layers of dirt in her house. If she was the mother you were, Soule was the mother you aspired to be, naming knitting patterns after her children and teaching herself how to spin. Armstrong is divorced now, and the tagline at Dooce is “an unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation.” Soule is still the mother you aspire to be.

LOVING LOOKY LOOS

Stepping into Soule’s farmhouse, the first impression is of pots bubbling on big stove, a smallish Christmas tree already twinkling away in the living room beyond. She’s cooking for her sister Michelle who just delivered her fourth child the day before (bringing the number of DeeDee and Tom Blake’s grandchildren up to 15). The pulled pork made from one of the three pigs the Soule family raises every year is already packaged up and ready to go and the sausage and beans and hearty chicken soup are simmering.

The house is set on a ridge between two lakes in Central Maine; Soule prefers that its exact location not be disclosed. She has fans who feel they know her from her blog and from her books, the first of which, “The Creative Family” was published in 2008 (an updated version was just released in October). Sometimes these fans feel they ought to be able to drop by and visit the friend they’re never met. “Lots of slow drivebys,” Soule said. Sometimes they turn into the driveway. It’s flattering, but to a busy mother and entrepreneur, not exactly welcome.

It takes a good writer to create that kind of intimacy with readers. “I feel like I could find my way around that farm blindfolded,” said Jennifer Reese, a longtime reader in California who also blogs (and would never stop by uninvited).

Reese writes at Tipsybaker.com, ostensibly about cookbooks but more often about life refracted (wittily) through domesticity. She is also the author of “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter,” a practical cookbook for the aspirational home cook, the kind of person who can’t go full-SouleMama but dreams of it. Reese is one of Soule’s nearly 37,000 followers on Instagram, and still a reader of the blog, even as Soule has moved to posting much less.

“The Creative Family Manifesto,” an updated version of a 2008 book by Soule, was released in October.

“While I’ve ended up souring on almost every other lifestyle blogger, never on Amanda,” Reese said. “She’s never smug. She’s never preachy. She never seems to be showing off, and at this point I really don’t think she is. She has a beautiful vision of home and family that is very real and her blog is an expression of this, a celebration of it. I can’t live like she does because I’m not her, but at no point has she ever made me feel like I should.”

TIME FOR SOCKS?

Four children are at home on that Tuesday morning. Adelaide, 12, Harper, 9 and Annabel, 6, all of whom have their mother’s bright blue eyes, are all still home schooled, including by a tutor on the three days a week Soule goes to Taproot’s office. Ezra, 14, would customarily be in Portland at Baxter Academy for Technology and Science School, where he’s a freshman, but he’s got the day off. Calvin, who turns 17 next month, is a junior at the Waldorf school in Freeport. It was his decision to leave the home schooling nest – Soule assumed she’d homeschool the children until they were 18.

“Calvin really led the way,” Soule said. “He made a case for it and did all the work to make it happen.”

It’s not clear what will happen with the rest of the children, in terms of going to school versus staying home, but for Soule, this is a time of contentment. Teenagers, she says, “are awesome,” unexpectedly. “I was holding my breath for so long.”

Only Annabel wants to accompany her mother outside for a tour of the farm. There are Shetland sheep, Nigerian goats barely bigger than a corgi, as well as three friendly cats. Greta, the farm’s guardian dog, is inside, snoozing before her regular night shift. The pigs and many of the 85 meat birds are already in the freezer. The 6-year-old goes looking for her coat and then sits on the floor to put on her boots. Her feet are bare and Soule bends to cup Annabel’s small foot in her hands.

“Maybe it’s time for socks?” she asks.

It’s December.

“Not yet,” Annabel tells her mother, confidently pulling on the boot.

Afterward, driving away from the simple farmhouse full of cheer, it occurs to you; on that walk there was no whining about anything at all, including cold feet.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

 

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/for-author-editor-and-blogger-amanda-blake-soule-life-is-not-just-serenity-now-its-serenity-always/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/12/1299010_170066-20171201_Taproot311.jpgAmanda Blake Soule, editor of Taproot magazine, in her Portland office at Milk and Honey café on Cove Street.Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:27:08 +0000
Bring Hanukkah in with a roar http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/bring-hanukkah-in-with-a-roar/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/bring-hanukkah-in-with-a-roar/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1299020 When Hanukkah begins Tuesday, Lisa Pierce’s family will light her grandmother’s menorah, a family heirloom that looks like a traditional candelabrum with nine branches.

Then, just for fun, she’ll light a dinosaur menorah. Or a hippo. Or a penguin.

Pierce’s menorah menagerie consists of her own playful creations that she sells mostly through her Etsy.com shop, The Vanilla Studio. The most popular is “Menorasaurus Rex,” a fierce-looking Tyrannosaurus Rex, but she also makes other dinosaurs (a brontosaurus and a triceratops), as well as an elephant, alligator, turtle, hippo and yes, even a not-so-kosher lobster.

The menorahs, made from repurposed plastic toys, are sold in the Jewish Museum shop in New York and, Pierce says on her Etsy page, come from “the crazy notion that people can have fun and be Jewish at the same time.”

Pierce, who works out of her Portland home, spends a lot of time making religious art with the children at her synagogue, Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland (which also sells her work).

“A lot of that is trying to figure out how to make Jewish things out of nothing, or found objects,” she said.

She made her first dinosaur menorah for a friend who had just converted to Judaism and was a big fan of dinosaurs. She made a couple more for special events, and the rest is, ahem, prehistory.

Pierce buys the toys wholesale and paints them a shiny silver or gold, then adds brass candle fittings to their backs and heads with screws and super glue. She will do custom orders in other colors, but “the gold is just so silly,” she said. “It’s elevating a dinosaur into this gorgeous shiny holiday thing, which is part of the fun.”

Her customers range from grandparents who think their grandchildren will get a kick out of a dinosaur menorah to menorah collectors who want to add something a little different to their set.

“My goal is to make it playful and accessible,” Pierce said. “If I can add something to someone’s holiday celebration, that’s amazing. That’s a wonderful feeling.”

Pierce’s menorahs, which cost $85, have been featured in Newsday, Family Circle and the New York Post.

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Wondering what to get the gardener in your life? http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/wondering-what-to-get-the-gardener-in-your-life/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/wondering-what-to-get-the-gardener-in-your-life/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1298983 Gardeners are difficult to shop for. If they need a tool, the probably already have it. They are used to the tools they have and will feel uncomfortable using anything else – even if it is supposed to be improved. You can ask them what they need or want, but gardeners in Maine aren’t gardening now, so they don’t remember that they broke the tip off their trowel or used the last of their garden twine.

What gardeners really love are plants. Fortunately for you, the shopper, the gift plant industry is huge, which you probably realize because catalogues are pouring into everyone’s home.

At this time of year, you’ll be considering indoor plants, and not just every green-growing, possibly flowering product in a pot will do. You want to give people plants that will last. That means you don’t give gifts of paperwhites, forced bulbs, amaryllis or poinsettias that will be enjoyed for the season, composted and forgotten.

Something like Christmas cactus, which will bloom every year, is better, and is linked to this time of year.

You want plants that are timeless, and you may want a plant that can eventually be moved outdoors – something like a potted evergreen. An obvious choice is a dwarf Alberta spruce, Picea glauca “Conica,” which is cone-shaped with soft-looking although prickly-to-the-touch grass-green foliage. They are available in small sizes, and they grow slowly, but after a couple of decades outdoors, they will grow up to 10 feet tall.

A dwarf Canadian hemlock would make a good present, if you can find one. They come in weeping varieties and there is at least one gold-colored variety.

A dwarf chamaecyparis, like the golden hinoki “Nana Lutea,” would add texture and a gold color to your recipient’s garden. Junipers, some of which are native to Maine, are another good choice. They come in green, gold and blue.

If you’re buying your baby evergreen at a local nursery, you’re fine – what they sell will live outdoors in Maine year-round. If you’re buying it at a grocery store or a big box store, what looks like a nice evergreen may not be hardy enough to survive a Maine winter out of doors. Buy that small locally grown evergreen, and eventually the person who gets your gift will be able to plant it in their garden. It is, to borrow a phrase, a gift that keeps on giving.

Keeping with the tree theme, a variety of fruit trees can be grown inside.

A dwarf citrus tree, whether lemon, lime or orange, is among the most popular. They even can produce fruit, but without pollinators flying around the house they will have to be hand-pollinated, usually using something like a Q-tip. It’s not difficult, and many gardeners on your list may welcome the challenge. These citrus trees will need a south-facing window or supplemental full-spectrum light from fluorescent bulbs, and they have to be well-watered. Temperatures of a typical Maine home in winter will suit them fine.

Dwarf olive trees are another possibility, though I’ve never tried growing them myself. Olives are a Mediterranean plant (but you know that), so they can tolerate the dry area of a Maine home in winter, and you could put them outside during the summer. You probably won’t get fruit indoors because they need a drop in temperature in order to produce, but the foliage is lush and attractive.

You also can grow fig trees inside, so if the gardener in your life is a fan of the fruit, the tree might be a nice surprise. They don’t want to be in the south-facing window but they will want a bright space. And because they self-pollinate, you can get fruit. Brown Turkey and Chicago Hardy are two of the varieties that are suggested for the best production. The leaves will change color, then drop off in the fall. At that point, the trees should stay in a cool area, and be watered only when the soil is bone dry, until spring, when the leaves will come out again.

The Christmas fern is a much easier plant to tend than the fruit trees, and despite its name, it is not generally considered a holiday plant. An evergreen, it keeps its foliage all year long. Christmas ferns are a good houseplant because they actually prefer the shady parts of the house. The fronds drape, so your recipient may want to hang the pot in the air or place the fern on a plant stand. And they should keep the soil moist and mist the foliage occasionally.

Orchids would also make a good gift. But give them to a patient gardener as getting them to re-bloom is a challenge. If you want to know more, read a piece I wrote a few weeks ago.

If you are short on time or are getting a gift for someone who is strictly an outdoor gardener, consider a gift certificate to the garden center nearest his or her home. Add a couple packets of seeds or a nice pair of gardening gloves if you want to wrap something more than a paper gift certificate.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living and gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: tomatwell@me.com.

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Cars cost you a lot, and they cost the planet a lot, too http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/cars-they-cost-you-a-lot-and-they-cost-the-planet-a-lot-too/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/cars-they-cost-you-a-lot-and-they-cost-the-planet-a-lot-too/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1298984 Many millennials show little enthusiasm for cars and driving, but for “Gen Z” – those born from 2000 on – the jury is still out. Well, not entirely; one member of that generation – under my own roof – is intent not only on driving but on owning a car.

For those on the cusp of adulthood, a car represents so much more than an amalgamation of metal, plastic and what waste managers colorfully call “auto fluff” – the upholstery, soundproofing and insulation that get shredded and landfilled when vehicles are salvaged. Wheels can symbolize freedom, that long open road leading from the confines of childhood into the wider world.

I understand that iconic power and the marketing muscle that fuels it. Who hasn’t felt the tug of automotive ads that depict the exhilarating rush of soaring past stunning scenery? (Of course, they don’t show someone stuck in traffic, breathing in exhaust and looking out on a mall-strewn wasteland; reality TV shows might entertain us but not reality advertisements!) Acquiring my first car at age 20 did bring an undeniable thrill. Never mind that it was a far cry from the sleek models featured in ads – being a boxy, high-mileage sedan in a putrid mustard hue. It let me take to the highway, heading off to a summer job 500 miles away.

The enchantment with my new wheels lasted exactly three days. Then the engine went dead, and I had to pay for the car’s first tow. More repairs followed, and I soon came to see the vehicle as a necessary evil (owning a dog ruled out most public transportation).

So while I sympathize with the lure of freedom on four tires, car ownership leads down a rocky road – inflicting personal bumps and planetary bruises.

Starting with the financial tab, no possession short of a house comes with such a cumulative weight of annual expenditures: fuel, insurance, repairs, maintenance, tires, registration and potentially finance charges. A house might actually gain value over time but a vehicle will steadily depreciate, dropping by some estimates 15 percent of its market value each year.

Some of the associated costs can be whittled down, but only so far. Logging fewer than 9,000 miles per year (the average for American drivers is about 13,500) in a 12-year-old, fuel-efficient car, I still spend more than $2,500 each year on related expenses. That figure is well below the annual average of $8,469, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), but for younger drivers it still could be prohibitive – particularly for those in school or those carrying student debt.

Unfortunately, the cost of car ownership extends far beyond the bounds of personal budgeting, particularly for young drivers. While adolescents understandably resent generalizations about their peer group, it’s hard to argue with actuaries. Teen drivers crash four times more than adults, the AAA reports. Crash risks, always elevated during the first months of independent driving, are greatest among youngest drivers. For every mile on the road, drivers aged 16 and 17 are nine times as likely to be involved in a crash as those 18 or older.

Car ownership endangers public health indirectly too, adding to a plume of particulates and to the greenhouse gas emissions that are raising global temperatures to untenable levels. Climate change represents a classic “Tragedy of the Commons” scenario – where car owners focus on their individual desires for freedom and convenience, overlooking how their choices diminish shared resources like air quality.

Collectively, we also tend to forget how many global resources (like petroleum and metals) go into American cars, which represent a fifth of the planet’s fleet even though we constitute only 5 percent of the world population. Cars, light trucks and motorcycles burn up nearly two-thirds of the energy used by the whole U.S. transportation sector.

To Americans coming of age now, acquiring a vehicle might seem like a right. But before long, it could look more like an historic anomaly. The car-crazy culture that emerged following the Second World War appears less and less tenable by the day.

Fortunately, alternatives like lift services and car-sharing make it easier to navigate into adulthood without the extravagant costs of a personal vehicle. Even in Maine, where a low population density necessitates more driving, there’s an increased commitment to public transit.

A decade from now, the counsel on car ownership may be more like the guidance given to young people concerning sobriety: Don’t purchase a vehicle until at least age 21 and then act responsibly – mindful of the risks.

Marina Schauffler provides research, writing, and editing services to nonprofit and social enterprise organizations through Natural Choices (Naturalchoices.com).

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/cars-they-cost-you-a-lot-and-they-cost-the-planet-a-lot-too/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/03/1174474_557117-edi.cars_.wed_.0304.jpgThe president wants to roll back or delay Obama-era rules that would dramatically increase fuel economy standards.Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:25:38 +0000
Poinsettias will keep, but with some work http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/grow-poinsettias-will-keep-but-with-some-work/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/grow-poinsettias-will-keep-but-with-some-work/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1298988 Poinsettias are a plant, of course, but most people treat them like a Christmas decoration. Usually, they’re red and green, the traditional Christmas colors, although the bracts – which look like colored leaves – can be pink, white or yellow or a mix of these colors in addition to the familiar red.

The first bit of advice: Get your poinsettias early and don’t give them to anyone as a Christmas present. Enjoy them in the days leading up to and through the holidays; they begin to lose their charm by Groundhog Day.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico. They were brought to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, this country’s first ambassador to Mexico. The Aztecs called them cuetlaxochitl and the botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, but if you use either of those names, nobody will have any idea what you’re talking about. You can buy poinsettias anywhere: hardware stores, grocery stores or chain stores. But if you buy them from locally owned nurseries or flower shops, they are more likely to have been grown locally – often by the nursery selling them but sometimes by the Morrison Development Center’s Seedlings Program in Scarborough – and you will be helping the local economy (and in the latter case, people with disabilities, too).

If you plan to throw the poinsettia away at the end of the season, just water it when it gets slightly dry. After the New Year, if you want your poinsettias to produce colorful bracts for next year, cut them back so they have three leaves per stem, put them in a sunny window in a room where you never turn on the lights, take them outside when night temperatures won’t drop below 50 degrees, bring them inside when night temperature drop to 45 degrees and again keep them in a window in a room that receives no artificial light.

Considering the amount of work involved and the low cost of locally grown pointsettias, that’s too much work for me.

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Diane Walden teaches elements of sustainable holiday decor http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/diane-walden-teaches-elements-of-sustainable-holiday-decor-sustainable/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/10/diane-walden-teaches-elements-of-sustainable-holiday-decor-sustainable/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1298990 Diane Walden is a staff horticulturist at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and the resident staff expert on making holiday garlands. She even teaches classes in how to deck your halls sustainably, using local vegetation, although right now the Boothbay institution is a little too busy with some crazy light show (you may have heard something about Gardens Aglow) to hold any classes. We called her up to see how she landed at the gardens and while we were at it, asked for a few tips on wreath-making, sustainably.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Walden has been making garlands and wreaths “for at least 30 years.” She started her career as an artist, which meant side gigs waitressing and gardening. That inspired her to go back to horticulture school, at Temple University’s campus in Ambler, outside Philadelphia. “Then I got hired in the industry and have been working in it ever since.”

NORTHWARD GAZE: She spent much of her career at an independent nursery in Pennsylvania, J. Franklin Styer. But in 2006, when she and her husband decided to move to Maine, with an eye toward eventual retirement, she was ready to make a shift. “I had spent 20 years on the wholesale-retail end of things, but I wanted to give back in the public sphere,” she said. “I wanted to be somewhere that was open to the public and educate and share all the wonders of the gardening world with the public.”

HOUSE & BOAT: They had very tangential connections to Maine. She dated someone at Bowdoin once, way back when she was a freshman in college. Her husband figured out he’d gone to Camp Kiev. “We had no family here, and we hadn’t been up to the state for decades.” But he had boats on the brain. “He started Googling boats and I started Googling houses.” The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens had not yet opened, but “there was already a bubble of talk about this brand new botanical garden opening on the coast of Maine.”

Walden with boughs at her home. She encourages people to gather what they can, except invasive bittersweet, from around their homes to make sustainable wreaths and garlands.

COASTAL TOUR: The couple drove up and down the coast in late October, eyeing homes in Belfast, Stonington, Brooklin and Port Clyde, among others, before picking a house in Thomaston. “It had a beautiful view. And goutweed.” Along, she says, with “every single invasive known to Maine.” In Pennsylvania she’d had extensive flower beds, two that were 16 feet wide by 45 feet long, and from them, she opted to bring just three plants with her: two prized peonies and one hellebore. “I never met a peony that I didn’t like. Except the white tree ones that look like dirty handkerchiefs.” Was it hard to leave those gardens behind? Not as hard as you’d think. “The gardens had started to take over our lives. We would get home from work and we would garden for hours. It was sort of a relief to leave it.” Plus, she quickly found some new gardens, not her own, volunteering at the botanical gardens. “It took me several years to get on staff, but I have been working for the horticulture department for 10 years.”

WHIP IT GOOD: Walden quickly became a wreath- and garland-making champ at the gardens, creating festive arrangements for special events (for instance, the openings of the visitor center and the children’s garden). “Any big opening.” While she was describing wreath- and garland-making to us, we noticed that she kept using the verb whip. As in, “whip in some dried flowers or pinecones.” Is this a technical term in horticulture? Walden said she’s heard others use it, but to clarify: “When you whip in, you do your structure and then you add things, these wonderful little add-ons. Like the way a hairdresser might use bobby pins.” Now we get it.

THINK AHEAD: Walden likes to make her wreaths with found objects as much as possible, so she forages around her own property and elsewhere. She encourages planning for holiday wreaths earlier than you might imagine, snagging plants out of the garden before you break it down for the year. For instance, she likes whipping in dried hydrangea heads or the remains of a peony flower after the petals have blown away. Take “anything you think might look good as a wreath and hang it upside down in a cool, dark place” until you’re ready to make holiday decorations.

STORM LEFTOVERS: She’s also a big fan of using blown-down material, rather than cutting, and as Mainers know, there are a lot of blown-down branches left from the Oct. 30 windstorm. At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, “we lost a number of big trees,” including a big balsam that had to be topped. Walden clipped from the top on the ground and made stacks for everyone’s use. She encourages anyone wanting to make a sustainable wreath or garland to take a look around their own property first. “Storms can be our friend.” At least when it comes to procuring white pine boughs.

SLOW FLOWERS: You will not catch Walden picking up a bouquet of bright green carnations from the supermarket. “Most of the arrangements I make here at the gardens are made only from Maine-grown or harvested materials.” When she gives classes at the gardens, she encourages her students to shop local for flowers. “I very much want to lead them down the slow flower path,” she says, “versus buying these flowers that come from Africa or Ecuador, Colombia, from all over the globe.” Particularly distasteful to her are the flowers that have been dyed. “These neons that don’t exist in the real world. It’s cheapened to something that is almost not really a flower.” She urges people to shop for local flowers at farmers markets. Sourcing can obviously be challenging during the winter months, which is why thinking ahead and drying flowers is helpful.

BIODEGRADABLE BEAUTY: Walden tends to skip mechanical devices, like the garland makers that crank out wire as you wrap a wreath. “I usually hand-build all of my garlands.” She favors waxed marine or hemp twine to wrap the greens onto a wreath ring, or to build a garland, because that “will naturally melt away.” The green, plastic-covered wire works undeniably well though, and she justifies that by re-using it as many times as she can.

DRAWING THE LINE: One thing Walden will never put in a wreath or garland? Bittersweet. The farther the bittersweet travels, the more potential for a bird to eat the berries, defecate the seeds and spread the pernicious vine. Bittersweet does look pretty in late fall, but Walden doesn’t succumb to the temptation, on principle. “I would hate to promote an invasive like that.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

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Lisbon aquaponics operation gets funding to expand http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/09/lisbon-aquaponics-operation-gets-funding-to-expand/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/09/lisbon-aquaponics-operation-gets-funding-to-expand/#respond Sat, 09 Dec 2017 20:08:11 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/09/lisbon-aquaponics-operation-gets-funding-to-expand/ In early 2016, aquaponics farmer Trevor Kenkel vowed that he would expand his already-flourishing operation.

You can’t say Kenkel isn’t true to his word.

Kenkel’s business, Springworks Farm, has secured $1.6 million to create a second greenhouse, larger and more efficiently designed than the first.

Kenkel says that with the funding, the three-year-old company’s 6,000-square-foot greenhouse will be complemented by a new 8,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open by summer of 2018.

The expansion will earn Springworks the distinction of being the largest aquaponics farm in New England.

In his marriage of aquaculture and hydroponics, wastewater from 1,000 tilapia swimming in several large tanks is channeled through greenhouse beds growing crops such as lettuce, tatsoi, bok choy, cilantro and mizuna — products that are sold to local restaurants and other clients.

“Lettuce is a $3 billion a year industry, with over 98 percent of the product grown in, and shipped from, California and Arizona,” Kenkel said in announcing the expansion. “The time is ripe to disrupt an agricultural system that no longer works for those who understand the critical need to shift to a more sustainable model for growing food.”

Kenkel, now 22, is a Montana native studying biology and economics at Bowdoin College.

According to a news release, his new facility represents the latest model in a series of experiments with aquaponics that Kenkel has been exploring since childhood. He was first drawn to the field when he noticed the degradation of the pristine creek where he fly-fished as a child in Montana.

After learning that pollution from a nearby farm was responsible, Kenkel started investigating sustainable agriculture. That began a series of projects funded by summer jobs during Kenkel’s high school years. Those experiments culminated in a 2,000-gallon greenhouse system that supplied enough greens to feed his family and supply a local restaurant.

Kenkel’s academic investigation of the aquaponic principles he put into practice allowed him to create a miniaturized version of the models he’s been perfecting for most of his life. The Springworks ‘microfarm’ is an aquarium-fitted aquaponic system that turns a 10-gallon tank into everything needed to grow fresh herbs from water exchanged with the aquarium’s fish.

 

 

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18 can’t-miss Maine holiday events http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/07/18-cant-miss-maine-holiday-events/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/07/18-cant-miss-maine-holiday-events/#respond Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:46:55 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=783922 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/07/18-cant-miss-maine-holiday-events/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/12/Gardiner-Days-of-Light.jpgThu, 07 Dec 2017 08:46:55 +0000 OFF RADAR: ‘The Unfastening’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/07/off-radar-the-unfastening/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/07/off-radar-the-unfastening/#respond Thu, 07 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=783636 “The Unfastening: Poems” By Wesley McNair

David R. Godine Publisher Inc., Boston 2017

80 pages, paperback, $17.95

If Edgar Allan Poe was right, then Wesley McNair’s most recent collection of poems, “The Unfastening,” is a very beautiful book indeed.

Poe said in one of his influential essays about poetry that the tone of the highest manifestation of beauty is sadness. In other words, inherent in your most intimate experiences of beauty is a feeling of sadness. Or to say it the other way around, sadness has a beauty too, and profoundly. And make no mistake, the central intelligence of “The Unfastening” is sadness.

For what is being unfastened right from the start of the book is life itself. The first section, sharing its title with the book, comprises eight poems on the end of life. They are exquisitely sad poems. “The Button,” to open, is a brief evocation of the difficulty an old, old man has fastening the top button of his dress shirt; even a helper is unable to make the button fast, with the old man’s “helpless hands / dangling at his sides / imagining themselves // doing what they’re now / unable to do as you struggle.” The unfastening of the man from his life is so universally vivid in just this one poem, you literally want to cry. “Nursing Home Haikus” is a set of open-form tercets on the sense of ending inherent in the home, with the concluding wistful, penetrating observation:

Once this whole floor was

the ballroom of a mansion.

Think of the rooms cleared

away for dancing,

the gowns, the music that said

now, and only now.

One of McNair’s lifelong poetic themes has involved the complex emotions of his family past, and he’s still tackling it in this collection. “The Afterlife” is a meditation — as the poetry world clumsily names it — on the speaker’s complex of responses to his mother’s death. “When They Lay Down” is a variation on a poetic form that repeats lines in different order throughout, and these lines on his parents’ rocky lives echo like hauntings, the way, perhaps, the poet himself is repetitively haunted by the memories themselves.

The book’s second section, titled “The Master of Loss,” goes deep into the different ways memories crop up to color and give tone — often of sadness — to the everyday, even much later in life. The title poem of the section, in the narrative mode of McNair’s previous collection “The Lost Child,” tells the story of an expedition by family members to the disheveled home of the speaker’s elderly mother, who presumably has been removed from there recently. “‘How can she live like this?’ Dot asked.” And later, Uncle Truman says: “‘She’s lost her grip for sure.'” She is, in other words, unfastening from her long, emotionally turbulent life.

The poems in the third section, “The Longing to See,” focus on the making of art and poetry, from which the poet’s personal life never detaches. The departed mother haunts even these good-natured, if somber explorations of the drive to create, and so does the sense of sadness. “The Poem” concludes, on a shadowy note: “It’s not only itself // the poem waits for / moving line by line / into its own dark. / It waits for you.”

My own favorite passages appear in the last section, “Maintaining,” in which we get a variety of glimpses of everyday life in “this post 9/11 nation,” which (it probably should be understood) is also the venue of the poet’s own retirement years. In the vicinity (presumably) of the poet’s hometown, Mercer, spots of time like this section in its entirety:

By the register at the store, truckers,

carpenters and mill workers

count their change while telling

the morning clerk how they are:

“Not too bad.” “Could be worse.”

“Maintaining.”

Sad, but true, these glimpses are, and beautiful. And indeed, the book, like fall and life itself, finishes on the tone of beauty’s highest manifestation: “Consider the frosted heads / of the goldenrods / bending down to the ground, / and the milkweeds standing / straight up, giving themselves away.” Nature, itself, unfastens.

All this is cast in some of the most skillfully processed poetic language practiced in Maine in recent decades, which accounts, in part, for the force with which these poems impose themselves on your Poe-incited imagination. But while the fluidity and near-perfection of language is one thing, the effect is the thing. The effects of this poetry are remarkable.

Wesley McNair is professor emeritus of English at the University of Maine at Farmington, and served as poet laureate of Maine 2011-2016. He is the author of nine volumes of poetry and several books of prose. “The Unfastening” is available through www.godine.com/book/unfastening/ and local and online book sellers.

Off Radar takes note of poetry and books with Maine connections the first Thursday of each month. Contact Dana Wilde at universe@dwildepress.net.

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AARP magazine to award Mirren achievement honor http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/aarp-magazine-to-award-mirren-achievement-honor/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/aarp-magazine-to-award-mirren-achievement-honor/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 22:19:10 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/aarp-magazine-to-award-mirren-achievement-honor/ LOS ANGELES — AARP the Magazine says its Movies for Grownups Awards will be televised for the first time next year, when Helen Mirren will receive its lifetime achievement honors.

The magazine said Wednesday that Mirren will accept the Career Achievement Award at a ceremony Feb. 5. The 17th annual Movies for Grownups Awards will premiere on PBS on Feb. 23.

Mirren says she is “greatly honored” by the award, adding that she considers film a high art form and “the ultimate mirror up to nature.”

She joins previous Career Achievement honorees including Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, Robert Redford and Sharon Stone.

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J.P. Devine Movie Review: ‘The Square’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/j-p-devine-movie-review-the-square/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/j-p-devine-movie-review-the-square/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 18:02:58 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/j-p-devine-movie-review-the-square/ Ruben Ostlund is back. The controversial writer-director best known for his “Force Majeure” is here with his perplexing, confusing, but sometimes amusing, two-and-a-half hour “The Square.”

Friends who saw the first hour of the two-and-one-half hours describe it as a satirical look at Sweden’s “modern art scene.”

Even after two-and-a-half hours, you would think I could paint a lucid picture, but my dog just died, I have a cold, and I’m fresh out of lucidity.

Here are a few notes: The very handsome Claes Bang, an actor from Denmark, appears here as Christian, a museum curator at Stockholm, Sweden’s famous museum.

We meet Christian as he’s being interviewed by, Oh, thank Heavens, it’s Elizabeth Moss from “Mad Men.” Now, I can relax. Liz never does anything off the wall; Liz, a very American girl, is, in a Waukegan, Illinois, sort of way, always very lovely and very good.

Here Liz plays a reporter who lives with a large chimpanzee. Did I just say that out loud? Liz will be back with her extra large chimpanzee in a minute.

Catching up with Christian, we see that he’s positioning two little girls in this art project, a square border set in a carved out area in front of a large building.

This square is lined with a permanent string of LED lights and a bronze plaque that explains that this area is a “sanctuary of trust and caring.”

I’ll skip the scene with the little exploding girl. You don’t see it anyway.

There is a PowerPoint pitch earnestly delivered, and best seen after a peppermint NyQuil latte, by two earnest young artists.

Our patience fades when the players forget the first law of comedy: Stop when you’re dying, and get off stage.

Alas, endless minutes go by while the museum directors, one is a bearded man holding a baby, giggle and roll their eyes.

Things look up momentarily when Elizabeth and Christian wind up in her bedroom and very slowly undress.

To avoid any kinkiness, Elizabeth locks her chimpanzee out in the living room, leaving him/her with what appears to be a coloring book and a curious expression.

Finally their coitus they do make in spasms of pants and gasps, mostly Elizabeth’s; Christian, a very modern Swede, hip and cool, simply relents.

Hold on. When it’s over, Elizabeth demands Christian’s used condom. Did I say that out loud? He refuses. She insists. He refuses. She insists.

For several minutes they argue back and forth.

“Give it to me.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

And then she grabs it and pulls, he holds. The condom, holding his prop seed, stretches across the bed until it resembles one of those balloons that clowns make animals from.

Finally Elizabeth wins, takes it and places it in a canister. Make of that what you will.

There is a startling scene, obviously tossed in for shock value, of a half nude beast of a man imitating a gorilla, who appears at a society dinner, traipsing over chinaware and silver, whilst accosting Dior gowned matrons. Make of that what you will.

There is a theme that runs through the film about Christian’s purloined cell phone and wallet, that shows Christian at one point pawing through a mound of dumpster garbage in the rain. Make of it what you will.

“The Square” was obviously awarded the Palm d’or at Cannes for one wonderfully hilarious scene at the beginning, when a group of workers carefully go about taking down a statue of what looks like a bronze version of Monty Python’s Sir Galahad The Pure, to make room for the LED Square.

The crane gently lifts Galahad in the air and then suddenly drops him, breaking him into six pieces; I counted them. It was pure Monty Python. The boys should get a shoutout.

The bad news here is that Julia Roberts does not make an appearance, and the good news is that no chimpanzees are harmed.

Stay calm viewers, Woody’s on his way.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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Lucky Clark On Music: Jonathan Edwards http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/lucky-clark-on-music-jonathan-edwards/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/lucky-clark-on-music-jonathan-edwards/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 18:02:07 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/06/lucky-clark-on-music-jonathan-edwards/ A truly amazing evening of songs, stories and insight is set for 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, as the legendary singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards performs at the intimate confines of Johnson Hall in Gardiner. Known for such songs as “Sunshine (Go Away Today),” “Honkey Tonk Stardust Cowboy,” “Everybody Knows Her,” “Sometimes,” “Athens County,” and of course “Shanty,” this artist has been entertaining, enlightening and energizing audiences around the country and the world with his strong tenor voice for many years now. He’s also has a new album out called “Tomorrow’s Child,” which features Edwards surrounded and accompanied by Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, John Cowan, Vince Gill, Joe Walsh and Maine’s own Don Campbell. On Nov. 20, I reconnected with this humble, gentle man to find out more about his life and his music that are so intertwined together. I began by asking him if songwriting comes easy to him.

Edwards: (Pause) Yes and no.

Q: Oh, one of those.

Edwards: Yeah. You know, some songs you can hardly write them down fast enough or hardly make the music fast enough, and other ones might take years.

Q: How about the ones you wrote on “Tomorrow’s Child” — did they fall into both categories?

Edwards: Yeah, I would say so. A couple of them are ancient songs for me. One of them, “The Girl From The Canyon,” I recorded with Emmylou (Harris) back in ’75. You know, Darrell Scott — genius wizard that he is — took them and said, “Let’s revisit these. There’s more stuff to be mined there.” So we mined them.

Q: And you hit a payload, too, I’ll tell you that right now.

Edwards: Well, thank you. I love that record very much.

Q: You know, I interviewed the late Bill Morrissey once and told him that his latest CD at that time was his best one yet, and he declared — in that dead-pan way of his — “That’s the whole point of it, Lucky: Every time you make an album, you make it better than the one before.”

Edwards: That’s the hope.

Q: Are you going to be touring in support of this new release?

Edwards: Yeah, we’re on the road right now south of Hartford.

Q: I understand that you have a few shows coming up in Maine, too, correct?

Edwards: Yeah, I’m really excited about that.

Q: One of those performances takes place at Johnson Hall. Have you ever performed there before?

Edwards: Yes, I have. It was incredible — a really warm, inviting and welcoming audience. They make you give it up and do your utmost best to reach them and engage with them, a very sophisticated crowd there in Gardiner.

Q: The way you pronounced it, “Gardna,” shows me that you’ve been living here in Maine for some time now. Does our fair state suit you?

Edwards: Yeah, we do love it; my wife used to stay here when she was a little girl. Yeah, we love it, although we spend a lot of the winter in a warmer climate.

Q: You’re wise beyond your years, sir.

Edwards: Well, my career just turned 50 a week ago Friday.

Q: Oh, wow — congratulations!

Edwards: Thanks, man. They had the celebration at Infinity Hall in Hartford (on Nov. 10), so I got (Jon) Pousette-Dart to come in and Aztec Two-Step, Liv (Livingston) Taylor and a bunch of other friends who have been with me a long time.

Q: Oh, man, that’s very cool!

Edwards: Yeah, it was amazing. My daughters came in from points all over the world and even helped me sing a couple of songs. The public really loved it — a DVD to follow.

Q: Now that I’ll be very interested in seeing.

Edwards: Yeah, me too.

Q: It must have been like a blur for you that night.

Edwards: Yeah, it kinda was. I was so into performance mode, I wanted it all to be right, that part of my emotional connection went into that.

Q: Back to Johnson Hall. Will this be a solo show for you?

Edwards: No, I have young Tom Snow, my amazing piano player. He’s the other half of my band.

Q: Okay, I’ll buy that. How long have you been working with him?

Edwards: Eight years and we still get along and love each other; it’s amazing. Somebody asked, “When was the last time you two played together?” And I looked at Tom and said, “Tonight.”

Q: How much time do you spend on the road nowadays?

Edwards: We do about 70 shows a year, between 60 and 80 shows in a typical year, which is about a quarter of what I used to do. I’m much more selective and much more invested in each and every show.

Q: When did “Tomorrow’s Child” come out?

Edwards: It’s been a couple of years now.

Q: Really? Are you working on something new?

Edwards: Always, yeah. I’ve got a new version of “Sunshine …” If you didn’t get the first time around that it was a political rant, then you will this time.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Edwards: Well, I love playing there at Johnson Hall, and I’m bringing the other half of my band. I really look forward to the show very much. It’s going to be a wild and crazy weekend. For us, we’re eagerly anticipating having a great time there, and that’s a money-back guarantee.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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New York City theater helping Kennebunk with high school musical http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/new-york-city-theater-helping-kennebunk-with-high-school-musical/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/new-york-city-theater-helping-kennebunk-with-high-school-musical/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 16:41:22 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/new-york-city-theater-helping-kennebunk-with-high-school-musical/ The Kennebunk High School Theater Department will collaborate with the Public Theater in New York and the Kennebunk-based MaineStage Shakespeare troupe on the high school production of the new musical “As You Like It.”

The Public Theater premiered the musical adaptation of the Shakespeare play in September at the Delacorte Theater in New York. The Kennebunk production will be the musical’s first outside of New York. It was created by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery.

It will be presented at the newly opened high school theater March 1-11 and will give high school performers the opportunity to work alongside professionals from New York who will mentor, rehearse and perform with the students and community members.

In a press release, MaineStage Shakespeare Artistic Director Chiara Klein called the collaboration “unprecedented” and said it reflects an arts resurgence in town that includes the new high school theater, which opened this fall with a production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

“This led us to think, wouldn’t it be amazing to represent the coming together of the school, professionals and community though a piece of art? And shouldn’t that piece of art be a celebration of not just the community, but of the community we wish to be,” Klein asked in the press release. “That is what ‘As You Like It’ will strive to do.”

Michael Herman, the high school theater manager and co-director of “As You Like It,” said the collaboration and the opening of the theater raises the school’s mission “to the next level, and offers both students and community members a chance to join together and celebrate the rebirth of theater and the arts in the Kennebunks.”

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Portland String Quartet pays tribute to Maine composers and their teachers http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/portland-string-quartet-pays-tribute-to-maine-composers-and-their-teachers/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/portland-string-quartet-pays-tribute-to-maine-composers-and-their-teachers/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 16:18:48 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/05/portland-string-quartet-pays-tribute-to-maine-composers-and-their-teachers/ The Portland String Quartet put a spotlight on works by two Maine composers – Peter Ré and Elliott Schwartz – on Sunday afternoon, when it played its second concert of the season at Woodfords Congregational Church. And for good measure, the quartet added a work by Paul Hindemith, with whom Ré studied, and another by Beethoven, who one could argue was the teacher, if only by example, of any composer who turned his hand to the quartet format after him.

Ré, who taught at Colby College from 1951 until his retirement in 1986 and died in 2016, was given pride of place here, by way of his Quartet No. 3 (1987). He composed the work for this ensemble, which has recorded it, along with the first two quartets, for Albany Records.

The three-movement score is stormy and sometimes brusque, but never really harsh, and though the players gave its fast outer movements an energetic, hard-driven performance, they also took care to highlight the work’s lyrical qualities and rhythmic inventiveness.

Its most memorable material is in the central slow movement, which radiates warmth, but also a sense of disquiet. This is where Ré’s imagination seems to have been particularly sparked. Its textures and mood change quickly, with sweetly harmonized passages giving way to darker episodes, which in turn morph into aria-like sections in which individual instruments seem to soar, however briefly, over the ensemble.

Hindemith’s Quartet No. 7 (1945) tells us a lot about how a major composer, who was a refugee from wartime Europe, processed the spirit of his time – in this case, a mixture of questions, doubts and fears for the future, tempered by hope and a touch of relief. But in the context of this program, it also gives us further insight into Ré.

In terms of language and mood, the two works, though separated by 42 years, have a great deal in common, starting with a mildly thorny language, rhythmic variety and vitality and most of all, an alternation of tension and lyricism.

The players – violinists Dean Stein and Ronald Lantz, violist Julia Adams and cellist Patrick Owen – made a strong case for it, bringing out the almost folk-like melodies within the angular third movement and keeping the counterpoint in the finale carefully balanced, even in moments where Hindemith’s vigorous, lurching rhythms threatened to upend that precision.

Elliott Schwartz’s Quartet No. 3 “Portrait of Deedee” (2016) has had an unusually good year, for a new work. The Portland String Quartet gave the work its American premiere at the Portland Conservatory’s Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival in April, and the Cassatt Quartet played it at Space Gallery, as part of the Seal Bay Festival, in July. Having reviewed it both times, I will note only that Schwartz, who died last year, composed it as a tribute to his wife, Dorothy, a visual artist who died in 2014.

There is always the danger that a new work in a mildly dissonant idiom might wear out its welcome by its third encounter in eight months, but there is considerable charm in this piece, which weaves quotations from works of the past without dwelling on them. And the ensemble has it fully under its fingers: This was the freshest and liveliest of the three performances I’ve heard.

Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11 in F minor (Op. 95), nicknamed “Serioso,” closed the concert with a sudden shift from modernism to comforting familiarity of the Romantic mainstream. The challenge for the Portland players was to make it sound not just familiar, but fresh, and that they did, in a performance that made Beethoven’s notes leap off the page as if they were the substance of a dialogue between these four excellent players.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

allankozinn@gmail.com

Twitter: kozinn

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New host of ‘Prairie Home’ calls Keillor allegation ‘heartbreaking’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/new-host-of-prairie-home-calls-keillor-allegation-heartbreaking/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/new-host-of-prairie-home-calls-keillor-allegation-heartbreaking/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 23:02:15 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/new-host-of-prairie-home-calls-keillor-allegation-heartbreaking/ NEW YORK — The man who replaced Garrison Keillor as host of “A Prairie Home Companion” says the workplace misconduct allegation against Keillor came as “heartbreaking news.”

Chris Thile on Saturday addressed alleged improper conduct by Keillor in the opening minutes of the first show to be broadcast since news of the allegation broke.

Thile says the country is in the middle of a movement he believes represents progress. He says people are recognizing the “harmful power imbalance that women have had to endure for so long in our culture.”

Minnesota Public Radio, the show’s producer, ended its relationship with Keillor after what it said was an allegation of improper behavior with a person who worked with him on “Prairie Home.”

Keillor says he touched a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her, and that he apologized.

Thile, Keillor’s hand-picked successor, took over the show in 2016 after Keillor retired.

The name of the radio show will be changed, but a spokeswoman for MPR says Sunday that a new name had not yet been chosen.

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A Merry Christmoose wreath http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/merry-christmoose/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/merry-christmoose/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1295348 Maine wreaths are abundant this time of year, but why go with the same old circle on your barn door when you can have a moose?

Pam and Sterling Douglas’ whimsical moose “wreath” is as non-traditional as an elf in a manger. It has a balsam fir body, a pine beard, a horse chestnut eye, and antlers made from white pine cones. The moose wreath was a natural progression from the horse, made at a customer’s request by Pam’s Wreaths, a family-owned, Harpswell-based business. The horse has a balsam fir body and a mane of ponderosa pine. It has a red-ribbon bridle, small pine cones for eyes and a nose, and is popular with families whose children are taking riding lessons.

The customer posted her horse wreath on Facebook, and then everyone started asking for it, Pam Douglas said. And it opened the floodgates. “I’ve had calls for chickens and owls and donkeys,” she said.

The moose was her son Sterling’s idea. It made its first appearance last year and was so popular the family decided they’d make a new animal each year. But then a grandbaby came along, so the next “themed wreath” (likely a dog or a goat) will have to wait another year.

Pam Douglas learned how to make wreaths from her grandmother, who gave them to neighbors as gifts. Douglas convinced her they could be sold for $10 each. After a long learning curve, and with baby Sterling to support, Douglas began making them herself and started a small business. That was more than 30 years ago. At the time, Douglas was living in a one-room log cabin her grandfather built. She’d put the baby to bed and practice making wreaths by the woodstove – thicker ones than her grandmother had made. She sold 50 her first year, which helped supplement her income from working as a waitress at Cook’s Lobster House. Word spread, and she began getting large orders – from a credit union, nursing homes and restaurants.

“This is what paid our land taxes,” Douglas said. “This is what paid for Christmas.”

Sterling Douglas joined the business after graduating from college nine years ago. He keeps the books, and makes the horse and moose wreaths. Mother and son work 18-hour days most of December to get through the Christmas season.

The moose and horse wreaths cost $90 each in part because shipping, which is included, is so expensive, Douglas said. Locals pay less, $73 plus tax, if they’re willing to pick up their wreath in person, Pam Douglas said. And if you return the ring after the season is over, you’ll get a discount. (The Douglases make their own rings, so they are happy to reuse them.)

For more information, or to see the Douglas’ more traditional wreaths, go to pamsmainewreaths.com

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Poaching seafood, poultry and vegetables gives you liquid gold http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/poaching-gives-you-liquid-gold/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/poaching-gives-you-liquid-gold/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1295369 Poaching is a low-heat, moist cooking method that lets delicately textured seafood, poultry, vegetables and fruits hold their shape while soaking up the flavors of the stock, wine, coconut milk or water – that’s been fortified with aromatics, herbs and spices – in which they bathe. Once the raw food is lowered, ever so gently, into the pot of poaching liquid, the cook controls the heat so that the liquid holds steady between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit until the food is cooked through.

There are two types of poaching: shallow and deep. The former calls for just a little poaching liquid that will easily reduce to a pan sauce to serve with the cooked food. But when, say, a whole fish, a small chicken, or a dozen slender Bosc pears get submerged in a deep-poaching situation, there is a whole lot of liquid in the pot. Sure, a cup or two may be concentrated to serve as sauce, but what’s a cook to do with the rest of this liquid gold?

Begin by straining it, first through a fine-meshed sieve, and a second time through the fine-meshed sieved lined with cheesecloth. Straining it twice is, arguably, a bit fiddly, but it’ll remove all the proteins and particles that could make the liquid undesirably cloudy.

Once strained, both savory and sweet liquids can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for up to four months. But for food safety reasons, all should be brought back to a boil before you use them again.

Fish, chicken and vegetable poaching liquids can be used to poach again or to make a sauce or the liquid base of a soup. For example, I saved the poaching liquid from the last time I made White Cut Chicken, Cantonese comfort food in which a whole chicken is poached in water that’s been flavored with scallions, garlic, ginger, mirin and Sichuan peppercorns, I froze some of the spicy, only mildly chicken liquid in quart containers and some in ice cube portions. One quart was thawed, brought to a boil and fortified with coconut milk to make a Thai-inspired noodle soup while a second quart gave my first sweet taste of winter squash soup a bit of a kick. The ice cubes were melted down two or three at a time, and mixed with cornstarch for slurries that made stir-fry sauces glaze over the vegetables in the wok instead of washing over them.

Sweet poaching liquids – which appear most often in my kitchen during pear season – are more versatile as they aren’t typically tied in taste to the food that was cooked in them. For example, the beautiful pink-yellow-orange poaching liquid in British/Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s Poached Pears in Wine, Cardamom and Saffron can range far beyond pears. I’ve used it as a glaze for pork roast. I’ve warmed it and mixed it with gelatin and poured that over a vanilla sheet cake before chilling it and frosting it with whipped cream for a cold confection that when sliced presents a flavorful, colorful surprise. I’ve reduced it to a thick syrup and mixed it with equal amounts of powdered sugar to make a glaze for pound cake. I’ve churned it in an ice cream maker for a sorbet which we’ve eaten both as a simple dessert and a fancy dinner party palate cleanser between courses. And I’ve poured into Champagne flutes when the bubbly I could afford was cheaper than I like to drink straight.

In my mind – and on my plate, in my bowl and in my glass – poaching liquid has proven to be one of those sustainable gifts that just keeps on giving.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer and tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a new cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at cburns1227@gmail.com.

 

Poached pears.

POACHED PEARS WITH CARDAMOM AND SAFFRON

Saffron and cardamom are two of the most expensive spices around. In this recipe, their flavor pops as much as the colors do. But don’t waste a drop of this poaching liquid developed by chef Yotam Ottolenghi in his cookbook “Jerusalem.” I’ve slightly adapted it here to spare the lemon peels and increase the yield. Serve come of the syrup with the pears and a dollop of yogurt, put try it also as a sauce for pound cake and a flavoring for soda water or Champagne.
Makes 12 pears and 6 cups of poaching liquid

4 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups sugar
15 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
3 large pieces of lemon peel, with as little pith attached as possible
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 firm pears

Combine the wine with 2 cups of warm water in a large pot. Place over medium heat and add sugar, cardamom, lemon peel and juice, saffron and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
Peel pears. Leaving the stems intact, use a melon baller to scoop out the core of each pear from the bottom of the fruit. Gently place the pears in the pot with the poaching liquid. Add water if they are not completely submerged. Place the pot over medium heat and bring its contents to a very slight simmer. Reduce the heat so that only a bubble or two rises to the surface per minute. Poach the pears until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Turn the heat off and cool the pears in the liquid.
Remove the pears when they are cool, and refrigerate. Strain the poaching liquid. Place 3 cups of the poaching liquid in a saucepan and reduce it by half over medium heat. Cool, then serve syrup with poached pears.
Pour remaining poaching liquid into a container and refrigerate for three days or freeze for three months.

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Our sustainable advice columnist offers guidance on the most consumerist of holidays http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/our-sustainable-advice-columnist-offers-guidance-on-the-most-consumerist-of-holidays/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/our-sustainable-advice-columnist-offers-guidance-on-the-most-consumerist-of-holidays/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1295375 DEAR READERS,

Thanks for your questions and comments this year; it’s been a tremendous pleasure to connect with people over sustainable living, but this is my last Green Prescription column. I’ve been awarded a Fulbright to teach in Lisbon, Portugal, next semester, where I’ve already mapped out the bulk stores.

Yours in zero waste, Lisa

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll miss your sound advice.

DEAR GREEN PRESCRIPTION,

I’m feeling grouchy about consumerism and waste these days. Perhaps you can help my mood with some of your favorite tips for not going overboard during the holidays?

Green Grinch

DEAR GRINCH,

An oft-cited (now considered low-ball) statistic is that Americans generate at least 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than at other times of the year, tallying up to about one million extra tons of garbage each week. That might add some motivation to do something more drastic than usual. Perhaps it won’t seem quite so grinchy if you disseminate this data before suggesting that your community forgo a gift exchange this year. If this feels too extreme, try deploying some of the usual zero-waste suggestions, such as giving experiences over objects; and, if giving objects, making or recycling them over buying; and, if buying, procuring used, upcycled, bulk, and/or sustainably made items. These, of course, should be wrapped in a reusable cloth, preferably employing the furoshiki method of Japanese fabric folding favored by zero-wasters. If, like me, you cannot figure out how to make beautiful packages out of tea towels, however, your giftee will surely appreciate reused wrapping paper or no wrapping at all, especially in light of the no-gift alternative.

Also, try the very fun Guest-imator tool at Savethefood.com to help calculate how to make the right amount of holiday repast and avoid post-feast waste. You can even factor in the quantity of leftovers you desire!

DEAR GREEN PRESCRIPTION:

How do I find a balance between being “zero-waste assertive” and being a nuisance to others? I don’t want to become a burden to under-appreciated store clerks, for example.

In pursuit of eco-etiquette

DEAR ETIQUETTE,

There are many ways to mitigate a potentially uncomfortable situation arising at a zero-waste point of sale.

First, prepare the ground: be friendly, be prepared to educate, and, if necessary, accept defeat graciously.

Second, make sure that your own bulk containers, produce bags, and shopping bags are super clean: this helps maintain the mutual support between sustainable shoppers and the shops we patronize.

Third, exuberantly thank and praise clerks who and markets that support zero-waste efforts.

By the way, zero-wasters are allowed to be slightly annoying. How else will we get everyone’s attention?

Lisa Botshon is a professor of English and women’s and gender studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. She is currently researching back-to-the-land memoirs written by Maine women.

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An expensive plant that’s worth the price http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/an-expensive-plant-thats-worth-the-price/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/an-expensive-plant-thats-worth-the-price/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1295376 Clivia is a houseplant that my wife, Nancy, with occasional help from me, has grown since shortly after we moved into our house in 1975. Recently, I received a link to a blog that mentioned that White Flower Farm, a high-end nursery in Connecticut, was selling clivias for up to $900 a plant. Oh my! (They now are listed as sold out, except for two varieties at $300 a plant.)

Nancy’s first clivia came from her grandmother, Stella, as did many of our plants. The roots of Stella’s clivia had grown so large that the pot broke, so we assisted her in dividing and repotting the plant. Our reward was one of the divisions.

It did well for us, blooming in mid to late winter with striking orange blossoms and displaying dark green strap-like leaves the rest of the year.

Later, Nancy bought another clivia, with wider leaves and paler orange blossoms, at a garden-club plant sale. We don’t know the cultivar names of either of our two plants.

The common name of clivia is listed as either Natal lily or bush lily (The previously used common name, Kaffir lily, is considered racist, as “Kaffir” is a perjorative term for South African blacks). The blossoms come in yellow as well as orange.

Eliot Wadsworth of White Flower Farm said that his nursery starts selling clivias in fall and continues selling them until spring. Prices are high, he added, for a reason.

“It is not an easy plant to propagate, and a flowering clivia will be several years old,” Wadsworth said. “It takes a lot of inputs to get a plant up to flowering size.”

White Flower Farm has a relationship with Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, which is one of the leaders in breeding clivias, and most of the clivias that are sold by the nursery – including the $900 specimens – come from the Longwood program.

Byron Martin, owner and horticulturist at Logee’s, another Connecticut nursery that sells by catalog and online, says clivias need a little neglect before they’ll come into bloom, which mimics their natural growth patterns.

“In their native region of South Africa, they go through a period of little or no water and winter temperatures cool down into the 30s and 40s,” Martin said. “They also grow on thin soil so the dry spell is quite pronounced.”

What that translates to in the home is cool night temperatures and limited watering from October or November until the flower buds are visible – about five weeks.

Logee’s carries two clivia in its online catalog, a yellow one in a four-inch pot for $24.95 and an orange one in a 2.5-inch pot for $14.95. They ship year-round as long as the temperature isn’t below freezing. (These cost less because they are smaller and younger; also, they may need more time to reach blossom age, and the variety may be less rare).

While hybridizers grow clivia from seed, most are developed by dividing the plants, which is a time-consuming process. Martin said that as far as he knows, the plants have not been created through tissue culture.

Clivia like to be snug in the pot, according to Wadsworth. When you divide and replant them, he said, “they tend to sulk a bit.”

Nancy divides and repots her clivia whenever she sees roots come out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot – and sometimes even growing out of the soil at the top of the pot. She knows at that point that if she doesn’t repot them soon, the pressure of the roots will crack the pot.

Maine shoppers will have to look hard to find clivias at local nurseries and garden centers. I called eight of the larger stores; one directed me to Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, which turns out to sell one yellow and one orange variety in 10- to 12-inch pots, each for $100.

Skillins said they usually start selling clivia as they are beginning to bloom. Longfellow Gardens in Manchester said they do sell them, but they had none in stock when I called in mid-November.

If you do find one while plant shopping this winter, you won’t regret paying the price and bringing it home. Their blossoms are gorgeous, and the leaves are lush even when the plants aren’t in bloom. They live seemingly forever and after a decade or so you can divide them so you’ll have more than one clivia. Finally, to be perfectly honest, it’s nice to own a plant that most people don’t have and that many don’t even know exists.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: tomatwell@me.com.

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Amy Teh’s helped cook up Picnic for Maine makers http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/meet-amy-teh-who-helped-cook-up-picnic-for-maine-makers/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/meet-amy-teh-who-helped-cook-up-picnic-for-maine-makers/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1295378 We first started hearing about Picnic, the ever-expanding craft show in Portland, from some of our past Meet subjects who were signed up to show (and sell) their wares at the biannual event. With the December holiday Picnic coming up at Thompson’s Point next week, we decided to learn more about its origins. We called up one of Picnic’s cofounders, Amy Teh, to talk about Maine’s maker culture, what’s on tap for this year’s Picnic and where that name came from.

LEAVING LAS VEGAS: “Maine wasn’t on my radar really, growing up in Las Vegas,” says Amy Teh. But 12 years ago when she and her partner (now husband) Noah DeFilippis were living in Brooklyn, he made it clear he was itching to be done with crowded New York. DeFilippis grew up in Standish. “Come try Maine,” he said to her. “And I did.” They bought a house in Portland and today operate Pinecone + Chickadee, a funky gift store with a vintage vibe on Free Street. But before they opened that bricks and mortar store in 2011, they lived a somewhat nomadic life, traveling to craft fairs all around the country.

WHAT WERE THE WARES? Teh was a longtime graphic designer who had studied at Academy of Art University in San Francisco as well as the University of San Francisco. They made cards and T-shirts, with DeFilippis silk screening in the basement using Teh’s designs. “We’d be driving all the time to Boston, New York, D.C. It was fun because it was like a working vacation.” Their baby son Darby (now 12) went on the road with them.

NO LIGHTHOUSES: Then in 2008, they decided that their new(ish) hometown needed a different kind of craft fair, like the ones they were hitting in their nomadic days. There were talented Maine artists they thought needed a venue. “Etsy hadn’t taken off yet. A lot of people didn’t have their own website, and we thought Portland had a lot to offer.” Their idea was for a “less traditional” craft fair. Meaning, what exactly? What might be sold at a traditional craft fair? “That’s a good question. I would think, lighthouses and doilies maybe. But that is funny because I do have a new design that does have a lighthouse on it.”

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS? We had to ask, what’s with the name? The couple called it Picnic because the first craft fair they planned for Portland was in summer, and they had a vision for an event where local bands would perform. “The idea was to come hang out all day, shop, listen to music and picnic on the grass.” The name stuck, even when the event evolved to be a twice a year event including one in December, when no one wants to sit on the grass in Maine. They skipped the September 2017 Picnic because its customary location, Lincoln Park, was undergoing renovations, but the fair should be back there next year.

CURATING CRAFTS: That first year, they signed up 60 vendors. These days, Picnic is more than twice that size, but still, not everyone who applies for a spot gets in. “We do have to turn people away, which is not an enjoyable part of doing a show.” A rotating jury picks the vendors; they gave the nod to 130 craftspeople for the Thompson’s Point show, making it the biggest ever. If you get weak from shopping, like we do, Verbena, Coffee by Design and Bread & Butter will be selling refreshments.

UNCOMMON COMMODITY: What’s the most unusual thing one might find at Picnic? “I do have a vendor that makes jewelry out of small animal bones. I think beaver and raccoon, stuff like that. It is called Wishbone Jewelry.”

MAKERS MARK: What’s Teh’s theory on why Maine is such a good place for makers? “I am not going to say anything eloquent here, but it seems as though there has always been a vibe that appreciates handmade goods and small business over big corporate places. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because big corporations haven’t had a big presence?” (Until now, we both agree, with chains like Anthropologie, West Elm and Urban Outfitters now only a couple of blocks away from Pinecone + Chickadee.)

SANTA-FREE SHOPPING: There will NOT be a Santa on hand at Thompson’s Point for Picnic. But there is a photo op. “We have a Yeti photo booth.” Come again? “You can get your photo taken with a Yeti. We have a guy who dresses up like a Yeti monster.” That’s the Abominable Snowman for you “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” fans.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

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TRAVELIN’ MAINE(RS): WATERVILLE http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/travelin-mainers-waterville-5/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/travelin-mainers-waterville-5/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=782119 George

This is going to save us a lot of money. We no longer have to travel to Italy to enjoy that country. Jennifer Bergeron and Jonathan Rosenbloom have brought Italy to Maine, with a great new restaurant in Waterville.

Late last year, Jennifer purchased Napoli’s Market, and has now added their restaurant, Itali-ah. Jennifer says the name demonstrates that they are Italian, but with a Maine accent.

Jonathan lived and cooked in Italy for 20 years and brings that all home to both the market and the restaurant. Even the kitchen came from Italy, including a wood-fired artisan oven handmade in Naples.

Jonathan chose our wine after we told him what we like, and he was correct: We loved the Brancaia Tre Rosso Toscano he recommended. It represents three Tuscan estates, with sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes. They also have some of our favorite wines from wineries we’ve visited in Tuscany.

But what really blew me away was their pappardelle al cinghiale, a wild boar and pappardelle pasta dish, my very favorite. I’ve been known to enjoy 8 or 10 wild boar dinners during a two-week trip to Tuscany. And Itali-ah’s wild boar dish is right up there with the best: lots of meat, a tasty sauce and perfectly cooked housemade pasta.

Jennifer and Jonathan had just spent a couple weeks in Italy (partly to select new products for their market and restaurant), and they visited several of our favorite places in Tuscany, including Greve, which is their favorite village and our favorite, too.

Linda

When I first heard the name Itali-ah, I thought, how appropriate. Italy…aahhh, my feelings exactly.

In the Italian market in the back, you will find a fine selection of Italian wine, olive oil and other Italian goodies. I was intrigued when I saw the deli case filled with cured Italian meat and beautiful cheese. And, sure enough, when I searched I found pecorino cheese from Tuscany. This is a hard one to track down, so I am very excited to have a local source.

After visiting with Jonathan and Jennifer, it was clear that they know Italy. And they are representing different regions of the country’s cuisine on their menu. Just reading the menu takes me back to Italy. There is wonderful variety in the soups, pasta and meat dishes, which makes the sampling of the true tastes of Italy possible here in Maine.

The house-baked pane toscano dipped in olive oil is heavenly. I’d come with a plan in mind: fresh pasta and gelato — both handmade right here. So we skipped an appetizer and just ordered our favorite pasta dishes, just as we would in Greve.

Although I was torn with mouth-watering choices of lasagna with duck ragu, risotto and a couple of eggplant dishes, I found myself drawn to tagliatelle with bolognese ragu, my favorite.

This is Tuscany on a plate for me. The freshly prepared pasta noodles were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was certainly authentic. An Italian ragu is very different from an American pasta sauce. They put a lot of meat in it, and it does not rely on a strong tomato flavor like ours.

I looked at George and the grin on his face told me he was in cinghiale heaven. I savored every bite of my dish, but there was no way to finish the large serving and have room for gelato. I had leftovers while George cleaned his plate. This was going to be an issue when I tried to have my leftovers at home.

They also serve vera pizza napoletana, baked in their wood-fired oven. The menu details what this pizza really is and how it is eaten in Italy. The 14-inch pies are usually not sliced, and meant to be eaten with a fork and knife. Every offering was tempting, and it would be hard for me to choose between them. I guess many upcoming visits will be in order.

Gelato is a big deal in Italy. So imagine how happy I was when I read online that they make their own gelato artigianle right here. Small cups of combinations of flavors are how we have experienced gelato.

We ordered fragola (strawberry) and chocolate. Happily, they do not believe in the small cup portions of Italy, and we finished our amazing meal by splitting the large serving of creamy, intense flavors of real gelato. Can you tell how happy I am that they are here?

Don’t Miss Gardens Aglow

Last week, we enjoyed a don’t-miss event, Gardens Aglow at the Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. More than 500,000 energy-efficient LED lights decorate their central gardens and buildings — an amazing sight. You can order tickets on their website or buy them when you arrive. The event runs through Dec. 31. Don’t miss this!

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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Some gifts are better the second time around http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/some-gifts-are-better-the-second-time-around/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/some-gifts-are-better-the-second-time-around/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/03/some-gifts-are-better-the-second-time-around/ Before the Halloween wrappers have even hit the ground, advertisements bombard us with what we should want to see under our Christmas trees. This year, will it be an iPhone X? Or how about a $50,000 Dolce & Gabbana refrigerator from the 2017 Nieman Marcus Christmas Book?

Those of us of more humble means know that secondhand merch can be just as delightful, surprising and useful as the latest gadget from the Amazon or the Apple store. It can be more fun to shop for such gifts – like a treasure hunt – and it requires more creativity and imagining than simply pulling out your wallet. It will help you stay within your budget. And, of course, secondhand gifts help, in some small way, to preserve the Earth’s resources.

This Christmas, we asked a few Mainers to talk about their favorite “recycled” gift, and we told some of our own stories, too.

Kate Dempsey, state director, The Nature Conservancy of Maine

Dempsey’s family is focused on charitable giving for Christmas. “We have said, ‘Nobody needs anything more. We are all grown.’ So what we have done and have fun doing is choosing a charity for each person to donate in their name.” That might mean the Tedford Family Shelter in Brunswick or the Coastal Humane Society, or even a membership to the Nature Conservancy.

But Dempsey’s mother has a gift-giving habit that Dempsey particularly cherishes. “My mom is the master of consignment shops.” Every year, Dempsey can count on her mother to visit one of the consignment shops in Philadelphia, where she lives, to pick out clothing items or something for the home. “She takes great joy in the hunt.” What does it yield? Great dresses and skirts of all different styles (“lightly worn but that make me look like a grown-up professional”). Her mother also has an eye for beautiful bowls. “She knows the colors in my house and she is always finding funky midcentury modern or something older and really unusual.” Like mother, like daughter. And like granddaughters: “My daughters and I love going to the flea market here in Fort Andross” (in Brunswick).

There was a point in Dempsey’s life where she did crave brand new, unused clothes and objects, but that phase has passed. “Now I love it when someone has actually gone out and thought about it and found the right thing.” It’s that much more special, Dempsey says, when the gift “has a story behind it.”

— Mary Pols

Erin Kiley, co-owner, Portland Flea-for-All

If you are lucky enough to be in Erin Kiley and Nathaniel Baldwin’s inner circle, you have a better than excellent chance of getting a recycled gift. The owners of Portland Flea-for-All particularly like to give pairings that “span the handmade and vintage spectra.” That could mean an old Dansk ice bucket from the Congress Street indoor flea market, with a bottle of wine for chilling. Or vintage glassware accompanied by a bottle of good rye or a mason jar filled with handmade granola. “It depends on what the mood is,” Kiley says.

But one tried and true gift that stands out? “I love giving antique cutting boards with a homemade loaf of bread (Baldwin is a baker) that I’ve tied up in an antique tea towel,” Kiley says.

Pro-tip for people who love to shop vintage but tend not to think of used items for children: Find a nice old jewelry box and then load it up with $1 pieces of costume jewelery. “They play dress up for days and days.”

For Kiley, shopping amongst recycled goods is both professional and personal. “The joy of our business is that everything is one of a kind,” she says. “I always like to get gifts that I know I can’t buy for myself.” If she wants a new sweater, she’ll go get it herself at, say, J. Crew. “A gift should evoke the sentiment behind the connection you have with the person.”

— Mary Pols

Lisa Pohlmann, executive director, Natural Resources Council of Maine

Another kind of recycled gift is the family heirloom in need of a home. “There is a certain age bracket where you are faced with dismantling your parents’ home,” says Pohlmann. “I can’t tell you now many people I know who say, ‘I’ve got my grandmother’s dishes. We used to have Thanksgiving dinner on them and yet nobody wants them.’ ” It’s bittersweet, Pohlmann says. We might not have room for them, “since most people have a ridiculous amount of things anyway,” but we still want someone to value these family heirlooms. “It is really difficult to just put them all in a box and just take them to Goodwill.”

When Pohlmann moved her aging mother from Iowa to Maine, she and her brother had a whole house to dismantle in a weekend. A few of the objects made their way into the hands of distant relatives and friends who Pohlmann felt sure would appreciate them. That included a large painting from over her mother’s fireplace to the daughter of a first cousin. Later, after her mother died, Pohlmann came across her porcelain “August angel.” (Vintage angels meant to represent each month of birthdays, like a birthstone.) Pohlmann had her own, “July angel” so she decided to give the August-themed figurine to a dear friend who had an August birthday, like Pohlmann’s mother.

“She knew my mother, because we go way, way back, so I knew it would have significance for her,” Pohlmann says.

Making gifts of these inherited items feels like an homage to a family once fully intact.

“Each time I have found a good home for a particular item, it has just felt really good.” And sustainable.

— Mary Pols

Tim Swan, digital media specialist, Maine Coast Heritage Trust

When Swan was 15, his father gave him a Pentax Spotmatic camera. “Used, somewhat worse-for-wear” and purchased through the Connecticut version of Uncle Henry’s for what Swan guesses was a fairly small amount. Nonetheless, he says, “it felt unbelievably generous.” His father wasn’t in the habit of giving lavish gifts. Swan at the time was bound for an art-oriented high school to study photography. He’d been using one of his father’s old rangefinder cameras and had fallen in love with the medium, but this was the first camera that was Swan’s alone.

It was used, but durable, had good lenses and was, it turned out, exactly the kind of equipment in use at art schools. It was also a game changer.

“It changed the way I look at the world,” Swan remembers. “I feel like I see things differently. I trained myself to see things differently than I did without a camera.”

He’s never been exactly a professional photographer, but photography has always been part of the work he’s done, overseeing creative production at design and branding companies and now at Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Swan no longer has the camera – it was stolen from his apartment in Boston years ago, before he moved to Maine. He could pick up a replacement used Pentax Spotmatic on eBay or Etsy. “There are a ton of them,” he says. “So few people are shooting film now that you can get them easily.” But that one, the one from the year he was 15? It bore the memory of a customarily taciturn father not just observing his child’s interest in photography, but endorsing it. It was special.

— Mary Pols

Anne Roosevelt, president and CEO, Goodwill Northern New England

Anne Roosevelt learned how to cook from her maternal grandmother, Agnes Schneider.

Sometime around 1970, when “Granny” decided it was time to retire her apron and mixing bowls, she invited Roosevelt and all her cousins over to go through her things, much of it 1940s-era cookware, and choose items to take home to their own kitchens. Roosevelt’s cousins weren’t interested, so Anne Roosevelt got her pick. She scored a Magnalite roaster, original Fiesta Ware, and an enamelware double boiler she now uses to make kedgeree, a family breakfast favorite.

Many of the items Roosevelt salvaged from her grandmother’s kitchen have since been passed on to her own two daughters. But there’s one thing she will not part with: Granny’s rolling pin. Roosevelt used it on Thanksgiving this year to make two pumpkin pies, an apple pie and a pecan pie.

“The handles were painted green at some point and there are just little flecks left,” Roosevelt said. “It rolls really smoothly, and it just has good vibes in it.”

Roosevelt said she likes older kitchen ware because it’s been made with “a thoughtful design” and has been useful for a long time, which gives her a sense of satisfaction.

“It makes me feel good when I use something that somebody has appreciated and loved and therefore taken good care of it,” she said. “It feels like a privilege to be continuing that good care of something that is useful.”

– Meredith Goad

Bob Crowley, winner of “Survivor: Gabon”

Bob Crowley’s favorite recycled gift made him a millionaire.

Crowley is the oldest winner of “Survivor” in 34 seasons of the CBS reality TV show (he was 57 when he took home the prize), and the only winner ever from Maine. He says he never would have made it onto the show without the “gift” the town of Cape Elizabeth bestowed upon him in the 1970s.

Crowley was doing a browntail moth survey at Fort Williams Park when he ran into a friend in the line of buildings known as Officers’ Row, pulling boards out of an attic. His friend told him the town had given him a permit to take what he wanted because the buildings were going to be burned down and the brick recycled. The two men agreed to take on the project together, and split everything 50-50 – slate, boards, beams, doors and flooring.

Crowley used his share of the materials to build an energy-efficient summer house on Stave Island in Casco Bay. Fast forward to the early 2000s. A man came to a goat roast that Crowley’s son hosted at the island house. The man heard the story of the house, and got to know Crowley a little, too – that he was a physics teacher who fancied himself part Indiana Jones, part Robinson Crusoe; that his island house was not the only structure he’s fashioned from recycled materials: Crowley has also built wharves, saunas, a chicken coop and a hunting cabin.

The goat roast visitor ended up getting a job working for “Survivor.” Ahead of the 2008 season, he threw Crowley’s name into the casting ring. “They had the whole cast of cute young girls, the buff guys, these women with the augmented breasts,” Crowley said. “They were just missing the skinny old man.”

At first, Crowley rebuffed the producers. “I find the show very interesting, but I don’t like people not working together,” he said. “I don’t like the backstabbing and that sort of thing.

“But it was such an opportunity, I could not pass it up.”

Good thing he didn’t. After outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the other players, Crowley took home the $1 million prize, plus another $100,000 given to America’s favorite cast member.

“The spinoff from being on the show is I’ve met so many wonderful people at fundraisers and (people who became) good friends,” he said.

And it all started with the gift of recycled building materials.

– Meredith Goad

Kimberly Curry, director of community relations, Goodwill Northern New England

Kimberly Curry of Portland was visiting a good friend in Denver before the holidays last year when the two avid thrift-store shoppers hatched a plan: They’d buy all their Christmas presents from thrift stores. They’d call it “Thriftmas.”

While still in Denver, Curry fell and blew out her knee. When she returned home, she had to have surgery.

Soon, Curry found a package at her door. Inside were Thriftmas gifts with a “healing theme” from her Denver friend – items Curry could enjoy during her recovery. There was a brightly-colored polyester quilt, “so bright and pretty,” that she could snuggle under while she read a book that also came in the box: “A God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson, a novel about the power of choice. Finally, the box contained a yellow vintage dress.

Curry has some advice for folks who want to Christmas shop at the thrift store. Give the gift hunting a theme, she suggests. Curry and her Denver friend once held a “squirrel contest,” scouring thrift stores to find objects that look like squirrels. They discovered squirrel salt and pepper shakers, a squirrel Christmas ornament, and all kinds of other items that were “quirky and strange.”

Also, she suggests not growing too attached to any gifts you receive. The vintage yellow dress in her healing box, for example, didn’t fit, so she passed it along to someone else. She held onto the book for a while, then gave it to another friend. (She still has the quilt.)

Curry and her friend are celebrating Thriftmas again this year, though it could be argued that Curry has an unfair advantage since she works for Goodwill Northern New England.

“I love something that’s got someone else’s fingerprint on it,” she said.

– Meredith Goad

Meredith Goad, reporter, Portland Press Herald

My paternal grandparents weren’t big on giving gifts. They lived on a farm and didn’t have much money, so my brother, sister and I were always surprised and delighted when they’d occasionally slip us a 50-cent piece. The large coins felt strange in our little hands, and we hung onto them as if they were solid silver. We carried them around in our pockets, until eventually they went into our piggy banks with a satisfying clink.

But the best gift I got came when my grandmother found out I was moving to Maine. The last time I saw her before the move – almost 30 years ago – she handed me a large, thick, handmade patchwork quilt. “It’s cold up there,” she said. She was used to being serenaded by cicadas during hot, humid Tennessee summers; I doubt she’d ever seen a blizzard.

This was not the first quilt she’d given me. She made each of her five grandchildren a lovely wedding ring quilt, each one a different color. Mine was lavender. I displayed it on a bed once in a while, but ultimately I packed it away for safekeeping. Sometimes, it seems a shame, but my grandmother died in 2005 at age 103, so there are no more quilts to be made by her hand. I want to be able to pass mine along to another family member.

But this quilt I can actually use. It’s not as thin and soft as the wedding ring quilt. It’s a true patchwork of recycled pieces of fabric that are god knows how old, cut from the dresses that country women wear. Warmth, not beauty, was her objective.

This quilt has kept me warm as toast in my bed through nor’easters and ice storms, but these days I keep it on my sofa and snuggle under it whenever I watch television or read a book. It’s beginning to show its age – the edges are starting to fray – but I will use it until it falls apart. And every time I do, I think of my grandmother.

Tom Atwell, Maine Gardener columnist, Portland Press Herald

The favorite recycled gift that my wife Nancy and I have received might have been recycled more than once.

Shortly after we moved into our home in 1975, Nancy’s grandmother, who lived on a farm, gave us a concrete birdbath. Nancy remembers seeing it upside down in the section of the farm’s barn called the tie-up, but she doesn’t recall ever seeing it set up outside by her grandmother’s house.

We are pretty sure Nancy’s grandmother couldn’t have given this birdbath to anyone else. It is too heavy to lift into a pickup without heavy equipment. Our house is about 100 yards from the barn, slightly downhill, and we simply rolled it to the spot where it stands today. Still, it took two men and a small boy to roll it.

This birdbath leaked from the start. With treatments of concrete patch and Thompson’s Water Seal, it now holds water for about three days after a rainstorm, and I occasionally fill it with water from the rain barrel as I water the plants.

We keep a rock in the middle of it so the birds – chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, warblers and robins are the ones I recognize but there are others – don’t have to get their feet wet when drinking, and I have seen chipmunks and squirrels enjoying a drink, too.

Mostly, though, we like the way it looks in a quiet area of our property, and it reminds us of the heritage that goes along with our piece of family land.

Mary Pols, reporter, Portland Press Herald

I’m notorious for my flea market holiday shopping habit and lucky to have a big enough (and weird enough) family to justify it. But one person in my life would say he suffers for it. At Cabot Mill Antiques & Collectibles in Brunswick, there is a wingback chair that my son has spent many, many hours in over the course of his 13 years, waiting for me to finish looking at and touching everything in the place. Usually he suffered with an iPhone in his hand, but he’d still ask you to cry him a river for his agony.

My desire for recycled predates writing for Source and comes directly from my parents, who moved to Maine in 1949 and decorated almost their entire home from auctions, many of which I attended with them, watching them bid on tables, bureaus and desks, with $50 about the max. It was both practical and a passion, and it was contagious. I still have a tiny celluloid white elephant my mother bought for me as a child at F. O. Bailey in Portland, and when I look at it, I can feel my small self staring into that glass case on Middle Street, and remember how special she made me feel by acknowledging the worth of – and meeting – that day’s longing.

Despite that precedent, I haven’t expected my son to follow in my treasure-seeking footsteps. He enjoys swinging the vintage baseball bats and looking for old cards, but mostly the wing chair calls him. In recent years though, my sister began bringing him to the mill to shop for my Christmas present. My favorite of all is a tea set (pot, creamer, sugar bowl) in the brightest of aqua blues, tipped with gold paint. It’s all curves and grace. Until now, I hadn’t even looked up its provenance (Pearl China Company, a 1940s pattern called “Atomic Age”) because none of those details mattered except this one: My son knows me.

– Mary Pols

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Portland-based Cultivating Community gets grant to help farmers http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/portland-based-cultivating-community-gets-grant-to-help-farmers/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/portland-based-cultivating-community-gets-grant-to-help-farmers/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:53:44 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/portland-based-cultivating-community-gets-grant-to-help-farmers/ A Portland nonprofit that has helped create more than 50 farm businesses in the last eight years has received a nearly $600,000 federal grant to assist more Maine farmers.

Cultivating Community is the recipient of a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The money will be used for land access, help with product diversification and market access, and to provide training to new Americans, veterans and other small-scale producers.

Cultivating Community is one of only two organizations in the country to receive all three farmer and rancher grants, in 2009, 2014 and this year, said communications and development leader Lesley Heiser.

“I think it reflects the work that we are doing,” Heiser said. “It is success with the grants, but also the integrated approach we have with developing farmers, the fact that we provide training, education, support, land access and marketing opportunities.”

Cultivating Community’s farmer trainings have helped create 52 farm businesses, and it estimates that the new $597,252 grant will generate 30 more while supporting 12 beginning farmers and providing services for up to 490 others, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

“It’s been so exciting to see new groups of Mainers enter farming in recent years, thanks to organizations like Cultivating Community that have helped them get started and grow their businesses,” Pingree said. “Agriculture has been especially beneficial in creating economic opportunities for Maine’s new American and veteran populations.”

The three-year grant includes a new focus on helping veterans get into farming. Cultivating Community has worked with refugees and immigrants in Maine, but the state also has a large population of veterans who may be interested in agriculture, Heiser said.

“We recognize that when people come back from being engaged overseas they may want to get into farming and might not have resources to do that on their own,” she said.

The new grant dovetails with access to the 62-acre Hurricane Valley Farm in Falmouth, a nonprofit leased from the Falmouth Land Trust this year. The farm will be the new home for Cultivating Community’s farmer training program in the Portland area, which previously used much smaller plots in communities around the city, Heiser said.

The group’s “incubator” program trains farmers over a period of four to six years, and it is designed to help people who are starting a business or who just want to get better at growing vegetables.

“We offer what we call a gardener-to-farmer pipeline,” Heiser said. “You don’t have to commit to having a farm business to work with us.”

Roughly 40 percent of Cultivating Community’s $1.3 million budget is funded with federal grants, Heiser said. Private foundation grants make up another 40 percent, with the remainder coming from donations and earned income.

Cultivating Community’s partners on the project are the Maine AgrAbility Program, the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston-Auburn, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Community Financial Literacy and Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

pmcguire@pressherald.com

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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In ‘Point of Departure,’ Monmouth artist Amy Ray honors her father http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/point-departure-monmouth-artist-amy-ray-honors-father/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/point-departure-monmouth-artist-amy-ray-honors-father/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:59:52 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=781787 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/30/point-departure-monmouth-artist-amy-ray-honors-father/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/164842_177073-Ray2-1.jpgThu, 30 Nov 2017 13:00:30 +0000 J.P. Devine Movie Review: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/j-p-devine-movie-review-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/j-p-devine-movie-review-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri/#respond Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:07:39 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/j-p-devine-movie-review-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri/ If you were passing through the fictional town of Ebbing, Missouri, you might spot these three billboards standing, like almost everything in Ebbing, in tall weeds just off the road. They seem to be the Easter Island stone men of Missouri.

These thin, wind-burned slabs of plywood once begged passersby to buy Dr. Pepper, Burma Shave and possibly votes for a segregationist mayor.

Driving slowly by, Mildred (Frances McDormand “Fargo”) gets an idea.

A delightful Caleb Landry Jones, so good he seems to have been cast right in town, sits in his advertising office, and in comes Mildred who plops $5,000 in small, crumply bills on his desk.

“Those billboards out on the road into town?” she asks. “I take it they’re for rent?” Ray can tell by Mildred’s stance, her mechanic fatigues and headband that she is no “lady” to refuse.

The next we see of these billboards, they are painted blood red and read, in capital letters, “Raped While Dying,” “And Still No Arrests” and finally, “How Come, Chief Willoughby?”

We soon learn that Mildred’s daughter Angela was murdered on the site of these billboards in a manner that Mildred cannot forget or forgive. In this swampy and mossy thriller, there’ll be fire, mayhem, karmic road rage and random swatches of forgiveness and redemption.

Welcome to Tennessee Williams country with Flannery O’Connor-ville and Truman Capote a little farther down the highway. But this is also Martin McDonagh country, and if you remember “In Bruges,” you’ll know everyone and anyone is capable of anything.

This is “Trump-ville,” so be careful.

The billboards were probably erected about the time Harry S. Truman was growing up on his family 600-acre farm in nearby Lamar, Missouri.

In McDonagh’s dark Valentine to love, passion, anger, revenge and karmic chaos, you will soon be introduced to Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

His crazy deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and a slot of other characters appear: Mildred’s son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) and the amazing chameleonic actor Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) who is not above a touch of perjury to aid a friend.

The exceptional and extraordinary McDormand, who made “Fargo” the permanent icon for cult films, walks the streets of Ebbing like the illegitimate love child of Rambo and “Alien’s” Ellen Ripley, with eyes that can make men whimper, giving us her best role since “Fargo.”

Harrelson is strutting the screen world now in a series of major roles. Here, his Sheriff Willoughby is no stereotype cracker, and he will break your heart before the credits roll.

Rockwell is no stranger to movie fans, and here as the bottom-of-the-pile boy from the “holler,” he gives us a three-dimensional dropout with a badge and gun, what could possibly go wrong? But don’t walk away, he’s got a third act.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is an uneven, bumpy ride. For a while it smells, tastes and looks like a Coen Brothers movie, but that’s wishful thinking on McDonagh’s part.

McDonagh is not as good as the brothers, and as for his part, it’s not anywhere near as polished as his “Seven Psychopaths” or ” In Bruges.” As good as they were, neither were Coen-like classics.

But for my money, “Billboards” is too much fun to be missed.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/j-p-devine-movie-review-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/781356_468523-ThreeBillboards.jpgFrances McDormand in a scene of "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:20:08 +0000
Lucky Clark On Music: Twisted Pine http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/lucky-clark-on-music-twisted-pine/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/lucky-clark-on-music-twisted-pine/#respond Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:06:29 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/29/lucky-clark-on-music-twisted-pine/ It’s always a neat thing to introduce new groups to my readership and it’s even better when the bands in question happen to be as talented as this week’s act. Twisted Pine is now touring in support of its current CD — their self-titled Signature Sound album. Twisted Pine is made up of Dan Bui (mandolin/vocals), Kathleen Parks (fiddle/lead vocals), Chris Sartori (bass/vocals) and Rachel Sumner (guitar/lead vocals), who I called to learn about her group’s upcoming show at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

Q: I understand you folks are coming to Maine for a performance.

Sumner: Yeah, we’re so excited.

Q: Is this going to be your first time up here?

Sumner: No, we played at the Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival that happens over there, but this is our first time in Portland.

Q: I’ve been listening to your new album and have really enjoyed your sound, style and incredible musicianship. Is this your first album?

Sumner: Yeah, this is our first full-length album.

Q: When I originally promoted this column, I labeled Twisted Pine as a bluegrass group. But, after really sitting down and diving into that CD I hastily changed the description to “string band,” because I heard bluegrass, true, but also there were traces of jazz, folk, jam and pop. All told, a very colorful blending of genres. There was also a strong influence of Darol Anger present throughout.

Sumner: I’m really glad you enjoyed it. And you definitely nailed it with Darol Anger. Kathleen studied with him a lot at Berklee, and you can hear him all over her playing. And I’m always looking to find his earlier records — he’s definitely influenced all of us.

Q: Where are you guys based?

Sumner: We’re all based out of the Greater Boston area.

Q: Is this album of yours a fair representation of what folks can expect at the One Longfellow Square concert?

Sumner: Definitely. I think it’s the best representation of the variety of styles that we kind of are into. And we’ve got some new material that we’ve been working up that we’ll probably be busting (that) out in Maine. It all connects with what the first album is. It’s a development on that. So, yeah, if people listen to that then they’ll know what we’re about.

Q: And to me, that’s the hallmark of a great band — be willing to take chances, try new things and continue to grow and develop musically.

Sumner: Well, for us that’s necessary to just keep us interested in the project. I mean, we all come from different backgrounds, and we’re all over the place in the music that we like. So, if we were just stagnant and kept to like a formula, then we would get bored with it. And I think that would translate to our live show as well. I think part of the reason why every show is so energetic is because we just have a sheer love of playing with each other and we all kind of surprise each other all the time, keeping each other on our toes, and I think that also translates musically like in genre and writing, as well.

Q: And that’s right — all the stuff that you do are your own compositions, correct?

Sumner: Yeah, we have some covers that we do but we’ve put our own little twists on them —pardon the pun.

Q: Like what? I’m really curious about this cover thing.

Sumner: We do some Beatles’ covers, some Scissor Sisters, and we’ve been working on a Joni (Mitchell) cover. So the songs aren’t safe. None of other people’s songs are safe (laughter). We do our own thing to them and we have fun with it.

Q: What you do, Rachel, is so hard to describe but it’s a joy to listen to.

Sumner: Thank you, I’m so glad you like it. We’re all really, really happy with the album and we all feel really proud of it, like you said, it really does paint an accurate picture of where we are right now.

Q: When did it come out?

Sumner: July 14, 2017, so it’s only a couple of months old.

Q: Yeah, so I suppose it’s too soon to talk about what’s coming out next, right?

Sumner: Well, actually we’re going back into the studio in December in Maine.

Q: Oh, wow! Where in Maine?

Sumner: I’m not sure where, it starts with a “B,” I think, maybe Bangor? But it’s where Lake Street Dive recorded “Bad Self Portraits,” Josh Ritter records up there, Lonely Hearts String Band recorded up there — lots of incredible folks, there’s good mojo up there.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Sumner: Just that we’re so excited for our first time in Portland, it’s been a place that we’ve been really longing to play, and we’re excited to meet everybody. Have you ever heard of Front Country? They’re amazing.

Q: I can’t say I have. Why?

Sumner: It’s a co-bill with them, and so we’re really excited to play with them. They’re dear pals and we really love their albums. We’ll all be spreading that love and we’re so excited to see everybody.

Lucky Clark has spent 48 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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How Gardens Aglow quickly became Maine’s must-see holiday attraction http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/28/gardens-aglow-quickly-became-maines-must-see-holiday-attraction/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/28/gardens-aglow-quickly-became-maines-must-see-holiday-attraction/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 15:14:26 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=781044 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/28/gardens-aglow-quickly-became-maines-must-see-holiday-attraction/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/10.jpgTue, 28 Nov 2017 10:14:26 +0000 Fresh greens from Maine hydroponic farms are an unguilty pleasure http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/green-plate-special-fresh-greens-from-maine-hydroponic-farms-are-an-unguilty-pleasure/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/green-plate-special-fresh-greens-from-maine-hydroponic-farms-are-an-unguilty-pleasure/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291894 As I write this, I’m anticipating Thanksgiving dinner. Two of them in three days, actually, that I’ll be hosting. Two 20-pound heritage birds plus a bacon-wrapped turkey breast for my brothers, 30 pounds of local root vegetables, six stalks-worth of Brussels sprouts, four pans of sausage and apple stuffing, six pies, two pumpkin rolls and a chocolate cake later, I know I’ll need a couple of salads to set things calorically right.

Lucky for us gluttons, finding local lettuce as winter tightens its grip on Maine’s food supply is easier than it used to be thanks to the growing number of hydroponic operations cropping up around the state.

Yes, many Maine soil-based farmers extend their leafy greens growing season via hoops houses and high tunnels until the bitterest of the cold arrives. Sustaining their efforts means buying their products early and often as supplies last.

But hydroponic systems can yield fresh produce 365 days a year because they aren’t rooted in cold, hard soil. Seeds are germinated in anorganic (not living) substrates like coco coir (pellets made from coconut husks) or peat moss. The crops – high value ones like herbs, cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes that offset infrastructure investments quickly – mature in temperate greenhouses. Their roots sit in nutrient-rich water in these closed systems, which use up to 95 percent less water than traditional farming in soil does.

Sometimes fish, tilapia mostly, swim in adjacent tanks. Their waste is turned into fertilizer that is introduced to the water flow. Such systems are known as aquaponic.

A worker at Olivia’s Garden in New Gloucester transplants hydroponically grown basil. Hydroponics are not new to Maine, which boasts a number of the operations – so finding locally grown vegetables is possible even as winter nears.

Hydroponics are not new in Maine. In Blue Hill, Court Haight has been growing lettuce and tomatoes chemical- and pesticide-free using the hydroponics systems he rigged up 25 years ago. He sells the produce himself at several farmers markets. Olivia’s Garden started growing tomatoes hydroponically in 1997 and has expanded to grow basil, cucumbers, edible flowers, lettuce and microgreens inside its 19,000-square-foot facility in New Gloucester. Madison-based Backyard Farms, started in 2007, is now a big name in year-round tomato production throughout New England.

What has changed is demand. More eaters understand that buying Maine leafy greens is markedly more sustainable than trucking them in from California. Hydroponics lets producers bring local greens to market consistently and reliably any time of year.

Additionally, as the industry making the hydroponics gear expands to support legalized marijuana production, the prices and energy requirements of the technology go down.

Springworks Farm erected its 6,000-square-foot aquaponics operation in 2014 in Lisbon. Founder and Bowdoin College student Trevor Kenkel says annual production tops 250,000 heads of lettuce – bibb, baby romaine and red and green leaf. Each costs $2.50 to $3, and they are sold to chefs, local natural foods stores like Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport, Bath Natural Market and select Hannaford stores. Fifteen hundred tilapia swim in 1,200-gallon tanks until they weigh about 3 pounds. The mature fish are sold to Harbor Fish Market in Portland and replaced with fish fingerlings.

Salad made with lettuce grown aquaponically and hydroponically.

The lighting is time-controlled to minimize energy use and a thermal water tank helps keep the greenhouse warm enough for the plants to thrive. The operation has been certified organic by Organic Certifiers Inc. in California. Springworks’ greens are harvested from their floating rafts in late afternoon for early morning delivery the following day.

“The short turnaround of local distribution eliminates a lot of potential food waste,” Kenkel said, adding that as much as 40 percent of the organic lettuce distributed nationally rots before it hits the plate.

But farmers and others debate whether hydroponics systems can be categorized as organic. The USDA’s regulations are fuzzy about them at best, explains Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) crop specialist Eric Sideman. Some third party outfits like Organic Certifiers Inc. will certify hydroponic systems based on the types of inputs used in the operation. Other organizations, like MOFGA, argues that an organic operation must involve soil, ergo it won’t certify hydroponic systems.

“Hydroponic production can be a very good, clean, green, pesticide-free means of growing food,” Sideman said. “But organic farming was founded on the principle of protecting the soil, regenerating it, as you farm it. So certifying that soil-less operations can be organic goes against the point. Feed the soil, not the crop.

Kenkel disagrees. “We treat our farm as a whole ecosystem and don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides,” he said, adding that organic certification should be dynamic enough to encompass other sustainable farming techniques that produce healthy, safe, clean food.

Chew on that while you enjoy your salad.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer and tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a new cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at cburns1227@gmail.com.

 

BUTTERY BIBB LETTUCE WITH MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE AND HERBS

In the first weeks of culinary school I partnered with one of the only other students in the room who was old enough to drink legally. His name was Gene, a former U.S. Marine retraining to be a chef. He insisted on doing all the whisking when we made things like mayonnaise or salad dressings. Fine by me, I haven’t the patience and endurance to whisk drops of oil, one at a time into vinegar and mustard so that the suspension holds. I am not sure where Gene is now, so I use a blender.

Serves 2-4 (with 3/4 cups leftover dressing)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup neutral oil (safflower, grapeseed, canola)

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 heads of bibb lettuce, washed and torn

2 tablespoons minced parsley

2 tablespoons minced tarragon

1 tablespoon minced chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender. Turn the machine on to a medium speed. With it still running, very slowly add the oil. The mixture will emulsify and become creamy. Pour 1/4 of the dressing into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Add the shallots and torn lettuce. Toss well. Sprinkle the minced herbs, salt and pepper over the lettuce and toss well once more. Serve immediately.

Store the remaining vinaigrette in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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TRAVELIN’ MAINE(RS): BANGOR http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/travelin-mainers-bangor-3/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/travelin-mainers-bangor-3/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=779780 George

The Maine Harvest Festival is our favorite annual event. “Celebrating Farm Fresh,” the festival’s slogan, doesn’t even begin to describe this amazing event at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Festival Director Judy Perkins, of Garden Ridge Farm, has done a great job, expanding the festival every year.

This year’s festival featured 150 vendors, from farmers to basket weavers and earring makers. I (of course) focused on food, including delicious donuts from Elaine’s Cafe and Bakery in Milo, and lots of chocolates. My favorite, produced by Martha Bar, of Brunswick, was billed as “energy food.”

For lunch, I enjoyed crab cakes made by Harmon’s Clam Cakes, which has been producing both crab and clam cakes since 1923. While eating, I had a great visit with Steve, who directed me to their two sauces — the best I’ve ever had with crab cakes.

It took me more than two hours to make my first swing through all the aisles. I spent lots of time visiting with people, including: pasta maker Roxanne Quimby, who produces her products at Raven Nest Farm in Gouldsboro; Karen Raye, who with her husband Kevin produces my favorite mustards; and Denise Murchison, of Silverton Sporting Ranch, who offers great hunting and shooting experiences at her ranch and also produces a range of sauces.

From Wild Cow Creamery, of Belfast (offering delicious “healthy” ice cream) to samples of the gourmet meals produced by The Maine Meal in Skowhegan, this is a diner’s delight. We enjoyed talking with TV5 weatherman Todd Simcox, who was there selling his salsas.

Sister Edie joined Linda and me at the festival this year, and the two of them often moved on as I talked with people in the booths. It was inspiring to see so many farms that are prospering, including Chase Farm Bakery, in Whitefield. And the sauerkraut at Thirty Acre Farm, in Whitefield, was calling my name. Some of these farms have been in business a long time, including Luce’s, in North Anson, that has been producing maple syrup for over 200 years, and beef and pork for more than 100 years.

And here’s the really good news. Many of these products can now be found in supermarkets and farmers markets throughout the state.

Kate Krukowski Gooding’s stage show about wild game cooking was entertaining, and the Scorpion Moose Sausage Stew that she cooked on stage and served to all of us was very tasty.

Linda, my sister Edie and I passed up the beer tasting and crossed the street after the festival to enjoy the wonderful beer at Geaghan’s Pub.

Linda

This was the seventh year of the Maine Harvest Festival, and the show just gets better and better. It is really a showcase of the ingenuity and creativity of Maine people. Festival attendees are welcomed warmly by all of the vendors, and it does indeed feel like a celebration.

Food sampling is a must here. And what a wide variety of offerings there are. Jams, salsas, dips and spreads, and jarred pasta sauces feature Maine fruits, vegetables and herbs. This is the place if you are looking for local sausage and cheese.

I sought out the Smith’s Log Smokehouse booth, from Monroe, for their smoked mozzarella cheese because I bought some two years ago and it made the most incredible pizza.

I stopped by the Wholesome Homestead’s cheese booth, which was doing a very brisk business. Karen Trenholm is the cheese maker, and a classmate of mine from Winthrop. Sister Cathy and her son, Tom, were manning the booth, and her daughter and husband worked the day before. This is a real family venture.

Handmade hats, mittens and socks, pottery, wooden bowls and many other crafts make this the perfect place for nonedible gifts too. Shoppers love having quality Maine products all available in one venue. And it just feels really good to know you are supporting hardworking Maine people.

Edie Smith

The phrase “Rural Maine” often depicts scenes of shrinking populations, poverty, despair, lack of innovation. All you have to do is attend the Harvest Festival, in Bangor, to put those scenes right out of your head. Rural Maine is celebrated at the Harvest Festival — and rightly so.

It doesn’t get much better than seeing amazing displays from farms; local foods made from local gardens and critters (try the goat cheese blended with wild blueberries and cranberries — a taste of heaven); handcrafted Maine wood products; homemade jams and sauces as far as the eye can see; and a row of Maine’s own microbreweries and wineries.

I spent two days at the show this year gaining at least 5 pounds, and can blame that purely on sampling items as I walked along the festive aisles, one delicious booth to the next. Homemade ice cream, deep-fried donuts, exotic pasta, flavored tea and homemade needhams made with real Maine potatoes were just the tip of the iceberg.

But get this: The food and crafts aren’t the best part. It’s the people. The people of rural Maine who fill their trucks, vans and U-Hauls, bringing their fares to Bangor to celebrate their heritage, their Maine ingenuity. They want to share their pride in what they do and what they love. It’s well worth the extra 5 pounds.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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Sonja Birthisel will help you meet the beetles http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/meet-the-beetles/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/meet-the-beetles/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291903 We heard about Sonja Birthisel when we saw her name on the list of teachers for an upcoming class at MOFGA on ways to integrate beneficial insects for natural pest control. The daylong class this Thursday, sponsored by the Xerces Society, is intended to give farmers (or gardeners) a science-based strategy to avoid insecticides. Birthisel will be talking about the role predatory ground beetles can play in keeping down weeds. We spend enough time thinking beetles are bad to be intrigued, so we called the University of Maine graduate student to talk about good weeds, how she got started down the agricultural path and what exactly a beetle bank is.

AT YOUR SERVICE: Birthisel will be talking about beetles that provide services to farmers who want to avoid pesticides. Like say, ladybugs, which take on aphids? Ladybugs are great, Birthisel says, but “I’d say they are just the poster child for a much wider array of very cool organisms that naturally work in our soil.” The kind she’ll be focusing on in her talk are Carabid beetles, which she describes as “the dominant insect seed predator.” They aren’t commercially available. There are many varieties, but typically in Maine, the ones you’ll be seeing are black with red legs and maybe an inch long, Birthisel said. Why are they so good? “They like to eat seeds that are present right on the surface,” i.e., seeds that drop right off weeds. But they won’t go burrowing for the seeds you plant, Birthisel said.

THROWING SPAGHETTI: How did she get into agricultural science? Birthisel was born in Wisconsin but grew up in Maine from the age of 7. Her family lived in Cumberland, where Birthisel’s grandfather had been a dairy farmer. “That was back when Cumberland was not the swanky town that it is today. It has built up an awful lot in my lifetime.” She went to Luther College in northeastern Iowa. How did she end up so far away? “Financial aid.” She’d been homeschooled all the way through her high school years. “I knew that this would be something that colleges would raise their eyebrows to.” So she applied to a wide group of schools, “kind of like throwing spaghetti at the wall,” and she chose the one that gave her the best financial aid. At Luther, which she loved, she studied biology and ecology. Doing so in Big Agriculture country was formative; she saw firsthand the impact monocultures have on the land. “It really made me want to be involved in sustainable agriculture.”

FAKE MOM, REAL TEACHER: After a year of working at the Illinois Math and Science Academy as a resident counselor – “fake mom” to a bunch of smart kids – Birthisel came back to Maine and got a master’s degree from the University of Maine in ecology and environmental sciences. “My master’s research was all about beneficial beetles and other creatures that eat the seeds of agricultural weeds.” Next, a year with AmeriCorps’ FoodCorps program, working with rural kids in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. What did she learn while teaching? “That kids love to learn how to cook. And that they need to be taught how to use knives properly!” (As a homeschooled kid, those domestic skills were something she took for granted.) There were no knife accidents, by the way.

NUDGE NUDGE: As her FoodCorps work wound down, the concept of going back to UMaine for a doctorate in ecology and environmental sciences began to seem appealing. “The continuing progress of my education has been finishing a milestone and then saying, ‘OK, that is it, I am done,’ and then someone nudging me back into education.” She went back in early 2015 and is deep into her program. She’s also teaching undergraduates, leading a cornerstone introductory class for students in the sustainable agriculture and horticulture programs at the university. Birthisel enjoys this work, a lot. “I would love a career that is focused on education.”

WEED WHACKER: Not that research isn’t fun. About 18 months ago, Birthisel received a grant from the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions on a research project to help farmers combat weeds without pesticides, through methods like mulching or tilling or crop rotations within a season. “I was making a digital tool to help farmers learn about and engage with weeds.” It’s called WEEDucator. “The idea is to allow them to do some trial and error virtually.” In her talks with farmers, they told her that they learn the most by trying techniques themselves. “That’s a great way to learn but also potentially expensive, if you are making mistakes on your farm field, and also time-consuming.” WEEDucator is still evolving. “Right now it is a glimmer of what I think it can be in the future.”

DON’T MISS: Other parts of this Thursday’s workshop address the usefulness of pollinators (taught by a former Meet, Eric Venturini) and the importance of beetle banks, which she explains are deliberate plantings specifically intended to attract beetles. Birthisel is down with the whole agenda. “I am like, that sounds awesome, but of course, I am a huge nerd.”

GOOD WEED: Tell us something good about weeds. “Lamb’s quarters is sometimes underappreciated. Some people don’t know that it is edible, but it is really quite tasty. A little bit like spinach. I like to use it in lasagna.” Where does she stand on plantain (the weed, not the cooking banana)? “I am pro-plantain. I would never bother pulling them out of my lawn.” We confess that we do just that and dislike them very much. She laughed. “It goes back to that question, ‘What is a weed?’ It is any plant that is not where you want it to be.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

 

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Cold feet over weddings at farms in Cumberland http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/cold-feet-over-weddings-at-farms-in-cumberland/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/cold-feet-over-weddings-at-farms-in-cumberland/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/cold-feet-over-weddings-at-farms-in-cumberland/ CUMBERLAND — Joanne Fryer describes herself and her husband, Greg, as “the accidental farmers.” They are also lawyers, he with the venerable Verrill Dana firm in Portland, she a private mediator.

Their first careers (and still his full-time job) came in handy this year when they asked their town to begin allowing farmers to use their properties for weddings and other events.

It started as a simple request, one they saw as a win-win for Cumberland, a community of just under 8,000 that prides itself on being convenient to Portland and a place that values both its legacy of farming and its agricultural present and future.

The Fryers moved to Cumberland five years ago, but they’ve been in the area since the mid-1980s. Most recently, they’d lived on Cousins Island. They liked how farm-centric Cumberland still seemed from a visual standpoint, and also culturally. They’d seen the town’s comprehensive plan from 2009. The very first sentence of its vision statement referenced the need to “preserve the community’s rich agricultural heritage.”

There are 36 registered farms left in Cumberland, varying from a small goat operation known for its cheese to Sweetser’s Apple Barrel and Orchards, with its prominent farm stand on Blanchard Road. That’s not to say Cumberland is anything like, say, Unity. Employment figures for farming were low (the comprehensive plan noted that 1.2 percent of the employed population described itself as working farming, fishing or forestry) but the town agreed that it was important to protect land that could at some point be used for agriculture. To make it easier for existing farms to keep going, the plan suggested modifying town regulations to give farms more flexibility to make money. The No. 1 example, right there on page 127 of the comprehensive plan, was “allow for renting a site for weddings or other functions.”

The Fryers were the first to push for an ordinance that would make that a reality. They understood that one does not just snap one’s fingers and start holding weddings. Approvals are needed. Licenses must be acquired. Insurance? They’re lawyers. They wouldn’t dream of renting out their property on Bruce Hill Road for a wedding without it.

But after nearly a year of moving slowly through the hoops, securing the approval of the ordinance committee, and rallying support throughout the community of farm owners, in October the Fryers hit an unexpected obstacle. The Town Council voted 5-2 against allowing farm weddings. Questions were raised about parking and noise and unhappy neighbors, indeed the compatibility of the whole idea of farms and weddings.

Perhaps the most significant question raised was philosophical. What is a “real” farm anyway?

FLOWER LADY

“She sells flowers,” said Town Council member Ron Copp Jr., referring to Joanne Fryer. “To me I don’t consider that being a farm.”

Others do. The cut flower business is growing statewide, with the number of Maine farms diversifying into this often lucrative market doubling between 2007 and 2014. Maine has long been a wedding destination state, but with the increase in farm weddings, getting into the business has made considerable business sense for many of them.

Fryer began raising and selling dahlias not long after buying the house. Dahlias, Greg Fryer says, are “impossible” but his wife has a talent with them. She sells to local florists, including Skillins Greenhouses, and to wedding venues like the Black Point Inn in Scarborough. The florists visiting her gardens convinced her that she should be using the farm as a wedding venue.

A baby goat at Sunflower Farm in Cumberland, where owner Hope Hall created the viral sensation of “The Running of the Goats.” Hall, who supported the wedding venue ordinance in Cumberland, says, “Every time you encourage someone to drive up a driveway … even if they come for a yoga class or a wedding, they are seeing a farm in action around them.” Staff photo by Derek Davis

The Fryers are also haying and providing apples to Norumbega Cidery in New Gloucester.

But Copp has a different perspective on farming. Growing up in Cumberland, he made frequent weekend visits to his grandparents’ farm in Buxton. “They sold hay. They raised their own beef,” he said. Working their farm was the first job he had as a teenager. After his grandfather died, his grandmother couldn’t keep it up and had to sell it. It’s a strawberry farm today, Copp said.

In Copp’s youth, the property that the Fryers own on Bruce Hill Road was not farmed. The Fryers have researched the property and say it was for many years an onion farm. It did have a barn, but that burned in 1962. For several years before they bought it, the home was abandoned. The property was overgrown enough that they bought it without realizing an old orchard grew behind the pines. “We said, ‘What are those white flowers in the woods?’ ” Joanne Fryer remembers.

They’re aware that most would consider them gentleman and gentlewoman farmers. With their paychecks from the legal profession, they don’t exactly present as hardscrabble sorts.

“It’s a good living,” Greg Fryer said. “But it’s not like money is no object, and this property needs a lot of work.”

For instance, he said, peeling back the forest to bring more light into the orchard has been expensive. (Maine apple gurus John Bunker and David Buchanan are both working with the Fryers; there are apples of historical significance in those woods.) “Saving the heritage of this farm does not happen for free.”

A young visitor offers hay to a goat at Sunflower Farm Creamery in Cumberland during the 2015 Maine Open Creamery Day. Staff photo by Joel Page

Planting dahlias is a nice niche for Mowfield Farm, the name the Fryers gave their property, a reference to a historic plantation near where Joanne grew up in North Carolina. But as she’s sought out advice from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Mike Timmons, president of the Cumberland Farmers Club, she’s gotten the clear message to diversify. “You can’t make it on one item,” Joanne Fryer said.

NEIGHBORS AND NOISE

To Copp, a farm is a place that has been in business 100 years, like Sweetser’s (which supported Fryer’s work on getting an ordinance in place). The Fryers’ immediate next-door neighbors had contacted him with concerns over the wedding plan, from floods of cars going down the driveway to potential noise.

“I felt they were disrupting the neighbors,” Copp said.

But for farmers, those trips down driveways, whether they are to farm stores or to visit say, baby goats like the ones at Hope Hall’s Sunflower Farms in Cumberland, can be invaluable.

“My perspective on this whole thing was that if you own a small farm, there is no separating what is farm related and what is not,” Hall said. “Every time you encourage someone to drive up a driveway – some people have zero experience with that – even if they come for a yoga class or a wedding, they are seeing a farm in action around them. And they are getting a sense of how beautiful farm space can be.” That emotional connection helps all farms, Hall said. That’s why she supported the ordinance, even though Hall is unlikely to go into the wedding business herself. Her place is too “rustic,” she said, laughing.

REVERSAL OF FARM FORTUNE

Copp Jr. voted against the wedding ordinance in October, when he was in the majority, and again on Nov. 14 when the council revisited the issue. But this time the vote was 4-2 in favor of farm weddings. Why the reversal? After the October vote, the Fryers began gathering signatures for a petition for a referendum on the farm and wedding/special event issue. She had not quite reached the magic number of 668 (10 percent of the registered voters) but was close enough that the council expected it would end up on the June ballot.

“If we allowed the petition to go ahead and it had passed, we wouldn’t have had any jurisdiction over it whatsoever,” Copp said.

The way the process works now, Fryer and others can apply for a one-year permit. During the year, they can host up to eight weddings. If their wedding business makes the rest of the community miserable or, say, a disaster occurs involving inebriated guests, Cumberland has the right to not renew the permit. But any of the 34 of 36 registered farms in town can now apply for permits to hold events. Fryer is likely to be first in line, as she was in the process of establishing an ordinance.

“She carried the water for everyone,” said Bill Shane, the town manager for Cumberland.

Copp is still struggling with the concept of farm weddings for Cumberland. He has been to farm weddings in Pownal and New Gloucester and he gets that it is a trend, nationwide and in Maine, but “I personally just have a hard job putting farms and weddings in the same category,” he said. He admits he could be wrong.

“I might have to eat crow,” he said.

FARMS OR HOUSE LOTS

Heidi Curry owns and runs William Allen Farm in Pownal. She and her husband have 63 acres and a classic, spacious barn. They have 23 weddings booked for 2018 and some already scheduled for 2019. Among the couples who have gotten married there since they started hosting weddings in 2014 were people from the Netherlands; a Maine wedding is a draw well beyond the state, she said.

They used to make a living cutting and selling firewood, but after their own wedding in that barn in 2013, a friend in real estate told them they would be “nuts” not to get into the wedding business instead. “We are in no way shape or form farmers of any kind,” Curry said. “I have a cat and flower gardens for our own benefit.”

So they’re not a working farm, but as she says, “we are not a subdivision.”

Curry has been following the Cumberland farm wedding debate and said she welcomes more farms (and barns) to the wedding venue family. She’s not worried about competition, but she does care about finding innovative ways to preserve Maine farmland.

“Had anyone from the town of Cumberland asked my opinion,” she said. “I would have said to them you have really two options. You can allow these property owners to try to find another source of revenue or you can watch it be chopped up into more house lots. Which in turn is going to put a new strain of your community.”

Cumberland Town Councilor Shirley Storey-King, who helped write the comprehensive plan in 2009 and supported the farm wedding concept in both the October and November votes, agrees. In her lifetime, she said Cumberland has become twice as developed as it was when she was growing up.

“Everyone wants the rural vista going up Greely Road,” Storey-King said. “But someone is paying for that.”

Namely the farmer. She grew up on a farm herself, and while her family has managed to keep the land in the family – there are 17 homes on it now, but they are all owned by relatives – she is acutely aware of the pressures.

She’s also hopeful that Cumberland’s first farm weddings will help settle fears. It’s good to be cautious, but, “we have to also be careful not to expect the worst,” Storey-King said. “Weddings are joyous events. We can’t just expect that every wedding is going to turn out bad.”

That echoes Fryer’s feelings, as well. In a few years, she thinks the Town Council will be happy with farm weddings.

“They will be proud if they give us a little bit of time to get it going,” Fryer said. “This is going to be good for Cumberland, I swear it will be.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

mpols@pressherald.com

Twitter: MaryPols

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/cold-feet-over-weddings-at-farms-in-cumberland/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/1291913_957090-20171120_cumberland-.jpgJoanne Fryer with her dogs Pippin and Puff at her home in Cumberland. Fryer is an attorney who also operates a flower farm on her property and has led an effort to get approval from the town to allow farms to host weddings and other functions.Sat, 25 Nov 2017 17:03:32 +0000
Wish your friends Happy Howlidays with these cards http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/wish-your-friends-happy-howlidays/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/wish-your-friends-happy-howlidays/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291908 Julie Bernier has just the Christmas card for your dog-loving friends. It’s a painting of a golden retriever wearing a Santa hat, and it’s inscribed: “Woofing you Happy Howlidays!”

For the beekeeper in your life, Bernier has made a card with bees wearing winter hats, scarves and mittens while they string multicolored Christmas lights. It reads: “Oh Christmas Bee! Oh Christmas Bee! Have a colorful holiday!”

Bernier is a South Portland artist who pairs her whimsical paintings of animals with funny puns and sells them at her 81 Ocean St. shop, Earth Angel Arts. Her cards for the rest of the year include a pig with the line “Sending hogs and kisses” and a chicken that says “Best of cluck to you.” While not all of the creatures are farm animals (“Well, hello there, stud puffin”) many of them are based on residents of local farms.

Bernier never picked up a paintbrush until four years ago, but she’s been creative most of her life. She grew up in Waterville, where her French-Canadian grandmother showed her how to can, garden, pick berries, crochet, knit, and pursue all sorts of homegrown projects. “My grandmother was just a really cool lady who made everything from scratch,” Bernier said. “She could make something out of nothing, and she loved color.”

Bernier’s interest in animals arose from watching her husband become a vegan at age 50. They began keeping an organic garden and became more aware of where meat comes from, and “That really changed us as human beings,” she said.

The couple started visiting local farms, where Bernier would photograph the animals, then go home and paint them. She’s made more than 150 animal paintings so far as well as some special projects, such as creating posters for Smiling Hill Farm (featuring a cow, a goat, a chicken and bottles of milk) and Sunflower Farm in Cumberland (featuring its famous online “running of the goats” and baby goats in pajamas).

Bernier also puts her work on calendars and, most recently, an animal matching game. But the card line is growing fastest. Writing the puns is as much fun as painting, Bernier said: “I’m constantly on my computer designing cards and laughing.”

The cards cost $4 each, and are available at Earth Angel Arts in South Portland, through Bernier’s online store at earthangelarts.com and in the Old Port at Uncommon Paws, 13 Exchange St. The holiday collection comes in a boxed set of 16 for $22. (Drop by her shop, and you can choose the holiday cards that go in the box.)

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Gifts that nurture the inner and outdoor lives of plant lovers http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/maine-gardener-gifts-that-nurture-the-inner-and-outdoor-lives-of-plant-lovers/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/maine-gardener-gifts-that-nurture-the-inner-and-outdoor-lives-of-plant-lovers/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291876 Donald Leighton, a Falmouth native who is a landscape architect now living and working in Rhode Island, told a landscape design class I attended earlier this year that his new favorite garden-related book is “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” by Florence Williams. I knew I had to check it out.

The book is more science than plants, and that science is more social than botanical, but it is a fascinating testament to how contact with plants helps people improve their lives.

Williams travels to Utah, Japan, Korea, Scotland, Finland, the Salmon River Gorge in Idaho and a West Virginia school to study how spending time with plants – whether in pocket parks in a city or in the remote wilderness – helps stressed-out urban workers, recently released mental patients, female veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and ADHD students get healthier.

While some of Williams’ conclusions are based on subjects’ answers to questions, a lot of her research involves measurements of brain waves or the flow of blood to parts of the brain.

Different studies she cites show that: merely having plants visible outside an office or hospital room improves creativity and health; spending five hours a week in parks, gardens or nature increases happiness and lowers blood pressure; being outside three hours a week for 12 weeks helps mental patients recover faster; and veterans who take extended, intensive wilderness trips have 40 percent fewer flashbacks.

As part of her research, Williams wore a portable EEG (electroencephalogram brain wave-measuring) device on her head, and the only place she reached the calm alert state praised by Zen masters was while visiting her stepmother in Maine and kayaking on a small lake next to the White Mountain National Forest. It is nice to know she appreciates our state.

“The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams, Norton, 280 pages, $26.95.

Sometimes a book surprises you. “Fresh from the Garden: An Organic Guide to Growing Vegetables, Berries and Herbs in Cold Climates” by John Whitman is a giant, doorstop-type book, but it will now be my go-to source for growing food – replacing the old, reliable 1977 “Crockett’s Victory Garden.”

Because Whitman gardens in Minnesota, the book is geared to cold-weather conditions, like those we enjoy/endure in Maine. The text is comprehensive, logically organized and well written. The first 120 pages cover general information about gardening, including much factual detail, coupled with some opinions – although Whitman does not insist that you follow his opinion.

As an example: “In general, pick vegetables that mature above ground late in the day, and those that mature below ground early in the day. Compare taste and texture for yourself and see whether you agree.” I’ve always harvested vegetables just before we need them. I’ll have to give Whitman’s theory a test next year.

Part II, the next 320 pages, focuses on specific vegetables in alphabetical order. I am glad I read it when I did. He advises waiting until asparagus stalks turn brown before cutting them down, and by the time I read that, I had cut about a quarter of our still green stalks, as I didn’t want them to trap windblown autumn leaves; I will wait for the remaining stalks to brown before I clean them up.

“Fresh from the Garden” offers six pages on carrots, a characteristic entry, with subsections on how carrots grow, where to plant them, soil and moisture, spacing, when to plant, watering, mulching, fertilizing, weeding, thinning, problems, harvesting and storing – and ways to eat them, too. It then lists five basic types of carrots – baby or mini, Chantenay, Danvers, Imperator and Nantes – followed by a detailed listing of 50 varieties.

Other vegetables, herbs and berries get similar treatment, and I can’t see anyone needing more information than that. It’s the perfect gift for the fanatical vegetable grower in your life.

“Fresh from the Garden” by John Whitman, University of Minnesota Press, 544 pages, $49.95.

“Wildflowers of Maine: The Botanical Art of Kate Furbish,” which includes a biographical essay by Melissa Dow Cullina, is a little gem of a book – much smaller than a typical coffee-table book but something you want to keep handy for when you need a visual pick-me-up. Furbish, who lived in Brunswick most of her life (1834 to 1931), was a noted botanist and painter who helped found the Josselyn Botanical Society of Maine and had articles published by The New England Botanical Club, even though that organization excluded women members at that time. Cullina’s essay includes descriptions of Furbish’s plant-hunting trips throughout Maine, as well as the highlights of her life. The bulk of the book is reproductions of a small selection of Furbish’s “detailed and precisely rendered illustrations,” as Cullina puts it, courtesy of Bowdoin College’s collection of more than 1,000, as well as maps that show where Furbish encountered the plants.

“Wildflowers of Maine,” illustrated by Kate Furbish, Down East Books, 127 pages, $15.95.

“Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science,” by a former senior correspondent for Reuters, lays out a comprehensive case against Roundup, the herbicide that has taken over much of commercial farming since the introduction of Roundup-resistant crops.

Here are Carey Gillam’s key points:

1. Monsanto makes the same safety claims for Roundup that it made for PCBs, a previous Monsanto introduction that is now proven to be unsafe;

2. Roundup, because of the addition of chemicals that make it stick to plants, is more dangerous than glysophate, the actual weed killer;

3. When the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glysophate a probable carcinogenic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency forewarned Monsanto so that it could prepare a defense;

4. Despite claims that glysophate would not show up in food, it has – in bagels, honey and elsewhere.

Yes, Gillam has a slant. But she backs it up with solid information.

“Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science,” by Carey Gillam, Island Press, 272 pages, $30.

Here are a few other books from 2017 that may also fit your gift list:

“Success with Succulents: Choosing, growing and caring for cactuses and other succulents,” by John Bagnasco and Bob Reidmuller, Cool Springs Press, 192 pages, $24.95.

The book, filled with beautiful photographs, explains the various families of succulents, discusses how cacti and other succulents differ and gives information on growing them. Although Maine is too cold to grow most succulents outside, “Success with Succulents” lists the few that can survive outside here and gives good advice on how to grow the others inside.

“The Grumpy Gardener,” by Steve Bender, Southern Living garden editor, Oxmoor House, 256 pages, $24.99.

Bender originally published the humorous essays that make up this collection in Southern Gardener magazine. His 50 rules are a highlight. Rule 33, for instance: “It is easy to stop dogs from eating up your flowers. Get rid of one or the other.” One note of caution: since the articles were written for a Southern audience, many of the plants he covers won’t grow in Maine. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun read.

“The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner,” by Ann Larkin Hansen, Storey Publishing, 208 pages, $18.95.

This book is a working journal for gardeners who do everything, made evident by wide-ranging sections that cover garden, field, pasture, orchard, beeyard, barn, coop, equipment shed, woodlot and wildlife habitat. Put together with an O-wire binder, the planner has room for the reader to write notes, and it offers plenty of good advice. Hansen uses air and soil temperature and how grasses grow as ways to determine when to do particular garden chores.

 

Houseplants: The complete guide to choosing, growing and caring for indoor plants,” by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, Cool Springs Press, 272 pages, $30.

“Houseplants” opens with several chapters on basics, then follows with lists of plants divided by how easy they are to grow. Taken together, the book provides all the information you need to grow houseplants, along with encouragement: “Having a green thumb is just a matter of paying attention to the needs of your plants and noticing when they are trying to tell you something.”

“Kristy’s Winter Cutting Garden: A Watercoloring Book” and “Kristy’s Fall Cutting Garden: A Watercoloring Book,” by Kristy Rice, $19.99 each.

Is there a plant lover on your list who has an artistic bent? Each of these books includes 25 illustrations printed on good-quality watercolor paper ready for you to pick up a brush and paint. Each illustration is like a tracing, with an outline of items to be painted. They’re cousins to paint-by-numbers, but in this instance the painter gets to choose the colors. The books, two in a four-part series, also provide watercolor-painting tips and advice on how to do each illustration. It’s almost as good as having an instructor on hand to help you.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: tomatwell@me.com.

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Narcissism prevents global solutions to our shared problems http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/sea-change-narcissism-prevents-global-solutions-to-our-shared-problems/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/sea-change-narcissism-prevents-global-solutions-to-our-shared-problems/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291888 “Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters.” – Donald Trump, November 2017

The problem with being Trump is the same thing that explains the enormous fame and success of Trump: a naked neediness, a certain shamelessness, an insatiable hunger to be the largest, loudest, most honkingly conspicuous presence in any room. – Jeffrey Kluger, “The Narcissist Next Door” (2014)

The past year has offered a crash course in narcissism. Not only are the dynamics on display in politics (“BIGLY!”), but in advertising and social media. Our country’s individualistic culture has always fostered narcissism, but its rapid spread could undercut hopes for a sustainable future.

Narcissism ranges from mild displays of self-absorption to grandiose forms, marked by an insatiable hunger for attention and admiration. Among the host of associated behaviors, none is socially desirable: promoting yourself, showing no compassion, acting aggressively, refusing to apologize, lying reflexively, lacking remorse, blaming others for your shortcomings, ignoring behavioral norms, dismissing and raging against critics, and denying reality (practicing a sort of magical thinking that celebrates imagined successes while ignoring real failures).

Long before Donald Trump took the presidential oath, his story surfaced in psychology texts and classrooms as an instructional example of narcissism. Powered by social media, an ideal venue for self-promoters, he won over many voters – even as he showcased the downsides of narcissism.

“Americans have become inured to the incivility, exhibitionism and celebrity obsession” brought on by rising rates of narcissism, note social psychologists Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell in their 2009 book “The Narcissism Epidemic.” Characterizing narcissism as “the fast food of the soul,” they warn that “it tastes great in the short term, has negative, even dire consequences in the long run, and yet continues to have widespread appeal.”

Trump’s election “in some way normalizes narcissism more,” Campbell – a psychology professor at the University of Georgia – told me in a recent interview. In the campaign, Trump’s “strong man leader” persona drew in those who lacked trust in our current system and those challenged by economic instability. But now his constellation of self-serving behaviors further erodes that trust and stability – prompting voters’ remorse in some people.

Over time, narcissism undermines relationships. Narcissists see any acknowledgment of interdependence as a challenge to their individual status and self-proclaimed superiority. Trump has already taken a wrecking ball to long-standing international alliances and undercut members of his own party and cabinet.

The resulting interpersonal strife is ugly, but there is a greater danger. The narcissistic world view, favoring superiority and dominance, tends to disregard the commons – the air, waters, land and wildlife – on which we collectively depend.

As early as 1949, wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopold reminded Americans that we were part of a larger “biotic community” and should adopt an ethic extending “social conscience from people to land.” By the 1970s, the U.S. had begun codifying this awareness in laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Narcissism undercuts that vision of participating in a larger whole, severing ties between people and land. As narcissist in chief, Trump is overseeing an unprecedented rollback of air and water pollution rules and clean power provisions – seemingly oblivious to the human repercussions. The president appears unaffected by the plight of Americans who lack clean drinking water, fear losing homes to sea-level rise or contend with health problems linked to fracking.

“We can be ethical,” Leopold observed, “only in relation to something we can see, understand, feel, love or otherwise have faith in.” Narcissism gets in the way of empathic experience, a felt sense of connection.

With an archetypal narcissist enthroned in the White House, the United States may be hitting “peak narcissism,” a demonstration so intense that we realize how damaging self-aggrandizement can be. Unwittingly, Donald Trump might actually perform a vital public service. His example could act as a vaccine, helping more Americans to resist virulent narcissistic tendencies and to extend the bounds of community.

There may already be a renewed interest in the common good, Campbell notes, based on some initial studies done since the Great Recession began in 2008. He sees that “increase in communalism” manifesting in different ways, such as the depth and breadth of compassionate responses to the country’s recent spate of natural disasters.

“Think like a mountain,” Leopold counseled his readers in his thought-provoking book “A Sand County Almanac.” That image might imply grandiosity, but he meant just the opposite. Leopold had not started his career as a conservationist but came to an ecological way of thinking circuitously – having seen that killing off predators led to overpopulation of deer, which led to overbrowsing, which led to population crashes and to erosion, “with rivers washing the future into the sea.” Thinking like a mountain was a way to place ourselves in a larger context, and recognize that efforts to dominate often backfire.

Thinking like a mountain requires humility, compassion and patience. It’s a challenging practice, but it just might lift us from the sinking swamp of narcissism.

Marina Schauffler provides research, writing and editing services to nonprofit and social enterprise organizations through Natural Choices (naturalchoices.com).

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http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/sea-change-narcissism-prevents-global-solutions-to-our-shared-problems/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/1291232_Trump_34135.jpg-667a6.jpgPresident Trump on Tuesday pointed to Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore's assertion that Moore did nothing wrong, despite accusations of sexual aggression by multiple women. "Roy Moore denies it, that's all I can say," Trump said. "He denies it."Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:39:28 +0000
Force bulbs now, nurture tulips or daffodils later http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/grow-force-bulbs-now-nurture-tulips-or-daffodils-later/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/26/grow-force-bulbs-now-nurture-tulips-or-daffodils-later/#respond Sun, 26 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1291889 My wife Nancy and I ended up with some extra daffodil and tulip bulbs after the Cape Elizabeth Garden Club held a bulb sale this fall. We purchased all the bulbs we needed for our yard, and planted many of them, but we still had extras. So we decided to put them out in pots.

Unlike paperwhites, which do not need to be cold-conditioned, daffodils and tulips require at least eight weeks outdoors to sprout and produce flowers.

You can cold-condition bulbs in the refrigerator, but with all the holidays coming we had better uses for the refrigerator space.

Instead, we put a couple of inches of soil in the bottom of several pots, put in the bulbs pointy-side-up and filled the pots with soil. Some of it was bagged Pro-Mix, and some of it came from pots of annuals we were emptying for the season. Recycling at its finest.

After that, we placed all of the pots in a protected spot outside, and covered them with fine-mesh chicken wire to keep out animals and acorns. We topped them with a layer of chopped leaves to keep the bulbs from freezing and thawing. We are putting the pots outside the pedestrian door of our garage, keeping in mind that the snow will probably be deep there in January and February when we want to check the pots. We are hoping to have red tulips for Valentine’s Day.

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BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: ‘City Fish, Country Fish’ and ‘Mapping Murder’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/23/bushnell-on-books-city-fish-country-fish-and-mapping-murder/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/23/bushnell-on-books-city-fish-country-fish-and-mapping-murder/#respond Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/?p=779865 CITY FISH, COUNTRY FISH: HOW FISH ADAPT TO TROPICAL SEAS AND COLD OCEANS

Award-winning South Portland author Mary Cerullo is back, with another excellent nonfiction book about ocean life, this time explaining the magnificent differences between fish in the tropics and the cold oceans.

Cerullo has published more than 20 books about ocean creatures like sharks, octopuses and giant squids. Here, she teams up with acclaimed underwater photographer Jeff Rotman for this latest volume in Tilbury House’s “How Nature Works” series.

Cerullo’s clever title is a smart way to introduce the earth’s ocean bioregions, especially fish adaptation to warm tropical waters and cold ocean waters far from the equator. She describes the tropical habitat of a coral reef as a densely populated “city” of high-rise condos — busy, crowded, colorful, attracting thousands of species of plant and animal life. The cold ocean, however, is the “country,” wide open, less densely populated, with fewer varieties of fish, but also described as a “giant food factory.”

She also explains that warm tropical seas produced brightly colored fish whose vivid rainbow colors mean either a welcome or a warning. Cold-ocean fish are typically colored with earth tones (gray, black, brown) as camouflage to fool predators, often swimming in large schools for defense.

With Rotman’s stunningly beautiful underwater photographs, Cerullo tells about the specialization of tropical fish, like special mouths for feeding and hidden weapons like the surgeonfish’s scalpel-like fins. Cold-ocean fish are noted for their strength and stamina.

She also points out how and why the oceans are changing, with global warming and acidification, and why humans should remember they are visitors to the ocean, but it’s the fishes’ home.

Learn why night is just as busy as day underwater, why a tropical sea appears to be blue, but a cold ocean looks green, and what an ichthyologist really does.

MAPPING MURDER

“The worst thing about history is that any time it repeats itself the price goes up,” said a wise pundit, especially when someone is willing to commit murder to obtain even a small piece of history. And the director of the Ryland Historical Society knows only too well the price of past history and present death.

“Mapping Murder” is Portland author William Andrews’ third mystery featuring erstwhile museum director Julie Williamson. This follows Julie’s two earlier mysteries, “Stealing History” and “Breaking Ground.”

Although billed as a “historical whodunit,” it really is a present-day murder mystery involving valuable historical artifacts, a nice suspenseful combination of past and present with more than a few plot twists and surprising revelations.

Julie has been the director of the Ryland Historical Society (and museum) for five years, and is considered to be an expert on museum security. So, when several other directors of Maine museums seek her advice about missing artifacts, Julie’s interest is aroused.

She thinks the artifacts are not missing, but stolen, and cannot understand how or why. Old maps, ceramics and an obscure painting have disappeared from various museums, but there is no pattern, no clue. More puzzling, however, is why the affected museum directors have not notified the police.

Then, when one colleague is murdered after talking with Julie, she and a savvy state police detective discover a long list of suspects but no motive link. Are the thefts and the murder random, connected or part of something bigger? Julie sets several clever traps, but puts herself in danger as a target, too.

This is a complex story with plenty of suspicious characters and loads of historical references, clues, red herrings and insight into museum and historical society operations and vulnerabilities.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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J.P. Devine Movie Review: ‘Lady Bird’ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/j-p-devine-movie-review-lady-bird/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/j-p-devine-movie-review-lady-bird/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:51:45 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/j-p-devine-movie-review-lady-bird/ “My name is Lady Bird.”

“Is that your given name?” the teacher asks.

“Yes, it was given by myself to myself.”

Right away, we know we’re going to spend the next hour and a half with a free-spirited teen who attends an all girls’ Catholic school, where free spirits like Lady Bird have for centuries been kept locked inside uniforms of gray skirts and navy blazers until they either fly away and shake up the world or simply succumb, get married and send their children to the same school.

Let me say right away that everyone and everything in “Lady Bird,” written and directed by actor Greta Gerwig, is simply great, not just good — especially Saoirse Ronan in the title role — but great, as if they were born to play these roles. Even the drug store clerk, the extras walking the streets and halls, everybody.

The script, billed as semi-autobiographical, is perfect. The lighting, editing, make-up, the Catholic girls’ school uniforms, which if you ever dated such a creature, will send a chill up your spine.

Lady Bird lives in Sacramento,California, probably in 2002, and even now it’s the dullest city in the state.

Lady’s hair looks as if she cut it in anger and then dyed it a shade of neon red. Lady tells everyone she lives on the “wrong side of the tracks,” but that doesn’t mean what it used to mean. A railroad line slashed right through downtown Beverly Hills for years. Lady Bird’s house is clean and neat, the lawn well mowed, but when a wealthy friend visits, she comments, “You live here?”

Daddy (Tracy Letts in yet again another beautifully written part) suffers from middle age, clinical depression and has been out of work for a year.

To make herself feel better, Lady has begun abandoning her best friend, an overweight frump (Beanie Feldstein), and gone to hang with the cool and hip crowd in her all girls’ Catholic school, hoping whatever it is they have is catching.

Her mother, Marion (Broadway legend Laurie Metcalf, a born scene-snatcher), is an overworked night nurse in a psychiatric hospital and has her own uniform, a slate blue nurse’s pantsuit she seems to have been born in. She is, of course, from a generation that took it all on the chin and wears the bruise like a medal. Marion spends her days dealing with it all — the hospital, her husband, her rebellious Lady Bird — and each line around her mouth shows it.

Marion has been holding family and dad together for so long she’s lost track of all the numbers on life’s calendar. One day looks like another. Yes, you already recognize her, and when you look closely over the next very short hour and a half, you’ll come away wet-eyed and heart-scarred by how familiar she is. You know a Marion. You yourself may be a Marion.

Despite her daily efforts, and probably because of them, the mother-daughter bond between them is fraying at the edge. It’s safe to say that every mother and daughter in every audience will see themselves in Lady and Marion. That’s what makes a movie great.

Both are strong-willed and raging against the weight of the new economy that doesn’t give a damn.

As I have said, I always found Greta Gerwig out of place in all of her roles. Now I know why. Greta is an artistic “trans,” someone who has long been an auteur trapped in an actor’s body.

But now she’s out and making critics’ and audiences’ hearts flutter. “Lady Bird” has gotten a 100 percent rating in Rotten Tomatoes. I often disagree with that rating, but this time I think they’re on to something.

Of course, this is her story. Nobody but you can get your story right, and her next may fall, but while skeptics are waiting for her to fall, she’s soaring. Come see her Lady Bird once, and you’ll come back again, then rent it and buy it. A perfect little movie, how wonderful is that?

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

 

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Lucky Clark On Music: GoldenOak http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/lucky-clark-on-music-goldenoak/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/lucky-clark-on-music-goldenoak/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:50:55 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/lucky-clark-on-music-goldenoak/ As you probably know by now, I really enjoy interviewing new groups — well, new to me, that is. Such a group is a Portland-based band — GoldenOak — made up of siblings Zak and Lena Kendall. The brother and sister grew up in the Farmington area but they consider themselves coming from all over the state of Maine. The band has a full-length CD, “Pleasant St.,” and an EP, “Foxgloves.” I talked to Zac Kendall about their upcoming show on Monday, Nov. 27, at Slates in Hallowell.

Q: Where are you calling from?

Kendall: We’re in Teaneck, New Jersey. We had a show last night in New York and we stayed here with a friend last night.

Q: How far afield do you guys get with your touring?

Kendall: Well, on this tour we got all the way down to D.C. and that’s kind of about our limit. But we’re slowly kind of getting farther south and farther west as we plan more and more tours and build up the fans in these places.

Q: Seeing you had a show last night, I really appreciate your willingness to get up and call me this morning.

Kendall: Yeah, no problem, but this is definitely my earliest morning on the tour so far.

Q: And I bet you’re hoping it’ll be the last one for quite a while, too.

Kendall: (Laughter) Yeah!

Q: So, have you ever performed at Slates in Hallowell before?

Kendall: Yeah, we actually played Slates’ Monday night series about a year ago last fall. It was our first time there and we really had a blast so we reached back out to Katie (Daggett) to set up another show this year.

Q: Let’s talk a little about the music you folks make. How do you describe what you do?

Kendall: Well, we call our music folk/Americana and indie/folk — kind of a wide range of the new folk revivalist style stuff.

Q: Now you have a full-length and an EP out at the moment, correct?

Kendall: Yes, in 2016 we put out a full-length album called “Pleasant St.” and then the new six-song EP just over a month ago on Oct. 3, and that’s “Foxgloves”.

Q: Are you always writing new material? Seeing you just released “Foxgloves,” I’m sure it’s too early for you to be working on a new project.

Kendall: Yeah, but I’m definitely always writing and we, as a band, are always trying to come up with new collaborations — whether that’s brand new material or kind of re-vamping work we already so. But writing is always occurring for me.

Q: Now, the instrumentation you have in GoldenOak is a bit different, like Seth Wegner’s cello . That’s such an eloquent, rich tone. It’s almost like a human voice.

Kendall: Yeah, totally and we kind of try and treat it that way, too. The band kind of formed around me and Lena, my sister, particularly with our vocal harmonies laying on top of a sound, but as Seth does play with us more we start to expand more into a full-band sound. He and I started playing together a few years ago and his cello really became a vital part of a lot of the music we write for that same aspect. It does act like a musical voice, not only in its range, but also in the way we try to approach the melod. Seth actually treats the cello as his voice. Yeah, the cello’s really shaped a lot of the music we’ve been making since day one.

Q: And then you add a trumpet, first with Julian Sterns on “Pleasant St.” and then Eloise Schultz on “Foxgloves”.

Kendall: Yeah. Well, actually Eloise has just finished playing with us. She ended up getting a full-time job and isn’t playing with us as much as she used to. It’s something that kind of happens in music. People tend to move in and out. So this tour we’re actually playing with a drummer and a keyboardist.

Q: Oh!

Kendall: Yeah, which are two instruments that we’ve added. We kind of felt that they lend themselves really well to the batch of songs that we were out on the road with. And having that kind of fluid band makes things really fun and exciting for me and Lena. We can have our friends out on the road with us or it can even be stripped down to just me and her with a guitar and harmony. It really adds a lot of excitement to each show that we try to curate, and it also forces us to find new ways to play the same songs. It keeps things exciting.

Q: Well, that would be one word that could be used, yes.

Kendall: Yeah, exactly!

Q: Now what will the lineup be at Slates?

Kendall: I think it will probably be a duo show, me and Lena, and we might bring a drummer with us; and depending on Seth, our cello player’s schedule, he might be playing with us, too. We haven’t quite figured out the lineup after this tour, we’ll have to look at people’s schedules and with it being a Monday night that could be kind of unknown, but we tend to do everything around me and Lena and then whoever’s there kind of works itself out. It creates a fun situation for us.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Kendall: Well, we’re really, really excited about this new music. We’re definitely trying to do something really unique with this new group of songs we’ve put out, and we’re trying to push ourselves as writers and curators of an album. We’re trying to think holistically about the kinds of music that we’re putting out and the format in which we’re putting them out.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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‘Warming up for Christmas Guitar Concert’ set for Dec. 2 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/warming-up-for-christmas-guitar-concert-set-for-dec-2/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/warming-up-for-christmas-guitar-concert-set-for-dec-2/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:45:04 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/warming-up-for-christmas-guitar-concert-set-for-dec-2/ Christmas guitar concert set for Dec. 2

The 16th annual “Warming Up for Christmas” guitar concert will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Williamson Auditorium, Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

The concert, presented by Benton musician Steve Fotter, will include a variety of Christmas music, including rock, blues, jazz and folk, and features performances by Fotter’s 85 guitar students and musical friends.

Tickets cost $20, and are available online at Eventbrite.com (search Steve Fotter). Tickets also can be purchased at Down Home Music Shop in Fairfield and Animal Hospital of Waterville. Limited concert tickets will be available at the door for $25.

Proceeds will benefit the ShineOnCass Foundation.

The foundation is helping fill Christmas boxes of clothing and gifts for more than 1,700 financially disadvantaged children in Maine through the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderer’s Christmas Program. Attendees are asked to bring new, unwrapped items to the concert or drop off gifts at Animal Hospital of Waterville, 20 Washington St. in Waterville. Other raffle events are planned.

For more information, email shineoncass@gmail.com.

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A Holiday Concert Series set for Augusta, Winthrop http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/a-holiday-concert-series-set-for-augusta-winthrop/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/a-holiday-concert-series-set-for-augusta-winthrop/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:42:26 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/a-holiday-concert-series-set-for-augusta-winthrop/ Celebrate the Season concert set for Dec. 1-2

The Kennebec Performing Arts Company will present Celebrate the Season at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at The William and Elsie Viles Auditorium, Cony High School, in Augusta, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Winthrop Performing Arts Center, Winthrop High School in Winthrop. A snow date is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, if needed.

The Holiday Concert Series will feature chorus, wind ensemble and jazz band.

Tickets cost $8 before Nov. 30, or $10 at the door. Students through high school will be admitted for free.

For tickets and more information, call 370-5381, email kpac.board@gmail.com or visit kennebecperformingartscompany.org.

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Holiday Pottery Shop open through Christmas Eve http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/holiday-pottery-shop-open-through-christmas-eve/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/holiday-pottery-shop-open-through-christmas-eve/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:38:14 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/holiday-pottery-shop-open-through-christmas-eve/ Holiday Pottery Shop open through Dec. 24

The 10th annual Holiday Pottery Shop, at 100 Water St. in Hallowell, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Christmas Eve. The temporary shop is presented by the Central Maine Clay Artists.

Thirteen clay artists and 11 guest artists will be represented. In addition to pottery, personal care products, fiber art and wearables, fine jewelry, baskets, prints, photography and more will be available.

For more information, email centralmaineclayartists@gmail.com, call 582-1387 or visit centralmaineclayartists.org.

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‘Gather’ art studio event set for Nov. 25 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/gather-art-studio-event-set-for-nov-25/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/gather-art-studio-event-set-for-nov-25/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:34:53 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/gather-art-studio-event-set-for-nov-25/ ‘Gather’ art studio event set for Saturday

“Gather,” an annual open studio sale event, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Hélène Farrar Art, 903 Western Ave., in Manchester.

The event will feature small items created by young art students, more than 10 local makers including Michelle Shaw of Maine Natural Soaps, Stan Farrell of ComposiMold, Allison McKeen Art, Jenny Kingsbury of S’Mittens, Peter Rivard Jewelry Designs, Nancy Keenan Barron Paintings, Kate Harris of A Little Land, the Holiday Pottery Shop, and artist-in-residence Hélène Farrar.

Lunch will be provided by the artists themselves including soup and lasagna, bread, coffee and goodies. Lunch donations will benefit the Augusta Food Bank.

For more information, visit CatchTheArtbug.com.

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Maine authors to visit Farmington book store http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/maine-authors-to-visit-farmington-book-store/ http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/maine-authors-to-visit-farmington-book-store/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:26:32 +0000 http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/11/22/maine-authors-to-visit-farmington-book-store/ Authors plans to visit store in Farmington

Maine authors Kathryn Miles and Mac Smith will visit Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington from 1 to 3 p.m. on Small Business Saturday.

Both Miles and Smith will chat with people and recommend their favorite books.

Indies First — a collaboration among publishers, retailers and authors — is an annual campaign to celebrate independent bookstores.

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