Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Maine Writing Project 20th Anniversary

For ten years, I directed the Maine Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project. Once I left as the longest serving director, I was awarded director emeritus status. I thought the title would be cool to use in bio's on books and thereby might bring some small notoriety to MWP.  This past June we held our 20th anniversary celebration.

My job for the anniversary was to arrange a slide show. The other directors gave 10-minute Ted Talks, but my anxiety level over such performances made the slideshow a perfect alternative to presenting. I just didn't know it'd take 30+ hours to put together the show. Holy flying cows that was a tedious assignment.

The bets time was seeing my friends Tanya Baker and Mary Moreau. Tanya worked with me at UMaine for a few years until she headed off to the main office of the National Writing Project where she now serves a national director of programs. Mary was one of my writing group members during our first summer institute in 1997.

Unknown to me, MWP published a journal in celebration of the 20th and dedicated it to me. That was very kind and the kind of quiet celebration of my work as director that I appreciate.

Friends Maureen and Anne

Janet and Tanya


Mary and Rich

Jeff and Tanya 

MWP journal 



Arranging a Life

The past few weeks the house has been busy with former exchange students and their families. We ate a lot, traveled here and there, climbed this mountain and that one, took time on the beach at Weld, spoke about times past and what's to come... just like families do. Funny how a life unfolds.

Alex Saurer from Germany spent his last week in America with Bailey and me. He and his host family had an issue, and--well--he ended up with me. At the same time, Jose's brother Miguel and his two fabulous kids spent a week at camp. They had the best time. Alex and Miguel enjoyed a kayak trip together while read to the kids in Barbara's Garden.
Rich reading to Miguel's children (click to enlarge) 

Next came the Szeps' brothers. Singer Alex (Sweden 2008-09) and twin brother, Dr. Jonathan, hiked and trained and ate and visited and trained some more. They ended their journey with Denny and Jen and Morgan in the Boston area. I think they had the best time.


Jonathan & Alex

Day is done at Weld

Alex and Jonathan 

Last but far from least, the Wagners visited with William (Denmark 2015-16) and his twin brother Freddy. These folks are the most laid back and fun people. Each morning, Kenneth and I would hold court in the kitchen over coffee. Then, the adventures of travel and hiking and beach time and dinners took over. I can't wait to visit them in Denmark just outside of Copenhagen (where they also have a small apartment that I have been invited to use).

Alex, Jonathan, William, and Fredrik
Kenneth christening the new porch
Bailey and Rich on Blueberry Mountain

 What a good time we all had. The day after everyone left, Simon (Denmark 2011-12) wrote and asked if he could visit in October during his university break. I'm guess he saw the pictures of Bailey and the other visitors and wanted a piece of the action. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Life with a 111-year-old house

It never ends. Life with a 111-year-old house. Dry rot. But then you get a guy like Billy Porter who knows how to work and two-and-a-half hours later, we're on our way to a new porch.

Billy Porter--the man, the legend
Getting there... 

The 4th... Firecrackers... Smell of smoke

Bailey's been freaked by the fireworks of the 4th and recently by the smoke that permeates our home from people's backyard fires. Last night, he sat next to my bed panting until 3:30 a.m. I pet him, took him out, and massaged him. Finally, I gave in and let him get up on my bed. He fell asleep. I spoke with brother Fred this morning, and he said fear of fireworks and the smell of smoke cam trigger anxiety. Who knew? I felt bad for the pup; I also felt bad for me this morning trying to get rolling at 6 a.m.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

And it's a wrap...

Finally, the writing center book is finished and the cover has been finalized. This book, like no other, has been a battle. I learned a lot of lessons from writing this piece, from organization to fighting the tedious back and forth with informants. While writing, I was reminded of the late Donald Murray's words at the beginning of his chapter in my book Teaching the Neglected R. Murray wrote, "One of the many gifts of the writing craft is that our apprenticeship never ends." True that.

Click on photos to enlarge

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bailey's Alex

Bailey and his Alex
click to enlarge photo
We have the good fortune to welcome Alex from Germany who's visiting us for a week... yet another brother for Bailey to torment and to beg for belly rubs. Alex attended Mountain Valley High School this year; he played soccer, raced on the ski team, and battled it out on the tennis team. He also enjoyed a cooking class at the high school. Last night, we had a small dinner party here for our dear friend Brenda Sassi (below) who's moving to North Carolina next week to be close to her daughter Katie and her children. At the dinner Alex joined right in with conversations, and that was special since all of us were over 60 years old. It's fun to see a teenager handle a unique situation like that with such ease. Today, he walked down the street to watch the Trek Across Maine--a charity event with around 2000 bikers. They're riding from the mountains of Maine to the ocean during a three-day ride. One thing Alex may not love about Bailey: this morning, our rambunctious pup  slammed into Alex's bedroom at about 8 a.m. with a howl! Just what a teenager needs on his first few days of summer holiday. But really, it's just Bailey's way to say, "Welcome, Alex."

Brenda and Sonke (Germany) and William (Denmark)
October 2015


Friday, May 26, 2017

Red Hill & Black/White Trail

We spent a sunny spring afternoon hiking the trails up Red Hill over to Black/White trail. After hiking the back side of of Black Mountain, we went to the large tower on the summit ad then down the ski trails. 

Click on photos to enlarge. This is Mount Washington from Red Hill.

Contemplating life

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bailey turns 7 years old...

Over the years I've read books and websites about Bernese Mountain Dogs. Most address the sad reality of a Berner's longevity... cancer and bad hips take them early and often. Their average life span in the USA? About seven years.  Pretty sobering.

On Sunday, Bailey's 7th birthday, I treated him to a one-inch piece of bacon and a few extra dog treats. We took a long walk in the pouring rain and stopped at our local garage where the attendant handed him several treats. In truth, Bailey's life is one big smorgashborg.  

During the day, I also thought a lot about this milestone year. Seven. We dog parents sure do get connected to our pets. When they die, do we mourn them or the part of our own lives that has been lost? Both, I suppose. Since Bailey is with me most of the time–and I do mean "with" me–after his death I know I'll feel the emptiness.

As I write this quick blog, Bailey is asleep on the floor in my home office. His left paw is about 3 inches away from my right foot. He's always nearby. That's the nature of Bernese Mountain Dogs–they need to be with their people. And I suppose the same holds true for us: we have to be with our Berners.

Bailey Tuckerman at about 8 weeks old. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Two days after "ice out."

I saw on Weld's Facebook site, "You Know You're from Weld, Maine if..." that the wind came up on Friday, April 28, and out went the ice. One Spring I arrived the day of ice out--I figure I missed the event by a few minutes, but on the beach in front of the Burt Camp, a pile of ice about six feet high and 30 - 40 feet long lined the beach.

The last of the snow on Little Jackson. 

The winter winds and snow slapped the wood pile around.