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.