It’s a Cape, of sorts, but quite popular here

Maybe it’s a reflection of the town’s fishing village nature, but the most common house style seems to be Cape Cod.

The traditional Full Cape stands 1½ stories with a central door on the front, flanked by two windows on each side. Eastport has a fair number of those, including the one where I dwell.

But for whatever reasons, a distinctive variation proliferated here. Gone is the doorway from under the roofline, along with the central hall, staircase, and chimney. The result is a shorter front and an overall smaller house, commonly two rooms with two in the attic above, rather than the customary four-over-four.

The design does create a smaller frontage, which may have been a tax advantage, as well as allowing more homes to cluster closer to the harbor.

Here’s a sampling.

The front’s symmetric.
While the door has moved to the gable-roofed side.
Curtains add a personal touch.
This one, with shutters, plays to New England severity.
And some even have two chimneys.


A big comfy place for reading?

As we anticipate the renovations to our new old house, one of the big touches I realize I’m missing is a really comfy place to sit while reading. I’m admitting I never really had that in our old place, not until we got the lights above the pillows in bed, but even those were too hot for comfort and the lack of back support took a toll.

So here are the specifications:

  • The seating has to be comfy, for starters. A puffy chair with good backing heads the list, likely with an ottoman.
  • It has to have a small table or other service to hold a cup of coffee or glass of refreshment, plus pencils and maybe a notebook.
  • Lighting is crucial – my wife hates table lamps, at least the ones with lampshades, as well as floor lamps. I hate overhead lighting, in general. So I want something that brightens the page while making the space intimate. We’ll see what we come up with.

I’m assuming it will be in the parlor where the wood-fired stove will sit. The big question now is just, where, exactly they’ll fit.


I do wonder, by the way, why nobody sells dental chairs as home furniture. These days, they’re quite cozy and seem to contort themselves to everyone’s fit. Any ideas? I’m not sure they’re exactly what I envision for reading, but in front of that giant home screen? Or just for a snooze?

You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, nosirree

Not when you have one of these.

The heart of the station is this unit, joined by a rain gauge nearby. They send data via Bluetooth to a digital monitor indoors.

Thanks to this Christmas gift of a personal weather station, I’ve been watching the local weather direction and speed closely, along with the fluctuating temperatures, barometric pressure, and humidity indoors and out. Rainfall will be fun to observe, but snowfall – alas – is a problem.


Microclimates? Dress accordingly

My awareness of microclimates – ways weather conditions in small spots differed from the wider scene – came early one spring when I was dwelling in an orchard in Washington state. There were critical hours once the trees began blossoming when a frost could devastate a year’s crop. Cherries were particularly susceptible, but the apricots, peaches, pears, plums, and apples were also at risk. Remember, a whole year’s income could be wiped out in a few hours.

Frost-fighting measures, such as smogging pots, propane heating lines, airplane propellers pulling the slightly warmer air aloft down into the groves, or spraying the trees with water to form a protective ice coating around the blooms, were all costly. Essentially, it was a gamble. The orcharists relied on alarms sent out on special radio frequencies, usually in the wee hours, before taking action. Sometimes three feet of elevation made the difference in whether to act or simply ride it out – or, in the other direction, whether any action would be futile.

Years later, in New Hampshire, I encountered something similar, where a band somewhere between Manchester and the seacoast could vary by ten degrees within a mile or five. It could mean setting out in shorts and being uncomfortably cold on arrival. Or setting out in long pants and sleeves only to be sweating.

Once, in Dover, I saw an 11-degree drop – plus a cloud bank – between one side of the bridge into Newington and the other. Another time, I left for work in 39-degree favorable conditions only to encounter freezing rain and a hill that took a half-hour to go down midway to the office.

Now that I’m living on an island in Maine, I hear a common saying that our temperature is typically ten degrees cooler in summer and ten warmer in winter than it is even at U.S. 1 on the other side of the causeway, just seven miles away.

The differences were even more dramatic one morning when I checked last month. Our reading was plus 4, but inland had minus 8, on one ridge an hour’s drive away, or minus 14 at a lake a few miles away. Close by us but inland only 15 to 20 miles away were readings of minus 12 and minus 15.

A few days later, we had a minus 3, but Calais, 25 miles north and on a tidal river, was minus 25!

Do you experience anything similar where you live?

Add or subtract 22 degrees from 70 to get an idea of how much the impact can be. I mean, the 90s are usually miserable while the 50s mean keep the furnace running and maybe the car windows rolled up. Unless you’re a native New Englander. (I’m not.)

Well, it is Groundhog Day, which is really the end of Solar Winter, by one calendar, or the halfway point of Calendar Winter, another. Either way, we’re entering a stage when things warm up a tad but can produce some horrendous snowfall in my part of the universe.

Once again, I’m ever so glad I’m no longer having to commute to an office, day or night.