Which door is the real one?

Don’t know about where you live, but in New England, the front door typically is rarely used.

That insight was confirmed when I was canvassing for the Census and we had to leave a notice behind when nobody was home. Often, the real door is the one at the rear of the house.

It’s a curiosity that reminds me of something I once read about Zen temples in Japan, which were initially copies of ones in China.

The Chinese loved symmetry, which the Japanese detested, and so when the imported designs were expanded, they grew to one side or the other. Many old New England houses also have many additions, most famously the connecting barn.

Well, for the record, our back door is where the action is, and it runs through a mud room addition from the kitchen.

Now I’m starting to think about trying to enter by the right door as a metaphor for life. Like maybe there’s a hidden key, even. The one others know about, but not you or me?


Maine’s Common Ground Fair has a cult following – and we’re going

It’s like a state fair in the hippie, organic, granola-mind reality. There’s no midway with carnival rides, for sure, but for truly inquiring-minds folk, it’s an autumn equinox slash harvest-time celebration.

Yes, let’s declare a true Thanksgiving, minus turkeys.

Shortened in its post-Covid resurrection, this year’s gathering in Unity, Maine, is the premiere event of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and runs Sept. 23 through 25.

Now that we’re living in Maine, we can identify as members and look forward to attending, even though in New Hampshire we were surrounded by devotees. Yes, it’s that boffo.

As an aside, I can attest to enjoying my best-ever souvlaki ever, from a wood stove, no less, at an earlier fair. Gee, and I hate standing in line. It was worth it.

This is definitely a hippie-vision positive manifestation of the radical mindset of nirvana. And there’s no honky-tonk.

This year’s poster will no doubt be displayed on a wall of our new abode.

See you there?

The additions are usually tucked away, nearly out of sight

The side-door Cape style is rampant in Eastport, but that doesn’t mean they all look the same.

Additions adapted them to growing family needs.
And each family was (and is) different.
The addition didn’t allows go on the back, either.

In addition, as a fishing village, few carriages houses were built behind the houses. That’s one big difference between places like Dover. Besides, who would care for the horses while you were out to sea?

Did I mention I’ve long had a love of symmetry?

That, as well as variations on a theme, plus some lively deviations. The Chinese, I’ve read, also loved symmetry, and when Zen Buddhism spread to Japan, the temples were constructed according to tradition. But the Japanese also disliked symmetry, as is reflected in the additions over time, which always built to one side or the other.

I can see that dynamic at work in our little fishing village in the evolution of our distinctive side-door Cape style.

Here’s more of the basic front as a starting point.

Windows evenly spaced. The venetian blinds, though, slyly defy the symmetry.
The utilities become the off-setting touches here. Also, there seems to be a slight addition spacing between the middle windows. 
The middle space is growing.
The chimney’s moved to one side, while what looks like a former fireplace in the front was never quite symmetric. I like what that one light does, too. The cable dish, meanwhile, is just what it is.
We might note that the chimney’s slightly off-center. A few bushes or other landscaping adds naturally variety, too. As for those curtains?




Should we be offering pizza by donation?

As long as I’m reflecting on our Christmas gift-giving (why not, it’s time to start planning for the next round), I should mention our new Ooni Kanu 16 outdoor pizza oven from England. What, not Italy? Or Greece?

The second time she spoke up from her laptop and uttered the words, “I’d sure love to have one but (sigh) it’s beyond our budget,” adding, “I can dream, can’t I?” I knew it was time for the rest of us to put our conspiratorial resources together.

After several miscommunications on our end, we got the order off, knowing it wouldn’t arrive in time to be wrapped up and put under the tree, so we came up with an amusing announcement envelope to cover us in that part. My crude cartoon slowly kicked in and generated a grin.

The said item arrived in February, big relief, and we can see why it was such a hot item last fall, even before the international shipping delays kicked in.

The oven can sit on a table, for one thing, and be fueled by charcoal, wood, or propane, which can fire it as high as 900 degrees Fahrenheit, cooking a pizza at a lower setting in minutes.

We can finally find a pizza in Sunrise County that matches our high standards. Deep-dish and thin are options. And it’s not limited to pizza, either. I’m thinking of a Vietnamese dish that would glory to such instantaneous blazing.

Well, this has required me to take one more step into 20th century technology, specifically 20-pound propane tank use. As for grilling, I’m sticking to charcoal.

Now, where do we stock up on unused pizza boxes?     

The villain raiding our suet feeder

I thought I was done with winter feeding of woodpeckers, grackles, and even crows, but all the action around the suet had me continue well into spring, allowing us to watch closely from the kitchen table. And then the holder started appearing open and empty.

I doubted that deer were doing it again, since the tube feeder next to it was still full. Deer, as I’ve discovered, detest a hint of cumin there, so the main birdfeeder’s gone pester-free for months.

Finally, I nailed the culprit, a raven that’s learned to pop the holder open, spilling the block of suet to the ground.

Well, this has given me a good way to get a close look at the large shiny-almost blue black bird, skittish though it may be. I keep thinking male?

The species is more imposing and beautiful than a crow. Somehow, I’m guessing it would take pride in being labeled a villain. Crows seem sociable by comparison.

Does Poe really sway our thinking here?

Chief Doe-Wah-Jack’s pride and joy

Comedians Bob and Ray had a regular schtick involving a radio advertisement for Monongahela steel ingots as home décor. You know, “Hey, ladies, are yours getting rusty,” sort of spiel. Usually, it was sitting in the living room.

Having lived in the Rust Belt not far from the Monongahela River, I knew about the massive pig-iron ingots riding flatbed trailers from one part of town to another. Who knows how much they weighed – the trucks carried no more than two at a time – the beasts looked deadly foreboding.

Our equivalent was in the kitchen, though better dressed and somewhat smaller.

The Classic Round Oak Chief was a top-of-the-line cooking stove that ran on firewood, coal, or kerosene. After 1898, they were manufactured by the “estate of P.D. Beckwith” of Dowagiac, Michigan, and featured a popular mascot, fictional Native American Chief Doe-Wah-Jack – a sly way of teaching the pronunciation of the town. They’re highly collectible in restored condition, but that means getting to a buyer in some other part of the country.

I’ve used wood cooking stoves, back in the ashram, but I wasn’t so sure about this one. I didn’t like the way the stovepipe ran somewhat downhill – smoke rises, after all – or the way it vented into the same chimney the furnace uses, something that’s against building code today.

Besides, the weight of this one was definitely stressing the house structure.

Worse yet, it occupied the center of the small kitchen, and in our life focus, we need more space there – as well as a working oven, year-‘round.

Quite simply, it had to go. And it did.

We’re happy it found a new home – one being built, as it turned out – as well as a crew that knew expertly how to get it apart and out the door.

As for wood heat, which we truly enjoy, we’re planning on a Jotul in the front parlor and a new chimney or pipe to vent it.