Monday, July 31st, 2017

NOTES FROM RANGELEY MAINE

We have an wonderful little house in Rangeley, Maine that, of course, I did not want to own but my husband’s vision won while I fussed along behind. “Too much money, five kids will be in college, too far from Portland, Maine. All true. And——it’s been a great gift.

We paid very little for it. I always say 18,000 dollars and my husband says 35,000.  My guess–he told me 18000 and we paid 35000!!  He is expert at “act first, apologize later”. We gave each of our five kids a room to renovate. So the kitchen cabinets were thick with oil paint drips, the living room floor had a hollow place from an electric sander and lots of divots, the upstairs girls’ room was a kind of tangerine orange and the paneling in the boys’ room was polyurethaned with a brilliant shine that didn’t help the room at all. Luckily we had a chimney fire that covered everything with soot and we had to upgrade to somewhat normal. Normal means the bathroom is no longer attached by the wallpaper holding it onto the kitchen wall.

Rangley is quiet. Not many sounds day or night except the Loons. Deer saunter by on our lawn early morning and evening. We have no TV or Internet connection (for now–Internet is looming).
To get a signal I sit under a pin oak planted long ago in an old fashioned metal lawn chair.
The house is a museum of our family full of displaced things from other locations. My mom and dad’s Lazy Boy chairs, blankets, non-matching cups and plates from other relatives, Monopoly set of my dad’s, and books, books, books from college and eras or our life including The Whole Earth Catalogue.

People choose Rangely. It has wonderful competent hardy wry born there people and wonderful, incompetent,  slightly helpless, romantic eccentrics from away. Actually the generalizations hide
an array of very idiosyncratic people. There is the carpenter who sits over coffee with me and
discusses world religion, the waitress who is a world class quilter. (It’s necessary in Rangeley for people to have many skills to earn enough to live there.) There are our dear neighbors, a former school principal and his teacher wife who are pioneers. They move barns and build additions, and float huge logs across the lake for an off the grid house while I decide which book to read.

And it seems that time exists still in Rangeley.  We talk and get to know people as very distinct individuals. This trip we met our waitress at a tiny cafe. She loves baking and does all the sweets for the cafe. Her idea of heaven is six hours in the kitchen alone. She loves baseball and wonders about David Price and his sour attitude with the Red Sox. She aspires to an old house to fix up.
She declares with a blush that she likes us. We return the sentiment. She sits with us at breakfast the next day.

And then there is our experience on the way home from Rangeley. My husband likes to take photos of rot and decay and moss and slime. Family pictures, not so much. We tease him lovingly and not so lovingly. I was feeling nice. We take a road we never have to New Vineyard.
There is a lake. (No surprise in Maine) and some slightly falling apart houses. I see a real goody and almost don’t point it out to David (I might as well name him) because I know it will be at least an hour delay.  I have a book and feel generous so, I point out the house.

It is one scary house. Huge, paint peeling, porch falling, wonderful detailed house with shutters and porticoes and old glass windows. Intriguing but still too much like the house in Psycho for me.
I read. David photographs. I hear voices. There is Don David on the porch with a man chatting.
I approach. We all chat. He is Harvard graduate, college teacher, wife died last February. She bought the house for 10,000 dollars. He has been sweeping out plaster from the 3rd floor for his kids who are coming to visit. He married a woman with six children. As he said, his whole life has been doing things he was not prepared to do, but did. He and I talked about secular humanism and whether that is the next movement in a religions like structure!! He plays tennis and does pottery. He lives in North Carolina but he and his wife have come up to this house for many Summers. There are mattresses but no bed for his family that is coming. There is an artificial Christmas tree in the bay window of the ‘parlor’. He said he keeps it up because the neighborhood kids used to be afraid to walk by the house. We leave at my impetus.

As we get in the car, we wonder, what was real and what wasn’t. Taking time to stray.
Another gift of a Rangeley kind of mood.

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