Mysteries in Maine X2

Earlier this year I read two mysteries, a series by Elisabeth Pollack. They are well worth bringing to your attention! Sadly they are the only books Ms. Pollack wrote. First I’ll tell you a little about the author, chances are you’ve never heard of her…

img_7352Elisabeth was a widowed, former Army wife. She spent much of her married life in many parts of the US and France. She sold real estate in Maine’s Oxford County Hills for 15 years and was a real estate appraiser. She lived for 17 years+ on a 200 acre farm in South Paris, Maine which she shared with her Gordon Setter, Kate Gordon. She was born in 1921 and passed away at the age of 91. She published her books in 1989 & 1996, later in life. Her main character Lee Heaward is a farm owner and real estate agent in the southwestern foothills of Maine. 

rowantreecropThe Rowan Tree Crop is simply a riding crop, a short whip used in horseback riding. But this one is a special crop, a talisman, for it is crafted from the wood of a rowan tree, which has long been held to have magical powers.

In this novel, magic and illusion, mystery and murder, and romance and death play out against a background of rural real estate, garden tours, and country auctions.

Set primarily in the southwestern foothills of Maine, The Rowan Tree Crop follows farm owner and real estate broker Lee Heaward, her associates and her friends through four seasons of love, friendship, introspection, recurring fear and suspicion, and finally, murder.

Unpleasant events begin when Lee takes a firm stand against unrestrained and questionable land development schemes that threaten the pleasant, established life of “The Hill” and its surroundings

An unknown and chilling presence is stalking the old Hartley place and its 400 acres even as Lee and her business partner, Meg Bundy, are preparing to list the property for sale.

Its old buildings hold the key to the mystery. It is there that strange sightings are made. It is there that violence walks. And it is there that Lee must face mortal danger, armed and protected only by her dog and a talisman made from a rowan tree her “protection against harm.”

gatheringThe Gathering, set in the mountains of Western Maine, continues the set of country mysteries featuring Lee Heaward and Hod Cole. The scene is Indian Pond at the foot of Indian Mountain where the old Adirondack- type lodge is run by A.E. Gibbons, a former art student turned frustrated innkeeper. Characters include Motorboat, a trucker and A.E.’s admirer, Enough Peabody, the yardboy whose curiosity is his downfall, Peggy the kitchen helper, Robbie, the last of the “Swampers” and a basketmaker, and Howard, a rescued pony.

Looming above the lodge, the mountain works its magic with the country people who join together to search for a lost boy. It is Hod Cole who finally solves the mystery. The Gathering is not only a country mystery, but a testament to people’s goodness intimate of need. 

gatheringmapBoth books have a list of characters in the front and maps of the area so we can visualize the neighborhood. I really like that. I liked the characters and the setting. The story line was strong and engaging. You get invested right off the bat in the lives of characters. Kate is Lee’s dog, a Gordon Retriever just like Elisabeth’s dog!, and she’s a character in the book!  I’m just sad there are only two books.

If you like mysteries I hope you get a chance to read these.

The House That Jacob Built

by John Gould – 1945

Great Grandfather Jacob, cutting the timber from a nearby forest, built his big, rambling farmhouse with his own hands in a day when shortages were accepted as a normal state of affairs. If nails could not be purchased, wooden pegs were used. The house, however, remained snug and warm for two hundred years. Fire destroyed it the night John Gould’s young son was born, just before the beginning of World War II. In a new period of shortages, Mr. Gould decided to rebuild the old house exactly as before, and the tangled web of handicaps which he ran into were as amazing and complicated as anything faced by old Jacob. The only thing that remained unchanged was the Gould determination. You live with this delightful Maine family, present and past, through every stage of the rebuilding, meeting all the fascinating characters of three generations – people who understood that the greatest pleasure in life are to be found beside one’s own fireside.


I first heard of this book from Tim Cotton, Detective Lieutenant and criminal investigator for the Bangor Police department in Bangor Maine. I followed his wonderfully funny Facebook page, back when I was on Facebook. He said he reads this book once a year. Well, I had to read it then! 

I loved this book. I laughed out loud and I was really sad when I got to the end. It’s like sitting across the table, in that lovely Maine country kitchen, from John and listening to him tell you stories. Wonderful characters coming and going. I can see myself reading it again and I’ve never read a book twice. Mr. Gould has many books and I am definitely going to be reading more.

One of my favorite chapters was about finding ‘the right sink’ for the kitchen. It had to be just like the original one. I’ll share a couple paragraphs from that chapter with you…

The Kitchen sink is a mighty serious part of a country kitchen. How serious is best explained by the old story about the farmer who, at bedtime, started for the kitchen and turned to ask his wife, “Did you wipe down the sink?” She said, “Yes,” and he said, “Well, I did want a drink of water, but I’ll wait till morning,” Wiping down the iron sink was the last thing the farm wife did before she came into the other room. Sometimes these sinks had no drainpipe to them, and were known as dry sinks. all the water had to be carried outdoors and dumped. Any that spilled into the sink had to be sopped up with a sink cloth. Why they bothered to have a sink at all is something to wonder about, but the women were glad to have even a dry sink. As time went along and they got hand pumps, and then sink spouts, life must hav seemed wonderful.

Even the sink spout has overtones that endear it to farm people. They whistle. What they whistle depends on which way your kitchen faces, but as most Maine homes keep the kitchen toward the south, and this is where our nasty weather comes from, it is usually a southerly wind or storm that makes the sink spout whistle best. The farm woman knows the minute the wind swings southerly, and if her husband says he thinks we’re in for a rain, she can confirm his suspicions by saying the sink spout has been whistling. A spout connected with a septic tank can’t whistle, of course – it’s only those that stick straight out from the side of the house and have two boards nailed together for an extension. You’ll always find the hens out around the drain. When the spout whistles you can look out and see the south wind blowing back their tail feathers.

Wet, dry or otherwise a farm sink wants to be big. Sink makers don’t seem to know what farm women do in their sinks. These big houses we have up here aren’t eight-hour wonders poured from a tank truck. Building a farm home is more than a “housing” matter. This is a business, here, a kind of a factory, with production problems and people coming in hungry. Most of the sinks we saw in the stores were hardly bigger than the pan my wife makes Johnny-cakes in, and that pan isn’t any too big at that. The sink we had in mind would be big enough to dump a crate of strawberries in while we wash them for freezing.

It might, at the same time, also hold the dishes from dinner in the other end, and leave room to clean a mess of trout in the middle. If things go along here on schedule, it wants to be a sink the children can swing a water-wheel in, and sail a few boats. Something you can run a decent tide in. Nobody in all the world knows, but us, what we might do in a sink. We certainly aren’t interested in buying a sink who’s dimensions include drainboards. We hear of a sink one day that was long enough suit us, and when we saw it the thing had drainboards attached, and the sink itself was about the size of a bread pan.

That house must have had one amazing sink before the fire!

My old copy had a little flyer in it from the book club from 1947. I love to find surprises like that in a book!

Check out a little info on John Gould HERE. I really want to read And One to Grow On and The Farmer Takes a Wife. Downeast Maine has some of his books. Please check out Tim Cotton’s podcasts. He is a master storyteller and so funny! He just had his first book published, The Detective in the Dooryard, Reflections of a Maine Cop. Looking forward to reading it soon.

Have you read any of John Gould’s books? I hope you will!

Shouting’ into the Fog:

Growing up on Maine’s Ragged Edge by Thomas Hanna

in the fogA Depression-era memoir of life in Midcoast Maine. Author Thomas Hanna grew up in the village of Five Islands on Georgetown Island, in a small, crowded bungalow pieced together on the edge of a swamp with secondhand wood and cardboard. He was the eldest son and the second of eight children born to his young mother and his father, a World War I veteran big on dreams, but low on luck.

During Hanna’s early years, there were some bright moments despite the privation, but as the years wore on, times were often unbearable. He wrote of eating only rice and raisins for days on end, the embarrassment of “being on the town,” his growing resentment toward a father he desperately wanted to be close to, and, ultimately, his bitterness at becoming the man of the family at the tender age of 14. But, it is also a tale of growing up, of collecting Hoodsie cup lids, moonlit toboggan rides, and life in a small village. It was only after serving in the U.S. Navy during the end of World War II, far from the poverty and despair of his childhood, that Hanna found personal salvation.

Drawing on insight gleaned from his 80 years, Hanna’s Shoutin’ into the Fog is a book written with sensitivity, humor, and subtle emotion about a hardscrabble way of life, old-time Maine, and the meaning of both family and forgiveness. His personal tale casts an honest light not only on his own family, but helps illuminate a way of life common to the coast in the 1920s and 1930s that is slowly fading from memory.


I really enjoyed this gem of a book! I love Maine to begin with and this book was like sitting down with Thomas over a cuppa and having a good old talk about his childhood. Such depravation these people dealt with! A small house made of used lumber and cardboard, can you imagine the cold in the Maine winters?!! And on an island no less with cold wind from the sea. They had no water in their house until 1933. Dad would bring bucket by bucket of water from a neighbors well to fill the laundry tubs so mom could do the laundry. And all this with 8 kids! A great aunt finally paid for them to get their own well. Thomas’ dad was not a fisherman, but a salesman and did odd jobs as he could find them. Not much of a provider by any means.

Thomas was a good student and arrangements were made for him to stay on the mainland to go to high school for a period. He got to see that there was more to life than his family’s hard scrabble existence. He was honest about the hardships, the resentment, and the anger he felt, but also about all the small little joys life brought. I really enjoyed the old pictures throughout the book. A good read.

Owls Head Light

Owls Head Light is in Owls Head Maine, just down the road from Rockland. We’ve been to Rockland many times and never took the time to check out this little lighthouse. It sits in a lovely State Park with hiking trails and gorgeous views! I see there is an old cemetery in the park but I didn’t know that at the time! Have to go back to check it out, I love old cemeteries!

Owls Head Light 2018 Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018

from the back of the light

Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018 Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018 Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018 Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018 Owls Head Light 2018

Owls Head Light 2018

Check out this this history of the light at Lighthouse Friends!

We took a quick run over to New Hampshire and up Mt. Washington one day. I’ll share that next…

 

Moody’s Diner

hands down, the best place to eat in Maine! No, it’s not a seafood restaurant, but it is homemade food and huge portions. It’s been around since 1927. They make all their pies fresh every morning and homemade donuts and whoopie pies too! There’s a cool little gift shop at one end of the parking lot. I got a Moxie T-shirt this time. We love our Moxie and always bring home about six cases!

Maine 2018

Maine 2018

Waldoboro, Maine

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Maine 2018

Cool signs for the restrooms! The men’s had a man’s head cut out of an old LP

Maine 2018 Maine 2018

We looked for Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland after dinner. Didn’t find how to actually get to it, but we did see it from far off. It is at the end of a long breakwater and only accessible on weekends anyway. We got a Charles Wysocki puzzle of it to do this winter! Here’s the picture of it from down at the harbor… Maine 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sculpture down near the harbor in Rockland. It’s a nice town, I like it there a lot. They have a big lobster festival every August. We’ve been several times.

Maine 2018

Next stop Owl’s Head Light, Owl’s Head Maine…

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Got to see a couple lighthouses I hadn’t seen before this last trip to Maine. I’ll do individual posts so as not to overload you with photos!

This light is small, but a gorgeous setting and lots of area to climb around on the rocks along the shore. There is a nice little museum attached and a small art gallery also. The grounds and the light keepers house are owned by the town of Bristol. A small apartment in the light keeper’s house is available for weekly rental! The tower is licensed to the American Lighthouse Association. The first light was built in 1827 but its poor construction necessitated a new light be built anti was completed in 1835. This was the first light in Maine to be automated in 1934.

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Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018 Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Bell Tower

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Oil House

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Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018 Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018 Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

Lovely picnic area here.

Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018 Pemaquid Lighthouse 2018

There is a gift shop and restaurant next door to the lighthouse, but I’d suggest packing a picnic lunch. There’s a lovely picnic area. Spend the day sitting in the sun on the rocks reading or exploring all the little tidal pools in the rocks for life. There was an old lobstermen running the museum, he was so interesting to talk too!  LOVED it here! Check out this live cam for Pemaquid Point!

Supper at Moody’s Diner on the way to Rockland next!