The Good Neighbor and other Adventures

In addition to making great tomato juice, my neighbor Muriel is on hand when a rescue is called for.

A good neighbor is someone from whom you can borrow an egg, share gardening tasks, make tomato juice or the freezing of beans; she is someone who notices a strange car in your drive, or gives you a loaf of zucchini bread she has just baked because she has more than she can possibly eat.

A good neighbor, as it turns out, is also someone you can count on to help you rescue three men who are trapped on your roof.

But let’s start at the beginning. I believe I mentioned that my chimney had a small but significant leak that hit the hood of the Malm fireplace with a force (a 24-foot drop) that sounded like one of those caps we used in our cops and robbers games back in the day, or smashed with rocks. Crack! Crack!, Crack!

Pretty annoying plus the fact that it splashed water all over the floor and, eventually, if it wasn’t fixed, my soon to be installed brand new rug.

Jason the roof guy was notified but it was a good week before he could address the problem — fortunately it was a rainless week, so no harm done.

A crew of three men arrived last Friday afternoon— another gorgeous, sunny day, but windy.

Muriel and I had worked that morning cleaning out and reorganizing the garden shed in preparation for winter and I was rewarding myself and Viola for our hard work — she kept the evil squirrels away— by making a late picnic lunch to take down to the cabin. As I was heading out the house I heard a loud metallic crash (something I have grown rather used to) followed by a piercing whistle and an attention-getting shout from the roof— “Hey!” (not so used to) as I stepped out the front door with Viola and picnic bag in hand.

“Our ladder blew down!” one of the men on the roof yelled down to me. “Can you flag down someone on the road to help?”

Somehow the idea of waving down one of the tourists on their way to or from lighthouse gawking did not appeal to me. Nor the fact that these strapping boys didn’t even consider that I could be of any use other than flapping my hands at passing cars. Shoot hadn’t I just lifted heavy sacks of compost, garden tools, and buckets and barrels that very morning.

So, I approached this 25-foot extension ladder with a determined, “can do” attitude, spat on my hands, seized one end, hoisted it above my head and…dropped it — fortunately not on my head.

Then I did what I often do these days when I have a problem that needs solving. I called my good neighbor, Muriel.

“I’ll be right over” she said.

Muriel who seems to know a little something about everything figured out, with advice from overhead, how to retract the ladder to a more manageable size. The next attempt had me at the foot of the ladder keeping that end from slipping and much taller Muriel lifting the business end and walking it upright, rung, by rung (great cheers from above.) When she got it to about a 60 degree angle I  seized the extension rope and hauled it toward me assuming some of the weight.  We had it just about where we wanted it when a gust of wind came whipping around the house and …we dropped it, fortunately not on our heads or through a window of 24.

After all the kerfuffle we moved the ladder to the less windy side of house.

So, we were back to plan A;  flag down a passer-by. One of the guys on the roof whistled and I flapped my hands and a couple immediately stopped. I was hoping for a firefighter (someone good with ladders,) but this fellow looked more a like a stock broker on vacation. Still he was willing to lend a hand, and did seem to know what he was doing. With me playing footsy again and our volunteer and Muriel doing the heavy lifting, we got the ladder up and to gently leaned it against the siding, just close enough to the roof where one of the roof men could lean over and grab the rope, extend the ladder and clamber down. We helped him move it to the non-windy side of the house and all ended well with me thanking our good Samaritan (from Buffalo, NY) profusely.

The guys went back to fixing the hole where the rain gets in, Muriel went home and Viola and I went down to the sea for our picnic. All in all, an interesting day!

In other 24 news, the aforementioned rug did indeed arrive and it really is perfect for the living room. I am so pleased as it was a major expense.

My new Christopher Wynter rug is perfect.

Not so perfect and not such a major expense is a little white server/buffet I also ordered on line. The pine bureau I put under the stairs was too large and too country cottage and I really needed a place for table linens and other stuff. After Andrew spend at least 2 hours assembling the thing, it  hardly seems worth the effort. But I think it will be OK if I paint it (it is whiter than the walls) and find different drawer pulls. We’ll see.

My not so great server might be improved by a paint job.

On a much, much happier note I have hung my second art work! It is an allegorical piece by my artist son Ben Lincoln titled “Gypsy Moth” after the boat Sir Francis Chichester sailed solo around the world in the 60s. But it is about adventure and taking risks, which seems appropriate. It also reminds me of my favorite Narnia book “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and a favorite Shakespeare “The Tempest.” I love it.

My son’s painting “Gypsy Moth” is another perfect addition.

Tomorrow I go to Ellsworth to pick up my Sharon Arnold photograph, which will be the third art work to find a home at 24.

I have also pulled some art out storage and will get more this week. I won’t have room for half of it. Sigh.

Although I have been working at the papers all summer, my writing load has been unusually light as I have been preoccupied and distracted with all things 24.

But I am back in full swing now and will have to juggle the next phase here(landscaping) with work.

Oh, and I finally got to visit 24’s big sister K2 on Northern Neck road, on Long Pond. I call this George’s Magnus Opus, in that he designed a truly beautiful building despite a bunch of troublesome restrictions and an even more troublesome neighbor. Wedged  between the road and the lake, George sited the, long, lean house so that it has a perfect unimpeded view down long pond to the mountains on the other end, without  another house in sight. The house  capitalizes on this magnificent view again and again in upper balconies, knife edge nooks, windows and ground-floor spaces, beginning with the entrance way, which is simply breathtaking. The owners Tom and Vera came to visit 24 earlier this summer and instantly recognized the sisterhood of our houses and invited me to visit K2 which I’d only seen from the road and magazine photos.

K2 from the water side.

I have to say that I was intimidated by K2 which I expected would be outfitted, like Lady Gaga, in the most funky, avant garde and expensive furnishings and art. But when I got there I could see that, like I am, Vera and Tom were more interested in creating a livable home than a showcase. K2 has an eclectic, fun assortment of furniture on the floor and art on the walls and it looks like a family lives there and enjoys the house and its vistas.

And finally, Since visiting K2 (not a reference to the death defying Himalayan mountain,) I have been thinking that since this is an architectural sisterhood of sorts that L24 might just be the right fit here.


Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.
Nan Lincoln

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