A trip back in July which included my niece Brittany and her husband Brian, who is a house painter extraordinaire by trade, continued the work of scraping and painting away 100 years of neglect. With Brian’s help in exchange for a rock wall that Steve built at their recently purchased home in North Tacoma, we began once again to work on the Grange. An oil primer and one to two coats of finish latex – the color carefully chosen to match the original both for the building and it’s doors, was applied with care. Brian somehow managed the 40 foot ladder and painted to the highest peaks, the gable ends on both sides skillfully. Dodging flying squirrels, yellow jackets, birds, and bats became common place for both Steve and Brian. Though they were constantly in the bushes around the Grange, Brian was the only one to find a tick on him, though I suspect he picked it up when he went to float the river. I scraped, puttied, and painted the front door; scraped, sanded, and repainted the old sign, “West Baldwin Grange No. 374”. It was a work week that began at 5 a.m. for the guys, finishing at 8 or 9 p.m., drinks, dinner, shower, and bed. Britt and I kept them fed when we weren’t working on the Grange, kept the dishes and clothes washed, and gave them emotional support. Brian commented that he felt like the Amish who manage the division of labor so well.
To celebrate our progress, we decided to invite the locals for a potluck – the first in many, many years – via a flyer that we handed out and hung up around town. Justin grilled hot dogs outside, passing them through the kitchen window, and many of the community members brought bean dishes. The highlight was a lobster whoopie pie created by our artistic neighbor Glenda. About 25 people attended. Locals who hadn’t seen one another for 50 years were reunited and old friends visited. We set up the old card tables, covered them with tablecloths, and placed flowers in some old vases we found in the Grange. As the beautiful, warm summer evening progressed, we decided to put some of the tables together into one long table so everyone could visit. We handed out a bottle of beer to those who had the thirst, and said “goodnight” to the last guest around 11:30 p.m. feeling happy and successful.
After 2 weeks of work, Steve, Brian, and Britt headed back to Washington, and I stayed on at the Farm with Justin. Heidi traveled up on weekends, getting ready for her new job as the Principal of Driscoll School which began in the fall. Most days I got together my paints and equipment – this time paint for pictures – and was off to find subject matter. By the end of the two weeks I had painted 10 egg tempera paintings of places in and around the Farm. It was one of the most artistically satisfying times of my life. Justin spent his days working on a variety of endless repairs. We shared dinner and conversation late into the evenings.
OUR VENTURE INTO SUBCONTRACTING
We knew we needed to do something about the rusting, metal roof on the Grange, so we contacted a few local roofers. After looking over the job, they suggested some very expensive ways to deal with the problem, mainly putting a new roof over the building. As yet, it is not in our budget, so began looking for someone who could repaint the roof, as a way to keep the snow moving off, keep it from leaking, and dress it up. Justin found a business card at the hardware store for a local who advertised himself as “Skywalker”. Without going into great detail, we eventually got the roof painted by Skywalker – who managed to paint the neighbor’s car, our newly painted building, among a few other things. We learned that “bonded” or insured is not a necessity for contractors in the state of Maine, and that we would be liable as owners of the building, if Skywalker ended up falling off the building. Safety did not seem to be a big concern for him, so it took several months of waiting for him to become insured before we would let him finish the job and get paid. The glare off the aluminum paint hasn’t yet caused any car accidents that we know of, but on a sunny day, coming up the hill from Cornish or places beyond, there is no missing this roof!