Articles by Robin Clifford Wood

Matt Dubel, director of the Fields Pond Nature Center in Holden, appears in an online video about this weekend's HOPE festival.  He hopes that festival goers will join together in making a commitment to a healthier world.

HOPE is on this weekend

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 23, 2013, at 5:09 p.m.
Outrage, frustration, despair. That was the emotional fallout after the devastating act of cowardice in Boston last week — “act of terror” suggests more grandeur than the perpetrators deserve. Like many people, I sit at my kitchen table reading the news and feeling useless, wondering what I can possibly do …
Patti Lewis (left) and Sandy Spiller met each other in Sandy's Glenburn shop.

Two women are knit together by more than yarn

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 09, 2013, at 1:57 p.m.
What does a Kansas farm girl who went into nursing have in common with a Maine island girl who went into lobster fishing? They may come from different worlds in some respects, but after meeting each other in a cozy yarn shop in Glenburn, Maine, Sandy Spiller and Patti Lewis …
Elizabeth Siegel, still fondly referred to by all who know her as Queen Elizabeth,at Boyd Place in Bangor.

After 100 stories, some favorite updates

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 27, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.
After well over a hundred “Conversations With Maine” stories, readers and I have made the acquaintance of people all over Maine, young and old, from all walks of life. What has gone on with these interesting people since their stories went to print? I checked in with a few to …
Joan Fenrow, a retired artist living in Hampden, has a studio adjacent to her home where she works, teaches and displays many of her paintings.

Joan Fenrow: Artist with ‘a cram-packed life’ makes the most of remaining time

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 12, 2013, at 5:16 p.m.
I sat at a kitchen table in Hampden last week and traveled to New York City, Germany, the North Sea and India. I heard about brushes with celebrities, working in the bone room at the morgue, a career in theater and dance, and service in the Israeli army. With all …
Aqsa Munir, an exchange student from Pakistan spending the year in Hampden, Maine poses with her first-ever snowman.

More tales of a Pakistani teenager in Maine

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 05, 2013, at 4:36 p.m.
Our year as host parents to a Pakistani teenager is halfway through. Readers may recall my November story about Aqsa Munir, a Muslim exchange student who is sharing our home for the school year in order to cultivate greater cross-cultural understanding. Since early November, Aqsa has experienced a slew of …
The 95-year-old fingers of Harry Weiss tickle the ivories of a an electronic keyboard at Boyd Place in Bangor on Thursday. Weiss, a former silent movie musician, now plays piano for the pure love of it.

96-year-old piano prodigy still wowing crowds

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 26, 2013, at 3:13 p.m.
As soon as he began to play the piano, I understood how 96-year-old Harry Weiss had garnered such local renown after only six years in Maine. In no time flat, Harry makes a lasting impression. Harry is what some people might call a prodigy on the piano. He was three …
Molly Pitcher sings jazz with the new band, Interplay" at Nocturnem Draft Haus in Bangor last month.

Front porch performer finds her voice, fulfills dream

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 12, 2013, at 6:09 p.m.
When she was a little girl, Molly Pitcher and her friends used to “perform” on the front steps of a neighbor’s home. It was an unused front entrance that had the feel of a stage, and Molly remembers the excitement in her childish heart when she stood on those steps, …
Donna and George sit with their dog, Captain, in their "rolling home," a fifth wheel RV that hitches to the bed of their pickup truck.

Retired couple explores RV life on the road

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 31, 2013, at 2:03 p.m.
I ran into my friend Donna Thomas in a Hannaford supermarket parking lot last September. She and her husband, George, were about to begin an eight-month expedition accompanied by Captain, their golden retriever, for their first winter of recreational vehicle life. I asked her if I could check in with …
The Gateway Arch represents the role that the city of St. Louis played as the threshold of westward expansion for the United States during the 19th century. Its shape and symbolism, however, inspire dreams that move beyond our history — into a future of progressive discovery, growth, and progress.

Visit to inner city school illuminates ongoing challenges of racial inequity

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 24, 2013, at 3:31 p.m.
Last week, my husband and I visited with some inner-city seventh grade students in St. Louis, Mo. We were invited into their classroom by their teacher — our eldest daughter, Anna — who is working in St. Louis through the Teach For America program. Although I often appreciated how my …
Gail Page, holding a cup of tea, stands in front of a large canvas she painted with one of her favorite "positive energy colors."

In caring for elderly mom, woman discovers buried treasure

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 17, 2013, at 12:09 p.m.
The prevailing impressions made by Gail Page’s Brooksville home are light, space and color. It is no wonder, since she and her husband are both artists and designed their home themselves. Included in the floor plan are two large, light-drenched studios for their painting and inspiration. Gail was a fashion …
Stu Silverstein — filmmaker, artist, bread baker, wood-fired stove builder, family man — at home in Waterville.

Waterville man advocates change in art and life

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 10, 2013, at 12:49 p.m.
It was the combination of his iconic Maine documentary film, “Dead River Rough Cut,” his passionate interest in bread baking, and his trips to Guatemala to build wood-fired stoves for the Mayans that drew my attention to Stu Silverstein. I later learned that he is also an artist, a teacher, …
Zach Meehan and Morgan McCluskey, two die-hard Disney fans, are preparing to run their first half marathon next week in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Disney dreams inspire couple to train for half-marathon

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 03, 2013, at 2:01 p.m.
The idea of Disney World might elicit two kinds of response — hand-clasping excitement or cynical eye-rolling. I will wager that after spending an hour with Zach Meehan and Morgan McCluskey, even the most die-hard cynic will consider booking his next vacation in the Magic Kingdom. Zach and Morgan’s enthusiasm …
Carl Little, author of many Maine art books, stands in the Ellsworth Library's downstairs gallery.

Maine’s artistic allure provides endless material for art writer

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 27, 2012, at 10:25 a.m.
“To a landscape painter, Maine is everything,” Carl Little said. The islands, the seaside towns, the deep Maine woods and the great wide ocean, the blueberry barrens and craggy shores, the play of light over woods, waters and mountains — all provide endless inspiration. But it is more than open …
Last year's Christmas party at Highland Pre-School in Hampden. The 30th year of Highland Pre-School Christmas parties will take place next week.

Tradition, community and the funny things kids say keep pre-k teacher going after 30 years

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 14, 2012, at 11:16 a.m.
Hosting Christmas parties for 30 wound-up three and four-year-olds is probably not high on many people’s holiday bucket list. But Tami Campbell is about to do it for the the 30th time in a row, and she’s as excited as ever. Campbell is the owner and director of Highland Pre-School …
Kate Fogg (left) and Lana Sabbagh post with English bulldog Zuzu, who plays Sandy with Fogg and Sabbagh's Annie, in Penobscot Theatre's production of "Annie."

Penobscot Theatre’s ‘Annie’ a holiday theatrical delight

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 10, 2012, at 10:39 a.m.
If you happen to see crowds pouring out of the Penobscot Theatre over the next few weeks, I predict you will see a sea of smiles. Their current production of the musical “Annie” is a holiday offering of optimism, rousing musical numbers, hilarious comic baddies, and a bit of irresistible …
Bailey Pagels, who was born prematurely on Oct. 28, is warmed by a hat knit by Phyllis Nodine. Holding her is her mother, Marcie Pagels, who travels from Cutler to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor be with Bailey as often as possible.

Stories of EMMC preemie and 75-year-old woman are knit together

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 06, 2012, at 1:55 p.m.
I have never been a knitter myself, but I have always been intrigued by how knitting seems to link women together. Certainly there is a fellowship among crafters sharing their work, but there is a connection that goes deeper than technique, into the realm of shared love. I have two …
Current students and alumni of all ages rehearsed together the morning of Saturday, Nov. 24, before their evening band performance in Hampden Academy's new Performing Arts Center.

Gala concert celebrates 70 years of grads, 200 years of history

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 29, 2012, at 2:23 p.m.
Hampden Academy’s new 900-seat performing arts center hosted an almost-full capacity crowd — the largest ever by a long shot — on Saturday, Nov. 24. It was not some hot-shot performer that drew the enthusiastic fans. It was more like a giant family reunion — one that included live performances, …
After 20 years as a refugee in the Ukraine, Afghani native Marzia Din Mohammad (far right) now has a home in Brewer, Maine.  In the photo she is joined by her friend and interpreter, Anna Baglay-Bouchard (center), and her daughter, Hila (left).

Harrowing refugee story ends with hope

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 23, 2012, at 6:15 a.m.
Rather than dwell on today’s chaos of consumption known as Black Friday, I’d like to share a story that is more in line with yesterday’s spirit of giving thanks. This story spans the globe from Afghanistan to the United States by way of Uzbekistan and the Ukraine. It concerns a …
The members of the Boyd Place Art Committee pose in front of a few works of art that they recently hung on the walls for their current exhibition. They are Jane Burger, left, Nina Jerome, LeeAnne Mallonee, Sarah Clark and Fran Clukey.

Honoring their art

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 15, 2012, at 5:40 p.m.
Three local artists, women with national-level talents and regional connections, have died within the past year. In addition to being great artists, Helen Marie Allen, Margaret Manter, and Mette Arup Watt were active community volunteers, teachers, mentors, wives and mothers. They were also friends of Boyd Place, an independent living …
On the coast of Greenland, Ian "Greasy" Stewart (from left), Tessa Wood and Sara Carter, the crew of the Wanderbird, display their newly shorn heads after having taken part last summer in the traditional ceremony for sailors who cross the Arctic Circle for the first time.

Arctic adventure forges bonds for the Wanderbird crew

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 08, 2012, at 1:45 p.m.
In a traditional rite of passage for sailors crossing the Arctic Circle for the first time, the three young crew members of the Wanderbird, an expedition vessel based out of Belfast, Maine, took part in a “blue nose ceremony” last summer off the shores of Greenland. The ceremony includes head …
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