Conversations with Maine

Connie Carter, founder of Operation Breaking Stereotypes, at an event in Orono in this file photo.

Maine native forges ties by breaking stereotypes

By Robin Clifford Wood on April 08, 2014, at 12:30 p.m.
It isn’t so strange to imagine a bunch of Maine high school students taking a class trip to New York City, but it might sound strange to hear that the trip will mean attending school with and living in the homes of a bunch of inner city teenagers. And it …
Mary Lawrence Clifford, mother of columnist Robin Clifford Wood, died at her home on March 15, 2014.

My mother’s choice to die

By Robin Clifford Wood on March 25, 2014, at 1:39 p.m.
The story I’d like to tell today did not take place in Maine. Since it is a story about dying, however, the lessons are universal. I haven’t published for about a month because I went to New York to be with my parents when my mother’s health took a sudden …
Jeanette Beaton, 94, of Bangor, has traveled to 105 different places around the world.  She attended the Iditarod in Alaska for the eighth time in 2011.

94-year-old globetrotter recalls 105 journeys

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 25, 2014, at 4:23 p.m.
Jeanette Beaton, born in Moscow, Maine, in 1919, has visited all 50 states plus more than 50 provinces, territories, islands and countries around the world. Her specialty is northern climes. She has attended Alaska’s Iditarod eight times, spent the night at Sweden’s Icehotel, ridden the Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow, Russia, …
Mark Hathaway, survivor of "locked-in syndrome," sits in his Litchfield home in this February 2014 photo.

Maine native hopes to inspire, educate after surviving coma, ‘locked-in syndrome’

By Robin Clifford Wood on Feb. 11, 2014, at 5:27 a.m.
In September 1980, a sudden, devastating illness left 24-year-old Mark Hathaway in a coma for six weeks. After regaining consciousness, Mark spent another six weeks fully aware of his surroundings but unable to move, blink or even breathe for himself. And yet, he’ll tell you how fortunate he feels to …
Travis Baker, playwright of award winning "One Blue Tarp," at his home in Orono.

Playwright’s award-winning Maine play comes to Penobscot Theatre

By Robin Clifford Wood on Jan. 28, 2014, at 12:45 p.m.
Travis Baker may be from away, but he has made diligent efforts to understand the essence of his new home state. In his award-winning play “One Blue Tarp,” which has its world premiere at Penobscot Theatre this week, he seeks to represent an authentic Maine: its people, culture and conflicts. …

Rhyming in the New Year

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 31, 2013, at 3:49 p.m.
I went out walking yesterday – new crampons on my feet. The well-timed gift gave me a way to grip ground slicked with sleet.   A sheet of ice two inches thick had blanketed December. It was a trial, a Christmas trick we all will long remember.   I tramp …
Vivian Murray, now living in  Bangor, spent her first 87 years living in Lubec. Her best friend for more than 75 years crocheted the afghan in this photo, and used to own the rocker that is now in Vivian's room at Phillips-Strickland House.

After 80 years in Lubec, Vivian gladly shares her wealth of stories

By Robin Clifford Wood on Dec. 17, 2013, at 5:05 p.m.
In the middle of an April blizzard in Lubec in 1924, Charles Tinker had to bundle up and walk the mile into town. He had to fetch the doctor. Charles’ wife, Mary, was in labor with her 12th child. I had a lovely conversation last week at the Phillips-Strickland House …
Obie Clifford, 81, after starting voice lessons in his 70s, now volunteers to sing concerts in retirement homes.  He performed in Falmouth earlier this fall.

Never too old: spending time with seniors

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 19, 2013, at 5:34 p.m.
A few weeks ago, I drove down to Falmouth to see my 81-year-old father perform in front of a crowd. My Dad has been speaking in public for many decades in the context of his consulting work, based in New York City. I’ve also seen him address crowds as a …
Sunrise in Maine

A year of sunrise binds writer to Maine

By Robin Clifford Wood on Nov. 05, 2013, at 4:05 p.m.
If you had to choose one thing that keeps you in Maine, what would it be? The question stumped me. Only one? A National Public Radio show called “State of the RE:Union” asks this question for their project “The One Thing.” They are exploring the shrinking populations of small-town America, …
Several members of the Island Falls team that has worked on reviving the town's economy stands on the back deck of the new River Cafe. From left are Libby Moulton, Skip Lewin, Pete Connelly, Cheryl Connelly and Tabby York.

Island Falls, reimagined

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 22, 2013, at 4:35 p.m.
There are a lot of stories of Mainers leaving the state to find opportunity. This is a story of a Mainer returning to create opportunity back home. Pete Connelly and his wife, Cheryl, are the owners of a rambling commercial building on the banks of the West Branch of the …
One of only 142 identified Revere bells still in existence in the United States hangs in the tower of Hampden's historic Harmony Hall.

Hampden Garden Club mixes history, hard work and flowers

By Robin Clifford Wood on Oct. 08, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.
I recently took a walk up Kennebec Road in Hampden to meet some people in a freshly restored 1828 church building. The story they had to tell was an uplifting combination of history, hard work, community collaboration and flowers. Like many old church buildings around New England, Harmony Hall has …

Love of Maine, love of medicine both shine in new book

By Robin Clifford Wood on Sept. 10, 2013, at 2:36 p.m.
A fluffy white dog with a wiggly tail yapped his hello for me at the door of Joan MacCracken’s log home in Brooksville. “It’s OK, Quig,” said Joan, reaching down to scoop him up. “Quigley? Like the dog in your book?” I asked. “Yup,” said Joan, giving Quigley a scratch. …
Tessa Wood with her Dad (who is about to tackle a crab dish called "Godzilla") at "Jacques-Imo's" Restaurant in New Orleans.

Road trip to the Deep South

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 27, 2013, at 1:42 p.m.
This week’s column covers about 2,700 miles and spans 15 states — from Hampden, Maine to New Orleans, La. and part way back. Last week, my youngest daughter, Tessa, and I packed up our Honda with her electric keyboard, accordion and a few large duffel bags. We set out on …
Angela Taylor, 98, reads from a journal in which she has recorded summer visits to Islesford, Maine since 1957.

Maine summer islander is 98 years young

By Robin Clifford Wood on Aug. 13, 2013, at 3:32 p.m.
Family lore has it that Angela Taylor weighed nearly 13 pounds at birth. Her subsequent breathing problems were so severe by the time she was 3 that a doctor told Angela’s parents she would die in six months. That was about 95 years ago. I met Angela last week in …
"The Stone House," home to the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing.

BDN columnist goes back to school

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 30, 2013, at 2:47 p.m.
On July 13, two days into a 10-day residency for the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts program, I scrawled a few lines in my journal before falling into bed in a stupor: “My head is spinning, I’m exhausted, and I am in bliss.” I assumed that …
John and Marisue Pickering of Orono recently self-published a charming book about great day trip destinations from central Maine. Each destination includes photos, an informative essay, and references for further exploration.

Couple turns Maine explorations into a guidebook

By Robin Clifford Wood on July 02, 2013, at 5:55 p.m.
I recently spent an afternoon with two people who have quietly and determinedly forged paths of their own choosing. Between them, this highly inquisitive couple has completed multiple academic degrees, published professional articles and books, raised two sons and taught countless students of all ages. They also have traveled all …
Aqsa Munir, an exchange student from Pakistan who attended high school in Hampden this year, spent her final weekend in the U.S. out on the Cranberry Islands.

Saying goodbye to our Pakistani daughter

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 18, 2013, at 11:58 a.m.
Last week, we had a going away party for Aqsa, our daughter-for-a-year who came from Pakistan to live with an American family, attend high school, and exchange cultural perspectives. Our party guests came from Hampden, Bangor, Pakistan, Thailand, Germany, Egypt, Lebanon, Denmark, France, Spain, Japan, and Israel. An extraordinary gathering, …
Cristi Hegranes (right) works with Tara Bhattarai, the Global Press Institute's country editor in Nepal.

Woman’s vision trains, empowers truth-tellers worldwide

By Robin Clifford Wood on June 11, 2013, at 4:02 p.m.
On May 8, I spent an evening with a woman who is changing the world. I don’t usually employ dramatic statements, but some people demand hyperbole. Seven years ago, Cristi Hegranes founded the Global Press Institute, an award-winning organization that educates, empowers and employs women around the world to publish …
Don Gallupe, 89, shared life stories and war stories with Robin Clifford Wood at Dysart's earlier this month.

Bangor veteran of World War II exemplifies the way life should be

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 21, 2013, at 9:09 p.m.
Eighty-nine years ago, Don Gallupe was born in a little hospital in Brewer, Maine. He grew up near the intersection of 14th and Union streets in Bangor, when the area was surrounded by farmland and places to fish and hunt. Today, he and Patricia, his wife of 63 years, still …
Heidi LaForge has been the owner of Maine Animal Keeper in Hermon for more than 14 years.

Depths of dog dedication, personified

By Robin Clifford Wood on May 07, 2013, at 2:03 p.m.
For years, whenever I must leave my dear doggie friends behind, I entrust them to Heidi LaForge. Her devotion to animals is unsurpassed, and her thoroughness is a sure thing. The other sure thing about Heidi is that every encounter with her leaves one slightly shell-shocked. Between the playful sparkle …
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