A Somerset County Gem

A Somerset County Gem

The L.C. Bates Museum. Photo from their website.

The L.C. Bates Museum. Photo from their website.

Libraries are always looking for inexpensive, but information rich programs to enhance their summer offerings. At the Hartland Public Library, we’ve had the outreach staff at the L.C. Bates Museum, located on the Goodwill Hinkley Campus, do two programs each summer for the past three years. They are a screaming bargain and kids love the interactive and hands-on aspects. If you remember the post I did about our joint outdoor event at Hathorn Park, you saw pictures of the rocks and minerals table the Bates Museum had there.

That's the LAST time I read one of James Hayman's books during a thunder shower!

That’s the LAST time I read one of James Hayman’s books during a thunder shower!

Beth and I have been meaning to go over to Hinkley and visit the museum all summer. On Sunday, we combined it with a stop at the Fairfield Antiques Mall (another really interesting place here in Somerset County). The Goodwill campus, comprising 2400 acres overlooking the Kennebec River a couple miles south of the big paper plant, has undergone a renaissance in the past couple years. There was a time when it looked pretty sad and abandoned, but thanks in part to the Alfond Foundation, there’s a new charter school dedicated to agricultural technology and a new second campus for Kennebec Valley Community College.

Mineral and fossil lovers are going to have a blast here.

Mineral and fossil lovers are going to have a blast here.

The museum itself occupies three floors in an old brick building easily accessed from Rt. 201. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $1.00 for kids. The staff are friendly, eager to answer questions and extremely knowledgeable about the exhibits. (More about these in a bit). In addition to the outreach programs like the ones we have had them present at the library, they offer in-house programs for schools, again at extremely reasonable rates. Classes can choose from Maine Habitat Programs, Pond Explorations, Insects Everywhere, Maine Native Americans, Rocks, Minerals and Fossils, Maine’s Beautiful Birds, Maine Mammals and a new one this summer– Explore Maine Habitats Outdoors.

The museum also offers programs to the public. In September, you can take advantage of weekly sun viewings courtesy of their small outdoor observatory which will be available on sunny days between 1-3 pm (Wed-Fri). Bring a camera and try your hand at taking a photo of the sun. Saturday, September 6th at 1 pm, join the staff for Passenger Pigeon Day, to honor the 100th anniversary of their extinction and learn how it happened. That same day, you can join them at 7 pm for International Moon Night. Sunday, September 13th at 1, you can join them for How to Use a Printing Press and try your hand at setting type on an 1850′s Acorn Printing Press as well as learning about the newest printing phenomena, 3-D printing. On September 20th at 1, you can join the staff for a Fall Celebration walk to discover leaf changes that have just started, animal habits this time of year and the incredible story of migration.

Saturday mornings at ten are reserved for kids programs. Upcoming ones include Make Your Own Print on September 6th, Shell Pictures on the 13th, Why Do Leaves Change on the 20th, Migration on the 27th and Insects of the Forest on October 4th.

When you visit the museum, start by watching the video that tells the history of how Goodwill Hinkley began. Rev. Hinkley, a Baptist minister, had been profoundly affected by what happened to a childhood friend. He never forgot watching as the boy was sentenced to prison for stealing a half-eaten sandwich when he was starving. With the help of many compassionate people, he was able to create a place where troubled and parentless kids could have a safe place to live and a chance to become happy, productive people.

Reverend Hinkley, founder of Goodwill Hinkley. Photo courtesy od their website.

Reverend Hinkley, founder of Goodwill Hinkley. Photo courtesy od their website.

Take time to look over the amazing array of exhibits. The museum really does offer something for everyone. Kids (and adults) who love rocks and minerals will be thrilled by the room full of specimens from all over the world that occupies half of the basement. Bird lovers will be equally thrilled by the exhibit on the main floor (just a portion of some 600 specimens donated to the museum) and don’t hesitate to try the electronic bird call device. Downstairs you can see pretty much every animal in the Maine woods, as well as a few you aren’t likely to, unless global warming really speeds up. (No two toed sloths here yet, I hope). Most of them are in realistic dioramas. Keep an eye out for the really neat Fairy Bottles scattered throughout the exhibits. Fairy-loving kids (and adults) will get a kick out of the stories about the inhabitants).

Who needs Cable. I've got an awesome place to explore right here.

Who needs Cable. I’ve got an awesome place to explore right here.

Other exhibits include insects, art, fish, fossils, pottery and sculpture., in short, something for everyone. Cameras are not permitted, but the gift shop has postcards, souvenirs and tons of rock samples for every mineral lover. The museum is open as follows: April to mid-November, Wednesday to Saturday 10 AM to 4:30 PM and Sunday 1 to 4:30 PM and other times by appointment. Winter hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10AM to 4:30PM and other times by appointment or chance, please call 238-4250 to be sure we are here to greet you in winter. Closed if the roads are snowy. Please note that we are not heated in winter! Dress warmly if you come for a visit.

You can get a lot more information and see what is happening by friending them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lcbates) or by checking out their website at http://www.gwh.org/lcbates/LCBatesMuseum.aspx There are also several easy hiking trails of less than a mile and maps are available at the museum. Bring a lunch and make a day of it. If you want to see more about the museum in pictures, check them out on the fantastic Maine Memory Network at www.MaineMemory.net

Bernard Langlais, 1976. Photograph by David Hiser, courtesy of the Colby College Museum of Art.

Bernard Langlais, 1976. Photograph by David Hiser, courtesy of the Colby College Museum of Art.

If you want to take advantage of another unique artistic opportunity in Maine, consider following the recently created Langlais Art Trail. You can learn about this amazing new cultural phenomenon here at www.langlaisarttrail.org

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Tomato Salad Recipe

BoiledOverfrontcoverHi. Barb here. Happy Labor Day. To celebrate the traditional end of the summer, I’m offering another recipe from Boiled Over, my second Maine Clambake Mystery. It will be especially useful for those of you who are now or will soon be overrun with garden tomatoes. My husband’s been making this recipe for years and years and it’s a huge favorite in our house. His mother also makes it, so it goes back a ways, though the two of them occasionally argue about the ingredients.

In Boiled Over, I give the recipe to Richelle Rose, one of the “guest stars” in the book. She’s a professional tour guide.

Richelle’s Tomato Salad

tomato salad 2Richelle Rose lives on the road giving tours throughout Maine. When she’s home, she craves simple, local food, and in the summer, that means tomato salad. The basic recipe is wonderful. Add in one or more of the options only if you happen to have the ingredient at hand or desire the taste. Because the flavor of this recipe depends so much on the taste and texture of the tomatoes, it should be made only when you have access to really good ones.


4 large tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


red onion, chopped or sliced
cucumber, seeded and diced
oregano, fresh
basil, fresh
8-12 ounces bocconcini (mozzarella bites) or other fresh mozzarella

tomato saladCore tomatoes and slice into bite-sized chunks. Layer tomatoes in serving bowl, salting each layer with kosher salt. Mince garlic and toss with tomatoes. Add any other optional ingredients. Cover bowl and marinate at room temperature for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. May be served chilled or at room temperature. Also makes a wonderful fresh sauce for pasta. Serves 4.

Enjoy and happy Labor Day!

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Weekend Update: August 30-31, 2014

fallsbooks1Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Barbara Ross (Monday), John Clark (Tuesday), Sarah Graves (Wednesday), Kate Flora (Thursday), and Kaitlyn Dunnett (Friday).

In the news department, here’s what’s happening with some of us who blog regularly at Maine Crime Writers:

vbts(small)from Kaitlyn Dunnett: Tuesday, September 2nd, is the release date for the paperback reprint of the 7th Liss MacCrimmon mystery, Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones, the one set at Halloween in Moosetookalook, Maine. The next new hardcover (Ho-Ho-Homicide) is a Christmas book, so it won’t hit stores until the end of October. Meanwhile, I’ve sent back the copy-edits for Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe (March 2015 pub date, w/a Kathy Lynn Emerson) and turned in the 9th Liss, tentatively titled The Scottie Barked at Midnight. That one will be out in about a year. Time now to take a deep breath. Then it’s back to work on the proposal for the 10th Liss MacCrimmon (“a reasonably detailed outline” due in December) and on turning the second book in the historical series, which has been “resting” in its very very rough draft stage, into something readable by January 15th. Busy. Busy. But at least I can do some of that sitting on the screen porch on the last lazy days of summer.

Lea Wait:  Congratulations, Kaitlyn! Great book! (I read it in hard cover.) My only news this week is that Tuesday morning I’m speaking at Career Day at Lincoln Academy in Damariscotta about careers for writers. Gee .. why did they ask me to do that?!


An invitation to readers of this blog: Do you have news relating to Maine, Crime, or Writing? We’d love to hear from you. Just comment below to share. Don’t forget that comments are entered for a chance to win our wonderful basket of books and the very special moose and lobster cookie cutters.


And a reminder: If your library, school, or organization is looking for a speaker, we are often available to talk about the writing process, research, where we get our ideas, and other mysteries of the business. Contact Kate Flora: mailto: kateflora@gmail.com

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It’s a Brave New World

Al Lamanda here, with an observation: I see potential plots to murder mysteries everywhere I go and in nearly everything that I come in contact with in everyday life. If you write mystery/thrillers for a living you probably do the same thing as well.

I recently spent some time with my four-year-old grandson and after a day or so I came to realize just how far advanced kids are today over the time when I was his age. This little guy will grow up and never experience many things that helped shape my life. Things such as giant black and white television sets so large they were classified as furniture and that had just three stations and after a few years, when the knob fell off, channels were switched (gasp, you actually had to get off the sofa to do this) with a pair of pliers. He’ll never experience rotating a dial with your finger to make a phone call or speaking to a live operator. That kitchen wall phones can’t be used to take photographs and are mobile only to the end of the cord. His world will take for granted that the internet, cell phones, video games, iPads, laptops and flat screen, giant TV’s that get 500 channels (yeah, I only watch two or three of them, too)always existed for his pleasure and convenience.

With that thought in mind, I would like to share with you a recent dining experience I had at a local restaurant. You’ve probably had the same experience. I won’t name names, but you know the one with unlimited garlic rolls and salad.

So I’m waiting outside for a table. They give you a little disc that lights up when your table is ready. A group of six young women were also outside waiting for a table. Each of them had a cell phone (do you not?) and for some reason couldn’t control the urge to take selfies (code word for self-centered?) and then immediately post them to wherever things go when you post them. Let’s call it Wherever Land. They took maybe a dozen selfies, but couldn’t figure out how to take a group shot consisting of all six of them in one frame. They tried positioning themselves in various positions, but try as they might they just couldn’t seem to get it right. My better half suggested I ask them if I could take the group shot for them, but I figured if they wanted my help they would have noticed me just a few feet away and would have asked (not really what I figured, but hey, let’s keep it clean here.)

Then my little disc lit up and so did theirs. I went inside and they did not. They were still working on the six in the group selfies thing. The usual then happened. I was seated; a waiter gave us menus and said he would be back in a few minutes. Then the six young women arrived at a table next to mine and immediately began to text (do you not?) Six of them with wiggling fingers (special note: much loud giggling is required when taking and posting selfies.) Our waiter brought us bread and left them menus. The girls continued to text until the waiter brought them bread. They immediately started taking photos of the bread and selfies of, well, themselves with the bread and emailing them to Wherever Land.

The waiter took our order and then moved over to the selfies table, but the girls hadn’t touched the menus and immediately wanted to take selfies with the waiter. He obliged and more selfies were taken and sent to Wherever Land, after which the girls finally got around to ordering something.

By this time other tables were trying to catch the eye of the waiter and when he finally was done with selfies he managed to wait on them. Our food arrived and we were halfway done with the meal when the waiter arrived at the selfies table with their food. (Note: more giggling is required when a waiter brings your food) They immediately started taking pictures of their dishes and selfies galore and sending them to Wherever Land.

I ordered coffee and dessert and watched the girls laugh and giggle at their selfies and text and so on and on, until they finally got around to eating their food which, (SURPRISE) by now was stone cold. They called the waiter to the table and complained to him about the cold food. He got the manager and the complaining continued (in the meantime, no one else in the section had their food or could get a waiter) until the manager had the waiter return the food to the kitchen to warm it up and promised each girl a free dessert for THEIR trouble. When the waiter came back with the hot food, the girls insisted that he take a photo of their six smiling faces. And he did. And the photo went to Wherever Land.

I was done with dessert and coffee, but hung around with a second cup long enough for the waiter to bring the girls their six free desserts. Try to guess what happened next. Try to guess who gets killed in my next mystery novel.

I have to wonder, will my grandson in a dozen years of so be seated in a restaurant with his friends be more interested in taking selfies of his food than eating it? Don’t answer that.

It’s a brave new world we live in and sometimes it’s kind of selfies. I mean selfish.

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A Grim Furry Tail

James Hayman: Once upon a time, not very long ago, in a kingdom by the sea known as Maine, there lived a beautiful artist and her slightly corpulent (but nonetheless swell-looking) husband, who was a writer. Together the two made a modest but adequate living. She by turning out lovely works of art. He by killing people–usually attractive young women–in brutal, nasty and hopefully inventive ways.

As our tale begins, the beautiful artist and the slightly corpulent (but nonetheless swell-looking) writer were happy. They had recently moved into what seemed to them the perfect cottage. Especially perfect because it boasted a bright sun-filled back room with glass doors and broad windows that looked out upon a lovely greensward which rolled down to a small body of water known throughout the kingdom as Back Cove.

In the evenings, the two would sit, looking out at the view, he slugging back goblets of blood-red wine, she daintily sipping hundred proof vodka. Beyond the windows, birds twittered in hundred year old trees. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower in the couple’s newly dug and planted garden. Waves rippled gaily across the waters of the cove.

Life seemed idyllic. In fact, a veritable Eden. And, children, as we all know, where there is an Eden, there is inevitably a serpent. Or serpents. Or, more accurately in this case, an evil gang of gray bushy tailed beasts.

In the beginning the couple ignored the beasts. And the beats ignored them.

But then the beautiful artist decided that she so loved the birds that she wanted to invite them to feast on seed closer to the cottage so she could gaze ever more closely at them. She found a merchant of hardware on a street named in memory of the famous Saint John. There she purchased for a handful of dollars (ducats no longer being legal tender) half a dozen cylinders to hang by her windows and giant sacks of seed with which to fill them..

At first all was well. Bird-Word went far and wide. “Free Eats @Hayman”, birds twittered in less than 140 characters. And soon hungry visitors were coming in great numbers from far and wide to feast upon the seed. This delighted the beautiful artist.

Not far behind came the bushy tailed beasts. They called themselves “Squirrels”.

Suddenly, they were everywhere! Climbing on the feeding cylinders. Climbing on the outdoor furniture. Hanging from the screens by their rear leg claws while holding on to the feeders with their front. Even urinating on windows. And leaving much of what had been Eden a smelly, filthy mess.

This bothered the beautiful artist (Actually a lot more than it did the swell looking writer.) In fact, as the beasts cracked birdseed, the writer, as was his wont in times of trouble, cracked jokes. The beautiful artist didn’t laugh. In fact, she found herself irritated to the point of throwing her glass slippers at the beasts and crying “Be Gone!”.

In return they simply chortled, “Heh-heh-heh”

“Your Wordship,” she finally cried in desperation (This was how swell looking writers were generally addressed in those days) “Your Wordship, I am desperate. We must rid ourselves of these beastly intruders.”

The two of them tried all they could think of. First they sat guard, water hoses at the ready, to squirt the invaders. However the bushy-tailed beasts soon realized the two could only sit guard for so long. The swell-looking writer also purchased a sling-shot similar to the one Kind David had used to bring down the giant. But in spite of his long experience at whacking fictional people, he proved less talented at whacking real life bushy-tailed beasts.

Pouring vats of boiling oil from the battlements of the cottage was considered. This would have instantly turned the bushy-tailed beasts into Crispy Critters. But the cottage lacked battlements and so proved impossible to implement. Besides, what would an artist and a writer do with all those deceased Crispy Critters?

Finally, the beautiful but now frustrated artist made her way to the famed wizard known as The Apple Who Sits Upon the Lap and through him consulted the Source of All Wisdom, the Sourcerer Google. This great magician knew all. In fact he usually knew too much. Way too much. He offered the artist and the writer 119,121 possible solutions to their problem. He told them they must begin a quest to find the one true answer.

Among the solutions were many ingenious ones. For example, they were told to mount long aluminum tubes beneath the cylinders. It was said the bushy-tailed beasts would enter the tubes, strike their heads upon the bottoms of the cylinders, and retreat in disarray. The beautiful artist and swell-looking writer looked at each other, simultaneously shook their heads and muttered “Nah.”

Another possible solution suggested by a cottage owner in Illinois was what was called the “Slinky Surprise.” Attach, it was said, one end of a Slinky toy to the top of the feeding pole. Let the remainder hang down. Bushy-tailed beasts who tried  leaping upon the pole would grab the Slinky and promptly find themselves flung to the ground. Once again our heroes said, “Nah.”

Finally, both the beautiful artist and the swell looking writer found a possible answer. It was a magic potion known to some of the peasants as Vaseline. To others as Petroleum Jelly.

They purchased a large vat of the stuff and, as instructed, hung their feeding tubes from poles. They then slathered the poles with handfuls of the greasy concoction.

The bushy-tailed beasts arrived.  Soon the beautiful artist and the swell looking writer were sitting back and laughing their asses off as one bushy tailed beast after another slid ignominiously to the ground, shouting “Curses! Foiled Again!”.

A film of this activity was made in which you, dear reader, may watch this triumph for yourselves. Simply go to:


And what of the artist, the writer and the now overfed birds? Naturally, they all lived happily ever after. The bushy tailed beasts not so much.

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