Wednesday foreign film night: “Le Havre”


 (2011 Finland/France)

An elderly shoeshine man stands up to officials pursuing an immigrant child in this contemporary fable. English Subtitles.



Library Learning Center, 7:30 p.m.

FREE   (Wednesday night series of movies from around the world.)

The Maine Garden Journal

For those of you who missed the talk at the beginning of this summer’s Long Island garden tour by Lisa Colburn, you will have another opportunity upcoming, at Portland Public Library’s Local Author’s Lecture Series on Friday, August 31st, at noon. Lisa’s book is subtitled: Insider  secrets  from  Maine  people  who  love  to  put  their  hands  in  the  dirt.

For more information on Lisa and her book, check out her website:


Foreign film night begins again!

Our foreign film night series begins again tomorrow night (Wednesday August 8) at the Library Learning Center with:

“The Women on the 6th Floor”  (2010 France).

A French businessman’s life is turned upside down when he discovers the world of Spanish maids living in his family’s building.  Comedy set in 1960’s Paris.  (English subtitles.)

Come join us at 7:30 p.m. This series is free and highlights movies from around the world.

In addition, we’ll have a bonus short feature to show beforehand: “Sandwich.” This short (12 min.) film is a story of mystery, suspense, and comedy. Filmed on Long Island, Maine, (although a British project), it stars the well-known Long Island actors, Bob Jordan, Emil Berges, and Philip Hale.

The film was written, directed, filmed, produced, and financed by young, award-winning Callum Hale Thomson of the Hale family, long-time summer residents.  The film has just been accepted for entry in a Chicago film festival this October.  Come and see a fine film and great acting!  FREE at the Long Island Learning Center at 7:30 p.m., before “The Women on the 6th floor.”

Expansion project records – documenting our history

10 years ago our library was in the midst of a major expansion project, which allowed us to move our tiny library collection from the cramped and dark basement area of the school, into a glorious new space full of light and color. Thanks to the hard work of the building committee, ably led by our current library director, Nancy Jordan, this space, which not only includes a library, but also an art gallery, meeting space, multi-purpose room, meeting room, and computer room, is now open 7 days a week. Architect Frank Oliva designed our beautiful new building, which was completed in 2004. spring on Long Island 9

Nancy Jordan recently donated the records of the project to the Long Island Historical Society, and they are now processed and available for researchers. This collection (1.5 linear ft.) is an excellent documentation of a construction project, and includes correspondence, documents, invoices, newspaper clippings, photographs, and minutes. Major parts of the collection are regarding not only the construction, but the fundraising and grants applied for. It’s truly evidence of what can be done with a lot of determination and fortitude.

One man’s trash…

Where do you find your books? I’m not techy enough to go the download route, or Kindle or Nook. I tend to use more traditional means – the “brick and mortar” bookstore (although my husband prefers Amazon), especially the local bookstore (as opposed to chains). Of course I mostly acquire books through the library: our own Long Island library, the Portland Public Library (one block from where I work), or other libraries in downtown Portland: Maine Charitable Mechanics Association and the Maine Irish Heritage Center library.

But my favorite place to acquire books is at used book sales, either ongoing sales, such as the one we have at the Long Island Community Library, or a room at the Portland Public Library that is set up for book sales, or annual events, such as Art & Soul, or the Friends of the Portland Public Library sale (this year held at Catherine McAuley High School). Here you can find great bargains, and bring home armloads of books for not much cash. I’ve also been successful finding cheap books at yard sales. I’ve even had good luck with books on the side of the road or left at the ferry landing in banana boxes. My house is evidence of these great finds – now to just find the time to read them!

So, all of you out there in blog land (I know there’s a few): where do you find the best treasures?

Maine Irish Heritage Center library

Another great Portland special library to visit is the Maine Irish Heritage Center library, on the corner of Gray and State Streets. Housed in the old St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, the library just opened in May of 2009. Under the tutelage and guidance of volunteer librarian Susan Flaherty, this library has grown into a wonderful resource of Irish literature, and boasts subjects such as religion, travel, history, and language. They even have Irish music cassettes, movies, knitting patterns, and just about anything else Irish you can imagine. Members are allowed to check out items, for a period of one month. Often on the Tuesday afternoons that the library is open, you can enter in through the front door of the church, which allows you to wander in through the beautiful sanctuary before entering into the library itself, which also has wonderful atmosphere, with high ceilings and a large wooden sacramental dresser now used for storing library materials.

This summer there is also, at the center, an exhibit of the photographs of our fellow Casco Bay Islander – Bill Finney of Great Diamond Island. His images, often of landscapes, are breathtaking.

For more information:

Maine Irish Heritage Center Library, 34 Gray Street (corner of State),, 207-780-0118, Tuesdays 4-6


Okay, who here likes pastries? Well, after “sampling” two of the offerings in our library, both in film and book format, I decided that I like eating pastries more than making them.

In the documentary film, “Kings of Pastry,” French pastry chefs compete for the coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France award. The amazing sculptures they create are true artistry (although you wouldn’t be tempted to take a bite), and you will be on the edge of your seat as they carry the delicate and fragile looking concoctions from room to room. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

In Dalia Jurgensen’s “Spiced: a pastry chef’s true stories of trials by fire, after-hours exploits, and what really goes on in the kitchen,” you will also mostly realize what a lot of hard work it is to be a pastry chef. This somewhat racy memoir will leave you a bit tired and breathless.

So, at the end of the day, I’ll stick to my day job, and leave the pastry making to the experts. And as I reach for a napolean I will appreciate what it takes to make these confections, and relish every bite.


Special libraries in Portland – Maine Charitable Mechanics Association Library

High above the din of Congress Street in Portland, is a hidden treasure: the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association’s library, a private library which dates back to the 19th century. Although created as a library for apprentices in 1815, today it boasts an outstanding collection of fiction and non-fiction, as well as Maine books. Just heading up the stairs puts you into a different world. You enter into through double doors, into a large room with high ceilings, with portraits of “mechanics” lining two sides of the room, and exhibits in glass cases to show off the Association’s treasures. Mostly, though, you will see wonderful books right at your fingertips. Pat Larrabee, the librarian, says that the collection is a great resource for book clubs, who often read the classics. (In fact, the first Tuesday of each month a book club meets, enjoying tea and pastries, conversation and laughter). They don’t usually weed at the Maine Charitable Mechanic, so you will often find well loved copies of old books, that are usually tossed onto the booksale cart at most libraries if they haven’t been checked out in the past decade. The Library also has art exhibits, and is open, outside of their usual hours, on First Fridays.  Highlights for me of this collection are the travel videos and DVDS – many of which are products of the travelogue series that the Association sponsors. Books and videos aside, it’s worth a visit just to enjoy the ambience. (And one of the things I love most about visiting this library is the chocolates and cookies often lying around).

The Maine Charitable library, located at 519 Congress St., is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10-3, and First Fridays. Membership is $25 a year, but anyone is welcome to take a look around and enjoy the exhibits. For more information: or call 207-773-8396


Little Gale Gumbo

Here is a plug for a friend of mine speaking at the Portland Public Library in a week. Erika grew up in Maine, and her mother is a dear friend of mine.

Wednesday, June 27 Erika Marks, author of Little Gale Gumbo
Erika Marks’ debut women’s fiction novel, Little Gale Gumbo, is about a woman and her daughters who leave a difficult past in New Orleans to start over in a small Maine town where they open a Creole restaurant.  Hoping for a fresh start, Camille and her daughters, Dahlia and Josie, leave their lives in New Orleans and move to Little Gale, Maine.  On the small island the locals are skeptical of the trio, but twenty-five years later Camille’s café becomes an island staple.  All seems right in their world, including Camille’s relationship with a local man, Ben.  But tragedy soon strikes and Ben is left fighting for his life.  Dahlia and Josie, along with Ben’s son, Matthew, must do everything they can to protect Ben and confront long-held secrets and unrequited loves that will test them as a family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erika Marks lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her family.  Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @erikamarksauthr.

Daphne Du Maurier’s Cornwall

A year ago we were in Cornwall, visiting Daphne Du Maurier sites. Led by our friend Jane, a Du Maurier scholar, we visited places that influenced Du Maurier’s novels. In Helford we searched for “Frenchman’s Creek,” a tale set in the time of Charles II and which includes love affairs, smuggling, and all sorts of swashbuckling adventures. In Fowey we walked on to a car ferry which took us across the River Fowey to Boddinick, where we could view from a distance (and later over a fence) Daphne’s home, “Ferryside,” where her son Kits now lives. This beautiful white house with blue shutters is perched on the edge of the water, and has the figurehead of the ship, Jane Slade, on one of the corners of the house. Jane Slade is the inspiration for the character of Janet Coombe of Du Maurier’s first novel, “The Loving Spirit.” Written in 1929, this novel tells the story of the four generations of the Coombe family of boatbuilders. We could see the boatyard that the Slades owned in the distance in Polruan.

Hiking through the nearby hills we came across a stone monument to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, a writer friend of Daphne’s, for whom she carried on the writing of “Castle Dor,” in 1959, a decade after Quiller-Couch died. Along the way we veered off the hike to visit the church at Lanteglos, where Daphne married her husband, Tommy “Boy” Browning, in 1932. We wandered in the churchyard, in search of the gravestone of Jane Slade. In the 14th century stone church was just one small mention of the wedding of Daphne and Tommy, amidst its long and storied history.

One evening we dined at “Sam’s at the Beach” in Polkerris, in an old converted lifeboat station. On the wall we saw the name Rashleigh on the Fowey lifeboat sign – this name is prevalent in this area. Du Maurier based her book, “My Cousin Rachel,” on the Rashleigh name, and called her main character, “Philip Ashley.” Menabilly, the house that Daphne Du Maurier rented for a few years, is on the Rashleigh estate. This house was the setting for her most well known novel, “Rebecca” – renamed Manderley in the book, which is set in the early 20th century, as well as “The King’s General,” set during the time of the English Civil War (1642-1646)

I wish I had read these novels when I was a teenager, as they would have stirred my imagination and filled my world with romanticism. Alas, most of these I read 30 years later, but found them just as intriguing and entertaining. Especially when combined with physically visiting the places – what could be more delightful!

A small library on an island on the coast of Maine