Two Years Have Gone Fast
We bought the Farmhouse on August 10, 1998, with the intention of moving there full-time in a few years. Our timetable for the move was pretty flexible. It all depended on the progress of renovation, and how the book business grew. But there was never any firm plan for when we would move, lock stock and barrel, to Maine.
The renovation has progressed fairly well, and our contractor Paul has made good progress on the major things that needed to be done. We've tried to keep you abreast of developments through the Journal Entries. It was essential that the building of an office and shipping room in the carriage house, and this is now completely done. Also the renovation of the wiring, heating, and plumbing to bring it all up to code has been pretty much done. I had the chimney lined and repointed, so I feel much safer about the heating season. I've been on too many chimney fires as a volunteer fireman to be very comfortable with an unlined chimney in a house.
The book business has now been on the internet for more than three years, and Penny is devoting all of her time to handling orders and putting new inventory on our website. We are very pleased that it continues to grow, and at some point in the future it will require not only her full-time attention but mine as well. For the time being, I'm her part-time helper evenings and weekends, and it works fairly well.
This last year or two has been hectic for me and my day job. I've been on the road a lot, learning how to telecommute from airports and hotel rooms. I have been fortunate enough to work out an arrangement with my day job to be able to work from home as a telecommuter. These days, with e-mail, faxes, conference calls and computers, it is just as efficient to do my job from home in Maine as anywhere else. Besides, with the amount of time that I am on the road a lot with clients, the Portland airport is as handy to fly from as the Albany airport is.
All of a sudden, everything fell into place and the timetable for our move to Maine was accelerated. During July I had called Paul. Penny and I had made the "big move" decision and were trying to fix a date.
"So Paul, we're thinking about moving to the Farmhouse in August. Will things be ready for us to move in - like the living room, dining room, bathrooms, office and shipping rooms?"
The "gulp" on the other end of the phone was almost audible "When were you thinking of moving?" he said.
"I figure we'll move up the last of the stuff we have in New York during August, with all the books and bookshelving toward the end of the month. We'd be completely moved in by September 1."
"Well, you know what shape the living room and dining rooms are in - we're still waiting on the drywall crew to finish the walls and ceiling. I wanted to wait to put down the floors until they were done, but they are nearly a month overdue from the schedule they gave us." Paul said. "Mebbe I could arrange to have Marilyn and the kids come up one weekend to stain and poly the flooring outside, and it would be ready to install as soon as the drywallers are done."
"That works for me - what about the office and shipping room?"
"The walls and everything is done there, I can lay the flooring and stain and polyurethane in place. I can do that while Marilyn and the kids are doing the living room and dining room flooring."
Earlier, Penny and I had picked out the stain to go on the hard pine flooring that we had bought from Steep Falls Lumber. "That sounds like a plan, Paul, let's do it. I'll try and get ahold of the drywaller and prod him a little bit as well." I said. "What about the bathrooms? Will they be ready?"
"Probably not with everything else, but I'll keep working at it. At least Penny will have her bathtub, and one toilet will be working. And there's the outside shower for you."
And so the die was cast. Paul and I went through the list of other projects in various stages of completion, and decided which ones could be done later, while we were in residence. We gave a 30 day notice to our landlord that we were leaving his rental house in Clifton Park, and made arrangements for a crew to help load and unload our books and household goods from one location to the other. We were able to make the move from Albany to Sebago during August, and are now settled at the Farmhouse.
Hillsboro - We're Half Way There!
In two years, we have made about 36 trips from our residence near Albany to the Farmhouse. Most of these trips are chronicled in the various Journal Entries. We hauled a load in the trailer just about every trip, bringing over furniture, appliances, books, boxes and the usual household goods. In addition, we made a couple of trips to our boy Jim's former place in Athens, Maine, to collect the books and furniture that had been stored in the barn there for several years.
Through trial and error, we learned that the turnpike route from NY to Maine was the smoothest, but was also the longest distance (300 miles) and time (6 hours). The shortest was cross-country, across the mountain spines of southern Vermont, traversing western New Hampshire and running around the southern and eastern side of Lake Winnipesaukee, and into western Maine to Sebago. The roads in Vermont are typical two-lane, winding New England roads. There is a mountain to cross between Bennington and Wilmington that causes your hair to curl during snowstorms, icy roads, or with an overloaded U-Haul. The second mountain, Hog Back, between Wilmington and Brattleboro, isn't much friendlier.
We could pace our progress by the towns we went through. Bennington, VT was one hour out, or 45 minutes if traffic was light. We would reach Brattleboro, VT in about 1 1/2 hours if the roads were good and there was no bad weather coming over the mountains to slow us down. The Keene lights were a little over 2 hours on the way, and when we reached Hillsboro, NH we were about half-way to the Farmhouse. The turn-off at Henniker to go to the Bradford camps was exactly 100 miles to the Farmhouse. Coming into Concord, NH we had a little four-lane, and we then had about 2 hours to go. Coming around the south and east side of Lake Winnipesaukee, once we reached Wolfeboro, NH we only had one hour more on the road. From there it was all a run for home, across the Ossipee River at Effingham, NH into Porter, ME - then Kezar Falls, Cornish, Baldwin and over Dyke Mountain to Sebago.
It is exactly 235 miles door to door each way, average time 5 hours and 20 minutes. Once I did it in 4 hours and 45 minutes, but that was in the wee hours of the morning when all the local and state troopers were off-duty and there was no traffic on the road. The longest trips were during snowstorms and during the seasonal spawning of the road whales. With an RV or house trailer ahead of you crossing the mountains or poking along the two-lane roads, a trip could take six or seven hours. The very longest trip was driving the giant U-Haul truck overloaded with our books and bookshelving - that was an 8 1/2 hour nightmare, arriving at 2:30 in the morning.
"We're not gay, our govm't is!"
Each crossing has had its highlights. The changing of the seasons, fall colors, freezing rain and ice coating the trees in the winter, sunrises and sunsets - these all make the miles go quicker.
The local color along the way has help keep the drives interesting. Since Vermont passed its Civil Union law this spring, we couldn't miss the statement made by one disgruntled citizen. East of Wilmington at the top of the grade near Searsburg, a big plywood sign in a front yard proclaims "We're not gay, our govm't is!". In Wilmington are a couple of signs proclaiming "Take Back Vermont", also referring to local concerns about the groundbreaking law granting gay couples many of the rights and benefits of marriage. It probably makes him/her feel much better to let the world know this fact, but I figured it was just a couple of malcontents adding a little local color to the trip across Vermont. Actually, there has been quite a spirited political debate going on in Vermont this summer, culminating in several state legislators who supported the law being defeated in their primaries (See Voters' Backlash in Vermont).
During the summer season, it seems that there is a yard sale on every other front lawn. We've been able to track the progress of landscaping and renovation projects from week to week, and we know which folks leave their Christmas lights up all year. We have been delayed by street fairs and parades going on Route 9 through downtown Bennington at least three or four times a year. I know where all the Dunkin Donut shops are, and which gas stations stay open late at night. There is a wonderful deli in Brattleboro with home-made chocolate eclairs...and much more. The trips across the spine of New England have really been a wonderful snapshot of our wonderful, colorful region.
We have had our share of interactions with state and local police on these trips. The speed limit coming west into Sullivan, NH goes from 55 mph to 35 mph with little warning, and the town police are very diligent about enforcing it. We got pulled over there once, having been caught up in a glorious sunset and forgetting about the speed limit. He let us off with no ticket and a "watch your speed next time through" warning - perhaps police like pretty sunsets too! His warning had its effect however - we are always very conscious of our speed going through Sullivan.
In our three dozen-odd trips back and forth, we've been pulled over once by a Massachusetts State Trooper, six times by New Hampshire State Troopers, once by the Pittsfield, NH police and once by the Sullivan, NH police. Always about the trailer (stop lights out, license plate obscured, etc), except for the incident in Sullivan. Never a ticket, and only once a written warning. Never any stops in New York, Vermont, or Maine. Guess that's not too bad, considering the miles we've put on and my liberal interpretation of speed limit "recommendations".
30,000 Books and The Hottest Day in August
My brother Emery was helping me unload the U-Haul full of 600 banker boxes of our bookstore inventory on August 28. He asked "Did you ever consider selling postcards?".
It had to be the second hottest day in August - the first was when we loaded the books into the truck the day before. Emery and Roberta and Brendon took time from their Maine seacoast vacation to help unload at the Farmhouse. Also, sons Jim and Rusty, three of Rusty's friends from Portland, and Paul were there to help me unload the truck and trailer.
We had loaded all of the books into the truck, and most of the bookshelving into the trailer. We didn't disassemble the shelving, which made a load ten feet high - but I did bolt each shelf to its neighbors in the load and then strapped the whole mass to the trailer with several cargo straps and bungee cords. During the 8 1/2 hour crossing from New York, at least 1/3 of the nuts and bolts holding the bookshelves together had come loose from road vibration. Before we could set them up in the barn, each bolt and nut (52 per bookshelf, 24 bookshelves altogether) had to be retightened or replaced.
Jim and I had cleaned out a part of the barn for the shelving the weekend before, and we assembled three rows of 8 bookshelves each to hold the 16,500 books in banker boxes in our internet inventory. The other boxes of books, not yet uploaded onto the internet, were piled on pallets in another corner of the barn.
It was an exhausting couple of days, and I am not only grateful that it is behind us, but indebted to friends and family who took time from their busy schedules to pitch in and help. Looks like I've got a lot of favors to repay when they all need strong backs and weak minds to help them!
All of our books have a unique inventory number, assigned when the book is uploaded to our website. We store these in banker boxes according to inventory number, about 30 to the box. The boxes are numbered and put on the shelves in numerical order. When an order comes in for a book, it is an easy chore to go to the appropriate box and pull out the book.
The space in the barn where books are stored is 40x45 feet. Eventually it will hold 168 feet of shelving or about 35,000 books. Right now, we've set up three rows of 24 feet each. The rest of the barn is still full of Paul's woodworking tools, plywood and lumber, and household goods awaiting a place in the house. Over the next few months, the tools and lumber will go and we'll set up more shelving. We have enough books in boxes awaiting to be inventoried to fill most of the rest of the shelves - enough to keep us busy for the next couple of years even if we didn't buy another book.
Otto, our security system guy, has been by to measure the barn for smoke and fire, as well as security sensors. He should have all that system up and running in a couple of weeks, and will add the whole barn system onto the house security system. I'll feel much better with fire protection in place out there.
Setting Up and Settling In
Did I forget to mention that in addition to making three trips to the Farmhouse in August and all that loading and unloading, that I also had two trips to make out to Colorado on a project I'm working on? I was so happy to put August behind me that I almost welcomed the formidable job of unpacking and putting everything away.
Paul make wonderful progress on the house - the living room is nearly done, except for a little wainscotting and some finishing pieces of the floor. The office and shipping room are done, but the counters and packing station in the shipping room are only sketches on a piece of paper for now. The shipping room is stacked to the ceiling with furniture and wardrobe boxes, awaiting a home in the Farmhouse.
The dining room is pretty much untouched, and we've set up a temporary packing station on the dining room table. Looks like no dinner guests for awhile, unless they want to eat on the kitchen table. I've set up the office so that it is functional, and within a few days I'll put away the files and supplies so that at least this room will almost be done.
Closets in an old New England farmhouse were always a rarity - our forefathers certainly weren't clothes horses, and had no need for more than a set of clothes for church and a couple sets of work clothes. There were three tiny closets when we got the Farmhouse, but we have planned for a few more. However, they are only roughed in now and need paint and hardware to finish them. In the meantime, clothes are in wardrobe boxes or on a temporary clothes pole in the broom closet.
Paul will be concentrating on getting the bathrooms functional in early September. I'm finding that using the outside shower when it is 45 degrees F. out is an invigorating experience!
I made another trip across to Albany right after Labor Day to collect the project files I am working on and to clean out my office there. Albany will still be my "home" office, but I won't be needing a full-time office there on my periodic visits. At the same time, I swung by the house in Clifton Park to make sure it is all clean and ready for the owner. He has decided to put it on the market, and I wish him well in selling it. It has been a fine place for us for the last three years, and the neighbors have been nice as well.
Just when we think that we have all the items checked off, we find another change of address that we missed, or a loose end that needs tying up. From all the moves we've made over the years, you'd think that we'd be better at it, but there are always a few things - car registrations, insurance, drivers' licenses, etc.
All in all, we're very happy to finally be moved in and officially "Mainers". Now if we can catch up on the local and state politics in time for the general elections this fall, and get around to getting my Maine resident hunting and fishing licenses we'll be in good shape!
Allen and Penny Crabtree
Find a title you would like? Order on-line!
[ E-mail ]
Last updated October 9, 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Allen Crabtree
Copyright © 2000 by Allen Crabtree