Category Archives: Environment


LunchYesterday, my husband, Clif, and I had the best kind of day. Our friend Diane invited us over to her house for lunch, and what a terrific time we had. As my daughter Shannon put it when I told her about our day, “You always have a great time when you got to Diane’s house.”

Yes, we do. Not only is Diane an accomplished cook, but she is also such a gracious hostess. She has the true knack of making guests feel special, at ease, and cared for. In addition, the conversation is always lively, revolving around movies, the environment, books, and art.

TableFor lunch, Diane served a baked cheese dish with vegetables, baked sweet potato fires, and a salad to go with it. I brought bread, and we went to one of my favorite places for dessert—Gelato Fiasco. I love ice cream, but I adore gelato, and whenever we visit Diane, we plan to go to Gelato Fiasco.

As if all this weren’t enough, Diane has a real artistic flair with food presentation. I hope the pictures give an idea as to how beautifully she arranges the food on the plates.  

Passive solar heating panelThen there is Diane’s dedication to the environment, which always inspires us. Here is a passive solar heating panel (a hot-air solar panel with solar electric thermostat controlled circulating fans). Diane has installed three of them to help heat her house. Diane tells us those panels have made a real difference in the amount of fuel she uses. With the panels, Diane uses a third less propane–what she uses to heat her house—than she did before having them installed. These panels are not very expensive, and anyone who has a house facing the sun should consider installing them. Diane’s panels are from a company called ClearDome Solar Thermal.  In fact there are many simple do-it-yourself plans for similar passive heating panels available online. A couple of examples are the plans from Worcester Polytechnic Institute or this one from good old Mother Earth News.

In between lunch and gelato, we went to Bowdoin to check out two exhibits at their Museum of Art—Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum and comic book artist Robert Crumb’s rendition of Genesis. Both were worthwhile. I was more impressed with Crumb’s work than I was prepared to be. No point in mincing words—Crumb is not my favorite artist. His work is too angry and too obscene for my taste. However, he seems to have been sincerely fascinated with Genesis, and except for a few naughty pictures, his rendition is straight up. It’s a rather mind- boggling exhibit, with the original full-size drawings, complete with text, for the whole book being on display.  

But the best part of the Bowdoin trip was an exhibit of Inuit Art at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Oh, the exquisite carvings—some of animals, some of people, some of spirits. Large or small, they had true power. I hope to get back to Bowdoin for a second look before the exhibit is taken down—next December, I think.

Another excuse to go for gelato, and, if we’re very lucky, maybe Diane will invite us over for lunch.