Monday, September 9, 2013


So here we are, full speed ahead into the school year.  It's dark now by 7:30, the mornings have been chilly, and the traffic has all but disappeared to make room for the school buses.  We have said goodbye to the summer tourists, the Maine State Music Theater  fans, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival musicians. 

In their place we welcome back our Bowdoin College families, many of whom we know well after so many visits.  In fact, we welcomed former Bowdoin parents just last week: their son graduated last year but they still love to come, and we were so happy to see them.  We grabbed a great meal at The Dolphin out in Harpswell and I was genuinely surprised that they had never been there.  It reminds me that it takes years to discover the many wonderful spots in this part of Maine.

The Dolphin Restaurant
There is excitement in the air as a new school year begins, with all the hope that is wrapped up in a fresh start.  We look forward to all the new Bowdoin families that will come through, the professors and performers we will get to meet, the victories and defeats we will watch on the playing fields.  The vibrancy of a college town makes the transition from summer to fall a bit easier, I have discovered.  I will miss those long, easy summer days but love the thought of another Brunswick fall.  Before you come, be sure to check the Bowdoin calendar for lectures, performances and games!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I can always tell, even from the kitchen, what the energy of a party is like, and this past Friday night was one of the best parties I can remember here at the Inn.  We had 100 guests who all managed to keep the party a secret so that the guest of honor could enjoy what looked like the shock of a lifetime on the occasion of her 70th birthday.  Everyone enjoyed a beautiful spiral ham; orzo with roasted vegetables from the  Brunswick Farmers Market; smoked salmon; a cheese board with some lovely new additions from Treats, a favorite store of mine in Wiscasset; scallops wrapped in our applewood smoked bacon; pate, spanikopita, fresh fruit, and more.  But it can't be just about the food, so Happy Birthday, Rachael! It was wonderful to feel the energy of people who were clearly so happy to be celebrating your life.  (A special thank you, too, to courtney elizabeth for the fabulous photos!)


Friday, August 23, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

When I was a teacher at Loyola School in Manhattan years ago, one of my students lost her college-age brother in a car accident.  I am not a Facebook devotee, but occasionally I take a peek and see her posts, which often refer to her random acts of kindness.  There are so many people who would have become jaded after such a terrible loss, but instead this young woman does random acts of kindness like clockwork.  She pays for the next customer's coffee, leaves a few dollars hidden behind an item in the Dollar Store, or sends someone a package "just because."

Stuff like this is great to read about, but it packs a punch when it happens to you.  I have recently been the recipient of a random act of kindness/paying it forward combo.  Someone who appreciates the Inn and what we do is helping me with a project, and I wouldn't be able to do it without him.  It feels amazing when people are kind and generous and thoughtful and selfless.  So much of what happens around us can seem so automated and techie and fast, like we're all less human than we are meant to be.  I am glad to know that today I am wrong about that, and the Inn will be that much nicer for it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Morse's Cribstone Grill

I love discovering restaurants, and I'm not sure how I missed Morse's Cribstone Grill on Bailey Island for so long.  I went for the first time at the beginning of the summer, and it has become a favorite.  The view is unbeatable and it has just the right feeling after a day on the boat or at the beach.  A cold beer or a crisp glass of white tastes much better on the deck at the Grill, and even if you have to wait for a table, it's fun at the bar and the food is worth it.  Try the lobster dip, the broiled scallops, and the sweet potato fries.  Haven't tried the lobster BLT, but it got a mention in a New York Times story, so I would say it's a pretty safe bet.  This (poor iphone) picture is from the front of the restaurant and not what you see from inside, but I thought the sunset was pretty from the parking lot!


It is sometimes strange to have a job that surrounds you with transients.  For so long at the beginning of my tenure at The Brunswick Inn, I fulfilled my need for socializing with either the people who worked for me or the people who passed through.  My guests are, for the most part, lovely, interesting, and accomplished, and I thoroughly enjoy the company of my employees.  But I still needed friends.

After the first couple of years of the Innsanity of owning my own business, I started to get out and about and actually engage with the people I encountered at my kids' soccer games, the school parking lot, the farmers' market, etc.  It's not easy making new friends when you're 45, but I was lucky.  Now my closest friend in Brunswick has become a transient herself and is moving this week.  A group of women met for drinks at the Inn tonight to toast her, and as I drove home afterwards I was overcome with sadness.  I feel a little bit like a little kid whose friend is moving out of the neighborhood, and if I had a curb I think I would sit on it and sulk with my chin in my fist.

Good think I have 16 bedrooms so that she and her family can always come and visit. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot thought that April was the cruelest month.  I think he's wrong there, and I happen to think it's March.  Winter in Maine is beautiful: cold and crisp outside, cozy inside.  Then comes March, when you think winter is supposed to be coming to a close and instead you get dirty, ugly snow banks, mud that's as invasive as sand on a beach, and the thought that everyone else is starting to glimpse the color and the life of spring.

But no need to worry about that now.  Instead, I am thinking about the merits of September even though I am thoroughly enjoying my August.  I think September is probably the most beautiful month in Maine.  There is a quality to the light that brings me to a halt at moments, and the air just seems to smell sweeter.  It still feels like summer weather-wise, but the heavy tourist traffic is gone. The water is even swimmable!
If you've never spent time in Maine in September, you don't know what you're missing.  And this year for the first time, you can even enjoy the Taste of Brunswick in September.  It's an extravaganza of food and drink right outside our front door!  Then hit the beaches, hop on your bike, rent a kayak, or go for a whale watch.  In other words, pretend that summer won't be over soon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Today is my 13th wedding anniversary.  Thirteen years ago my husband and I lived in West Virginia, where I spent a couple of years learning the ins and outs of the hotel business at The Greenbrier.  It was a fascinating place to be, with 1,200 employees and more than 500 rooms.  I can still remember the hushed mornings when I would arrive at work and feel the calm before the storm.  The excitement was palpable for me as I pictured the hundreds of people around me in the privacy of their rooms while housekeepers quietly polished hand rails, front desk workers prepared for checkouts, doormen stood at attention. 

And then they would start to emerge along the thick carpeting: the golfers headed out for their tee times, the beautiful women in their tennis whites, the shoppers strolling the among the luxury of the stores, children scurrying off to the pool, a couple enjoying a private conversation over morning coffee.  The feeling I get in a hotel gets my adrenaline going, and I confess that I am addicted to it.

And now I have a small hotel of my own, which I love.  It makes me happy just to turn the corner into the Great Room, with its enormous fireplace and a hush all its own.  I love the smells--coffee, lilies, bacon, a wood fire, fresh linens.  I'm not sure what this says about me (besides the fact that I have found one of my callings), but there you have it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Musical Inspiration

As a one-time New Yorker, my NYC friends will sometimes ask how I can survive up here in Maine. I think they're talking about the endless assortment of activity and the intensity that prevails.  I don't miss the intensity of the city; owning an inn is intense enough.  And as for the assortment of activity, I don't feel at a loss.  The Brunswick area has so much to offer, not the least of which is the Bowdoin International Music Festival.  I may have grown up going to Lincoln Center with my mother, but now I like the fact that the best musicians in the world come to us here!  We are lucky enough to have quite a number of them stay with us each summer, and we often hear them practicing.  Talk about the advantages of being on the inside!  Liang Wang, principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic, even gave my children a little private concert at the Inn four years ago.  I think we're surviving up here in Maine just fine.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


One of my first memories involves a station wagon full of kids and a cooler full of egg salad sandwiches headed to Jones Beach on Long Island at the crack of dawn.  I still can't eat egg salad without thinking of those days when inevitably the sandwiches would end up flavored with the crunch of Atlantic Ocean sand.

I loved Jones Beach, and there are few places on the East coast as beautiful as the beaches of Long Island.  When I first moved to Maine, I was told that people don't come for the beaches.  "They come to sail," I was told.  That may or may not be true, but I would bet that the person who said that had never been to Popham Beach.

Popham is gorgeous.  It is unusual for Maine in that it is a wide swath of fine white sand.  It has never looked the same twice, since the Kennebec and Morse rivers and the winter storms make their marks and take their tolls. This often creates warm tidal pools for those who find the temps of our waters, well, brisk.  

When visiting Brunswick, don't miss Popham.  It will take 25-30 minutes to get there from the Inn, but it's so worth it.  If you give me a little advance warning, I'll even send you with a cooler of egg salad sandwiches.