The Lancaster of Maine

Portland, Maine
Portland, ME reminds us a lot of Lancaster

The authors of this blog recently returned from Portland, Maine, a lovely New England town that reminds us of Lancaster. Besides the obvious difference of the water, it has some similarities. Both cities were founded about 100 years apart, 1623 for Portland and 1729 for Lancaster. Their populations are currently similar – 66,194 for Portland and 59,322 for Lancaster. Portland is the largest city in Maine. Lancaster is the 8th largest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The greater Portland Metro area is strikingly similar to Lancaster, 519,900 to 507,766.

The architecture and vibe of both cities is similar. Both towns have thriving art colleges and art scenes, and both benefit from tourism. Lancaster has Rachel’s Creperie, and Portland has Hot Suppa. Lancaster has Lancaster Brewing Company and Portland has Gritty McDuff’s. There are actually several more breweries in both places, but these felt the most comparable.

The ocean is the obvious difference, and you don’t see or hear seagulls in Lancaster. Both towns feel like they are on the upswing, places that businesses want to grow in and people want to live in. While dining at Hot Suppa, our server asked us where we arrived from. When we told her Lancaster, she said she was originally from Selingsgrove, PA. “I came here on vacation when I was a kid, and later, I decided I want to live here. I hope I never leave.”


New cushions for an old couch

New cushions give life to an old couchMy husband and I bought a blue leather couch in 2002, and the leather cushions recently ripped. After quickly shopping for a new one, we decided to repair this one and save a pile of money while keeping a piece of furniture we both enjoy. Enter Stump’s Upholstery. The variety of fabrics available was pretty overwhelming. I went two times before selecting a fabric. You can take books home with you to make your decision easier. Unfortunately, we couldn’t match this custom color. Instead, the team suggested making it very different and buying pillows to match the new cushions with the old couch. Once I was on the schedule, the job only took about a week to complete. The replacement cushions are a perfect fit, and are reversible. If the one side wears, I can always flip them over for more life. The entire job cost about $400. We were able to re-use the stuffing and save some money. Actual cost would, of course, depend on the fabric choice and size of your job. Highly recommended.


Service Dogs

Service Dog at LBCThe authors spotted this service dog at Lancaster Brewing Company a few weeks ago. The place was packed on a early Saturday night when the dog entered with his sight-impaired handler and a companion. He settled under the high table with some other patrons and immediately spied a french fry on the floor. He quickly ate it before settling down as pictured. It was a nice reminder that despite their incredible temperament and rigorous training, service dogs are still dogs at heart.



Book Sale!

The Lancaster Public Library holds a yearly book sale in May. It’s a three-day event, and it’s worth marking on your calendar.  They also hold a smaller event in the winter in addition to staffing several used book stores. You can find details at the link. What is most interesting about the sale is how it is a window to the reading community. The years just after Sarah Palin ran on the GOP ticket, her books were strewn about the non-fiction table. This year was a banner year for used copies of Bill O’Reilly’s books. In fairness, political books tend to have a short shelf life. When Oprah’s book club was active, her choices were always prominent among the fiction table as was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love when it was the rage. Newer books are individually priced with older copies selling for a dollar or two. In recent years, the sale has become more organized with tables of recent travel books, text books, collections, and signed books. The selection is always worth your time, and the prices can’t be beat. Plus, all proceeds go to the library and its programs. Happy reading.





Dogs and the Existence of God

“I lived on this earth for over 73 years and as a trained lawyer, the most persuasive empirical evidence I have found about the existence of God is that someone must have done something to create that special bond between dog and human. It exists for us with virtually no other animal and I can’t believe it was just an accident. If God did that, we thank Her but God made one mistake, she should have made the lifespan of humans and dogs the same so that we wouldn’t lose them so soon, so very very soon.” – Ed Rendell, Former Pennsylvania Governor and Dog Lover

Vintage Dog Planters

Vintage Dog PlantersThese vintage dog planters were purchased at yard sales in and around Lancaster, PA. I stuffed them with my favorite plant, the Jade. There is a seller at Building Character that pairs vintage planters with doll parts and tiny succulents. I can’t match her technique, so check out Building Character when you get the opportunity.

Introducing Baby Cow

Baby CowSince the last post, the site authors have acquired another bulldog thanks to Long Island Bulldog Rescue. Her name is Baby Cow. Why? Look at her! She looks like a little tiny cow.






Left-handed Dogs

south-pawDo you have a dog who tends to exhibit aggressive behavior toward strangers? Is he a South Paw? Believe it or not, those traits are related.

According to a new study from the University of Adelaide, left-handed dogs are more likely to display aggression than right-handed or ambidextrous ones.

Dr. Luke Schneider, one of the study’s authors,  told the Telegraph, “We found that dogs with a preference for left paws were reported by their owners to show high levels of aggression towards strangers. The left-pawed dogs scored almost twice as high as ambilateral [ones with no preference] and also higher than dogs with right paws.”

We’ve long known that left-handed men tend to be more aggressive. In 2004, a team of researchers found a correlation between the frequency of left-handedness and homicide rates in traditional societies. Murder rates rose along with the frequency of left-handedness.

It appears this correlation also applies to dogs.

It’s not so strange once you discover how feelings map in our grey matter. Positive and negative emotions are displayed in the left and right hemispheres of our brains. The left hand (or paw) is controlled by the right hemisphere which is associated with negative emotions.

Left-handedness is far more prevalent in dogs than humans. Seventy-five dogs were used in the study and about 1/3 were determined to be south paws. None of the dogs in the test group were characterized as aggressive animals. Lefties were simply more pushy than righties.


There Are Penguins In Danger!!! Dogs To The Rescue

penguinsIn 2006, things looked pretty dire for the penguins of Australia’s Middle Island. A once thriving colony had dwindled from over thousand down to four remaining penguins. The population had been decimated by the introduction of foxes to the mainland.

These new predators had developed a taste for baby penguins. They would swim across Stingray Bay at low tide and gorge themselves on the helpless creatures. Conservationists tried a variety of ways to stop the foxes but nothing seemed to work. It seemed like only a matter of time until the foxes destroyed the penguins of Middle Island.

In 2006 — with the population down to just four birds — conservationists introduced a pair of Maremma sheepdogs to protect the flock. The dogs were specifically trained to protect penguins rather than sheep. After some initial hiccups, they performed their jobs spectacularly.

The skittish penguins soon got used to the dogs; the foxes did not. The Maremmas have kept the penguins safe from predators and the population has started to rebound. The island now contains at least 200 pairs of happy feet.

According to Live Science, Australia has a dubious history of using one species to protect another. Fortunately, failure didn’t deter them. The Maremma guard dog project has been so successful, it’s now employed at nearby Point Danger to protect gannet birds. In 2010, the project received an environmental award from the Australian government.