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  • I live in a magical house made of recycled materials--the slate roof came from a house in New Jersey, the chimney brick from a store that burned down in the Northeast Kingdom, the beams from a barn that fell down in a neighboring town, the trim and tables from floors walked upon over a hundred years ago on the edge of town, the planked exterior from a farmhouse nearby. The stone for walls was hauled out of the copses.

    It is a house of stories.
    I hear them whisper to one another in the creaking of a windy night. I hear them call to the other odd places I have called home:

    To the maple sugaring shack where I lived with my boyfriend and a litter of puppies
    To the chicken coop with sawdust in the walls (over a former hog house)
    To the drafty barn (the water froze in the toilet in the winter).

    I could never quite tell if I was moving up or down in life. I didn't really care. It was virtually rent-free living outside the system. I grew most of our food, primarily broccoli and greens. Worked enough at a library to buy gas for the car, sweaters for warmth, paper for writing. The library had books. The houses had stories. What else did I need?

    And the stories call to the toolshed with neither electricity nor plumbing on the Maine coast where I lived one summer with a couple of hippie girls. We worked for a freakish antique dealer, perpetually stoned, who specialized in fixing up second-rate junk and selling it to tourists as treasures. He had an odd, oily charisma that frightened me. He was the kind of person who could get you to do what you didn't want to do. I thought of cults. I wanted to leave, but this was the stuff of stories. I wanted to study him. I wanted to get it all down. And besides, he paid me $50 a day to find ingenious ways to restore broken furniture scavenged at the local dump. We dismantled an old bus for parts. We spent the days blistering old paint from dressers, inserting bus seats into chair bottoms, patching, covering, faking, fooling. And I watched. I spent nights trying to write the stories in the far reaches of a bar.

    Stories I never could write until now, in the house that speaks stories from its bones.
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