In 1971, we made our permanent move from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Maine. We had  two children: Jeff, four years old and Genevieve, two. Our summer experiences on North Haven Island, first in my parents’ house, then later in Bill’s design, the O’Dome on a deck on the North Shore, had launched the idea of simple living in Maine — ideal for raising kids.

Early that fall, Bill stayed in Ann Arbor to finish up several design contracts. I drove our station wagon, pulling a rental trailer filled with my Cranbrook floor loom and some of our belongings. After a non-stop-over, eighteen-hour drive, the two kids, our Old English Sheep dog, and bleary-eyed mommy arrived at the ferry dock in Rockland. By then, my parents had retired and moved year-round to North Haven Island. At the beginning, the kids and I lived with them until we moved into a small apartment in the center of Rockport.

When an old, large house came on the market in Rockport, I called the realtor to see it. The white two-story house with an attached “L” was broken up into many tiny rooms and sat close to the street. There was a small backyard and a parking area on the side. The house needed work. Lots of work. But on the bright side, Jeff could walk to school, which was just around the corner. And on a brighter side still, I talked the seller down from $25,000 to $15,000, and managed to obtain an additional loan for the needed restoration on top of the mortgage.

It was dark and dingy so I started right away tearing out walls, pulling up linoleum and carpet, and steaming off wallpaper. I hired several men to do the carpentry, electrical, plumbing and drywall work, but I did most of the plastering, sanding, scraping, and painting. With the rooms enlarged, the old oak floors sanded and urethaned, and the walls painted a soft white, the place started to look bright and attractive. Assuming that most old homes had fireplaces, I searched until I unearthed a walled-up fireplace and chimney. Most of the loan money went into creating a large kitchen/dining area out of three rooms in back. I added sliding glass doors, a deck, a large used restaurant gas cook stove and other appliances to complete a good cooking area with a dining table at the far end. The house required so much work — replumbing, rewiring, insulating — to name some of it. But my primary attention was on creating a warm, attractive usable nest and workable kitchen.

One day, when I was in the back of the house, covered in plaster dust, a plaster hawk in my left hand and the trowel in my right, I heard the familiar voices of Ted and Dick, loan officers from the local community bank.

“Marilyn, oh Marilyn, where are you?” Ted yelled in a singsong voice. Both he and Dick were laughing as they stepped into the front room careful to avoid holes in the floors and plaster and sheetrock dust.

“My God, Marilyn,” Ted exclaimed. “There’s not much left to the house and your first mortgage payment isn’t even due.”

Ted was one of the first people I met when I moved to Rockport. I walked into the bank, opened a checking account with $1,500 (all the money I had) and inquired about a mortgage. A teller directed me to Ted’s cubbyhole. As I entered the open-frame doorway, he stood up with a wide smile, came around his desk and shook my hand. With that handshake, we cemented a trustful banking relationship, which continued for many years, through home mortgages, business mortgages and loans for materials and payroll. Ted granted me loans and I held up my end of the agreement with reimbursements as scheduled and promised.

Ted’s noteworthy reputation as a man who could size someone up for her/his honesty and trustworthiness was recognized throughout the Midcoast.  But I can’t imagine what was going on in his mind when he and Dick were standing there in the midst of such chaotic wreckage, after just granting my first unsecured loan.

I put down my tools and tried to brush off the white dust on my sweater and jeans to greet them.

“Dick and I thought we’d like to see what you’re doing with the loan I gave you to fix up your house,” Ted said slowly, as he glanced around and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Looks like instead of fixing up, she’s tearing down,” Dick added, chuckling and peering up the stairs where part of the ceiling was torn out. Laughing off Dick’s comments, I gave a tour and described what I planned to do.

Looking a little stunned, Ted said, “Did I loan you enough money for all that?”

A room on the right at the top of the stairs became the master bedroom. The carpenters took out the ceiling, exposing beams and revealing the slanted roofline. A painter sprayed whitewash on the ordinary beams and the ceiling above. As to our bathroom off the bedroom: It was small but I had a plan.

The North Haven dump was a notable place to find furniture and appliances discarded by summer residents as they redecorated their old cottages. I visited the dump often and watched patiently for the perfect item.  Then one day…. Bingo! My treasure sat just to the right side of the garbage dumping area — an enameled-white, cast iron, seven-foot long, claw-foot bathtub gleamed in the sunlight.

This relic, rebuffed and abandoned by a nameless person or persons, weighed approximately 500 pounds. The price was right, but finding it was only the beginning of the bathtub bedlam. I still had to get it off the dump, off the island, to my house, and probably its most precarious moment, up the narrow staircase to the second floor and into the small bathroom.

Every step of the way to my house in Rockport was a challenge; finding two North Haven strong men able and willing to load the tub into a van, getting a reservation on the ferry, and getting it to my house. There it sat on the small patch of grass at the front door of the house for several weeks as neighbors stopped to examine it and children climbed in and out.

“Why, why, why….” Everyone needed an explanation. “Why such a big one?” “Why go to this trouble and expense for this old monstrosity?”  “Why not get a brand new, fancy blue or pink tub from Sears?” “Why does your mommy keep her tub outside?”

I cherished my splendid discovery. I mean, after all, the Egyptians used a claw-foot style tub — a five-foot long pedestal tub built from hardened pottery — in 3300BC! So there. Doesn’t this tub qualify as an antique?

Finally, the time arrived to deliver the seven-foot, 500-pound cynosure to its final resting place. From the front doorstep, out of sight by neighbors, up the steep, narrow steps into the bathroom. George and Andy, the two men who were the carpenters working on the house, were not exactly “heavy lifters,” but with the use of a dolly, a rope, and a lot of cursing about “Mrs. Moss’ tub,” they banged and bounced the albatross up the rickety steps — a slow ascent, all the way to the top.

The tub ended up on a one-step carpeted platform throne. It took up most of the 7 ½ x 8-foot room. I had veneered all the walls with mirrors, creating the illusion of a much larger space.

Bill arrived from Ann Arbor that night. The kids and I had moved in earlier that week, though lots of work still needed to be done. Proud of the restoration, I gave him a tour, describing the completed work and my plans. Being a tub-man, he was most captivated with the bathtub throne. Anxious to try it out, Bill filled the tub the next morning. He and our two young children climbed in.

So I’m downstairs in the kitchen making breakfast and listening to the “Morning Edition” of Maine Public Radio. The tub is directly over the kitchen stove and counters. I hear the kids laughing and splashing water. Suddenly, in the middle of this, I hear another sound. Faint but distinctive. I turn off the radio. At first I think I must be imaging it, but in a few more seconds I hear it again — a disturbing sound, like wood ripping. My eyes dart up to the large exposed wooden beam, the carrying beam. The noise causes goosebumps like a fingernail scratching a blackboard. And then I see it. The beam is splitting!

Andy, one of the two carpenters, is in my weaving room, sheet-rocking walls. “Andy. Please come right away,” I shout. But Andy never moves quickly, and for that matter, neither does the other carpenter, George. I ran by Andy, blurting out what is happening, and take two steps at a time to get up to the bathroom. My family is startled as I jump forward through the doorway, plunge my arm into the water, and pull out the rubber plug.

“Get out! Now!”

“Why, Mommy?”

“Just do as I say. Grab some clothes and get downstairs. Quickly!”

“What the hell’s going on?” Bill yells back.

“The beam is breaking!”

I run back downstairs. Andy is pushing back his cap and scratching his head and looking up at the calamity.

“Andy, for God’s sake, do something!” He walks calmly out into the hall and yells upstairs to George who is putting insulation in the attic.

“Geo..orge. Better get down here. It seems Mrs. Moss’ tub is coming into the kitchen!”  I want to scream at him. Andy’s speech is as slow as his other movements, so this request seems like a bedtime prayer instead of an emergency.

George ambles his way downstairs and into the kitchen and on into the cellar.

“Oh my God, Where’d he go?” My heart is pounding in my throat. I start grabbing glassware off the shelves as fast as I can, as images flash across my mind of glass splintering and ricocheting across the room, the tub falling into the room with water splashing everywhere, the counter splitting in half and the newly laid floor tiles breaking.

In a slow-motion fog, I see George reappear carrying an adjustable floor jack. And then I hear a loud noise — WHUMP!

I have to blink a few times to get my bearings. I look up at the beam in disbelief. It has split through. Its two end pieces sit neatly onto the metal plate of the floor jack as if they belonged there all along.

George and Andy had set the floor jack under the beam at the same instant the beam cracked completely.

Andy takes off his cap and wipes his forehead with his handkerchief. George is still looking up and shaking his head. Bill runs into the kitchen with a towel wrapped around his waist. The kids are right behind him, naked, holding various pieces of clothing to their chests. My heart is still pounding.

Ted slouched back in his chair and laughed when I told him the story the next day at the bank. And then he sat forward and picked up his phone receiver, instructing a teller to cut me a check for a new metal carrying beam.

Rumored around town: “Did you hear the one about Mrs. Moss’ tub falling into her kitchen?”

This column represents a series of essays about my experiences, including those collected about learning, cooking, sharing, and eating food. Memories of food cannot be disregarded in someone’s life, at least, not mine. My proclivity for the kitchen with its smells and warmth has played a prominent role in my life.