Take a Hike – at Dirigo Pines!

Looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a crisp autumn walk among Maine’s changing foliage and sprinkles of snow? Dirigo Pines’ campus offers winding picturesque trails that connect in with the Orono Land Trust’s Sklar Park trail system, a 40-acre parcel situated at the west end of Main St., between Route 2 and I-95. Among the falling leaves and snow and occasional wildlife, you’ll find some interesting features, outlined in our trail brochures which were developed by our residents and are available at the trail entrance behind the Dirigo Pines Inn. 

The Interpretive Trail Loop, with informational signs posted along the way, is .67 miles and loops around the Dirigo Pines’ campus. Signs mark interesting natural features like groves of softwood and hardwood trees, various fungi, woodpecker holes, red oaks and a large number of mature hemlock trees. Our campus is surrounded by wooded areas, offering amazing glimpses of nature. You can often spot chickadees, Canada geese, ducks, chipmunks, and the occasional deer, blue heron and pileated woodpecker along the trails and in our ponds.

Pick up a trail map and enjoy the great outdoors this fall and winter on our walking trails!

For more about the Orono Land Trust trail system, visit oronolandtrust.org.

Check Out Our New Look!

Notice something different? Dirigo Pines recently unveiled new company branding as part of Grace Management, Inc. Our new logo and website are part of a company-wide rebrand. The new look showcases our company’s growth and expertise as a nationally recognized leader in delivering senior living management services.

The new look embodies Grace Management’s person-centered mission: to create exceptional senior living experiences by bringing care and compassion to each and every relationship. Our new taglines express that mission: “It’s not like home. It is home,” and “Welcome to the Family.”

Home may be a place, but it’s also a feeling and way of life. With a tailored approach to every resident, we celebrate individuality while bringing the scale and resources necessary to create something better than home-like — a place that’s actually home.

“Grace Management started off as a family-run business, and that family company remains,” says Guy Geller, Grace Management president. “As we’ve grown, we’ve held onto our core principles while adding layers of professionalism and expertise. This benefits our residents, family members, and associates by making each one of our communities feel like home.”

November Business After Hours

Join us for our November Business After Hours with host Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono! November 15 at Dirigo Pines from 5-7 p.m.

Bring a wrapped gift for a child to be entered in a special prize drawing! All gifts will be donated to Toys for Tots!

RSVP for an extra chance to win a prize, but please remember, you have to be present to win! For tickets, click here.

Business After Hours is a popular Chamber event that allows for networking between business professionals. The after-hours is held at a different Chamber member location each month, which enables the Chamber to secure visibility for a number of different members. The time-frame of 5-7 p.m. permits attendees to enjoy appetizers and drinks after work, and also enter to win fantastic raffle prizes donated by area businesses.

Click here for more information!

Holiday Shopping Spree

Ready? Set? The holidays are coming! Come enjoy a Holiday Shopping Spree event at Dirigo Pines! Join us tomorrow, Thursday, November 8 at 2 p.m. in the Kenduskeag Gathering Place in the Dirigo Pines Inn at 9 Alumni Drive in Orono.

Shop local vendors including:

  • Specialty Sweets
  • Valentine Footwear
  • Willie Wags
  • The Not So Empty Nest
  • The Yankee Chef
  • Quality Jewelers
  • Damon’s Beverage and Redemption
  • The Bangor Daily News

Mark your calendar and click here for more details!

Dirigo Dish: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Put that garden harvest to good use with this warm and autumn-perfect recipe for squash soup from the American Heart Association. Find even more heart healthy recipes at www.heart.org!


  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 butternut squash, about 2½ lbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups Vidalia onion (peeled, chopped)
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Season both squash halves with 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil and ½ tsp. salt. Wrap in foil and place in baking tray or dish.
  3. Roast squash halves for 1 hour or until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Remove skin from the squash and set aside.
  4. Place remaining 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and 1 tsp. of salt in a pot on medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until onions are translucent and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 quart of vegetable stock and roasted squash, and cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove bay leaf from soup. Place soup mixture into a blender with remaining 1 tsp. of salt, nutmeg, black pepper and ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt. Blend on high until smooth, about 1 minute. Portion into 6 bowls, divide 1 cup of yogurt into dollops on top of each soup and serve immediately. 
The American Heart Association’s website is a great place for seniors and people of all ages to find delicious heart healthy recipes. Click here for more AHA recipes!

Dirigo Dish: Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Bisque

Dirigo Pines Chef Lew Stubbs shares a favorite recipe to celebrate autumn…


2 tablespoons butter

1 medium chopped onion

1 cup sherry

½ teaspoon dried thyme

4 apples peeled and chopped

4 cups roasted pumpkin or canned pumpkin

6 cups chicken stock

¾ cup heavy cream


In a heavy large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add sherry and let simmer for 5 minutes then add thyme, roasted pumpkin, apples and chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. Add cream, pepper and bring to temperature. Serve with fresh chopped scallions.

To roast pumpkins: Clean out the inside and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 350°F skin side up for about 45 minutes.

Garden Harvest

It’s Harvest Time in Maine – and at Dirigo Pines our gardens are producing quite the haul this year! Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and cabbage – oh my!

Just behind the Dirigo Pines Inn are a series of raised beds that residents claim each spring. Stunning flowers and gorgeous fruits and veggies sprout and produce all summer long, and this time of year the harvest is plentiful.

Many days residents can find vegetables available at the Inn in exchange for a donation to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s – a favorite charity among Dirigo residents. And what veggies residents can’t use are donated to local food pantries and Habitat for Humanity to help the greater community. Happy harvesting!

Fall Foliage Tour at the Thomas Hill Standpipe

Leaf peepers take note: the Fall Foliage Tour at the Thomas Hill Standpipe is coming Wednesday, October 10 from 3-6 p.m. Access to the promenade deck is via a 100-step enclosed stairway. The historic structure is not handicap accessible.

Did you know: The tower was open to the public unattended for many years, and featured seats on the promenade deck for viewing the countryside. The Bangor Commercial reported that 3,200 tourists signed the guest book in 1935. Now the Water District offer 4 seasonal tours each year.

The Bangor Water District hosts the tours and offers the following details:

The Thomas Hill Standpipe was built in 1897 to provide water storage for fire-fighting and to help regulate pressure in downtown Bangor. It has been in continuous use since it was completed. Bangor Water assumed ownership of the standpipe in 1957 when a quasi-municipal water district (separate from the City of Bangor) was formed.

The standpipe, which holds 1,500,000 gallons of water, is a riveted wrought iron tank with a wood frame jacket located on Thomas Hill in Bangor. The metal standpipe consists of steel plates riveted one outside the other, and stands 50 feet high and 75 feet in diameter.

The wooden building that encloses it is 85 feet in diameter and 110 feet high. The 24 12”x12” main posts, which extend up past the open promenade deck, begin at the base of the structure and are 48 feet long.

Between the tank and the wooden shell is a staircase to the promenade deck and – beyond a locked door – a winding stairway leading to the roof and access to the flagpole. The promenade deck encircling the top is 12 feet wide and 280 feet in circumference.

Click here for more details: www.bangorwater.org/about-us/thomas-hill-standpipe.

The Standpipe is about a 10-minute drive from Dirigo Pines — click here for driving directions.

Dirigo Dish: Blackberry Cobbler

Finding fresh fruit in Maine throughout the summer isn’t hard — though blackberries can be a little tricky. If you’re lucky enough to find some, here’s a tasty recipe from the American Heart Association to put them to good use! Find even more heart healthy recipes at www.heart.org!


  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar substitute and 1/2 cup sugar substitute, divided use
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Juice from 1 medium lime
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, gently stir together the berries, 1/4 cup sugar substitute, the water, lime juice, and ginger. Let the berry mixture stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices can accumulate.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar substitute.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until no flour is visible. Don’t overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter doesn’t have to touch the edge of the pan; it will spread while baking.) Top with the berry mixture.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The American Heart Association’s website is a great place for seniors and people of all ages to find delicious heart healthy recipes. Click here for more AHA recipes!

Foliage Tips for Autumn

Happy First Day of Autumn! Can you believe fall is here already? The leaves are starting to change, which means leaf peeping season has also arrived. At Dirigo Pines in Orono, we’re perfectly set right in the middle of Maine to take advantage of all the great foliage sights around our state. According to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s website, northern Maine is at or near peak conditions the last week of September into the first week of October. Central and western mountains of Maine are at or near peak Columbus day week/weekend. Coastal and southern Maine generally reach peak or near peak conditions mid-to-last October.

The Department of Ag also has recommendations for foliage hikes and paddles — and we can’t imagine a better way to take in all Maine has to offer! From kayaking the Androscoggin River to taking a drive to the top of Mt. Battie in Camden for fall colors and an ocean view, there are ideas for everyone. Check it out here.

Click here to for the state’s guide to foliage season: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/index.shtml

For more about local foliage, check out this post.

Happy Leaf Peeping! Have your own favorite spot to suggest? Share it in the comments below!