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 December 16, 2014
Ask This Old House Brings Feel Of Jamaica To Portland Family

David: "Ask This Old House," now airing its 13th season nationally, is the spin-off of "This Old House," the popular PBS series that has been renovating homes for 35 years. It was ATOH's first time filming in Maine, the 43rd state covered in the series history. The episode will likely air in April or May of 2015.

The show will feature Rohan Henry and Kaela Jenkins, who moved into the neighborhood just this past summer and had contacted ATOH about possible improvement projects. They were thrilled to hear back.
"We travel the country and answer homeowner questions about smaller home repair," said Heath Racela, the show's producer, "weekend projects like gardening, plumbing, electrical or carpentry."
Racela has been with the show nine years, starting out as a production assistant. He became associate producer four years ago and started running the program this past April.

"Rohan, who is originally from Jamaica, was looking for an interesting landscape project. We asked them if they'd be interested in doing tropical plants," he said. "They were excited about the idea."

The crew came in for one day only, arriving early to rearrange the living room into a TV set. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor and star of the show, was born in Biddeford. He's been on ATOH since the beginning and has been featured on "This Old House" as well. Cook owns K&R Tree and Landscape Co. Inc. in Burlington, Mass.

"We refer to ourselves as "Krush and Ruin," he said.
Filming in Portland went smoothly, with few retakes, but it doesn't always go so easily.

"When we travel, we often don't see the project until the day beforehand," Racela said. "We're relying on homeowners to email pictures, and we make our best guess. But we never know how it will go until doing the project. We did a story with our builder, Tom Silva, where he was repairing a plaster ceiling. It was late August, really humid, and we didn't factor in the humidity. The plaster wasn't setting up for us. A five- or six-hour project turned into a three-day job."

No matter the surprise challenge, creators of the show say the experience is always worth it.

"For me, it's good to stay on top of new things coming down, trends in the industry," Cook said. "I'm always learning something new. I go to a couple of great trade shows and, with the show, there's always a push on education. I disseminate information, but I often learn it from the regular job and bring it to show. And the homeowners always surprise us. They're so great, the unknown quotient."

For the Portland episode, ATOH was working with Henry and Jenkins to build an indoor array of tropical plants, several of which were the same plants Henry's grandmother had in her yard in Jamaica. Henry remembered first moving to the United States when he was eight years old.

"It was a huge transition. My family moved first and then sent for me a couple of years later. It was tough to get acclimated," Henry said. "In Jamaica, not only is the weather different, but the culture is different. It's more laid back. I love it here, though."

Henry teaches ELL (English language learning) at Portland High School, and Jenkins is a special education teacher at Lyman Moore Middle School. Their children, Ruby, 8, and Ellis, 4, were excited to hear that their house would be on TV, "especially Ruby, who loves gardening," Jenkins said.

ATOH works with Carrie Kelly, who has been with Mahoney's Garden Center in Winchester, Mass. for 36 years and has appeared on the show before. The Portland family welcomed the production crew, and their new leafy guests: a kentia palm, a philodendron, bromeliad, and a phalaenopsis orchid.

"I feel blessed to be here with my wife and kids," Henry said. "I appreciate 'Ask This Old House' coming to bring us a bit of Jamaica. It feels like home."

Source: www.portlanddailysun.me, Published Date Monday, 15 December 2014 23:32 Written by Timothy Gillis