SCORES & OUTDOORS — Rats!: wrongfully carry a legacy as filthy little creatures

Left, Black Rat; right, Brown Rat

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

RATS! No, it’s not something you say when things don’t go your way. Instead, it describes, profoundly, what people think of this rodent that is perceived as a member of the underworld of the animal kingdom. They are scorned, feared and totally misunderstood. They are portrayed as evil and filthy little creatures that spread disease as they scamper through the sewers of major cities. Among unions, “rat” is a term for nonunion employers or breakers of union contracts.

Few animals elicit such strong and contradictory reactions as rats.

The Black Death is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the tropical rat flea which preyed on black rats living in European cities during the epidemic outbreaks of the Middle Ages. These rats were used as transport hosts. Another disease linked to rats is the foot-and-mouth disease.

The reason I bring this up is because of something I saw last week. My wife showed a video to me on Facebook – I don’t do Facebook – showing this woman who had two pet rats she had trained to do some amazing things. That piqued my curiosity because I had heard rats are fairly intelligent.

The best known rat species are the black rat, which is considered to be one of the world’s worst invasive species, and the brown rat. Male rats are known as bucks, females are does, and infant rats are called kittens or pups. A group of rats is referred to as a “mischief.”

The woman on the video had her rats trained to bring her a tissue when she sneezed, respond to flashcard commands, and even come when called, just to name a few that I remember.

Those who keep rats as pets know them as highly intelligent and social animals who clean themselves regularly and thrive on regular interaction.

Specifically-bred rats have been kept as pets at least since the late 19th century. Pet rats are typically variants of the species brown rat, but black rats and giant pouched rats are also known to be kept. Pet rats behave differently from their wild counterparts depending on how many generations they have been kept as pets. The more generations, the more domesticated it will be. Pet rats do not pose any more of a health risk than pets such as dogs and cats. Tamed rats are generally friendly and can be taught to perform selected behaviors.

Because of evident displays of their ability to learn, rats were investigated early to see whether they exhibit general intelligence, as expressed by the definition of a g factor as observed in larger, more complex animals. Early studies around 1930 found evidence both for and against such a g factor in rats.

A 2011 controlled study found that rats are actively pro-social. They demonstrate apparent behavior to other rats in experiments, including freeing them from cages. When presented with readily available chocolate chips, test rats would first free the caged rat, and then share the food. All female rats displayed this behavior, while only 30 percent of males did not.

Rat meat has become a dietary staple in some cultures. Among others, I personally observed rats being consumed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Back to the pet rat. While most people cringe at the thought of having a rat for a pet, believe it or not, domestic rats make great pets. They are not aggressive, diseased and dirty animals, but in fact are very clean, fun-loving, sensitive, very social and affectionate. They genuinely enjoy interacting with people and should be handled daily. Rats are very intelligent and can be taught simple tricks, and will often learn their names. They can be litter box trained.

Whatever you do, don’t go down to the river to select a pet rat, but rather visit your local pet shop. When choosing your rat, choose one that does not appear skittish or does not squeal when picked up. Males tend to be calmer than females. Males usually enjoy being held for longer periods of time, especially when they get older.

If you get a pet rat, it is best if they are kept indoors rather than in a shed or garage, where they would get less attention. As mentioned before, rats are extremely clean animals and will constantly groom themselves – similar to cats. If you have more than one rat, they will groom each other.

So, now that we have seen a lighter side of rats, doesn’t it make you want to run right out to get one?

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Who won the Super Bowl the last time it was held in Atlanta, Georgia?

Answer can be found here.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Long-Distance Care-giving

(NAPSI)—Chances are, at some point you will be a caregiver to a friend or family member. Providing care and support can be challenging in any circumstance, but caring for a loved one who lives far away presents a unique set of challenges.

When providing care for loved ones who do not live nearby, keep the following three tips in mind.

Plan ahead. Learn your loved one’s medical wishes, contact information for doctors as well as important financial and insurance information.

Research community options. Many older adults need a little help to stay healthy and independent. Area Agencies on Aging and other community-based organizations can connect caregivers to programs that help with transportation, personal care services, nutrition, home modification and repairs, legal services, falls prevention programs and more.

Care for yourself. The Eldercare Locator can connect caregivers to local resources that can help, including caregiver support programs that can provide training, and support groups and other resources that help caregivers better support their loved ones—and themselves.

The Eldercare Locator can help both care recipients and their long-distance caregivers. Through its website, www.eldercare.acl.gov, and national Call Center at (800) 677-1116, the Eldercare Locator connects long-distance caregivers to resources that can provide assistance where it is needed most—in the care recipient’s own community. The Eldercare Locator is funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: The experience of a three generation journey

by Debbie Walker

Come to think of it, this has actually been a four generation female journey. The three generations, my daughter, granddaughter and myself, traveled with mom’s car that she left for me this past summer when she died.

Mom’s name was Alice. I named her car Alice. Mom came to me in a dream one night recently and said, “I gave you your wings, now fly little bird.” The trip was on!

To add to our little adventure into warmer weather, we drove into a snowstorm in Virginia! We were lucky to have our friend, Steve, monitoring the storm and what was going on ahead of us on the entire trip.

Once there, before coming to our room, my granddaughter looked out a third story window onto the parking lot below. There was a vehicle on which someone had written the name “ALICE” in the three inches of snow on the car. Okay, mom is definitely making the journey with us and wants us to know!

Virginia slowed us down with some nasty driving. My daughter has only driven on snow and ice for one week on an earlier vacation, years ago. My granddaughter, Florida born, has zero exposure to life with snow. They were both troopers, especially one stop light where the vehicles did a little slide before stopping.

That night in the hotel, I thought we might be asked to leave the premises. There were some seriously loud bouts of laughing coming from our room. Do you know what happens when three women, after hours and hours of driving on unfamiliar roads and streets, settle in for the night? It seems we can and did get pretty crazy! The two younger generations decided they would do facial masks of clay or whatever. There may be situations in which these things could be done without hysterical laughter, however, that was not the case with our aching bodies. Of course, when they took distorted pictures of the activity and sent them to various friends and loved ones it just added yet another laughing session!

I forgot to tell you about my daughter “losing” me in a totally unfamiliar city, in a snowstorm. She and my granddaughter were the lead vehicle as I followed, they had the GPS. The lead made it through a light and I got caught. Quickly she realized she left me behind. My granddaughter says her mother had a “meltdown!” All panicky because to her I was lost. So funny. Needless to say we reconnected with very little effort.

The next morning we waited until daylight to leave because of the snowstorm. After all the hoopla about the dreaded snowstorm it really wasn’t that bad. Maybe the attitude is a little different when the driver is from Maine rather than Virginia!

We did make it to Florida just fine. It was a bit rainy but we crossed that state line and I was a happy woman! Today it was in the 70s and sunny and I enjoyed every second of it.

I am just curious what sort of journey you have been on. I’d love to hear. Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Composer: Anton Eberl; Broadway: Company

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Eberl Symphony in E-flat Major from 1803

Concerto Koln, YouTube

Anton Eberl

Anton Eberl (1765-1807) was an Austrian composer with 200 works, many of them now lost. He was acclaimed as a pianist and teacher, knew Mozart, was a very close friend of Beethoven and much loved by others during his lifetime.

The composer and his wife traveled to Rus­sia, living in St. Petersburg for several years. But his home was Vienna for most of his life.

Eberl died of scarlet fever in 1807 at the age of 41. Afterwards, for over 167 years, he went into obscurity for mysterious reasons until the slow-moving revival of interest, in 1971, in his legacy. Performances and recordings have peaked during the last decade.

Until hearing the highly recommended above YouTube recently, I did not know of him and his music; the Symphony’s individuality, charm and beauty are undeniable. Concerto Koln’s rendition without a conductor is a very good one.

Company

Original Broadway cast recording, recorded May 3, 1970, Sony/Columbia, cd remastering of original LP released in 1998.

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Company, is, for me, one of the finest classical masterpieces in existence, along with Mahler’s 5th Symphony, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, the Brahms D minor PC, Sinatra’s Watertown, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, the Sibelius’ 7 Symphonies, Beethoven’s own 9 and his 5 PCs, Gershwin’s Concerto in F and the Puccini Tosca and Madame Butterfly with several etceteras. This original Broadway cast recording, supervised by the composer and the phenomenally gifted producer – then employed by Columbia records – Thomas Z. Shepard, is one worth having on the shelf and worth hearing countless numbers of times by a discerning connoisseur of truly beautiful recordings of great music.

Its classics include the eloquent duet, Barcelona, sung by Dean Jones as Bobby, a bachelor living a life of quiet desperation; and Susan Browning as April, a lonely stewardess whose potential for true love keeps being unrequited. Susan Browning died in 2006 at 65 while Dean Jones passed away in 2015 at 65 – both lived good lives and are very much missed .

Others are Being Alive, The Ladies Who Lunch, Little Things You Do Together, Another Hundred People, Getting Married Today, Someone is Waiting, and the opening Overture, one riveting piece of music on its terms, played, cast- sung, and conducted by the exceptionally gifted Harold Hastings, who died of a heart attack in 1973, at the young age of 57.

After a Boston tryout, Company opened at the Alvin Theatre April 26, 1970, generating 690 performances. Mark Kirkeby’s liner notes for the 1998 CD reissue are fascinating, along with Wiki pieces on the musical and Stephen Sondheim.

A quote from the composer- “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”

SOLON & BEYOND: Abbreviated look at warrant as town meeting time approaches

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
grams29@tds.net
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning my friends, don’t worry, be happy!

Here it is almost town meeting day! How time does fly!

I went to the town office, and got the 2019 budget meeting agenda for the meeting on January 19 to discuss the following: financial state of the town, budget overview, and warrant articles overview by the selectmen. Review of warrant articles and ordinances and review of proposed budget.

There will be a public hearing for the three ordinances that will be voted on at the annual town meeting: The proposed ordinances Shoreland Zoning Ordinance revision, Foreclosed Property Ordinance revision, and Home Cultivation of Marijuana Ordinance. I will try and let you know when that meeting is coming up.

The revenue from state revenue sharing is up about $4,000 from 2017. The excise tax revenues are up about $14,000 from 2017. The Road Paving Project ended up costing $137,906.85 less than was budgeted, so we did not have to borrow the $98,000. They did a chip seal process on the roads and also did crack sealing and crack repairing on the other paved roads in the town out of the Road Paving Project funds.

The town did not receive the BETE reimbursement for 2018 because the state was slow in processing them. The town will be receiving the $113,444 BETE reimbursement from the state this month. They will be asking to use those funds to reduce taxes in 2019.

New one time expenditures: LED electronic notice sign for town office; GIS mapping of the town; new furnace for the fire station; dump body for the 1995 Ford truck for the highway department; and surveying the Coolidge Library property.

There are also increased costs for the expanded town office hours to be open.

I’m going to print a few of the articles that I have room for in this column. Art.4: To see if the town will vote to increase the property tax levy limit of $572,934, established for the town of Solon by state law, in the event the municipal budget approved under the following articles will result in a tax commitment that is greater than that property tax levy limit. Selectmen recommend Yes.

Art. 17: To see if the Town will raise funds for a land survey for the Coolidge Library property. Selectmen recommend up to $3,000 with the funds coming from the Library Capital Reserve Account.

Art. 18: To see if the Town will vote to change the Tax Collector/Clerk position from an elected position to a position that is appointed by the selectmen with the effective date of this change being March 7, 2020.

Art. 19: To see if the Town will vote to form a library building committee, with a minimum of five members, for the purpose of developing plans to build a Coolidge Library addition and exploring funding options. Selectmen recommend Yes.

Art. 20: To see if the Town will approve creating a Swim/Camp Program Reserve Account with the funds to be used for the Swim Camp Program. Selectmen recommend Yes and with this year’s appropriation funds to be put in this reserve account.

Art. 21: To see if the Town will adopt the “Ordinance Limiting Home Cultivation of Marijuana for Personal Adult Use.” Selectmen recommend Yes. Also, on another page in the papers I got it states: WHEREAS, the Town of Solon deems it in the best interest of citizens to limit the cultivation of marijuana for personal adult use within the Town, without affecting cultivation, use, or distribution of Medical Marijuana as allowed by 22.

I was unable to attend the above budget committee meeting, (that is only the second or third one I have ever missed) my apologies, but I hope to have more to share with you about it next week.

Now for Percy’s memoir entitled “It’s Worth Pondering.” We must not, in the course of public life, expect immediate approbation and immediate grateful acknowledgment of our services. But let us persevere through abuse and even injury. The internal satisfaction of a good conscience is always present, and time will do us justice in the minds of the people, even those at present the most prejudiced against us. (words by Benjamin Franklin, 1772.)

Give Us Your Best Shot! Week of January 24, 2019

To submit a photo for The Town Line’s “Give Us Your Best Shot!” section, please visit our contact page or email us at townline@fairpoint.net!

SKY ON FIRE: Bill Ruggiero, of Fairfield, photographed this spectacular sunrise one early morning.

 

MOVE OVER: Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, recently snapped these evening grosbeaks at his feeder.

 

LOOK BOTH WAYS: Keith Richardson, of South China, captured these deer from a trail cam waiting to cross the road.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: It’s Never Too Late To Achieve A Healthy Weight

(NAPSI)—People often think of the New Year as a time to set new goals for healthy eating and physical activity. But weight management requires ongoing effort, during the holidays and every day. That’s why the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, is promoting simple tips and tools to help Americans start and maintain healthy habits.

“Why wait to start improving your health when you can start today?” NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s never too soon or too late to achieve a healthy weight.”

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight through healthy food choices and regular physical activity may help lower the risk of developing health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes. About 40 percent of adults and 19 percent of children and teens in the United States have obesity, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Continue or establish healthier eating habits, such as reducing the overall calories you consume and limiting your intake of foods and beverages with added sugars, fats and salt. Bringing healthier versions of your favorite dishes to holiday gatherings, and choosing smaller portions of holiday treats and alcohol, may help with managing weight during this time of year.

The NIDDK recommends making physical activity a priority for the whole family. Choosing a set time for physical activity and sticking to it may help you manage stress, improve your mood, and give you the energy to tackle your busy schedule. If it’s too cold to walk or run outdoors, take your workout to your favorite mall or indoor sports field. Even if you’re pressed for time, doing some physical activity is better than skipping your workout and doing nothing.

Another tip to consider during the holiday season and every day to improve health and manage weight is to reduce screen time and time spent sitting. Watching TV for more than two hours a day has been linked to overweight and obesity. Try creating a holiday-themed playlist and having a dance party. You can have fun dancing alone or with family or friends.

To further encourage adults and youth to be active, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recently released new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The new Guidelines recommend that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, such as brisk walking or dancing. Youth ages six through 17 need one hour each day, and children ages three through six should be active throughout the day.

By establishing and sticking to healthy habits, parents, caregivers and youth may achieve better health together during the holiday season and beyond.

To find more tips and resources for weight management and healthy living during the holidays and every day, visit the NIDDK website: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management.

SCORES & OUTDOORS — Fly Away Home: a story about geese, the natural world and survival

A scene from the film Fly Away Home.

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Let me begin this column by emphatically stating that I am not a film critic by any stretch of the imagination. I usually leave that up to Peter Cates, The Town Line’s esteemed reviewer. But I saw a film recently that truly inspired me, and because it is about geese, I think it fits the theme of this column.

The name of the movie is Fly Away Home, and for those of you who have already seen it, you’re excused from reading the rest of this column.

It was filmed in 1996, and dramatizes the actual experiences of Bill Lishman, who, in 1986, started training geese to follow his ultralight and succeeded in leading their migration in 1993.

The story line of the film begins when Amy Alden, played by Anna Paquin, survives an automobile accident in New Zealand in which her mother is killed. The girl is sent to live with her father, Thomas Alden, played by Jeff Daniels of Dumb & Dumber fame, on an Ontario, Canada, farm.

Her father is involved in a dispute with a local developer who is prepared to bulldoze some of the wilderness surrounding Alden’s farm. The crew begins to clear the land, but, for some unexplained reason, the project is put on hold. Amy goes out to the scene only to find a bunch of goose eggs left behind by their parents. Without anyone knowing, she takes the eggs to the barn where she uses a drop light to provide heat to incubate the eggs. To her surprise, they all hatched.

The local game warden appears at the house and informs everyone that because of a local ordinance, he would have to clip the wings so the birds would be rendered flightless. This upsets everyone, and Tom throws the game warden out of his house, after which the warden threatens that if the birds fly, he would have to confiscate them.

Tom begins to research the species and learns that if the birds aren’t taught to fly properly, as they have no goose parents to teach them, they would not survive during the Canadian winter, and would probably get lost and die. Once he notices the geese follow Amy wherever she goes, he decides to use ultralight aircraft to teach the birds to fly. The geese would not follow him, so he comes up with a plan to teach Amy how to fly, and the geese would probably follow her.

Amy’s uncle Dave, played by Terry Kinney, travels to North Carolina to talk to a friend who owns a bird sanctuary about the plan. The friend thinks the idea is absurd, and also informs Dave that if the birds don’t reach the sanctuary by November 1, it would be torn down by developers who plan to turn it into a housing project.

While the group is off trying to find a goose (Igor) that became lost due to injury while the Aldens were trying to teach the geese how to fly, the game warden confiscates the birds. But, through a clever plan, they reclaim the geese, and set off on their intrepid flight to North Carolina, breaking a lengthy list of laws during the journey. Some misadventures occur along the way, including an emergency landing at a highly-classified U.S. Air Force base on Lake Ontario, and Tom’s ultralight going down in a cornfield, only 30 miles from the destination, due to a faulty rudder. By now, Tom and Amy have become national news with residents cheering them on and offering places to stay during their overnight stops.

Tom convinces Amy that she must go on alone, and she completes the journey safely.

One of the most moving scenes in the film occurs when, while piloting through a cloud of mist, the office towers of Baltimore, actually shot in Toronto, suddenly materialize, and office workers see the little girl and her geese flying past their windows. While watching that, I felt a lump in my throat and goosebumps on my neck.

In the final screen credits, it is revealed that all 16 geese, including Igor, who had been injured, and rode the whole way with Amy in her ultralight, returned to the Aldens’ farm the next spring, safely, and on their own.

It is a heart-warming story as you get captivated by the dedication of the family, and the steadfastness of the geese. I highly recommend it.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

When was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs appeared in a Super Bowl?

Answer can be found here.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Thought for the new year

by Debbie Walker

Shared by Debbie Walker

This week I came across a little article my mother had saved. After reading the little article that was authorized by “Voice for Health Odd Fellow Tape Pals”, I decided to share it with you all. It’s about the time of January that folks begin to give up on their new resolutions. I thought I might try this one:

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.

Tomorrow’s sun will rise, whether in splendor or behind a mask of clouds – but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day – today. Any man can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of these two awful eternities – yesterday and tomorrow – that we break down.

It is not the experience of today that drives men mad – it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us therefore live but one day at a time. (the end of what I found printed)

Here is something I wrote when I lived in Wells and would go to the beach:

Haze Over the Water

Haze over the water today
Tides out again
Water is green, very light
Then blue, then black
Under the haze over the water.
A dog running on the beach
He runs out into the small waves
Then runs back and back again
The he follows his friend on the beach
Under the haze over the water.
These little girls walk out to touch
Two little blondes and on brunette
Hand in hand they walk out till
They all giggle and run back
Under the haze over the water.
There’s a small boat out there
Working hard to cut the waves
White water spraying back as it cuts the blue
You can actually see it bounce
Under the haze over the water.
I come here to see the rocks
Today they’re out of the waves
Tomorrow as things change, the
Water will be hitting the rocks
And spraying over making
It’s own natural wonder
Tomorrow there may be
No haze over the water.

Okay, so that’s enough of that. I am just curious what you think of these. How about some comments? Let me know what you collect for sayings or do you write? Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!! Don’t forget, we do have a website!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Farther Down the Road series contains over 60 volumes

The album, Farther Down the Road

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Farther Down the Road, Volume 2

CBS Special Products, cassette, recorded 1972-1985.

The above was one of a cassette/CD series under the same title of more than 60 volumes, sponsored by Rotella, a line of lubricating products for the heavy duty engines inside extremely large trucks. As with the entire series, this week’s second volume was an anthology of country/western recordings, distributed only through gas stations and truck stops and given to any customer purchasing a minimum of three gallons of the Rotella lubricating oil. Its selections were:

Johnny Cash – One Piece at a Time
Janie Fricke – He’s a Headache
The Gatlin Brothers – Houston
Barbara Mandrell – Midnight Oil
Charlie Daniels Band – Devil Went Down to Georgia
Willie Nelson – Midnight Rider
Tammy Wynette – Another Chance
Ronnie McDowell – Watchin’ Girls Go By
Charly McClain – Men
Merle Haggard – Are the Good Times Really Over ?

My favorites are those by Cash, Nelson and Wynette, the anthology itself being a good one.

A quote from Graham Greene’s essay on Saki, but referring to the novelist who wrote Tale of Two Cities and other such books – “Dickens developed a style so easy and natural that it seems capable of including the whole human race in its understanding.”