FOR YOUR HEALTH: Protect Your Health By Protecting Your Retirement Savings

(NAPSI)—Anyone who has ever seen a retirement account take a hit during a recession or stock market correction knows firsthand that it takes a mental and emotional toll. New research, however, has discovered that it also makes you sick.

An article published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, based on a study of how 8,714 adults fared over a 20-year period, concluded that a “negative wealth shock” can increase an individual’s risk of dying within the next two decades by more than 50 percent.

As The Wall Street Journal explained, “losing one’s life savings in the short term might curtail one’s life span in the long term.”

What Can Happen

It’s not entirely clear to researchers how the loss of retirement savings can damage your health—perhaps it’s related to increasing blood pressure or cardiovascular events—but the scientific findings are consistent with a growing body of knowledge:

  • The Population Reference Bureau studied the effects of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 on older Americans’ health and well-being and found that financial losses during that time translated into a higher risk of mental and physical health problems with potential long-term consequences.
  • The Federal Reserve released a briefing paper in 2013 that found “lower levels of life satisfaction” correspond to “greater levels of financial stress”—58 percent of older adults who said they were not very satisfied with life also reported having major financial stress.

What You Can Do

There is no magic bullet to prevent your retirement savings from being depleted by a major financial shock. Economic downturns are inevitable, stock market volatility is rising and unexpected expenses—such as a sudden hospital bill or home repairs—can wreak havoc on even the very best retirement funding plans. One option for coping with a negative financial shock is to unlock hidden value from everyday assets you may no longer need.

For example, many seniors are surprised to learn that one potential asset for generating immediate cash is a life insurance policy. A life insurance policy is considered your personal property, so you have the right to sell that policy anytime you like. When a consumer sells a policy—something called a “life settlement” transaction—the policy owner receives a cash payment and the purchaser of the policy assumes all future premium payments, then receives the death benefit upon the death of the insured. Candidates for life settlements are typically aged 70 years or older, with a life insurance policy that has a death benefit of at least $100,000.

If you own a life insurance policy you no longer need or can afford, you may be able to protect your retirement savings—and your personal health—by selling that policy for immediate cash.

Learn More

For more facts about life settlements, visit or call the LISA office at (888) 793-3946.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Challenge met: mystery moths identified, and a bonus

Bronze-copper butterfly (photo: John V. Calhoun)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Back in the June 21, 2018, issue of The Town Line, I showed a couple of photos of moths which I could not identify, and asked for help from our readership.

The following week, I received an email from John V. Calhoun, Research Associate, at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History, at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. He has studied butterflies and moths for 45 years, and has authored many scientific publications on the subject.

His wife was born in Waterville, and they own a camp in Oakland where they visit for a few weeks each summer.

Baltimore Snout Moth, Hypena baltimoralis

Challenge A was a photo I took of a moth on my screen door at camp. I had never seen one before. John informed me, with the assistance of a colleague, James K. Adams, professor of biology, Dalton State College, in Dalton, Georgia, that it was a Baltimore Snout Moth, Hypena baltimoralis, which is a common species in much of the eastern United States. Adams is an expert at identifying many obscure moths, and is the long-time editor of the News of the Lepidopterists’ Society, which Calhoun served as president in 2016-17.

The caterpillars feed on maple trees. Maybe that is why I have not seen one at camp; there aren’t any maple trees around me. I am surprised I have not seen it at my home seeing that I have several maple trees on my property.

However, I can’t write too much about that particular moth because I could not find any information in all the research I have done. The internet has many photos and illustrations, but no information.

Io Moth closed

The second challenge, a moth that I photographed in 2015, was identified by John as the male Io Moth, Automeris io. Now, that moth I have seen before, just never in that position.

The Io moth is a colorful North American moth. It is found in a large part of the United States, and Canada.

Adult Io moths are strictly nocturnal, flying generally only during the first hours of the night. The females wait until nightfall and then extend a scent gland from the posterior region of the abdomen, in order to attract males.

Io Moth opened

The caterpillars are gregarious in all their instars, many times traveling in single file processions all over the food plant. As the larvae develop, they will lose their orange color and will turn bright green, having many spines. These stinging spines have a very painful venom that is released with the slightest touch.

Just this past week, John sent another photo. That of the Bronze Copper butterfly, which he photographed on June 29, in Benton. I guess you never know what you will find in nature. I have seen many different types of butterflies and moths, but again, never one like this.

Their range is widespread, from Alberta to northern Nevada in the west through to the east coasts of Canada and the United States. It is listed as a species of special concern in Connecticut, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Adults have been observed feeding from blackberry and red clover.

So, that is our lesson on moths and butterflies for this week. I continue to be intrigued by what actually goes on in the natural world around us. So many different species of bugs and animals that are either obscure to us or with which we have little contact.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

In the 2004 ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who was named the series MVP: Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Derek Lowe, or Mariano Rivera?

Answer can be found here.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Summer drinks: kind of old ones

by Debbie Walker

Have you ever heard of Switchel or Shrubs? I never had. I know what a switch is and a shrub but they were nothing like what you will be reading. Mom’s friend Debbie knew what I was talking about. It may be because Debbie is celebrating 92 years now! I love asking her questions but that is another story!

I was reading my e-mail newsletter from Farmer’s Almanac. I got to the section about “Old Fashioned Lemonade Recipe” and that led to the “Switchel” drink mix. Later I found the “Shrubs” recipe on and it was posted by Emily Han.

“Switchel” has been around from the 1700s into the 1900s. Early American colonies recipe might have come from the Caribbean before it got here. This vinegar and ginger drink was known as “Haymaker’s Punch” in the early 1900s and used for the field workers.

It is supposed to be better for us than any soft drink or sports drink. It is said to be high in potassium if molasses is used. It is supposed to replace electrolytes. But do me a favor and don’t trust me, check it out before you try the recipe that follows:


Basic Recipe: 1 Cup water, 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 4 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 teaspoon fresh grated (sifted) ginger. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to a day. Pour over ice or mix with soda water.

So maybe if you are working in the field and someone brings you a strange drink, maybe it will be this one. If not it might be ….


Basic Recipe: 1 Cup Elderberries (or raspberries or stone fruit), 1 Cup apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar tastes sweetest, champagne vinegar tastes grape-y), Soda to serve.

Wash and dry berries, put in pint size jar, lightly crush with fork or masher. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, occasionally shake or stirring. Give mixture a good shake- strain using fine mess strainer or cheesecloth. Discard solids. Measure liquid. For every cup of liquid use 1 cup of sugar. Combine liquid and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-low heat. Stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool, bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, (possibly much longer).

Serve with sparkling water, Start 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water and adjust to taste. The syrup may also be mixed with water or used in cocktails.

Please let me know if any of this is familiar to you. I had never heard of it but I am fairly confident that I will have to try these. We will say my need to try this is for “a history” experience. However I don’t feel the need to go out to the hayfields. I’ll skip that part.

I’m just curious what I will hear from you. Contact me at and don’t forget we are on line and have archives, too. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Album: Scandinavia; Group: The Rays; Opera: Verdi

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Laserlight, 79 675, cassette, released 1991.

Jean Sibelius

The Laserlight label began releasing very inexpensive cassettes and CDs during the late ‘80s and focusing mainly on classical music.

Scandina­via, a musical grab bag centered on Norway, Sweden and Fin­land, contains the 2nd Peer Gynt Suite and two Elegiac Melodies of Norway’s Edvard Grieg and the Swan of Tuonela and Finlandia of Finland’s Jean Sibelius, along with three shorter pieces. The performers include the very gifted conductors, Janos Sandor, Yuri Ahronovitch, Herbert Kegel, Geoffrey Simon and Rouslan Raichev; pianist, Jeno Jando; and, for orchestras, the Hungarian State, Budapest Strings, Vienna Symphony, Philharmonia and Dresden and Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Philharmonics – all first class ensembles. A nice cassette for classical beginners.

Amazon prices begin at one cent for CDs while the cassette is not available for now.

The Rays

Silhouettes; Daddy Cool
Cameo 117, 45, recorded 1957.

The Rays

The Rays were formed in 1955 and scored a #3 hit on the charts with the doo wop classic, Silhouettes, which sold 3 million copies. It has sustained its status as a captivating song and been covered by other artists. The side B is a throwaway.


Sixten Ehrling conducting choir and orchestra with tenor Set Svanholm, soprano Aase Nordmo-Lovberg and baritone Sigurd Bjorling, etc.; Preiser 90754, three CDs, 1953-54 Stockholm Opera production, with extra cd of Verdi’s Don Carlo excerpts, with same forces from 1956.

Sixten Ehrling

Set Svanholm

This set will appeal to a surprisingly sizable number of those who collect historic opera broadcasts. The performance has a sterling cast with Svan­holm’s jealous Otello, Nordmo’s doomed Desdem­ona, and Bjor­ling’s treacherous Iago, while Verdi’s setting of the original Shake­speare play has made for one of the finest opera experiences in the genre’s history. Sixten Ehrling had a very unpleasant personality by most accounts but his conducting of most everything I have heard was very exciting, as was the case with the Don Carlo excerpts.

SOLON & BEYOND: Solon celebrates class reunions; thrift shop to close

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, dear friends. Don’t worry, be happy.

Reunion Day for Solon graduates is Saturday, July 21, at the Solon Elementary School. 9:30 a.m., starts the registration and coffee hour with the business hour starting at 10:30 a.m. The auction will follow the business hour. Please remember your auction item. Last year the amount raised from the auction was $750. Diane Oliver Poulin was the auctioneer.

Fifty-eight alumni and guests attended last year. The class of 1968 will celebrate their 50th reunion. Members are Kathy Adams Swett, James Bubar, Dianne Hall Lamb, Betty Heald Price, Laurel Perry Duggan, David Rogers, Brenda Whitney Padham, Brian Whitney and Diane Oliver Poulin.

Lunch will begin at 1 p.m., and will be catered by the Solon Pine Tree 4 – H Club.

Last year, the class of 1967 celebrated their 50th with seven members, Cheryl Hanson Edgecome, Eunice Waugh Kenn, Dottie Padham Dunphy, Brent Brown, Michael Bishop, Maurice Robbins and Bill McDonough. Others celebrating were Alice Davis Heald, 77th, Arlene Davis Meader and Albert Starbird 76th, Mary Heald Bishop, 74th, Theona Brann Lagasse, 70th and Marie Boynton Poulin, 68th. Kim Willette received a check from the scholarship fund for $1,100.

Deaths reported were Alma Kelly Withers French class of 1937, Arlene Davis Meader, 1941, Phyllis Hilton Whitney 1953, James L. Mayhew, Jr.,1957, Earlene Waugh Peters, 1967, Vernal Hight Jr., 1963, Dana Hall, 1967, Lynda Russell Staples, 1969 and Zachary Corson 2000 from Carrabec.

Now for some sad and shocking news about the Solon Thrift Shop and Food Cupboard on Pleasant Street in Solon.

Could not believe it when I first heard about it, but it is true! The workers there received a notification from their home office there are plans in the works to close the Solon Thrift Shop and Food Cupboard at the end of October. The workers there do not want to see this place close. They are asking for help from anyone that wants to see the thrift shop and food cupboard stay open.

I talked with Linda French who manages the above, and she said the building needs to be weatherized so it will be easier to heat. Someone has been stealing fuel, so the fuel needs to be secure. Someone has donated lumber to enclose the fuel tank and that will be a big help.

They are looking for any help that people can give to keep this very important thrift shop and food cupboard open. Linda said that to close it as fall and winter approaches is the worst possible time to be without it. Linda said, “Closing the thrift shop and food cupboard at this time of year would create a hardship for families that rely on the shop and cupboard for holiday meals and Christmas. Many families would not have a very good Christmas without them.”

And so I hope all those of you reading the above will stop in and tell them of your support and appreciation for this wonderful thrift shop. Many of my clothes have been purchased there and I would surely miss it very much. It is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Food Cupboard hours are second and fourth Thursdays and Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Emergency and by appointment call 643-2855.

The building is owned by United Methodist Ministry.

The town of Solon had two churches when we moved there in 1950, the Congregational Church on North Main Street and the Methodist Church (where the Thrift Shop is located. on Pleasant Street.) It was Federated Congregational and Methodist, we had Sunday services in the winter at the Methodist Church and summer services at the Congregational Church. There wasn’t any kitchen at the Congregational Church, but there was one at the Methodist Church so all public suppers etc were held there. Ministry was divided up evenly, a Methodist minister for awhile and then a Congregational minister. After awhile we lost the Methodist Church to the United Methodist Ministry and they started the United Methodist Ministry Thrift Shop in Solon around 1990.

And now for Percy’s memoir entitled God’s Design: Philosophers may reason why But I won’t take the time, I only know I’m here on earth Because of God’s design. So I will just continue on And do the best I can, And know that God will do the rest Because He made the Plan. (words by Ed Kane.)

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Is Your Sunscreen Harming The Reefs and Your Health?

What You Need to Know Before You Buy Sunscreen

(NAPSI)—With news heating up as Hawaii’s governor signs a bill into law banning chemical sunscreens, consumers are starting to question how safe their sunscreen really is. Their concern is warranted as research has shown that the same chemical sunscreen—some of the most popular brands—that is killing our oceans’ reefs, has been found to harm the human body.

“If it’s killing our oceans’ reefs, imagine what it’s doing to you?” said Lisa Palmer, co-founder of TropicSport, a reef-friendly, mineral sunscreen and skin care line. “Now we know from a recent study that when chemical sunscreen is mixed with chlorine and exposed to ultraviolet light it can potentially result in kidney and liver dysfunction and nervous system disorders. It took us four years to develop our product, paying attention to the tiniest detail for maximum protection and safety, while using natural ingredients. We knew back then that the toxins were an issue. It’s now becoming clear that these chemicals are harmful to humans and raising questions from the FDA.”

According to a study by Dr. Craig Downs, executive director, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, “Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in marine environments—produced by swimmers and municipal, residential, and boat/ship wastewater discharges.”

Most popular chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone and octocrylene. These chemicals can cause coral bleaching and coral death, as well as reproductive diseases in fish. Their toxicity also prevents the natural restoration of a damaged reef, ultimately leaving the seascape barren and desolate.

Many mainstream sunscreen brands claiming to be a safe alternative have removed most of the chemicals but now use avobenzone, a derivative of oxybenzone, as a stabilizer, making the sunscreen just as harmful. Avobenzone degrades within 30 minutes when it’s exposed to the sun, which results in harmful free radicals being released into the system. These free radicals can actually accelerate the aging process and increase the risk of illness including cancer.

Palmer recommended checking sunscreen labels and using only pure mineral sunscreen like TropicSport with non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, ensuring that no particles are absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, they sit on top of the skin acting as a physical blocker that deflects and scatters the UV rays away from the skin.

“It’s better for you, is kid friendly, and unlike other mineral sunscreens, is easier to apply, smells better, and is one of the few that have passed the U.S. FDA 80-minute and Australia 240-minute water resistant tests,” said Palmer.

TropicSport is available at

SCORES & OUTDOORS: The shell-middens (what are they?) are trying to tell us something


Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

This week I’m going to give up this space to a subject of very much interest. It came across my desk last week, written by Alan G. Button, and it is something that I think I should share with you. It begins:

Three feet! I say again… THREE FEET BY THE END OF THIS CENTURY! This is the new alarming projection for sea level rise reported to us by the evening news over the last few weeks. Wake up people—Al Gore has warned us… TWICE! And scientists around the world, not influenced by politics and financial manipulation, all agree.

My interest (as a volunteer since 200l) has been to study prehistoric shell-middens, only a small number of some 2,000 existing along our often dangerous coastline. And they have been and still are disappearing at alarming rates. Over the last ten years I have witnessed the aftermath of total destruction to at least six middens within the Cushing, Friendship and Waldoboro coastal floodplains. And there is no exemption for what I see ahead.

Shell-Middens (sometimes called ‘kitchen middens’) are the remains of two basic time periods: the Ceramic Period people (precursors to the Wabanaki tribes of today) and the Late Archaics. Dates on rare occasion may range as far back as 5,000 B.P. (before present) which may include the Red Paint People. But most remains are of the four Ceramic Period divisions which terminated when European diseases wiped out upwards of 90 percent of these coastal families during the late 1520s.

Shell-Middens come in all shapes and sizes. But it is their content of bone, small pottery shards, charcoal, numerous lithic types, and various shell types which have only begun to help us understand these cultures. Many questions still remain: including migration and trade routes, hunting traditions, winter survival, and the extent of social life and cultural beliefs. The testing of one charcoal sample costs $250.00 or more. And the testing and analysis of faunal/soil material within a lab just for one site would be in the hundreds of hours.

Protection? Unlike other states, none exists. And unlike research and protection of historic sites funded directly by state legislation… Pre-historic field research performed by a handful of volunteers like myself has no funding. Where are the ‘Field Schools’? Where are the mandates to retrieve vital dateable faunal and charcoal remains? It baffles me, even with a ‘12,000 Year History of Prehistoric Maine’ exhibition within our Maine State Museum, just how many people (even our own legislators) who do not know or understand what shell-middens are nor what they represent.

And what boundaries, besides the lack of money, do we face? Three… Logistics and manpower, especially to offshore islands, ‘Potters’ who seem to believe valuable artifacts may still be found (rarely, and the damage they do is outrageous), and restricted access by landowners who have no
valid reason other than their own personal ideals. One such site on the upper Medomak River is reported to contain at least 800 cubic meters of intact shell/soil matrix. This site has never been sampled. And a 1983 report states a 115 meter (377 feet) wide erosion plain existed within the tidal margin below this midden.

I could think of several colorful adjectives one may apply to this mindset. Should we not demand some form of responsibility? Should not landowners be required to share these educational venues? Have we not learned any lessons from our past with knowledge that has been fragmented, obscured, altered or totally omitted?

I find it strange that when a bridge, culvert or road upgrade takes place at an inland stream crossover, it is a state mandate to have a licensed archaeologist on scene. Yet no such oversight exists for shell midden degradation.

Coastal towns are facing two major types of erosion: a) Wash-over from storm surge and b) Undermining of glacial till from tidal turbulence. The second is the most damaging as it involves subsurface whirlpools during flood-tides skirting in and out of coves and rivers, gouging and undercutting shorelines. Site 17.66 on the west shore of the St George River totally disappeared from undermining during the winter of 2016-17 (estimated to have been 20M x 6M x 25cm). I found nothing but shell hash scattered across the shoreline during a spring inspection in 2017.

What are we going to do? I do not place blame on the hardworking department heads and former state lab techs (where I volunteer) dedicated to conserving former research. But it’s going to take money, man-power, and a research center dedicated to a 10-20 year project to collect this information—something I had proposed some ten years ago. Perhaps, as so often happens, we will wait until it’s too late. And for many sites, it already is!

Let me know folks, only 60 years to go. This is your state… and your history.

Alan G Button is a volunteer with the Mid-Coast Shell-Midden Research;

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

In 1967, Billy Rohr, of the Red Sox, pitched 8-2/3 hitless innings at the New York Yankees in his first major league appearance. Who got the hit that broke up the no-hitter?

Answer can be found here.

SOLON & BEYOND: Catching up on school news; Anson Academy class of ‘68 seeks classmates

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

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

Even though school is over for the summer, I am going to write about an interesting event that happened at Solon Elementary School. This news was sent to me awhile ago, and my column wasn’t in the paper one week. Anyway, The Solon Masons sponsored the third annual “Bikes for Books” program in the Solon School again this year. This program promoted reading among the K-5 students.

Students read books and filled out a form on each book they read, putting the forms in large envelopes in their classrooms. On June 6th, an assembly to do a drawing for a boy and a girl from each class. Each of those students won a new bike, helmet, and a T-shirt provided by the Masons. The Masons also gave out an extra T-shirt to another lucky winner in each class.

At the assembly, Deputy Mike Pike went over bike safety with the students, especially the importance of wearing a helmet every time you ride.

The Solon Elementary students did a lot of reading in this third year of this great program. Here are the book totals for each grade: Grade K – 70, Grade 1 – 76, Grade 2 – 80, Grade 3 – 184, Grade 4 – 52 and Grade 5 – 61, for a total of 523.

Last year the students read 410 books so we were pleased with the increase in the number of books read this year.

Congratulations to the bike winners and to the top readers in each class who received $15 Walmart gift cards.

We appreciate the support of a community organization like the Masons to promote reading and fitness with our students.

Another interesting bit of news from the Solon School News letter: Students Participated In Career Days: Our district sponsored Career Days for students in grades K – 5 this spring. Three Career Days were held: one for grades K – 1, one for grades 2 – 3, and one for grades 4 – 5 on three Thursdays in May at the Garret Schenck School.

Three Career Days were part of our MELMAC Partnership Grant to introduce students at a young age to career options for their future, and we plan to offer these again next year.

My many thanks to those who send me this information about our children’s education. Looking forward to receiving more in the fall.

Another bit of news that I didn’t receive in time to get in before: The Anson Academy Class of 1968 is planning its 50th class reunion. They are looking for contact information for the following classmates: Lenora Brown Murray, Eileen Garland, Irene Garland Davis, Deirdre Nile, Frank Peters and Barbara Tucker. Anyone with information on these people, please call Beth Fleming Brown at 474-6609. The next planning meeting is July 9, 6 p. m., at Stewart Public Library, North Anson.

On Saturday, August 4, (10 a.m. – noon) paddle or canoe up the Wesserunsett Stream in Skowhegan with SWT Trustees. This tour is given as an free activity during River Fest, an annual multi-day event of Skowhegan Main Street that celebrates recreation and life on the Kennebec River, The paddle begins at Cleaver Landing on the Kennebec River.After the paddle enjoy a barbecue at the Kennebec Banks Rest Area for only $5.00. The barbecue starts at 11:30 a.m. and closes around 1:30 p.m. All proceeds help SWT maintain this popular rest area. If you don’t have a canoe, just ask us! We may have an extra one for you and a partner to use. ( Sounds like lots of fun. More news from Somerset Woods Trustees in the near future.)

And now for Percy’s memoir entitled Make Life a Little Sweeter:

Oh let me shed a little light
On someone’s path I pray;
I’d like to be a messenger
Of happiness today!
It may be just a phone call,
A smile, or a prayer,
Or long neglected letter
Would lift the edge of care.
I want to spread some happiness
In what I say or do,
Make life a little sweeter
For someone else! Don’t you? (words by Alice Hansche Mortenson.)

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Clever uses for household items

The humble bobby pin.

by Debbie Walker

Bobby pins! I remember them. They were at one time used to make pin-curls and French Twist hairdos. These days I occasionally use them to hold a wig in place. Uses for them now:

Bobby pins

Toothpaste tube – slide a bobby pin over the tube from the bottom, squeeze and pull it up the nozzle to get every last drop (or cut the tube and scrape it out).

Clothespins – use bobby pins to clip lingerie and swimwear you want to air dry.

Broken zipper – insert bobby pin through the eye of the slider and pull.

Mark tape – clip a bobby pin over the loose end of duct or packing tape, no more struggles to find the end (or just roll tape over on itself)

Rubber bands (we called them elastics, too) I always have a supply on hand especially since I read some of these tips.

Mark your page – Being an avid reader I have used rubber bands as my bookmarks. You can also use them to mark that last page you read, drop the book or a neat freak feel the need to close an open book if you have to leave it for a snack break. No problem your rubber band is there!

Hangers – blouses notoriously slide off hangers. Maddening! Wrap a rubber band around each end of the hanger. TaDa, they stay in place. Love this one!

Car visor – Wrap several rubber bands over your visor. They can hold tickets, cash, printed directions, even a pair of sun glasses.

Messy paint cans – Wrap a rubber band around the height of a can so it is stretched tight across the center of the opening. After you insert your brush slide it against the band, excess paint will fall back into the can, not the rim of the can, less mess.

Eraser – no eraser? Wrap a rubber band around the end of your pencil; erase away graphite off the pencil lead. (I tried it, works! (I would try this with the kids in class this fall but I can imagine the other uses they would find for it!)

Shaving Cream: It’s not just for shaving anymore!

Sunburn – too much sun, looking for a little relief, try menthol shaving cream (Dollar Tree $1.)

Swim goggles – to fog proof goggles, spray on generous amount of shaving cream on the inside of lenses, let sit for a minute, wipe clean with soft cloth.

Grandkids need a bath? Make it fun! Put some shave cream in several bowls; add a few drops of food coloring. You will be the grandparent who rocks the world!

With all the traveling going on now I thought I would pass a couple of these tips on:

Pot holder = a Do-it-Yourself curling iron cover to safely pack the hot tool in a travel bag.

Empty pill bottles = travel sewing kit. Drop a threaded needle, safety pins, and/or buttons inside the bottle for emergency repairs.

I am just curious how many of these ideas help you out or if you have ideas to pass on. I am always open to new ideas. So for questions or comments, find me at Thanks for reading and don’t forget The Town Line is online, complete with archives of columns!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Scottish conductor, Sir Alexander Gibson

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


by Conrad Wilson; Mainstream Publishing, 1993, 159 pages.

Conrad Wilson

This biography has a special fascination because Alex and I were good friends during the early ‘80s – Alex being the late Scottish conductor, Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995), whose recordings, guest appearances and 25 years as music director of both the Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Opera brought him international fame. It was the kind of fame justly deserved through hard work, consistently high quality results, discipline, passion for music and good will towards those he worked with. He was both a great conductor, a fine human being and a gracious friend. And he practiced humility – qualities rare among ego-driven conductors.

I saw him conduct several concerts in Houston featuring works of Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Mozart, Liszt, Brahms, Elgar, Holst, Mahler, Berlioz, Saint-Saens and Szymanowski. And lots of Sibelius. He didn’t have the clearest beat but he and the players felt it together. I felt that every performance was conducted as if it would be his last, a quality surprisingly less frequent among other certain shining stars of the firmnament.

Sir Alexander Gibson

I own many of his records and CDs, all of them at least very good. Click his name on Amazon for numerous listings, each one highly recommended.

The book recounts his various successes with so many opera productions, especially Puccini; the many concerts featuring Sibelius, the names recounted earlier, and numerous world premieres; and his gifts as both organist and pianist during his early years. He was adept in managing emergencies during actual concerts and productions. Finally, no other conductor in history matches his length of service with an opera house and orchestra at the same time!

I also remember him as a chain smoker but, by the ‘90s, he had quit.

In January 1995, he died from unexpected complications following surgery.