I’M JUST CURIOUS: How about some word puzzles?

by Debbie Walker

Recently I was given a 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac magazine that was prepared for Boy’s Town and their 100th year. It is done in a monthly manner. It is a nice “read;” I felt lucky to have been given one. And I decided to share the “Puzzle of the Month” with you and hope that you will enjoy it. The answers will be in The Town Line’s edition next week. So, we move on:

January: Soon as I’m made, I’m sought with care, for one whole year consulted. That time elapsed, I’m thrown aside, neglected and insulted. What am I?

February: What’s that in the fire, and not in the flame? What’s that in the master, and not in the dame? What’s that in the courtier, and not in the clown? What’s that in country, and not in the town? What am I?

March: I am composed of four letters. My first’s in a fish, but not in an owl. My second’s in shad, but not in a fowl. My third’s in a crab, but not in a quail. My fourth’s in a mackerel, but not in its tail. My whole is a thing that it pays to hoe well.

April: A motorcar is three times as old as its tires were when it was as the tires are now. When its tires are as old as the car is now, the car will be a year older than the tires are now. What are the present ages of cars and tires?

May: Often we are covered with wisdom and wit, and oft with a cloth where the dinner guests sit; in beauty around you and over your head, we are countless, though numbered when bound to be read.

June: What key is the hardest to turn?

July: What is the longest word in the English language?

August: A dealer ordered a picture 12 inches by 18 inches to be framed so that it would cover just twice its former wall space, the frame to be of uniform width. How wide should the frame be?

September: Name a bird whose name contains the name of another bird.

October: What word of six letters contains seven words, besides itself, without transposing?

November: This word is both an adjective and the name of a flower.

December: I move incessant to and fro, obedient to Moon and Sun, but though I serve both high and low, all wait on me, I wait on none.

I hope you enjoy! Let’s be good now and not get on the computer looking for answers. Try saving it for a snowy day activity. You know you are good for a couple more before winter is done with you.

I will continue here in sunny Florida. The people here are cleaning up their little “winter” reminders. My daughter and her hubby got out their kayaks to spring clean them Sunday. I see a river trip coming up for them soon.

My activities are somewhat limited as I work on getting rid of bronchitis. I don’t feel really bad but that cough…yuck!

I am just curious how many of you are going to jump right into that little game. Remember, no cheating! Answers in our next edition. Please contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com with any comments or questions!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: A live link from London’s Barbican Centre

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

A live link from London’s Barbican Centre

Bernard Haitink

A live link from London’s Barbican Centre that I watched this past Sunday, March 10, 2019, and available on YouTube until June 10, 2019; this includes two intermission features from host Rachel Leach.

Live: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22 (with pianist Till Fellner) and Bruck­ner Sym­phony No. 4 – Lon­don Sym­phony Orchestra under the direction of Bernard Haitink .

World-renowned conductor Bernard Haitink celebrated his 90th birthday on March 4, and, with guest-conducting engagements scheduled over the next several weeks, verifying that he remains at the top of his game being a consistently fine interpreter, as he’s been for the last 60 or more years, of a wide range of symphonic music.

Till Fellner

The Mozart and Bruckner have the glistening freshness of someone discovering this music for the first time. I have an earlier home-recorded cassette of the Maestro’s mid-’80s Boston Symphony 22nd PC with Alicia di Larrocha, while my first Bruckner 4th was his 1960s LP. These earlier performances prove his commitment to glistening freshness, even though, being human, he can’t achieve it every time. I have some examples of when he can be dull.

Nevertheless, this link is recommended for all fans of the conductor and for the mo­ments of so many people showing their love and consideration for him.

I offer a few examples of his extensive recorded legacy, including his 25-plus years as music director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam:

Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto with Claudio Arrau.

First Mahler 9th Symphony.

First Richard Strauss Heldenleben.

And London Philharmonic Beethoven 2nd and 9th Symphonies; and Shostakovich Leningrad and 10th Symphonies.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Bigger, bolder, more aggressive coyotes destined for Maine

Eastern coyote (Photo: Anne Fraser)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

A friend of The Town Line sent an email to me last week asking about what appears to be an increase in the number of sightings of coyotes in the China/Vassalboro vicinity. She noted a reported deer kill on China Lake and one that had been hit by a car on Lakeview Drive, in China.

If you like old western cowboy films, you always have a scene where the trail hands, or the outlaws planning their next bank heist, are camping out at night, while listening to the coyotes barking nearby. Or, as I have experienced, been out in the wilderness on a fishing trip, and hearing the coyotes off in the distance, while we sit around an evening campfire.

We have visited with coyotes before, but it may be time to take another look at the distribution of this predator.

First of all, let me say there are an estimated 15,000 coyotes in the state of Maine, according to Wally Jakubas, the leader in mammal studies for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There have been sightings of coyotes in both urban and rural areas, in all parts of the state.

In the urban areas they tend to hunt smaller game, such as rabbits, mice, woodchucks, beavers, squirrels and birds. But coyotes are also scavengers and will seek out garbage, garden crops, livestock and poultry. Even pet food left outside.

The Eastern coyote has long been recognized by state biologists as a coyote-wolf hybrid, first documented in Maine in the early 1900s. But, what sets the Maine coyotes apart from the others is that they are destined to become a bigger, bolder, more aggressive wolf-like animal and in time will pose a much greater risk to our deer population.

Roland Kays, a leading researcher of coyote DNA at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has said the Eastern coyote found in Maine is becoming more like a wolf, as natural selection favors the dominant wolf genes that make it a bigger, more effective predator than its western counterpart.

Kay says the Eastern coyote has about eight percent wolf DNA, and that percentage will increase over time. Although inevitable, the process will take some time, and that it could be another century before the coyote will look much different than it does today.

Genetic evidence suggests it happened when the wolf population in the Great Lakes region was at its lowest point when they were heavily hunted and killed. So, basically, some wolf female came into heat and couldn’t find a wolf, so they did the next best thing: breed with a coyote.

The skull, therefore, is bigger and wider, which allows them more room in their jaw muscles. With that, they can take down much larger prey.

The Eastern coyote has colonized rapidly in the last 50 years. In the 1960s, there were approximately 500 of the animals in Maine, as compared to an estimated 15,000 today.

Even though it is believed an adult Eastern coyote still can’t kill the largest white-tailed deer, there is a consensus among hunters that this is not true. Registered Maine Guide Paul Laney, who hunts coyotes in Washington County, claims he has seen a coyote take down a buck.

They like to hunt deer in the winter when snow depths restrict the movement of the deer herd. The state, in the meantime, has instituted an aggressive campaign to protect the deer population, estimated to be at 200,000 since the 1980s, from coyotes. That includes a year-round coyote hunt with no bag limit. However, according to many who hunt coyotes, they are the most challenging animals to outwit. Despite that, the effort to protect the deer herd is working. Maine Guides believe the deer population would be in grave danger if the coyotes were left unchecked in the forest.

In a town in eastern Maine, they hold an annual coyote hunting contest. The results are undeniable. In the winter of 2009-10, there were 84 coyotes tagged by hunters in the contest and 55 deer tagged the following fall. By the winter of 2014-15, 136 coyotes were tagged, and 141 deer tagged the following fall. By thinning out the coyotes, the deer herd increased in population.

It is important to protect the deer herd as it contributes largely to the Maine economy. In 2013, more than 84 percent of all who hunt pursued the white-tailed deer. According to a survey commissioned by the state of Maine, the hunting that year provided a total economic contribution to the state’s coffers of $101 million.

All animals have a place in our ecology, but it is also important for man to sometimes intervene in the balance.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

In 2010, what Red Sox rookie became the only player in AL history to hit a grand slam home run on the first pitch of his first major league at bat of his career.

Answer can be found here.

SOLON & BEYOND: Keystone Eastern Star elects new officers

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

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

Keystone Chapter #78, Order of the Eastern Star, Solon, will have an Installation of Officers on Friday, March 22 at the Masonic Hall in Solon.

Keystone Chapter #78 OES Officers for 2019 – 2020 to be installed are Worthy Matron, Eleanor Pooler PM; Worthy Patron, James A. Owens PGP; Associate Matron, Midge Pomelow PM; Associate Patron, Rance Pooler PP; Secretary, William Merrill PP; Treasurer, Elaine Jillson PM; Conductress, Jean Morang; Associate Conductress Freda Toneatti ; Chaplain, Robert Ward PP; Marshal, Timothy Pomelow PP; Organist, Douglas Drown; Adah, Charly Durgin; Ruth, Donalie Burbank; Esther, Kathleen Perkins PM; Martha……Electa…….Warder, Leon Hilton and Sentinel Neil Hunnewell PP.

The above event will be held at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public.

The East Madison Historical Association will be welcoming spring by hosting a chili and chowder supper on Saturday, March 30, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., at the East Madison fire station, 1108 East Madison Rd., in Madison. On the menu will be items from the upcoming EMHA cookbook including corn and fish chowders, vegetarian and wild game chili, cornbread, a variety of beverages and desserts. Come join us as we usher out the snow and welcome spring.

I enjoy getting e-mails like the above very much, and get as many of them in as possible.

Solon Elementary School students win District Awards: We are proud to announce the Solon students who have won awards in the RSU #74 District MEA Awards Program, an annual program started in 2010-11, which is open to students from Carrabec Community School, Garret Schenck Elementary School, and Solon Elementary School. Awards are given to the top scores in the district on the Maine Educational Assessment in grades three, four and five in reading/English language arts and math and to the top scorers in fifth grade science.

Winners from Solon for the 2017-18 MEA’s were Kaylynn Clark and Kaitlin Dellarma for grade three reading, Kaitlin Dellarma for grade four math, William Rogers for groud four reading, Gavyn Easler for grade four reading and math, and Desmond Robinson and Gerald Rollins for grade five science.

We thank Mr. and Mrs. Chet Hickox from Embden and the PTO from Solon, CCS, and Garret Schenck for donating to this awards program. Each winner received a certificate, a check for $50, and his/her name on a plaque in the lobby at CCS.

Grades 3-5 students are getting ready to take the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA), which will start the week of March 18 and go until April 12. Students in all three grades will take tests in reading/ELA and math. After April vacation, the fifth graders will take a test in science.

The reading and math tests will be taken on the computer, while the science test is a paper-and-pencil exam. The test will be administered over multiple days so that students do not get too tired. Teachers are using practice items and teaching test-taking strategies with our students to help prepare them. Please encourage your child to do his/her very best on this important test, which helps us to assess each child’s achievement level as well as the progress of our school.

This week I’m going to use words from a little yellowed slip of paper for Percy’s memoir, entitled, Twelve Reminders: The value of time. The success of perseverance. The pleasure of working. The dignity of simplicity. The worth of character. The power of kindness. The influence of example. The obligation of duty. The wisdom of economy. The virtue of patience. The improvement of talent. The joy of originating. (words by Marshall Field) – Don’t know if some of you may not know that Percy’s real name was Perseverance!

Hope you all have a great week!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: A teacher’s solution for bullying

by Debbie Walker

Every day I get emails from a local reader, Edgar. Today was no exception. Someone, I don’t have any idea who, has come up with a way to help children understand what their bullying does to another child. It is the best explanation I have seen or heard so far. Please read this and pass it on to everyone! I wish I did know who wrote this, I would be glad to tell everyone. What was written is as follows:

“A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said…they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child; they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on.”

That is word for word what I saw in the email. Open your mind though to other aspects of other areas, even in your own lives. We all have known people who have left scars on us.

Now on to another aspect of a bully situation. This is the first time I have seen anything useful for the victim of a bully. I loved it. And… again remember anytime your feelings were hurt, and see how this might help you even now. I sincerely hope it helps. Let me know, please, what you think.

“There is another version for the one being bullied. Take a $20 bill. Have the child crumple it up, throw it on the floor and get it dirty. Have the child unfold it and ask them what it’s worth. It’s still $20. No matter how beat up you get in life, no matter how much others trample on you, it does not diminish your worth one cent. Your value always remains intact.”

So often when I read something it just sends my mind in a whirl and off to all aspects this information could possibly help. I will be interested in what your thoughts may be.

As usual I am just curious as to how far this information will take us. I am hoping parents, aunts, uncles, etc., will pass this information on to the children in their life. Teachers, I know your classroom time is so limited these years but please do take a few minutes for this information. You may be surprised by your class’s reaction. I’d love to hear about it.

Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com with any of your questions and comments. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI – John Coltrane: Lush Life

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Lush Life

John Coltrane, tenor sax
Heritage, 513289L, CD, 1987 reissue of sessions from 1957-58.

John Coltrane

One of the greatest saxophone players in the history of jazz, John Coltrane (1926-1967) left a huge recorded legacy, each listing imbued with consistently high quality. Lush Life gathers five previously available selections from the late ‘50s – Like Someone in Love, Cole Porter’s I Love You, Trane’s Slow Blues, I Hear a Rhapsody and the title composition by Billy Strayhorn.

He assembled several distinguished musicians including Donald Byrd on trumpet, pianist Red Garland, Earl May and Paul Chambers playing bass and drummers Art Taylor, Louis Hayes and Al Heath.

The entire CD is very good but my absolute favorite is Lush Life with very beautiful playing by Coltrane, Garland, Chambers, Byrd and Hayes. It evokes loneliness with haunting eloquence. Strayhorn wrote the piece during the 1930s while many singers and instrumentalists have also recorded it.

Jazz critic Joe Goldberg’s insightful liner notes are included with the CD.


Don Rickles

From the late, great cheap shot jokester/comedy star, Don Rickles, 1926-2017. – “I don’t drink much anymore, but when I traveled with Frank Sinatra, God rest his soul, I used to drink like I could do it. He made it a test. In Vegas, the Rat Pack, which I was a little part of, drank all night and slept most of the day. Then, about 5 o’clock, we’d meet in the hotel steam room, lock the door, and steam our brains out.”




FOR YOUR HEALTH: Small Changes Can Mean Big Differences In Blood Pressure Control

(NAPSI)—Almost half of the U.S. adult population has high blood pressure—that’s any reading at or above 130 for the top number or 80 for the bottom number.

If you find yourself among them, it may be wise to consider four lifestyle evaluation questions:

  1. How often do you eat fruits and vegetables?
  2. How much salt do you take in?
  3. Are you at least moderately active for half an hour a day?
  4. Are you at a healthy weight for your height?

What To Do

If your assessment reveals room for improvement, Michael Hochman, M.D., MPH, a Los Angeles physician and professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, has an encouraging message for you: “Know this: Small changes can make big differences. You don’t have to overhaul everything you do and eat. Tracking your blood pressure between health care visits lets you easily stay on top of your health. In 10 minutes or less, you can check your numbers. If you are learning for the first time that your blood pressure is creeping upward, small changes in your lifestyle—a bit more physical activity, a few more fruits and vegetables—could mean the difference between low vs. high risk for heart disease or stroke.”

Here are some hints to help you make those small changes:

  • 15−20 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per day can reduce the top number in your blood pressure reading, called systolic pressure, by 5 to 8 mmHg
  • Reducing sodium intake by 1,500 mg (3/4 of a teaspoon) per day can result in lowering systolic pressure 5 to 6 mmHg
  • A 10-pound weight loss could lower systolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg.

Little-Known BP Raisers

If you do have high BP, consult your health care provider or pharmacist about the safety of your over-the-counter medicines.

Some OTC pain relievers, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs—such as naproxen and ibuprofen—may raise blood pressure. Acetaminophen may be a better choice for pain. Drugstore cold and flu medicines that contain decongestants can also raise blood pressure. To avoid these BP raisers, read medication labels and discuss alternative pain, fever or cold medicine with your doctor. A quick guide to BP raisers is at heart.org/BPtools.

Take It Home

Monitoring at home can help confirm a diagnosis and determine how well your lifestyle changes and medications are working to reduce your blood pressure.

The American Heart Association’s efforts to improve healthy choices related to living with high blood pressure are proudly supported by Tylenol.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: An open letter to China residents from the town’s fire chiefs

Tim Theriault, Chief, China Village FD
Richard E. Morse, Chief, So. China FD
William Van Wickler, Chief, Weeks Mills FD

To the residents of the town of China, ME, from the volunteer fire departments.

First and foremost we thank you for your annual support both in the money allocated in our budgets, the stipend funds you have approved, and donations during our various fundraising efforts.

It is the collective opinion of the three volunteer fire departments that there are issues with the present selectboard that need to be addressed.

Recent events have brought to light, what in our opinion, appears an effort to control and dictate to the fire departments how to do business. In a recent “Special Meeting,” as it was titled on the town’s website, there was considerable discussion about the fire departments and action taken to reduce the stipend amount to be provided for firefighters in the proposed 2019/2020 budget. This move was done in one afternoon. A midday request was given to the town manager by the selectboard, he in turn provided an alternate to the existing system in place. That evening it was presented, a motion made to use the alternative, and approved unanimously by all members present. This was accomplished in less than one day. There was no discussion held or notice given to any of the fire departments. The only way we became aware of the matter was an after the fact email from the town manager, stating the selectboard approved an alternate to the stipends and the details of how it will work. This recommendation to cut the stipend of firefighters was proposed, ironically, as the selectboard has proposed to increase their own stipend.

In that same meeting, a selectboard member made the statement that a fire department has had the same budget figure for several years (this was proven to be incorrect at the next budget committee meeting). However, this brings to light the same pattern of distrust. This assumption was stated without any communication, not once did anyone reach out to that chief for clarification or an explanation, not to mention the past budgets were available for review had anyone bothered to check.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. In the Town of China, the Volunteer Fire Departments (VFDs) are independent State of Maine, nonprofit Corporations registered in good standing with the Secretary of State. This form of Fire protection is specifically allowed and provided for in Maine law. This law also allows the Town to support such VFDs with funding in order to provide the emergency services they are required to provide as a Town. VFDs consider these funds to be their operations funds, and they are used to support emergency services that they provide to the Town. The VFDs are not Municipal Fire Departments, and are not under the control and supervision of the Selectboard (Board). They are independent and they have been specifically acknowledged as such in two successive Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) agreed to by the Board and the Chiefs of the VFDs.
  2. The Board has indicated that they want to know how many fundraising dollars each VFD has so that they can reduce VFD operations budget allocations accordingly.
  3. It is not appropriate for VFD fundraising dollars be a revenue stream for the town. The funds raised do directly impact town services in the support of firefighting activities and materials. Raised funds are not projected revenue, but are instead additional efforts of volunteers to provide better services to their community. Unless there were some pattern of abuse of these funds, or complaints from the membership in regards to them, there is not a reasonable reason to request this information.
  4. The Board does have a right to see our books in reference to Town-provided tax dollars. We totally agree with that and currently provide the town with detailed quarterly financial reports showing how we spend Town provided funds.
  5. The fruits of these private donations as well as fundraising efforts directly pay for or provide matching grant funds for the VFDs to purchase fire trucks, build fire stations, support and reward membership, and for other costs consistent with our status as independent corporations.
  6. Two years ago, by the request of a former board member, an article was placed in the Town warrant asking the town to appropriate $40,000 for stipends for the VFDs and China Rescue. This was done as a good faith effort though not fully vetted. In spite of the VFD Chiefs speaking against the proposal on the grounds that we had not been consulted and that the proposal had not been fully thought through. Thankfully (in retrospect), the Townspeople voted overwhelmingly in support of it. The first year of the proforma (July 1, 2017), the Board and the VFDs signed an MOU which in addition to recognizing the independence of the VFDs, set up a process for providing the stipends to the VFDs. It called for certain amounts for Chiefs and other officers and for other amounts to reward participation by all members including the officers. The money was to be held by the Town and given to the VFDs on the basis of invoices presented to the Town. The Town would then cut a check to the VFDs and they would pay out the stipends based on the fixed amounts and participation. Financial reporting was required.
  7. In spite of our initial opposition to the stipend program, the VFDs now recognize and appreciate that it has become a positive factor and has met its intended goal of increased recruitment, retention and participation.
  8. It is ironic that what was once proposed by the board and opposed by the VFDs has turned completely around and for some reason unknown to us (because they no not consult us) the Board now seems to be in opposition to it as evidenced by their criticism and cuts to the stipend budget and the way it is managed.

China’s firefighters have a history of long-term commitment to the town. Some members serve as much as 50 years in one capacity or another. That type of dedication deserves to be commended, not shunned, at the very least a chance to participate in the decision-making process.

Additionally, there have been comments made by some selectmen stating we need to have only one department and a centralized fire station, again no discussion with the department heads as to why. This will not best serve the town. The geographic location of the existing stations works well and all departments respond seamlessly. It is our opinion that what we have now works well and effectively, so we are at a loss as to why so much effort has been given to fixing something that is, in our opinion, not broken.

Here are our questions: Do they have problems with the way we prevent, manage and control emergencies in this town? Do they think we are not doing our jobs? Do they question our motives? Do they think they can run the VFDs better than the current Chiefs? Do they think they have the knowledge, training and experience to do so? Do they think that change to a municipal, paid fire department would be better? If so, in what ways? Do they have personal problems with any of the Chiefs or members?

One thing we do know. The current situation is not sustainable and should not continue. Beyond the obvious need for communication, we feel the solution is to trust us with what we’re trained to do, take comfort that we know what we are doing, and let us continue the excellent emergency services we have provided to China since 1947.

We hope this information sheds some light on our situation and we hope to hear from you at the public hearings for the proposed budget and the town meeting.

P.S. For more information about how the selectboard and budget committee conduct their business, we recommend that you visit the Town’s website and look at the live stream of their recent meetings.

Read the Selectboard’s response here.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Pussy willows have sprouted; spring is imminent

Pussy willows, photographed by Joan Chaffee, of Clinton, on March 9.

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

This week, we’re going to move away from the animal world and take a look at some fauna.

Joan Chaffee, of Clinton, recently sent some photos of pussy willows she snapped while snowshoeing. She wrote, “I was snowshoeing this past Saturday, March 9, in our back field and came across these pussy willows. A sure sign of Spring!”

At the tail end of winter, fuzzy nubs start to appear along the branches of pussy willows. So, what exactly, are these little nubs?

They are actually flowers just before they fully bloom, and not seeds or fruits like they are perceived. The soft coating of hairs acts as insulation to protect these early bloomers from cold temperatures. The species most commonly called pussy willows in the northeast, Salix discolor, is a small, shrubby species of willow that can be found dotting wetlands and most woods throughout much of North America.

Their blooms, also known for their delightfulness, usually signal the last throes of winter.

The petal-less male flowers are covered with pollen-bearing stamens. Catkins, as they are called, usually don’t rely on pollinators to spread their pollen. Instead, they simply release it into the wind, where it may or may not land on the female flower parts. In order to hit their targets, the catkins must produce a tremendous amount of pollen.

Pussy willows are dioecious, meaning there are both male plants and female plants. Only the male plants will produce the fuzzy flowers. Some home gardeners become disappointed once they learn they have a female tree. The flowers are equally pleasing, but look more like greenish hairy caterpillars.

Most cut pussy willow stems are in a sort of time warp – dried at their peak fuzziness, and never allowed to fully flower. But if you keep fresh-cut pussy willows hydrated, you can see the whole flowering cycle and even the leafing-out process. It is important to get healthy-looking bunches (look for flexible, greenish stems that don’t feel brittle or look shriveled), and place in a vase near a window, changing the water daily. You can add a little flower food if you have some. Watch for new flower buds to cast off the shiny brown bud scales that surround the flower. When the flowers mature, you will see many yellow stamens emerge to cover each catkin. Wait even longer, and you may also see pale green, strappy leaves unfurl from the leaf buds. At this point, your willow stems will be in full spring growth and will need to be planted in soil outdoors to root. They may or may not take.

In films, pussy willows are featured in a key part of the film Serial Mom, as one character, Beverly Sutphin, begins leaving clues to her identity for her neighbor Dottie Hinkle.

In literature, Pussy Willow, a children’s book by Maraget Wise Brown (1951), tells the story of a gray “pussycat not much bigger than a pussy willow,” who names himself Pussy Willow after the catkins he finds around him in spring. When the catkins disappear with the passing of the season, he goes in search of them, asking each different kind of animal he encounters where he might find them. The animals all answer from their own perspective. “Up in the air,” says the butterfly; “under a leaf,” says the squirrel. Pussy Willow finally finds them a year later when spring comes around again.

Pussy willows get their name for their resemblance to tiny cats’ paws, and they feel so much like fur that young children often wonder if they are animals instead of plants.

So, with the sighting of pussy willows on March 9, it is a sure sign that spring is imminent. Let’s hope so.


A friend of The Town Line recently told me of an incident she encountered in her own home. One day she opened the cupboard doors under her sink in the kitchen, and noticed these beady little eyes staring back at her. Startled at first, she stood motionless while the little critter stared back at her, neither moving for a moment. Finally, the little white ermine scurried off, probably from where it came.

As reported in this column in the February 14, 2019, issue, ermines, a/k/a weasels, have been finding their way into homes this winter. The first reports came from southern Maine. This recent sighting happened in China.

It seems to be a universal happening.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Which pitcher, originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox and traded to Baltimore before ever playing a game with Boston, returned for both of the Sox’ titles in 2004 and 2007?

Answer can be found here.

SOLON & BEYOND: Fondly remembering Carolyn Waugh

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

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

This weeks’ column is going to start out a little different. It is about friendship and an amazing woman named Carolyn Waugh, of Solon.

I received the following letter after Carolyn died, from one of her friends who lives in Laconia, New Hampshire. I have no idea how this good friend of Carolyn’s got my name and address, but it is a beautiful letter about friendship, that I think should be shared. She started out:

“Carolyn Waugh, Teacher, Mentor, Friend to 1,000 children. Today, the last day of February 2019, I lost my best friend Carolyn Waugh. We were elementary teachers in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, and we were the only ‘New Englanders’ in our school. We became fast friends from 1958 to the present day perhaps because we had the same New England accent and enjoyed our conversations each day. They reminded us of home and our loneliness was less each time we talked. Of course, we could understand one another.

“Few people know how generous Carolyn was to others, especially school age children. She made hundreds of mittens, an untold number of shirts and hats, paid for their lunches when no lunch money was available, and bought school supplies when the school funds had run out. Not once did she tell anyone of her generosity. She was the great example of a teacher you would want for your child. She was their friend, the mother substitute for the one that had left the home, the father substitute for the one who was no longer in the home. She dried their tears and told them how important and worthwhile they were. And she never missed a day of school except for severe illness.

“Today, as we ponder the loss of a dear friend and colleague, we are reminded that very good people have been among us, near us, and we should not forget to celebrate their life’s efforts.

“Carolyn Waugh was, indeed, a special person. In her obituary it mentions that Carolyn was educated in one room school houses in Embden, and at Solon High School. After graduating from high school in 1931 at the age of 15, she went to Normal School, in Farmington, and left there two years later with full teaching credentials. She taught in one room school houses in Embden, Cornville, Chesuncook, and other places in Maine and also helped other people to become teachers in a college level school in Presque Isle for a time.

“In November 1942 she joined the Army as a WAAC and WAC and achieved the rank of Tech 4. For part of her years in the service, she served in the Military Intelligence Division War Department. She was honorably discharged in November 1945. And her remarkable life with many more accomplishments continued until she died on February 28, 2019, at the age of 103 years. She had held the Boston Post Cane as Solon’s Oldest Citizen for several years.”

The Solon Pine Tree 4-H Club met on Saturday, March 9, for their sixth meeting with Vice President Hunter Sousa presiding. Hunter Sousa is planning to do his demonstration on composting at the County Demonstration Tournament at the Somerset County Extension Office, in Skowhegan, on Saturday, March 16.

The club voted to make a basket for the Luck of the Draw on Saturday, May 4.

The following members gave their demonstrations: Desmond Robinson, How to make an Apple Swan; Isabelle Atwood and Jillian Robens, How to make Energy Bites; Kaitlin Dellarma, How to make Ice Cream; Macy Plourde, How to make Sun Catchers; and Brooks Sousa, How to make a Compost Barrel.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, April 13, at 9:30 a.m., at the Solon Fire Station.

And now for Percy’s memoir entitled Extra Prayer:

When the world falls down around you
And a prayer will see you through,
Say an extra prayer for someone
Who may need it more than you.
For who knows what hearts are breaking
In the silence of the night?
Just that extra prayer you whisper
May help someone see the light!
Every time you help a stranger
With an extra prayer – or two –
You are building secret blessings
That will all come back to you!

(words by Nick Kenny.)