The Town Line Valentine’s Day Greetings!

Eunice Farnsworth-Ruth Heald Cragin Chapter DAR

The DAR is a nonprofit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. Our motto is: “God, Home & Country.” We have 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. , and in several countries. Over one million women have joined the DAR since it was founded.

To become a member you must be 18 years or older, regardless of race, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. We offer assistance with joining.

Some of the interesting things we do are:

We discuss women’s issues, health tips, recycling, conservation, patriotism, growing gardens, pollination, etc., maintain the World War I Memorial Sundial Garden at Coburn Park, in Skowhegan, donate to a local animal shelter, donate clothing to schools so that if a young child has an accident while at school they have a change of clothing available, donate comfort items such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, soaps, lotions, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. for the veterans at the VA Hospital (Togus), and we donate annually for newspapers there.

Visit our website: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~meefcdar/.

Empty Bowls Fundraiser at Messalonskee High School

Empty Bowls has been a fundraiser at Messalonskee High School for the past several years. The purpose of this project is to raise money for local food pantries. It’s also about raising awareness about some of our community members who are struggling to provide food for their families.

Students and faculty members of Messalonskee High School, under the direction of ceramics teacher Sherrie Damon, have been crafting ceramic bowls to be sold as part of the dinner. The menu for the evening consists of homemade soups, salads, breads and desserts. The pottery bowls will be on display for diners to choose and take home with them as a reminder of the event and what it represents.

This year’s Empty Bowls Dinner will be on Friday, March 6, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria.

Cost is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. This year we will have a silent auction for people to bid on.

Diners can complete the evening by attending The Tempest, performed by the Messalonskee High School Players. Tickets for the play may be purchased at the door.

For more information contact Susan Perrino at 465-9135 or email Sherrie Damon at sdamon@rsu18.org.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: And now, equal time for cat information

by Debbie Walker

I promised information about Cats this week. The article I read in Reader’s Digest was just a reminder that I had never done a column on our pets. Okay, I did Dogs last week, cats this week and I’m done. There are so many pets to have in your home now I would never get all the pets included. I am sorry if you feel slighted, that is truly not intended.

I never realized that cats treat humans about the same way they do each other. If you have had cats you may have noticed it, I never noticed. Dogs do treat us differently than each other. One thing I noticed over the years was dogs seem to want to entertain you whereas cats seem like they ignore us much of the time.

The article titled What Pets Want You to Know… by Krista Carothers and Jen McCaffery, tells me Cats like spending time with us. It is said cats would rather spend time with us than other cats or with their toys. I have had one or two over the years that would make you question that comment.

My granddaughter’s cat is letting her know these days that he does not want to be ignored; he wants attention and has developed a special cry to let her know this. I can’t help but wonder if he knows something about her pregnancy that we don’t know. We laughed yesterday and said the cat and baby will know each other by the time ‘Addie’ is born with as much time as Mr. Kitty has been laying on the momma’s belly.

I was interested to read a small paragraph that stated feral cats rarely meow. We had barn cats that pretty much stayed clear of my family. We were just providing their “housing.”

I was interested to know that cats are not always purring to say, “I am happy and contented.” It may mean they are sick or injured. It may be healing for them. It’s no secret that for years we have known their purring can have a healing affect for us.

They say cats can recognize their name. Does she sometimes not come when called. Suck it up, Buttercup, your kitty is probably just ignoring you!

Cats can hold a grudge. They may know you feed them, so be nice to the human. However, they also will remember who sprayed them with the water! Cats can be very unforgiving.

They learn for life. If they have hunted their food as a kitten, they can remember regardless of having spent years inside the home and being supplied with their food.

Kitties can be like humans in the idea of seeking attention. Your kitty can learn “I have been cute and am not getting the attention I seek, here let me do …… I will get her attention one way or another.”

A cat will likely feel less stress if they have their cozy, small places in the home.

It happened again. I ran out of writing space. I hope you are curious enough to pay close attention to your kitty to see what you might learn from them. Enjoy your pets whatever your choice might be. Contact me with questions or comments at DebbieWalker@townline.org. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: The great pianists Peter and Rudolf Serkin

Peter and Rudolf Serkin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

The great pianists Peter and Rudolf Serkin

Peter Serkin (1947-2020) and his father, Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991), achieved fame as classical pianists of immense distinction. I saw each of them perform twice in concert and found their musicianship quite special for different reasons. Before writing about Peter, who died recently of pancreatic cancer, I will share experiences of his father.

My first encounter with Rudolf Serkin was via a 1960 Columbia Masterworks recording of the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which my mother bought as a member of the Columbia Record Club in Terre Haute, Indiana. The piece, written in 1881, more than 20 years after the composer’s 1st Concerto, is filled with grandeur, passion, beauty and knuckle-busting virtuosity – just the sort of music Rudolf Serkin reveled in.

He dove into it with full-fledged commitment and joy, ripped into its furies ferociously and coaxed its more poetic moments, especially in its tender 3rd movement Andante with the solo cello passages, as though his own life depended on it.

I saw him perform twice at Boston’s Symphony Hall in 1974. He was a small man with small fingers that he had to relentlessly train to span octaves, unlike pianists with larger hands who met those technical challenges more easily. And he was a joy to watch; he would sing with his hands and body, jump up and down on the piano stool during the more dramatic passages and hum constantly.

One concert was a pension fund one with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa and featured the Brahms 1st Concerto which, as far as I was concerned, he played better than anyone else. (It happens to be my favorite piano concerto, I have well over 80 recordings of it including the four different ones that Serkin did and each one of them has at least something good.)

The second concert was an all-Beethoven recital with the 1st and 32nd Piano Sonatas and Diabelli Variations. That Sunday afternoon, Symphony Hall was packed and I was one of several seated on the stage.

Peter was a taller man, he had bigger hands and he conveyed a more relaxed manner at the keyboard. He also favored different repertoire from his father and performed much 20th century music, unlike the 18th and 19th century composers that drew the elder Serkin’s attention. But the son did record six Mozart Concertos, Beethoven’s transcription of his Violin Concerto and a recording of the Brahms 1st Concerto, which is among those I haven’t heard yet.

I saw him play the Ravel Piano Concerto with the Washington D.C. Symphony under Christian Badea at its Kennedy Center, in 1979, and a double bill of the Mozart 16th Concerto and Igor Stravinsky Capriccio for Piano and Winds with the late Sergiu Comissiona conducting the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall, in 1987, during the years I lived in that city. He was the personification of cool, calm and collected at the keyboard and played beautifully.

A couple of asides. Rudolf Serkin once announced that he was taking a winter sabbatical to study the Haydn String Quartets. When asked by friends why, he replied, “Because they are beautiful.”

Meanwhile, Peter listened to such rock bands as the Grateful Dead and would retreat to the Cave in his house which contained his record collection of over 3,000 LPs.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Protecting your ability to drive safely for as long as possible

SAFETY ON THE ROAD

(NAPS)—Driving a car means maintaining independence for many older adults. Driving allows you to shop, see friends and family, keep up with
medical appointments, and avoid social isolation. But sometimes staying safe behind the wheel as you age can be a challenge.

Age-related physical and mental changes can affect your ability to drive safely. If you’re alert to these changes and manage them carefully, you may be able to continue driving safely for some time.

To keep your skills as sharp as possible, consider following these suggestions from experts at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people:

Check your eyesight to keep it as sharp as possible by getting a complete annual eye exam once you turn 60. Test yourself to monitor your vision:
  • Do you have problems reading street signs?
  • Are you having difficulty seeing road or pavement markings, curbs, or other vehicles or pedestrians, especially at dawn, dusk, and nighttime?
  • Is glare from oncoming headlights making it hard to see when driving at night?
Assess your physical fitness to drive by asking yourself:
  • Can I comfortably turn my neck to see over my shoulder when I change lanes?
  • Can I easily move my foot from the gas pedal to the brake? Can I easily turn the steering wheel?
  • During the past year, have I fallen one or more times?
  • Do I regularly walk more than a block a day?
  • Can I raise my arms above my shoulders?
Perform a reality check on your attention span and reaction time:
  • Are you overwhelmed by signs, traffic signals, and car and pedestrian traffic, especially at busy intersections?
  • Does it seem harder to merge into traffic on the highway?
  • Do you take any medications that make you sleepy, dizzy, or confused?
  • Do you feel less confident about driving at highway speeds?
  • Do you react slowly to cars entering your roadway, or to cars that have slowed or stopped in front of you?
Pay attention to changes and warnings:
  • Have friends or family members expressed worries about your driving?
  • Have you ever gotten lost on familiar routes or forgotten how to get to familiar destinations?
  • Has a police officer pulled you over to warn you about your driving?
  • Have you been ticketed for your driving, had a near miss, or a crash in the last three years?
  • Has your healthcare provider warned you to restrict or stop driving?

Consider Getting a Professional Driving Assessment

If you’ve experienced driving problems like these or are worried about your ability to be a safe driver, consider getting a professional assessment of your skills.

Occupational therapists trained as driving rehabilitation specialists can evaluate your driving skills and strengths, as well as any physical, visual, and cognitive challenges you may face. They can also evaluate your ability to operate a vehicle safely and, if needed, recommend ways to reduce your risks.

Driving rehabilitation specialists are trained to evaluate older drivers for:
  • Muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Coordination and reaction time
  • Judgment and decision-making skills
  • Ability to drive with special devices that adapt your vehicle to your needs

The specialist may recommend ways for you to drive more safely after the evaluation. Suggestions may include getting special equipment for your car or helping you sharpen your skills.

Not sure how to find a driving rehabilitation specialist? Talk to your healthcare provider or contact the American Occupational Therapy Association for a directory. You can also visit the AGS’s public education website, https://www.healthinaging.org/driving-safety, for more safe driving resources for older adults and caregivers.

Annual Polar Bear Dip held during Maine Pond Hockey Classic

Colby football players Travon Bradford and DJ O’Donnell, make their plunge. (photo by Missy Brown,
Central Maine Photography staff)

by Mark Huard

The 27th Annual Polar Bear Dip took place on Sunday February 9 at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney.

The event helped raise $23,500 and had 114 dippers, Colby College Sports brought 68 dippers and raised over $4,000 by itself! 92 Moose’s Cooper Fox was live streaming throughout, and between the all weekend Pond Hockey Classic and the Dip, over $55k was raised. The event would not be successful without the hard work and support of site sponsor Snow Pond Center for the Arts and lead Dip Sponsors, Hannaford, Maine­General, and Nicholson, Michaud & Co.

Colby men’s hockey team. (photo by Central Maine Photography)

The Silver Street Tavern team won most money earned for the fifth year in a row with $7,400, led by team captain and highest raising individual with $3,900, Tony Tuell.

The Colby men’s hockey entry in the tournament included, front, from left to right, Reed Spear, Chase Lawler and Max Poulin, all CMYHA Mites. Back, Paddy Daley, Sean Holly and Mark Leprine. (photo by Sarah Fredette,
Central Maine Photography staff)

The challenge between Alfond Youth & Community Center CEO Ken Walsh and incoming board chairman Amy Bernatchez, ended in a tie of $2,400 each, thanks to a last minute pledge to do just that; however, Amy pulled out a secret $500 donation from Golden Pond Wealth Management to best Ken, who went into the sink, ‘70s wig, glitter jumpsuit and all. Then, as a show of solidarity and just to prove she could, Amy jumped in, too.

Best costumes included the AYCC Wellness team’s ‘80s workout theme, the afterschool program’s pink T’s decorated by Club kids, and the KVYMCA cape donned Super Hero Dippers, with honorable mentions to Colby football teams’ banana and football-shaped entries.

With over a dozen belly flops, an impressive Timber! Fall and too many cannonballs to count, Best Dips went to American Heritage Tour Director Kurt Mathies for most water displaced, Silver Street/Charlie’s Mules Tony Tuell for staying in the water while his team of ten jumped in individually, and the entire Colby men’s soccer team for twirls and flips that impressed us all.

Top prizes included a four-person portable hot tub (won by Tony) donated by Lowe’s and gift cards donated by Marden’s, Portland Pie, Amici’s Cucina, The Proper Pig, and Silver Street Tavern – each accompanied by its very own mini-Oscar.

And once again, thank you, Delta Ambulance for being on hand and not being needed (phew).

All money raised directly fund the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA of Greater Waterville’s Kid’s Kitchen, which serves more than 85,000 free, hot, nutritious meals and snacks annually to an average of 200 at risk children daily. Over 65 percent of these children say this is their last meal of the day. In addition, every weekend 125 families receive a meal supplement backpack through the center’s Weekend Meals Backpack program. Every $5 donation fills a backpack for a family of three for the weekend, according to a news release from the club.

AYCC Childcare leadership team, Chrissy Johnson, Bobbi Pelletier and DJ Adams, take the dip. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

GARDEN WORKS: Seeds from your dreams: Coming from a seed catalog to you, part 1 (A-thru-E)

Emily Catesby Emily Cates

As the wind whips through the drifting snow, I snuggle up by the wood stove with a warm cup of tea and a seed catalog. Each year there’s something new, along with seeds tried and true.

With imagination running wild, I run my highlighter through the pages, highlighting the objects of desire until the ink runs dry. Flipping through the pages with great enthusiasm and stars in my eyes, I pause to envision my garden brimming with the results of planting these seeds.

Since this is a good time of year to plan a garden and order seeds, let’s look at some possibilities we’ll find in catalogs. In this series, we’ll examine an “A to Z of Possibilities” wish list ranging from easy-to-grow things I’d never go without, and a few more that leave me intrigued. If you have any suggestions or thoughts on what’s on your dream garden wish list, feel free to leave a comment on our website or Facebook page, or send me a message to my brand new email address: EmilyCates@townline.org.

Arugula – Probably my favorite salad or braising green, its nutty, peppery crunch always makes me happy. Oftentimes it self-sows for an encore performance.

Asparagus – If you have a sunny, weed-free, fertile patch of soil, try planting Purple Passion asparagus.

Ashwagandha – This herb from the nightshade family grows a root that is used for its adaptogenic properties similar to ginseng.

Basil – Nowadays there are many cultivars with a dazzling array of many shapes, colors, and aromas. My favorite basil, Mrs. Burns’ Lemon, looks absolutely amazing interplanted with other basils such as Purple Ruffles, Spicy Bush, and lettuce leaf varieties. Don’t forget Genovese basil for the best pesto on the planet.

Beans – Pole beans, bush beans, runner beans, shell beans, green beans, yellow beans, purple beans, soup beans, wax beans, haricots verts, oh my! I have definitely tried my share of bean varieties over the years, and I’ve learned that one could spend an entire lifetime trialing a new bean every year. So many colors and patterns to choose from, it’s easy to get boggled looking at beans in a catalog. But try the interesting ones anyways – like Red Noodle, Drabo, and Dragon’s Tongue – and have fun.

Beets – If you can grow beets, the cultivar Chioggia is delicious and pretty with its bullseye pattern of pink and white when sliced.

Carrots – Carrots of today are available in a wide range of beautiful colors. Though they are sometimes a challenge to grow in my clay-based soil, the ones that do well are especially delicious after a frost. Try a seed packet of mixed colors and plant something exciting.

Cilantro – Either you love it or hate it. Whether or not it tastes like the essential ingredient of a superb salsa – or dish soap – will determine whether or not it will be planted in your garden plot.

Corn – It’s difficult to grow corn when surrounded by hungry birds and beasts, but a good year will yield enough to enjoy fresh, roasted, steamed, ground, popped, decoratively, and more. For something a little different, look for Earth Tones (a beautiful dent corn), and Pennsylvania Dutch Butter Flavored Popcorn (the hands-down best popcorn in the universe).

Cucumbers – I find the specialty cukes to be fabulous, especially Boothby’s Blonde, Poona Kheera, and the round Lemon cucumber. I’m also intrigued with Mexican Sour Gherkin, a cucumber-like plant that produces fruits that taste refreshingly like they were already pickled. (This I keep intending to try, hopefully I’ll get around to it this year.) Let me know your experience with it.

Dahlias – The tubers of this gorgeous flower are edible – so consider planting a cultivar selected for table qualities – and beautify your garden.

Eggplant – Even if you’re not a fan of eggplant, its fruit grows in so many eye-catching colors that it might deserve a spot to be admired.

Wow! I can’t believe the A to Z wish list for this time only went to “E”. Let’s pick up “G for garlic” next time. Again, don’t forget to leave a comment on our website or Facebook, or message me at EmilyCates@townline.org.

Happy searching for dream seeds!

China Middle Schoolers tour Kennebec Technologies

Submitted by Ryan Sweeney

On January 14, China Middle School JMG had the opportunity to tour Kennebec Technologies, in Augusta. Eighth graders walked the shop floor with Shawn Arbour, director, sales and marketing, and Harvey Smith, director of quality, learning about the variety of machinery and jobs. Students then had an in-depth question/answer session with Shawn and Virginia Fletcher, human resources manager. Shawn and Virginia emphasized the importance of soft skills like work ethic, teamwork and cooperation. Student Sydney Laird commented that hearing Shawn and Virginia emphasize that you don’t need to be the smartest person to be successful. Instead, working hard and being committed are most important in terms of success. I feel like I always try to work hard, which gives me confidence that my effort it will pay off.”

Kennebec Technologies prides itself on a safe and professional workplace. Shawn Arbour added, “I think it’s a valuable experience for both the students and Kennebec Technologies. Kennebec gets to explain and show off to the next generation what we do every day and how it applies to the world we live in. The students get to see what’s out there in the real world and get exposure to a manufacturing environment first hand. It also gives them the opportunity to ask us questions about the work place that we don’t always see from our perspective.” It was a valuable opportunity for all involved.

Ryan Sweeney is JMG Specialist at China Middle School.

CRITTER CHATTER: Winter break at the center?

by Jayne Winters

I think most of us would agree that, so far, Central Maine has experienced a fairly mild winter, especially in snow accumulation. Donald Cote, of the Wildlife Care Center, in Vassalboro, has had to plow access to the wildlife enclosures only two or three times; snow-blowing and shoveling have been minimal. Icy paths, however, still need sanding, and we must attend to frozen water tubs and mucking out pens.

When I stopped in at 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday in mid-January, Don had been up since a chilly 7 a.m. and was just coming in after inspecting a section of deer fencing which needed repair. He readily admits he’s had to be careful due to limited range of motion in one shoulder, but has a number of folks he can call on to help with physically demanding projects. In addition to monitoring fence and building maintenance, a typical morning includes preparing food and formulas for breakfast feedings, changing hay and towel beddings, dispensing medications, and changing dressings. Later in the day, attention is given to washing and disinfecting food dishes, as well as doing several loads of laundry for soiled blankets and towels. Any time during the day he may need to respond to rescue calls, transport injured wildlife to the vet, or pick up food donations from Hanna­ford, Wal-Mart, animal shelters, etc. He does try to leave Wednesdays open for his own personal business and appointments, but being on-call 24/7 requires patience, understanding, and flexibility in the schedule. Round Two starts again as the dinner hour nears!

In addition to the ducks and geese, residents in January included three young opossums, two young porcupines, one skunk, two chipmunks, three coyotes, and about a dozen each of racoons, foxes, and deer, all of which require tending at least twice a day. Many are carry-overs from last fall because they were too young or not well enough for October release; the remainder are fall and winter rescues from vehicle hits, natural injuries and home “invasion” critters seeking food and shelter from the harsh elements.

January is also the time for submitting annual state and federal reports, with license renewal applications due every two and five years, respectively. Don doesn’t have a computer, but one of the center’s volunteers assists him with report preparation, copying, etc. Volunteerism takes many forms, but more on that in another column.

While the volume of wildlife rehab work slows down during the winter, there is never a day off at the Wildlife Care Center. Wildlife rehabilitation takes a special kind of person, one who is dedicated, compassionate and selflessly committed.

Donald Cote operates the Duck Pond Wildlife Care Center on Rte. 3 in Vassalboro. It is a non-profit federal and state permitted rehab facility which is supported by his own resources and outside donations. Mailing address: 1787 North Belfast Ave., Vassalboro ME 04989 TEL: (207) 445-4326 EMAIL: wildlifecarecenter@gmail.com.