Friday, July 27, 2018

Create summer Maine memories by visiting local wild blueberries patches by Briana Bizier

Now that it’s summer in Vacationland, are you looking to re-create a few scenes from Robert McCloskey’s iconic children’s book “Blueberries for Sal?” Preferably the scenes that don’t involve losing your child or running into a mother black bear and her cub?

Well, there’s no need to travel. You might be surprised to learn Windham and Raymond are home to a robust population of wild blueberries. Blueberry bushes love Maine’s soil, which tends to be acidic, and they thrive during our warm, wet summers.

Blueberries for Ian Bizier
You may be even more surprised to learn where you can find fields of wild blueberries to create your own idyllic summer memories. Last summer, my family stumbled on an amazing patch of wild blueberries with nary a bear in sight. The berries were so thick we probably could have raked them, and the season stretched out for almost a month. It was such a fantastic find that we ended up taking all our summer guests to that field to fill bowls with blueberries.

Where did we have this great, natural foraging experience? Under the power lines.

According to Central Maine Power’s website, hiking, bird watching, and other non-motorized uses are allowed on CMP’s corridors - which means it is legal to walk beneath the power lines in Maine. What’s more, these power lines are served by rugged roads which make perfectly acceptable trails. Just keep an eye out for any “No Trespassing” signs and respect the landowners whose property abuts the CMP corridor.

While you can find wild blueberries almost anywhere in Maine, from the edges of ponds to the middle of the forest, blueberries do best in full sun. These corridors along the power lines provide everything wild blueberries need to thrive: acidic soil, frequent rain showers, and plenty of sunshine. In fact, several types of wild berries flourish beneath the power lines, including raspberries and blackberries. Blueberries, however, are the most iconic berry to pick in Maine, and they have the added perk of lacking nasty thorns.

If you’re looking for blueberries beneath the power lines, it pays to stray off the rough roads, which tend to be lined with blackberry and raspberry bushes. Blueberries are low growing plants, so keep your eyes to the ground and look for open areas, especially along hillsides. You might also encounter some of the other wildlife from the pages of McCloskey’s book, like crows and partridges.

A berry picking adventure along the power lines can also be a very kid friendly way to spend a morning or afternoon. Children are excellent companions for blueberry picking, as they tend to be on the same level as the berries. In fact, kids will probably spot the fruits before the adults!
Of course, before you pick and eat anything in the wild, be sure you can properly identify the plants first. If you’ve never been before, you might invite a friend, family member, or neighbor who has berry picking experience.

And be sure to bring a container! If you don’t have an adorable tin pail like Sal and her mother, an empty sour cream or yoghurt container, or even a small plastic bowl, works just fine. If you’re really serious about your picking, and your children are old enough to keep from eating everything, you could even bring a few plastic bags to fill. Most of our blueberries are devoured on our hike, and the few berries which make it all the way home end up in buttermilk pancakes the next morning, but I’ve heard wild blueberries freeze very well.
Finally, picking blueberries on a hot, sunny day can quickly become hard labor. It’s best to save your berry picking expeditions for cool, overcast days. If it seems too chilly to go swimming, it’s the perfect time to visit the power lines and search for blueberries! And, as always before heading out in Maine, be sure to apply sunscreen and bug spray, and do a thorough check for ticks once you return home.

The CMP power lines aren’t quite the same as the idyllic Blueberry Hill from “Blueberries for Sal,” but I promise you’ll find enough berries to fill your little tin pail! And, hopefully, your trip to the power lines will be bear free.

Children’s author from Raymond plants kindness and garden whimsy in her first published book by Lorraine Glowczak

Gayle Plummer of Raymond recently published her first children’s book, “The Flower Patch Pals,” an interactive story regarding six flower characters who teach the young reader about making good life choices, being kind and accepting others as well as ourselves.

The six characters include Polly Pansy, Benny the Bachelor Button, Rita Rose, Hollis Hollyhock, Zelda Zinnia and Willey the Woolley Thyme. While teaching the young reader to be caring, the flower characters also provide playful entertainment while also providing “how to” gardening instructions. The reader will find fun little projects at the end of the book to encourage the child to plant their favorite flower, either in a little patch of ground or in flower pots.

The concept of “The Flower Patch Pals”, published by North Country Press in Unity, ME and illustrated by her sister, Sheila Young from New Hampshire, had been simmering in the back of Plummer’s mind for a while.

“I actually outlined the book about nine years ago,” explained Plummer. “One of my grandsons, who was pretty young at the time, used to sit in the garden under the taller plants. It was obvious that all of his senses were engaged; he would gently touch the plants and “really” look at them. It seemed he was sitting in this mystical, other garden world…I could see it with him. It all just hit me as a total visual package; like a bolt of lightning. So, I started writing. And I was hoping that if the kids could relate to the little flowers with faces and names, that they may be inspired to plant. As I wrote, the little flowers seemed to have a few ‘behavior’ challenges, as we all do while we grow, and I wanted the plants to demonstrate the art of making good choices about helping others and caring about the feelings of others.”

In addition to teaching the young child how to be kind and provide fun gardening instructions and hands-on experiences, Plummer wanted to also provide something else for her readers that she believes is important. “To be honest, kids aren’t kids very long anymore and I loved trying to capture a bit of whimsy about something as ordinary as a garden; maybe making it a bit magical – to retain childhood for a bit longer,” she said. plans to continue with the mission of preserving the whimsy of childhood, as she prepares to publish her second children’s book. “It is a story based on true events about a horse called Sonny (he was ours when I was little) and his special bond with a man (my Dad) who trains him and the challenges Sonny faces,” Plummer explained. “The story is told from the horse’s point of view and will be titled, ‘Sonny the Dancing Horse and His Best Friend Sam’.”

Plummer stated that her next book will be out some time next year. Until then, you can read “The Flower Patch Pals” now, as it is currently available at the Windham, Bridgton and Casco libraries. “Each of those libraries also has a handcrafted, miniature greenhouse and garden display that corresponds to the book,” Plummer stated. Other surrounding libraries will also be carrying her book soon.

If you wish to purchase the book for your own home library, the book is not only available on the publisher’s website at, but also at the following bookstores and businesses: The Good Life Market, Kindred Farms, Bittersweet Barn, Bridgton Books, Sherman’s Book Stores (at all 6 locations along the coast), Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Way Life Could Be - Seeds of Peace to present at Raymond Village Community Church by Lorraine Gowczak

"To inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict and to equip those young leaders with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace,” is the mission statement of Seeds of Peace. Seeds of Peace is a leadership development organization that began in 1993 with one youth camp location in Otisfield, Maine. 

But exactly how does this organization make their mission become a successful reality, especially in times of extreme conflict and diverse perspectives?

That is the question Caryl Gilman of Raymond asked herself when she attended the tenth annual UCC (United Church of Christ) Women’s Celebration X conference in April at Portland’s Holiday Inn By the Bay.

“The Executive Director of Seeds of Peace was one of the speakers at the conference,” Gilman explained. “What caught my attention during her presentation was how the perspectives of young future leaders changed over the course of their camp experience in Otisfield.”

Leslie Adelson Lewin, the Executive Director of Seeds of Peace, spoke to approximately 400 women at that conference regarding how the youth from across lines of conflict and difference arrive at the camp, often viewing others as enemies – but then through daily facilitated dialogue sessions, plus traditional camp activities, they begin to open up to new perspectives, building trust and empathy.

Gilman decided to find out exactly how Seeds of Peace successfully transforms individual perspectives during camp and to share that information with the Raymond, Casco and Windham communities and beyond. “I belong to the Raymond Village Community Church, so I approached our Pastor, Nancy Foran,” began Gilman. “I also spoke with Sheila Bourque (Board President of Raymond Village Library) and Mary-Therese Duffy (Raymond Arts Alliance) about the possibility of inviting a representative from Seeds of Peace to give us those details.”

A collaborative effort was created and put into place, resulting in the informational presentation that will occur on Tuesday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Raymond Village Community Church, 27 Main Street in Raymond.

Anyone who interested in discovering more about Seeds of Peace and how they successfully execute their mission can attend.

Briefly, Seeds of Peace began in 1993 by John Wallach, a journalist and Foreign Editor for Hearst Newspapers from 1968–1995. He believed that "If you begin to know your enemy, if you begin to hear your enemy, if you begin to understand your enemy, it is inevitable that you will begin to feel some empathy.”

According to the Seeds of Peace website, in the summer of 1993, “a group of 46 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and American teenagers inaugurate the Camp [in Maine].” Soon after, President Clinton invited the attendees as their guests to the historic signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. And thus, the success of Seeds of Peace began.

To learn more about the informational gathering that will occur on Tuesday, contact
Gilman at 627-5073.

The Seeds of Peace informational gathering is free and open to the public. “Peace is the way life could be – not only internationally, but in the U.S. and right here in Raymond and Windham, too,” Gilman said. “I’d like to invite everyone to attend to find out just how Seeds of Peace does it.”

A matter of historical record: The war time crash over Sebago Lake by Walter Lunt

May 16, 1944 – six war planes out of Brunswick Naval Air Station were buzzing in the late morning sky over Sebago Lake. Residents in the region were accustomed to the protracted drone of British Corsair fighter planes, destined for the Pacific war theater, breaking the early day stillness as they engaged in frenetic training exercises.

A North Sebago woman was watching when two of the aircraft dived low. She later told the Portland
Over 2000 gull-winged Corsair fighter planes, similar to the one show here, were issued to the British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during World War II. Many saw action in the Pacific on aircraft carriers. (Mobile)
Evening Express, “The planes…skimmed the water and I could see spray flying up. Then came an explosion (and) smoke. Then another explosion.” As the other four planes flew away, she and a neighbor scanned the lake with field glasses, “but there was nothing to be seen on (the surface) of the lake.”

Boaters from Long Beach searched the crash area but found no trace of the planes or the occupants. Killed, and to this day listed as missing in action, were two young Royal Navy pilots, sub-lieutenants Vaughan Reginald Gill and Raymond L. Knott, both 19. They are memorialized in their home town of Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire, England.

Military investigators sent amphibian planes, Marines and Navy men to the site and used a Navy diving bell in a recovery effort but found only an antenna and a headrest. Few other details were released. Speculation centered on either the two gull-winged planes got too close to each other or too close to the water. Press reports over the years have favored the collision theory. Both aircraft remain submerged about 300 feet down in Sebago Lake.

Sadly, air crash fatalities in Maine during training missions, especially low-level combat training were not rare during the second world war. One-hundred thirty-two mishaps involving Corsair fighter planes were recorded in Maine in 1944 alone.

“We probably had a crash every two or three days (in the state) during the war,” said BNAS spokesman, John James in a Bangor Dailey News story in 1998.

Peter Noddin, custodian of Aviation Archaeology in Maine, a website devoted to the memory of Maine’s military crash victims, reports 805 military aviation accidents in Maine between 1919 and 1989. More than half, he says, happened during World War II with a total of 143 fatalities.
Noddin maintains that the logistics of gearing up for war must be understood from a 1940s perspective.

“The war was waged with great urgency…the army didn’t have the luxury of elite flight-training programs, testing protocols or the patience for ideal flying conditions. Thousands of airmen, many with no greater qualification than a high school diploma, were rushed through training. Mass-produced planes were delivered as quickly as they were riveted together.”
From the video footage of the fuselage code

In recent years, well publicized efforts by various entities such as aircraft restoration groups, wreck hunters and “war bird” collectors have expressed interest in locating and even salvaging the Sebago Corsairs. In 2003, using historic eyewitness accounts and modern side-scan sonar equipment, one of the two aircraft was located in one of the deepest parts of Sebago’s main lake. Footage produced by remote controlled video documented the fuselage code (3BH) and the serial number and fin flash on the tail. The aircraft was shown to be resting nose-down by the weight of the engine. The wings were torn off – one was located approximately 100 feet off to the side. The landing gear was down and the canopy open. Clothing and a tangle of parachute shroud line appear to drift upward from the forward cockpit.

The second Corsair is thought to be resting less than a mile from the “3BH” plane.

Controversy surrounds release of the video footage, as well as the legality and the moral and ethical considerations in any attempt to retrieve the wreckage. Many suggest the remains of the dead pilots are still with, or near, the submerged aircraft.

 A proposed salvage operation was foiled in a federal court when a judge dismissed a suit brought by a recovery firm that sought to recover the Corsairs. The company had argued the “admiralty law” (laws of salvage and finds) applied to their retrieval plans. The court, however, ruled that Sebago Lake is considered a “great pond,” and does not fall under the jurisdiction of federal navigable waters. During deliberations, the State of Maine and Great Britain maintained that the warplanes are grave sites and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Feelings on both sides run deep, as evidenced by testimony on an aviation forum website (Key.Aero Network). Noddin, writing in favor of recovery, writes “Why has this not been recovered, and the man given a proper burial?” Jayce (from Key.Aero Network) admits to mixed feelings, “On the one hand, recovery and a proper burial can only be a good thing. But personally, I feel strongly there is something morally repugnant about recovering an air frame simply for commercial purposes.”
For the full historical record of the crash of two British Navy Corsairs over Sebago Lake, read “Finding the Fallen” by Andy Saunders. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Tree Talk: Advice from an Arborist by Robert Fogg

Fully insured?

Cutting trees can be extremely dangerous even if you are experienced. A chainsaw, in itself, can be a dangerous tool and should be handled with extreme caution. Falling or splitting trees, falling branches and “spring poles,” to name a few, are common hazards of tree cutting. Cutting trees near buildings and other obstacles adds complication and risk to the equation. The list of things that can go wrong is endless.

If you need tree work done near your home and you are not trained to do it yourself, you should consider hiring a competent, professional tree service or individual to do the work. Such professionals should be trained at all aspects of tree cutting, and in how to avoid most hazards. They should also be a licensed arborist(s) and be fully insured. When I say “fully insured”, I mean they should not only have General Liability insurance, but more importantly, they should have Workman’s Compensation Insurance (Workman’s Comp).

Many tree service providers advertise "fully insured" but do not carry Workman's Comp Insurance, especially if it’s an individual with no employees. My opinion is that the Workman’s Comp is more important than the Liability insurance for one simple reason. If someone drops a tree and damages your property, and they don’t offer to pay for the damages (or have their insurance company pay), then your homeowners insurance will likely cover it. But, if someone gets hurt (or killed) on your property, the medical costs and lost wages can be astronomical, potentially more than your homeowners insurance is willing to pay.

If a worker is injured or killed on your property, without proper insurance in place, he/she (or their family) is likely to seek compensation from you. To be sure that your tree service provider is covered by Workman's Comp, ask them to have their insurance company issue you a “certificate of insurance” that includes Workman's Comp. If their insurance company issues you a certificate, and the tree company or individual cancels their insurance, you will be notified. Allowing any tree service provider (or any contractor for that matter) to work on your property without proper insurance could put your assets at risk.

Workman's Comp is very expensive, so a tree service provider can save money by not carrying it, thus they can work cheaper. It may be tempting to take advantage of the lower price, but my advice is “don’t do it.” You may be sorry if someone gets hurt. And, if you decide to tackle those trees yourself, double-check your health and disability insurances first (and your spouse) and then, BE CAREFUL.

The author is the General Manager of Naples-based Q-Team Tree Service and is a Licensed Arborist. You can contact him at 207-693-3831 or at

Schoolhouse Arts Center reaches out to Deaf community by Neil Ruecker

In 2019 Schoolhouse Arts Center in Standish will celebrate their thirtieth year as a community theater and educational facility in the Lakes Region. Schoolhouse was founded in 1989 with a mission to provide a safe and nurturing place for young and old to explore and enjoy live theater productions. 

They have recently brought onboard a brilliant young Artistic Director, Zachariah Stearn to provide new vision and energy for that mission in the future. Last year Stearn directed the smash hit production of “Peter Pan” for the Schoolhouse. And this year he has taken on his new role with gusto in directing their current production of “Seussical the Musical,” on stage from July 12 through July 29.
In the first weekend, audiences have been thrilled with the lively music and colorful production of this play based on a wonderful collage of Seuss stories. The performance combines clever acting,  great dance numbers choreographed by April Monte, lots of audience interaction, toe-tapping music by an orchestra led by Rachel Scala, and professional lighting and sound direction by TJ Scannel. But Stearn has also brought an important new element to the stage in his adaptation of Seussical.

His cast of 36 local actors ranging in age from four to somewhat over 65, each of whom have not only learned their dialogue, dance routines, stage blocking, and a dozen musical numbers but Stearn has taught the entire cast to perform every major element of the story line in American Sign Language for the Deaf. 

This is a first step forward in a new element of the Schoolhouse mission. During their next decade of service to the Lakes Region Community, Schoolhouse Art Center plans to reach out to the Deaf members of our community and offer them greater involvement as an underserved audience and as participants in Schoolhouse productions. Numbered among the three dozen members of the cast are five and seven-year-old brother and sister, Sephine and Jason Seal. Not only are they very talented young actors but they are also both Deaf.

Think about how difficult it would be to learn and perform dance moves and songs if you cannot hear the music. How difficult would it be to perform complicated dance moves at the right moment if you could not hear the queues in the dialog. These challenges would be daunting for an adult cast member to take on. But Sephine and Jason have succeeded admirably with a strong desire and the support of their hearing cast family.  

“The success of our deaf actors is inspiring”, said Stearn. “This is an opportunity that is seldom offered to Deaf members of our community. They are just as eager and have just as much desire as their hearing neighbors. But too often they are just not offered a chance to try.” 

Stearn grew up in Augusta and was taught American Sign Language as a child by his Deaf mother. He could sign before he could talk. 

He has an extensive performing resume for his young age, touring the country as a stand-up comedian since the age of 13. He has performed as a comedian off-Broadway in New York and returned to Maine in 2017. In 2016-17 he was Artistic Director at Art Works Studio Theater in Hamden CT.

“Seussical is an important step forward,” says Cristina McBreairty, Chairman of the Board for Schoolhouse Arts Center.  “The cast and our audiences have embraced our use of ASL (American Sign Language) in the production with enthusiasm and have been very supportive.  We feel that this is an important step forward for Schoolhouse and for our community.  We are hopeful that other theaters in Maine will follow our lead. The show itself is not officially a full-ASL production. But all of the important elements of the storyline are signed by the entire cast.  And we will be presenting a fully signed presentation of the play for Deaf patrons on July 28th.  

We are planning to provide at least one fully signed production of all of our plays in the future.”  In further support of this effort, Schoolhouse plans to offer classes in American Sign Language to the community starting this fall. Their first class, ASL 101 will be held on Thursday nights for 10 weeks starting August 2 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Schoolhouse Arts Center, 16 Richville Road (Route 114) in Standish, 7 miles west of downtown Gorham or North Windham. The cost for ASL 101 will be $175 per student. More advanced ASL classes will be offered later in the fall if there is sufficient demand.

Schoolhouse also plans to offer a wider range of educational opportunities in coming months.  They are planning classes in Acting, Directing, Stage Management, Sound and Lighting, and other theater skills. These changes represent a new emphasis in helping the Lakes Region Community to experience and enjoy the magic of live stage productions. Anyone interested in more information about Schoolhouse Arts Center, Seussical reservations, or upcoming classes, should visit their website at www.   

Friday, July 13, 2018

Tips for writing the college application essay by Suzanne Hatfield

Summer vacation is time for high school students to take a needed break from busy schedules. Members of the 2019 graduating class can rest up for an eventful academic year ahead. Those who are planning to apply to colleges and career schools can use their free time this summer to get a head start on the application process.

Writing the college application essay is a creative endeavor that should not be rushed. A classic guide to this writing process is the 2012 fully revised and updated book, “On Writing the College Application Essay, 25th Anniversary Edition”, published by HarperCollins L.L.C., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 ( 

Written by Harry Bauld, a former Ivy League admissions officer at both Brown and Columbia Universities, this publication is available in book stores and online. Students can also check local libraries for access to the updated text.  
In this 25th anniversary edition, Bauld concentrates on the writing of a general personal statement to satisfy one of the Common Application prompts. ( His advice and encouragement can support students throughout the writing process.
A few of Bauld’s main points are as follows:

Keep a notebook of ideas and experiences for possible topics. Describe your actions, thoughts, impressions, reflections, sensations, etc., in order to share these with future essay readers.
Read other essays and try responding to different prompts or topics. Examples of common essay prompts include those below:

“Describe a person who has influenced you.”

“Describe the greatest challenge you have faced or expect to face.”

“Write on a topic that you choose.”

Stick to one topic. Have a strong lead that captures the reader’s curiosity. End the essay by satisfying that curiosity.

Use nouns and verbs to describe thoughts and experiences rather than adjectives.

Use precise and lively terms. Avoid using vague or overused words. Bauld provides extensive lists of these that include some commonly used words, “it”, “thing”, “who”, “which”, “that”.

In connecting various parts of the essay avoid using terms such as therefore, nevertheless, thus, moreover, secondly, finally. Use words such as “but”, “instead”, “now”, “later”, “then”.

When writing drafts, avoid self-criticism and freely express your thoughts and impressions. Proofread and revise as often as needed.

The final version of the college application essay is usually 300-500 words. The writing must be original and interesting. The tone of the essay should reflect the student’s humility, honesty, and positivity. Ask trusted adults to read your essay to provide constructive criticism.

Suzanne Hatfield is a certified school counselor who worked in Maine high schools for 20 years before retirement.

Healthy snacks while boating and hiking with children by Briana Bizier

"I’m hungry!”
If you’re spending this summer with small children, chances are you’ve already heard that phrase about ninety million times. When I’m at home, I usually respond with something helpful, like: “If you’ll get off the couch, walk down the hallway, and turn left, you’ll find a big, magical box we like to call the refrigerator. It’s full of healthy snacks!”

But, when you’re on a summertime adventure with your kids, those cries of “I’m hungry!” are a bit harder to address. If you’re planning on exploring some of our beautiful lakes or trails with your children this summer, here are some ideas for healthy snacks you can pack along to stave off both hunger and whining.

An important note before I dive into the snack and meal ideas: Plastic bags and boats don’t mix. The combination of wind, waves, and little hands means plastic bags and wrappers can all too often end up overboard, where they pose a threat to fish and birds.

Try packing your boating snacks in reusable hard plastic or glass containers, which won’t get caught in the wind and may even float. Hikers are a bit less likely to lose their plastic bags, but many snacks still benefit from the protection of a hard-sided container. Plan ahead to make sure your packaging doesn’t end up in the ecosystem!

An old hiking standby, the snack food gorp is still well-loved by children and adults alike. Although it was apparently once an acronym for “Good Old-fashioned Raisins and Peanuts,” our family makes our own gorp out of whatever we have lying around. This typically ends up being a mixture of raisins or other dried fruits, nuts, either salted snack nuts or the walnuts and pecans we use in baking, and some form of chocolate, like chocolate chips. Yes, our kitchen is never without chocolate. While we usually pass around a large container of gorp for the whole family, you could minimize fights over, say, the last green M&M by packing individual containers.

Granola is another healthy, delicious snack which is easy to eat with your hands. Granola is readily available in pretty much every supermarket in the great state of Maine. It’s also fairly easy to make yourself, as long as you can keep from getting distracted during the last ten minutes of cooking, when granola goes from “perfectly done” to “singed” faster than a three-year-old can scream, “Mommy, I have to go potty!”

jobs@tubehollows.comPopcorn is a quick, crowd-pleasing snack which can easily scale up or down, depending on how many boaters or hikers you’re feeding. While you can easily buy popcorn in a bag, popping your own on the stovetop is very simple - just make sure to cover the top of the pan with a colander or tin foil. Popcorn really does fly everywhere, creating great fun for kids and a huge clean-up for parents. If you’re aiming for healthy popcorn, heat your corn kernels in a bit of olive oil and top with either nothing or just a dash of salt.

If, however, you want popcorn to impress your friends and frighten your enemies, try popping your kernels in a mixture of butter, olive oil, and a small spoonful of leftover bacon drippings. Top them with salt, and you might just end up eating them all in the car on your way to the lake.

Another delicious and quick-to-prepare snack would be apple slices tossed with cinnamon. There are some days in the summer when my children survive on apple slices and cinnamon, which also make a perfect snack to pop in a lunch for work or school. The preparation is about as simple as it gets: slice up an apple, put it in a container, sprinkle with cinnamon, attach the lid, and shake. The cinnamon keeps the apple slices from browning and makes the snack taste almost like dessert.

If you’re planning an all-day boat trip, hike, or picnic, you may need something a bit more substantial than just snacks. Pasta salad makes for a nice picnic meal and, much like gorp, pasta salad is a meal that can be made from almost anything in your kitchen. When the pasta is about a minute from finishing, add a cup or two of frozen peas. Then rinse the pasta and peas with cold water, place in your hard-sided plastic or glass container and add a bunch of leftovers: chunks of cheese, little slices of ham or chicken, green or black olives, the lone piece of broccoli no one ate at last night’s dinner. Dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. A loaf of French bread makes a nice addition to this picnic meal (and white wine for the adults).

Finally, when all else fails, try putting food on a stick. You can make endless variations of fruit, cheese, and lunchmeat on toothpicks. Cherry tomatoes, salami, and bits of string cheese lined up on toothpicks make for fabulous boating or hiking lunches. And why should prosciutto and honeydew melon on a toothpick be reserved for brunches or wedding receptions? Why not take that elegant snack on a boat trip in Vacationland?

Whatever foods you choose for your kid-friendly outdoor adventure, keep in mind that the best boating or hiking foods are easy to eat, easy to clean up, and fun! Don’t be afraid to try something new and turn those cries of “I’m hungry!” into “Wow, can we try this again?”

Raymond Arts Alliance Fundraiser at Hacker’s Hill will feature the New England Jazz Band

The Raymond Arts Alliance is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday July 21 at Hacker’s Hill in Casco.  This event will feature live music performed by the New England Jazz Band, a locally based big band dedicated to preserving and playing the “Great American Songbook” - music from (or in the style of) the Swing Era written by world famous American composers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, etc.

The fundraiser will benefit the Raymond Arts Alliance, a non-profit local group of artist/organizers, working as a program of the Raymond Village Library to bring arts to Raymond; and to involve our local community in the arts, both as audience and participants. The Raymond Arts Alliance has presented numerous events this year including music, writing, comedy, singalongs and poetry. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $3 for kids. All donations will be used for future programming for all members of the community. For more information about RAA please visit:

The fundraiser is being held in cooperation with the Loon Echo Land Trust, which cares for Hacker’s Hill – a privately owned public space offering spectacular panoramic views of the Sebago Lakes Area, located on Quaker Ridge Road in Casco, approximately 2 miles south of Route 11. The service road is open all day until dusk and parking is available at the top of the hill. The music will start at 4:00 p.m. and end around 5:30 p.m. There will be a 50/50 raffle, and prize drawings. Food will not be provided, but everyone is encouraged to come early, bring a picnic and enjoy the magnificent views before, during, and after the music.

For more info on the New England Jazz Band please visit

Entertaining guests at Donnabeth Lippmann Park by Briana Bizier

As a recent transplant to the Lakes Region, I’m quickly learning summer in Vacationland means a house full of guests from “away!”

We recently hosted my mother, from Colorado, along with my sister and her two small children, who live in Maryland. This was a wonderful excuse to explore or re-discover many of the joys of Maine in the summer, including trips to the beach, ice cream every afternoon, and swimming in Crescent and Sebago until the kids were all shivering with blue lips.

However, for all the fun activities in the afternoon, there were still a few times when we just didn’t know what to do with four kids whose ages ranged from 20 months to seven years. This tended to happen in the mornings, when it was still a bit early to contemplate pulling on a wet swimsuit, but we had to get the children out of the house, so they would stop fighting over who got to play with the toy tractor or sit on the left side of the couch or stomp on the pebbles in the driveway.

The perfect solution turned out to be Donnabeth Lippman Park in Windham.

This park, formerly known as the Chaffin Pond Preserve, is a 123-acre woodland with a ten-acre pond found just off Route 302. We were hoping the giant green playground would keep the children entertained long enough for the adults to finish their morning coffees, but the enormous slides and monkey bars failed to interest my niece and nephew. Apparently, they have playgrounds in Maryland.

Instead, Chaffin Pond itself proved to be a major attraction. Once we assured my three-year-old nephew that the pond contained neither crocodiles nor sharks, he was delighted to spend the morning throwing sticks in the little outlet stream and searching for frogs. After thoroughly traumatizing any frogs that happened to be lounging along the banks that morning, our family decided to venture on to the Story Trail, a very short loop located on the far side of the Donnabeth Lippman parking lot beneath the “Once Upon a Time” gate.

This Story Trail, hosted by the Windham Public Library, is composed of a row of signs, each featuring a page from a children’s book, so children and their adults can read as they hike the very gradual incline through the woods. As this was still early morning, we sprayed the children down with bug spray before beginning our adventures.

This month’s story is “Sheep Take a Hike”, written by Nancy E. Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. In this book, delightfully silly pictures accompany an easy to read story about sheep going on a hike which turned out to be significantly more adventurous than our family stroll through the deciduous forest of Windham. The trail itself was easy enough for even my 20-month-old niece, who my son dubbed “Crime Baby” after she pulled a poster off his wall, to navigate without too much difficulty.

While the challenges of stepping over roots and picking up acorns and sticks that she then tried to put in her mouth entertained the Crime Baby, the story itself kept the other three children engaged. My seven-year-old assistant ran ahead, with her three-year-old cousin and four-year-old brother in tow and read each page of the story to both the boys. She also made sure to point out a pileated woodpecker’s holes, beech leaves, dragonflies, and several other natural features she thought our “flatlander” visitors might appreciate.
In addition to the Story Trail, Donnabeth Lippman Park also features a longer 1.1-mile loop trail which circles Chaffin Pond and features several exciting board walks; but by the time we’d finished the Story Trail the children were asking for ice cream and the adults had finished our coffees. In a few more years, our cousins might be ready for something as adventurous as a 1.1-mile loop. But for now, the Donnabeth Lippmann Story Trail and Chaffin Pond’s tranquil, crocodile-free waters were enough to keep the houseguests entertained for a morning.

If you have young visitors of your own to entertain, you can find Donnabeth Lippmann Park off of Route 302 in Windham. Look for the stone sign just past the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store. Bug spray and sunscreen are highly recommended.

Four “regular girls” make a big difference in the community by Elizabeth Richards

When children wonder if they can make a difference in the community, they should look to the girls who started L.I.T.E. for inspiration. In just fourteen weeks, these four girls were able to raise over $1500 through their Manchester School store and other efforts. Funds were donated to two local causes and one international organization.

L.I.T.E also stands for each of the students' first names They are in order of their initials...Lauren, Isabelle, Tayla and Eliza
L.I.T.E., an acronym using the first letter of each girl’s name that stands for “Lead, Illuminate, Teach, Empower” started as an idea that Lauren Jordan and Eliza Hill had after their teacher, Jennifer Ocean, read a book about the charity Heifer International. They asked their principal if they could start a charity group. They were soon joined by Isabelle Fortin and Tayla Pelletier.

The school told them they needed an adult to help, and the girls asked Susan Hennessy, Lauren’s grandmother, to be their advisor. “They selected me because they said I like kids,” Hennessy said. She set out helping them get organized like a business, but she made the girls do the actual work including creating a mission statement, choosing and ordering items, making posters and displays, and figuring out how to turn the money they made into more money.

The girls have a tagline: “four regular girls trying to make a difference.”  They have certainly achieved that goal. Originally the girls set a goal to raise $1000 to split between Compassion International and a local charity. In the end, they raised just over $1500, working tirelessly every Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the store on Wednesday mornings.

The girls approached Nolan Cyr and his family about donating to his “Warrior Packs.” Cyr, a cancer survivor, had compiled backpacks filled with items to help other children with cancer. Because the backpacks were fully funded already, the girls decided instead to make a donation in his name to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, which had helped him and his family so much. In June, at a presentation at school, the girls presented Cyr with a $500 check to bring to MCCP.

In the midst of L.I.T.E.’s fundraising efforts, Lauren’s seven-year-old cousin Hannah Allen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The girls decided to make a really big push, Hennessy said, so they could also donate money to Allen’s family to help with medical and travel expenses.

Finally, $500 will be donated to Compassion International to send a child to school for a year, covering books, water and snacks.

Now that the school year is over, L.I.T.E. will need to take a different approach to fundraising, but Hennessy said they hope to keep it going in some capacity. Not only did the girls operate a school store, but they asked for donations everywhere they went, Hennessy said. “Parents donated, family members donated, it just started to have a life of its own,” she said. One donation, a $25 gift card from the Ice Cream Dugout, was raffled off at school.

The girls learned many lessons as they worked to raise money. One of the biggest, Hennessy said, was that it takes a team to make a project successful, and that each of them brought different skills to the team. “They didn’t always agree, but they always came together, drama free, to figure it out and they‘ve remained friends,” she said.

On a flyer that the girls designed to promote the school store, they wrote, “We are having so much fun and learning valuable life lessons at the same time! We have a true passion for helping those in need.”
“They already know at 10 and 11 years old, that you have to build a great team to be successful, and everyone has to be there, everyone has to participate, and everyone has to live it to be successful,” Hennessy said. “I can’t imagine what these girls are going to do. I’m just so excited to know them, to have been chosen. I have a great relationship with these little girls and it’s going to be fun following them through the rest of their school years.”

Friday, July 6, 2018

Child identity theft: A hidden but real danger

Chances are you shred or secure any paperwork that contains personally identifying information, such as your Social Security number or birth date. But do you do the same for your children?

You ought to. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that at least six percent of all identity theft cases involve children. Youngsters’ personal information is appealing to thieves who can use it to build a clean credit profile where one doesn't currently exist. Another reason: It takes longer to get caught.

Adults may be actively involved in the credit world, checking statements and scores, but “parents aren't checking their children's credit, so thieves can do more damage over an extended amount of time,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, an organization dedicated to educating consumers and assisting victims.

The good news is, with a few simple steps, you can better safeguard your children’s personal information and pursue any problems on their behalf.

Ask questions
Many schools and extracurricular programs ask for kids’ Social Security numbers and other personally identifying information for them to participate. Ask why they need this information, and whether it's mandatory. If it's indeed required, “ask them how they will keep the information secure,” advises Velasquez. Then determine whether you're comfortable with that level of protection.

Know warning signs
“If you're receiving mail in your child's name that would typically be for adults only, that's a red flag,” says Velasquez. Warning signs include:

Collection notices
Bills or new credit cards
Traffic violation warrants
Jury summons

Don't request credit reports
Resist the temptation to check for a credit report in your child's name as a preventive measure unless you have a strong suspicion or know for certain that your child's identity has been compromised. “If your child doesn't have a credit file — and they shouldn't — you could actually open one up accidentally by checking it,” says Velasquez.

Take action
If you suspect fraud — or can confirm it — contact the Identity Theft Resource Center immediately, toll-free, at 888-400-5530. They'll listen to your concerns and work with you on next steps. You'll also want to contact the FTC to get help measuring the scope of the problem, and then file a report with your local police department.

Promote privacy
It's important to teach children the importance of protecting their own personal information so they don't set themselves up to be victimized. Velasquez recommends teens and parents check out ConnectSafely an online resource that offers tips for safeguarding your information online.

For added security, ask your Insurance Agent about identity theft insurance and how it can protect you and your children.

This article was brought to o by Tricia Zwiner of State Farm in Windham.

Floating classroom for kids on Crescent Lake by Sheila Bourque

Coming to Crescent Lake this summer is the Melinda Ann, a 30-foot pontoon boat designed to
be a floating classroom. This classroom is the centerpiece of the LakesAlive! program developed by the Maine Lakes Society.  

Susan Gajewski, President of the Crescent Lake Watershed Association (CLWA) announced that the free program will be held at Camp Agawam in Raymond on August 16 and 17 and is open to Raymond and Casco students and summer visitors to the lake age 8 years old and older.  According to Gajewski there will be several sailings each day that last about an hour and a half, just long enough to provide each participant the opportunity to use the various instruments and tools aboard the floating classroom.   

The Melinda Ann is equipped with proprietary and field-tested materials and activities that deliver a powerful on-the-water learning experience. Through hands-on activities that explore such topics as lake ecology, food webs and water cycles, the Melinda Ann’s young passengers use a Secchi disk to measure water clarity, a benthic dredge to take bottom samples, a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle to explore the lake and scientific instruments to measure temperature and oxygen levels throughout the water column as well as to explore the microscopic organisms that live in our lakes.  As a bonus while awaiting to board the Melinda Ann, the students will examine an EnviroScape Wetlands Model that tracks how rainwater falling on the lands surrounding lakes carry soil, chemicals and other pollutants into the lake.   The goal is that once engaged in the life of the lake, students will begin to develop a personal motivation to become good environmental stewards.

The program is sponsored by the Crescent Lake Watershed Association in close cooperation with Camp Agawam which held a LakesAlive! program in June during its Maine Idea session.  “When CLWA first discussed this program with us,” commented Karen Malm, Assistant Camp Director at Agawam, “we knew we just had to offer it for our Maine Idea session this spring and we were not disappointed.  The boys just loved it and I am sure it will be perfect for the Crescent Lake community this summer.”­­­

In early June the Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) hosted a LakesAlive! session for students of the Wilton Academy.  “I cannot begin to tell you how excited those students were as they stepped off the boat at the end of their session on the water, “ said Sandra Muller,  a FOWL member and close observer of the event, “and a large part of the success of each trip can be attributed to the knowledge and communication skill of Melinda Ann Captain Phil Mulville,” she continued as she explained how Captain Phil is able to connect with each student on board.

The LakesAlive! concept was originally developed over a decade ago and since 2010 has been a major part of the Maine Lakes Society’s multi-faceted effort to improve its capacity to engage both children and adults in understanding and protecting Maine’s lakes. “We have developed this program at a time when our society is seeing alarming declines in children engaged in outdoor activities and experiences that teach them how to care for their environment and how to simply “be” in the natural world,” comments Maggie Shannon, Executive Director of the Maine Lakes society, “and we are particularly pleased to be able to partner with Camp Agawam and the Crescent Lake Watershed Association to bring this wonderful program to the Crescent Lake community.”

According to CLWA’s Susan Gajewski, this is the organization’s first attempt to expand its community outreach to encourage lake health education and stewardship.  “We hope to interest more community members to help us develop creative activities and programs to promote and protect this valuable community resource that is the chain of lakes surrounding our watershed.”
For more information or to register your student for the August LakesAlive! program on Crescent Lake go to

Maine Idea campers from Camp Agawam watch as Captain Phil Mulville explains how and why a dredge is used to take samples of the bottom of Crescent Lake.  This is just one of the hands-on learning experiences aboard the Melinda Ann in mid-June.

First Mate and former Maine IFW scientist Matt Scott discusses the content of bottom samples with Maine Idea campers.

Everyone deserves to live an independent and self-reliant life by Lorraine Glowcak

As we enter adulthood, we look forward to being self-reliant and independent, living in our own homes and being active contributing members in our community. The same can be said of adults who face developmental disabilities. However, there are many barriers that these individuals face regarding self-sufficiency. That’s where the non-profit organization, Port Resources, comes in to assist adults with developmental challenges to live on their own and be a part of the community in which they live.

Based in South Portland, Port Resources offers the opportunity for those facing challenges to live meaningful and full lives and has done so for more than 30 years. The organization has 22 well-maintained group homes and supervised apartments in Southern Maine, two of which are in Windham.

To provide and offer support, Port Resource hires and trains Direct Support Professionals (DSP) to meet the various needs of their clients. These needs vary greatly and can include community activities and integration, assistance with activities of daily living, life skill building, medication administration, behavior management and personal care. 

“For those who are looking for a significant way to be of service to others and to give back in some meaningful way, the DSP position is the perfect job,” stated Derek Schenk, recruiter at Port Resources. “There are plenty of opportunities to help people and provide service – from life coaching to full hands on assistance.”

Port Resource also collaborates with other organizations within the arts, cultural, educational and recreational communities, allowing the client opportunities for community inclusion. 

“Our clients are just like everyone else. They love to work outside the home, they enjoy volunteering at various events and organizations and like going to the movies. The DSP helps them do this – and more - to lead fulfilling and happy lives.”

Although there are many possibilities for a DSP to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, organizations like Port Resource are facing great challenges to meet the needs of their clients and to continue to help them lead a full life.

Everyone deserves a self-reliant life. Port Resources work on a legislative level to make that happen

“There is a work force shortage due to the lack of funding,” Schenk explained. “The issues include low reimbursement funding to cover DSP pay and beneļ¬ts, supervisors and program management, home supplies, home maintenance, insurance, program transportation, representative payee services, and all administrative costs.”

How can organizations like Port Resources properly serve the people they support and give them the quality and consistency of life they deserve if funding for their clients is limited?

There may be a bright light on the horizon. Maine Bill LD 967, "An Act To Ensure Access to Community for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism" which was referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services on March 9, 2017 is being recommended for approval and is expected to pass in the next legislative session. Port Resource appreciates the legislators work on this issue. Although it was vetoed by the governor, they look forward to a possible overturn next week.

As a result, things may be looking up for Port Resources and their employees. But the clients are the ones who benefit the most once this legislation is passed. They get to live self-directed and high-quality lives, just like every other adult.

“The DSP positions are fun, and meaningful” Schenk said. “You get to help clients live a good life. And for those who enjoy having a week off without interruption (especially during the summer months) our live-in positions are on a week on and week off basis.”

According to their website, Port Resources offers training and certification classes for health professionals including certified nursing assistant certification and direct support certification and continuing education classes are offered.

They provide a variety of benefits including: health, dental, short and long-term disability, life insurance, 403b match, a wellness program including Weight Watchers discounts, as well as excellent paid training and paid time off.

To learn more about Port Resources, visit their website at www.portresources,org. To inquire about a position with Port Resources, contact Schenk at 828-0048 x-136.