Friday, September 28, 2018

A little time spent in the garden this fall makes for an easy spring by Gayle Plummer

Have you tucked your gardens in for the winter yet? It doesn’t have to be a complex process and there is still plenty of time during October and the first couple of weeks in November to get some of the basic things done, so the gardens will be healthy and attractive in the spring. This can be an enjoyable experience in the fall - particularly if you simply grab an hour or two at a time to do it. A few hours spent here and there on beautiful fall days will guarantee that you will enjoy your garden sooner in the spring; with less (or none) of the messy work to do then.

Cut everything back: Trim back all your perennials; only about two or three inches of most plants need to remain in place. Then pull out and toss any annuals that you haven’t brought into the house. Trimming the perennials back will help keep the garden free of fungus and bacteria from plant stalks that will begin to rot in place over winter. It also helps for a great looking garden area in spring. 

Depending on your garden space and what you have planted, you may actually be able to use a weed-eater to accomplish this. Of course some garden designs may not allow it but it is often an option. Just check things out ahead of time and be sure you won’t be wiping out something that doesn’t need to be cut back.

Weeding: This of course keeps the weeds from running rampant in the spring before you can get out there to control them. I do like to do the weeding after I trim back the perennials. I just find it easier and cleaner to work that way.

Compost:  After the weeding is completed is a great time to add compost or manure to your garden bed. The nutrients will be at work in the garden long before you can get out there in the spring.
Mulching: After the ground freezes add mulch. Adding a good strong layer of mulch too soon may delay the ground from freezing and killing disease-causing bacteria.

Transplanting: You can still transplant that plant or shrub you wanted to move, or add a new one. There is still a little time for them to get settled and send out new roots to absorb nutrients before the ground freezes. I personally don’t like to wait past the first week or two in October. Also I like to be sure that I water a newly transplanted plant or shrub heavily for the first week or so to help the roots acclimate as soon as possible. However, watering too late will not be healthy for the plant/shrub of course, due to freezing. As with all things in Maine, it depends on the type of weather we are having; so we need to factor that in.

Other garden duties:  Don’t forget to get your watering hoses inside as soon as you’re done watering any newly planted plants/shrubs. Your garden décor should be taken inside as the winter may break many outside garden decorations; at the very least most will be weakened by winter exposure.
There. You are now ready to look out of your window in late winter/early spring and see a clean, newly emerging garden . . . ready for you to enjoy!

Racking our brains on solutions to Emerald ash Borer by Robert Fogg

As you may or may not know, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an ash-tree-killing-insect, is slowly working its way in our direction with a hunger for our ash trees. It no longer appears to be a question of if EAB will get here, but when. 

When that time comes, which may be within the next few years, our ash trees with be under attack and many, if not most, will die. Yes, it is possible to inject individual trees with insecticide to prolong, or maybe even save their lives, but it is not practical or economically feasible to protect even a small fraction of our ash trees, especially those in the forest.

Knowing the problem is imminent has gotten my brain in gear, thinking of ways to avoid the devastation. I recently sent an email up to the Maine Department of Conservation, partly in jest and partly serious, listing off some possible solutions. Here is a sample of the wording in that email:

“Regarding the impending invasion of EAB, I have to wonder if it might be possible to spray or inject the ash trees with something that would mask their ash scent or make them unattractive to EAB. 
How about injecting them with maple syrup to make them smell like a maple tree? Another possibility, is to unleash some insect or bird that would eat EAB before they lay eggs? Maybe we protect individual trees by spraying sticky goop or grease on them or armor plating them in some way? 

We need to keep the bugs from mating (and thus reproducing). Maybe opera music would give them a headache or keep them from getting in the mood for love. Since they are attracted to purple traps, maybe we need a LOT more purple traps. If they like purple, maybe there are colors they dislike. We could paint the ash tree trunks yellow or white.  How about electrical current or some special frequency sound, vibration, nets…..or?  ..or vibration? The possibilities are endless.” 

As I said, much of the letter was in jest, but the answer just might come from some seemingly stupid idea. If you’ve got an idea, stupid or not, feel free to share it with me. Maybe, just maybe it will be the answer we need. Let’s not give up without a fight.

This article was brought to you by Robert Fogg, Licensed Arborist and General Manager of Q-Team Tree Service. See their ad on page 14.

Free film screening: “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul”

The public is invited to a free film screening of “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul” on Monday, October 1 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Viola George Auditorium in the Harold Alfond Hall at Saint Joseph’s College and presented by the Cultural Affairs Council.

Made over the course of 13 years, “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul” tells the story of Thoreau in his time and the story of the impact Thoreau’s writings and lifestyle have in our time.
The film features scholars, writers, activists, climate scientists, Penobscots, students in the Walden Project high school program in Vermont, and everyday visitors to Walden Pond discussing their passion for Thoreau, his legacy, and the impact his writings have on their work and lives.

These interviews were filmed on location in all four seasons at the original site of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond where he was inspired to write his book “Walden”. As well as at other places where Thoreau traveled: the Maine woods and Katahdin, Cape Cod and Minnesota, where Thoreau made his last and longest excursion from his beloved Concord, MA.

“Surveyor of the Soul” also includes a section on Thoreau’s excursions to the Maine Woods with footage of Katahdin, Chesuncook Lake, and the 150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour in 2014 that retraced Thoreau’s canoe trips in Maine.

Darren Ranco, chair of Native American Programs at University of Maine and a descendent of Joe Polis, Thoreau’s Penobscot guide on his 1857 trip to Maine, is the lead commentator in this section along with Thoreau scholar, Ron Hoag. Others interviewed in this section are James Francis, director of Cultural and Historic Preservation, Penobscot Nation, Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot drummer and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Penobscot Nation, and Chris “Charlie Brown” Francis, Penobscot guide who carries on the tradition of Joe Polis and Joe Attean. Penobscot knowledge and culture make for a fitting and original contribution to the film as they did to Thoreau’s understanding of the wild and wildness.

For 40 years Huey Coleman, a renown Maine filmmaker who was interested in Henry David Thoreau's connection with Maine and, in particular, the Maine woods, has been making films on artists, education, the environment, and Maine. His films have been shown at film festivals throughout the US, on PBS, and on television in Europe. Coleman’s seventh feature-length documentary film, “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul”, had its world premiere at the Maine International Film Festival on July 15, 2017. His film, “In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland”, was selected as a “Must have jazz DVD of 2011” by DownBeat Magazine and won the Manny Berlingo Award, Best Feature Documentary, Garden State Film Festival. Coleman’s 2002 film “Wilderness and Spirit: A Mountain Called Katahdin” was selected for screening at the Environmental Film Festival, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Coleman is a founder and director of the Maine Student Film and Video Festival now in its 41st year. He has been an artist-in-residence in animation and video production in over 150 schools in New England and is an adjunct instructor in Communications and New Media, Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, ME.

Monday’s film is his interpretation of the impression that Maine's solitude made on the famous American thinker and philosopher. Coleman will be in attendance for a questions and answers following the screening.

For more information about the Cultural Affairs Council series, contact Michael Connolly at or 207-893-7939. To see the film trailer:

Community efforts and initiatives to improve lives through energy efficiency initiative by Lorraine Glowczak

Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship (MPES), an AmeriCorps program coordinated by Maine Campus Compact, is organizing new community initiatives around the state in an effort to increase energy efficiency and cost savings through weatherization services and education. MPES works in partnership with college campuses and the communities in which they serve. The efforts of the initiative are for all individuals but are especially geared towards those facing low income status or financial difficulties.

Heather Craig measures for a window insert
For the communities of Windham and Raymond, Saint Joseph’s College is the host site for this AmeriCorps program and individuals in the area are encouraged to participate in the energy efficiency initiative by obtaining window inserts and attending energy education events. Raymond Village Community Church is one of the community organizations that are working in conjunction with MPES and Saint Joseph’s College.

“Window inserts provide an energy efficient way to help keep your home warm as well as lowering energy costs,” explained Heather Craig, Energy Efficiency Coordinator with MPES, who will be coordinating the efforts between the college and the community. “A person can save up to one gallon of fuel per every square foot of insert, so if you have 20 square feet of inserts you will save 20 gallons of fuel.”

A window insert is a wood frame that is wrapped in durable plastic on both sides and is sealed with foam around the edges. Each frame is custom measured to the specific window in order for the insert to fit properly.

According to MPES, Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the country and much of the carbon dioxide emissions are from residential heating sources. It is their intention to be a leader in energy efficiency and providing window inserts as an option will contribute to lowering not only energy costs but keeping Maine homes warm while contributing to environmental health. To assist those who may not be able to afford ways to cut cost, MPES offers a limited amount of window inserts for free for qualifying individuals.

Those who qualify for any sort of government assistance such as Liheap (Maine Low Income Energy Assistance Program), disability, or veterans’ benefits, etc. will qualify for five free window inserts,” stated Craig. “Individuals can contact me to see if they are eligible.”
The making of an energy efficient window insert

Craig stated that they are looking for 20 low income families who may be interested in participating in the initiative. As of the time of this printing, four families have applied and been accepted. “It is our goal to have all 20 families signed up and accepted by October 20th,” Craig said.

Families can also purchase the window inserts at a cost of roughly $25 per window.

Craig also mentioned that one does not need to own their home, nor do they need a landlord’s permission to install a window insert.

It is important to note that not only does the MPES program support energy efficiency through weatherization and education, but it also encourages community efforts by working together.

Those who receive window inserts will be asked to help build them on one of the community build days set for December 3rd through 7th” explained Craig. “Raymond Village Community Church is collaborating with us and is offering their space to build the inserts. The event is always lots of fun, with a potluck meal and music. There are a range of tasks for people to do and no experience is necessary.

Craig will be also providing educational opportunities to learn more about weatherization and energy efficiency through classes at the Windham and Raymond Adult Education. To learn more about these classes or about the window inserts, contact Craig at or by phone at 314-520-5447.

About Maine Campus Compact (MCC)
MCC is a statewide coalition of colleges and universities whose purpose is to further the public purposes and civic mission of higher education. They seek to transform campuses in a way that develops better informed, active citizen problem-solvers, stronger communities and a more just democratic society. MCC manages the MPES program.

About AmeriCorps
It is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS, the grantor, is an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.

A tale of a fall hike at the kid-friendly Black Brook Preserve by Briana Bizier

With its cooler temperatures and the promise of colorful foliage, fall is the perfect time to explore some of the wonderful trails in our region.

Last Saturday, our family decided to celebrate the autumnal equinox by exploring Black Brook Preserve in the center of Windham. Managed by the Windham Land Trust, this 105-acre gem of trails and wildlife habitat is easy to locate and a delight to hike.

As soon as we parked at the trailhead, both our little assistants decided to hike the trail in “run mode,” as opposed to the slower and more adult-friendly “walk mode.” They took off down the trail at a sprint, leaving the adults panting in their wake.

Happily, we quickly discovered that the trails in Black Brook Preserve are absolutely perfect for children. There are plenty of hills that are large enough to be fun, but not big enough to wear out little legs. The paths themselves twist and wind just enough to keep kids interested, and the packed dirt of the trail is frequently interrupted by bridges, which range from split logs laid across the muddy patches to beautiful wooden structures complete with hand railings. These bridges seemed to occur whenever our littlest hiker started to lag and crossing them was often enough fun to encourage him to agree with his big sister’s plan to continue “run mode.”

Ian and Sage Bizier
Black Brook Preserve contains several miles of hiking trails, which are all named and clearly marked with trail blazes. Even better, there is a map of the entire preserve posted at each trail junction. After pausing for water, snacks, and a climb on an enormous glacial erratic boulder - the children told us it was a “kids only” boulder - we consulted the nearest map.

Let’s take the long way,” my eight-year-old decided.

Are you sure?” I asked. “That’s two and half miles.”

But the two children had already taken off in “run mode,” leaving my husband and I trying our best to catch them.

Fortunately, the preserve also includes several signs identifying flora or fauna as well as lovely wooden benches. We caught up with the children at one sign, where our eight-year-old explained she was teaching her little brother to identify a hemlock tree. After another long hill, the entire family stopped by a bench to watch a female downy woodpecker climb and peck along the trunk of a white pine. Our four-year-old was absolutely delighted by the noise and mess of the woodpecker’s work, and the woodpecker was undeterred by his shrieks of admiration. When the woodpecker finally moved on, my eight-year-old turned to me with quite the compliment:

That was cool, Mom.”

The long way, also called the Boundary Trail and marked with blue blazes, leads along the perimeter of Black Brook Preserve before crossing a large, open field. This meadow gave us a chance to scan the woods for signs of changing foliage, and our assistants each spotted small garter snakes in the grass and monarch butterflies visiting the flowers.

Although we managed to avoid a full hiking melt down, we did hear the dreaded “My legs are tired” at the edge of the meadow. Luckily, there was another exciting bridge waiting for us as soon as we re-entered the forest. The promise of crossing a very cool bridge was enough to make our four-year-old decide he wanted to hike by himself after all. Spotting another garter snake on the far side of the bridge also helped his spirits, although he decided not to join his big sister in a final “run mode” to the parking lot.

She sprinted ahead of us as the first brilliant red leaves of the season drifted to the forest floor. By the time my husband and I caught up with her, she was sitting on a bench at the trail head, staring at the map.

I can’t believe we hiked all that way!” she said, tracing the Boundary Trail with her fingers.
If you want to explore the kid friendly trails and bridges of Black Brook Nature Preserve, there is a convenient parking lot off Windham Center Road just south of Route 4. As always, even in the fall, I highly recommend sunscreen and bug spray in addition to water and snacks.

A matter of historical record: Honor and respect at last for Polin, sagamore of the Wabanaki by Walter Lunt

In an address to the citizens of Windham on the occasion of the town’s 100th anniversary in 1839, historian Thomas Lauren Smith referred to the region’s early Indian population as an “incursion from the savages” and “the subtle and savage enemy lurking in ambush.”

One hundred years later, in his “History of Windham, Maine”, author Frederick Dole described the Presumpscot chief, Polin, as “in possession of all the inherent cruelty of his race.”

From the 18th through the 20th centuries, students of local history might well have been left with the impression that early Native Americans of the Sebago region were instinctively brutal, bent on the annihilation of European colonists at any cost.

While both sides were responsible for growing tensions and hostilities during the white man’s early settlement and expansion along the 26-mile Presumpscot River corridor, modern historians have recently taken a fresh look at those early events. The result is a re-interpretation, of sorts, that doesn’t change the historical record so much as, well, correct it.

The first public acknowledgement of this historical “update” will take place this Saturday, September 29 off Conant Street in Westbrook. Friends of the Presumpscot River (FPR) has announced the establishment of a memorial garden in honor of Polin, the leader of a 1700’s band of Wabanaki Natives who returned to the Presumpscot (river of many falls) each spring to harvest migratory fish, including Atlantic salmon, shad, alewives and other species. The small band was fluid and mobile. Its aboriginal homeland was known to have included villages all along the Presumpscot, including Sebago Basin and the shoreline near the current historic Conant Farm, where anthropologists have interpreted that the Natives engaged in fish harvesting and planting corn, beans and squash.

FPR president Michael Shaughnessy, a former Windham resident who now lives on the old Conant Farm in Westbrook, says the long-overlooked aspect of Polin’s history in the region is his early attempt to maintain peace.

“He traveled to Boston twice (putting extra emphasis on “twice”) to negotiate for fishways on dams that blocked passage of anadromous fish,” referring to Polin’s personal meeting with Jonathan Belcher, then governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

The Presumpscot was known to early explorers as one of the finest salmon rivers in what is now Maine and was a vital food source for Natives.

Polin’s plea for fishways was granted by the governor but ignored by Col. Thomas Westbrook of Saccarappa, who saw power and prosperity in the promotion of various mills and logging – all with little or no regard to the health of the river.

Long before the term ecology entered the lexicon, Polin and his contemporaries instinctively understood the concept of a sustainable relationship between people and the natural resource. They would take only what was needed and live within the natural world as one. This wholistic relationship was best described by Polin when asked by the Gov. Belcher where the Indian was from; “Pesumpscott is the river I belong to,” was Polin’s reply.

According to FPR’s Shaughnessy, the Conant Farm Memorial Garden is not only a recognition in honor of the early Native existence and their contributions but a celebration of triumph over ourselves, referring to the organization’s 25-year effort to restore fish migration and river quality.
In tribute to the river’s early Wabanaki presence, the garden features a series of strategically placed granite stones, or benches (from the old Conant barn foundation). Four large, rectangular stones lie prone facing east/west representing the four remaining tribes of the Wabanaki nation (Passamaquoddy, Micmac, Maliseet, Penobscot), another points north/south to represent the Presumpscot Natives and a standing stone which, according to Shaughnessy, is a counterpart to the memorial stone off Anderson Road in Windham that memorializes Chief Polin’s death in battle in 1756. Low-bush blueberry and elderberry plantings, indigenous to the area at the time of the early Natives, surround each stone. “A symbolic sense of connection,” says Shaughnessy.

One compelling feature in the garden is a plaque, in-laid on the upright stone, dedicated to the venerable Chief Polin, “First Advocate of the River of Many Falls.”

The Chief Polin Memorial Garden celebrates the Presumpscot River’s past, present and future (

An unveiling and dedication, along with a celebratory fall harvest dinner takes place Saturday, September 29th at 5:30 p.m. What’s on the menu? It includes corn, beans and squash – to be enjoyed near the banks of the river we belong to.  <

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Quote of the week

Après apple picking recipes by Briana Bizier

Now that it’s finally starting to feel like fall, what better way to celebrate the season than going apple picking in one of our local orchards?

My husband and I recently took our little assistants, ages four and eight, apple picking at an orchard near our house, and I’m happy to say that visiting an orchard is one of the most kid-friendly outdoor activities we’ve discovered. Our children loved exploring the fields. The four-year-old was especially delighted to find apples growing on trees!

Usually, apples are in the store,” he told us about fifty times.

Apple picking was so thrilling that, between racing up and down the orchard and picking every apple they could reach, our assistants filled a massive bag in roughly the time it takes to say, “I think that’s enough apples for now, children.”

It took the promise of apple cider doughnuts to lure our children away from the rows of apple trees. Even then, we drove home with a trunk full of apples, a bag of apple cider doughnuts, and two very happy children.

If you’re planning a similar apple picking adventure, here are two delicious, kid-friendly recipes to help you use up all of those apples.

Three Step Skillet Apple Crisp
Because this recipe uses oatmeal, I consider it an acceptable breakfast.
Topping: 3/4 cups flour; 3/4 cups finely chopped pecans; 3/4 cups oats; 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed); 1/4 cup white sugar; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 stick of butter (melted)
Mix the topping ingredient together until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Filling: 3 pounds of apples (about 7 or 8 large apples), sliced and cut into wedges; 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 tsp. cinnamon; 1 cup apple cider; 2 tsp. lemon juice; 2 tbs. butter
Preheat oven to 450. Toss the apples with the sugar and cinnamon.
Step One: Simmer the cup of cider in a 12-inch oven safe skillet for about five minutes. Transfer the concentrated cider to a bowl and add the lemon juice.
Step Two: Melt the butter in the now-empty skillet. Add the apples and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples soften. Stir in the apple cider/lemon juice mixture.
Step Three: Sprinkle the topping over the cooked apples. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Enjoy with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Apple Muffins
The streusel topping on these muffins is optional, but it does make for an irresistible muffin.
Streusel Topping: 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup flour; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/4 cup cold butter
Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it forms coarse crumbs.
Preheat oven to 425.
Muffins: 1 3/4 cups flour; 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/3 cup butter (melted); 2/3 cup brown sugar; 1 egg; 3/4 cup milk; 1 or 2 finely chopped apples
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and the milk. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and add the apples. Top with streusel.
Bake the muffins at 425 for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 12-13 minutes.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Curb shopping like a pro by Joyce Godsey

I confess to being one of those folks who stop and check out curb furniture. When I bought a very, very, small house and none of the furniture I already owned would fit inside, I just left most of it behind and started all over. 

If you are open to it, the universe will suddenly throw a lot of choices in your path, not just from thrift stores but free things such as curb rescues will suddenly appear everywhere. I had to make some 'rules' about what I absolutely needed and what I am allowed to drag home.
Here are my rules of thumb for curb shopping.

Keep a list of what you are actually looking for. Just because it's on the curb doesn't mean you need to take it home, unless you are rehabbing items for resale or donation to those in need. If you don't need it, leave it for someone else who may. This isn't just good karma, it is very easy to end up with a lot of collected items and no homes for them. If I pick up something for someone else, I don't even remove it from the car, I take it straight to their house as soon as I can.

Make a thorough examination on the spot. Unless there is dangerous oncoming traffic, take a good look at the piece, open it up, flip it over, check its sturdiness. Most of the time it will need some repair, otherwise it wouldn't be on the curb. But know what you are getting into before you make a commitment to it. Look for infestation or mildew - take a sniff. Watch out for water damage. Check the bottom. Standing water will make plywood and fiberboard swell and break down and hardwood will warp.

Be prepared to dispose of it properly.  Which means don't drag home something that you are going to have to pay to get rid of. You may discover it's bigger than you thought, or it has unseen problems. If it is still a useable item, you can donate it. If it is not, you may have to haul it to the dump.   Once I dragged a leather chair home only to discover it was the 'dog chair’.

Have a suitable place to rehab things.  In good weather, you can just do it outside before you bring it into your home. Sanding and painting are projects you do not want to do in the living room. With large enough drop cloths, you can get away with it in a larger kitchen, but spray painting should not be done in living spaces.

Hoard hardware like a crazy person.  Any time you see something actually in the trash or before you put something out for collection, strip it of hinges, handles, knobs, casters and gliders from the bottoms of the feet. Usually just a change of hardware and a coat of paint can transform a piece and give it another career.

Keep a basic collection of paints, primers and finishes at hand.  You may not want to invest a lot of time and effort into renewing a piece, if you have to buy materials. But if you have stuff already purchased then it's an easy decision.  It will also help keep you from putting a piece aside for rehabilitation “when I get around to it.”

Be prepared to undo other people's repairs. This may sometimes be worse than starting with a damaged item. Usually it's a brush coat of latex that needs to be sanded, or a sloppy glue repair. This item probably started in the house and worked its way down to the basement and then probably out to the garage before getting all the way out to the curb. 
I am always looking for solid wood juvenile furniture, which is smaller than full sized and usually repairable.

I just adopted another small curb item. It is just a 20th century, hardwood department store bureau. But age and moisture had caused the plywood back to break down. For me that was an easy fix, as nearly anything can be used for the back, I just happened to have a bundle of cheap pine wainscoting, which I cut to fit and used a plastic mallet to assemble. I didn't even have to glue but I may throw a brad or two around the edges.

My personal aesthetic is to paint all my mismatched pieces with White Gloss paint. This helps unify them in my cluttered tiny house and makes them easy to wipe down and touch up when needed. 
For this project I sanded down someone else’s paint job, and since it was meant to be painted, there was no reason to strip it. Pieces originally sold painted, look terrible when you strip them, as the wood grains never match. 

Two cans of Rustoleum paint with primer should cover most things up on a large bureau. I keep an assortment in my work space. I generally lay on one light spray coat, a second thicker coat, then a light sand with 1200 grit before a final gloss coat or two. Sometimes, if the piece isn't that bad you can get away with just washing the paint job it already has. The new paint job dried pretty quick, letting me move it into place on the same day. The top is smooth and white, but I have cats, so I threw a piece of oak salvaged from a sewing machine on top to protect it.  The temporary handles are making my teeth grate; I prefer vintage bin pulls, which I also paint with white enamel and then bake for hardness.

With minimal investment, curb found furniture can give you pieces to use until you find something you really love. No one needs to know you got it off a curb unless you tell them. Me? I tell everybody. With a house as small as mine, sometimes you must make do. I put this bookcase on top of this half size dresser to create a make shift hutch, which works perfectly for my purposes. I have only seen one vintage half sized hutch...and that one is now in my kitchen. Overall, I am pretty happy with the pieces I have collected for this new tiny house - and anything that didn't work out, I put on my own curb for someone else.

Funds raised are donated to the new Skate Park in Windham

Stephanie Ryan, owner of The Ice Cream Dug Out, presents a check for $340 to Linda Brooks, Director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department after a fund raiser for the Be the Influence Coalition. Be the Influence donated the funds to go toward the new Skate Park planned in Windham.

TRIAD offers opportunities for seniors to get involved in their community by Matt Pascarella

The Gorham/Westbrook/Windham TRIAD is made up of law enforcement, local businesses and seniors. Their mission is to reduce victimization of seniors through education and communication as well as improve their quality of life. Two individuals involved in the TRIAD are board secretary, Buffy Houp, and Chief Kevin Schofield of the Windham Police Department.

A field trip to the Military Museum in South Portland
Each month, a meeting is held featuring an educational speaker discussing different topics. One such topic is fraud awareness. Chief Schofield said this has been an issue that local law enforcement sees often, and he states that this is one of the various scams in which to promote awareness.

One program offered through the TRIAD is ‘Sand for Seniors’ to prepare for the winter months. Sand buckets are delivered by police offers to seniors for use on their porches and driveways.

“’Sand for Seniors’ is another way [police officers] can integrate ourselves into the community and meet people one-on-one. This is a year-round relationship we can provide to our seniors,” remarks Chief Schofield.

Another program that Chief Schofield, Houp and TRIAD members are trying to create is the ‘Rise and Shine’ program. This effort checks in on seniors who may not have a lot of local support; placing a call each day to a particular senior to see how they are doing and if they need anything makes a big difference.

While the TRIAD does provide a lot of education and important information, one of the more important aspects of being a TRIAD member is socialization and meeting community members.
“Everyone has a voice in the TRIAD. Being a part of the program means being part of the community. We do different events, like pancake breakfasts and field trips. The TRIAD is always looking to do more. The social aspect is just as important as the educational aspect; just come to a meeting,” commented Houp.

The TRIAD is a perfect organization where seniors can meet people and contribute to their community, have a good time, learn more about police and fire departments, EMTs and other community and TRIAD members. It can become much more than just a monthly meeting.

Upcoming meetings to look forward to include:

Oct 12th at the Westbrook Police Department – Safe Driving with Heather
Shields of Pathways Rehabilitation Services
Nov 9th at the Windham Police Department – Safety at Home with Angela
D’Amours of The Cedars
Dec 14th at the Gorham PD – Downsizing and Decluttering with Mary Holmes of Integrated Move Management

If there is a senior citizen interested in joining the TRIAD, please contact Chief Kevin Schofield (892-2525) or Buffy Houp (229-9050)

Eagle Scout project benefits Presumpscot River

Aiden Day

When Aiden Day of Windham chose his Eagle Scout Project, he reached beyond the necessary requirement that it must benefit his community and added a substantial component to help the environment.

As his final requirement to the Eagle Rank, in coordination with property owner Sappi, Day completed his Eagle Scout Project to benefit the Presumpscot River in the Town of Windham. Day had spent time as a child at the popular spot and he noticed that over the years the picnic table rotted into the ground. Runoff had also eroded the down-hill path from the parking lot to the river, which caused sand to wash into the river and harm the habitat. Day designed and built a new picnic area comprising two extra-large tables of white oak to allow room for those wearing waders and added erosion control along the path to the river.

Day, of Troop 51 in Windham, recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts, which is earned by fewer than six percent of all Boy Scouts in the United States. This accomplishment represents the culmination of Day’s ten-year journey in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
As an Eagle Scout, Day will serve as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster to mentor younger scouts in his troop.

During the process of satisfying the requirements for the Eagle rank, over a period of four years, Day earned merit badges representing 21 different fields of interest including first-aid, communication, safety, citizenship, preparedness, camping, environment, personal fitness and personal management, along with merit badges in diverse vocational and recreational subjects such as welding and fly fishing. Day also performed community service, provided service and leadership for his troop.

During Day’s Eagle Court of Honor at Windham Hill United Church of Christ on September 16, Day’s Troop mentor, Lynn Vajda, expressed her pride in his achievement.

“Throughout his journey, Aiden’s character as an Eagle candidate was exemplary,” she said. “Aiden has been an anchor in Troop 51 and leads by example in the troop and in his private life,” Vajda continued.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Scout Oath states, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

The Scout Law states, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.”

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Quote of the week.

Book Review: “The Man of My Dreams” Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree

I have loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s work from Prep to Eligible, but somehow I missed The Man of My Dreams. Or, more honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the title and I thought it would be a kind of Prince Charming fairy tale and I don’t love happily ever after. But, it turned out to be something else entirely.

Sittenfeld’s protagonist in Prep is lonely and angry; in The Man of My Dreams, Hannah Gavener is lonely and sweet, unyielding in her self-examination and self-deprecation, a little needy, kind, empathetic, a tad off-center. I felt not only like I knew her, but like I could be her.

The novel begins with Hannah, age fourteen, living with her aunt because her angry father threw the whole family out of the house. At fourteen, Hannah is obsessed with celebrities and interested in a boy with a tattoo. The novel leaps forward and Hannah-in-college struggles to make friends. In the working world, she is still painfully unsure of herself. Over and over, she muddles through social situations with pluck and determination. She gives her every failure thorough examination.

Hannah is not her sister Allison--married to a nice guy, making a nice family. She is also not her cousin Fig—wild, self-centered, gorgeous. Hannah is tentative, sweet, both too eager and too reluctant.

Sittenfeld’s writing is funny, observant, dead-on. This book made me laugh, made me sigh with frustration at Hannah’s every bad decision, and ultimately made me root for her.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Schoolhouse Arts Center is proud to present Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”

If you’ve been a long-time fan of Agatha Christie, then you must stop everything you are doing and
be sure to attend the Schoolhouse Arts Center’s one of six Friday through Sunday performances of “And Then There Were None.” The first performance begins on Friday, September 28 with the last one ending on Sunday, October 7. The Friday and Saturday showings are 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday performances are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The story begins when eight strangers arrive at Soldier Island, invited by a “Mr. Owen.” What could possibly go wrong?

William Blore (Randy Hunt of Westbrook) threatens to throttle Phillip Lombard (Zachariah Stearn of Windham).
Vera Claythorne, a former governess, thinks she has been hired as a secretary; Philip Lombard, an adventurer, and William Blore, an ex-detective, think they have been hired to look out for trouble over the weekend; Dr. Armstrong thinks he has been hired to look after the wife of the island’s owner. Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Tony Marston, and Judge Wargrave think they are going to visit old friends. As they compare notes over dinner they realize that none of them have actually met Mr. Owen, not even the house servants. As a storm rages outside the guests begin to disappear one by one and as their numbers dwindle they realize with horror that they were brought to the island under false pretenses according to “Mr. Owen’s” strange plan.

Tickets are $12 and $14and are available at Be sure to purchase yours today before, much like “Mr. Owen’s” guests, disappear one by one.

Music with a Mission features Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection in concert

Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection

Music with a Mission is proud to feature Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection for an evening of traditional bluegrass and French-Canadian fiddle music on Saturday September 22 at 7 p.m. at the North Windham Union Church, 723 Roosevelt Trail.

Erica Brown and The Bluegrass Connection is a five-piece band featuring some of the finest musicians in New England. Brown has been performing since the age of nine and has won numerous fiddle contests in New England as well as Canada. Brown brings a special energy and style to the Maine music scene. Her band, The Bluegrass Connection, includes Matt Shipman on guitar, Steve Roy on mandolin, Read McNamara on banjo and Ken Taylor on bass. Performance highlights include opening for Grammy Award winning country music superstar, Dwight Yoakam, as well as Grammy Award winning bluegrass performer, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.

“We are really excited to bring this high-caliber talent to our Music with a Mission stage,” said Dr. Richard Nickerson, Minister of Music for NWUC.  “We've had strong turnouts for bluegrass concerts before, so it's a real thrill to showcase Erica Brown and her friends for an evening of truly spectacular bluegrass!"

The Music with a Mission concert series is sponsored by the North Windham Union Church, which donates a portion of the proceeds to area non-profits.  Now in our sixth season, MWAM has provided almost $59,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations.  Brown has decided to support Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors in their effort to provide fuel assistance to people in need throughout the community.

Tickets will be sold at the door and are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.  Tickets are also available in advance on-line at and through the church office from 9am to noon Monday through Thursday.  The box office opens at 6 p.m. and the doors will open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please call 892-6142 or email

Teacher and Coach of the week: Cory DiDonato by Matt Pascarella

Cory DiDonato is the varsity girls field hockey coach as well as an English Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher at Windham Middle School. DiDonato got her degree in Therapeutic Recreation but wasn’t sure that’s what she wanted to do forever, so she started coaching.

“Once I started working with students, there was no turning back for me,” reflected DiDonato. “I fell in love immediately and decided to go back to school to get my Master’s in Education so I could become a teacher and continue to work with kids.”

Cory DiDonato
DiDonato began student teaching at Windham Primary School. She then began teaching in Gray in 2008 as a second-grade teacher. During her teaching years in Gray she and her family moved to Windham in 2009, making it their home. After a few years teaching in Gray, DiDonato taught third grade in South Portland for seven years.

She always wanted to return to the Windham school system to teach, so when there was an opening at the Middle School in 2016, she jumped at the opportunity. Teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies was a no brainer, she said, because she is an avid reader/writer and is interested in history.

In high school, DiDonato was a gymnast, played field hockey and ran track. She played field hockey in college all four years and also ran indoor track two seasons. “I am extremely competitive and when my playing days were over it was only natural to try...coaching,” she says.

In 2001, she became Bonny Eagle High School’s freshman field hockey coach, She coached there for two years until the Windham athletic director at the time offered her the opportunity to coach the varsity field hockey team in Windham.

DiDonato has also been the girls’ basketball coach at Windham Middle School, the freshman girls’ basketball coach at Gorham High School as well as the boys/girls’ outdoor track coach at Windham High School. She was also a field hockey coach at the University of Southern Maine.  

Her number one goal every year is to help the girls she coaches to become confident, self-advocating, hard-working young ladies. She believes life lessons are taught through sports and she works hard to install values in her athletes.

The girls’ varsity field hockey team is looking strong this year. They are a young team but have a higher skill level than DiDonato has seen in years. They are willing to work hard for what they want, and she believes it will pay off in the long run.

DiDonato lives with her husband, son and two pets in Windham. She enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and reading. But most of all, she enjoys living in the same district in which she works.

“I love the community and to be a part of it. We moved to Windham so our son would have the chance to go through the school system. It has so much to offer all kids.”