Friday, August 30, 2019

Worm composting at the Windham Farmer’s Market

By Briana Bizier
A handful of visitors to the Windham Farmer’s Market last Saturday ended up leaving with a few new, hard-working pets. One hundred new pets, to be exact.

Jock Robie of Mainely Worm Bins traveled to Windham to teach farmer’s market patrons about indoor worm composting using their kitchen scraps. Unlike traditional composting, which requires an outdoor compost pile, worm composting can be done anywhere by anyone. The results of indoor worm composting, called castings, make an impressive soil amendment. Worm castings contain microbes, fungi, and plant nutrients. When added to soil, they help feed the plants, help the plants resist pests and disease, and stimulate plant growth.

Jock showed the audience several photographs of lettuce, arugula, and high bush blueberries grown in a mixture of potting soil and worm castings. The vegetables that had been grown with worm castings were much larger and lusher than those grown in regular potting soil, and the corn that had been grown in soil amended with worm castings was over seven feet tall!

Worm composting, as Jock explained, is very straightforward. The worms live in damp, shredded newspaper in a large bin. Once a week, the worms are fed a quart of kitchen scraps. want to feed your worms a balanced diet,” Jock explained. Any fruits, vegetables, and even faded flowers are fair game, although worm owners will want to avoid meat, fish, or dairy, as those can be smelly. The worms even enjoy coffee grounds and coffee filters, but they can’t digest eggshells unless the eggshells have been pulverized in a blender or food processor first.

As Jock explained what meals the worms enjoy, he showed a picture of a small jack o’ lantern in a worm compost bin. After several weeks, the pumpkin had been reduced to a pile of dark, nutrient-rich
worm castings.

Who would have thought those little things could eat so much?” an audience member asked.
Lots of the eating is done by microbes,” Jock replied. “Worms don’t have teeth, so the food needs to decompose a little first. Once it’s soft, the worms eat the food and the microbes.”

After three to four months of weekly feedings, it’s time to harvest the worm castings. Jock brought a “ripe” worm composting bin to the Farmer’s Market to demonstrate the harvest procedure. As he described the process, Jock poured a dark, loamy mixture of shredded newspaper, worm castings, and worms through a large metal sifter. Worms and newspaper scraps destined for a fresh bin stayed on top while the worm castings fell to the bottom.

The entire process was surprisingly clean and odor-free. This journalist is relieved to report that worm castings look, and feel, exactly like dirt. But they pack a powerful fertilizer punch, even for houseplants. The castings can be mixed directly into soil, or they can be combined with water and aerated to make “worm tea.”

Also, unlike traditional outdoor composting, worm composting runs happily throughout the long Maine winters. Jock reports that he has sixty worm bins in his cellar, creating compost throughout the year. When asked how many worms you need, Jock replied that you can have as many or as few bins as you’d like.

What you produce in your kitchen is enough for your own kitchen garden,” he explained.

After watching Jock’s presentation, my two little assistants were very excited to help make their own worm composting bin. This began with a wooden trellis at the bottom of a large, plastic crate to keep the bin from becoming too wet. Then, my assistants added about two pounds of dry newspaper on top of the trellis to absorb excess moisture. After that came the “bedding;” shredded, damp newspaper that had already been in worm bins for three to four months.

This is the worm furniture,” Jock said. “Worms don’t like light, and they don’t like to be dried out.”
After adding the bedding, my assistants helped Jock open a bin of one hundred squirming worms. 

While this writer was envisioning a mess of slimy night crawlers, our usual choice for fishing with worms, composting worms are actually very small and a dull red color. They typically live in decomposing leaves on the forest floor.

They look like nails,” Ian, my five-year-old assistant, declared. “Only without the flat part on the top.”

Sage, my eight-year-old assistant, agreed that these worms are, “totally not gross.”

Once our hundred new pets had settled into their shredded newspaper “furniture,” we helped Jock add a quart of kitchen waste, which included onions skins, orange peels, coffee grounds, and wilted flowers now destined to become worm castings for our garden.

As the hundred tiny worms squirmed down between layers of damp newspaper, we covered the worm bin with a layer of plastic bags to lock in moisture and dry newspaper to block the light. A row cover across the top of the bin helps to prevent fruit flies, another decomposer who would be much less welcome in our kitchen. Jock promised to contact me in three to four months to help with my first harvest of the worm castings, and my assistants helped me carry our new worm composting bin to the car.

This is amazing!” Ian declared triumphantly.

I had to agree.

If you’re interested in worm composting, you can find Jock’s blog at:, or you can contact him directly at:

St. Ann’s Episcopal Church host annual community Welcome Back Weekend celebration

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s that time of year when the school doors open and young and old alike return after summer fun activities and from vacations. As people return and begin to settle down for the fall and winter, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church at 40 Windham Center Road welcome area residents back with a community celebration. The annual event is a weekend long festivity that begins on Saturday, September 7th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and continuing Sunday, September 8th.

Saturday activities will include a Sparks Ark Animal Show at 3 p.m. along with a “Touch a Truck” from the Windham Fire Department, a bounce house, music, cotton candy and ice cream
“On Sunday September 8th, we welcome back folks away from us for the summer with breakfast between our 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services,” stated St. Ann’s Rector, Tim Higgins. “Sunday School registration and kick off will also be included and a B-B-Que after the 10 a.m. service – by with the bounce house, music, cotton candy and a lawn games returning in the afternoon.”

Windham author and St. Ann’s parishioner, Norma Fitz, will also be present to launch her recently published memoir, “One Child, One Million Prayers: Driving through Hell in a Minivan.” She will not only be available to sign her books, but the launch party will include special guest, Libby Rulman, a five-year-old cancer survivor, who will be on-site collecting donations for Libby's Ouchie Box Toy Drive to benefit Maine Children's Cancer Program. Cash donations for Make-A-Wish Maine will be accepted at the snack table.

Also, fifty early release copies were donated earlier this month to the nonprofit, Camp Sunshine. Every family who attended the Nephrology and Solid Organ Transplant Week received a book. A signed copy of Fitz’s book will also be auctioned off at Kokatosi Campground's 
Make-A-Wish auction.

"We are happy to welcome the community of Windham to our location at St. Ann's to share in the fun and joy of our Welcome Back Weekend. Our hospitality is extra-ordinary, and we hope to share it with all over the weekend of September 7th and 8th,” Higgins said. “I hope you can join us "

Raymond artist inspires a new generation

By Briana Bizier

If you’ve been to the Raymond Village Library recently, you’ve no doubt noticed the original artwork adorning the bookshelves and walls. This past July and August, thanks to a partnership with the Raymond Arts Alliance, the library hosted a father-son art show featuring paintings by the award-winning artist Holden Willard and sculptures by his father Don Willard, who is better known as the Raymond Town Manager.

Also, if you’ve wandered into the children’s section of the library this past week, you might have
noticed a few newer contributions created by significantly younger artists. Inspired by Don Willard’s steampunk-style sculptures that are made with found objects assembled in creative ways, the Raymond Village Library children’s librarian Karen Perry hosted a Steampunk Art Sculpture Kid-Style event on a recent Monday afternoon.

You can use old clocks, gears, gauges, tools, or anything technological,” Perry explained in a Facebook post describing the event. “Anything that can be glued together into an interesting assemblage will help us!”

Several young participants brought their own found items, including an old telephone and an electric toothbrush, to donate to the creation of their sculptures. Karen provided empty plastic containers to both hold items and serve as the base for several sculptures. The young artists soon covered the library’s table with gears, wires, electrical cords, and more as they began creating their sculptures.

While the adults operated the hot glue guns, children created robots, animals, and more out of their piles of old jewelry, scrap metal, and broken appliances. More than one parent, including this writer, stepped in to “help” their children and ended up creating a new sculpture themselves. Several visiting library patrons asked if adults could join the fun.

There was so much interest in the children’s event that we’re going to host a found-art session for entire families,” Allison Griffin, the Raymond Village Library director, explained. That event will be held later this fall.

As the children put the finished touches on their projects, Perry offered each participant a battery-operated candle to glue onto their creation so the children’s sculptures could include light, like several of Don’s pieces currently on display in the library. When the children finished their masterpieces, Perry made a careful list of which parts of the sculpture should be painted and which parts should remain their original color.

That evening, visitors to the Raymond Arts Alliance’s Meet the Artist event with Don and Holden Willard were treated to the first ever showing of the children’s steampunk assemblages, which had been spray painted silver to look like Don’s metal sculptures.

Wow,” young artist Ian Bizier said when he viewed his painted sculpture for the first time. His battery-operated candle flickered above a silver column of gears, buttons, and electrical cords while a compass needle spun near the base. After Perry carefully painted the children’s sculptures, they really did look very much like Don Willard’s creations.

Miss Karen is so awesome!” Ian declared with a smile.

To see the children’s steampunk art for yourself, or to sign up for the upcoming family session, please contact the Raymond Village Library.

Friday, August 23, 2019

St. Ann’s Episcopal Church to host Haitian ensemble and musicians to help with ongoing rebuilding efforts in Haiti

Les Petits Chanteurs and the Chamber Ensemble of Holy Trinity Music School (HTMS), a choir of 30 singers, ages ten to16 and an eight-piece chamber ensemble from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, return to the U.S. for the first time since 2017 to perform choral and instrumental works of classically arranged Haitian folk and sacred music.

The tour, August 23 to September 26, takes them to 24 cities in ten states, beginning in Newcastle,
Maine and ending in Akron, Ohio – with highlight stops in New York City, Washington, DC, and a four-day residency in Louisville, Kentucky. One stop along the way will be a musical performance at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road on Thursday, August 29th. Admission is free but donations accepted. All proceeds go directly to the school to help in re-building their facilities which were destroyed in the earthquake of 2010.

The program by Haiti’s musical ambassadors showcases their home country’s rich musical traditions, highlights the talent nurtured in the school, and raises awareness of Haiti’s ongoing rebuilding effort and need for assistance.

Father David Cesar, director of the Holy Trinity Music School, commented:“The concert tour of Les Petits Chanteurs and the Chamber Ensemble is vital to our music program at Holy Trinity Music School. For the first time in our 63-year history we do not have an official Music School space. We function without a concert hall. We have been in temporary spaces, without real practice rooms, often practicing and giving instruction outside with our concert hall destroyed since the earthquake of 2010. In that earthquake we lost all our buildings. We have been able to continue
our work and even our two summer music camps. We have found some spaces in which to perform. But we long for a permanent home. We have not given up. We will never give up. Music is our life. To have Les Petits Chanteurs tour the United States on our behalf, telling our story, provides hope for all of us – our orchestra members, teachers, students, administrators, parents and supporters. The music will never stop.”

On previous U.S. tours, the Haitian musicians performed in NYC at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as part the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and at Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium on the grounds of the UN headquarters.

The Holy Trinity Music School, l’Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte Trinit√©, and Les Petits Chanteurs were honored in 2013, when Yale University’s Berkeley Divinity School bestowed Honorary Doctorates of Divinity on the Rev. G. David Cesar, director of the Holy Trinity Music School, and the Rev. Stephen R. Davenport III, the tour’s organizer and a Louisville native, for their vision and support of music education in the development of the lives of young people.

"This event is a wonderful opportunity for us at St. Ann's to be exposed to another culture,” stated Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church. “The music is phenomenal, and we look forward to the concert. Also, we are humbled and honored to receive the choir members into our homes and offer our hospitality to these folks who come to us from such a devastated part of the world. Hope you can join us on the 29th."                                                

Before the memory fades: Alley E. Hawkes, 1885 – 1970: Windham’s gentleman farmer

Alley E. Hawkes (photo byDr. Sidney Branson) 
By Walter Lunt

In the not-so-distant past, Windham was considered a farming community. Local farmers produced everything from milk and beans to cider and potatoes. That is, just about everything consumed at the family dinner table.

These same dusk-to-dawn workers also contributed heavily to local civic and political institutions. Scores of farms, large and small, dotted the Windham landscape from the 18th through the mid-20th centuries.

Among the many standout yeoman of Windham’s recent past was Alley Eugene Hawkes whose farmland, at one time, stretched from the four corners at Windham Center, on both sides of the road south down Windham Center Road for about a half-mile. The expanse totaled more than 150 acres, much of it dedicated to crop land.

Born in Windham in 1885 near the farmstead he would own and operate for decades in the 1900s, Alley was brought up learning the art of husbandry; knowledge accumulated from the generations of Hawkes’ before him. The Hawkes family name extends back to Windham’s earliest days when, in 1740, Ebenezer Hawkes helped build New Marblehead’s first sawmill at what is now known as Mallison Falls in South Windham.

Family members gathered recently at the farmhouse on Windham Center Road, located across from the Nash Road intersection, to share their fond memories of the family patriarch and the days when the farm was a way of life.

Alley married Dorothy Hall in 1914, the start of a loving 56-year union. The family would swell with the addition of eight children and 27 grandchildren. Nearly all grew up knowing the ways of farm life. the time of their marriage, Alley was working the Windham Center farm with his father, Frank (the namesake for one of Alley’s eight children. The younger Frank and a brother, Dick, would later carry on the family business following Alley’s death in 1970).

Early on, according to Alley’s daughter-in-law June Hawkes (wife of Dick, who is now deceased), the homestead was a dairy farm, known as Brookside Farm.

“Alley would milk the cows very early, then he had a delivery route. He delivered milk to South Windham (a thriving business area at the time).”

In the following years the farm expanded. More acreage was devoted to growing vegetables and an apple orchard was established.

“He worked 7 days a week. But not all-day Sunday – that was family day,” said June.
A farm stand was opened on route 302 in 1932. It soon became a popular stop for residents and tourists (The Windham Eagle – May 13, 2016).

The following year, 1933, Alley and son Dick opened a cider mill on the Windham Center Road farmland adjacent to Black Brook. Like the farm stand on route 302, the small shed-like structure became a local landmark. Family records show that over its 60-plus years of operation the mill pressed over 700 bushels of apples and produced approximately 19,000 gallons of cider – initially in glass jugs, later in plastic containers. Upon the death of her husband in 1992, June took over operation of the mill. She recalled that one of the favorite cider recipes involved a set combination of Macintosh, Red Delicious and Snow apples. One customer requested a red beet be added to every few bushels “to keep the color correct.”

The cider mill closed in 1996 following 63 years of continuous operation.

Apples from the Hawkes orchard were sold at the 302 farm stand and, at one time, to Windham schools for their lunch program. The cider was also sold to numerous other farms in southern Maine and in New Hampshire. best known as a successful, progressive farmer, Alley Hawkes is remembered for his many inspiring human qualities. He was a Quaker; a congregant of the Society of Friends Church in Windham. He also participated in the Grange, Freemason’s and Kiwanis Club. He served on the Windham Town Budget Committee for many years.

“He was an innovator,” said grandson Jim Hawkes. Determined to harvest the earliest peas in the state, he developed a “hot-cap,” which he set over each seedling. He planted over 1000 hills by hand, telling a local newspaper, “It’s a lot of work but my roadside stand customers have the earliest peas in the state.”

Jim said his aunt once told him how Alley tried to sell canned corn. “He’d strip the corn off the cob, can it, then try to solder the top on. It didn’t work, what a mess!”

But new ideas intrigued Alley. On trips to California to visit family, grandson Jim Quimby said, “He’d spend as much time visiting farms as he did family.”

On one trip he encountered a new type of hay rake. Tines attached to rotating wheels moved newly mowed hay into perfect rows for the baler. He bought one and had it shipped to Maine. Quimby said it attracted the attention of neighboring farmers “who would come around to see what he had.”

Granddaughters Mary Vandenburgh and Becky Hawkes remember how old-time values prevailed. Said Vandenburgh, “The girls worked inside, the boys did the outside work.”

Both Vandeburgh and Hawkes still laugh at what they called “no co-ed picking.” Harvest time often necessitated additional help from the girls. When that happened, the girls stayed together picking one crop, the boys another. No gender-mixing allowed, per order of Alley Hawkes.

Legions of baby-boomer boys worked the Hawkes Farm in the 50s and 60s. One is hard pressed to hear an ill word about Alley. He was direct and gruff at times, but always meant well. Multiple generations respected and appreciated the gentleman farmer on Windham Center Road.

One worker recalled his teenage years on the farm, “He (Alley) would put up with a reasonable amount of fooling around, but then when he spoke you straightened out fast. Not because he was intimidating or mean, but because you respected the man.”

Both family and former workers recall he rarely, or never, fired anyone. He cared so much about his young workers that he felt a responsibility to nurture them, particularly about work ethic. Often, he would yell, “Name, Go Home!” The boy would leave for the rest of the day and return the next. There was, it seemed, always a second chance.

“Sometimes if a boy didn’t show up for work,” said June, “Alley would check up on him – not to lecture him, but to make sure he was okay.”

“(Alley and Dick) instilled in me a work ethic and a sense of fairness, “said Quimby, “they didn’t have to preach to you, they lived it and it made you want to be like them. They taught by example.”
Without the need for questions prompted by the reporter, Quimby went on, “He had a reverence for the soil. Some would say ‘dirt,’ he would always say ‘soil.’ I can still see those arthritic hands pressing down on a seedling.”

He produced a picture. Alley is shown bending over a great pig, its leathery snout inserted deep inside a pail of food held by Alley. “This is one of my favorite pictures of Alley. He loved animals and had a special way with them. (Even) feral cats would come up to him.”

Quimby jumped to another topic as the memories kept flowing.  “He loved Pepsi Cola. He would always have one at the end of the (work) day. He’d keep cases of it in the woodshed off the kitchen. We’d (the grandchildren) sneak in and take one, hide somewhere and drink it. I think he must have known, but never said anything to us.”

One former worker, who is now 73 years old and who prefers to remain anonymous, remembers a steamy July morning in 1963 when he and a friend arrived at the Hawkes farm a few minutes after 8:00 o’clock. Already hot and sweaty, both boys dropped their bikes on the lawn and stared out at the dusty multi-acre gardens in anticipation of a long, uncomfortable work day.

Alley approached the boys from behind, and in his folksy down-on-the-farm speech pattern asked, “Well, good ahfter-noon. You boahs ready’t go to whurk today, or do yah need go back home for some mo-ah rest?”

Coming from Alley, the message was not a sarcastic lecture. It’s meaning and intent was clear to both boys:

You’re late. Please don’t be late again.

It’s summer. It gets hot. Deal with it.

Come to work rested and ready to work.

Another lesson on work ethic received and understood.

Granddaughter Jeanne (Williams) Rogers remembers a hot, sunny day when she was eight years old.
“Grampa (Alley) was getting ready to mow a field, and he asked if I wanted to go along.” She didn’t want to go, but decided her grandfather wanted company so she agreed. Sitting on the tractor, straddling the hood, she remembers thinking, “I just want this to be over. I want to go home.”

Suddenly and abruptly, Alley stopped the tractor in the middle of a half-mowed row. Rogers said he got down from the tractor and reached into the tall grass. He stood up holding three baby field mice in his cupped hands.

“Did you see these?” he asked his granddaughter. She had not. Rogers said he then carefully placed the tiny creatures on the mowed side of the row, climbed back on the machine, and continued to mow.
“I was so fond of him,” said Rogers, “what a kind soul he was.”

When asked for their most prominent memory of Alley Hawkes, all seven family members interviewed for this article had the same initial response: the necktie.

Granddaughter Diane Loring responded firmly, “I remember him always wearing a necktie, whether out in the garden, milking cows or wherever.”

Pressed for the reason, no one could say for sure. But Jim Hawkes and Mary Vandenburgh speculated that he considered himself a businessman, so he dressed like one. Jim said that perhaps it showed respect and pride for his profession and that it may have been an influence from his father.
Whichever, it is to this day a distinctive and memorable feature of the man.

Alley Hawkes was a charter member of the Windham Historical Society. Conservation and preservation in his beloved community was a life-long priority. In the month following his death in 1970, the W.H.S. newsletter memorialized his passing: “…our heartfelt sympathy to the (Hawkes) family and to his many friends and relatives in their personal loss…and to the whole town of Windham. This smiling, pink cheeked farmer whose high-quality farm produce won a lasting reputation with uncountable summer visitors…was truly a town ‘father.’"

Friday, August 16, 2019

Author publishes third book – donates time to facilitate annual PROMPT writing workshop

By Lorraine Glowczak

The first time I met New York City author, Diana Altman, I was a participant in the PROMPT writing workshop hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance (RAA) in the fall of 2016 which she facilitated on a donation basis. Altman, who makes her second home on the shores of Sebago Lake in Raymond with her husband, will donate her time once again for RAA’s third annual writing event to be held at the Nathaniel Hawthorne Home, Hawthorne Road in Raymond on Sunday, August 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Altman is the author of “Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the origins of the studio system”, a work of nonfiction based upon her knowledge and study – and perhaps more importantly, her father, Al Altman’s experience as a talent scout for MGM studios. Her father discovered 1930s and 40s big screen actors such as Jimmy Stewart, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner and more.

Her second book, “In Theda Bara’s Tent”, is a work of fiction about a young orphan who makes his way into the growing movie business during the silent film era. latest novel, “We Never Told” is also a work of fiction that is set in the suburbs of New York City beginning in the 1950s about the well-to-do Adler family. The father, Seymour, is in the Hollywood business and discovers big name talents; rubbing shoulders with famous actors. The mother, Violet, a glamourous and strikingly beautiful woman who has known nothing but wealth, seems to have it made – 1950s style. However, despite the fact she has it all, she is not happy and she tries to break free from the mainstream social standards of the time – as well as the distinguished society with elitist values that binds one from living fully and freely.

Violet does something unthinkable during the time of high ideals and morals. She divorces her husband. The children, Joan and Sonya, are caught in the middle of this broken home…. eventually making a promise to their mother, keeping a secret that is deeper than they realize. The novel ends with an unsuspecting twist.  

I was honored when Altman reached out to me to review “We Never Told”. Officially published this summer on June 11, I couldn’t wait to read her latest novel. I was quickly swept away and vanished into a world of illusion for a few days into the home of the Adler family. All it took was the first sentence of the first chapter that grabbed and pulled me in. It began: “While cleaning out my mother’s files after she died alone at her secluded house behind a locked gate near the Catskill Mounts, her five cats yowling from fear and hunger, I came upon an alarming letter.”

Before I share my thoughts on Altman’s latest novel, here are a few reviews that best articulate some of my own reflections:

“Altman's uncanny ability to yoke the everyday drama out of life and imbue her characters with an emotional complexity makes ‘We Never Told’ a novel that gets to the essence of what family is. A tale that unfolds with nuance and an endearing sense of humor, this is the kind of writing that is impossible to shake as it bravely mirrors our collective experience of learning to love what feels at times impossible to embrace.”
―Liam Everett, award-winning artist

“Diana Altman’s ‘We Never Told’ is a fascinatingly intimate look into an outwardly glamorous, inwardly fractured family, whose bonds are undermined by decades of secrecy. Ms. Altman’s prose is wise, comforting, absorbing, and generous. “We Never Told” is a deeply interesting, quietly stunning novel.”
―Cintra Wilson author of “Fear and Clothing” and former “New York Times” critical shopper.

But the one review that I could have written was this:

The author enjoying a morning sunrise at
her lake home in Raymond
“Every house has ghosts as long as every family has secrets. This is something Westchester native and author Diana Altman knows well. Her newest novel, “We Never Told”, examines her family’s own truths in a painfully honest way that shows Altman’s ability to craft artful stories in the sweet spot between fantasy and the truth.”
―”The Scarsdale Inquirer”

Was “We Never Told” a work of fantasy or truth? The entire time I read and was captured by the life of Seymour, Violet, Joan and Sonya, I wondered, “is this story based upon the imagination of the author, or…is this a factual story about hidden truths based upon the experience of one’s life.”

Diana Altman is the daughter of a well-known father in the movie industry with ties to famous actors. So is Sonya’s father.

Diana Altman lived in the suburbs of New York City. So does Sonya’s character.

Diana Altman was the first married woman in Massachusetts to keep her maiden name after marriage without going to probate court in order to vote under her maiden name. So does the character of Sonya.

Diana Altman attended Connecticut College and then obtained her master’s degree at Harvard. Ironically, Sonya does too. 
o, which part of the book is fantasy and which part of the book is truth? Did Altman carry a family secret in her own life, like Sonya and her sister Joan? If so, is it possible the truth – the real truth - is now out?

If you want to find out the answers to these questions and more, you will have the opportunity to visit Altman on Thursday, August 22 at Longfellow Books, 1 Monument Square in Portland at 7 p.m. - and ask her yourself.

If you are interested in attending the PROMPT workshop that she will be facilitating, registration is required. “Please check the Raymond Arts Alliance Facebook page to see if we are still accepting registrations,” Mary-Therese Duffy of Raymond Arts Alliance requested. “If there are still available seats, an individual can register by calling 207-712-6200. Please leave your name, number and email address and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Cost to attend the workshop is a suggested donation of $7. Proceeds of this event go toward the Raymond Arts Alliance (RAA), a program of the Raymond Village Library in partnership with the Raymond Village Community Church. The mission of RAA is to inspire connection, collaboration, education, and enjoyment. Its focus is to enrich the community through the arts and present events for all ages. RAA encourages community participation and provides a space where cultural diversity is celebrated.

For more information about Diana Altman:

Friday, August 9, 2019

Retired teacher is on a fast track to publishing

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Sullivan's eyes were closed, feet on the desk and he was grateful for a few quiet moments. Digging his phone out of his shirt pocket he listened to a message that just came through.

‘It's time to put your detecting skills to a real test. You have been involved in solving three serial killing sprees as of late. You will soon see, they are child's play compared to the challenge I am about to pose. Be on guard and watch the family. We shall meet again... soon.’”

Russ Warnberg
And thus, the mystery begins for Detective Cole Sullivan. Mystery/crime writer, Russell Warnberg of Windham, who retired last year after 41 years of teaching history and English in the Gray public-school system with the last nine years at Windham Christian Academy, has dedicated his life this past year to creative pursuits. Penning mysteries and crimes are among those artistic endeavors – and Warnberg has had very productive year.

“I’ve published six books with two on the way,” Warnberg stated. “I have to always be doing something creative and writing is one way I enjoy spending my time.”

Warnberg is originally from Minnesota. At the age of 17, he joined the Navy Reserves and was stationed in Brunswick where he met his wife. After the Navy, Warnberg and his wife moved back to his home state and, while there, he attended the University of Minnesota. “I was never really a great student while in high school, but I was surprise at how well I was performing academically once I was in college,” Warnberg said. “But I was even more shocked to discover that I did really well in an English course. I wondered then if I should become a writer.”

His first attempt at writing, a novella, occurred in 1980. “It was my first time to write a book, but I have to admit it wasn’t very good,” Warnberg said.

Warnberg, who moved to Windham to be near his wife’s family 40 years ago turned to other creative outlets while working full time. He spent his free time painting and designing/building furniture, which he has sold on a number of occasions. But it wasn’t until retirement that he decided to put his author’s hat back on and give publishing a try. Things have been going very well ever since.

His first novel in the Detective Cole Sullivan series was “Edge of Redemption”. His latest book, which is not a part of the Sullivan series is “Mystery on Twin Lakes”, set in his hometown in Minnesota. And speaking of town settings – Warnberg hasn’t forgotten Windham. “My book, ‘Gateway Murder’, is set here in Windham and is based upon an old retired detective who just wants peace and quiet, so he moves to Windham, ME to get that. But no sooner does he get here, someone is murder and he is called to help solve the crime.”

Murder mysteries are not the only books he’s written. Warnberg has also penned a “1984”-esque dystopian novel entitled, “2064”.

For those who wish to publish their writing, Warnberg advises that the only way to really do it, is to sit down every day to write. “If you are passionate about writing, you must do it. Even on the days you don’t feel like it.” He admits that there are times he doesn’t feel “inspired” every moment he sits down to write, but most often, it has been an easy process. He also admitted, that this summer, he has taken a sabbatical from writing to spend some time painting. “But I plan to get back to writing soon. I still have too many novels in me that need to come out.”

If you are interested in reading Warnberg’s novels, they are available on and

The New England Jazz Band: A fundraiser for area art and nature at Hacker’s Hill

By Mary-Therese Duffy

Carrying a mission statement of creating community together through the arts is a tall order.  How do we do that?  How do we foster a sense of warmth and welcome, a chance to get to know and support one another through the arts? How do we foster community ownership of it so that it becomes a sustaining, nourishing and long-lasting presence in our lives?

The New England Jazz Band entertains the crowd at Hacker's Hill
We could start with the beautiful setting of Hacker’s Hill, precious gem of our community, tended lovingly by Don Fowler for well over 20 years now, sculpting it into what it has become today. Or his pleased, watchful eye of the multiple cars, families, pets and roaming youth pausing for an afternoon of leisure and enjoyment together.  Or the Loon Echo Land Trust now formally stewarding it.

We could also start with a 16-piece band that by the work of leader Steve Schann, has dedicated itself to the promotion and preservation of the Great American Song book. Together for five years, this group of professional musicians and music educators toted their instruments once again to the wide-open expanse, blustering winds and all, with music clips, even clothes pins and binder clips in tow, to secure their sheet music to their stands and performed their concert on Hacker’s Hill on Sunday, August 4.

Their offerings weren’t just sheer delight, they were timeless, timely and for many - stopped time altogether - creating a long and lovely pause to greet old friends and catch up, make new ones over shared fare, similar pets, delightful raffle winnings and more. 

Those attending could look right and enjoy the scrabble of kids up and down the hillside or left to find a couple stealing a sweet dance together, all glowing in the warmth that wasn’t just Hacker’s Hill to own. It was community, people clearly happy to see one another again, generous to meet others for the first time, glowing with the familiar soundtrack of who we are that is treasured as our songbook. 
Everyone even enjoyed a boisterous throwdown: “an extra donation to the RAA (Raymond Arts Alliance) if you can do Mac the Knife!” was the challenge when the band had finished their last song.

Ever read a face that said “Pshaw!”? Jeremy Turner, talented singer and sure fire, crowd pleaser, clearly knew a cake walk when he saw it, and offered a rendition that brought everyone to a fun filled and joyous standing ovation.

There’s a lot wrong in the world right now, but what is very right, is community: local, engaged, kind and welcoming community. Some say that’s generosity, but isn’t it also courage? The arts move our hearts, connect us in ways that drop pretense and allow us to transcend differences, meet each other in the warmth of other horizons, beyond the fences we keep. This not only happened again this year, it deepened; and the requests for next year are already coming.

The Raymond Arts Allaince cannot thank enough the members of the New England Jazz Band, the Loon Echo Land Trust, the many Raymond merchants who donated raffle prizes, (see the Raymond Arts Alliance July newsletter at the Raymond Village Library website for a full listing) and every individual that arrived and engaged, sustaining a kind and welcoming community, beyond the fence.

Miss Southern Maine Princess uses platform to promote anti-bullying campaign locally

By Craig Bailey

When Miss Southern Maine Princess, Adelynn Elwell, was asked for the key message she would like to share with others, her immediate response was, “I want to create a respectful environment in schools.” Her message echoes that of The Crown CARES program.

The Crown CARES (Creating a Respectful Environment in Schools) program is specifically designed
Adelynn Ewell 
for pageant systems to promote awareness internationally, on the number one problem facing youth and children in school and today's society: bullying and harassment.

When Elwell was asked how she became involved in the pageant system she indicated “I got started when I was three-years old. My mother got me into this. She too was in a pageant and won Mrs. Raymond, in 2015.”

Elwell’s win in February, as Miss Southern Maine Princess (age group, seven to nine years old), is a big step on her way to the USA nationals, to compete for Miss USA Princess. This recent accomplishment also qualifies her for a Presidential volunteer award! The next competition is for Miss Maine Princess, taking place on August 18th, in Biddeford.

As part of The Crown CARES Program, each titleholder spends their year visiting schools and promoting awareness, reading to children and helping them to understand how to stand up to bullying.

Elwell comments, “As a pageant winner, I’ve had the opportunity to read the book “Sticks, Stones and Stumped” (authored by Deb Landry) to preschool and kindergarten classes and make friendship bracelets. I’ve also joined a couple of parades and we held a ‘Unite against bullying’ dance party to get the message out.”

During the upcoming competition, contestants will participate in several activities including an interview with four judges. In preparation, Elwell shared her response to some of the potential questions she may be asked, such as: What is your favorite class? Elwell prefers art and music as she really likes being creative. To another question, what is your favorite color, Elwell responded “Pink and purple as they are bright colors and I’m pretty bright.”

When asked, what may be the most important pageant-related question, why should you become Miss Maine Princess, Elwell quickly responded, “Because people should really stop bullying. I have a big voice. A lot of people look up to me, want to be my friend and listen to me.”

Her Mom, beaming, indicated, “She is the perfect girl to embrace this as she is a best friend to everyone. The program creates a good, respectful environment that children will remember.”
In addition to the interview, contestants will participate in an opening number with all contestants working together as well as typical pageant competitions such as runway fashion, fitness, talent and others.

Elwell’s Mom reinforced, “The Crown CARES program was created as a way to empower girls to use their title and influence to promote anti-bullying. Since every voice counts, it is great to get them involved at an early age.”

A related contest Elwell is competing in, the People’s Choice for Miss Pine Tree State, based on online voting, closes on August 16. Visit to vote for Adelynn. Each dollar donated counts as a vote and the money raised goes towards the anti-bullying platform.

In closing, Elwell offers the following advice for anyone observing bullying, “Simply say, ‘Please stop, you are going to hurt someone’s feelings. Just be nice.”
If you’d like to join the fight against bullying, visit

Friday, August 2, 2019

Five moments when you should check your insurance

Thanks to the life insurance Maria Loera’s husband Roberto bought, she was able to pay for funeral costs, medical bills and day-to-day expenses after his passing. It even helped her set up college savings accounts for their children. "Roberto’s life insurance was such a blessing," said Maria. "It’s something every family should have."

Insurance protects you, your family, and your home from the unexpected, but it can only do its job if the coverage is up to date. Review your insurance annually or during key life changes such as these:

Your family status changes. 
Your family status changes. If you're marrying, expecting a baby, or adopting a child, you'll want to protect your growing family with adequate life insurance and disability income insurance.  25% of Americans wish that their spouse or partner had more life insurance. 

Approaching retirement or losing a family member through death or divorce should also prompt a policy review. Remember to change the beneficiary designations on your existing policies as needed.

Your children grow up.
When you have a new teen driver, adequate auto insurance is a must. Adding a teen driver may initially increase your premiums; however, costs may gradually drop as they gain more experience behind the wheel. Your auto insurance agent can share more and tell you about discounts that may be available. If your student is leaving for college or has recently graduated, it's a good time to consider personal property, liability, and renter’s insurance for the new living arrangements.

You're moving or remodeling. 
Whenever your address changes, review your homeowner’s insurance to make sure the new property is adequately protected. It's also a good time to update your home inventory - whether you're adding items such as new furniture or scaling back for a move to a smaller home. Also, be sure to update your coverage if you renovate or make any additions to your current home.

You're starting a business.
Whether you're going to rent office space or open a home-based business, include a thorough insurance review in your start-up plans. Depending on the size of your operation, you may have to consider property and liability, commercial vehicle, and workers' compensation coverage, as well as a health care plan for employees. If you're a sole proprietor working from home, be sure to review your homeowners plan to see that your business and equipment are fully covered.  Many homeowners policies specifically exclude all business operations on premises.

You need health insurance options,
In today's rapidly changing health care environment, protecting your family's health can be a challenge. If your current plan is up for renewal or if you've been downsized and need brand-new coverage, take the time to compare plan features against your family's current or anticipated needs.

This article brought to you by Tricia Zwirner of State Farm.

Windham delegation recognizes Executive Director of Riding To The Top

Windham Delegation members, Senator Bill Diamond, and Representatives Mark Bryant and Patrick Corey, recognized Sarah Bronson, Executive Director of Riding to The Top (“RTT”) with a State proclamation at RTT’s Board of Directors meeting in July. Representative Mark Bryant read the proclamation which states:     
“Be it known to all that We, the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives join in th Legislature and the people of the State of Maine”
Rep. Patrick Corey, Sen. Bill Diamond, Sarah Bronson,
 Rep. Mark Bryant
recognizing Sarah Bronson, of Windham, Executive Director of Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center, who has received the 2019 Region1 PATH International Credentialed Professional of the Year Award for making the center a leader in providing equine-assisted activities and therapies to individuals with a wide range of physical, mental and behavioral challenges. We extend our congratulations and best wishes; And be it ordered that this official expression of sentiment be sent forthwith on behalf of the 129

The delegation thanked Sarah for all that she has done and continues to do and noted, “ We are very proud of Sarah and what she represents. We realize that her main goal is not to seek recognition for herself but to shine a light on Riding To The Top, equine assisted activities and therapies and the health and wellness of people in our community.” Gary Plummer, former State Representative and State Senator, and a current RTT Board member noted that this was a very rare and special recognition – and well deserved, “The first time I met Sarah it was very obvious to me that she was a “go-getter” and a very special person.”

In April, Sarah Bronson was awarded the 2019 Region 1 PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional of the Year, which automatically enters her to be considered for PATH Intl.’s larger international award where all regional and international winners compete. The winner will be announced at PATH Intl.’s Annual Conference in Denver, CO this November.

About Riding to the Top
Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) was founded in 1993.  Our mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies. Located just west of Portland in Windham, Maine, RTT is the state’s only year round PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. More than 250 clients visit annually, assisted by certified instructors, a herd of 19 horses and over 160 volunteers, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, equine assisted learning, carriage driving and hippotherapy. Riding To The Top is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60% of its clients.  For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at or call 892-2813.