In Another's Words

"The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, this you will become." James Allen

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maine Blackfly Breeders Association

Blackfly Conventioneers Beset Machias

Upwards of seventy “breeders” and “donors” from Augusta, ME, to New Brunswick, Canada, gathered at AJ’s Bar & Grill in Machias on Thursday, February 31st, for breakfast and The International Convention of the Maine Black Fly Breeders Association.  Each attendee was given a bumper sticker sporting the MBBA slogan, “We Breed ‘em, You Feed ‘em” and a name tag saying “My name is......Bite Me!” 

After the official welcome by Jim Wells and the introduction of the Board of Directors, Whiting resident and breeder, Don Green, gave his concession speech.  Mr. Green was an unofficial candidate for President of the United States in 2004, running on the Black Fly Party ticket.  The BFP is the only political party with both a left and a right wing.  During his remarks, he was subjected to wave after wave of applause for his gallant effort on behalf of black fly interests. 

The board of directors: From left are Holly Garner-Jackson of Whiting, Marilyn Dowling of Jonesboro, Laurel Robinson of Machias and Jim Wells of Machiasport.

The MBBA’s mission “to improve the quality of life through the use of humor...” was well met by this year’s Pro-Black Fly Limerick-writing Contestants.  Joel Pratt of Roque Bluffs was on a roll, literally, with limericks by the yard.  The final winner was Jerry Metz of Addison and with his permission, I give you these examples of his extraordinary work:-) 

A geneticist down in Port Jervis
Hatched a black fly that’s making me nervous.
It flexes its muscles
And sucks red corpuscles
For the Internal Revenue Service.

and this

Some breeders from Englishman Bay
Bred a black fly with new DNA:
It’ll work day and night!
You can die from one bite,
But it only likes folks From Away!

Jerry Metz

That second one isn’t likely to be used by the DownEast and Acadia Regional Tourism Council any time soon, but it earned a “wicked funny” rating on the Applause-o-Meter from this group of cabin-fevered Maniacs and Acadians.
Lee Waldron from New Brunswick received “Breeder of the Year” honors and first Place in the Exhibit Area went to Rodney Schwarzenflugel (a.k.a. George Schwenk) for his artistic presentation “The Black Fly in History in Seven Volumes.”   Second place went to Robert G. Costa for his entry, “The Black Fly Artificial Insemination Laboratory.”   

The second part of the MBBA mission is to contribute to local charities and they achieve this by donating profits from the sale of designer black fly houses, trailers, swarm domes and “Born to Swarm” tee shirts.  The newest product, the fly-sized Black Fly Salon, is now available.  It is a full-service salon where a fly can get its drill sharpened and its wings shined.  After the convention, the inventory returned with Holly Garner-Jackson to association headquarters, The Woodwind Custom Framers and Gallery on Route 1 in Machias, where these items and other theme merchandise is available to anyone with a sense of humor and an interest in supporting a good cause.  A true affection for black flies is optional. 

This article appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press, week of March 8-14, 2005. The MBBA website is still up as of Jan. 2014, but is seriously out of date.

Ref. Maine, At Last - Out and About, Vol. III, Page 90

Educational History Reaction Paper

Found this little gem of an essay in the back of a drawer this morning. It was written for Freshman Seminar at Sussex County Community College, Newton, New Jersey, USA, in 2000 and I still like it. The only thing I modified before posting is my age. ;-)



an essay
Burndett Andres

Memories of my formal education experience are greatly obscured by the veils of   time since I celebrate my 50th high school class reunion in two years.  As I ruminate on this theme and clear away the clouds and cobwebs, I find I must actually go back further than the first grade to find my earliest significant educational experiences.
            I remember my mother reading aloud to us.  We, my three brothers and I, would gather round her in bed and she would read either from the Bible, Christian stories for children containing little morals or adult Christian literature.  Once, over a period of several months, she read the entire Pilgrim’s Progress by Paul Bunyon.  We loved it.
            My parents, bless their hearts, were fundamentalist Christians.  This meant a lot of church going, Bible reading and extemporaneous prayer composition and oral presentation and public “giving of testimony.”  As we grew older our family worship was handled in a very democratic way.  Since there were six of us and six days in the week in which our spiritual well-being was not overseen by experts, we were each given a day to lead “family alter.”  This exercise consisted of gathering the family together in the “front room” and reading aloud some passage of scripture from the King James Bible (the only translation of the Holy Scriptures that was to be trusted).  Then the leader of the day was expected to reflect on the wisdom contained in the Word to demonstrate his/her understanding of it and finally offer a prayer aloud.  After that prayer was made we went around the circle and each person, family member or visitor, offered a prayer.
            My memories of family alter have grown fonder with the passage of time.  As a young girl I participated enthusiastically.  As a teenager I felt family alter was a real pain at best and a complete mortification if a friend was present.  Now, from the elevated perspective of 66 years of age, I see the immense value I derived from the church/Sunday-school/youth group/family worship forum.  The music of the scriptures and the sheer challenge of reading and comprehending St. James English helped me develop a love of reading and excellent comprehension skills, which have served me well all my life.   The opportunity to develop public speaking skills in a loving, non-judgmental environment was also a great blessing.  I have never experienced any nervousness when speaking before a group.
            During the summer vacation months my mother would walk with us every two weeks from our farm in Lafayette, NJ, to the Sussex County Library in Frankford, about four miles one way.  There we were allowed to choose as many books as we were willing to carry home.  From these experiences I became excited about books and the world of information they contain.  I’m still in love with books, perhaps to a fault.   Our personal library of several thousand volumes is grossly disproportionate to our income.
            I grew up in genteel poverty.  I think I was at least ten years old or so before I realized we were ‘poor.’  Although my parents didn’t get along well, I always felt loved and appreciated, special even.  That environment gave me strong feelings of self-worth.  I have never equated my essential value, or that of anyone else, with achievement or ‘success.’  We were poor only in money.  This most basic and important aspect of my education came from my parents and the community of “holy rollers” in which I was fortunate enough to foment.  Learning to love myself and all others is without doubt the best lesson I have ever learned.
            While the intent of my parents’ activities was to instill in us a love of their God, by default they instilled the love of learning and with it the necessary reading and communication skills to make learning a pleasure.  Pleasure is what I most associate with my formal educational experience.  I had a great time in and out of the classroom.  Making the transition from a small rural school to a regional high school is the only formal education related experience that I can remember ever giving me pause.  I spent the first few months of my high school career getting used to the much bigger pond.  After that, high school was one big daily social event with just enough formal instruction thrown in to justify it to the taxpayers.
            Although many seeds were planted in school, by far the greater part of the knowledge I now possess as a woman of mature years has come from experience and independent study.  And that is as it should be at this point.  Thankfully I did not stop learning at graduation.  In fact, I feel that I can say with confidence that I learn something of importance almost every day.  These ‘things’ I learn are not facts and figures, but rather little observations about how to be a better person myself or maybe how to help someone else learn to be a little bit better, too.
            My goal, I discover, is not to become erudite, but rather to grow in wisdom.  It is in the examination of my life, the lives of others and in pondering the great unanswerable philosophical questions that I get my greatest mental stimulation and pleasure.
            My educational history is like a tree.  The seed was planted by my parents: basic values, self-acceptance, and respect for others.  The root system developed in and out of school: love of learning, love of reading, self-confidence and freedom of expression.  The trunk of the tree grew straight and strong throughout my school years and a few tender branches budded: people skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and new interests from exposure to new ideas and experiences. Over the years these branches have thickened and many small branches have grown from them and leafed out:  business skills, professional skills, skills and knowledge learned from hobbies, life experience and independent study.  Now the tree has matured and is, I like to think, at least somewhat balanced.  Spiritual growth is the sap that enlivens the tree. 
            Life goes on; we live and, hopefully, continue learning. Should we live long enough perhaps we’ll begin to see some small fruits of wisdom?  


Monday, January 20, 2014

Epping Baseline - Seniors Visit Great Heath

Epping Baseline Road and Tour of the Heath
with Nancy Willey and Sunrise Senior College
September, 2004                    

One of the many benefits enjoyed by members of Sunrise Senior College this summer was the opportunity to join Nancy Willey from Cherryfield, The Baseline Lady, this past Wednesday on a trip to the Great Heath and a hike along the Epping Baseline Road from Columbia to Deblois.  This particular “summer short” is one of a dozen popular summer specials offered to members free of charge.  Twenty-five of the college’s one hundred and sixty members make up the rapt audience who met at Addison Town Hall for the hour-long lecture that precedes the journey. 

Nancy Willey, a retired Washington County social studies, history and geography teacher, comes from a family of teachers; her grandmother, mother, father and two brothers were in education and although Willey is retired - officially – after teaching for 35 years 8 months and 2 days, she still substitutes frequently in area schools.  She’s teaching the third generation of some families and takes great delight in tattling on previous generations.  It’s easy to see why she is a great teacher; she loves it.  And students, young and old, love her.  Her enthusiasm for her hobby, The Epping Baseline, is contagious and a liberal sprinkling of anecdotes enlivens the course.   

Based at University of Maine at Machias for the past two years, Sunrise Senior College is a volunteer community group open to all persons 50 years of age and older and their spouses of any age.  In deference to the average age of the group, older by far than the groups of school children Willey normally squires, she apologizes repeatedly for treating them like children or talking down to them.  Far from being insulted, the seniors seem to relish her technique and ripples of laughter follow every apology...and many of her other remarks as well.  Humor is a big part of her winning style.

Willey begins by explaining how she became interested in the Epping Baseline in 1978 and gives a brief overview of its history and the enormously important role it played in the geodetic survey of the entire eastern coastline of the United States in the mid-1800s.  Although the uninitiated (even Nancy) may not understand the mathematics and the triangulation formulas involved in surveying, the importance to an emerging nation, a new world power, of accurate land measurements and navigational charts is obvious to all.  Equally obvious, is the enormity of the task.  By the time Willey is done with the history lesson, the group is in awe of Hassler’s and Bache’s accomplishments and anxious to see the real thing.  But first, a geology lesson - so we can appreciate the terrain through which we’ll be passing. 

Finally it is time to board the big yellow school bus provided by SAD 37 who also furnished a most appropriate bus driver, Preston Smith of South Addison.  Smith has been driving school buses for forty-seven years and knows the ways of bus riders.  He tells the group he would have known how old they were without even seeing them - because...”the younger the group, the farther toward the back of the bus they sit.”  This group is clustered closely at the front of the bus to insure that no one misses a single word of wisdom from their leader.  They may sport more ear trumpets than earphones, compare the latest in walking sticks rather than the newest video games and chatter about their grandchildren instead of their grandparents, but they want to be here.  Age provides another dimension to the dynamic that a younger group would lack – the sharing of details gained from decades of learning and observing.  Anything that Nancy doesn’t know, Preston or someone else can contribute and a wonderfully rich, multi-layered experience is the result.  Even all the side-conversations are fascinating. 

The first stop on the tour is atop the ridge that runs from Cutler to Ellsworth.  Here in Centerville, the ocean is just a smudge on the horizon to the south in Milbridge, but it once covered the blueberry barrens right up to this ridge.   We stop to see kames, kettle holes, natural bridges, boulder fields and the Great Heath, the largest in New England.  Here everyone gets off the bus for a stretch of the legs and a view of the “...purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.”  Tunk Mountain, Brown, Black, Catherine and the mountains of Mt. Desert Island really do look purple off to the west.  The glacier, we are told, took all our topsoil and deposited it in New Jersey; that’s why it’s called the Garden State.  Fortunately for us, the wild blueberry loves sandy soil and since the harvest is over, we eat as many blueberries as we are willing to glean.  

The Epping Baseline Road begins in Columbia and runs straight across the Epping Plain.  The monument on the eastern end has fallen to vandalism and this spot is marked with a concrete slab and several obscure roadside blocks.  Everyone files out to have a look and take pictures...and begin the 5.4-mile walk.  It’s a perfect day for it.  The road stretches straight ahead to the horizon.  We soon pass a lone pine called the “mower’s tree.”  Such trees were left in the middle of each field to provide a shady spot for the mower to eat lunch.  That was back in the days when hay was grown on these plains to feed the horses and oxen used in the lumber camps.  The bus creeps along behind the group of hikers, carrying the less able or the disinclined.  In no time at all we’re stopping for lunch at Frog Rock, one of the larger erratics on the plain.  I sit on the bus and talk to Preston.  He tells me he has climbed Katahdin thirty-five times.

Refreshed, the intrepid gather themselves up and resume the hike.  After walking off their lunch, they all climb aboard and we ride until woods obscure the road.  The vegetation has grown up in wet spots and we detour away from the federal road onto the blueberry company road for a short way.  Finally, we again disembark and follow Nancy into the woods.  The road here is entirely obscured by trees and brush.  It’s easy to see the old road if you know it’s there, but most people who drive by don’t know what they’re looking at.  This very obscurity has been the salvation of the monument on the western end of the baseline.  Since it’s lost for all intents and purposes, it has survived and what a feeling of excitement we have coming upon it, standing there in the clearing since 1857.  We know we are in the very same spot as Ben Franklin’s great-grandson, Alexander D. Bache, and the team of men and women who cleared the land, built the road, measured the baseline and mapped the coast.

On the way back to Addison, we pass my house in Cherryfield.  I ask everyone to put down their windows and scream “Hello Ralphie” as we go by.  They do.  Although we are only young once, we can be immature forever.  And every day can be a good day for having fun with Sunrise Senior College. 

For information about SSC and the course offerings in the fall session, call 255-1384, or see the website at   

Note: This article appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press of September 21-27, 2004
Ref: Maine, At Last - Out and About Vol. III, Page 90

Maine Central Model Railroad, Jonesport, Maine

If you have model trains, it seems you’ll never be lonely.  At least that has been the experience of Harold (Buz) and Helen Beal of Jonesport.  Since they began The Maine Central Model Railroad in 1993, visitors have come from every state in the nation except Arkansas and from dozens of foreign countries from Canada to China.  “When it comes to trains,” says Buz, “they’ll find you.”

And what you’ll find in the 900 square foot converted and enlarged storage shed in Buz and Helen’s front yard will amaze and delight you.  The entire space is filled with HO gauge layout (1/87 scale), leaving just a narrow path for the operator or viewer to follow the train as it makes its nine-minute run throughout Central Maine.  The journey begins at a faithful reproduction of Union Station in Bangor and soon passes Stephen and Tabitha King’s house, modeled from a picture the authors made available.  Locals will recognize many Jonesport landmarks such as the Jonesport Post Office, the Harbor House Bed and Breakfast and the Mansfield House.  The old Machias Railroad Station and the Cape Split Wharf are easily identifiable. 

Even if you know nothing of the region, you’ll recognize the highly detailed handmade scenery as a work of art that surrounds and enhances the entire exhibit.  There is painted sky and realistic six-foot-high mountains.  Some 4000 trees dot the landscape.  The trees are made from natural materials; Sea Heather is used for hardwoods and Northern White Bedstraw, picked in September, stands in for evergreens.  After she gathers and dries the twigs and sprigs, Helen preserves them with a glue and water mixture and covers them with Woodland Scenic Blended Turf.  There are many details and humorous surprises to discover as you make your way around.  Look closely and you’ll see over four hundred tiny animals and people climbing the trails, fishing, boating, working or just sitting or standing around watching the trains go by.  Plan to spend some time or visit often if you expect to see all the details. 

One outstanding feature is the working roundhouse and turntable that is used to put the twenty diesel engines on different tracks.  The model is operated in much the same manner as prototype railroads.  There are three divisions in each operating session, and each division runs six trains in a 24-hour period in the life of the railroad.  Each train has an assigned number of cars that it switches within its allotted time.  There are over 400 freight cars and 200 track switches in the layout, as well as eleven bridges and trestles that span large ravines and water.  Buz has “lost track” of the number of feet of track laid.  Last best estimate was 3000 feet.  The wire used to tie everything together and light all the homes, churches, factories and offices for night viewing, measures in miles now.  It wasn’t always so.

Buz loved train sets all his life.  In 1988 he decided to get back to his old hobby, but in a bigger and better way.  He converted a small outside storage building for his first layout.  That layout and the next three patterns didn’t flow.  Fifth time’s a charm for Beal.  After careful planning, the current design was begun in 1993 and is still evolving.  Relatives and friends became part of the growing project and it became necessary to extend the building to accommodate the larger dimensions of the new layout. 

“Railroad expansion is an almost unending project,” their brochure states.  “There are forever more cars to buy, more figures to place, more buildings and bridges to construct, more trees and grass to spruce things up.  Young and old are welcome to come visit and enjoy the Maine Central Model Railroad.  No need to call, just drop in.  There is no admission fee, but donations to continue the project are always appreciated.”

It is located four miles east of Jonesport town center on Route 187 near Sandy River Beach, or from Route 1 on the Jonesboro end, take 187, the Bay Road, south about seven miles along Chandler Bay and look for the Railroad Crossing Sign at the end of the driveway on the right.      

All aboard! 

Note: This article appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press of September 14-20, 2004 as "Devotees Make Tracks to See Model Railroad."
Ref. Maine, At Last - Out and About Vol. III, Page 82