Belmont

Town Office hours are Monday, 1-6 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.; and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The board of selectmen meets Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m.

The Town Office phone number is 342-5722 and the fax number is 342-2252. Code enforcement hours are 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays. The phone number is 342-3179. Availability is by appointment most of the time.

The Planning Board meets Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

The Belmont Republican caucus will be Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the community room of the Town Office.

The Belmont fire department still has smoke detectors available for Belmont residents who need one. Call Maxine Harford at 342-5192 for information.

The U.S. Census for 2010 has already started in the state of Alaska. In the remote villages, it is being done by dogsled, the only means of transportation to be able to reach many of these locations reliably in the winter. Be aware that the census may be another tool that is used as a scam. The U.S. Census will not contact you by e-mail. Report any such message to local law enforcement.

You are required to give only the most basic information; i.e., the number of people living in your home. Ask for identification. You will not be asked for personal and/or financial information such as Social Security numbers, etc.

The Belmont Town Office will be closed Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of the President’s Day holiday.

I recorded another 3.5 inches of flurries, fluff that didn’t require shoveling or roof raking — the good kind of snow. Meanwhile, primarily south of the Mason-Dixon Line, they are getting plastered again, and many areas in the Mid-Atlantic states will have much more snow on the ground than we do, or that is available for the Olympics on some of the slopes close to Vancouver, British Columbia. They are having to truck snow in for some of the events!

January produced 31.875 inches of snow, 1.5 inches more than 2009, with 1.65 inches of rain, and combined rain and melted precipitation of 4.8375 inches, another in our long series of primarily wet months. A high of 45 degrees was recorded on Jan. 25, after a low of -12 on Jan. 23. Ten days reached 0 degrees or below, compared to 14 days in 2009. In 2009, five days dropped to -20 or below, with none in 2010. 2010 averaged some 5 to 5.5 degrees above the normal in Bangor, compared to 2009, which was the fifth-coldest winter on record. We are just a tad behind the 106-inch snowfall pace of the 2009 season.

As many of you who read this column from week to week know, it has been filled with weather, wildlife and historic information to keep the column interesting and attract readers, because Belmont tends to be a very quiet, private community without, for the most part, those assets that create news; a large church, library or school.

I have studied meteorology and for the past 53 years, dating to March 1957, kept track mentally of our winter weather in New England, its fluctuations and vagaries. Don Kent and Bruce Schwoegler could be considered to be my mentors. Don Kent, through many of his years at WBZ radio and Channel 4 in Boston was the best, and was responsible for creating the radio and TV broadcast meteorology and forecasting as we know it today.

The information I provide is backed by specific events and can be corroborated by U.S. Geological Survey records from Bangor, Portland, Caribou or Gray, and includes both the heat and cold. In the newspaper and on radio/TV news programs and in magazines we hear first of global warming, and then of global cooling. Who is right, and/or is there some of both? I can just about guarantee that the excellent record keeping of the U.S. Weather Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey are used very little, if at all.

I was dismayed to read an article on page B6 of the Feb. 3 Journal entitled “Oddball weather is a ‘wake-up call’.” We have not been experiencing anything that I have not seen in the past 53 years. Yes, there is global warming and there is also cooling of the atmosphere and climate. Most of our weather is controlled by the jet streams that flow around the Earth at elevation and which change course on a daily basis.

The jet streams are not controlled by global warming, nor are the Pacific Currents that cause either the El Nino or El Nina effects. The jet streams do, however, interact with arctic cold or warm ocean currents to create extremes of weather; heat in one location while it is cold somewhere else.

The winter of 2010 is no different. Pacific currents are helping to influence West Coast weather. The jet stream dipped south, and our neighbors who are snowbirds froze in the Southland. Enough warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, at high elevation, can give us rain or ice when it is below freezing. Forty-degree water in the Gulf of Maine becomes a coastal front that gives some of us rain, while it snows elsewhere. When the jet stream is the boundary between extremes of heat and cold, there are huge storms and often tornadoes.

Most weather is cyclical and comes in periods of heat, cold, drought and wet weather, often for years at a time. Locally, the late 1900s and 2000s were dry. The Ducktrap River was low right through October for several years and the salmon run couldn’t materialize for spawning. Two years with no redds (nests) at that time resulted in no redds in 2006 and ’07, the end of a five-year cycle, despite plentiful rain. We are now in a wet pattern that is in its seventh year, starting in the autumn of 2003. There are periods of low snow, then we get buried for several years as we are now. Since the winter of 1992 or 1993, snowfall records have been established all over Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, and at the same time there have been open or barren snow seasons mixed in. Even Boston has broken the century mark with 106 inches or so.

We are fortunate that most winters are half and half, so to speak. If you remember November and December of 1989, I cannot imagine the cold we might have had from January through February of 1990, the jet stream changed mid-season and saved us from what could have been a record cold winter and it turned out warmer than normal in the end.

To be continued another week.

**************

Freedom

Meetings

The selectors meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Town Office.

The Historical Society will meet Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the fire house.

All meetings are open to the public.

The Town Office will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15 for the President’s Day holiday. It will reopen Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The yearly town meeting will be held Saturday, March 13 and the election will be held Friday, March 12.

Absentee ballots will be available to be picked up at the Town Office starting Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Happy birthday

Special birthday wishes to Lynn Hadyniak and Clint Spaulding, who will celebrate their special day Sunday, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Many more happy and healthy days are wished for you both and may all your wishes and dreams come true.

Hockey and basketball

On Feb. 6 the Ice Cats played two games in Augusta, first against Marranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop and then a second game against Cony. Both games were at the Kennebec Ice Arena.

After those games we went to Cony High School to watch the Mount View Mustangs’ basketball game against Camden.

**************

Jackson

What a nice few days since our last snowstorm gave us five days off. It was so pretty Thursday morning; the snow was so sparkly when I went out to start the bus. The fields were so white and smooth, except for a deer trail now and then. They all seem to use the same trail, as it must be hard on their legs.

Sorry to see another correspondent is done, Liberty’s Cindy Canavan. I know how she feels, deadlines are hard to keep if you’re working. Plus, I don’t have a computer (as a lot don’t), and those who do get the news online. Have heard several (many) say that they don’t buy the paper anymore because they can look it up on the computer. I have had many say, “I enjoy your column with a cup of coffee.”

Congratulations to Amanda Larrabee for being student of the month for grade 10. Nice going.

Back to the snowstorm; Marshall, Brian and Marcus did a great job on our roads. Been down Route 7 lately? If you don’t have to, don’t. I can’t imagine how it will be later on.

Gotta fill my bird feeder. I have to open a window to fill it, so I haven’t been, but now it’s warmer. I had a pretty woodpecker out there, but now a pretty (nasty) blue jay has come, so no more woodpecker.

Winter sports are coming to an end. It’s a busy time; for instance, today, Sunday, are the BUM league ballgames, and Chris is at Mount View. Monday, LeeAnn has soccer at the YMCA and Tuesday she has a ball game (home), and Chris has practice in Brooks. Wednesday LeeAnn has soccer in Belfast, Thursday, travel team practice for Chris and Friday, LeeAnn has a ball game. Saturday, Chris has a travel team game; then Sunday, here we are, off to another BUM League game for Chris. So much for a sit-down supper together.

We went to Camden for a ball game, and it is so pretty down there. A lot of folks still have their decorations out, especially in the windows. It is so pretty.

Well, it’s now our second snow day; we probably could have gone, but I feel a day next June is better than having chanced it yesterday. With all that wind, our power went off a couple times. And the rain? Oh, gosh — some roads look like it’s spring.

**************

Knox

Sympathy

Sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Francis Wren Sr. of Thorndike who passed away Feb. 2. He was the great-grandfather of Zachary and Jacie Nickerson of Troy.

Sympathy is also extended to the family and friends of Patricia (Grass) McDonald of Oakland who died Feb. 2 at the Edwinola Hospice House in Dade City, Fla. She was the widow of Merle McDonald, who died in 2003.

I would like to extend sympathy to the family anf friends of Muriel Richardson of Belmont, as she passed away Feb. 2. Jeff, Deanna and the girls, and Jack you are in my thoughts and prayers during this time. Muriel was frequently seen helping her son, Jeff, at Ridgetop Diner.

Greetings

Hello to Aunt Elsie Harris, son Art and Donna in Norwood, Mass. She faithfully reads the Journal — so I have to keep writing up a column each week.

There hasn’t been much news to report.

Census taker

For a census taker job, testing will be done Monday, Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. at the Knox Town Office. The pay is good.

Waldo Pomona Grange

Waldo Pomona Grange met Feb. 2 at Dirigo Grange in Freedom. There were around 25 people attending. The guest speaker was Commissioner of Agriculture Seth Bradstreet.

Planning Board opening

There are still openings on the Planning Board. Come to the town office for info or call 568-3907.

Town meeting

The Knox town meeting will be held Saturday, March 20. The voting for first selectman is Friday, March 19 at the Town Office.

Diner closed

Ridgetop Diner is closed until Friday, Feb. 26. The folks are on winter vacation. Have fun!

Patsy Cline

Marsh River Theater in Brooks will have a re-run of the show “Always … Patsy Cline” in the upcoming months. Watch for it.

Sick

Gabe Doughty has been sick and home from school, as well as little David Doughty, both with bad colds! Get better, fellers!

Get-well wishes go out to Alice Orff of Montville as well, hope you’re feeling better soon.

Weather

The cold weather and wind have hit us and it’s sure winter. We were getting spoiled with warmer weather for this time of year. Think spring. Since that ole groundhog saw his shadow, more winter weather is coming our way they say, but I don’t think I’ll bet my life on the little critter for now.

Belated birthday

Happy belated birthday to Gloria Pacheco of Freedom on Feb. 4. May you have many more.

Birds

I’ve been feeding the birds and have lots of blue jays and mourning doves and not many others. I’ve only seen a few chickadees and one sparrow; where are they? Maybe the one squirrel has chased them off?

Fourth District

The Fourth District Ladies American Legion Auxiliary will meet Sunday, March 7 at Augusta Post 2. The meeting starts at 2 p.m. and refreshments after. Bring something for the silent auction.

Runner sled races

The Fourth Annual New England Runner Sled Championship Races will be Feb. 20-27 at Hogback Mountain in Montville. There will be two different adult races. Feb. 20 is the first race, it will be timed trials with check-in at 8:30 a.m. on Hogback Mountain. This will be for half a day. The top 16 racers will be chosen. They will race Feb. 27 at 1 p.m, head-to-head for a winner. The second adult race will be “Fastest Sled Down Over The Hill” from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The top cash prize is $400, plus other prizes for other places.

The kids’ race will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 27. Again, there will be two different classes. There will also be timed trials for the kids. A new runner sled will be the prize for each class.

There will be free hot dogs and hot chocolate for the kids all day long Feb. 27. That day, there will also be Open Trail from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Feb. 20-27 will be sled week, anyone can just slide during the week. There will be a shanty town where you can bring your ice shack Feb. 21. Please call 342-5906 for more information, also check out runnersledding.com.

There is a brand new 100-car parking lot at the bottom of the trail. There is also a parking lot in the field at Bragdon Farm where there will be a four-wheel-drive shuttle running all morning Feb. 27 to get you up the hill. Adult donation $10 at the gate, come and have fun watching the race or join in. See you there.

**************

Lincolnville

Municipal meetings
All meetings are held at Lincolnville Central School unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, Feb. 17 the conservation commission meets at the L.I.A. building, 33 Beach Road, at 5 p.m. Also Wednesday the comprehensive plan review committee meets at 6:30 p.m.

Town Office
The office will be closed Monday, Feb. 15 for Presidents Day.

Job Opportunity

The town is looking for an individual to serve as recording secretary for the Planning Board and occasionally other boards. This is a paid position. Get an application at either the Town Office or at town.lincolnville.me.us.

School
LCS students in grades 3-8, along with students in other Maine schools, took the New England Common Assessment Program  test for reading and math in October. The results show that LCS scored above average in both categories, a great result. See the specific scores for each grade on the Home/School Lynx newsletter, always available on the school’s Web site, lcs.lincolnville.k12.me.us/

Remember to call Marie at 763-3366, to preregister your child for kindergarten; children must be turning five on or before Oct. 15.

Friday, Feb. 12 K-8 students will travel to Strom Auditorium to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats perform.

Next week, Feb. 15-19, is winter vacation. Motorists, watch out for kids who will be out and about. Check out the Lynx newsletter (see above) for programs available for kids next week.

And seniors, remember that Thursdays you’re welcome to come for lunch at LCS. Just call the office the day before to say you’re coming.

Lincolnville Winter Carnival

The inaugural Lincolnville Winter Carnival will be held Saturday, Feb. 20 at Breezemere Park/Norton Pond. There will be ice- fishing demos, a dog-sledding demo, an ice-boating demo, snowmen/women building, ice skating/hockey as ice conditions permit, and food concessions. Come on out and enjoy the Maine winter. More information to follow.

Volleyball, anyone?
Anyone in high school or older who enjoys playing volleyball is invited to open gym at the Lincolnville Central School Sunday evenings, 6-8 p.m., to play a non-competitive and fun game of volleyball. No experience needed and nobody’s too old to play! Call Marie Pierce or Torrie Sprague at 763-3366 for more information.

Around town
A good friend who lives on the shore in Camden wrote the other day: “Good January winter morning: Today I’ll be able to see just where the sun rises. It’s moved past the rocks, the southest it gets, and is already north of Saddle Island.” My friend watches each year as the sunrise moves behind the rocks out to sea, always noting the last day of the year when she can see the sun emerge from the sea; its return reminds her that spring is on its way. Observations like that are how people first figured out the movement of the earth and the sun.

Corelyn Senn lost an earring in the woods earlier this winter. She wrote recently: “I went up in the woods and found the deer had eaten all the way down to leaves and ice. And there, on the leaves and ice, was my earring. Nice of the deer not to eat it.” Now what would the deer want with just one earring?

Speaking of lost things, Corelyn’s been hunting for the mate to the large antler she found, shed in her woods last month. Lo and behold, she found it this past weekend, sticking out of the snow and unmistakeably from the same deer. She always takes our dog, Sammy, along on her woods walks, but she says he’s no good at finding antlers. Bones, yes, but not antlers. They must not smell as yummy as bones.

Peg Miller’s been getting calls from concerned friends and neighbors who heard that she was hospitalized with a broken hip. Not so. Peg’s hale, hearty with hip intact.

Sunday was a busy day for rescue/emergency folks around here. The LFD responded to a car fire on Norton Pond, way down by the outlet, from the look of the smoke billowing up. Loading fire-fighting gear into pickups, firemen were able to put out the fire with water pumped through the ice. The fire truck, however, was left parked at Breezemere, lights flashing. I imagine it wouldn’t be too smart to take a fire truck onto the ice.

The other emergency that morning, though, was one that strikes fear into all of us — a lost child. Seven-year-old Julia Low of Hope got separated from her mother while snowshoeing in the woods near their home that cold Sunday morning. As her grandmother, Lindsey Low, of Ducktrap said later in the day, “all those wonderful people … fire department, police, game wardens” showed up and launched a search.

According to the Bangor Daily News article about it, a game warden on the way to the scene spotted little Julia coming out of the woods on Route 105, some two hours after she got lost, said Lindsey. That must have been a long two hours. Lindsey sends her heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped. I can vouch for that feeling of relief when, in the midst of an emergency you can’t handle by yourself, our well-trained and competent emergency responders — fire, police, ambulance, etc. — show up. Many are volunteers, and all alre dedicated; we can’t thank them enough.

***************

Morrill

The Morrill Fire Department ladies’ auxiliary and Fire Department members held their annual family potluck dinner and awards ceremony recently at the Weymouth School. A large turnout was enjoyed. Those attending were treated to various dishes prepared by our fine cooks. Diana Pease once again did the desserts.

This event is held to thank the families for their support of our firefighters and auxiliary members. A relaxed dinner allows for the sharing of family events amongst this group of dedicated town servants.

Chief Pat Scribner and Assistant Chief Dave Wight presented the Firefighter of the Year award to Jon Fountaine. The chief thanked Jon and his family for the dedication and support that blessed the department with Jon’s completion of the Firefighter I and II modules and passing of his written test. An extensive hands-on practical test faces Jon in the spring. Pat presented the chief’s award to Jethro, our former chief, for his continued support and assistance to the department from the sidelines.

A special thank you and gift certificate were presented to Diana Pease by the auxiliary for all her years of support to Jethro, the Fire Department as a whole and the activities of the auxiliary. Both Jethro and Diana were extremely surprised with their honors, and wish for all to know how much they appreciate this recognition and acceptance in the fabric of this, our small community.

Chief Pat ended the night, thanking all family members for their support during the interruptions thrown at them as being a part of the department family. He also expressed that it is everyone’s duty to play safe and work safe so that all return home as they left. His final thank you was to the ladies’ auxiliary, which does so much for the department and community as a whole. The auxiliary raises money by holding an annual raffle and auction, which later funds many of the improvements needed by the department. They also sponsor the annual children’s night with Santa Claus, a well-received community service.

The post office and banks will be closed Monday, Feb. 15 for Presidents Day. Major holidays are a little easier to remember, but the others, quite often, slip my mind. I go off to do the Monday morning post office and bank run, and don’t remember until I come across the locked door that it is a holiday. Also, Feb. 15 is the start of school vacation week. Enjoy, students and staff!

Calvin Sheldon, 4-year-old son of Mark and Ginger Sheldon, wasn’t feeling well, and then developed a rash, so off to the doctor he went. Imagine Mom’s surprise when he was diagnosed with scarlet fever, which is something we don’t hear much of anymore. With medication, Cal is now feeling much better.

Sympathy is extended to Matt and Shirlee Hurd and family from Hurd Drive, as Shirlee’s mother, Sylvia West, passed away Jan. 10.

Condolences also to another Morrill family, husband Chris Kelley and children, Christopher, 7, and Kaitlin, 5, on the loss of Kelly (Hubbard) Kelley on Jan. 27. This young family lives on the Brown Road. Out thoughts and prayers are with these fellow neighbors and friends during this time.

The Waldo County 4-H Leaders Association is holding a fundraiser, selling compost. Bulk or small bag orders are available until the deadline in the middle of April. For more information, call Anne Ambrose at 342-2170.

There has been a new 4-H club formed, “The Waldo County 4-H Club”, led by Connie Fuller. Anyone interested in 4-H, regardless of their project, is free to contact Connie at 223-5039. The next meeting will be held in early March at the Waldo County Extension Office on Route 137. The last project was making dog biscuits to give to local animal shelters.

Emily Ambrose made the dean’s list at Wells College in New York for her fall semester as a junior there. Her spring semester will be spent in Portland doing an off-campus study at the SALT Institute, which does documentaries on the state of Maine. Emily will be doing two studies, one in a group, and one individually.

The Boy Scouts are meeting the first and the third Thursdays of each month at the Searsmont Community Center. He and the boys are working on First-Aid for their tenderfoot badges right now. Please call Eric Kennedy at 342-5470 if interested in joining the program.

Wasn’t that full moon just beautiful last week? Those cold, clear nights with the moon reflecting on the snow reminded me of the skating parties we used to have on Uncle Floyd’s pond, the mill pond and others. No TV’s, Internet or other technologies to keep us inside. If there was snow on the ice, we swept and shoveled it off, or if there was too much snow, we made paths all over the ponds, wide enough for two to skate, of course. Not knowing then what we know now about pollution, bonfires were a great way to get rid of old tires and lasted all evening, I never wanted to get too close to the fire because I loved my white ice skates that I had earned pulling dried beans for Roy Paul, and didn’t want to get them blackened from the ashes and soot.

Thought to ponder from the Fishwrapper Publication: “If you are headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.”

**************

Prospect

Had this column written once but hit the wrong button and erased it, so here I go again. Do hope that you are staying warm in this cold weather. You-know-who is still wearing shorts — brrrr.

I checked with Paul Maguire about his mother, Rebecca, as to how she is doing. She has returned to Ross Manor in Bangor, but in the main population instead of the Alzheimer’s unit, as she will have more nurses to care for her and to try to get her to walk. She has not walked since her hip operation and resists when they try to get her to walk. I asked Paul if she knew people but only briefly and then I asked him about receiving cards and he replied that she could still read, so guess I’ll start sending her cards on occasion. If you care to, the address is Ross Manor, Union Street, Bangor, ME 04401.

Sympathy wishes to the family of Dot Clark. She recently passed in Belfast and would have been 100 years of age later this year. Think of all the firsts that she had seen in that time span. Think how many you have seen if you are over 40! Dot, Bernard and their family lived out back for many years while their children attended school in Prospect and then high school in Bucksport.

Their son, Basil, was valedictorian of his senior class in Bucksport, and that upset some people in Bucksport to think the part went to a child from Prospect. He earned it, and we were all proud of his accomplishments — since then more children from Prospect have attained high honors at Bucksport High, but the stigma is no longer there, thank goodness. Good grades are earned, not given.

I went down to Tall Pines today, the fourth, to visit a dear friend, Mary Staples. She had been in Eastern Maine Medical Center for a week due to complications of the cancer and needs to have rehab to get her strength back. She wants to come home and her daughters are checking into that possibility. She went there Monday, but I don’t know how long she will be there. She is presently in Room 104 and the number for Tall Pines is 338-1316. Do hope her stay will be short, but remember, Mary, you have to eat. Love you.

The AARP is sponsoring assistance for low and moderate-income taxpayers with their tax returns at the Stockton Springs Library, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from now until April 10. You have to call Pat Snyder at 567-3137 to get an appointment and then take a Photo ID, Social Security card, a copy of last year’s return and also documents and itemized deductions for 2009. Sounds like a lot, but if you have this information with you, it will make the process go smoothly.

This assistance is not only for people from Stockton but also from Prospect. You do not have to belong to AARP to get this help. Also while there at the library, pick up a free Stockton Springs calendar which has the phone numbers and other information the people in Prospect also use. I have one here by my computer and I find it very helpful. Every year we seem to have more in common with each other’s town and I think it is working well.

I want to wish you all a safe and happy week and please remember those who need a card or a prayer. God bless you all.

**************

Searsport

Tuesday, Feb. 16 the regular selectmen’s meeting will take place at the Town Hall. This meeting will be televised.

Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. the Mass Communications Committee meeting will take place at the Town Hall. This meeting will be televised.

Thursday, Feb. 18, at 6:30 p.m. the Recycling Committee meeting will take place at the Town Hall. This meeting will be televised.

Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m., the Historic Preservation Committee meeting will take place. For information as to where, call the Town Office at 548-6372.

The Fourth Annual Searsport Historical Society Scrapbook Crop will take place on Saturday, March 27 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Curtis Hall on Church Street. The registration fee is $35, which includes lunch and dinner, coffee, tea and baked goods. There will be door prizes and great raffles. For a registration form e-mail Jiffy Kelley-Young (scottjiffy@roadrunner.com), or call Karen Kelley at 548-2947. The proceeds will benefit the maintenance of the Crary/Carlon/Coleman House and the mission to secure a barn to house the collection of larger artifacts.

Boy Scout Troop 215 wants your “experienced” uniforms. Cub Scout and Boy Scout uniform shirts, hats, books and any scout apparel in any size would be greatly appreciated. If you have some uniform shirts or other scout stuff your child has outgrown, consider donating them to their uniform closet. They use their closet to help ease the cost of uniforms, which can be expensive, especially with more than one child in scouts. For more information call Jessica at 323-4512.

Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye Jr. reports that the department received 21 calls for service during the week of Feb. 1.

**************

Swanville

The teens at Swanville Community Church took on the evening’s program last Sunday. They sang songs, played some short video interludes, presented a couple of short skits, and shared the stage with the Friday Night Jam kids from Palermo. Both the Violet family, known as “American Roots” in the bluegrass world of Maine, and several members of the Pottle family, along with close family friend Ina, performed several bluegrass gospel tunes. The church was packed out, with about 114 people, and folks hung around to gab and eat for quite a while afterward. We all were thrilled with the performances, and grateful that they took the time to put together such a great evening.

Here’s some fun for people who like board games. The Game Loft is sponsoring a “Settlers of Catan” tournament, Saturday, Feb. 13. Entrance fee is $5, and there will be prizes for the champion. I can personally tell you that the game is fun to play. It’s a little like the video game SimCity, only medieval-style. It has the leeway to bargain with the other players, such as you might think of in Monopoly, but it doesn’t drag on for eight hours. For more information, contact our own Swanvillian, Nikky Boyington, at 930-6262, or the Game Loft at 338-6447.

Happy 50th birthday to my husband, Mike, this weekend. Also, to Val Spaulding, who is once again a lovely “35.”

Don’t forget to license your dogs. There’s a fine now for missing the Jan 30 deadline. The folks at the Town Office will be happy to see you.

The Girl Scouts are out and about selling their cookies. If you’d like to order some, call the troop leader, Karen Hewey, at 338-2441.

Thanks to all the new folks who came out to work on appreciation gifts for the volunteers coming in July.

Thanks also go out to an anonymous donor for offering to lend 40 big ladders to the Swan Lake Work Camp. For those of you who haven’t yet heard, more than 400 volunteers from all over the U.S. will converge on Troy Howard Middle School for a week, with the job of repairing and painting 60 to 80 homes within a half-hour’s drive of the school. Many preparations are in the works, as well as the need for cash donations towards lumber and hardware.

Now, don’t think that this is a solution to our need for ladders yet. We will still need to borrow many step ladders for the week of July 4-10 for indoor painting. If you can lend a step ladder in good condition for that week, call 518-8603 and leave your name and phone number. Someone will contact you as soon as possible. Donations may be mailed directly to Swanville Community Church, 15 Town House Road Swanville, ME 04915.

Please specify if you would like to receive a receipt for tax purposes. If you have a group that would like to know more about this project in detail, call the above number and make an appointment for a presentation. This is an exciting, effective and really heartwarming way to serve the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged in our community. Join the team — it meets the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the church.

I dog-sat for a friend on the lake this past weekend. I have watched the dog grow up. She’s now about 3 years old. She’s a duck dog by nature and training, so she has always liked to sit on the shore and look for movement in the water. “She’s fishing,” I always say. In her younger years she was rambunctious, and don’t get me wrong, she was never a “Marley,” but you had to keep an eye on her or she would run off the property for a lark.

She is finally in the best years of a dog’s life, calm friendliness. She is still a wiggler when you first enter the room, but she doesn’t leap on your chest anymore. She’s been around long enough now to have some perspective on things and some consideration for others. We have a routine when I visit to care for her, and the first 10 minutes are fairly structured. Go out, empty the bladder, come in, eat, petting and talking for five minutes, and then back out for another pit stop. In the past, the final few minutes were spent making sure that she stayed in sight while she inspected her property.

It’s been a while since I have seen her, and this time it was different. We played fetch and she was magnificent. If she couldn’t see the stick I threw, she scented it out. She found it every time, and she brought it back without mangling it or refusing to let go. She took genuine pleasure in her “job” and I was rightfully impressed with her abilities. This was a notch above routine, but then, when I figured she’d had enough of the game, and turned to go in, she looked at me soulfully and quietly lowered her head. She was asking for more time outdoors. “Okay,” I said. She padded, in a dignified way, down to the edge of the lake.

It was on the third day of the 40-degree thaw we had, and the ice, which was still two feet thick, was melted where the sun had warmed the large rocks along the shore. It looked like someone had taken an enormous ice cream scoop and scooped about 28 inches of the ice away from the rocks, and the water was crystal clear to the bottom. Normally, I have other things to do than indulge a dog, but there was something so pure about her desire.

It began to snow, and the flakes started to collect on my arm and her back, big ones, with a lot of detail. Soon all you could hear was wind. It was picking up in a last effort to create some excitement before going to bed for the night, and a 60-foot “snow tornado” blew down the lake towards the dam. The wind carried the 30-foot-in-diameter column about an eighth of a mile down the lake, and then like an invisible fist opening, the snow lost its twirl and dropped to the ice. A lone snowmobiler shot by, unimpeded, against the wind. The wind has pushed across the ice consistently this month and the surface hasn’t gotten lumpy. I even heard a low crack as the ice shifted. All the while, this incredibly sweet dog sat quietly, looking into the water, and eventually just smelling the air. We sat there for about a half-hour, just absorbing the surroundings, and the peacefulness. It was a real moment of bliss.

Then the thought struck me, hard. Here was this obedient and loving dog, who had learned the art of making reasonable requests in a respectful way. Coming from a Christian background, I suppose many who believe as I do would have felt that this dog was a perfect example of how the individual should respond to God. But in my heart the thought was pushed further.

He doesn’t want us to be blindly obedient dogs. We are made in his image, and no other creature. I was being directed to live not as a dependent dog, but as an independent friend of God. To be mature, not only responding to God, but able to initiate generous action towards others, like him. Not just to eat from his table, but to fill the bowls of others.

The snow jogged me, too. Snow is a symbol of blamelessness and purity, a covering to hide error. Every snowflake begins with a grain of ignominious dirt. The water freezes around this tiny core and feathers out to make a thing of unique and elaborate beauty. And so each of us are, if we allow our dirt to be covered by grace. The weight of the snow falling thickly from the low gray clouds was an overwhelming reminder of the Creator’s willingness to cover error with more than enough forgiveness and new purpose.

**************

Unity

In my world

Surprisingly, I didn’t dig out the raised beds for hoop houses. Everything is just way too cold outside to motivate. Indoors, however, it’s time to plant onions and leeks if starting from seed.

We had Joe Thornhill and his girlfriend, Amanda, over for dinner — we got takeout from China Jade. Never knowing what to get and after staring at the menu for 10 minutes, we revert to the Pu Pu Platter. I’m always reluctant to order what I’m not familiar with, but when Joe ordered Egg Foo Yong, he let me try it. Delicious!

Winter tip: Does your hair have static this time of year? Mine does. I read somewhere that that if you run a dryer sheet over it, it’ll get rid of the static. Sure enough, it worked!

Pet update: After spending a three-digit figure at the vet, which, granted, did include updates on shots, we found that Bichu had some crystals in his urine. It was recommended that I switch to a cat food to help urinary tract infections in cats. The vet also recommended putting a litter box in the house, since it’s so cold out. I was reluctant, since all four are used to using the cat door and going outside… but I did what I was told, and not surprisingly, the cats love it. Great.

Does anyone have layer chickens? Do you ever put the eggs in your coat pocket when checking them? Do you ever forget that they’re in there only when it’s too late? I do.

In your world

School vacation will run from Monday, Feb. 15 to Friday, Feb. 19.

The Volunteer Regional Food Pantry board of directors is thrilled to announce the launch of its new Web site! Visit them at vrfp.org and check out what we’re up to. For more information contactstrunzo@unity.edu or webster@vrfp.org.

Monday February 15

Open Art Night at Friends of Unity Wetlands Education Center, 93 Main St. Mondays, Feb. 15-April 5. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dust off your drawing pads, pencils, pastels, charcoals, paints, and canvases. Any and all levels of skill are welcome. $2 donation asked to cover cost of facility use. For more information, contact Jim MacDonald at 948-3703.

Friday February 19

Friends of Unity Wetlands benefit performance by Curt Carter (singer, songwriter and environmental educator) at the FUW Education Center. Potluck supper at 6 p.m. with music to follow at 7 p.m. Suggested donation $5 per person, children age 12 and under admitted free. Sample songs can be heard at carterandconnelley.com/bio.html.

Saturday February 20

Unity Community Market 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Unity Community Center. Good food to eat there or take home, good company, crafts, used books, flea market spaces and basketry workshop from 10 a.m. to noon. $5 for basket materials, or just watch for free. (Use your basket for the Annual Community Egg Hunt; see below.) Admission to the market free. Call 948-5912 to reserve a table for only $5.

Friday, February 26

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Producing Quality Organic Grains for Maine: Disease Management and Grain Cleaning, Drying & Storage. MOFGA Common Ground Education Center. Preregistration required by Feb. 17. Cost: $10 per person per event, includes lunch. For information, contact: Ellen Mallory, UMaine Extension, 581-2942

Saturday, April 3

Community egg hunt , 10-11:30 a.m. at the Unity Community Center. Volunteers and donations needed. Volunteers needed to:

boil and dye eggs Friday, April 2;

hide eggs at 8:30 a.m. April 3;

set up games and food;

run games and other activities;

clean up after the event.

This is a very fun event with 40 to 80 kids and family members attending. If you belong to a business, class, or club that is looking for a service project or if you just want to volunteer, contact Tess at 948-9005 or ubr@uninets.net. Donations of healthy snacks, drinks, and prizes also gladly accepted.

Just outside your world

Items of possible interest

Hallowell

Mardi Gras in Hallowell

February 13. Maine’s smallest city celebrates Mardi Gras in its own special way. Activities at Mardi Gras Hallowell include a community mask contest a trivia contest, face-painting, a Mardi Gras Parade and a Mardi Gras Ball. For more info and event times see the Web site link above or contact the Hallowell Area Board of Trade at 620-7477, hallowell.org/2010/01/mardi-gras-february-13-2010.

Fairfield

17th Annual Fairfield Chocolate Festival

Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Center, 67 Water St., Proceeds from the benefit will be used for area residents and will feature live entertainment, children’s events, luncheon and refreshment items, door prizes, a silent auction, plenty of shopping, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. More info at fairfieldchocolatefestival.org.

Waldo

Beginning Farmer Series

A four-week series running Feb. 25, March 4, 11 and 18, all from 6:30-9 p.m. Find out how to get started and where to get help. Hear from successful area farmers and begin your business plan. For more info or to register, call 800-287-1481 or e-mail regkenn@umext.maine.edu Being held at the UMaine Extension on Route 137 in Waldo next to the Waldo County Technical School.

Fairfield

Maine Grass Farmers Network 6th Annual Grazing Conference

Saturday Feb. 27at Kennebec Valley Community College. This year’s speakers will be focusing on critical topics for all livestock owners currently utilizing pasture and grassland in their farming operations. Featuring keynote speakers Troy Bishop, Rachel Gilker and Seth Wilner. There will also be a Grazing Conference Grassfed Cook-Off.

For more information, call Extension Educator Rick Kersbergen at 800-287-1426 or visit UMaine Extension’s Maine Grass Farmers Network at umaine.edu/umext/mgfn.

**************

Waldo

Waldo’s version of the January thaw this year was cause for getting out the rubber boots and wrapping their soles with spiked de-icers.

The snowmobiles have disappeared from the path and walking has gotten treacherous at times here in Waldo. During the height of the spring-like conditions, we waded through streams to get through to the comfortable crunch of well-packed snow beyond. The past few days, the cold has stiffened the water to the point that a thick layer of ice makes stretches of the path slippery. Yesterday, Marshall fell flat on his face while clowning around. Luckily, nothing broke.

We have some serious hard news to report this week. I’ll resort to headlines to keep us on track:

Facebook
Excitement is building in the town of Waldo. Waldo resident Jeanne McIntyre reports that she has set up a Facebook account for the Waldo Boosters. (I’m not allowed to put it in the paper yet, because she wants to fine-tune it first — but I will give you a hint on how to become a fan of the Waldo Boosters. Go to facebook.com and set up an account for yourself, if you don’t have one already. Then, search for “Waldo Boosters.” You’ll know us when you see the picture of a Waldo sunflower.)

Benefit supper
A supper to benefit Deborah Bowden will be held at the Waldo town building Saturday, Feb. 20 from 4-6 p.m. Turkey pie, shepherd’s pie, beef stew, and . . . maybe some chili . . . will be served. If you’d like to offer your contribution of cold salad, side dishes and/or dessert, contact Kellie Jacobs at 342-3295. Please come and support Debbie, who has a serious medical condition and no health insurance. Debbie used to work at Mathews Brothers.

News about Morse School
Kellie Jacobs has sent me an e-mail message stating that the children of Waldo may no longer be attending school in Brooks, if we don’t pick up the phone and make the Waldo political will known. She writes, “We need all concerned parents, friends and neighbors to call their school board representative and let them know that we do not want our school to close. The Waldo representative is David Thompson 722-3216, the Brooks representative is Mike Switzer 722-3893, and the Jackson representative is Lisa Cooley 722-3001. The next school board meeting is on Monday 2-8 p.m. at Mount View High school.”

For any questions that you may have about this call to action, call Kellie at 342-3295, Persephone at 342-3920 or Carrie at 322-1507.

What Ena found in France
I’m quoting here from Ena’s blog. (Ena is my 22-year-old daughter who is teaching creative writing courses at ENS, a prestigious college in Lyon, France.)

“I was wandering around the ENS library today, looking for American movies to show in class, when my eye happened to rest upon an old VHS film on a dusty top shelf. It was a documentary called (can you guess??)… Belfast, Maine!!! It’s Frederick Wiseman’s 1999 documentary about Belfast that somehow not only made it to a small library in Lyon, France, but has also been subtitled in French! I of course borrowed the film immediately and brought it home to show all my roomies and everyone else I come across.

“I am totally convinced that this is fate. I warned you all that I’m getting worryingly superstitious over here, but I think this just has to be divine intervention, no? Not only that, my Metro station here in Lyon is decorated with maps of the world and right smack in the middle of it are Belfast and Waterville, Maine, written right there on the map just as plain as day! Call me crazy but this just can’t be a coincidence. (Actually, don’t call me crazy. Go ahead and think I’m crazy, but why burst my bubble on this one? Even if it’s not fate, it’s much more romantic to believe that it is.)”

Inspirational DVD movie pick of the week
“Blindsight,” documentary about a group of blind Tibetan teenagers who climb a Himalayan mountain.

**************

Winterport

Good news for Peter DeGennarro: a bone marrow match has been located and a stem cell operation is scheduled for March 5 in Boston. He will be in the hospital for four to eight weeks and then have to travel back and forth to Boston once a week for eight weeks, and have no public contact for a year. A fund has been set up at the Camden National Bank, 58 Main Road North, Hampden, ME 04444 in care of Peter DeGennarro.

Once again the town is coming together for one of its own. There will be a potluck supper and silent auction Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Leroy Smith School, Winterport. Pete (the son of Rosie at Rosie’s Diner) was diagnosed with leukemia last November and has been undergoing treatment since. Dinner will be from 5-7 p.m.

Thanks to the businesses that have already donated to the auction: Arpel’s, Bel Portraits, Molly’s, Rise and Shine Cafe, My Fork, The Ski Rack, Tyler’s Hardware, The Clothesline, Winterport Boot, Winterport House of Pizza, with more to follow. The supper will be the same idea as the one held in November for Gabe Allen. Bring a dish, a donation, and a friend. For more info call Laurel at 223- 4057.

The basketball tounament the Winterport Middle School boys and girls played in is over. The boys lost their game on Saturday night and the girls won both of their games and are the Penobscot Valley Middle School champs. Congratulations, girls, and to your coach, Stephanie Turner.

The student body at the WMS is raising money to be turned over to the Red Cross which will then go to the aid of Haiti.

Phil and Kim Pitula are once again the proud grandparents of a new baby grandson named Gabriel, who weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce on Feb. 2. Gabriel, and his mom, Shannon, are doing great. Dad is doing great too.

The Clothesline store, next to Molly’s is taking in spring clothing for infants to youth, size 18. A new item is maternity clothing. Drop by and see the strollers, car seats and more.