Sunday, August 24, 2014

Insight - Back to School - By Michelle Libby

I always loved back to school time. New pencils and pens, new teachers and new classmates, I love starting new things. By October, the work started to feel like work and the newness had worn off, but this is about the excitement of the new school year. 
This year I’m excited. Nervous, but excited. My daughter is heading to The University of Maine at Presque Isle to major in criminal justice. She’s going to start something brand new, can reinvent herself, make new friends and have awesome experiences. 

Back to school shopping involves a trashcan and bed risers, not only pencils and calculators. Sheets had to be purchased, flannel sheets for where she is going. I had no idea where to start with what to get for her and she was still working while I was shopping for her. 

I’m trying to cram everything I can into the final few days before she is out of the nest. We had that awkward talk about boys (college edition). I told her about me doing pushups on sacred pushup ground in the center of the Cornell University campus at midnight my first week of college. I know she will learn a lot with her first experience away from home and I can’t wait to hear all about it. 

For as excited as I am, I think there needs to be a support group for parents of college freshmen. A place where we can all commiserate about our children not calling us back or even texting that “Yes, I’m alive.” It would be a place where we are excited that they are spreading their wings, but we want them to invite us to their college games, concerts, events once in a while. (Just in case you don’t get to the meetings, I bribed mine with homemade cookies so I’d know when and where the games are.)

Sending your children to school, be it college or kindergarten, is traumatic. You may be happy that you have three or more hours to breathe, but you’ll miss the sounds of them running through the house. 

One thing I did learn after sending my kiddos off to school, was that when they came home they wanted to sit and tell me what they did during the day. They had new stories that didn’t involve me, but they wanted to still include me. And, as much as they love their teachers, bus drivers and lunch ladies, you and I will always be the mom and that trumps everything. 

            -Michelle Libby

Letter to the editor from Fred Collins - "Old Windham High School"

Dear Editor,
 Soon the young people will be excited about the upcoming school year. The first year of high school and also college. The challenges will be exciting! If the young folks happen to read this story it may be of interest:

It is a story of three travelers in the desert and the voice that called to them from the darkness. These three men were crossing one of those obscure deserts in a country where anything could happen. Caught between oases one night, they camped in what seemed to be an old river bed. During the night one of those freak rains began to fall. Above the lightening and the thunder of the storm, they could hear an ominous sound. Water was racing through numerous gullies up the river bed. In only a little time the flash flood in the making would engulf them. 

As they loaded their camels with haste to hurry to safer ground, a voice in the darkness called, “Take a handful of pebbles with you. Tomorrow you will be glad and sorry.” 

One of the men ignored the command. “How can you be glad and sorry?” he snapped. “We have no time for nonsense.” 

The second traveler picked up a small handful and put them in his pocket. The third man filled his hat. When daylight came the next morning, they found to their astonishment that the pebbles were precious jewels. The two who had followed the advice of the voice were both glad and sorry – glad for the jewels they had picked up and sorry because they did not pick up more when they had the chance. Their companion who scoffed at the idea the night before raced back to the campsite. He returned sadly to report that the river bed was now a sea of mud. They could never find the place again. 

Going to school is something like that. During their years, youngsters will have every opportunity to get all the education they can take. When school days are gone, they are out in the world working, they will always be glad for the education they did manage to acquire. As the years roll on they will always be sorry they did not gain more. This does not mean that all education ends with the close of school years. It simply means that it is wise to take the fullest advantage of those years because once they are gone they are gone forever.

Fred Collins
Chairman of the Sunshine Committee

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Letter to the editor from Fred Collins - Cradled in Liberty

Dear Editor,

“Cradled in Liberty”

Last night in a fitful dream there came before me the most astounding sight. A rag tag column of personnel, emerging from a stand of trees. A small figure, yet it was but a boy in torn trousers carrying “Old Glory”, and beside him a little drummer boy.

Struggling behind were the remnants of tired volunteers, their feet wrapped in clothes to shield them on the icy paths. Yes, it was the time of the revolution and those were the minute men. They were at the point where the shot was fired, “heard round the world”.

Old Glory was frayed and holes were pierced from gunshot and cannon, but it was held high!
The image of Frances Scott Key came into view. Through the mist I saw the Star Spangled Banner “still waving”. Through the haze there appeared a large column of men struggling to walk, others being held up exhausted, starving men, being prodded by guards with bayonets and rifles. “The march from Bataan, Where only a handful survived. 

Then I saw the nurses, with bandaged heads and arms, “The Angels of the Battlefields”. They were who held your sons in their last moments. (What you might say, has this got to do with the “red, white and blue?”)

Well, Sir, in my book it has everything to do with why we are here in America to work and worship as we choose. Why if we choose, we can  become worthy citizens.
“It is because – someone is willing to carry our flag.” 

All our beliefs and needs are wrapped in this precious symbol.

“Do not let anyone degrade her!”

Our flag represents everything we sacrificed and fought and died for. 

“These thread’s hold together a great nation. It is a cloth that cradles the hopes of the world.”
(Hold her high)

Fred Collins
The American

Letter to the editor from Fred Collins

Dear Editor,

“Get yourself a dog”

It seems in this topsy-turvy world where folks seem to crash their cars with the use of so called “stimulating enhancements” or perhaps I can be brave and say “drugs.” 

I would like to offer a suggestion, get yourself a dog! Yes sir, you know a dog can be a man’s best friend. I have had many dogs over the years. They are first to greet you, foremost to defend, their proud heart is there master’s own. There is no need of drugs to make you brave. Just pat your dog’s head and your troubles will float away. 

Many times dogs have been heroes; first to alert at the start of smoke, they have been known to sense their master’s possible heart attack as a warning before it happens. Get yourself a dog your life will change. Together to will see the light of day. Reach out and pat a little dog’s head together, side by side your life will change. You can walk straight and tall, you know – It is never too late!

Fred Collins
Chairman of the sunshine committee

Insight - Social media is for more than cute cat videos

This week Facebook has blown up with videos of people dousing themselves with ice cold water in the ALS #IceBucketChallenge. The idea was an attempt to gain more awareness of the disease and to increase donations. According to reports this has happened. There has been an increase in donations by 1,000 percent in the last week. Over 1.4 million dollars has been raised for ALS research. Imagine the good things we can do with social media.  
I took part in the challenge thanks to the publisher’s twin boys who called me out. My son took great pleasure in dumping the water over my head. I took great pleasure in dumping him into the lake, which was too easy because we were standing on the dock at our family camp. 

I followed those I tagged to make sure they followed through, and most of them did. Thanks to Tyler DeFosse, Tony Bessey and Jeffrey Thivierge. Still waiting for my cousin in Indiana and my daughter at Camp Hinds to get involved. In my daughter’s defense, she isn’t on Facebook much this summer. However, I did catch her pouring water over campers in Pack 805 for their Ice Bucket Challenge. So she knows it’s going on. And there is still time for her to get in on the fun. 

Now I hear there’s talk about how to do the challenge. Do you dump the ice in just before you pour it over your head? Do you put in the ice and wait until it melts, then add a little more for good measure? (That’s what my son did.) Or do you put in the ice, let it melt while you call out your, three, five or many closest friends? I haven’t seen anything that suggests there’s a right way, so if you’re “hating” on the people who are doing this…stop. Step up to the bucket yourself. It’s about the organization and the fun of being tagged. (I do know a few people who still have remained untagged, if you need suggestions.)
This brings up the question of do you donate or don’t you? In my opinion it’s a personal choice. Maybe you don’t want to donate to ALS, but at least learn a little about it to know what you are using all the ice in the freezer for. 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. From 

Bravo for whoever started this trend. You have accomplished your mission. We should all be fortunate to have people who love us, and who are willing to raise money for a cause we believe in. 

-Michelle Libby