Friday, September 27, 2013

RSU 14 Project Graduation 2014 - By Mac Richardson

Project Graduation is an all volunteer effort to provide our graduating seniors with a fun, safe and chemical free experience for graduation night. The Class of 2014 has voted, as many have in the past, to go white water rafting as their central activity. It is expected that most of the 200 plus seniors in this class will board chartered busses about one hour after the close of graduation ceremonies for the ride up to the Forks and Adventure Bound Whitewater. 

Once at the Forks, the graduates will enjoy dinner, volleyball, horseshoes, Frisbee and a campfire. The following day they will be served breakfast before heading down the Kennebec River on guided white water rafts, and a barbeque lunch before returning. 

Because the cost including transportation, meals and the rafting is approximately $200 per student and no school district funds are involved, the Project Graduation committee is tasked with raising nearly $40,000.00. In addition to the recently completed golf tournament which raised nearly $4,000, the committee is sponsoring 50/50 raffles at home football games, running concessions at recreation league soccer games, selling tickets for a $500 prize raffle, holding a yard sale on October 12th, hosting a pie table at the athletic boosters craft fair, and doing “Dancing with the Staff” again this winter. Two new events are in the planning stages: Lunch with Santa and a round the clock Rock-a-Thon. And we love to accept your returnable bottles at Patman’s on route 115.

The committee can always use more help and we encourage all senior parents and anyone else who might be willing to help make this a great send off for our seniors to come and join in the fun. The next meeting will be held at the high school at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9. We need parent/guardian and student help with our fundraising activities..."many hands make light work".

Parents and guardians can join the mailing list by emailing

At the Library - Sally Holt, librarian Raymond Village Library

The Raymond Village Library is now automated and books are being checked in and out at the desk.  As time goes by more features will be added so that patrons can put holds on books, check and renew books on their library record and look up books online.  An additional computer has been added for patrons to use to use for Internet access and a computer that can be used for looking up books is also available. 

Libraries have changed a great deal over the last several years in many ways, but particularly in the area of technology. There has been much discussion regarding where libraries are headed.  R. David Lankes (2012) says that a great library inspires, challenges and provokes the community and respects the community it serves.  The library of the future is about library creation and sharing. 

What ways will libraries remain the same? They must regularly assess the needs of the communities and develop services and programs to meet those needs.  And continue to be warm, welcoming and informational places for people to gather. 

“Dig into Reading,” was the theme of the reading program this past summer for children and teens and was very well-attended. There were several programs offered throughout the summer with science and math themes. Now, that fall is here baby/toddler story time is back on Mondays at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday is pre-school story time also at 10:30 a.m. 

Looking for “wicked good fun”?  You are invited to meet the funniest woman in Maine. Susan Poulin has earned this title, first by writing a book titled “Finding Your Inner Moose”, and then by entertaining groups explaining the contents of her book. Susan will be at the Raymond Village Library on Wednesday, October 9 at 6 p.m.  This is a free program for the public, so plan to join the fun.  As seating is limited, please pre-register at the library, or call 655-4283, or email

In keeping with the spookiness of Halloween, the book group has chosen the novel, Haunted Ground, by Erin Hart. When two farmers were cutting turf in a bog in Ireland and discover the perfectly preserved severed head of a beautiful young woman, an Irish archaeologist and an American pathologist come together to investigate.  Other mysteries surface in the small Irish town as the case of a missing wife and child is reopened.  The story is set rich with Irish culture, traditional music, folklore and the ever-present link between past and present. We invite all interested readers to join us, at the library on Wednesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. for an interesting discussion.  The book will be available at the library upon request.  For more information, call 655-4283.

Insight - Procrastination - By Michelle Libby

I would stop there, but I’ve left this insight until the last possible moment and now I’m busting it out. 

I prefer to think of my skills not as procrastination, but as working really well with a deadline. For as long as I can remember I have been deadline oriented. Paper due, I’d do it just before it’s time to turn it in. College story due, I’d get up at 5 a.m. to finish it and turn it in to my editor. 

I majored in journalism because I loved having deadlines. 

So…procrastination. Even the word takes too long to type or read. It slows everything down. 

Are you deadline oriented or a procrastinator? When someone is coming over to your house, do you clean just before they get there (throwing everything into a laundry basket and stashing it in a back room) or have it done an hour before they get there and have time to relax? 

Deadlines are in place for a reason. At The Windham Eagle, if things don’t arrive on my computer until after the noon on Wednesday’s deadline, it puts me behind, then the graphic designer, then the proof readers…and you see where this is going. 

I never thought about the chain of deadlines before until I was the middle link in that chain. So maybe there’s a bit of a procrastinator in me. 

Procrastination also is linked to fear. We procrastinate because we are afraid of what will happen when we send out the manuscript, open the door of a new business or take the first step in an exercise regime. The longer we put something off the more time it takes for someone to reject us or for us to fail at something. 

So perhaps setting deadlines is the solution to procrastination. If there is a deadline, it can’t be put off until the time is right for you. 

So get out the calendar and set a deadline for what you’ve been waiting to do.   

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gears - Middle School - By Jeffrey J. Thivierge

You know what really grinds my gears…?

Middle school.

I know what you’re saying to yourself…. Isn’t this guy on the wrong side of 35 years of age?  What could possibly irritate him about middle school?

Let me break it down for you.

First, let me preface this by saying that this is the first year of school that my daughter has lived with me, so although she’s a teenager, I still feel like a “new” dad, complete with the “new-dad” smell.

My daughter is enrolled in Westbrook Middle School, where every 7th and 8th grade student will be issued a brand new MacBook Air for educational purposes.  If their parents attended the information session and sign off, their child can even bring said computer home with them for “educational” purposes.  (We all know that no child would ever get on Facebook or any other non-educational website with this purely educational tool.)

During the open house to discuss this laptop program, we were told that because there were so many 8th graders, not every student would get a social studies textbook.  I know that property taxes vary from city/town to city/town, but in Westbrook, they are pretty ridiculous.  I pay an extraordinary amount in property taxes only to find out that every child in the 7th and 8th grade gets a new MacBook Air, but not a social studies textbook to take home every night.  (My wife looked at me at that point to ensure that my head was not exploding and blood was not shooting out of my eyes.)

A few nights ago, my daughter had a science worksheet to complete for homework.  It was relatively simple and would require her to look back into her binder of handouts and notes to fill in the blanks of this sheet.  Apparently, that’s waaaaay too much work for today’s teens.  She was getting frustrated flipping back and forth, looking for the answers, so she did what any kid would do…She asked the magical Google machine. Google is almost always right and cuts the research time from three minutes of reading through the book for the answer to .017 seconds, depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi.  Meanwhile, while I was on number three of her sheet, looking through her book to ensure the answers from the Interwebz were correct, she was nearing the end of her assignment and actually getting frustrated when the answer wasn’t coming up in her search.

Don’t read too far into this.  I love technology as much or more than most people.  It just troubles me that the children of today can literally whip out an iPhone, iPad, or laptop and get the answers to their questions in a matter of seconds instead of researching through the book to find the answer.  My degree isn’t in education, but I have taught and I’ve been in school most of my life for one thing or another.  One of the things that I do know is that most of what is learned is through the exploration and searching for the answers to your questions and problems.  

The laptop program is great, but at what cost?  Are we teaching all of our students how to research, or are we teaching them the art of Google?  The art of Google is something that can wait for high school or college, when they really need it.

A way to say you're sorry - by Pam Pattee

A good looking 30-year-old man stops in at the shop wanting flowers. He goes on to tell me he is in the dog house with the love of his life and deeply wants to make it up to her.  “How mad is she?” I ask. Lets face it guys, depending on how much you messed up, will depend on how much you will spend for a bouquet of flowers . The flowers should impress her beyond words, letting you back into the bedroom. 
Flowers make the best impression compared to other gifts. Studies show those who send flowers are perceived as caring, friendly, trustworthy and even successful. Giving flowers feels really good and makes you more likeable. 

Send flowers randomly to a friend who is dragging her feet.  When the door opens and her eyes gaze upon the arrangement a smile will come across her face.  Her mood has changed from gloom to joyous. Both of you are now experiencing a delightful feeling. 

Flowers are therapeutic. Whether you are giving or receiving the flowers it’s a joyous purchase. Smelling their sweet scents can trigger a pleasant memory.  Flowers can be sentimental, colorful and invoke mood.
Fun Loving     Bold, contrasting colors are great for birthdays, promotions and celebrations.

Serenity        Cool shades of blue, green and purple are for busy moms or anyone needing relaxation.

Sensuous     Hot pinks, reds, orange and purple flowers make for an exquisite evening.

Romantic    Pastels in both warm and cool hues for the bride, spouse, and grandparents.

Nurturing   Pastel warm colors of yellow, pinks, creams and orange are perfect for moms and anyone who cares for others. 

Flowers bring emotions, color, scent and visual appeal to any setting.   It’s truly the easiest way to set the mood.  When was the last time you sent/gave a romantic bouquet to your spouse?  Try it and see if the mood changes for the better. 

Pam Pattee is a Maine master floral designer and an independent floral consultant in Windham.

Foodie Fare - Chocolate and chili - By Brian Rounds

Everything chocolate seems to be what makes people happy these days; chocolate covered this, chocolate coated that. I even have a bucket (small one) behind my desk at school that has chocolate in it and when people need a pick me up they know where to go for it. The big problem with chocolate is that it is sometimes hard to work. 

In my years of cooking, I have made homemade dark chocolate brownies with swirls of peanut butter in them. I’ve gone the cookie route with my popular triple chocolate cookies. A few times I have tried my hand at chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles, but any equation that involves me tempering chocolate is not balanced – I just don’t get along with the process.  Cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, you name it, I have ventured into it at some point or another. I think my drunken Irish cupcakes are favorites.

About five years ago, though, I wanted to try using chocolate in savory preparations. I wanted to blur the lines between entrĂ©e and dessert. I started experimenting. Chocolate risotto – pretty decent, especially when I added a half-a-pinch of red pepper.  Chocolate crepes stuffed with goat cheese and braised pork – different, but still good. I then entered a phase in my life where I was starting to experiment with chili. This is where my experimentation with chocolate found true success. 

I started by slow cooking a small beef brisket, but it is all about flavor, right? Let’s talk rub. I mixed my rub using salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, a dash of cayenne pepper, and, yes, cocoa powder. I rubbed this on all sides of my brisket and then placed it in my slow cooker. I left it there all day long cooking in a bath of cola and red wine. The cola, you see, sweetens the meat while tenderizing it. The red wine, well, that’s just pure tastiness. 

Once the brisket was cooked to the point that I could pull the meat with a fork, I got to shredding.  Essentially, I had a huge bowl of pulled beef. Tasty all on its own, yes, but let’s go a step further, shall we? Time to make the chili. I would reserve about a cup of the braising liquid for my recipe and then save the rest to make homemade barbecue sauce with at a later date. 

For the chili, I would start with my cast iron Dutch oven coated with a little olive oil.  I dropped in 1 whole sweet onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Then went in four cloves of garlic minced. Once these were sweated out, I added a pound of ground beef and a pound of stew beef and let that brown up a bit. 

This chili needs spice, right? Well, I love mixing spices so I went to my spice rack and started playing. I mixed a palmful of each of the following: Cumin, chili powder, ground black pepper, salt, and cocoa powder.  I then took an eighth of a palmful of cayenne pepper and added that to the mix. This all went into the pot with the meat and onions along with the shredded beef and the reserved liquid. I had two cans of diced tomatoes (San Marzano, please), one can of stewed tomatoes, and a can of crushed tomatoes. Chili needs beans, right? Time to add a can of kidney beans and butter beans! I mixed everything up, gave it a taste to check seasonings and adjusted as needed.  

I served my delicious new chili recipe over rice.  Though the chili does not taste like chocolate, the chocolate actually boosts the chili flavor naturally.  The Mayans mixed chocolate and chili pepper regularly, so why not follow suit?

Recipe: Chili

1 beef brisket, trimmed
1 pound ground beef, leaner the better
1 pound stew beef
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1  28oz can stewed tomatoes
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can butter beans, drained and rinsed
Olive Oil

Rub for brisket:
Palmful of the following:
-                      Chili powder
-                      Garlic powder
-                      Onion powder
-                      Salt
-                      Ground Black Pepper
-                      Cumin
-                      Cocoa powder
Dash of cayenne pepper

Spice mix for the chili:
Palmful of the following:
-                      Chili powder
-                      Salt
-                      Ground Black Pepper
-                      Cumin
-                      Cocoa powder
Eighth of a palmful of cayenne pepper

For the brisket:
Slow cooker on low, trim fat from brisket, rub with spices. Pour in enough cola and red wine to come halfway up the brisket.  Cook all day.

For the chili:
Sweat the onions and garlic, add the ground beef and stew beef and cook until browned. Add spice mix, shredded beef, tomatoes, and beans. Let this cook together for about an hour on medium-low so the flavors can dance a little. Serve over rice.