Friday, November 28, 2014

Boy Scouts and Scoutmaster remembered - Letter from Fred Collins

Dear Editor,

This year one of my favorite persons went to be with his Lord. Why would I want to reveal that to the public? Well, I must say that this person introduced me to what became a lifelong obsession! 

It was a time in my life when a youngster needed guidelines to living. Most everything at the time, a mystery. How could a young boy handle situations that seemed so unrealistic? (The work horse died on our farm, the well went dry, a friend couldn’t walk and spent her life in a wheelchair) Truly, it was the formative years - lessons learned had a tendency to cling to one for a life time. 

This is why I have held the “Boy Scout program” in high esteem. Be prepared is our motto! Today as I live my life, I spend a great deal of attention on being prepared. 

Oh, sometimes the load becomes heavier, but you find more peace of mind, like putting a shovel in the car trunk and a bit of sand in the winter. Perhaps some trash bags if caught in a shower. When I was working I always had some rope: That helped when a stranger nearly lost his furniture that was about to fall from his trailer. 

To take the good and the bad as instruments of learning. (That man, whose spent body now lies under the worshipful pine trees, along the strong walls of strength that points to a man - my first and only Scoutmaster, Mac Lyons of Windham, Maine.) A man whose handshake was better than any contract! “That’s why I take great store in being a Scout!”

Scouter for over 76 years
Fred Collins

Last walk of the season - Letter by Fred Collins

Dear Editor,

Yesterday I took the last walk of the year on the back acreage. As I walked through the stand of tree’s I pictured them as “nature’s sentinels”. 

In later years as life subsides, I found a place where treasurers lie. In years of your, these giants grew from stem to branch then trunks of hue. I diligently cleaned above their roots so I could safely walk and look. 

I pictured all the various trees as folks that I had chanced to read. There was Betsy Ross in her birchy dress and General Grant in his chesty pine giving orders to his union nine. To the left and on a bit of a rise stood Chamberlain as he held the line, and as I entered a small ravine a cluster of maples made their charge with General Pickard holding up his arm. 

In a natural amphitheater spot a tall oak tree stood, in afterthought. I knew at once as I gazed in awe. “This was President Lincoln’s spot.”

They are beautiful in their peace. They are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust.
“They teach us, and we tend them.” 

As I gaze with much array, I saw the men of my brigade. So when my thought do wander off, that’s where I go to take a walk.

Citizen, Veteran,
Fred Collins

Insight - Giving thanks they're coming home

When I sent my daughter off to the nether reaches of Maine (Presque Isle) I never realized how difficult it would be not to see her day in and day out. The one less schedule turned into trying to counsel and comfort someone five hours away, where I could do nothing but talk. 
This week parents all over Windham, Raymond, Gray and New Gloucester will welcome home their college freshmen for the first time. 

I’ve been lucky to have seen my daughter a few times at various volleyball games and Columbus weekend. Others I know have not seen their child since August. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, if that’s possible. 

The empty nest syndrome is only that…empty. 

I don’t remember my parents’ reactions when I went away to college in upstate New York. I do remember how they acted when I returned home. My mom and I snuggled in bed while I regaled her with stories of my roommates and their crazy antics, my television/radio classes and what it was like to have that first taste of freedom. 

My mom asked me what I needed and if I wanted to go shopping. We only shopped for holidays, birthdays and back to school, so this was a huge moment and I totally took advantage of it. 

When I returned to school with Elizabeth Richards (we drove home that weekend together), I was energized and had a clearer picture of what I wanted to do. In a flash of brilliance and independence, I contacted the University of Maine at Orono and prepared to change schools. 

Knowing that I could go away and come home, be close and still have autonomy from my parents was a great thing. 

I don’t expect that everyone is going to come home this weekend and tell their parents they want to transfer, but remember when they do come home that these will be memories they will carry with them forever. 

So bust out the turkey, open up the cranberry sauce, eat gobs of stuffing and hug that kid so tight that when they are back at college on a cold, dark night, they’ll remember that hug and know that no matter how far away they are, you’ve got their back. 

Welcome home college students! We’re all glad you’re home for a visit. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

-         Michelle Libby

Insight - Trying new things

In conjunction with this week’s On the Spot question, I tried something new. I have painted quite a bit. I took oil painting lessons with the late Pat Riley, I have dabbled with art and love craft projects, but I have wanted to and could never get into the adult ed classes for watercolor painting. 
I have books on the subject, but sometimes it takes someone to say “commit” before you make that first swipe of color across the blank white page. When my friend put up on Facebook yesterday that Gray-New Gloucester Adult Ed was having a one night watercolor class, I jumped at the chance to learn something new. 
So last night, by myself, I drove to GNG High School and entered a class where I knew one person (turns out I knew two) and I painted. The picture came out great, one of any variation on the theme. When you paint in a group, it’s a lot like writing. No ones paintings will be exactly the same. 

The  teacher, Kellie Chasse, was patient with a good sense of humor for us beginners. At the end we took the requisite group photo. The night was a success, even though there was some stress at my table about getting it “right.”

As far as the things you the readers want to do, many of you would like to take to the air. Some are more down to earth like hiking the AT or swimming with the dolphins somewhere tropical, but all are personal and will push the boundaries of what’s comfortable. 

As far as something on my to-do list, I’m all about hitting the open road in my Motorhome and exploring this amazing country. (Although right now I’ll steer clear of  Buffalo.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Insight - Easy Access

At least once a week  on Facebook, someone asks about dropping his or her cable company to live with antennas for local channels and move to streaming video with companies like Netflix and Hulu. We dropped our cable years ago, thinking it would be better if we watched less TV. However, I think that kind of backfired. 

There is a new dilemma people have that we never contended with before. With entire series on demand, I can sit down and watch episode after episode of Say Yes to the Dress without waiting a week for the next show. I’ve heard this from others as well. They sit down to a nice evening at home with their loved ones only to realize that it’s suddenly 1 a.m. and they have completed the first season of Orange is the New Black. Because, not only are the oldies, but goodies on those channels, but Netfix and Hulu have started creating their own series. The average person can blow through the episodes in under a week and be starving for more. 

I’ve done marathons like this with DVDs when Blockbuster was around. I watched Alias for a week straight to catch up to the new episodes on TV. Now I don’t have to wait or travel to the store to get the shows. They are all at the press of a button. My life becomes the show. I start watching for terrorists around every corner. Going out in the dark means that someone is waiting and I’ll have to use my karate moves on them. 

This week it’s Gilmore Girls non-stop. TV with breakfast, sarcasm before bed and many times I watch two episodes each evening. It’s crazy and fun and addicting. 

Access like this to non-stop entertainment is encouraging the immediacy we have come to expect. 
Waiting is so last year. 

Some shows are being cancelled because no one wants to wait a whole week to see what comes next. I can watch the show the next day on Hulu at my leisure. I’m not a slave to the TV guide any longer. 

I’ve found the enjoyment in cable when I’m in a hotel or at my parent’s house. They want to watch a show on Channel 13 and I beg them not to…I get that channel. Can’t we watch a little HGTV? 

The best part for me, other than the instant access, is the lack of commercials. I may not hear what the latest toy craze is 10 times during an hour show, but I think I’ll live. 

What shows are you watching that you can’t get enough of? Join us on Facebook at The Windham Eagle to find out what our friends consider “must see TV.”