Friday, December 28, 2018

Bowl games and New Year's Day

New Year's Day is rife with tradition. Perhaps no such tradition is more exciting for fans of college football than the handful of New Year's Day bowl games featuring some of the sport's best teams. New Year's Day bowl games can trace their origins back to the 19th century. 

According to, on January 1, 1890, members of the Valley Hunt Club in Southern California paraded through the streets of Pasadena, California, engaging in various contests, including tug-of-war. While no collegians competed on the gridiron that day, the parade served as a precursor to the Tournament of Roses Parade, which immediately proceeded athletic contests that included polo matches and greased-pig catching. 

In 1901, the president of the parade, seeking to gain publicity for the town of Pasadena and its floral festival, sought to stage a sporting event that might attract more interest than pig-catching and polo.

Festival organizers ultimately chose college football, deciding to initiate a matchup between a team representing the western United States and the eastern United States. On January 1, 1902, the football teams from the University of Michigan and Stanford University battled in the inaugural East-West football game. Michigan, which had not allowed a point all season long, steamrolled its way to a 49-0 victory. In fact, the game's lack of competitiveness temporarily nixed plans for an annual New Year's Day game, which was not played again until 1916, when Washington State University defeated Brown University 14-0. 

Interest in the game continued to grow from there on out, and in 1923, the game was moved to a large stadium known as the Rose Bowl. The game itself soon adopted the name of that stadium, and it retains that name today. Thanks to fan interest in the New Year's Day game, other New Year's bowl games soon followed, and continue to entertain college football fans every January 1. 

Insight: Cramming for the final exam

By Lorraine Glowczak

Can you believe it?! This is it for 2018! I remember rolling my eyes in frustration every time my mother said, “Time goes much faster when you get older. You blink your eyes, and all of the sudden – you are old.” Now, I am the one who is speaking those words - and I still roll my eyes. But because my Mom’s silly words of wisdom feels factual to me now, it makes New Year resolutions more impactful – like “go to the bathroom or get off the pot” sort of impact.

The thing about becoming older and “wiser” is you realize your time is limited and you want to get out there and really do it. Whether the reason is that you truly discover what is more important to you or, as comedian George Carlin implied, “you are cramming for your final exam,” hoping to get into heaven – whichever the case may be, I suppose it really doesn’t matter. You just know you must do it.

But what I’ve noticed personally about resolutions as I’m heading in the downhill slide, is it’s not so much about eating healthier (although I do plan to do that) or exercise more (I plan to do that, too) or spend more time with friends, having fun, (yes – that, too) and travel more (Oh! I hope so) but to contribute in more positive, aware and educated ways. However, there is a learning curve in taking that route. Especially the “aware and educated” part.

It has been said that for every truth that exists, the exact opposite also contains truth. I tend to buy into this philosophy, generally speaking, because it keeps me from becoming too arrogant about my own opinions and it reminds me that no one owns the copyright on truth. The learning curve for me is taking my “saving the world, creating happiness and justice for all” innate mindset and realizing the effects of the actions I take on a daily basis.

For example: while I promote the elimination of food insecurity in Maine and volunteer time and food to the free weekly Monday Meals program – I am also throwing leftovers away that have been in my refrigerator for over a month. While I work to make sure there is justice occurring in the world, that includes Africa – I wear a diamond ring. While I work to be upwardly mobile, I think about the people I might leave behind in the dust – not because they are lazy and take advantage of the system (and there are a few, no doubt) – but because, in some circumstances – life isn’t always fair.

As January 1st approaches this coming Tuesday, I will do my best to take a hard look at my New Year’s resolutions – bearing in mind my decisions and how they may impact people.

Although there is truth that I am following my innate way to be in the world – I suspect it might also be true that I am cramming for my final exam. Wish me luck. And I wish you luck as you head in the new year with whatever endeavors you believe are important.

May 2019 be your best year yet. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Insight: Please wait

By Lorraine Glowczak

The circle was spinning on my computer screen along with the words, “Please Wait”, as it tried to process information that I needed immediately. Frustrated, I took a deep breath and in an irritated voice I spoke aloud to no one, “Really? I don’t have time for this stuff.” (Except I didn’t use the word, “stuff”).

With the exception of the few, wise, “work/life” balanced individuals among us, it is safe to say we
run through life in overdrive as we check off our excessive “to do” lists. Add on the Christmas parties, holiday baking and shopping that comes with the season and it’s enough to tip us over the edge.

But nature may provide us an excuse to slow down, as if one needs to be goaded into stepping back from our face-paced life to take a breather. Today, December 21, is the winter solstice – the official first day of winter that marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. It’s during this time that we experience the dark months ahead which can open the door to our natural inclination to hibernate, allowing us to rest. And, if we dare, suspend our busyness for a while - standing still while we wait for the promise of warmer and longer days to come.

The word “solstice” roughly translates to “sun stands still.” Even something as important as the sun takes a moment for quiet and reflection. Although technically, the sun only appears to pause, but nature in her wisdom may be trying to tell us to pause from time to time, too.

There are many advantages to taking a momentary hiatus for rest and self-reflection. One well-known benefit to pausing in this way is that it allows the mind to process important information, increasing our ability to create with life. The act of slowing down itself, gives us time to take a deep breath and actually “hear” intuitive thoughts that often become reality, taking action in a more purposeful way.

I must admit that I will always be one to busily flutter from one task and event to another, so for those who find themselves in the same predicament, I am unable to offer any solutions for slowing down - (except for the obvious act of doing less).

But when moments become too stressful and things are spinning out of control, I will recall that moment when my computer asked me to “Please, wait” as it processed the information I requested from it. And much like that computer, I will do my best to pause - and wait – so I can process life with the intention to act with authentic creativity.

Happy Solstice!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

Everyone knows that Maine winters can be brutal.  In our rural state, some residents may become isolated and for those who are low income, the need for reliable and affordable electricity is imperative.

Central Maine Power (CMP) is the largest electricity provider in the state. The utility giant serves 600,000 electricity customers in central and southern Maine which is equal to approximately 78 percent of Maine residents.

This week, we learned that for CMP customers, electricity rates will increase 6.8 percent in 2019. 

CMP customers' bills currently average about $88 per month, which will go up to about $94 per month under the new rates. That may not sound like a steep increase, but when you are low-income, perhaps living on nothing but Social Security as we know 1/3 of Mainers 65+ do, that extra cost is going to be tough to absorb.

This rate increase is coming at a time when CMP has yet to distribute the savings it received from the 2017 Federal Tax Act directly to customers. This should have happened at the beginning of 2018. Instead, the company wants to hold on to that money, saying it will offset an additional proposed customer rate increase yet to be determined.  How can CMP be asking for even more?

Access to electricity should be fair, affordable, accurate and transparent. The experiences that CMP customers have weathered in 2018 and will continue to face in 2019 are anything but that.

CMP needs to do better for their customers and we urge all Mainers who purchase their electricity through CMP to make their voices heard. Raise your voice before they raise your rates.

Karen Evans
AARP Maine Advocacy Volunteer

Friday, December 14, 2018

Insight: When it’s not so jolly

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s 5:27 a.m. on publication day and this editorial/insight is due in a couple of hours. I’m staring at a blank page and I haven’t a clue where to begin. It’s not because I have writer’s block. I know exactly what wants to come out on the page, but it doesn’t fit my agenda and idealized version of a holly, jolly Christmas. So, please bear with me as the words I’m trying to control take control over me.

Decorations, gifts, lights, holiday cheer, family, friends and Christmas music that begins before Thanksgiving – I bask in the delight of it all. Christmas is my favorite holiday and there is nothing that prevents me from celebrating with full blown exhilaration even when the dark ridges of not so pleasant times knock on the peripheral edges of my merriment.

This time of year also brings with it the memory of my mother and two close friends who all made their escape into the heavens during holiday seasons of the past. So, while I’m bouncing around with Christmas joy like some elf on a shelf, I am very aware that it’s also a season when being jolly is not necessarily a universal American experience -be it poverty, a job lost or death.

I have plans to meet a friend for coffee soon whose adult daughter is preparing to make her own transition – saying her goodbyes to her young children, husband, siblings and parents during a time of supposedly “good cheer.”

“I just need some time away to talk about something different for a change,” my friend confessed, wishing to escape for just a moment, the pain of a child’s impending death.

I’m not quite sure how or if this prayer thing works – but I sure do hope and pray that I don’t say something that may cause further heartache like, “There is a reason for everything” or “God needs another angel in heaven” or perhaps even worse yet, “Have a very, merry Christmas!”

In my effort to prepare for our gathering, I reached out to the google gods for some quick advice from quasi-professionals. If you are also in a similar circumstance, here are two pieces of advice I found to be most real in approach:

1)      Admit it. Tell them you do not know what to say. The author of an article on offers this advice: “It’s okay to tell the truth if you don’t know what to say. Your honesty allows the [individual] to know you are a safe person to talk to because they’ll know you aren’t trying to fix them.”

2)      Admit it, again. Tell them you can’t imagine how they feel. The same author from the website noted above states, “No two relationships are the same because they are comprised of two different people. So even if you’ve [had the same loss] you could never know exactly how another person feels. At best you only know how you felt when your loss occurred.”

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and holiday greetings in whatever way you choose to celebrate the season. But if it’s not so jolly for you right now - I have no clue what to say and I can’t imagine how you feel. I cover my heart with my hand and bow before you with a very simple prayer, “May peace be with you. If not now, perhaps sooner rather than later.”

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Regarding the protection of the rural character of Windham

I’m delighted to see the concern from so many citizens regarding the shrinkage of open space in Windham.  I was privileged to serve on the planning board approximately five decades ago when we originally proposed a zoning ordinance in Windham.  I was the youngest member of the board and believe I am the only one still living to write this letter.  Our chairman, Jack Clark, (no relation) did a superb job explaining our proposal to whomever would listen. We held public meetings, met with many civic organizations and any group that would listen to us. After all our preparation, it wasn’t until the third public vote that the ordinance was finally passed. We needed to keep amending the ordinance until it allowed for enough farmland and open space to please the townspeople.  They made it clear that they wanted to preserve the rural character of our town.  

What I have observed over the years is a gradual violation of the original ordinance and the will of the people who voted for it. Time after time I’ve seen the planning board and the councilors grant exceptions to the ordinance and allow more and more housing developments, thus reducing the open spaces and farmland. Those boards forgot that the citizens voted to preserve open space. I sincerely appreciate that so many of you are concerned and are, once again, holding workshops and having discussions to make changes in an effort to preserve Windham’s rural character.   

Soon after that original zoning ordinance was passed, we made an extensive search for land with waterfront and beach access for public use. Although we failed to find any lakefront property, we found a site on the Presumpscot River which was owned by SD Warren. They donated the land and Dundee Park was created for all to enjoy. Dundee Park should be protected from developers and preserved as recreational space to be enjoyed by the public for many years to come.

Sometime after that, the council gained approval from the state to produce our first comprehensive plan. I chaired that first comp plan committee and kept in mind that maintaining the rural nature of Windham was the citizens’ intent.  As the comp plan was necessarily updated over the years, it was not always adhered to. Veering from the plan left us where we are today, with more development and less of the rural community that the citizens desired.      

While business and development certainly have their place in Windham, zoning is critical to allow enough open space for both farms and community space for all to enjoy.  I encourage you to proceed with respect to the original intent and maintain Windham’s rural character.      

Dick Clark
Windham, Maine and Naples, Florida

Friday, December 7, 2018

Insight: Peace on Earth, can it be?

By Lorraine Glowczak

This past weekend was packed with holiday activities that I found myself attending including, craft fairs, Festival of Trees and other events that included the Annual AmFam Holiday Tradition by the Windham Chamber Singers.

I also attended the Old-Fashioned Christmas Carol and Readers’ Theater hosted by Faith Lutheran Church where I got to hear a favorite Christmas song that always brings tears to my eyes – the David Bowie/Bing Crosby rendition of the combined “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” holiday harmony.

Peace is something we want and hope for year-round but especially during the holiday season. But as we know, observe and experience, it seems an impossible dream.

This publication day, December 7, marks 77 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. That morning’s attack has famously become “a day that will live in infamy.”

Of course, I wasn’t alive when this event occurred, but I was alive during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. From that experience and the frightening, tumultuous days that followed, there was very little sense of peace in most Americans’ hearts. I suspect the same was true of those alive on that cold December morning as everyone was preparing for the glorious holiday season.

This is where the juxtaposition of life makes things a bit hazy and confusing – where the lines are fuzzy as we grapple with contradictory ideology. Yes. We all want peace. But sometimes that begs war in order to achieve it.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II was over, peace did reign again in our nation, at least for a while. And it seems the cycle returns again and again - peace, war, peace, war. And, although we face many circumstances today that can render the soul into sadness, for the most part - here in our homes in Windham and Raymond – there is for now – a sense of peace.

There are two ironic and fascinating facts about these two songs – sung together. First, the Little Drummer Boy was written in 1941 – the year of the Pearl Harbor attacks. There is no evidence that the composer/writer of the holiday classic, Katherine Kennicott Davis, wrote it with peace in mind, but as author Penelope Hart wrote on, “’'Little Drummer Boy' crosses genres, boundaries, borders, beliefs [as stars] like Bing Crosby to rock god guitarist Jimmy Hendrix, from Marlene Dietrich to Johnny Cash” each performed the song. Crossing and accepting boundaries – accepting one another as we are - is one step toward peace and - going out on limb – may also be a preventable measure to war. (Although, I must admit, it’s not always that simple.)

As for the “Peace on Earth” portion of the melody, it was written specifically for Bowie as he performed the song with Bing Crosby in his holiday television special – on September 11, 1977. It’s just simply an interesting fact that may beg some reflection. Again, acceptance and respect of one another may have prevented the attacks on September 11, 2001. And, again – I may be going out on a limb with that suggestion and of course, nothing really is ever that simple.

I wish I could offer some guarantee or some deep and amazing insight regarding a peace that is eternal. But since I can’t, I would like to end with the last verse of “Peace on Earth” lyrics: “I pray my wish will come true. For my child and your child, too. He'll see the day of glory. See the day when men of good will live in peace, live in peace again. Peace on earth, can it be…..can it be.”

May peace be with you and begin with you.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor and area Lakes Region community: 

Our 2018 election cycle is essentially over. Some are happy, some are sad, some are angry and some don’t care. We are all hopeful for a change in attitude from partisan politics, deep polarization and division amongst most of us, including family and friends. I invite you to join us at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church this Advent and Christmas for a bit of peace and hope.

Recently, a gunman walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed multiple unsuspecting worshipers. The motive was described as a hate crime and blatant Antisemitism. Yet again, a young man descended upon a nightclub in Thousand Oaks, CA and opened fire on a crowded bar of revelers. More dead and no motive realized, the shooter took his own life after his rampage. I invite you to our church this Advent and Christmas to pray for the victims and their families and experience some peace and hope.

Wildfires continue to rage out of control in California with a growing list of victims and property damage. Unbelievable scenes of carnage and wreckage flood the media. We ask ourselves is this the beginning of the end-times? I invite you to Church to immerse yourselves in peace and hope.

Our world is filled with division, hatred, pain and suffering. Our Church can be for you and your family a place of peace, joy, fellowship and love. I invite you to join us for worship at either 8 a.m. or 10 a.m., on the four Sundays of Advent beginning December 1, and for any of our three Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Perhaps you’ve been away from the Church for a while, maybe you never consider going to any church, or maybe you are new to the area. Advent is a time of “new beginnings” and maybe the timing is right for you to make your way to us this December. I know it can be difficult to enter through the double red doors when it hasn’t been a habit lately, or ever. But I assure you that you will find a warm welcome, unconditional acceptance, and a loving community just happy to see you.
May God bless you and keep you safe.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Tim Higgins, Rector
St. Ann’s Episcopal Church

PS: Please call or send an email anytime at 892-8447 or

Dear Editor,

Thank you to the Windham Eagle and Walter Lunt for the wonderful article on Doctor Sidney Branson. The article inspired me to write a short piece about Doc Branson and the ways that he impacted my life.

Doctor Sidney Branson delivered me into this world. Throughout my life, Sidney Branson was much more than our family doctor. As a boy, I remember Cub Scout meetings in the basement of his home in South Windham. His wife, Nora, was one of our leaders. I, like all the other scouts, was fascinated by Dr. Branson’s extensive model train display in the basement of that home. Dr. Branson’s son, John, and I were good friends. I remember marching in Memorial Day parades. I was wearing my Cub Scout uniform and Doc Branson was marching in his military uniform. I looked up to him and the other service members as heroes.

As an adult, I would drive a classic car in the parade and Dr. Branson was still marching. The first year that he could no longer walk in the parade and had to ride was a watershed moment for me. This was the moment that I first realized that members of America’s “Greatest Generation” were getting older.

In my years on the Windham Town Council, Dr. Branson was very supportive. I vividly remember a proposed ordinance to restrict movies that could be shown at the newly planned movie theater in Windham. It was a very controversial issue and in the end,  I voted against the proposal. This was not the way “popular opinion” seemed to indicate, but it was the way I knew that I had to vote. In the hours and days that that followed, I had second thoughts about my vote. Later that week, I received a note from Sid Branson thanking me for defending free speech and our “first amendment rights”. At that point, I knew I had made the correct decision.

While planning for the 250th anniversary celebration of Windham, in 1987, we needed a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. We wanted someone who could speak about the way Windham was throughout the years. In my mind, Dr. Branson was the logical choice. He agreed to speak and did an excellent job.

During my years on earth, I have known many great people. I will always remember Sidney Branson as one of the greatest.

Gary Plummer