Friday, August 25, 2023

Insight: Placing the proper focus

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Back on Christmas Day 1978, I was given a gift of a Minolta Hi-Matic E 35mm camera and thought it was a tremendous step up from the Kodak Instamatic that I had been using previously. Both color and black and white 35mm film were plentiful and inexpensive and nearly every store that sold film had the capability to develop it fast and produce exceptional photographs.

Ed Pierce recently purchased this Minolta 35mm film camera
on eBay after having used a similar camera for 23 years as
during his career as a newspaper reporter and sportswriter.
This Minolta camera was highly affordable and very practical as I was just a few years into my journalism career. I learned all I could about my new camera and quickly mastered how to load the film, use the light settings, and add a flash if needed. Best of all, I discovered that this camera had a timer, so I could arrange everyone for a family or group photo, set the timer, and then run and be included in the photo too.

On the job, I found that this camera was best suited for portraits or still photography as it came with a fixed lens and didn’t really lend itself to exceptional photographs of action or for sports events. I adapted to its limitations though and began carrying it with me everywhere I went for work.

For the next 23 years, my Minolta Hi-Matic E was used for photographs that accompanied news articles about fires, ribbon cuttings, personality profiles, elections, summer harvests, bears at the zoo, the new merry-go-round at the amusement park and many more events. I used it when I interviewed University of Wyoming men’s basketball players who had just won the Western Athletic Conference championship and while covering a Space Shuttle launch in Florida.

Wherever I went during my career, the camera was there too, and it even helped me win an award from the New Mexico Press Association for one of the best photographs taken for a weekly newspaper in 1989. That was a photo of the first volunteer firefighter at the scene of an abandoned motel fire holding a fire hose that spewed a stream of water through a window with flames shooting out. The force of the water knocked her off-balance and her 8-year-old son standing behind her stuck out his arms trying to keep her upright.

The camera traveled with me for assignments in Frankfurt, Germany; Washington, D.C.; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lemon Dam, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. It went with me on vacation to the Cayman Islands and to South Beach, Florida.

But by 2001, my editors at the newspaper were advising me to ditch my 35mm camera in favor of going digital. With no negatives to develop print contact sheets for photo selections, digital photos could be uploaded right to my computer desktop. At first, I purchased a small Kodak digital box camera and used it for eight years until I had been promoted to an editing position and no longer taking dozens of photos every day.

In 2014, I knew I was moving to accept an editing position in New Hampshire that would require me to resume taking lots of photos once again. After doing some homework, I decided to purchase a Nikon CoolPix L820 and never regretted that choice. I have now gone through two of those L820s after the battery door on the first one became bent and couldn’t be straightened properly. The camera is bright red and is lightweight. Best of all, the photos it captures are exceptional.

When I did make the move to digital in the fall of 2001, I set aside the Minolta Hi-Matic E and every so often, I would pull it down off the closet shelf and compare the difference in weight between it and my Nikon. Somewhere between packing up in Florida for a move to New Hampshire, the Minolta camera disappeared. Through the years, I came to rely on my iPhone camera as my primary backup camera for reporting assignments, but I never forgot what a great camera that Minolta Hi-Matic E was to use and what great photographs it took.

Earlier this summer, I was on eBay and found a like-new Minolta Hi-Matic E in remarkable shape for sale for $35. Before deciding to purchase it though, I researched where 35mm film could be found and what stores still process 35mm film. I also read several articles online about how film photography, like vinyl record albums, is making a comeback. I ordered the camera and used it for the first time to take photographs of the grandkids and family visiting us several weeks ago. Even the patterned black, orange and red camera strap resembles the one that I had on my original version back in the 1970s.

Several friends asked me why I would even want a film camera again after using digital and I explained to them how much better quality that film photos are compared to digital.

It’s said you can’t go home again, but finding my favorite camera again is like traveling back in time and meeting a cherished old friend.

Andy Young: The Best and Worst Thing

By Andy Young

Sometimes the hardest thing about writing for a weekly publication is having a deadline.

If something newsworthy happens on a Tuesday night, it’s too late to write a thoughtful commentary in time for the Wednesday morning deadline. And by the time the next week’s paper is published and hits the newsstand the following Friday, some 10 days have elapsed. That means whatever relevance the event may have had has long since vanished.

Here’s an example: earlier this month the United States Women’s National Soccer team was unexpectedly bounced from the World Cup tournament. After a grueling two-hour match that included two 15-minute overtime sessions, the USWNT lost to Sweden on penalty kicks.

Winners of four of the previous eight World Cups (including the two most recent), the USWNT had never failed to reach the final four, so their underperforming in the group stage and one-game-and-out demise in the knockout round was definitely worthy of comment. What I had in mind was equal parts critical and gleeful. National pride aside, no one who roots for the underdog should have been unhappy. The team’s quick exit brought back memories of a line uttered by long-ago comedian Joe E. Lewis, who declared of major league baseball’s perennial champions, “Rooting for the {New York} Yankees is like rooting for U. S. Steel.”

The modern equivalent of that statement regarding women’s soccer: rooting for the USWNT is like rooting for Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, the Brady/Belichick New England Patriots, or the Dallas Cowboys (no matter who’s in charge). What fun is it pulling for a team that’s expected to win?

However, given that the deadline would render any critique on the USWNT irrelevant by the time it was published, I moved on to other subjects.

The tournament continued, and even without the American women there were some terrific games. It also turned out there was no need for me to criticize the U. S. women’s underperformance. Plenty of others lined up to take published shots at them. This included both legitimate journalists who know far more about soccer than I do, and commentators who in the past played the game at an extremely high level themselves.

But, the vast majority of the condemnation of the USWNT and the women who comprise it came from people who quite clearly don’t know if a soccer ball is filled with air or stuffed with feathers. For days after the team’s loss handsomely compensated talking heads competed for the title of whose fault-finding could be the snidest, and much of it was inappropriately personal. There was criticism of the appearance of some team members, denunciation of the amount of compensation they received for their less-than-stellar performance, and vitriolic disparagement of their real and/or perceived individual beliefs.

The sources of all the irrational criticism were all too predictable: craven internet commenters who hide behind aliases, and preening politicians whose remarks were, as usual, aimed at arousing the ire of their perpetually angry, willfully obtuse followers. Such diatribes reveal far more about the petty, ignorant ranters than they do about their targets.

Having an unmeetable deadline gave me time to put the USWNT’s defeat in its proper perspective. I'm glad I didn’t write the critical piece I had intended to after the team’s early elimination.

I hope Spain enjoys being World Cup champion for the next four years. But they’d better watch out in 2027, because a talented, determined, underdog United States team will be on a mission, and the defending champion Spanish will be squarely in their sights.

Sometimes the best thing about writing for a weekly publication is having a deadline. <

Friday, August 18, 2023

Insight: Connecting with my spirit animal

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Earlier this summer I had a conversation with a friend who asked me if I knew about spirit animals.

Gracie was a rescue cat that traveled with the Pierce Family
from Florida to New Hampshire to Maine in her lifetime.
Not having a clue as to what that is, my friend shared with me that in some spiritual traditions or cultures, what is known as a spirit animal helps guide or protect a person on a journey through life and whose characteristics that person may share or embody. 

The term itself may be based upon beliefs held by Native Americans that it’s possible to connect with your spirit animal through meditation and they act similar to what some Christians believe are guardian angels.

My friend told me that spirit animals often visit us during times of great uncertainty or change and that identifying and interacting with them can provide us with new perspectives about our lives and a deeper spiritual connection to our place in the world.

Spirit animals are creatures we may be naturally drawn to, and my friend said thinking about what animal could be my own spirit animal would take time but once I did identify it, I could begin to see how this could be of some sort of service to me in the future.

According to my friend, studies conducted worldwide show that the most popular spirit animals are the wolf, followed by bears, deer, horses, and eagles, based upon a person’s personal strengths, weaknesses, and traits.
For example, a wolf can symbolize a mix of power, loyalty, guardianship, teamwork, and wildness, while a bear is known for strength, power, and tenacity. A deer is associated with gentleness, kindness, and innocence. Horses are known for freedom, nobleness, and endurance, and eagles can symbolize independence, freedom, and self-expression.
With my busy schedule, I never really gave the conversation about spirit animals much thought until last weekend, when an odd thing happened to me. My favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles, are playing games on the West Coast and on Saturday evening I stayed up late and watched the Orioles’ game against the Seattle Mariners on television.
The game started at 9:40 p.m. and went into extra innings before the Orioles won, 1-0, at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. I went to bed and was sleeping soundly when something unusual woke me up.

For many years, our cat Gracie would sleep at the foot of our bed. She was a rescue cat that I took in before Nancy and I got married. She was very gentle and had been used by her previous owner as a companion to her husband, who was dying of cancer. After he died when Gracie was only 1, the owner was going to dump the cat at the local animal shelter before flying to New Jersey a day before a major hurricane was about to strike the area.
I volunteered to take the cat and give it a good home. Nancy came to love Gracie too after we were married the next year. We almost lost her before even getting to know her though. In the first year we had her, she was diagnosed by our veterinarian with bladder stones and was in bad shape. Money was tight and when we were told that she needed an operation costing $2,100 to save her life, we wondered how we could come up with it.
But our veterinarian told us he trusted us, and we agreed to pay him $300 each time we were paid. Gracie had her surgery, and the veterinarian completely rebuilt her bladder so it could function properly. She was placed on a special dry food diet so she would not encounter further bladder issues.
With her health restored, we then enjoyed Gracie’s company for many years, and she went with us through moves from a rented condominium to our new house in Florida. She rode on the backseat of our car when we moved from Florida to New Hampshire, and then with me in the U-Haul truck from New Hampshire to Maine.
She loved to sit and sleep in the sunlight and was a great companion on rainy days while reading a book or sitting in the chair beside me while I worked on the computer. Once when my cousin, his wife and their daughter visited us in New Hampshire, Nancy joined them in staging a “cat party” with Gracie as the special guest of honor.
But two months after we moved to Maine, Gracie’s health began to decline sharply. She was now 16 years old, and she stopped eating. One day Nancy and I came home from work and found she had died. It was very sad and although years have passed since then, both of us miss her to this day.
Early last Sunday morning, I woke up feeling something laying across my leg. It felt like Gracie’s paw as she used to do at night for years when stretched out on our bed. I reached down to pet her, but there was nothing there.
I was reminded of my conversation about my “spirit animal” and I thought to myself that maybe Gracie had returned to watch over me, fulfilling that role in my life.
That would be simply perfect for me. <

Andy Young: Trying to make sense of the incomprehensible

By Andy Young

I’ve been working diligently lately trying to comprehend the reasons behind ideas I have difficulty fathoming. But even with an open mind there are some things I still can’t fully grasp.

I understand why it’s currently road construction season around here. Repairing Maine’s highways and byways during the winter months obviously isn’t feasible. But I struggle with what prompts the sort of behavior I observed on a recent cycling trip. I was astride my bicycle waiting for a yellow-helmeted worker to wave me forward on a local road that temporarily consisted of one lane.

The woman in the SUV next to me was tapping out a message on her cellphone, but more concerning to me was the fact that she continued to do so without looking up as she began accelerating once the flagman turned his sign from “Stop” to “Proceed with Caution.”

I’ve long since accepted there’s a lot I don’t understand. For example, I never got why anyone would, after sober consideration, consciously decide to begin using tobacco products. I don’t know how anyone would think it’s okay to toss bottles, cans, or other detritus out their car windows, rather than disposing of them properly.

I also don’t understand why some folks elect to embellish their appearance doing anything involving needles, and I don’t get how anyone can enjoy eating ghost peppers, which are allegedly 170 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

However, while I cannot grasp why anyone would decide to begin smoking or chewing tobacco, I fully understand why some people find these products alluring. The soulless individuals running Big Tobacco corporations justify their obscene profits by reasoning they’re providing employment for thousands of workers, and the mercenaries hired to market their products are exceptionally good at what they do.

Americans have the freedom to make choices, and if enjoying commodities that are poisonous even when used correctly is their desire, they are free to do so.

I cannot imagine myself ever littering but judging by what I see along the sides of far too many local roads, many others feel differently. However, I believe I fully understand trash-strewers’ three-part motivation: selfishness, entitlement, and lack of respect for, in no particular order, the environment, other people, animals, and themselves.

As for those who voluntarily allow themselves to be pricked by sharp needles in order to alter their appearance, my guess is they do it for the same reason most people opt to do anything out of the ordinary: to manufacture visual evidence verifying to themselves and the world that they do in fact matter.

Some do this by dyeing their hair blue; others cover themselves with tattoos, or wear jewelry in decidedly non-traditional places. A few oddballs even resort to writing weekly newspaper columns in order to verify their own significance!

But try as I might, I cannot find any justification for using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Considerate smokers who light up away from others correctly point out they’re only harming themselves, and litterers reason their little sin doesn’t hurt anyone directly.

But distracted drivers aren’t just putting themselves at risk; technology-based inattention can irreparably change the lives of other drivers, pedestrians, animals and, as I ruefully considered last week, cyclists whose paths they cross.

Even the new and improved, open-minded me truly doesn’t understand how or why people use cell phones to text message, play video games, or otherwise electronically entertain themselves while operating a motor vehicle. To me that sort of behavior is truly an enigma within a conundrum.

Which, like ingesting ghost peppers, remains yet another thing I don’t understand. <

Friday, August 11, 2023

Insight: Braking Bad

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

My father always enjoyed driving a new car and about every four or five years, he’d spend time at the dealer picking out his new ride. Of course, back then new vehicles were pricey, but nowhere in the league of what they are today, which would have amounted to the equivalent of purchasing several new homes in his day.

Ed Pierce's 1956 Chevy was purchased in 1972
for the amount of $40. COURTESY PHOTO
The first car of his I can remember riding in was a dark brown 1953 Buick and I’m told I was sad and upset when he traded the car in for a blue and white 1957 Ford Fairlane. Before long both of my parents were looking for a new car and I remember sitting with my mother in the dining room when she counted out $500 in silver dollars that she had saved for a down payment on a green 1962 Chevrolet Impala.

The Impala was my favorite of all my father’s cars, and I loved pulling up at the Big Boy Drive-In and having the carhop have my father roll down his window to balance our meal tray on. But as soon as I was in junior high and dreaming about him passing the Impala on to me when I learned how to drive, it was gone, traded in for a white 1966 Ford Galaxy. And before I left for college in 1971, the Galaxy was traded in for a blue 1970 Ford LTD.

When the time came for me to purchase my first automobile in 1972, I was unsure what make or model that I really wanted. A friend attending my college in New Mexico was graduating and leaving to return to Vermont and didn’t want to drive his 1956 Chevy back across the country. He asked if I wanted it and I agreed to purchase it for $40.

The car has 85,000 miles on it in a time when vehicles only reached 100,000 miles before being junked and it had rusted vertically from the left rear tire to the rear door handle. Once while driving on the interstate in New Mexico, I heard a scraping noise and pulled over to find that the left rear tire wheel well had rusted through and was scraping the tire as I drove. I yanked off the flimsy metal piece still holding it to the chassis and discarded the wheel well, leaving a hole in the body between the tire and the back seat. To not get sprayed when driving through puddles, I stuffed a towel in the hole and carried an extra towel for rainy days.

Several years later I sold the Chevy for what I paid for it and bought a brand-new beige 1974 Mercury Capri. The sticker price was $3,200 and I recall not being very happy about having to make a monthly car payment of $74 for three years after trading in a used Honda CVCC.

The Capri was my introduction to the modern age of automobiles after having driven the 1956 Chevy which had a strong steel bumper and a wonderful AM radio. The car’s aluminum paint chipped off in my hand when I scratched the door handle with my fingernail revealing it was plastic underneath. The sun and the angle of the Capri’s rear window quickly faded the brown plastic underneath it, and I bought a small bath rug to prevent further cracking and bubbling in the plastic there.

When I was sent overseas in the U.S. Air Force in 1977, I sold the Capri, which was recently paid off and hoped to get a better car when I returned. After two years in Germany, I was assigned to The Pentagon and bought a used 1968 Volkswagen Beetle to get around in. When that vehicle began to ring up large repair bills, I purchased a new 1981 Datsun pickup truck which I drove for eight years. That was followed in succession by a used 1985 Buick Regal, a used 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix, and a new 1996 stick-shift Pontiac Firebird.

I drove the Firebird long past the five years of monthly payments and until it cost too much to repair the transmission, replace the tires and the electric motor that powered the headlights to pop up. In the end, a spoon from a thrift store jammed in tightly kept one of the headlights propped up to be able to drive at night.

While on vacation in Vermont about 2006, we rented a Hyundai Sonata and both my wife, Nancy, and I liked it. We found a 2004 Sonata at a nearby dealer with only 18,000 miles on it and drove it home. That vehicle went with us when we moved from Florida to New Hampshire and then on to Maine in 2017. By then I had also purchased a 2011 Sonata with 24,000 miles and I’m still driving that car today.

However, the 2004 Sonata, then driven by Nancy, was totaled when a driver clobbered me head-on in 2017. I eventually got Nancy another car to replace the Sonata, a 2009 Kia Rio.

The junkyard is piled high by now with all the vehicles I’ve owned and despite the advances in technology, I still miss my all-steel 1956 Chevy.

Andy Young: A lottery worth playing

By Andy Young

Even if my father hadn’t referred to government-sponsored gambling as a Stupidity Tax, my basic understanding of the laws of chance tells me the only difference between buying Powerball tickets and flushing money down the toilet is that the first option doesn’t require enlisting the services of a plumber, unless frustrated players opt to dispose of their losing receipts via the commode.

Another reason to avoid legalized pickpocketing: the possibility of winning. The prize is always a whole lot of money, and the internet is teeming with stories, some of which are even true, of instant millionaires who, after hitting it big, went bankrupt, became addicted to drugs, or ended up incarcerated. But not before they were hounded for free handouts by sponging relatives, fair weather friends, and scamming strangers who subsequently sued them for causing their own drug addiction, bankruptcy, and/or incarceration.

But if there’s ever a national lottery to determine who’ll become the emperor of the United States, I’m in!

When I win, my first unilateral edict will be to install term limits. Under my absolute rule, no elected official in the country could serve a term of more than two years. History shows career politicians excel at lining the pockets of themselves and their friends, but having fresh legislators every two years will eventually make buying influence from the biennial parade of new mayors, governors, senators, and representatives too expensive for those who currently lobby lawmakers for their own selfish interests, rather than for those of ordinary people.

Under my emperorship single-use plastic and/or metal containers will be outlawed. This won’t just help repair the environment; it’ll discourage consumption of libations fraught with sugar, caffeine, intoxicants, or other harmful and addictive substances. Cutting back on such drinks will ultimately lessen the cost of health insurance, since cases of diabetes, alcoholism, and similar maladies would all drop sharply, diminishing the need for so much expensive medical care.

My next reform: no more drive-up windows! Banning them won’t just reduce air pollution from idling autos whose drivers can’t do without artery-clogging fast food and/or designer coffee; it’ll also help curb obesity-related issues. Banking business can be done online, or better yet at the bank itself, where actual human beings will serve helpfully and happily. Another hidden advantage of the drive-thru window’s demise: people will start scheduling meals ahead of time, rather than rushing around and eating on the fly. The extra exercise they’ll get from walking into a restaurant or bank lobby is another plus. And, the amount of traffic accidents should plunge, since more pre-planning means fewer drivers hastily making bad choices because they’re running late.

My first directive for the auto industry: all non-electric cars will be required to get a minimum of 100 miles per gallon of gas. The second: all vehicles must come equipped with a device that disables cell phones and computers while the car is being used. Fewer distracted drivers will lead to fewer dead ones.

My new national maximum salary law will codify that no person running any business can make more than four times the average annual salary of their employees. It would still be okay for corporate CEOs to pay themselves a billion dollars yearly, just so long as their employees each earn $250,000,000.

My last-ever edict will have two parts. First, the “Become America’s Emperor” lottery will take place only once every two hundred years, and secondly, the term limit for the winner will be fixed in perpetuity at one day.

The law, as I’ll remind the nation in my farewell address, applies to everyone.

Even benevolent humanitarian dictators. <

Tim Nangle: Beneficial property tax relief changes you should know about

By State Sen. Tim Nangle

As your state senator, one of my primary responsibilities is to inform you about changes that directly impact your life. Recently, the 131st Legislature made some substantial adjustments to our state's property tax programs, which will better target relief to folks who need it the most.

State Sen. Tim Nangle
Last year, the 130th Legislature passed LD 290, which created the Property Tax Stabilization Program. While this program was well-intentioned and seemed good on the surface, municipalities and financial experts soon identified that this program would have quickly become financially unsustainable. It had the potential to strain our state and local budgets, putting added pressure on fellow property taxpayers. It was clear we needed to make a change.

This year, the Taxation Committee worked to address this issue. After thoughtful deliberation and bipartisan agreement, the committee amended and approved LD 130, "An Act to Eliminate Senior Citizen Property Tax Stabilization and Expand the Homestead Property Tax Exemption."

This bill made two important changes to existing programs that significantly benefit seniors living on a fixed income. It sunsets the unworkable Property Tax Stabilization Program while expanding two existing, better-targeted programs — the Property Tax Fairness Credit and the Senior Property Tax Deferral Program. The changes put forward in this bill were included in the biennial budget.

This change has a variety of advantages over the previous program. Under the old Property Tax Stabilization Program, the average Maine senior would have saved $128 per year. Now, seniors will save on average close to $500 per year — a substantial increase that makes a real difference for those living on a tight budget. To make sure financial relief reaches those who need it, the Property Tax Fairness Credit will see substantial improvements. The credit's maximum benefit will increase, and the income qualifications have been extended so more folks can receive this credit. Importantly, because the Property Tax Fairness Credit is also available to renters, this change ensures that seniors who choose to sell their homes and move into apartments won’t suddenly lose their aid. It doesn't just benefit long-term homeowners; it also extends support to seniors who rent or who have recently downsized to an apartment.

Perhaps one of the best changes is that you won’t need to go to the town office and fill out any special forms to get this credit. All you have to do is file your income taxes; if you qualify, you get it. If you need help filling out your taxes, you can reach out to CA$H Maine and AARP Tax-Aide for free assistance.

The Senior Property Tax Deferral Program was also expanded. By relaxing income and asset restrictions, the program can now benefit more Mainers. For homeowners who have fallen behind on property taxes, the updated law allows them to enter the deferral program — a change specifically recommended by Legal Services for the Elderly.

These changes will go into effect in January 2024. Those who were previously part of the Property Tax Stabilization Program should file their income tax – even if you haven’t needed to file in a while, or know you don’t owe taxes — to qualify for the Property Tax Fairness Credit, which has been enhanced to better direct relief. Information about this credit, as well as the existing Homestead Exemption Program, is available on the official website of Maine Revenue Services:

The changes to these programs are a testament to our shared commitment to supporting those who have worked hard to build our communities over generations. I’m going to keep working to ensure fair treatment and economic stability for all Mainers, including our seniors.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, wants to discuss legislation, or needs help connecting with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is, and my office phone number is 207-287-1515. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

Friday, August 4, 2023

Insight: Delving into the psychic realm

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

During a family visit this week from eldest son and his wife and our two grandchildren, my daughter-in-law Casie mentioned to me a psychic experience that she had back home in Connecticut where she was visited in the middle of the night by what she described as “aliens.”

She went into detail about how the aliens looked, how they were dressed, and how they communicated with her by telepathy. She insists it really happened and it got me to think about several odd things that have happened to me in my life and how I am not quick to dismiss Casie’s experience as the product of her imagination.

Back when my father was struck head-on and killed by a drunk driver while returning from his sister’s house in Florida in May 1991, I was staying with my parents after moving there from New Mexico. I had not lived in their home for more than four months when my father died, and I didn’t know a whole lot about their home.

There was a shower in the bathroom off my mother’s bedroom, but my father never used it because he preferred taking a bath in the bathroom off the hallway. When he would turn on the tub faucet, the pipes in the home were loud and echoed through the walls as water rushed through them. After a while of staying there, I became accustomed to the sound and overlooked it.

Several weeks after my father died in the accident, my mother flew to Ohio to visit friends and to just get away and try to process what had happened. That left me in their home all by myself for several weeks taking care of their dog, a 5-year-old dachshund named Mitzi, who would sleep at the foot of my bed.

On a Saturday night early in June, I stayed up late and watched Saturday Night Live before turning in around 1 a.m. or so. Sometime after I had fallen asleep, something odd happened.

I was awakened in the middle of the night by the dog who had barked twice. She apparently thought that she had heard something in the hallway, and she was listening intently for further sounds. I turned on the light and didn’t see anything and went back to sleep.

About half an hour later, the dog barked again, and I could hear water running through the pipes into the hallway bathroom tub. I got out of bed, walked to the bathroom, and opened the door. Although I could still hear the water in the pipes, the tub was dry, and water wasn’t filling the tub. I went back to bed and when I woke up that morning, I forgot all about it.

The next evening, at about 3 a.m. the exact same thing happened again. The dog barked, I could hear water in the pipes, and it sounded like someone was drawing a bath. This time though when I walked into the bathroom the tub faucet was on and water was filling the tub. I checked the entire house and made sure all the doors were shut and locked and they were. I was all alone there in the house and had not turned on the tub faucet for the bathtub.

When I mentioned the incident to my mother when she got home from her trip, she told me it must have been my father trying to communicate from the other side. I told her that was crazy, and she said the same thing had happened to her a few days after my father’s death. She said she was startled by the dog barking, and she found water running in the tub which she turned off. When she went back to sleep, she said she felt a tap on her shoulder and my father was standing there and he said everything was fine and that he was OK.

My father was skeptical of many psychic things during his life, but he did believe in fortune tellers. Just after I had moved to Florida, he asked me if I had ever heard of this town called Cassadaga. He told me it was a town of mystics and fortune tellers and he wanted to take me there on a Saturday morning to have a fortune teller read my palm. He drove me there and the fortune teller told me I would get married to someone whose name started with the initial “N.” Not knowing anyone with a first name starting with “N,” I didn’t think much of that prediction. But 14 years later, Nancy and I were married, and as it turned out, the fortune teller was correct.

Leaving Cassadaga that day, my father asked what I thought about the fortune teller. When I told him the jury was still out on that, he said he drove me there so I could feel good about myself. I asked if he believed in ghosts and he joked that if he ever came back after dying, he’d want to take a bath first.

I told Casie that I am not going to discount her late-night visitor experience because I’ve experienced my own strange occurrence. <

Andy Young: No one names their son August

By Andy Young

When it comes to months, August is literally and figuratively not cool.

Aside from being longer than February, April, June, September, and November, the eighth twelfth of the calendar doesn’t have a lot going for it. The eastern United States is consistently hot and uncomfortably humid during August, and while the clamminess factor isn’t as bad in America’s west, that’s chiefly because much of that area is on fire at this time of year.

And as for Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, well, when the temperature is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk by 8 a.m., it really doesn’t matter what the humidity is.

August isn’t any more attractive in the southern hemisphere either. Winter lingers for a full 31 days this month from the mountains of Chile to Argentina’s southern tip, Tierra Del Fuego. It’s not just South America where August winters drag on; waterfalls freeze over in the African nation of Lesotho, inland alpine areas of New Zealand can see temperatures nosedive to 10 degrees below zero Celsius, and Antarctica is so cold that polar bears won’t even travel there, despite all the delicious waddling birds in the area. August is equally unappealing in both hemispheres. It’s a hot mess in the summer and a cold mess in the winter. It’s also a month without an identity.

Think about it: January commences with New Year’s Day celebrations. February has Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day is synonymous with March.

April showers bring May flowers and Memorial Day, June means school’s out for summer, and July 4 is all about cookouts and fireworks.

September: Labor Day weekend. October: Halloween. November: Thanksgiving. December: Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, with New Year’s Eve for dessert.

What’s August got? Ceaseless humidity, millions of acres of forest fires, and cold so intense that even ravenous polar bears won’t make the effort to swim a few thousand miles to a veritable penguin buffet.

Another thing concerning August that needs to be discussed, if delicately: its name. Let me preface this by admitting that as a male Caucasian of above-average height born in the United States of America who speaks fluent English with no discernible accent, I should not be allowed to complain about anything. That’s why the following observation should not be considered a grievance, but rather as mere food for thought.

How come there are three female months, but only one that’s got a male name?

The second quarter of the calendar year consists of three lovely months with three lovely names. In addition to Daisy Duck’s three nieces there are, according to various internet sources, legions of accomplished women named April, May, or June.

There is one reasonably well-known male June, but he comes with an asterisk. The only reason the man who once quarterbacked the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and coached the University of Hawaii’s football team was christened June Sheldon Jones III was that his father was June Sheldon Jones, Jr.

Now compare the amount of splendid and accomplished Aprils, Mays, and Junes there are with the number of prominent Augusts. Well, let’s see. There’s August Anheuser Busch, the son of the founder of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company. And there’s August A. Busch, Jr., and August A. Busch III, and August A. Busch IV, and … well, that’s about it for distinguished Augusts.

I imagine those Busch boys got teased incessantly over their first name. Guys like February Johnson, July Rodriguez and November Williams never had to put up with that.

With apologies to Johnny Cash, being a boy named Sue is a day at the beach compared to being a month named August. <

Jessica Fay: Investing in Maine Families

By State. Rep. Jessica Fay

After many long days and nights at the State House, the Legislature has wrapped up most of its session work for 2023! I could not be more proud of all that we have accomplished to deliver for Mainers.

State Rep. Jessica Fay
This month, we passed a historic budget that addresses some of our most pressing challenges and makes long-term investments in our people – all while maintaining fiscal responsibility. Most importantly, this legislation will make it easier for more folks to make ends meet.

It contains more than $100 million to help tackle our current statewide housing crisis by boosting funding for the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which help incentivize the development of affordable housing. It also funds the creation of the Housing First Program, which will prioritize providing permanent housing and on-site services to persons who have been chronically homeless.

The budget also takes significant steps to improve the current lack of available and affordable child care, which has made it difficult for many Maine parents to fully participate in our workforce.

It will invest more than $35 million to double the wage stipend for child care workers while expanding eligibility for assistance to more families – a major boost for our economy.

As the House Co-Chair of the non-partisan Caucus on Aging, I am particularly grateful that this budget helps fixed income older Mainers in some very important ways.

It increases funding for Meals on Wheels, it invests in the Elder Justice Roadmap recommendations, it expands eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program, and it expands property tax relief through the Property Tax Deferral Program and the Property Tax Fairness Credit, helping more Mainers – and particularly, those 65 and older – stay in their homes and age with dignity.

Taken together, these are investments in what Mainers value – our families and our communities.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any ideas, questions or concerns. I am here to serve you.

Fay, a Democrat, is the Maine House chair of the Government Oversight Committee and a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, and is serving her fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives.

She serves the community members of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, and part of Poland. <

Reach State Rep. Jessica Fay by calling 207-655-5020 or by email at