Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Insight: A father does know best

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

In my profession as a newspaper editor, my free time is limited because of work. Somehow, I missed watching sportscaster Joe Buck’s television interview show “Undeniable” when it aired from 2014 to 2019.

Ed Pierce is shown with his father, Ed. Sr.
about 1958 in Rochester, New York. 
On the program, Buck sits down in front of a live audience for hour-long interviews with some of the most prominent sports stars ever. During the past week, I made time to watch two of these exceptional interviews, one with tennis star John McEnroe and the other with hockey Hall of Fame legend Wayne Gretzky.

What I discovered is that they both had fathers who envisioned tremendous careers for their sons and were encouraging and supportive of them years before anyone had heard of them. Their keen insight and guidance regarding their sons resulted in five Wimbledon championships, 77 career tennis titles and four Stanley Cups and nine National Hockey League Most Valuable Player Awards.

I enjoyed learning about their early lives and how both of their dads realized their talent and suggested ways to continue to improve their skills so they could go on to lead productive lives.

When I was young, I had two dreams, one was to become a sportswriter and journalist, and the other was to coach the men’s college basketball team at Syracuse University. I had fallen in love with basketball from the first time I attended a Rush Henrietta High School varsity game at Christmas in 1966 and had watched a player named Bill Smith compete in a tournament for our school.

Smith, a 6-foot-11 center, graduated from high school the following spring, and enrolled at Syracuse. He went on to be one of three Syracuse players to average more than 20 points a game during his career there and set the all-time single game scoring record with 47 points in 1971 against Lafayette, a mark that still stands nearly 53 years later. 

Today I am friends with Bill, who played in the NBA, and is retired and lives in Oregon.

My own basketball career came to a crashing halt at Rush Henrietta when I became the first player cut from the team on the first day of tryouts in November 1969. The coach offered me a position as a manager and wanted me to keep the scorebook for the team.

I remember speaking to my father about this and he thought it was a great idea, telling me that if I couldn’t play, it was the next best way to stay involved with the team. He also reminded me of something that I had done several years before.

When I was in Fifth Grade, I watched a sandlot baseball game in Brighton, New York between my brother’s elementary school, Queen of Peace, and my school, Our Lady of Lourdes. I jotted down details of what happened in the game and produced an account that was published on Sunday in the church newsletter. My father thought that it was a remarkable feat for being just 10 years old and never forgot it.

I accepted the scorebook job, but it was the responsibility of the coach to call in the box score after each game to the daily newspaper. Because he was so busy, sometimes the coach would bring me into his office after games and have me call the sports desk at the newspaper to tell them what happened.

Once, the assistant sports editor asked me if I could watch a game in a neighboring town when our high school was not playing and call in the results. I did it and received a $5 check in the mail for doing that the next week.

But by the time I was graduating from high school, I was torn between the decision of going to college and studying physical education to become a basketball coach, or to study journalism and pursue a career as a sportswriter.

When it came time to fill out my college application form, I had made up my mind and was determined to follow my dream of coaching basketball. I handed the application to my father, who had to sign it as my parent. He said he’d do that and take it to the post office and mail it in for me.

After a month of waiting, a letter from the college arrived for me and informed me that I had been accepted into the freshman class that fall. I spent the summer getting ready to travel across the country and preparing to take the first steps of living on my own for the first time. Before I got on the plane, my father told me to work hard in school and that he believed in me.

When I arrived at the college admissions office to receive my class schedule, I was surprised. My schedule was filled with journalism classes, not physical education classes. When I was shown my college application, I found my father had erased physical education and in his own handwriting, had replaced my major with journalism. Now 48 years into my career as a journalist, I can’t thank him enough for doing that for me.

I’m not John McEnroe or Wayne Gretzky, but I understand when they speak with reverence about how their fathers influenced their lives. I can say the same.

Andy Young: 192-plus reasons for giving thanks

By Andy Young

Orange-purple sunsets. Dried apricots. Indoor plumbing. Selfless police officers. Brilliant autumn leaves. Refrigeration. Basketball. The Smothers Brothers. Rice Chex. Kind neighbors.

Public libraries. Generous colleagues. Long-distance phone calls. Wheat back pennies. Southern Maine Community College. Prunes. Apple cider. Grandparents. To Kill a Mockingbird. Bicycles.

Strawberry picking. Bowling alleys. Kindergarten teachers. School nurses. Butterflies. Cherry tomatoes straight from the garden. Cribbage. Role models of all ages. Jack Benny’s violin. Blue skies.

Summer rain. Dental hygienists. Paved bike paths. Low-maintenance houseplants. Stuffed animals. Refrigerator magnets. Fresh salmon. Tennis. The 1984 Alaska Goldpanners. The post office.

John Denver. Generic Wheat Thins. Living far from the equator. Family photos. Board games. Spaghetti. Snowplows. Goalie masks. Maple syrup. Genuine journalists.

Elevators. Spanish rice. Butte, Montana. Tina Turner. Anything written by Carl Hiaasen or Leonard Pitts, Jr. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Loaded Questions. The 1969 New York Mets. Electric cars. Ramen Noodles.

Acadia National Park. The Baseball Hall of Fame. Kool and the Gang. Almond milk. Electricians. Flashlights. Oral history. Alfred E. Neuman. The two goals I scored playing intramural hockey in college. Exploding Kittens.

Amtrak. Bean boots. Blueberry picking. Landscapers. Jimmy Carter. The 1985 Durham Bulls. Golden kiwis. Yosemite Sam. The University of Maine. Applesauce bran muffins.

Snidely Whiplash. Rocking chairs. Thick soup. Fairbanks, Alaska. Oregano. Sharpies. Bobby Hull table-top hockey. Firefighters and first responders. Oprah Winfrey. Jeopardy!

Bus drivers. Welders. Crossword puzzles. Living indoors. Sunshine. Italian Ices. Angus King. The 1994 Butte Copper Kings. Fresh spinach. KC and the Sunshine Band.

Potable tap water. My three amazing children. Garlic. The Spinners. Haiku. The Red Cross. Multihued sunrises. Librarians. Mushrooms. Social workers.

Babbling brooks. Curbside trash pickup. Wavy potato chips. Boris Badenov. The New York Knicks (when Willis Reed was captain). Orange groves. Bigfoot-shaped air fresheners. Old baseball cards. Scenic overlooks. Bugs Bunny.

Short grain rice. Summer breezes. Islands in the Stream (the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers version). Cloth shopping bags. SpongeBob. Letters from former students. Ball Four. Apple Pie. Ice Cream. Apple Pie Ice Cream.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Prosthetic hips. People with the same birthday as me. Bluefield, West Virginia. Pea picking. Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. Stewed tomatoes. The 1979-80 residents of UConn’s Lady Fenwick House. Sudoku puzzles. Pez dispensers.

My son’s vegetable stir fry. My mother’s spaghetti sauce. My mother-in-law’s ginger cake. My siblings. My cousins. Memories of my parents and grandparents. Phones that flash “Spam Risk” on nuisance calls. The Glory of Their Times. All my children’s teachers. Band-Aids.

The three-quarter-court shot I hit from the opposite foul line against the Atomic Moles. My older son’s soccer coaches. My daughter’s Taekwondo instructors. My younger son’s tennis coach. The men and women of the military. Surprise packages in the mailbox. Ocean State Job Lot. My Memorial University of Newfoundland backpack. Spring flowers. Extension ladders.

My 15-year-old-Pittsburgh Pirates pullover. My 30-year-old Raleigh IceCaps pullover. My 40-year-old UConn baseball pullover. The quilt my grandmother made for me, and that my sister rescued and repaired four-plus decades later. Warm winter days. Cool summer evenings. Crisp fall mornings. Disinfecting wipes. Living close to Canada. Guidance counselors.

Nature. Street hockey. Weird postcards. Upbeat waiters and/or waitresses. People who see the innate good in others and can look past their imperfections. Different color highlighters. Leaf rakers (as opposed to leaf blowers). Courteous drivers. Apple orchards. Bullwinkle.

My children’s friends. Baseball before designated hitters. Random kindnesses. Finding a quarter. Fredericton, New Brunswick. Coaches who know winning isn’t everything. Motels with free breakfasts. The Simpsons. People who say, “thank you.” Farmers.

Six hundred words a week to use however I please.

Discovering (yet again) that 600 words aren’t nearly enough to list everything I’m thankful for. <

Friday, November 17, 2023

Insight: Examining life and death

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

My wife and I recently watched a TED Talk on YouTube presented by author and hospice and palliative physician Dr. BJ Miller called “What really matters at the end of life” and we found it fascinating how he was able to convey that as death approaches, many people just want respect, love, and comfort.

Author and hospice physician Dr. BJ Miller is known for
his TED Talk 'What really matters at the end of life' and 
says his own near-death experience has helped him to
transform how he looks at life. COURTESY PHOTO
Miller himself faced death as a sophomore student at Princeton University when after a night out with friends, he climbed onto the roof of a parked shuttle train and was electrocuted by 11,000 volts of electricity. First responders saved his life, but through his injuries, he lost both his legs below the knees and half of his left arm.

He was inspired to heal and adapt by his mother, who was disabled and in a wheelchair after contracting polio as a child. Spending months recovering in the hospital’s burn unit, Miller had time to think about how his mother embraced life with her disability and how despite his own physical limitations, he too had something to offer that would transform his life.

During his TED talk, Miller said he believes that a disability is not something to be ashamed of, not something to overcome or to put behind you, rather, he said he found it to be something to work with and it led him to seek a career in medicine specializing in hospice and palliative care, which he described as easing the suffering from physical pain.

According to Miller, through his work and his own near-death experience, he has been able to recognize and distinguish two separate fears that people have regarding death. One is the fear of dying and having to endure the suffering and pain associated with that, and the other is the fear of being dead and missing their loved ones and how the world will continue without them.

He said that from realizing those two distinctions, he can help address each concern and it’s made him a better hospice and palliative care physician.

Back in 1998, I had been experiencing lower back pain for several months and had unexpectedly lost weight. Four different physicians were unable to pinpoint what was wrong with me. Then I had CT scan, and it discovered a suspicious spot on my lung. It was recommended that I make an appointment to see a surgeon.

I met with the surgeon in his office on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and after examining my scan results, he suggested I might have leukemia or some type of cancer and scheduled me for exploratory surgery the day after Christmas. It goes without saying that the holiday season that year was not very merry for me, and I felt like I had the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

After my exploratory operation, the surgeon informed me that I had a rare form of cancer. He had confirmed the results with the Mayo Clinic and recommended a course of treatment that included surgery and chemotherapy and said my odds of survival were 50-50. My thoughts while driving home from hearing that news turned out to be exactly what Dr. BJ Miller describes. I was fearful of the pain and suffering I would endure in treatment and wondered if this was indeed the end for me that I had accomplished very little in my life and I was unsure of what my purpose in living had been.

I spent many sleepless nights during my treatment reviewing my relationships with others, debating what I might have done differently and why this was happening to me. I came to accept that if I was going to die, that it was part of life and was my time to go. But I prayed that if I was to survive, I’d focus on being a better person and use my writing talent to tell stories that inspired others.

Miraculously, I survived, and within a few years, my life and career were back on track. Through personal experience, I can tell you that when you learn the end might be near, it’s not much of a fun and liberating time. The anticipation can be paralyzing and the stress of coping with it all can be utterly overwhelming.

Nowadays when I reflect on my health issues of 25 years ago, I am in awe that powerful medicine and some great physicians saved my life. It certainly gives me confidence to know I could have died but somehow didn’t. Because of that experience my outlook on life changed too. Some things that used to really get under my skin and bother me are now just trivial annoyances and not important in the greater scheme of things.

Dr. Miller’s TED Talk explores what's most important to people who are closer to death, and he lists those as personal comfort, feeling unburdened and not being a burden to those they love, finding existential peace, and living out your remaining days with a sense of wonderment and spirituality.

Those of us who have been given a second chance in life understand what he means. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all applied those attributes to our daily lives too?

Andy Young: Intro to mattress shopping

By Andy Young

I’ve long believed that everyone should sleep on the floor at least once a year. However, that’s not because I think it’s great for strengthening the spine, building character, or toughening up one’s personal resolve.

An annual “sleep on the floor night” would help folks more fully appreciate what they have, which in the case of nearly everyone reading this essay includes a roof over their head, hot and cold running water, and a reasonably comfortable mattress to sleep on. Few people fully appreciate the value of a pad which comfortably supports a reclining body in need of rest.

Until such time as none is available, that is.

Most people sleep on multiple mattresses, not all of which are ideal, during their lifetime. A 5-year-old’s optimal mattress becomes unsuitable as its user grows taller, wider, or both. And like other products, mattresses aren’t designed to last forever. I’ve slept on some for which the warranty, if one ever existed, had pretty clearly expired.

Some years ago, I traveled to Kenai, Alaska on business. There weren’t any available hotels there, but my resourceful, frugal employer took care of that by arranging for my colleagues and I to spend three nights sleeping in the local national guard armory, where the mattresses seemed to date back to World War II. It was impossible to recline on one without immediately rolling downhill into its center. At least they were bedbug-free, which isn’t always the case with cheap temporary accommodations.

However, in retrospect the most challenging thing about those aging mattresses was extricating ourselves from them in the morning. Several colleagues weighing over 200 pounds needed help from less-hefty team members to escape from the mattress-encased fissures they had sunken into overnight.

I recalled that adventure recently while sharing aching back stories with a similarly afflicted co-worker. She suggested trying a new mattress, and since the one I’d been sleeping on for the past three decades was looking a little threadbare, I decided to heed her advice.

I must have looked uncertain when I entered the showroom, because an enthusiastic salesperson who had evidently just finished her third Red Bull raced over, introduced herself, and began quizzing me on what type of mattress I was looking for. Did I prefer soft, medium, firm, Superfirm, or uber firm? Was I looking for an innerspring mattress? A hybrid? Memory Foam? Gel-infused foam? Latex?

The fawning clerk encouraged me to try out several different models. The problem: each one, from soft to Superfirm, just felt like a regular mattress to me.

I found one that seemed decent, but when she revealed the price ($2,300 plus tax), I felt my back begin acting up again. The bottom line: I didn’t make a purchase that day.

The following weekend I visited, on a whim, another furniture outlet. A friendly fellow quietly greeted me, asked me to let him know if I needed any help, and then left me alone. Twenty minutes later I bought a brand new, hopefully better-for-my-back mattress for less than a third of what the overzealous salesperson had wanted me to spend the week before. The low-pressure (and ultimately successful) merchant also suggested I write down how I slept each night, because, were I dissatisfied, I could exchange my new mattress for a model with a different firmness, as long as I did so within 30 days.

I sure hope this mattress works out, because more than a month has passed, and the sale is final. Unfortunately. I never did get to record how rested I felt each morning.

I kept falling asleep before I could write anything down. <

Friday, November 10, 2023

Joe Kellner: Hope for the future

By Joe Kellner

I am writing this as I wrap up my first ever campaign for an elected position in which I’m running for RSU 14 School Board. I am writing this prior to the election, but by the time this is published, it will be behind us with the outcomes likely known. I write to share some of my observations and hopes for the future.

Joe Kellner was elected Tuesday to a
three-year term on the RSU 14
Board of Directors.
These observations are mine and mine alone, shared not because I feel one iota superior to anyone else, but rather because I hope to start a dialogue. I felt compelled to write this after my experience campaigning where I spent a lot of time talking to individuals with hugely varying views and mindsets. I want to thank those that took the time to support my campaign – the unsolicited outpouring was truly moving. I also want to sincerely thank all those voters and community members that have taken the time to talk to me regardless of whether or not you chose to vote for me. Anyway, here goes:

When it comes to policymaking and government in our country, I believe we’re inherently structured for divisiveness and disagreement. We are poorly structured to accomplish anything truly meaningful. Of course, we do accomplish good things from time to time, but I often feel it happens despite ourselves. This is less true at the local level and becomes progressively more toward the national level. Where we see the best policy that tends to get made is in non-partisan bodies.

We predominately live in a two-party system. Each of these parties has a general core fundamental set of ideals and beliefs. More importantly when it comes to how policymakers get elected in partisan races, the parties come with vast sums of money. Candidates, in order to access these coffers, must generally get in line with what the party feels is the right “set” of principles and by declaring their ongoing allegiance. Success in a large race will often come down to “get in line” or “be irrelevant.” The money in politics, at its core, inhibits good policymaking and creates tremendous propensity to pick a polar side. This is why we almost never see strong and formidable independent candidates.

We, on the outside of this day-to-day reality, are profoundly influenced by this. The ads we see and the news we watch or read is often the result of incredible spending by groups that endorse candidates or support certain ideals, and seldom by those who would welcome compromise toward good policy that moves us forward. Our views and beliefs should be a-la-carte – in other words choosing those beliefs that we most align with based on our experiences and value systems - regardless of which party may support those ideals. One could, for example, support both universal healthcare and small government even though the “institution” tells you that’s a faux pas.

It's wild how much this has changed in the last 50 years. Presidential elections, for example, used to regularly be won by enormous margins in one direction or another (check out Reagan or Clinton round 1 as examples). We didn’t feel we had to always vote with our team and make decisions based on our own thoughts and values. What happened? In my opinion, vast sums of money and social media.

Our nation (and in many respects our community) has become disturbingly divided. We have picked sides. We have dug our heels in focusing on an opposing team mentality vs. a diverse group of mindsets coming together to find the common good. I also think social media has harmed us. It remains true that a Facebook comment debate changes few, if any, minds – you’re almost definitely wasting your time. The dopamine hit from that zinger of a good comment really serves to accomplish nothing positive in the long run. With respect to social media, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. Sure, it can be a good tool, but know its dangers and limitations.

I encourage you to take some time to turn off MSNBC or Fox News (or insert your favorite information sources here). Much like national politics, those are all about money, too. Getting you to keep watching and to feel something while doing it is how they get ratings – how the hosts get paid their millions upon millions. If you don’t want to do that, at least occasionally change the channel to the opposite one and truly listen. Try to understand how those that don’t think the same way as you are feeling. This will either help you better understand your own value set or maybe even shift your thinking on some beliefs you’ve held. With the degree of influence we encounter within our lives, it takes an active process to distill various pieces of information to form thoughts and opinions that are our own.

Through my work in healthcare, one of the key principles we employ is never judging a patient. We have no idea what they’re going through, and everyone is going through something. In our relatively short time on this Earth, a fact we have been unfortunately reminded of recently, let’s find time to be kind to one another. We have no idea what each other is going through or have experienced. As simple as this sounds, let’s talk to each other – have a real conversation – you may be surprised at what you learn. When you have that conversation, practice really listening, and do it with openness to being persuaded, the long-term benefit is clear. Also remember that while value sets may be different, and there are of course exceptions, the vast majority of people have truly good and sincere intentions.

I want to see us work together to do better. We can find common ground. We can make good policy. Asking good questions is far more productive than declaring strong opinions. Most importantly, we can re-learn to disagree respectfully and enjoy each other’s company while we grow and progress together.

I have no idea if, by the time you read this, I will be an elected official or just some guy that looks vaguely familiar at the supermarket. Regardless of that answer, I end with a question – will you join me? <

Insight: Rock n’ Roll everlasting

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Time marches on for devoted fans of the rock n’ roll music genre, that is, unless you’re a fan of the Rolling Stones or The Beatles. Both the Stones and The Fab Four are back on the charts with new music this month and paying no mind to the fact that the heyday of both legendary bands from Great Britain was nearly 60 years ago.

In February 1965, I was in seventh grade and was waiting for the school bus when a classmate walked up to me and asked me what I thought of the Rolling Stones. I informed him I had never heard of them, and he said if I had $3, he’d sell me their “12x5” record album. The next day I gave him $3 in quarters that I had been saving for a Hardy Boys book and he handed me a paper sleeve containing the vinyl album without its album cover.

After listening to the album, I liked the song “Time is on my Side” the most on the album and it made me want to know more about Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones of the Stones.

From listening at night to my AM transistor radio, I knew who The Beatles were. I saw their record albums for sale at Woolworth’s but never had enough money to purchase one. That all changed once I began my paper route on my 13th birthday in 1966 and I had limited cash of my own, usually in the range of $8 to $12 a week, to spend or save.

After hearing many of the songs by The Beatles on their “Rubber Soul” album and knowing the words to the songs by heart, I chose to make “Rubber Soul” the first album by Beatles’ members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr that I would add to my growing music collection that also included “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, and “Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks” by Alvin and The Chipmunks.

The “Rubber Soul” album happens to be among my all-time favorites and features such classic songs as “Norwegian Wood,” and “In My Life” and “Michelle.” My personal favorites on that album are “Girl” and “I’m Looking Through You.”

My fascination with The Beatles began in February 1964 when my father wouldn’t let me watch their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on television because he disapproved of their long hairstyles. To make it up to me, he offered a few weeks later to let me watch a rival band to The Beatles called The Dave Clark Five when they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s program.

By the time I was a sophomore in high school in September 1968, my record collection was thriving and filled with quite a few Rolling Stones and Beatles albums. When The Beatles decided to go their separate ways following the “Let it Be” album in 1970, I clung to the hope that someday the group would reunite for more music. At a college fraternity party in December 1972, I remember the crowd dancing to every song from the “Hot Rocks 1964-1971” album by the Rolling Stones.

I was watching a Monday Night Football game in December 1980 when sportscaster Howard Cosell announced to viewers that John Lennon had been shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City. I was devastated and thought that the Beatles reunion would now certainly never happen.

Just a year later in December 1981, I attended a Rolling Stones concert in Tempe, Arizona and I thought that it might be one of their last shows ever in America. Was I ever wrong about that notion and about The Beatles.

In 1994, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, gave the surviving members of The Beatles three tapes of songs John had written before his death. Using John’s vocals, two of the songs were recorded by McCartney, Harrison and Starr in 1995 and released as Beatles’ singles “Real Love” and “Free As A Bird.” But the third cassette’s quality was bad, and they abandoned the idea of trying to record it.

The Rolling Stones have kept on recording and touring and now after more than 70 years of playing together and despite the deaths of Brian Jones and Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood joining the band in 1976, they continue to make music, releasing a new album in October called “Hackney Diamonds” which is topping the music charts worldwide. Now in their 80s, Jagger, Richards and Wood will embark on a new tour promoting the album early next year.

As for The Beatles, McCartney never forgot about that remaining cassette tape from Lennon. Back in 1995, Harrison had laid down some guitar tracks for the song, but he died in 2001. Harnessing 2023 technology, John’s voice was finally able to be extracted crystal clear from the tape and McCartney and Starr were able to finish recording “Now and Then,” featuring Lennon’s vocals and Harrison’s unmistakable guitar performance. It was released last week.

Everything old is new again is truly more than just an expression. When it comes to the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, it’s a fact.

Tim Nangle: Supporting the people of Lewiston

By State Senator Tim Nangle

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Lewiston, we must do all we can to support the victims, their families, and the entire community that was affected by this horrific shooting. Although this tragedy did not happen in our area, Maine is "one big small town" at heart, and we’re all still reeling from the loss. With that in mind, I’d like to offer support and share resources that directly help Lewiston and the broader community.

State Sen. Tim Nangle
A safe haven has been established for those directly impacted by the mass shooting — the Lewiston Armory Family Assistance Center. Here, victims and their loved ones can find assistance, support, and a community of care. It's also a resource for survivors coping with the aftermath, even if they were not physically harmed.

The broader Lewiston community also needs our support. The Compassionate Care Fund for Trauma Response and Support by Central Maine Medical Center is available to help the entire city begin to heal. To learn more or contribute to these efforts, please get in touch with or visit the "Ways to Give" section on the Central Maine Medical Center website.

In response to the immediate and evolving needs stemming from this crisis, the Maine Community Foundation created the Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund. All proceeds go to helping the Lewiston community heal and process the trauma of this mass shooting. Contributions can be made through their dedicated website. The City of Lewiston has also established a fund specifically to support the families and victims of this tragedy. Donations can be made directly on the City of Lewiston's donation page.

At all times, and especially now, our children's well-being is paramount. The Lewiston Public Schools Support Portal has been set up to address the needs of our students during this challenging time. Donations can be made through their website.

For anyone in need of immediate emotional support, the 988 Crisis Hotline is available. By calling or texting 988, you can access confidential assistance at any time. Crisis specialists are ready to respond and can also engage through an online chat via the Lifeline and 988 website.

It’s important to remind our teens and young adults that they are not alone. The NAMI Maine Teen Text Line specifically supports our younger community members. Reach out by texting (207) 515-8398 between noon and 10 p.m., seven days a week, or visit the NAMI Maine website.

As a former paramedic, I understand the mental toll that these tragedies can have on our first responders. For those on the front lines, including clinicians, educators, and first responders, the FrontLine WarmLine provides free support services. These heroes who manage disaster stress can access this resource by calling (207) 221-8196 or texting (207) 898-211 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Additional resources and ways to support Lewiston can be found on the Governor’s website at

As always, if you have questions or need any support, please reach out to me at or call my Augusta office at 207-287-1515. For the latest updates, follow me on Facebook at, and sign up for my e-newsletter at <

Andy Young: Friendly advice on how to be a friend

By Andy Young

Good friends are truly priceless.

Good friends can be family members, neighbors, colleagues, people you share interests with, or some combination of those things, but don’t necessarily have to be any of them.

The best way to have a good friend is to be one.

However, for those needing more specific advice on the subject, here it is.

Good friends always share their knowledge, their possessions, and their time, even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient.

Good friends always provide a shoulder to cry on, secure in the knowledge they can cry on yours if need be.

Good friends always tell you the truth, even when they know you’d rather not hear it.

Good friends invite you to drive across the country with them.

Good friends find room for you in their home when you’re passing through.

Good friends put you on their softball team, even when you’re the youngest (or the oldest) player on the roster.

Good friends make you their assistant soccer coach, and then teach you the rules of soccer.

Good friends get you cool gigs with ESPN during school vacations.

Good friends arrange for you to get that job you want in far-off Durham, North Carolina.

More good friends subsequently get you further professional opportunities in Burlington, North Carolina; Vero Beach, Florida; Butte, Montana, and Portland, Maine.

Good friends secure you an interview for a teaching job in your new home state, even when you have no relevant experience.

Good friends let you emcee their athletic banquet every year.

Good friends send treats to the students in your class, even though they’ve never met any of them.

Good friends always fire you an outlet pass after grabbing the rebound. They also help the kids in the high school auto shop to keep your $200 car running for four years.

Good friends send you postcards, letters, text messages, or email from around the world…or from down the street.

Good friends lend you their ladder or their lawn mower and know they can borrow yours when they need to.

Good friends randomly cut your grass or shovel your driveway, recognizing you’d do the same for them.

Good friends help you find a safe place to live.

Good friends let you write for their newspaper.

Good friends don’t let politics (theirs or yours) sour your relationship.

Good friends ask you to speak at their wedding.

Good friends let you live your life and know you won’t judge how they live theirs.

Good friends not only help you survive the most boring classes ever, they make attending them fun.

Good friends carpool with you.

Good friends love you despite any (or all) of your shortcomings.

Good friends help you lift heavy things.

Good friends don’t pass you the queen of spades.

Good friends pick up the check, and don’t argue when you pick up the check first.

Good friends also never keep track of how long it’s been since you actually did pick up the check.

Good friends get you on their team at your school’s alumni hockey game, and don’t get mad when you’re a minus 10 that night.

Good friends are people you babysat for who still stay in touch.

Good friends don’t hold grudges, even after you’ve sideswiped a guard rail while driving their car at 60 mph.

Good friends commit random kindnesses.

If one or more of the traits listed above are true of you, you undoubtedly qualify as a good friend.

And, if you think one of the citations above refers specifically to you, well, there’s a simple explanation for that.

It does. <

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Rookie Mama: Four decades, four boys, for sure it’s a wild ride

By Michelle Cote

And there we have it; I’ve just turned 40, blinked and find myself full speed ahead in this mad, mad dash that is parenthood-times-four, mama to a large brood. Everyone who has ever had kids has uttered to others the ‘It goes by so fast’ or ‘The days are long, but the years are short’ adages, complete with the hearty sighs, the pats on the back.

Michelle Cote
You’ve heard it, you’ve said it, there’s a chance you’ve lived it.

And what I’ve learned is this – Indeed, those days of parenting little ones are long. The years, short. It indeed goes by wildly, beautifully, messily fast, like an accidental extra swipe of paint that misses its paper mark and swoops squarely across a fine piece of furniture like a Pollock design, or grass stain streaks across denim-covered knees – all at once both slow motion and lightning speed – I’m still in relatively early stages of discovering just how quickly by it goes.

Like the daily laundry spin cycle which convinces you there must be people living in your home you haven’t yet met, life’s a spin cycle. It’s wet socks and pungent soccer jerseys.

Pockets full of surprises.

But of the most rewarding variety.


My name is Michelle Cote, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to return to writing this column after a bit of hiatus to share some anecdotal tongue-in-cheek mama musings with you.

My column’s ‘Rookie’ moniker derived from days of yore when this column first began nearly 12 years ago and I was, indeed, a legitimate rookie to all the things parenthood.

I’d just returned from my first maternity leave back to a daily newspaper where I served as creative director, when my publisher announced his readiness to launch a Sunday paper.

I’d just barely set down my traveling Medela and found myself already full speed ahead to deadline.

He wanted its material to cater toward young families.

I was inadequately rested, but I was rich in eagerness to share ideas, because I was newly immersed in this novel orbit and loving the whole new world.

I recommended we cover baby product safety. Include content about cultivating new family holiday traditions. Find advertisers who cater to young mamas and pops learning to navigate a wild new terrain with a newest plus one. Recipes. Baby registry navigation.

I wanted to be sure we included context that was real, relatable, useful.

From across the conference room table, my publisher folded his hands together, and said, ‘Okay, then. Why don’t you write one column. For our inaugural edition.’

I did.

And thus, ‘The Rookie Mama’ was born, mere months after my first son was.

The ‘one column’ quickly pluralized and would continue weekly for several years.

And my baby son – he’s now 12.

Since that first sleepless era, there have been more.


And sleepless nights, too.

Today, my husband and I have four boys, all wonderfully distinct from each other and three years apart – 3, 6, 9, 12.

I’m constantly kept on my toes as I need to be mindful of their markedly different developmental ages, ranging from cribs to creative middle-school lingo.

Here’s what our wolf pack looks like: I have six clotheslines in constant use with garments ranging from Baby Shark onesies to lacrosse jerseys.

What appears to be a deck of cards in my wallet is in fact a stack of insurance IDs, almost necessitating a wallet of its own.

I’ve been changing diapers for 12-plus years, and, under no circumstances can I have nice things in the house on display. Potted plants have migrated to our greenhouse – more on that later – and far, far away from our window sills.

I double every recipe. Sometimes triple, if I wish to be kind to myself facing a week of sports practices and zero meal prep moments.

Witnessing my tribe of littles in full-on light saber battles clad in pirate hats and quoting ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ on a weekend morning is totally normal.

Quiet in the house is what’s worrisome.

I’ve learned a lot since the early ‘Rookie Mama’ days when we were a party of three.

We’ve since doubled that recipe, too.

Since my first column was published in 2011, I’ve since quadrupled my labor and delivery output, and my meal planning modus operandi is a bit more on point.

My packing-for-camp list-making has become a well-oiled machine with practice, because I’ve got the trials and tribulations learned along the way to show for it, my friends.

I’ll certainly draw from these experiences as I share these shenanigans with all of you, but I hope that most of what I write can be applied to all families, regardless of gender, regardless of quantity. I’ll share frugal living tips, minimalist goals, handy cooking ideas, favorite game-changer hacks, crafty concepts, all peppered with nuggets of wit and unapologetic puns.

I’m still learning, still a rookie in many ways.

Each of my kiddos are extraordinarily different and have different needs, and we’re all evolving together as we remember they’re learning how to be kids, and we’re learning how to be parents.

I’m still a rookie mama from ‘son’ up to ‘son’ down, one among the many in this beautiful, unpredictable life.

– Michelle Cote lives in southern Maine with her husband and four sons, and enjoys camping, distance running, biking, gardening, road trips to new regions, arts and crafts, soccer, and singing to musical showtunes – often several or more at the same time!

Insight: Seeking a doggie psychiatrist

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Trying to understand the mind of our dog Fancy is beyond comprehension, and it has led my wife Nancy and I to the conclusion that we probably need to consult a doggie psychiatrist, if there is such a thing.

Ed Pierce's dog Fancy has recently started
removing toilet paper from the bathroom 
and shredding it on the living room sofa.
Fancy came to us seven years ago as a rescue, courtesy of an organization called Ozark Homeward Bound. It cares for stray animals in the Southeastern U.S. and adopts them out to families in New England.

We first saw Fancy online after we had lost our other dog when we lived in New Hampshire. Ozark Homeward Bound brought her to Methuen, Massachusetts and we picked her up there. Little did I know then that such a precious little puppy would result in constant chases around the dining room table as she loves to grab items from the laundry basket and dash to chew them up. She also has a bad habit of leaping up and taking papers and other items off our desks.

Last summer, I placed a 1961 Carl Yastrzemski baseball card I had acquired on eBay on my desk in a plastic sleeve until I could put it in an album with other cards. It had only been there a day or so when Fancy selected an opportune time to spring into action. She waited patiently until I walked to the kitchen from my desk and then she slowly trotted to my office, jumped, and snatched the card, chewing it into small pieces. I heard a sound of crunching plastic and shredded paper and then stood in the doorway looking in disbelief at what she had done.

Furniture is not safe either. Once Nancy brought home an old armchair that although well worn, was quite comfortable. She threw a cover over it and used it when reading. But its comfort also meant it became a favorite place to sleep for Fancy. As she took a liking to it, she soon began to nudge the cover aside and would dig a hole in the worn fabric cushion while we were out to dinner or at the store.

In a few years, the hole widened, and she began to dig deeply into the stuffing inside the cushion and chew on it. We are now on the 15th different covering for the chair and Fancy seems to relish thwarting each new initiative to save the chair.

When she was a small puppy, Fancy was relegated to a crate while Nancy and I were at work during the day. She learned that if she backed up and then threw herself against the front of the crate, she could make it move. That led to her moving her crate to the dining room table, where I had a jacket hanging on a chair. She somehow was able to pull the jacket into her crate and tear it to shreds.

Her latest penchant takes the cake though. When Nancy retired from teaching last year, we set up a tutoring room in our home, and she offers lessons to students after school. Apparently, our dog is jealous of the attention that the students receive when they visit. To recapture that attention, she will go to extremes to let us know she is there.

Just a month ago when a student was at our home, Fancy went into the bathroom, knocked the roll of toilet paper off the holder and took it back to the living room sofa. There I found her as she unspooled the roll of toilet paper and chewed it into a million tiny white pieces.

This routine went on for several weeks and to discourage her from doing that, we made sure the door to the bathroom stayed closed. But it did not stop her. When a student used the bathroom and didn’t close the door afterward, she once again barged in, grabbed the toilet paper, and destroyed it. By my count, she’s now gone through at least 10 rolls and the number continues to rise.

To counter that behavior, we moved the toilet paper to the top of the toilet out of her reach. Several days later when a student was here, she instead grabbed a roll of paper towels by the bathroom sink and proceeded to tear that to shreds.

All of this has become a game to her and she’s quite good at it. If a student drops a crayon, a pencil or an eraser, Fancy pounces on them and carries them off to be chewed. She’s destroyed books, door mats, venetian blinds, gloves, clothes pins, and several plush doggy beds.

Everything is fair game, no matter if students are visiting or not, including grabbing a piece of pizza off my plate as I sat down to dinner the other night. This morning I heard her crunching something and chased her around the dining room table to discover she had a business card someone had given to Nancy in her mouth.

All this bad behavior from such an adorable little pooch is hard to fathom. Somewhere in that demented doggie brain of hers there appears to be a screw loose and I’m willing to bring her to a canine psychiatrist if that would help.

Andy Young: Celebrating the changing of the clocks, while we still can

By Andy Young

Did I miss something?

In March of last year, the United States Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, a piece of legislation that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent starting in 2023.

I thought that meant the end of the tiresome but necessary chore of resetting every clock in the continental United States (aside from those in Arizona) twice a year.

Democrats and Republicans alike touted the legislation, citing, among other things, the potential for increased economic activity and a likely reduction of seasonal depression cases as rationale for their action.


The House of Representatives still has yet to pass the bill before the president can sign it into law. And they haven’t. Which is surprising, given how efficient they’ve been lately.

But I digress. When life provides lemons, those of us with the correct attitude make lemonade. That’s why I’ve chosen to celebrate the fact that this coming weekend will consist of 49 hours, making it nearly 2.1 percent longer than 50 other weekends this year, and a full 4.2 percent longer than the weekend of next March 9-10. That’s when, barring Congress getting its act together, we’ll be setting the clocks ahead an hour to start Daylight Saving Time 2024.

What am I going to do with my extra 60 minutes this weekend? Well, while I’d like to try something exotic, one extra hour probably isn’t long enough to justify traveling too far from home to do so. For example, I probably won’t have time to check out the pyramids in Egypt, watch Old Faithful erupt in Yellowstone National Park, or run with the bulls in Pamplona. Or in Chicago, for that matter.

That’s okay because there are plenty of local options. If it’s warm enough I can take a bike ride. If it’s too chilly for that, I’ll indulge myself by walking, clad in my brightest blaze orange outfit, through some local nature preserve. I can take the kids apple-picking; nothing’s tastier than a crisp Macoun right off the tree. I can attend a Veterans Day ceremony, since the National Holiday commemorating those who sacrificed to allow us to live as we do falls on Saturday this year.

I can rake the leaves that have fallen over the past week, prune some trees, or cut back the dead vegetation that’s accumulating now that we’ve had our first frost(s) of the season. I can take the snow shovels out of mothballs or stow the lawn mower and the bikes away for the winter. Thanks to a couple of advances in technology that have occurred during my lifetime, I won’t have to change the storm windows or clean any wooden gutters, two now-obsolete chores that were necessary during my childhood.

And if there’s precipitation, I can catch up on correspondence, or log some quality time with one of the books I’ve been vowing to read one of these days when I have the opportunity. Which, for one additional hour this weekend, I will.

Inevitably some negative people will whine about the increasingly early afternoon darkness, the plunging temperatures, and the probable power failures that are likely to occur sometime in the coming five months, but I won’t. How can anyone complain when they’ve been gifted with not just a bonus hour, but a bonus weekend hour?

So what if I can’t be awed by the pyramids, see Old Faithful go off two or three times, or run with the Bulls in Chicago (or Pamplona)?

It’s a 49-hour weekend, and I fully expect to make lemonade.

Even if I have to use fresh-picked Macoun apples to do it.