Sunday, April 19, 2015

Poet Rachel McKibbens to Perform at Gould on April 23

This event at Gould Academy on Thursday, April 23rd is free and open to the public, and you won't want to miss it!  "Our" inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, will introduce poet Rachel McKibbens, this year's visiting poet in the Visiting Writers Series and Retreat he created last year. We are so fortunate to have Richard as a dynamic, generous member of our community.  Reading will be in the Marlon Family IDEAS Center in Hanscom Hall, Gould Academy on Thursday, April 23 at 7:30 pm. Get some friends together and BE THERE!  FMI: Poetry Reading

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Joyful Living

by Barb Dion

If you missed the Joyful Living program last week, you missed one of the best To Your Health programs offered! The highly entertaining trio of Ellen Crocker, Jewel Clark, and Karen Swanson kept the large audience laughing and on their toes – sometimes even literally.

Jewel Clark, Karen Swanson and Ellen Crocker   photo B. Dion
Ellen opened by giving her unique perspectives on life and aging. She spoke about the challenges of achieving joy and what we can do to enhance our lives. At our ages, we all have our own individual challenges but have the ability of taking charge of our lives. Don’t fret over regrets – get over them! Stop saving our best things for special occasions – use that fancy china and celebrate the ordinary times of our lives. Realize that the happier you are, the more you have to give to others.

Jewel Clark had the audience yodeling (yes, yodeling!) and clapping to the sounds of her musical offerings. She talked about the legacy her parents left and the influence it had on her life. She shared songs she has written and had everyone yodeling, even when we didn’t realize we were doing it at first. It was a lively and entertaining interlude and lifted everyone’s spirits.

Yoga instructor Karen Swanson had us stretching and relaxing and learning to embrace our inner selves. Once we were relaxed, she played music and encouraged us to dance to the beat both by ourselves and with a partner. This was a wonderful way to end the evening and we all left relaxed and happy!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, April 13, 2015

WMSC's Newest Course Offering - Introduction to Auto Detailing

Do you look at that once shiny car and see it covered by surface scratches and pine sap, with adhesive stuck to the windows? Are the floors and upholstery spotted with a winter’s worth of coffee, dog hair or worse? Join us on Monday, May 4 as we explore the ABC’s of interior and exterior auto detailing. We will work on the car of one lucky participant! Course fee is $10; class is limited to 6 participants. To be one of the lucky six bring your $10 to the Telstar Adult Ed office ASAP. Sorry, no phone registrations.

Facilitator: Tim McMahon

Monday, May 4; noon – 4:00 pm; 676 Intervale Rd. Bethel. (Rain date Wednesday, May 6, 1:00 – 5:00 pm.)

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

End of Life Care: Having the Conversation

by Rosabelle Tifft

To inspire a dialogue about end of life issues, To Your Health will present “End of Life Care: Having the Conversation” on Thursday, April 30, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel. The program will be based on the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, who states, “The ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life – all the way to the end.” Since its publication, the book has generated high interest throughout the country.

Hard questions that need to be asked about quality of life will be addressed and discussed by a five-member panel in this interactive program. Dr. Roger Austin, Medical Director of Hospice House, Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice (AHCH) for the past 10 years and one of the panelists, said, “Having discussions about end of life choices may be uncomfortable, but such conversations are not fatal.” He will be joined on the panel by Reverend Richard Bennett, Interim Pastor with the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel; Emily Ecker, licensed clinical social worker and polarity energy therapist; Jane Chandler, RN, staff nurse with AHCH for 20 years; and Michelle Lowell, Home Health Aide, AHCH, for the past 18 years. Allen Cressy, who will serve as moderator, has been an active community volunteer since moving to Bethel 17 years ago. He has held leadership positions with the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, Bethel Historical Society, and the Town of Bethel planning board.

To Your Health is sponsored by WMSC with the collaboration of Bethel Family Health Center and MSAD#44/Continuing Education. The program is open to the public and admission is free. A follow-up program, “Aging in Place” will be held on May 21. For more information, contact Rosabelle Tifft at 824-2053.

Dr. Roger Austin
Reverend Richard Bennett
Jane Chandler, RN
Allen Cressy, Moderator

Emily Ecker, LCSW
Michelle Lowell, Home Health Aide

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ed Knox on the Modern Middle East and More

by Scott Hynek 

Ed Knox, former CIA bureau chief and former history professor, spoke much like the latter on March 31 in describing the modern Middle East and how it came to be. Always important as the collection of land trade routes connecting Europe and Asia, it was how England got soldiers to and from India without going around the Cape of Good Hope, until the Suez Canal was built. He used a Peters projection map to show just how huge Africa really is, with a land area equal to that of China plus the USA plus India plus others.

Ed Knox described how Mohammad created community out of warring Arab tribes by promoting the five pillars of Islam – Acceptance of God (with himself as messenger), Prayer, Giving of Alms, Ramadan and the Hadj – all of which promote unity among Muslims (the schism between Sunni and Shia started later). He also described Mohammad as an enlightened conqueror.

He spoke of today's ungoverned areas (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia and Venezuela) mostly anecdotally. He described our overthrowing Saddam as a terrible decision, allowed as how there is not much government in northern Nigeria, and described Venezuela as a narco-state. He sees Iraq as well along to becoming three separate (and weak) countries, even more subject to international meddling. Curiously, Ed Knox does not regard ISIS as significant as our sensationalist press would make it seem.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Saturday, March 28, 2015

April Events

Wednesday, April 1
Brown Bag Lunch Discussion American Society: Mistrust and Fear
This discussion centers around two over-arching questions about our society: Who are we? What sort of people are we? Retired CIA officer Ed Knox will facilitate the discussion as we consider such questions as: What made America great? When did we begin to fear each other and the rest of the world? When did we last feel good as a nation and about ourselves? Why have we lost faith in education, infrastructure, and government? Please RSVP by March 30 to - 381-1110.
Wednesday, April 1; 12:15-1:30; Bethel Inn Library

Thursday, April 9
To Your Health Joyful Living
Ellen Crocker, retired psycho-therapist, will challenge us to look at aging “square in the face” and come through it with joy. Demonstrations and audience participation in music, singing, and creative movement will be presented by Karen Swanson and Jewel Clark. Free and open to the public.  FMI: Rosabelle Tifft 824-2053.
Thursday, April 9; 4:30-6:30 pm; West Parish Congregational Church

Thursday, April 30
To Your Health End of Life Care: Having the Conversation
A stimulating panel discussion on important but hard questions that need to be asked about quality of life. Panelists include Dr. Roger Austin, Hospice House, Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice (AHCH); Richard Bennett, Chaplain; Emily Echer, Social Worker; Jane Chandler, Home Care Nurse, AHCH; and Michelle Lowell, Home Health Aide, AHCH. Allen Cressy will serve as moderator.
Free and open to the public. FMI: Rosabelle Tifft 824-2053.
Thursday, April 30; 4:30-6:30 pm; West Parish Congregational Church

The following events are not sponsored by WMSC, but may be of interest to our members.

Wednesday, April 8
Mahoosuc Land Trust “Your Backyard Dream Gets Real” 
Gould Academy senior Max Southam will share the story of planning and biking the 2,700 mile Continental Divide from Banff, Canada to Antelope Well, N.M.  Part of MLT's “This is Your Backyard” series. FMI: or 207-824-3806. 
Wednesday, April 8; 7:00 pm; McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy

Friday, May 1
Animal Communication Talk/Potluck
Nancy Hohmann will talk about animal communication. Donations accepted to benefit Responsible Pet Care. Bring a dish to share. FMI: 824-2073.
Friday, May 1; 6:00 potluck, 7:00 talk; Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge, North Newry.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tom Davis to speak on "Music of the Civil War"

On Monday, March 30, from 10:00 to noon at the West Parish Congregational Church, Tom Davis will present "Music of the Civil War: The Campfire, the Church and the Concert Stage." We'll explore a variety of genres, listen to recordings, sing some of the songs and hear true stories of how music affected soldiers, ordinary citizens and artists. This presentation supports the continuing program “Local and Legendary: Bethel and the Civil War” that is co-sponsored by the Bethel Library, the Bethel Historical Society and Gould Academy. Tom's talk is free and open to the public - invite your friends!

77th New York Regimental Balladeers.  Wet-plate photo images by Rob Gibson, Gettysburg, PA.   Google Images.
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, March 15, 2015

To Your Health – Supermarket Strategies

by Barb Dion

Once again, Cathi DiCocoa has managed to give her audience another fun and informative program. Are you wondering why your local supermarket is set up the way it is? It’s all in the science - the presence of beautiful flowers and fresh produce tend to give shoppers a comfortable and happy feeling. She also said that the layout of the store is planned to have the most profitable items, produce, deli, and meat counters on the perimeters.

Cathi DiCocoa, working her magic.  photo Barb Dion

Cathi also spoke about the importance of reading labels on everything you purchase. For example, did you know that the order of ingredients listed on the label show the highest to the lowest? She showed us a can of corn that was only corn and water, which meant that the highest ingredient was the corn itself. Nutrition labels have recently changed to reflect the way Americans eat today.

Some of her helpful hints included not going to the grocery store hungry, always buy organic if possible, and compare unit prices on different brands of the same item. She also said it is very important to thoroughly wash all fresh fruit and vegetables.

 The highlight of the evening was the delicious Mexican Stew that she prepared from scratch, all while keeping up her lively presentation!
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ian Blair and the TED Global Conference in Rio

by Lorrie Hoeh

Ian Blair  photo Lorrie Hoeh
One mystery was solved for the dozen and a half or so attendees at Ian Blair's talk on March 4 about his experience at TED Global South in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from October 6 through 10, 2014. We learned that TED is an international non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas. The organization sponsors speakers on every subject imaginable, speaking for around 18 minutes. TED stands for Technology-Entertainment-Design.

Blair attended out of curiosity and chose the event in Brazil to get a foreign viewpoint, and also because his mother is from Venezuela, and South America is close to his heart. The theme was TED Global South, covering the entire southern hemisphere around the world. In order to be accepted into the program, Blair had to fill out a comprehensive application, including an essay; come up with the tuition and a visa; and take an 11-hour flight out of JFK Airport. Ian was one of 1100 people accepted.

We were shown photos of beautiful Rio, which is a very modern, clean, and well-run city. Blair also mentioned that there were around 40 presenters, and all talks were in English. Morning sessions lasted 3 hours, followed by a break and then an afternoon session. Now Ian is thinking about the next TED Global he can attend!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Update to Spring Course Bulletin

We inadvertently left out of the Spring Course Bulletin the time and place for the Brown Bag Lunch Discussion scheduled for May.  Here's the full text:

Local Foods, Happy Farmers
Continuing the theme of our community, this time we will focus on local food initiatives. The discussion will begin with updates on some very exciting ventures around our community and will invite ideas on how we can support those efforts and foster a healthier community. Facilitators: Amanda Moran of the Edible Bethel project ( and Meryl Kelly, Executive Director of the Local Food Connection. Please RSVP by May 1: - 381-1110.
Tues., May 5; 12:15-1:30; Bethel Inn Library

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at