Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snowshoe Walk: Take Your Sweetheart into the Woods

"More Reasons to Play Outside" - that's how the organizers of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend describe the events planned throughout the state of Maine the weekend of February 13-15. On Saturday, February 14, WMSC and the Mahoosuc Land Trust invite you to Take Your Sweetheart into the Woods on a snowshoe walk in Andover. Meet at the Land Trust office at 9:30 am to car-pool or at Akers Ski barn in Andover at 10:00 am. The barn is located on Akers Way, off Church Street in Andover.
Rick Churchill     photo Jane Chandler

During the walk, Rick Churchill will share his unique insights on the wonders of nature. Once you're filled with fresh air and new knowledge you're invited to return to Akers' barn for a fire, hot chocolate and a chili lunch. For more information visit or call 207-824-3806. Delighted to collaborate in sponsoring this event, both WMSC and MLT are eager to see lots of folks at the February 14th walk. Invite your friends!

To discover other activities around the state, check out Great Maine Outdoor Weekend:

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

Like to Cook? Like to work with kids?

Kathleen DeVore will soon be volunteering in an innovative program sponsored by the Local Food Connection in collaboration with Mahoosuc Kids Association. As part of their "Foreign Foods/ Local Ingredients" cooking workshop series, Kathleen will help students prepare a traditional Quebecois Rabbit and Dumpling Stew, cooked with rabbits Scott Hynek raised. The Local Food Connection is looking for additional volunteers to help cook unfamiliar foods with Telstar students with an emphasis on sourcing ingredients locally. If you have a recipe to share - or can donate local produce, cheeses or meats - you may contact Meryl Kelly at or (207) 595-5087.

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

Richard Blanco Reads for WMSC

On the evening of January 12 forty WMSC members had the wonderful opportunity to hear Richard Blanco read his poetry in the intimate setting of the Mill Hill Inn. It was not unlike hearing a music recital in your own living room – chamber poetry, if you will. Richard presented us with a rich mix of poems, some of our old favorites and some new ones we'd never heard him read before. We laughed, pondered, and blinked away a tear or two. Toward the end Richard took requests for poems and answered some of our questions. Afterward he signed books and spoke with those of us who had more specific questions to ask. How fortunate we are to have such a talented and generous person as one of our neighbors!

Richard Blanco, in conversation with those at his table while waiting for dinner.     photo by Elise Caswell
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, January 19, 2015

Daniel vanBuren to Speak on Valvular Heart Disease

by Rosabelle Tifft

In celebration of American Heart Month Dr. Daniel E. vanBuren returns to WMSC's To Your Health series on February 6 to speak about valvular heart disease. Dr. vanBuren is Director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the New England Heart Institute of Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, NH. This program, the fourth that Dr. vanBuren has presented to us, will take place on Thursday, February 5, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel, with a snow date of February 12.

Daniel vanBuren, M.D.
Dr. vanBuren says that valvular heart disease, which involves one or more of the four valves of the heart, is most commonly a result of aging. Diagnosis is typically made in people over 50, while more than one in ten people over the age of 75 receive this diagnosis. Treatment usually involves surgical repair or replacement of the affected valve, but newer state-of-the-art techniques approach the valves through the blood vessels, avoiding open heart surgery. If the disease is detected early, the outcomes of surgery are excellent, and life expectancy can be restored to match that of healthy people within the same age group.

This program is sponsored as a community service by To Your Health of WMSC with the collaboration of Bethel Family Health Center and MSAD#44/Continuing Education. The public is invited and admission is free. Light refreshments will be available.

Spring programs to be offered by To Your Health include “Supermarket Strategies – A Trip to the Supermarket,” with Cathi DiCocoa, on March 5, and “Joyful Living” on April 9. For more information, contact Rosabelle Tifft at 824-2053.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DaPonte String Quartet – a WMSC Public Performance

The DaPonte String Quartet
“The best string quartet in Maine,” says DownEast magazine. The acclaimed DaPonte String Quartet will give a lecture/performance on January 22nd at 4:00 pm in the Trustee’s Auditorium of the Gould Academy McLaughlin Science Center. Sponsored by the Western Mountains Senior College and the Mahoosuc Arts Council, the performance is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

The presentation, “The Biology of Music,” will feature a performance of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms masterworks, with an accompanying lecture relating the music to biological story structure. The group will show how the sonata form of Franz Joseph Hayden (1782-1809) built narrative into music through the use of protagonist, antagonist, conflict and resolution. Later composers like Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms developed the form into complex musical stories. Observers then noted that their structure resembled “biological stories.”

The DaPonte Quartet was formed 23 years ago in Philadelphia and shortly thereafter moved to mid-coast Maine, where, as the New York Times noted, they created an experience “like watching the Celtics play in the local gym.” They have forged a strong bond with the audiences of Maine: when they debuted at Carnegie Hall, large numbers of their Maine faithful listeners traveled to New York for the event.

In addition to playing an active concert series, they have their own students, are regularly on Maine Public Radio, and travel the state, introducing classical music to public elementary students. Prior to the Senior College lecture/performance, the quartet will conduct two sessions at the Crescent Park Elementary School.  For a preview of how entertaining this group can be listen to their rendition of Variations on Happy Birthday.

The public is invited, and admission is free. For more information call Jim Bebko at 824-4545. 

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

Brown Bag Lunch Discussion on Climate Change

Next Brown Bag Lunch program: Wednesday, January 28, 12:15-1:30 at the Moses Mason House, facilitator: Ken Hotopp, conservation biologist and climate activist.  We need to set up adequate chairs, so we'd like your RSVP.  By January 23, please contact Nancy Davis if you plan to attend:; 381-1110.  And don't forget to bring a bag lunch!

About this discussion, Ken says, "Given the pressing nature of climate disruption, we will discuss collective action to make a positive difference on public policy in our towns, state, and country."

Some questions to consider:
As citizens, what do we know about collective action? What do we know about climate disruption?
Given the scale of our challenge, what should be the highest-priority actions locally? At the state and national levels?  What are we waiting for?"

And if you wish to do some reading ahead of time, he suggests:

People's Climate March this fall:

Fossil fuel divestment movement:

Polls on climate change attitudes:

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

Down Home Maine Rescheduled for February 12

We're looking forward to hearing from Ian Blair, a Bethel citizen who is excited about his recent participation at the annual international TED conference in Brazil.  Ian has had to reschedule this DHM event for an impressive reason: both his children are competing in the middle school state nordic and alpine ski championships on the original DHM date.  But we've rescheduled for the next day, same time and place, so we hope to see you at Gould Academy's McLaughlin Science Center auditorium, 4:30-6:00 on Thursday, February 12th. 
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Friday, January 2, 2015

Opera Talk – The Tales of Hoffman

On Saturday, January 31, the Metropolitan Opera will broadcast The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) by Jacques Offenbach live in HD. This is one of the most famous and most popular of operas, full of delightful arias, and is a wonderful introduction to this form of musical theater. Jackie Cressy is offering a one-and-a-half hour program about this opera on Monday, January 26, at her house at 16 Park St. in Bethel from 2:00-3:30 pm. You will listen to excerpts from the opera, become acquainted with the story, and learn some interesting details about the composer and the history of the opera itself. Note: Jackie is not a musical expert, but happens to love this opera and would love to share her enthusiasm for it with you.

Tickets for the live HD broadcast (Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center, Fryeburg Academy, January 31 at 1:00 pm) can be purchased in advance ( For those concerned about the possibility of winter weather tickets are also available at the box office the day of the performance.

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

January Events

Tuesday, January 6
WMSC Winter Term Begins
Canterbury Tales on January 6, 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Brain Aerobics on January 7, 12:00 - 2:00 pm
Drawing and Painting on January 8, 10:00 - noon
All classes at Telstar High School, Room 133

Monday, January 12
Poetry Reading by Richard Blanco
Mr. Blanco will read from his books of poetry, plus selections from his new memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos” (2014). At 6:30 he will be available for book signing, but you will need to purchase books in advance. There is no snow date. WMSC members only, registration required. (Note: this event is fully enrolled.)

Monday, January 12; 5:30 pm; Mill Hill Inn, Bethel

Thursday, January 22
“The Biology of Music” - A Lecture/Performance by the DaPonte String Quartet
Maine's premier string quartet will play and speak about three nineteenth-century masterworks by Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. This presentation is a collaboration between WMSC and the Mahoosuc Arts Council and is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.  There is no snow date.
Thursday, January 22; 4:00-5:15; Trustee’s Auditorium of the McLaughlin Science Center, Gould Academy

Monday, January 26
Opera Talk - The Tales of Hoffman
Jackie Cressy is offering a one-and-a-half hour introduction to this opera in preparation for the Metropolitan Opera's live in HD Broadcast on Saturday, January 31. This is one of the most famous and most popular of operas, full of delightful arias, and is a wonderful introduction to this form of musical theater. Open to WMSC members and their friends.
Monday, January 26; 2:00-3:30 pm; 16 Park Street, Bethel 

Wednesday, January 28
Brown Bag Lunch Discussion
In this session on climate change we’ll talk with conservation biologist and climate activist Ken Hotopp about ways to address this global challenge at the local level. We’d like to know numbers, so please RSVP to Nancy Davis (381-1110 or Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, January 28; 12:15-1:30 pm; Moses Mason House (Snow date January 29)

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

I Can't Remember

(Ruth Barrett read this poem written by her sister, Marion Wisner, at the WMSC Holiday Party in December. We liked it so much we thought we'd share it with those of you who were unable to be there.


Just a line to say I'm living,
that I'm not among the dead.

Though I'm getting more forgetful
and mixed up in the head.

I got used to my arthritis,
to my dentures I'm resigned.

I can manage my bifocals
but, God, I miss my mind!

For sometimes I can't remember
when I stand at the foot of the stairs

If I must go up for something
or have I just come down from there?

And before the fridge so often
my poor mind is filled with doubt --

Have I just put food away, or
have I come to take some out?

And there's times when it is dark
with my nightcap on my head.

I don't know if I'm retiring, or
just getting out of bed.

So, if it's my turn to write you,
there's no need for getting sore.

I may think that I have written
and don't want to be a bore.

So remember that I love you
and wish that you were near.

But now it's nearly mail time,
so I must say "Good-bye dear.”

There I stand before the mailbox
with a face so very red --

Instead of mailing you my letter,
I had opened it instead!!!!

Marion Wisner

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