Monday, March 25, 2013

"Good Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" Both Informative and Fun

by Barb Dion

Once again, the To Your Health program of Western Mountains Senior College presented another informative and fun program, “Good Meals in Thirty Minutes or Less.”

Chef Elton Cole
Chef Elton Cole and Stephens Memorial Hospital Registered Dietician Pat Watson educated the large crowd on the many ways to create healthy and tasty meals, with the emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients.  

Chef Cole spoke about food safety when preparing meals, touching on the proper utensils to use (plastic vs. wood), cleaning of cutting boards, and the correct way to defrost meats. He also demonstrated the best ways to cut vegetables and emphasized knife safety. Mr. Cole offered delicious dishes for tasting including couscous, pear muffins, and a chicken and vegetable dish prepared in a wok. 

Cooking lesson
Pat Watson suggested the various reasons people eat, including habit, pleasure, hunger, and stress (emotional eating). She spoke about the importance of a well-balanced diet. Healthier choices would be fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned, which tend to be high in sodium. 

Judy Whitman, Pat Watson, and Rosabelle Tifft

 Pat spoke about creating a healthy plate, with the emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein foods. Portion size is also very important, as well as avoiding foods high in fat, sodium, and sugar, all which can trigger a variety of health problems. She provided a number of healthy and varied recipes that are quick and easy to prepare.


”Good Mind : Good Mood,” the final To Your Health offering of the year, will be held on Thursday, April 11, from 4:30-6:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel. Mark your calendars!

photos by Barb Dion

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Down Home Maine Presentation: Pilgrimage to the 88 Sacred Places of Shikoku

by Bonnie Pooley
Toshio Hashimoto is truly a renaissance man. Not only is he an auto mechanic of great repute, a shitake mushroom grower, a Taiko drummer, and a Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue Team member, but he is also a lifelong, devout Shignon Buddhist. On March 4, Toshio spoke to a packed auditorium at Gould Academy about his pilgrimage around the Japanese island of Shikoku.
Toshio Hashimoto on his journey
He told his rapt audience, first, why he decided in March of 2011 to make a 670-mile pilgrimage to visit the 88 temples around the perimeter of Shikoku Island. When Toshio was born two months prematurely in his rural home 62 years ago, no one thought he would survive. His mother and all of her friends and neighbors prayed fervently to Kobo Daishi, the 9th century founder of their branch of Buddhism. When Toshio thrived, he owed lifelong gratitude to Kobo Daishi, and he made this pilgrimage to express his gratitude.

Toshio and statue of Kobo Daishi

Toshio next showed pictures and told stories of his 38-day walking journey and the rituals he performed at each of the 88 temples. The audience was moved by his openness in speaking of his sincere and devout Buddhist beliefs. Toshio told of the beauty of the shrines and the rural countryside. At times, he walked with a view of the Pacific Ocean; at other times, he climbed and descended endless mountains. We also saw pictures of the terrible blisters on his toes, the bus shelters in which he sometimes slept, and the vending machines where he often got his food and drink. 

With one of many fellow pilgrims
There were stories of fellow pilgrims, each with his story of why he was making this journey. And we saw the breathtaking loveliness of the coming of spring in Japan, cherry blossoms and all. Toshio said that, when he reached the 88th temple, he had a feeling of pure ecstasy, the emotion that Buddhists call nirvana, of having reached heaven on this earth. He hopes to make this pilgrimage again when he reaches 70 years old. 

Cherry blossoms in spring

Toshio’s talk once again proved that these western mountains of Maine harbor rich and multi-faceted hidden gems, one of which can often be found with his eyes peering into a Subaru engine.

One of the 88 shrines
photos by Toshio Hashimoto

Thanks to Herb and Paula Gross for producing and hosting this event.  Herb and Paula helped Toshio sort and organize his photos, sifting through more than 1000 pictures to arrive at the 200 slides in the presentation.

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

Monday, March 4, 2013

Photos from the 8th Annual WMSC Soup Swap

by Barb Dion

Social Diners
Laurence Austin
The 8th Annual Western Mountains Senior College Soup Swap was a big success! Thirty-six members enjoyed a wide variety of delicious soups and homemade breads and desserts.

The course registration table, manned by Lauren Gailitis and Kathleen DeVore, was a very popular spot, as members signed up for the next round of fun and informative courses. Artwork by the talented members of the Drawing and Painting class was on display as were written selections from the Creative Writing students.

Nancy Davis welcoming the attendees
Soup Swap organizer Marvin Ouwinga
Marcia Foster-Austin, reading her story
 President Nancy Davis welcomed everyone to the event and thanked Marvin Ouwinga for all his hard work organizing the soup swap. Nancy recognized members of the Drawing and Painting and Creative Writing classes who shared their work. She then introduced the new members of the college and thanked the Board of Directors, the Program and Communication Committees, Senior College Players, and the To Your Health and Down Home Maine 
Ruth Barrett, reading "Parachuting"
committees for all they do. All teachers and course facilitators were recognized and thanked for their contributions. Nancy briefly touched on the 10th Anniversary Celebration “Bridging the Generations” that is being planned for this May.

The evening was then turned over to a group of Creative Writing students who shared their diverse and interesting creations. Writings were presented by Ruth Barrett, Jim Bebko, Marcia Foster-Austin, Scott Hynek, and Barb Dion.

Artwork by Elise Caswell
Artwork by Karen Mills

 photos by Barb Dion

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