Saturday, December 5, 2015

Standing Room Only for Music of December

by Kathleen DeVore

Tom Davis, local musician, composer/arranger, and teacher extraordinaire, presented The Music of December - A Concert Class to a packed house on November 29. He, along with 20 of his friends, performed nine selections for us, chosen for their themes of winter, hope and rebirth.

The English carol The Holly and the Ivy, with its ancient Druid roots, had become Christianized by the 17th century, while Rob Raede's haunting song The Candles of Chanukah is from today.

Tom believes that the carols composed by Alfred Burt and Wilha Hutson in the 40's and 50's should be better known, so he chose three for this presentation – Caroling Caroling/ O Hearken Ye (medley) and Some Children See Him (with Thea Dunn, soloist).

Have You Seen a Child? (from Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera composed for TV in 1951) was performed by Anneliese Smith, Jonathan Smith, Brendon Bass, and Simon Smith, accompanied by Clorinda Noyes, violin, Richard Noyes, cello and Elizabeth Smith, piano.

Rolly York and Jewell Clark treated us to Rolly's original composition Jesus, Our Savior, Our Lord.

The Lutheran hymn Comfort, Comfort Ye My People by Johann Olearius dates from 1671, whereas the concert finale Benediction (Christmas Song) by Dave Matthews was written in 1993.

In a pre-concert interview, Tom said he hoped to leave everyone in a mellow, peaceful mindset. He certainly did!

Warming up before the concert.

The Choir
Sopranos: Thea Dunn, Debby Luxton, Anneliese Smith, Jan Stowell, Carla Boyle-Wight
Altos: Jean Bass, Elizabeth Smith, Patricia Boyle-Wight, Wendy Youmans
Tenors: Tim LeConey, Jonathan Smith, Simon Smith
Basses: Ben Alford, Brendon Bass, Jim Bennett, Steve McCosh

Special Guests
Clorinda Noyes, violin
Richard Noyes, cello
Rolly York, guitar
Jewell Clark, guitar and vocals 

Selected Recordings
None of these recordings has the beautiful instrumental parts composed by Tom Davis for this concert, but they will introduce you to the songs.

The Holly and the Ivy  

The Candles of Chanukah
Caroling, Caroling
Some Children See Him

Have You seen a Child (from Amahl and the Night Visitors) 
Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
Benediction (Christmas Song)

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

Sunday, November 8, 2015

WMSC’s Prime Time Players Present Four Comedies

by Rosabelle Tifft

One of the four comedy plays to be performed by WMSC’s Prime Time Players at their fall performance was a first prize award winner by the International Thespian Society and Dramatics Magazine. "The Tale That Wagged the Dog" by Tim Kelly will be performed on Nov. 20 and 21 at 7 pm at Gould Academy’s McLaughlin Auditorium.

In the play Johann Strauss, The Waltz King, visits America on tour, to the excitement and interest of the ladies. Meanwhile, Rudolph, the composer’s valet, played by Norman Milliard, does a thriving business selling locks of the maestro’s hair. However, the hair comes from Strauss’s little dog, Bobo. One after another, young women invade the hotel suite: Arabella, played by Barb Dion; Charity, by Roberta Taylor; and Prudence, by Pat McCartney. They are determined to have a lock of their idol’s hair. Rudolph’s shrewish wife, Trudi, played by Tineke Ouwinga, wants to end the deception. How Rudolph deals with the women makes this play a delight.

"The Tale That Wagged the Dog" cast: seated, Norman Milliard; standing from left, Barb Dion, Pat McCartney, Roberta Taylor, Tineke Ouwinga

The three other comedy plays include a monologue, “Kindness of Strangers,” by Jim Gordon and featuring Lorrie Hoeh; “Drinks with Charles” by Jim Gordon, with Tim LeConey, Roberta Taylor, Barb Dion and Tineke Ouwinga; and “The Bickersons,” an adaptation of the December 27, 1946 radio broadcast of The Bickersons, which features Rosabelle Tifft and Jim McLean with Jack Kuchta as the announcer.

Jack Kuchta, new director, said the theme for the evening, “What Goes ‘round, Comes ‘round,” shows that some people are complex and not always as they appear at first encounter. With the cast of veteran and “young-at-heart" players, this promises to be an evening of fun and excitement. 

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

WMSC’s “Prime Time Players” Gearing up for Evening of Comedy

by Rosabelle Tifft

WMSC’s "Prime Time Players" have been rehearsing weekly since mid-September preparing for their annual performance to be held on Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21, at 7 pm at Gould Academy’s McLaughlin Auditorium. Jack Kuchta, director, said the theme for the evening, “What Goes ‘round, Comes ‘round,” features four comedies. The plays show that people are complex and not always what they appear at first encounter.

Jack will be assisted by Lorrie Hoeh, who will be directing one of
Lorrie Hoeh, in "Kindness of Strangers."
the plays. She assisted Ross Timberlake during his two-year term as director. Lorrie will also perform a monologue entitled, “Kindness of Strangers,” by Jim Gordon. The play is an important reminder about two things that happen as we age. We are often seen as easy prey by scam artists, but we are just as often smarter than they are. Wait until you see how Lorrie handles this one!

“Drinks with Charles,” by Jim Gordon, features Tim LeConey as Charles Flemming, an investment guru. He envisions a profitable evening touting his “can’t fail” investment strategies to three unsuspecting women played by Roberta Taylor, Barbara Dion and Tineke Ouwinga. Unfortunately for Mr. Fleming, past success is no guarantee of the future.
Tineke Ouwinga, Barbara Dion, Roberta Taylor and Tim LeConey in "Drinks With Charles."

Check next week’s blog for information on the final play, “The Tale That Wagged the Dog” by Tim Kelly.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Meet the New Director of WMSC's "Prime Time Players"

by Rosabelle Tifft

Jack Kuchta, husband of WMSC Board Chair Irene, is the new director of the former Senior College Players, which he has renamed the Prime Time Players.

Jack admits that his stage experience - until he joined the Players a few years ago - consisted of a chorus part in a high school musical. But he makes up for it with his passion to enjoy what he does and inspires others to do so as well. This is reflected in his leadership of the Players, many of whom have been with the troupe since it started nine years ago. “They are a great experienced group of actors and do all the work,” he said, “and everyone pitches in and enjoys it.”

Jack studied many plays during the summer and came up with four short comedies that he tagged “What goes ‘round, comes ‘round.” “They remind us that people aren’t always what they appear to be at first encounter,” he said.

Jack will perform as the announcer and sound technician in one of the plays, “The Bickersons,” an adaption of the Dec. 27, 1946 radio broadcast of The Bickersons. It features Jim McLean and Rosabelle Tifft as The Bickersons, who seem to be able to turn anything into a verbal war. Jack said it will be performed as it would have been in 1946, live and on the air.

Jim McLean, Jack Kuchta and Rosabelle Tifft rehearse "The Bickerson's"
Watch for the remaining three plays to be featured in future issues of the blog. The performance will take place at 7:00 pm on Nov. 20 and 21 at the Gould Academy McLaughlin Auditorium.

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

Beating the Odds: Maintaining Heart and Brain Health

by Mary Haberman

“Healthier Habits for a Healthier You,” the latest To Your Health program, took place on October 22nd, sponsored by the Western Mountains Senior College, SAD 44 Adult Ed, the Bethel Family Health Center, and the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This event was a follow-up to a previous Alzheimer’s program and was presented by Mark Pechenik, Director of  Outreach and Engagement for the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Mark Pechenik speaks with Iris Roberts.

With some 40 in attendance, Mr. Pechenik reviewed the risk factors for the development of dementia, the importance of maintaining heart and brain health, and ways to beat the odds. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and no guarantees for prevention, the latest research suggests that there are ways to reduce the risk or at least improve quality of life.  One’s predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease can be affected by genes, environment, lifestyle, and age, with age being the strongest determinant. Among the risk factors are high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, head injuries, and depression.  

The one factor that we can change is lifestyle. Pechenik suggests that people Develop A Plan, which should include 1) cognitive activity (puzzles, learning a language); 2) physical activity (avoid TV); 3) sound eating habits (the Mediterranean Diet); and 4) social engagement. It is wise to start slowly, do things you enjoy, reward yourself, and enlist the aid of friends to stick with The Plan.

Mr. Pechenik gave anecdotal information about his ongoing work with early-stage Alzheimer’s groups and summarized by stressing the importance of getting information from professionals rather than some questionable website. The presentation was informative and well received.

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

Age-Friendly Community Project Link

We have created a link to news of the important Age-Friendly Community Project that is being launched.  Just click on the tab at the top of the blog (it's the last one).  Please read entries from both last week and this week. If you have not completed and returned a survey, please pick one up and send it on.  We’d like to have them by November 6th – which is coming right up!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rockin’ Seniors

by Kay Larson

Jim Mann identifies Andrew Peacock's (of Newry) specimen.  photo Kay Larson
A recent Senior College rock event involved neither music nor rocking chairs. Jim Mann, local artist, jeweler and owner of Mt. Mann Jewelers in Bethel, gave a Down Home Maine presentation on “Rock Hounding in Maine” to around 35 participants. He shared how he was drawn to study rocks as a pre-teen, fostered this interest in high school, and had a fairly “lucrative” business going before he graduated from Gould Academy.

Through show-and-tell sharing, he displayed the tools of rock hounds, spoke about the minerals of western Maine, passed around beautiful samples of gems and minerals, and welcomed the challenge of identifying a specimen brought in by an audience member. In western Maine, Jim said, a mineral collector with moderate skill can find 30-40 different species.

Western Maine has 60-100 mines, now mostly privatized. Generally, Jim shared, rock collectors work long and hard for their finds, and mining history doesn’t show a lot of reward for landowners. A lot can be learned from field collectors who are willing to share, and connecting with one of Maine’s seven mineral clubs can also be advantageous as one learns the skills.

Three days later, Jim took nine students on a field trip to Mt. Apatite near Auburn to demonstrate his techniques and encourage both newbies and experienced rock hounds at a “dig.” By his former experience at the site and knowing what minerals are found together, Jim was able to reveal “treasure” where an untrained hiker would only see boulders or piles of discarded rocks. 

Mt. Apatite field trip  photo Lee Smith
Intrepid rock hounds   photo Lee Smith

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Congratulations, Bonnie Pooley!

Bonnie Pooley at Step Falls.
Hearty congratulations to Bonnie Pooley, who will be honored this week by the Natural Resources Council of Maine; their People’s Choice Award notes “her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment.” Bonnie is grateful for all who supported her in this selection and says that the award “means a lot to me. It validates all the work I have been doing over fifty years to make our community (and the world) a better, healthier place to live. I also see myself as a representative of the many, many others who are tirelessly contributing in our small, positive ways.”

Bonnie’s environmental experience began on the very first Earth Day (April, 1970), when she organized her young environmentalist students at Mount Pleasant High School in Delaware for a day of learning about environmental issues.

In 1973 she came to Gould Academy, partly because of Maine residents Scott and Helen Nearing, gurus of the Back to the Land movement, whom she later visited with a group of students. In her 35 years at Gould she organized Earth Day celebrations and started Gould Goes Green. Since her retirement, her passion has been directed toward protecting treasured lands from development through the Mahoosuc Land Trust and growing local food to encourage healthy eating in western Maine communities.

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Farewell to Jeanie Waite

You may have heard by now that Jeanie Waite, long time director of SAD 44 Adult and Continuing Education, resigned at the end of June. Jeanie has been WMSC's official support person for most of the time we have existed as a Senior College, the ex officio member of our Board, and a much appreciated facilitator of many WMSC courses, most recently Maine Women Authors and World War I. Jeanie says that now she hopes to have time to be a more active WMSC member. She plans to stay on the Board and to continue to facilitate classes – good news indeed! Lois Ruff will continue to hold down the fort in Adult Ed until a new director is hired.

Last Thursday we sent flowers to Jeanie to thank her for all she's done for us over the years. We're planning a reception for her as soon as we can work out the details, so stay tuned!

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

Soap Making Class Photos

Earlier in June several WMSC members attended a one-day soap making class taught by Pat Stewart. Here are a few photos depicting the melt and pour method they used.

Pouring melted soap into the mold.

Ellen Crocker adding blue color to the mix.

Almost done.
Cutting the hardened soap.

Blue stars with lavender base, lavender scented ovals, dragonfly goat's milk soap, and green pine translucent bars. Photos by Norman Milliard

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Aging in Place" Draws Large Audience

by Lorrie Hoeh

Peter Morelli, AARP
On Thursday, May 21, a large and enthusiastic group attended the To Your Health program, “Aging in Place.” Speakers were Peter Morelli, representing AARP and its work on age-friendly communities; Julie Allaire, representing Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel and their age-friendly network; and Joe Perkins, representing At Home Downeast in Washington and Hancock Counties.

Morelli noted that our median age is rising, as 18,250 people per year turn 65 in Maine. Some issues to be addressed include transportation, housing of continuing long-term care, family and caregiver support, and elder abuse. AARP is trying to address these issues without government support, by encouraging volunteer programs in communities. Morelli mentioned Bowdoinham, a member of AARP’s age-friendly communities, noting that their plan can be found on the town’s website.
Julie Allaire, Kennebunk's age-friendly network
Julie Allaire advised that a community start “where you are.” This involves identifying and assessing assets. People need to know what services are available and how to access them locally. She recommends organizing a working group to coordinate a health care network which might include a gerontologist, an attorney, and other health care providers. Assessing local needs is also key.

The last presenter was Joe Perkins from At Home Downeast. He noted that each community is unique, and what works for one may not work for all. To quote Perkins, “If you’ve seen one village, you’ve seen one village.” Joe stressed the importance of volunteers. He pointed out that the Blue Hill Peninsula consists of nine towns comprising 14,000 residents year-round. Perkins said that the Washington Hancock Community Agency, of which At Home Downeast is a subset, does have a paid staff consisting of a program manager, social worker, and volunteer coordinator.

Joe Perkins, At Home Downeast
At Home Downeast has a sliding-scale membership fee of $130 to $1,300 annually. Paying a fee helps to fight the reluctance of some to ask for help. The membership fee entitles one to four rides per month within a 50-mile radius; contract with Eastern Maine Home Care for twice a month visits; help with grocery shopping; prescription delivery; phone check-in or home visit; home safety assessment; all available with a single phone number.

Reaction to this presentation was that the Bethel area has many assets, and with some organization and volunteer work, this could be a truly age-friendly community.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembering Larry Engdahl

We are saddened to announce the death of WMSC member Lawrence "Larry" Engdahl on May 16. A life-long New Englander, Larry loved the mountains, ocean, fishing ponds, gardens and birds, and he loved to chronicle the landscape around him with his sketch book, paints, and camera. He was an active member of the Congo Craftsmen, served on the Bethel Planning Board, and was a member of the Bethel Rotary Club. WMSC's Great Decisions class benefited from Larry's extensive knowledge of business, politics, history, engineering, technology – you name it. He was often a facilitator and always a contributor to our discussions. He will be greatly missed. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 6th at 3:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church.

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

Photos from the Step Falls Wildflower Hike

Lynne Zimmerman introduces the hike to our intrepid group.  photo J. Bebko

Harriet Gilpatrick and Jim Bebko check out a patch of red trillium.  photo K. DeVore

Red trillium....  photo J. Bebko
..... and the showier painted trillium  photo L. Zimmerman
Mayflower.  It's scent is exquisite!   photo L. Zinnerman

Step Falls.  photo L. Zimmerman

Bonnie Pooley sitting on Ken Bohr's bench.  After this we went back down and on to the potluck supper.  photo K. DeVore

Potluck supper at Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge.  photo L. Zimmerman

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Spotlight on Hardcover Bookbinding and Introduction to Auto Detailing

Here are some photos from two of WMSC's recently completed hands-on classes.  Enjoy!

Hardcover Bookbinding

Internet-based instruction presented by Hardcover Bookbinding class facilitator Jim Bebko.   photo A. Chapman

Ruth Barrett and Jim Bebko trimming a text block.  photo A. Chapman

Michele Gagnon attaching book board to outer cover.  photo J. Bebko

Michele Gagnon gluing the text block to the cover while Bonnie Pooley and Ruth Barrett look on.  photo J. Bebko

Bonnie, Michele and Ruth loading the book press with the finished book.  photo J. Bebko

Introduction to Auto Detailing

Shampooing the interior of Carlie Casey's car - Carlie was the lucky participant whose car was chosen for detailing!  photo D. McMahon

Kay Larson vacuuming.  photo D. McMahon

Carlie and Kay look on as instructor Tim McMahon and Tim Roberts clean floor mats.  photo D. McMahon

Tim Roberts cleaning rims.  photo D. McMahon

Roberta Taylor buffing on the wax.  photo D. McMahon

A very pleased Carlie!  photo D. McMahon

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Local Food Initiatives" Discussion Sparks Opportunities for Community Involvement

by Nancy Davis
The final Brown Bag Lunch program of the year was held on May 5.  Facilitators were Amanda Moran, coordinator of the Edible Bethel project, and Meryl Kelly, Executive Director of the Local Food Connection.
The audience of experienced, passionate vegetable gardeners responded enthusiastically to the energy and creativity demonstrated by the facilitators.  Already generally knowledgeable about local food initiatives, participants learned new opportunities for contributing to the cause.  Amanda and Meryl were delighted with the fresh ideas that were suggested and hope they will have volunteers for the Edible Bethel project and Meryl’s culinary project. You may remember WMSC’s "Bridging the Generations" program two years ago in honor of our 10th anniversary.  From her lively involvement on that day, Ms. Kelly has developed an adult/student cooking program that would welcome the involvement of WMSC members.

The Edible Bethel project, featured in a recent Living Bethel magazine, has announced its first workday for Wednesday, May 13, meeting at 1:00 at Nabos parking lot. They are eager for volunteers to prepare beds at several Main Street sites and also suggest that “If you have your own tools or would like to donate hay, soil, seedlings, or garden fabric in lieu of gardening, all of these things would be very much appreciated!” For more information, you may contact Meryl Kelly at

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

Large Group Attends "End of Life Care"

by Lorrie Hoeh

On Thursday, April 29, an enthusiastic crowd of 55 people attended the latest To Your Health program, "End of Life Care: Having the Conversation," at the Congregational Church in Bethel.  A panel of five professionals, moderated by Al Cressy, shared their expertise on the subject of death and dying and how to prepare oneself and his or her loved ones.

Cressy began with the question: "Why have this conversation about death, and what should be talked about?"  The Rev. Dick Bennett's response was that in our culture we are programmed to fear both death and life. Jane Chandler, a hospice nurse, offered that it is important to listen and hear what a dying person's wishes are. Dr. Roger Austin, medical director of Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, posited that many are reluctant to have this important conversation, fearing it might induce the person to give up. Emily Ecker, a nursing home social worker, told of the kinds of problems that arise from not having had the talk, not the least of which is the expense involved, as well as quality of life issues. Home Health Aide Michelle Lowell told of her personal experience with a mother whose Alzheimer's disease prevented her from having the talk, resulting in many problems. Her father, however, when diagnosed with cancer, did have the conversation, and the outcome was good for all.

Other questions asked by the moderator were: "How do you start the talk before a crisis situation occurs?" "What do you do if an end-of-life crisis occurs before the conversation takes place?" "What are the things to consider in regard to the conversation?"

In answer to the last question, Ms. Ecker stressed starting early, appointing a health care proxy, determining the type of care in an irreversible condition, and, especially, being sure to complete an advanced directive.  Ms. Chandler advised considering everything, including such things as a "bucket list," letters to grandchildren, etc.   She also emphasized that a patient's wish to stop treatment is not suicide.

 Dr. Kevin Finley of the Bethel Family Health Center stepped up and advised us that one should talk to people of all ages about death and dying and make sure an advanced directive is in place, pointing out that the BFHC has living will forms.  He, too, emphasized the importance of starting the talk EARLY.

After a ten-minute break, the panel addressed audience questions that had been written on cards.  The buzz at the end of the program seemed universally positive.  Most people seemed to feel that they had learned a good deal and were glad they came. 

Moderator Al Cressy, Rev. Dick Bennett, Jane Chandler, Dr. Roger Austin, Emily Ecker, Michelle Lowell    

Rev. Dick Bennett

Dr. Roger Austin     photos L. Hoeh

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Remembering Mark Vail

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mark Vail, who died on April 20 after a short illness. Mark became a member of WMSC several years ago when he joined the Great Decisions class. Mark was an active participant in that class, and he will be missed. We send our condolences to his family.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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 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

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, February 8, 2015

Dr. Daniel van Buren Speaks on Valvular Heart Disease

On Thursday, February 5, Dr. Daniel van Buren spoke to a very receptive To Your Health audience on valvular heart disease. This disease occurs when the valves of the heart do not open fully or leak when closed. It is most often a degenerative disease, resulting from wear and tear, and is chronic, progressing slowly over time.

Either an obstructed or a leaky valve can be heard with a stethoscope; a patient diagnosed with valvular disease will be monitored until symptoms occur. Symptoms include angina (pain), shortness of breath, and eventually heart failure. Once a person develops symptoms, it is essential they receive treatment – 50% of symptomatic but untreated patients die within two years.

Most valvular disease occurs on the left side of the heart, involving either the aortic valve (going out of the left ventricle) or the mitral valve (coming into the left ventricle). The treatment of choice for the aortic valve is surgical valve replacement. But in many cases the mitral valve can be repaired rather than replaced; when possible, this is the preferred treatment. As Dr. van Buren said, this is by far the more complicated valve, and you want to keep your own parts as long as possible. 

In just the past few years a new, non-invasive procedure for valve replacement has been approved for patients for whom surgery is not possible. With Trans Aortic Valve Replacement a balloon-type device and a replacement valve are inserted into a vein in the leg, sent to the heart, inflated, the valve attached, the balloon deflated and removed. Dr. van Buren said that while this is being performed only in those who cannot tolerate surgery, he believes this will be the procedure of the future.

Daniel van Buren and Carlie Casey speak after the presentation.
 To Your Health committee members Rosabelle Tifft, Ellen Crocker, Donna Coe, Linda McDonough and Jan Stowell.   photos Rosabelle Tifft

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The DaPonte String Quartet Plays for WMSC

The DaPonte String Quartet plays a movement from a quartet by Mendelssohn.  The ensemble helped draw us into the music by playing a musical motif, or "seed," and then showed us how the composer developed that seed throughout the piece. Many of us felt that the explanations given by the members of the quartet led us into the music in a way we'd not experienced before.  photo Aranka Matolcsy

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

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

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

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