The MSCN Newsletter

 Welcome to Your MAY 2020 Issue!

A Woman with a Dog, Jean Honoré Fragonar
(circa 1769)

Welcome to the May issue of the Maine Senior College Network. I am dedicating this issue to Zoom pets across the network. W.C. Fields' advice to actors was, "Never work with children or animals." Zoom meetings have a hidden perk! They do show us the animals and raise the question of who is in charge, really? We see cats stalking past computer cameras as they tiptoe over keyboards. Sometimes we watch dogs dozing on beds or hear them rattling their collars for attention. We even get to see people jumping up to stop their pets from doing something embarrassing on camera.  Recognizing how much time we are spending at home with our furry friends, I present to you "Cat Box Musings" by Andrew Birden. 


SunriseSunrise Senior College

Sunrise Senior College  wins the unofficial award  for the 
"Most Original Zoom Class  of  Spring 2020"

"Taking Care of Trees" with Mike Stanton 

Mike Stanton demonstrates how to use a chainsaw while up a tree.

The picture above shows a frame taken from the Sunrise Senior College's Zoom course titled "Taking Care of Trees." Presenter Mike Stanton provided a PowerPoint presentation  covering all aspects of tree care. For his final class, he took his iPhone (connected to Zoom) up the tree. Then, while suspended by ropes, Mike explained his extensive safety precautions before ending with a demonstration on how to use a chainsaw to trim large branches.

MSCChekhovMidcoast Senior College

Midcoast Senior College
George Young's Spring 2020 Checkhov class's Monday Morning Players perform "The Boor" May 4, 2020

This spring, George Young taught a top-rated Zoom class on Chekhov at both Midcoast SC and OLLI. These classes ended with participants presenting a reading of Chekhov's "The Boor." 

Midcoast recorded their rendering of the play and have agreed to share it with newsletter readers! The Friday Chekhov class at OLLI also performed a live reading of "The Boor." George shared that his OLLI students performed with "equal skill and gusto!"

Click on the image to watch Midcoast Senior College - George Young's Spring 2020 Checkhov class's Monday Morning Players perform "The Boor" May 4, 2020  

MSC Checkhov class
The Monday Morning Players

Yelena Ivanova Popova
a little widow with dimpled cheeks, a landowner played by Terry Marsh

Gregory Stepanovich Smirnov 
a middle-aged gentleman farmer 
played by W. Joseph Coté 

Mme. Popova's footman, an old man 
played by Ed Hawes

LASCzoom USM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College

Lewiston Auburn Senior College has launched its second group of Zoom classes.  One of these classes is titled About Face - Art Studio with instructor: Judy Hierstein

Man has always been fascinated with recreating the human face through art. In this virtual studio class, we will examine various approaches through historical periods and get inspiration for our own creations of the face using a variety of media.

Judy is a retired art teacher, graphic designer, and children's book illustrator.

6 Mondays, beginning May 18, 10-12 am

Course Limit: 15

SAGE at the University of Maine Presque Isle

Catbox Musings by Andrew Birden 
Hermann Anschütz 1837: Cat with towers of St. Florin in background to the left, Koblenz; Mittelrhein-Museum, Koblenz 

I admire the system of waste removal that the common household cat has devised for itself. What other animal has accomplished the triumph that is modern feline bathroom technology and procedure?

Consider, a cat has somehow managed to train an entire species of simians to not only provide him or her with air-conditioned shelter, but to also provide an endless supply of nutritious and tasty food, and an infinite variety of small toys that it can ignore, or shred and then later regurgitate behind the television. At the same time, it has mysteriously compelled these gullible simians to set aside a special place in their dwellings just for the cat to enjoy a little privacy when he or she poops or needs to pass water.

That special place is often a cat-sized plastic box with an open top. Some are more complex, even boasting an extruded plastic roof so the box resembles the shape of a fancy house in its own right. The human will pour into this box the world's cleanest mixture of dry clay that high technology processes have ground into the uniform size of quinoa grains that humans find pleasant when they let it run through their fingers. Some of these mixes of litter contain the smell of exotic flowers, because, we tell ourselves, cat poop just smells better that way.

And the cat appreciates it too. Both genders of the common housecat will enter into this Rubbermaid boudoir like royalty arriving at a fancy ball. Quick or slow, a cat sweeps through the door with serious purpose, using a precision and grace that humans reserve for walking on stage before a ballet performance. Once in the box, a cat will settle into a comfortable position for the serious purpose of Buddha-like contemplation.

What happens next, we cannot truly know, for humans have learned to turn their heads away. With a nod to Erwin Schrödinger's dead/not dead cat in a box, we cannot truly know what is the expression on a feline's face while it is unobserved. We do know that when someone tries to watch a cat in a litter box, the miniature lion will stare with the calm pointed social insult that the popular girls in high school would use to let the rest of humanity know that they are not going to talk to anyone, much less you. So we look away, compelled by forces that something greater than humanity must have imposed on the psyche of our species.

Business done, the cat will tidy up, cover the scat, and exit the little poop condo, shaking her legs in delicate fuss, before washing up on a favorite chair or perched above the household rabble to tidy herself from a vantage on the staircase. Then she continues with her day of murdering small critters, adding to her stash of hidden hairballs or plotting the death of the stupid humans because they won't let her through closed doors whenever she damn well wants.

And what do we do? We come along every few days to sift through the animal's waste using specialized tools that have only one purpose, to filter out clods of piss and poop.

The common cat seems to be the apex predator on the planet, not humans. I would be unsurprised if cats had achieved a technological civilization while humans were still squabbling over who could draw the best stick figures on the wall of a cave. Felines probably achieved that advanced civilization, made the jump to outer space and explored the universe to their satisfaction. Of course, nothing ever truly satisfies a cat. Once they determined that the universe was unable to provide anything interesting, where even a laser pointer is no more compelling than a feather tied to a bit of string, the advanced cat civilization said, screw this. I'm bored.

And they came back to Earth, used their advanced technology to breed humans so that we would care for their every need, including sifting through their feces and urine. Having reached the ultimate biological nirvana possible for a carbon-based lifeform, cats settled into an eternity of relaxation and contemptuous stares.

OLLIbookCORNER The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Book Corner
by Pat Davidson Reef

The Maine Point
Irene M. Drago
Pub by Maine Authors Publishing 2020

History through a personal lens can be seen in the new book, "The Maine Point," by Irene Drago, published by Maine Authors Publishing of Thomaston, Maine.
It is a great escape book from the tragic news of the pandemic virus sweeping the country and the state this spring.

Every other chapter is a love story about six key characters, Anna and Jake, Penny and Sal and Stella and Donovan. How they grow, where they meet, and the history of the times all woven together make the book an exciting adventure dealing with the impact of history on each generation.

The author paints with words descriptions of places in the book from Portland, Harpswell, Port Clyde, Bath, and the lighthouse of Marshall Point all locations in Maine. However the characters travel to places like New York City and the Tavern on the Green and even to the South Pacific in the 1940's. Letters from lovers back and forth make the book intimate while describing world War II.

However every other chapter deals in the present from 2018 to 2020 and goes back into history in alternate chapters having the characters reflect different generations with different problems, different life styles and in different locations.

The book starts with Anna, a writer coming back from New York to Portland, Maine where she meets Jake, her lover. They stay at the Press Hotel in Portland, once The Gannett Building of the Portland Press Herald. The author's description of the renovation of the building is fantastic along with the love story.

Jake, an engineer, wants to live next to a lighthouse at Marshall Point, in Port Clyde, Maine in the Keepers House. The first floor is a museum but the second floor is an apartment originally built for a lighthouse keeper. From the second floor you can see the beautiful harbor. Anna thinks it is a perfect place to write in but her parents feel it is a little isolated, yet near Bath Maine where they live. The author describes Bath and Port Clyde so well that the reader thinks you are there.

In other chapters Anna's grandmother and her cousin Stella and Penny, move from Maine in the 1930's to New York City with adventures of their own, meeting a variety of experiences and gentleman friends. Eventually their paths return to Maine.

If you want to read about the history of ships, architecture, Maine history, and several love stories this is a book for you.

I loved it because it took me away from the Covid 19 virus topic on the news day and night this spring and provides an interesting view of history surrounded with several uplifting love stories .

Other News- Maine CASA

Maine CASA to Hold Fall Training on August 11-14, 2020 in Augusta

Interested in speaking up for a Maine foster child? 
The Maine Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program is holding its fall training for volunteer advocates on August 11-14, 2020 in the Augusta area.  The four-day training is free, and attendees learn about all aspects of child advocacy.  

Maine CASAs are community volunteers who are appointed to serve as guardians ad litem for children whose parents are involved in a child protection case.  The foundation of a CASA's work is to investigate the case and then advise the judge in writing of what the CASA believes is in the child's best interest. 

CASAs come from a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds and are guided throughout the process by staff attorneys.  CASAs bring their own unique perspectives to their work as volunteers. 

Last year, hundreds of children had a volunteer CASA who served as the child's voice in court. Right now, there are more foster children than CASAs.  If you have a big heart and are willing to speak up for a Maine child, we invite you to apply to become a CASA. You must be 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. You do not need any special training to apply. Along with completing an application, you will need to provide three references and consent to a criminal and child protection background check. 

Are you ready to stand up for a child who needs you?  If so, we hope you can join us for our August 11-14 training.  You can find out more about the Maine CASA Program and access the application by visiting our website

Please "like" us on Facebook at Maine CASA

For more information about becoming a volunteer, email  Maine CASA Legal Services Advisor Darren Defoe, Esq. or call 213-2864

OtherNewsOther News

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine

Fending off the ticks

Visit the Lyme Disease Awareness website to see some creepy tick animations and to see the 2019 school children's "Tick Aware and Tick Alert" poster contest winners.

  • Wear EPA-approved repellents.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing.
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
  • Check your clothing and gear for ticks and do a full-body tick check when coming back indoors. Pay special attention to under the arms, behind the knees, between the legs, in and around the ears, in the belly button, around the waist, and in the hair.
  • Take a shower within two hours after spending time outdoors, which will wash off any unattached ticks.
Go to Tick Prevention and Property Management for more information.

Image Credits

Images Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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