Corona Chronicles: May 30, 2020

Until life returns to some semblance of normal, from time to time we will send out the Corona Chronicles. This publication will provide commentary, brief stories, poetry, book and movie suggestions, and ways to make our time at home meaningful and fulfilling. If you have ideas to submit, please contact Nancy Perkins at

There is a part of me that has found the past few months to be a period of reflection and a time to organize not only closets, photographs, and books but my thoughts and perceptions about the life I have led. I have spent many hours remembering childhood playmates, high school and college friends, the great group of neighbors we had with growing children, and now the new friends I have made since relocating to Belfast. I am so very gratified that Senior College has provided me with a feeling of fellowship and community and nowhere is this more evident than in the articles, essays, poems, reviews, and ideas generated in this newsletter. Please keep sharing for we are all finding pleasure in one another’s thoughts and writings. We will send issues as we gather content. In the meantime, I hope in the words of the Canadian Prime Minister sent to me by member Tyrone Townsend, “Be Calm. Be Kind. Be Safe!”

Nancy Perkins

Painting by Kristen Frangoulis

Penobscot Shores COVID-19 Response

There are 72 residents living at Penobscot Shores, all of whom fall into the age group considered most vulnerable. As the state toll of victims grew, the management, as early as March 16th, imposed several restrictions. Our main building, the Ocean House, with 28 apartments, was declared “off limits” and the outside doors kept locked at all times with admission of staff and any emergency workers only after screening. Residents who were away were required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return and everyone was required to wear a mask while outside their dwellings and to observe social distancing rules. All group activities were cancelled and any visitors, including family members were prohibited from visiting. Within a few weeks, our beautiful dining room was closed and all meals ordered after that date have been delivered to apartments and cottages by the wait staff.

Those forbidden entrance to the Ocean House included those of us who live in cottages as well as the mailman, who was required to leave his mail bag in the foyer to be picked up and distributed to individual mailboxes by the management. All in-house mail for cottages, then off limits, was delivered by a resident volunteer. Since our well-stocked library was then off-limits to cottage dwellers, we were required to make appointments to enter by the outside door after inside doors from the hall were locked. In addition, a person was hired to shop for groceries for those without a community member who could do it for them. Our shopper spends an 8-hour day two days a week providing that service.

As statewide numbers of victims has receded, some restrictions have been modified. The Ocean House is now open to all residents admitted by using a key and with strict requirements to wear masks, observe social distancing with no more than 10 residents allowed to congregate in one area. We recently had our first resident meetings face-to-face in masks in six separate meetings limited to 10 residents spaced 6-feet apart. We are still advised against being in the community to shop. Careful adherence to these rules has kept us safe so far. Rules are reviewed on a regular basis to reflect state guidelines and adjust our own community and age-specific guidelines.

What do we do for fun? Some of us do get out to purchase a take-out lunch and drive to one of the many scenic areas of mid-coast Maine to enjoy an in-car picnic. Walking the grounds and conversing with other walkers while masked and respecting the 6-foot rule allows us to get some exercise and keep in touch with our neighbors.

Other activities aided by warming weather include taking advantage of our raised-bed garden area to plant flowers or vegetables, masked even if no one else is in the area. Another on-campus activity is enjoyed by a small group of beekeepers who will serve our four hives from now until fall at which time we will all benefit from the honey they produce. As members of our larger community, about a dozen residents participated in the Belfast clean up campaign picking up trash along our frontage with Route 1.

Like everyone else, we look forward to being able to get back to life as it was before this devastating pandemic. However, we are all committed to taking the needed precautions to keep our community safe.

Ron Jarvella

Painting by Kristen Frangoulis

Monkey Brain
2:37 am. March 2020

The virus has come to Maine,
who is infected, contagious,
but not sick?
Am I infected, but not sick?
Tests are in short supply…
Will my wife get sick?
Will my family and friends get sick?
No way to know.

I wash my hands religiously
Is it enough?
The main point of masks,
also in short supply,
for folks not treating people…
don’t touch your face,
don’t spread the disease,

They say
I am in a high risk group,
73 years old.
I practice PT and yoga,
I ride a bike,
I walk outside,
six feet apart,
with old friends,
will exercise save us?

How long will we need
to “shelter in place?”
Is food shopping safe?
How long can local stores,
businesses and schools stay closed?
What about people laid off?
What about people who lack health insurance?
Paid sick leave?
If parents get sick,
who takes care of the children?

How can doctors, nurses and EMTs cope,
missing the tools they need?
How many in town will need hospital care?
Will there be enough beds?
Will there be a bed if I need one?
Should I update my “In the Event of Death” binder?

In the morning,
I will take a deep breath,
I will connect with family and friends,
I will look for opportunities to laugh,
I will listen to music,
I will persist.

Jim Owen
Belfast, Maine

From the kitchen of Lila Nation

Pommes es dauphinoise: pour six personnes. Voici ma recette pour les pommes dauphinoise, très simple, mais délicieuse. (C’est une combinaison de recettes de Julia Child, de Patrice Dord, et de moi.)

Recette française: Pour ceux qui aiment cuire et lire en français: Choisessez des pommes de terre de variété Belle de Fontenay (Yukon Gold marcheraient très bien aussi)

Préchauffer le four à 210 C.

Faites fondre le beurre dans une petite casserole

Pelez les pommes et émincez-les très finement en rondelles tranchées

Cuissez-les 15 mn à l’eau bouillante salée et puis sechez-les

Graissez le plat de cuisson avec une gousse d’ail et une cuillère à soupe de beurre

(un poêle de neuf pouces de longeur et de deux pouces de profondement)

Faites soigeusement se chevaucher la moitié de tranches pour qu’il n’y a pas d’espace entre elles

Couvrez les pommes avec la moitié de fromage

Ajoutez la deuzième moitié de pommes et puis courvez-les avec un quart de fromage

Mélangez la crème, le reste d’ail et de beurre, le sel le poivre, et le noix de muscade et verser tout ça sur les pommes et le fromage

Couvrez cette mélange avec le reste de fromage et mettez au four pour une heure jusqu’elle est pétillante et dorée.

Attendez cinq minutes avant de les servir.

Les ingredients

  • 1kg de pommes
  • 1 pince de noix de muscade
  • 25 g de fromage gruyère
  • 300 ml de crème légère
  • 3 gousses d’ail
  • 1 cuillère à café de sel
  • 1 pince de poivre

Corona Chronicles: May 22, 2020

Until life returns to some semblance of normal, from time to time we will send out the Corona Chronicles. This publication will provide commentary, brief stories, poetry, book and movie suggestions, and ways to make our time at home meaningful and fulfilling. If you have ideas to submit, please contact Nancy Perkins at

Finally, Spring has arrived and the long days of sheltering in place are brightened by the return of the green world.

When we sent out the first Corona Chronicles we were pleased with the feedback from many of you saying that you enjoyed receiving it, and hoped we would continue compiling pieces from Senior College members. We are happy to forward the second edition with poems and articles about your life in this strange and unique period. We welcome your observations, suggestions and reviews of books, movies, special online sites, interesting recipes, and ways you have kept busy.

Now sit back and enjoy the contributions of fellow members!

Nancy Perkins

Book Review

For those of us who find a good novel the best antidote to news about a lethal virus and the incompetent efforts of politicians, what better than a 20st century version of a fairy tale to keep us company as we socially distance?

Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House,” published in late 2019, certainly has most of the elements—the children, Maeve and Danny, essentially being brought up by kindly servants; an indifferent, taciturn father whose sudden post-war wealth spurred him to buy an unusual, beautiful house (The Dutch House) in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia; a mother for whom the house purchase was representative of a lifestyle she found increasingly antithetical, who abandoned the family as a result; and a cruel stepmother who comes replete with the requisite stepsisters for Danny and Maeve.

Danny narrates this multi-generational tale of family love and anguish; the effects of parental neglect, indifference and abandonment, not to mention greed and cruelty, played out on many levels. But compassion and empathy can be nurtured by most unlikely sources, and love is generative, as Maeve and Danny demonstrate as the tale proceeds through years of their careers, his marriage and a new generation, often comparing notes while sharing a cigarette parked in front of the magnificent house that has not been their home since they were teenagers.

In the end “The Dutch House” is not a fairy tale; the stepsisters are victims, too; everyone does not live happily ever after. But Ann Patchett gives us a beautifully written, intricately constructed novel, and an unforgettable portrait of children as silent, seemingly resilient observers of an unfathomable adult world, and how love, dependable and hands-on, experienced from an early age, makes all the difference.

Mary Rackmale

Book Recommendation

For an outstanding and timely read, try Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, 2002. It is an historical fiction about the real-life events of the village of Eyam, England, that sacrificed itself to save the nation during the plague of 1666. Available on Kindle.

Lila nation

In appreciation of Frank Bruni

As a fan of Frank Bruni’s articles in the New York Times I recently enjoyed his column in which he stated that boredom is the least of peoples’ worries now – that it is a privilege. Since I rarely suffer from boredom, but live with others who do, I conclude that “being bored” is a privilege with the added behavioral symptoms of frustration, whining, and the occasional outburst due to that frustration.

How not to be bored? Well, if you were a kid, and I know you were, and you grew up in the country or a small village, you learned how to handle those times when others would say “there is nothing to do.” You can work outside in your garden or sit and watch what goes on in your bit of the world. If you live in town, the front porch used to be part of community life, where you called out to passers-by and chatted. The front porch is a nice place to people watch and also to view yards and gardens of neighbors or your own, and you can social distance quite easily from there.

You can take walks and not meet another person but if you do, keep your mask handy. Look at the clouds and see those amazing animals and creations that you did as a kid. Feel the breeze on your skin and smell the freshness of the air around you. Note the grasses growing and the wild flowers blooming. Are trees beginning to leaf out? Observe the small lives around you that are unencumbered by boredom and busy with their daily routines. Recently, I’ve seen turtles crossing the road, turkeys in the fields, or even flying across the road like ancient winged dinosaurs. Frogs abound in the bog on Waning Road and muskrats ply their way through those waters as well. Ducks are spending time on the bog, and even on our pond. None of your activity has to have any profound reasoning behind it, just exist in that moment as other animals do.

Now that it is spring there are bumble bees, butterflies, and insects of various sorts, happily buzzing and flying about their business, lighting here and there. The water bugs make small waves as they skitter on the water of our pond. We think excitedly that they may be pollywogs. But no, they are still just water bugs. In the evening we listen to the tree and wood frogs singing in the trees. The night sky has had some beautiful clouds against a lovely deep, dark blue background with their hazy veils drifting over the moon.

When you want to be inside, you can read the books you’ve always planned to read; sketch; paint; sew; scrapbook; knit; bake; watch interesting television; play cards, board games, Scrabble or Boggle; do jigsaw puzzles; talk to friends and family on the phone, zoom or skype; write notes to friends; organize and scan your photos and albums; take free college courses online; play pool; go out in the yard and throw a ball around with your partner or shoot hoops by yourself; put up the badminton net or set out the croquet wickets; enjoy the life you have now.

It is actually a relief to not feel compelled to go places and do things via automobile. As a creature of the natural world, it is a pleasure to be quiet within it. Bored? Not at all in my world.

Sydney Taber

Here’s a Hug

Sue Shaw

We’re all staying in our homes…
We use computers and our phones,
To ‘Face-time’, email, send a text,
As we wonder what is coming next!

We care for plants and clean the house,
Take long walks with pets or spouse,
Wash the cars and rake the yard…
Staying busy isn’t hard!

But it’s not the list of things to do
That makes us discontent or blue…
It’s just that when the job list ends
We need connection with our friends!

‘Social distance’ tops the rules
Of our behavior! All the schools,
The restaurants, stores and every gym…
Are closed—it’s NOT on just a whim—

There’s no art class or pickleball
No birding field trips…none at all!
No movies, lectures, eating out…
No card games, nothing…there’s no doubt

That we must distance to survive…
To keep our loved ones safe, alive!
So hunker down for a longer while…
But here’s a hug to make you smile!

Corona Chronicles: May 4, 2020

Until life returns to some semblance of normal, from time to time we will send out the Corona Chronicles. This publication will provide commentary, brief stories, poetry, book and movie suggestions, and ways to make our time at home meaningful and fulfilling. If you have ideas to submit, please contact Nancy Perkins at

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for . . . ?

Arlin Larson
Waiting, waiting, waiting – but for what? That is how I have been feeling recently. Senior College starting up was one of the things I was ready for. For the past year I had been re-educating myself about the Mayflower, Pilgrims, and English settlement of North America. It was going to be really fun to teach a class marking the 400th anniversary this year. Then came the pandemic. Maybe we could have a spring session anyway. No. It will have to wait – but until when?

Another expectation was getting back out on the golf course. OK for that to be delayed – the weather isn’t even all that good. Then there was a trip to see our son and family. Same for a trip overseas. When will it be safe? Life is in suspended animation. We might not mind waiting a while for any one thing, but it feels different now that it is everything.

Then beyond waiting, there is worrying. Waiting AND worrying, waiting AND worrying, waiting AND worrying . . . but worrying about what? That feels pretty global too. Getting sick – how sick? Vulnerable friends and family (one member living in a nursing home and another working in one). Where is it safe to go? What precautions? What chances to take? Are family visits OK? People you know well? Businesses and jobs? Financial security? Worries that the waiting only makes worse.

I’m not sure it is a good idea, but I am keeping a mental list of the strikes that are called against me – old, male, conditions similar enough to the ones they call “underlying.” That makes three, and I’m not yet out, but have just learned of a fourth – growing up in a highly polluted city – Los Angeles!

They say this pandemic is not so bad as many in the past – e.g., smallpox, bubonic plague, measles, yellow fever – because it is “mostly taking older people.” Do you find that thought comforting? Society will slowly revive just because a large portion get mildly ill and are done with it. But what about us seniors for whom infection may be much more dangerous? Is society going to move on with our demographic on indefinite lockdown?

Just when the corona virus hit, I happened to be reading William McNeil’s Plagues and Peoples as background for the Mayflower class. The Pilgrims arrived on the heals of several pandemics that had devastated both North and South America. The Wampanoags of Cape Cod had lost 80% or 90%. It wasn’t much better for the Pilgrims. Half died the first winter, and bubonic plague had recently taken 25% of London and would again in a few years. Those people truly “walked through the valley of the shadow of death.” Natives and English alike took the horror as punishment from the gods.

At that time, they found their hope in the possibility of mending their ways and restoring harmony with the gods. Knowing now about virus, bacteria, and vectors of transmission, we don’t expect that any amount of moral uplift would stem the tide. However, I suspect that some of that old dread is still with us, especially among us vulnerable seniors, that the gods, or God, or the universe might really not be on our side.

The founder of Maine senior colleges, Rabbi Harry Sky, believed that senior colleges would meet a spiritual as well as intellectual and social need for Maine seniors. What he saw is that seniors just as much as anyone else are looking for meaning and significance in their lives. Senior colleges would encourage that by being senior led, taught, and run and by providing classroom opportunities for seniors to reflect on their lives while exploring new topics.

Teaching at Senior College has been especially gratifying for exactly those reasons. Students and fellow faculty mature and experienced with life create a rich environment for gaining perspective as well as for learning. Perhaps this time of uncertainty and enforced isolation can prompt us to deeper reflection on who we are, where we have been, and where we are headed. Then being back together will be even richer. . . endowed with patience gained from the waiting and newly discovered insights from the worrying.

The Rev. Dr. Arlin T. Larson has taught courses at Senior College at Belfast since 2006. He has served on the Board of Trustees for eight years, three of them as president. He retired to Belfast in 2011 after serving as minister of First Congregational Church of Searsport.

Nancy Perkins
I was recently asked by a friend how I had spent the past few months since my sequestering began after my back surgery in mid-January. Needless to say it has seemed like a very long time since I was out and about but I have found some activities I enjoy during this stay home period.

I have been engaged in a host of activities. Books, books, and more books have been read, the best of which was Ann Patchett’s lovely The Dutch House. I rediscovered the joy of baking bread only to find that it was just too good not to eat! I have enjoyed some excellent movies and a number of great European series on both Netflix and Amazon Prime. (If you have Netflix do not miss Herrens Veje, an exquisitely acted and produced Danish series about a present day family of ministers).

Zoom has become a very useful application in our household for church services, family chats, friendly gatherings, and Senior College. I particularly enjoyed a Zoom Class with the Lewiston Auburn Senior College on “Israel Today.” Thanks to modern day technology I have enjoyed delightful visits to a number of museums, gardens, and historic sites around the world which were not crowded at all. Plus no foot or back pain after an online tour. One outstanding tour site is the National Park Service which offers excellent online tours of five National Parks, only one of which I have ever visited. They include Kenai Fjords in Alaska; Hawaii Volcanoes; Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico; Bryce Canyon, Utah; and Dry Tortugas, Florida. I chose the Dry Tortugas because warmth and sunshine beckoned. I was not disappointed and lost track of time in the warm waters of this fascinating site.

I also enjoyed a virtual tour offered by the National Park Service which many of you would find interesting, a visit to Alexander Hamilton’s Grange Mansion in upper Manhattan. This tour is with a Park Service Ranger and Jordan Fisher a member of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. I highly recommend this excellent look into the final home of Mr. Hamilton. To visit either of the above sites, click on the link or copy it into your browser:

How have you been spending time while staying at home? Have you read a book you would recommend, seen a movie you particularly enjoyed, or visited an online site offering a unique experience? Share your experiences with us by emailing me at

Nancy Perkins

Book Review

Erik Larson’s recently published book The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz presents a very intimate account of Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister starting in May 1940, just as Dunkirk was being evacuated, through the blitz bombing of London and many other British cities. Using many different diary entries from those who were closest to Churchill…..government ministers, staff people, family members and also the general public living through this perilous time before the United States finally entered the war to fight with the British to prevent a Nazi takeover of Europe, Larson presents a fascinating picture of Churchill’s inspiring leadership during that first year.

I found this to be a very engaging story of the crucial year when Britain stood alone in the fight against Hitler’s Nazi war machine, fortunately led by a man with a fascinating personality who led his country with tremendous energy and conviction and instilled in the British People the courage needed to prevail through such a dangerous, frightening time.

Reading this book of what the British people endured so stoically as we now face a world-wide pandemic reminded me of other equally perilous times in history and the crucial importance of honest, courageous and compassionate leadership.

Reviewed by Robin Kruger

April 2020 Board Meeting via Zoom

The Senior College Board is meeting, and social distancing, using “Zoom,” a videoconferencing app. This was taken at the April, 2020 board meeting.

Covid-19 Update

Senior College has cancelled its spring and summer terms over Covid-19 concerns. We will keep you informed as the situation develops. Rest assured your Senior College is still here, working behind the scenes, and will present courses and programs as soon as safely possible.

Spring Semester Cancelled

March 12, 2020

Dear Belfast Senior College Member,

It is with great disappointment that we must write to inform you of the cancellation of our Spring Semester. The Covid-19 virus is an extremely serious situation and our membership and faculty consist of an at-risk population. Consequently, we are taking this preemptive step to minimize the potential impact of this virus.

The college will be issuing refunds to everyone who has signed up for a course this Spring. You will soon receive an email or letter explaining how the refunds are to be processed. We ask for your patience and understanding as it is our first time (and hopefully last time!!) issuing refunds on this scale.

This Spring Cancellation is a solution for a very unusual situation. Meanwhile we are in the planning stages of a very active series of summer programs and are already accepting course proposals for the fall. The Board of Directors will be monitoring the situation to find the earliest possible time to reopen classes. As students we are all disappointed, but a special recognition must go to all our instructors. Our instructors put in much time and effort in preparing their courses, and we are working on ways that will allow them to proceed in the near future.

On a related note, we will also have to postpone our UMO Planetarium trip. Stay tuned for when the trip is rescheduled.

We will be keeping you informed as the situation develops. Rest assured your Senior College is still here and will continue to present courses and programs.

Thank you and stay healthy,
Belfast Senior College Board of Directors

Annual Meeting 2019

Senior College Annual Meeting
Thursday, September 26, 2019
12:00 – 12:45 (Bring a lunch)
Room TBA – Hutchinson Center


Call to Order
Greetings from the Hutchinson Center
Remarks by the President

2018 – 2019 Financial Report

Committee Reports

Elections to Board of Trustees

General Discussion

New Office Hours!

Note: Until now, the Senior College office has been open every Thursday, 52 weeks per year.

From now on:

SUMMER: for two weeks before the 1st class, office open on Thursdays, 10 am – 1 pm.

During summer classes: office open 30 minutes before & after class, and during breaks & lunch.

FALL, WINTERIM, & SPRING: starting six weeks before the 1st class, office open on Thursdays, 10 am – 1 pm.

During classes: office open 30 minutes before & after class, and during breaks & lunch.

Communications Policy

Adopted by the SC Board in June, 2016

The purpose of SC advertising or announcements, including but not limited to the website, E-news, or classroom announcements, is to promote Senior College, and to inform the membership and the community of courses, special events, speakers, or projects that Senior College is directly involved with. Volunteer opportunities and other community events that Senior College (including the Community Service Committee) is not directly involved with (see following paragraph) are beyond the scope and purpose of the website, E-news, and classroom announcements, or any other advertisements, and are not permitted.

A Senior College committee or group is directly involved with a non-profit group or community event when the members of that committee or group have agreed, for some specified period of time (e.g., for the upcoming year, for a certain month, or for a particular date), that its members will participate in a particular non-profit or community event, at a specified time and place. If an SC committee or group merely urges (by mentioning or advertising) the SC membership at large to support a non-profit, or to attend a community event, then that does not count as “direct involvement” by the committee or group. To count as “direct involvement,” the committee or group members themselves must have committed to participate in some specific event (for a non-profit organization or in a community event). Given they have done this, if they also wish to invite members of the SC community at large to participate in that specific event, then that is permissible.