E-News October 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our new President

Dear Senior College Members and Friends,

When I moved to Belfast five years ago I met a woman in a water aerobics class at the Y who not only recommended an excellent spot to get a haircut but also suggested I take a look at the website of Senior College Belfast. At home that evening, following her advice, I read about a number of interesting classes beginning the next month. Intrigued, I promptly joined and registered for two classes. Since that time I have either taken classes or taught and believe that the hours I spend at Senior College are stimulating, educational, and fun. Through Senior College I have made friends, developed new interests, and most importantly made to feel welcome in my new home. My experience is not unique and is one of the reasons that Senior College has helped build community in Belfast.

Covid 19 has brought challenges and changes to every facet of our lives. We all miss the weekly Thursday’s at the Hutchinson Center which have become virtual classes held via Zoom. Some days I find Zoom exhaustion sets in but then the next day I anxiously sign into a class or meeting to see the familiar faces of friends and fellow members. We have learned that Zoom is an acceptable substitute but one which we hope will become a mere adjunct to our face-to-face classes. We will continue planning Zoom courses until such time that we can safely return to the Hutch, greet one another, and share friendly conversation, coffee, tea, and cookies!

As the newly elected president of Senior College Belfast I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a very distinguished group of individuals who worked collectively to assure this unique enterprise remained viable. All of us on the Board of Trustees will do our best to live up to the legacy of the founders and leaders of the past 20 years. With your help, support, and presence we will succeed. Following are comments and thoughts from the officers and leadership of the organization. Please do not hesitate to share any thoughts, ideas, or concerns you may have. We want to hear from you and urge you to keep in touch. In the meantime we will hope to see you on Zoom.

Stay safe, healthy, and engaged.

Nancy Perkins

Comments and Thoughts …

Martha Laitin, Vice President

I have been missing the Thursday drives to our Hutch campus, the cookie breaks, and the familiar faces and interesting conversations during class sessions. The relationships we’ve formed earlier have made our current Zoom encounters more engaging, I think. It will be a real treat to see everyone once again. Let’s stay connected, with written words and virtual classes until that time.

Elisabeth Pollack, Office Manager

As you know, my main Senior College responsibility has been with the office which we are fortunate to have at the Hutchinson Center. With the HC closed, and no in-person classes, it has been a relatively quiet few months. Hopefully we will be able to open again (maybe Spring?) and I can go back to the usually chaotic Thursdays, with the help of the ever cheerful volunteers.

The efforts of the Board and the Curriculum Committee have been heroic throughout this pandemic, and we appreciate the great efforts of all to keep Senior College “healthy,” while maintaining social distance!

Rebecca Jessup, Secretary

I have been on the SC board for a few years now, and no previous year has been as challenging as 2020. Because of the pandemic, we had to cancel the entire Spring Semester, and adjust to offering classes by Zoom. We had to abandon in-person board meetings. Most of us have not seen each other in person for eight months! Nevertheless, Senior College goes on. The number and diversity of classes continues to be wonderful in their variety and in the excellence of our instructors, as well as the enthusiasm of our students. One advantage to our virtual life is that we can expand our reach to members of all the other SCs in Maine! We all miss live classes, and even more we miss coffee and cookies and the chance to mingle during breaks. The Hutchinson Center staff miss our lively presence. I hope we’ll be able to resume that happy tradition this year, but I suspect that Zoom teaching will be a permanent part of our curriculum going forward. We started using Zoom out of a kind of desperation, but it has proven to be a blessing and benefit to Senior College and our students.

Deirdre Good, Chair, Curriculum Committee

To me, Senior College is one of Belfast’s great assets, and one of the joys of my life in retirement as a life-long teacher of graduate students. I will never forget my first experience of the buzzing conversations in the Hutchinson Center atrium one Thursday September morning between classes. Behind the conversations in that setting lies a dedicated network of volunteer committee members, professional staff, and teachers. Senior College personnel are also charismatic evangelists: I learnt of the wonderful possibilities of state-wide offerings on a platform waiting for a Boston train in a chance conversation with a volunteer at Midcoast Senior College. Our nimble Senior College Belfast teachers, staff, and committee members have worked hard this year to make a fascinating array of well-taught courses available online, combating social isolation in a pandemic. Our course registrants and teachers have embraced, with courage and zest, challenges of online learning including Zoom bombing, older laptops, and slow internet speeds. On-line teaching creates an even wider reach, and I am confident you will see this in our future course offerings.

Brenda Smith, Treasurer

Being the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee means that I need to keep an eye on the financial health of the Senior College. We entered the pandemic in a very healthy position with cash reserves enough to last for at least a few years into the future. We weren’t sure at first whether we’d be able to even keep the Senior College operating due to health concerns. But with some creativity and the awesome power of Zoom technology we are actually thriving. The current year budget that Nancy Perkins and I put together using a considerable amount of guesswork has been exceeded for the fall semester and will need to be reworked upward for winter and spring.

I think we have the potential for growth even in the middle of this lockdown because members of the Senior College network are just starting to experiment with taking virtual classes from other colleges in the network. As a member of Belfast Senior College you are eligible to take classes at any of the 17 Senior Colleges throughout Maine. This fall I am taking a wonderful course in Writing Life Stories from the South Coast Senior College. My personal goal for this year is to finish designing and to teach a writing class on making memorable stories by influencing the neural networks of the brain for the Belfast Senior College. But already some of my classmates from the South Coast College have expressed interest in taking my class when it is offered. So I think that we are actively able to provide a much larger offering of courses across the Senior College Network that isn’t possible with just face to face classes. I expect that in Belfast we will offer hybrid classes combining face to face participants with virtual classmates once we are safely past the virus. This means that our senior college will continue to prosper and meet and hopefully exceed the needs of our members.

2020-2021 Senior College Board Members

Engaging Your Critical Thinking Skills

Just sharing another FHC professional development program that might prove interesting to Senior College folks, especially with all that is going on in the world right now! As always, we have need-based scholarship funds available for participants in Waldo and Knox County.

Engaging Your Critical Thinking Skills promises to be a very timely and relevant program. The unofficial tagline is: “How to talk to people with opposing viewpoints without losing your cool.” (Seems like a skill that could come in handy!)

Kim Wilson-Raymond
Interim Director
Hutchinson Center

Annual Meeting 2020

Dear Fellow Senior College Members,

Annual Meeting via Zoom Teleconferencing

Please be advised we will hold our meeting on Thursday, September 24 at 12pm. If you plan to attend the meeting you must register with the form below, where you can also renew your membership. Remember also you must be a current member to attend and vote so be sure to renew your membership.

Members will be asked to vote on the following six candidates for the 2020-2021 Board of Trustees:

  • Al Arthur: Website design and management focused on Arts, Education, Culture, and Community.
  • John Economy: Management, incumbent SC board member, co-chair of SC annual appeal, and member of SC Festival of Art committee.
  • Deirdre Good: (Online)Teacher & Educator, avid reader, author, & Curriculum Committee member.
  • Brenda Smith: CPA, Non-profit financial management. SC Board member and Treasurer
  • Beth Sterner: Business Owner/Accountant, Community Volunteer, avid life long learner.
  • Jim Owen: Consultant & counselor and member SV Finance Committee


Download 2020 Agenda

Download 2020 Annual Meeting Minutes

Click here to register

2020 Annual Meeting
Are you currently a member of Senior College? *
Choose one of the above options
Annual Meeting 2020 *
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Fall Online Classes/Membership Renewal Time:

Recently you received notice that Senior College at Belfast has just posted our fall line up of courses on the website. Registration is now open for the Fall Classes!

Although we cannot yet meet at the Hutchinson Center we have been able to move forward with online offerings. Through the perseverance and hard work of the Board of Trustees and the Curriculum Committee we are actually thriving. We offered a number of free online courses this summer to determine our capabilities to produce online courses. They were extremely well received. Most were completely filled with waiting lists and those without class limits had over 100 participants. We were able to bring classes to nursing homes and other living centers – an endeavor that we will build on as we go forward. In short, we proved that online courses can be fun as well as educational and intellectually satisfying.

Our membership year begins on September 1. This year it is more important than ever that we have a successful membership drive. With the online class offerings we have reduced all our course fees, but there are still ongoing expenses which must be covered. We hope you will sign up for a course but even if you don’t, please renew your membership. Now more than ever we need to assure that our Senior College will continue to serve, grow, and remain vital in our community.

In closing, thank you for being a part of this remarkable organization.


Peter Reilly

Fall 2020 Classes are Here!

While we all continue to deal with the ongoing issues of life during a pandemic we are happy to announce that thanks to the ingenuity and enthusiasm of our Instructors we will be offering a full fall curriculum. The curriculum is currently posted here.

The Curriculum Committee with the assistance of Al Arthur, our Webmaster, several longtime Instructors, and assistance from the Maine Senior College Network at USM we have become increasingly proficient with Zoom technology. We believe that each of you will find a Fall course that will pique your interest and introduce you to the joy of online learning if you have not yet experienced it. While nothing will replace the camaraderie and fellowship we experienced with coffee, tea, and cookies at the Hutchinson Center we strongly believe you will find a great deal that inspires you during the next few months at Online Senior College Belfast!

We assure you that as soon as we know it is safe we will be back at the Hutch.

If you already know what classes you want, click here for the registration page.

New History Course Available: Epidemics in American History

Senior College Members:

Here’s something you might be interested in. As you may or may not know the University of Maine has tuition waivers for seniors who take courses through the Hutchinson Center. Following is a course (with obvious relevance!) that is being taught online through the Hutchinson Center. The course is taught once a week from August 31st till December 11th. Contact Kim Wilson-Raymond at the Hutchinson Center for more details and enrollment. kim.raymond@maine.edu.

New History Course – Epidemics in American History

Patrick Callaway
Meet Patrick Callaway, course instructor for History 199: Epidemics in American History. Fun fact about Patrick: he’s a big fan of classical movies and has been known to quote them at random. (You’ve been warned!)

This class examines the role of epidemic disease in American history. Epidemics are complex times of individual human tragedy intersecting with the potential for rapid structural change due to the emergency. The new circumstances provide opportunities for social, cultural, and political action as society changes (or fails to change) as a result. This class uses a variety of case studies from American history to explore the personal and collective understandings of disease, responses to epidemics, the influences of race and class on the lived experience during epidemics, and the political, social, and economic consequences of public health crises.

Becoming Belfast, Maine 1770 – 1820

Belfast historian Megan Pinette will be presenting a free brown bag lunch series session on August 17, 12 noon. via Zoom

In 2020 the State of Maine celebrates 200 years of statehood, 1820 – 2020. This year Belfast also commemorates its own milestone – Founders Day, 250 years since the first settlements, 1770 – 2020. Belfast was settled by Scots-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire in the spring of 1770. The first settlers, about thirty people including children, took possession of their lands on both sides of the harbor. In early 1819, the question about separation was brought to the towns. In Belfast, the vote was 145 in favor and 26 against. Belfast was well-established as both a maritime and market town when the break from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the creation of the state of Maine occurred on March 15, 1820. This illustrated talk will include a look at early Belfast people, businesses, residences and industries.

Time 30-40 minutes, 12pm Monday, August 17, Free

Click Here to register

Megan Pinette is president of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum and also serves as the Education Program Coordinator. She has been active with the historical society for the past twenty years, and has worked on such projects as “The History of Belfast in the 20th Century,” co-authored by Jay Davis and Tim Hughes, and “The Museum in the Streets,” thirty interpretive panels set along the waterfront, downtown and residential streets. She is the co-author of Arcadia Publishing Company’s, Images of America-Belfast book, published in June 2020.

Fall in Love with Fall 2020

August 11, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

As we begin another year of Senior College, under most unusual circumstances, we invite you to join us to meet Instructors of online fall classes. Each will briefly describe their class and offer a taste of the exciting, educational, fun, and mind-expanding opportunities available from the comfort of your home. We will miss the Hutchinson Center, the camaraderie, the animated classes, and of course cookies and coffee but we promise that you will find online learning can be satisfying and stimulating as well.

To register, simply fill out the form below. This session is free, and all are welcome!

Registration is closed.

Fall in Love with Fall 2020

Course Registration

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Cancellation Notice: Fall On-Campus Classes

Given today’s environment and the vulnerability of our demographics the Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Fall Senior College “on campus” classes at the Hutchinson Center.

There will be a full slate of online courses for the fall.

We will have more information coming to you about fall courses, but in the meantime we wish all of you a safe summer. Take care.

Free Special Virtual Zoom Class for July

JULY 8th and JULY 22nd 4pm – ONLINE

Spend an hour each with Winston Churchill and Alexander Hamilton – a Free online course given by Belfast’s Senior College with Instructor Pete Reilly. In the summer there is no age requirement so anyone can join. 2 Day course/1 hour+ each session.

So crank your computer up, grab your favorite beverage and have some fun.

Check out the virtual Zoom classes.

Belfast Senior College Featured in Maine Seniors Magazine

The Belfast Senior College has been featured in a lovely three page article by Shelagh Talbot in the April issue of Maine Seniors Magazine with lots of photos courtesy of Belfast Senior College. Pick up the latest issue at your newstand or download the article as a PDF.

Waldo County is beautiful – a coastal area with much to do and enjoy, and for almost 20 years Belfast Senior College has been a vibrant part of that landscape. The college was created in 2001 by a group of Belfast-area residents and leaders along with Dr. Jim Patterson, director of the newly opened Hutchinson Center-part of the University of Maine system. This center was built with the idea of creating outreach for the university and “serving as an educational and cultural hub for the mid-coast community,” according to their website. Belfast Senior College is a perfect fit.

Virtual Zoom Classes

Dear Senior College friends,

While Senior College still hopes to offer “in person” classes in September, we realize this might not be possible or prudent. In this case, we will offer a variety of online classes through Zoom. If you are new to Zoom please be assured it is easy to use and will give us the opportunity to connect with one another in a new way.

In order to prepare for a possible “Online Fall” we have scheduled several online classes in the next few months using Zoom, including a Zoom training course on June 2.

We’re sorry, but all current Zoom courses are full. However, it is possible to put your name on a waiting list. To put your name on a waiting list, fill out the registration form and let us know in the comments section what class you are interested in.

Check out the virtual Zoom classes.

E-News May 2020

All Senior College summer “bricks and mortar” classes are cancelled this year. Please look for several online classes on the website in the near future. We hope to start “Zooming.”

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

On the Job!

Members of the Senior College board at their April meeting, using “Zoom,” a video conferencing tool.

Dear Member:

Sometimes one writes a Newsletter to stay in touch; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to just say Hi; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce new opportunities; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce a tweak in how things are done – and sometimes a Newsletter does all those things. This is one of those Newsletters.

In the past few weeks your Board of Trustees has met many times to discuss and plan how our Senior College could best serve our members during this historic, stressful and opportunity filled time. We discussed – what do our members need, what should we do and what can we do. Many topics and paths were explored and are still being explored, but in the end it comes down to working within the confines of our mission and our resources. Fortunately, we do have many resources to draw on. Most notably our vibrant membership and a raft of dedicated and talented instructors.

There have been many questions raised about cancellations. Here’s the status so far:


Note: We really had no choice with these decisions as the Hutchinson Center has closed.

We should say here that all our decisions (to cancel or not) will be made with the utmost concern for the health and welfare of our members. Senior College will continue to thrive, and to expand, and to enrich our lives long after a few cancellations.

Above, I mentioned that despite the stress of this time, it is also an opportunity filled time. Your board has set a course whereby Senior College will continue to offer courses, but in a different format. We’re going to save you some gas money! As you read this, Senior College instructors are being trained to teach courses via Zoom Technology broadcast directly to your home. We are more than pleased to tell you that we have worked with the University of Maine and the Hutchinson Center to provide training and support for us to deliver our courses.

Soon you will receive an announcement of online courses to be offered later this Spring. There will be a learning curve, and we will start with low numbers of attendees so any kinks can be worked out, but this will work. In another part of this Newsletter Nancy Perkins, our Chair of Curriculum, will have more details for you. Nancy has put in many, many hours to get this project running and her dedication is paying off.

What Senior College online courses can provide is interaction between you, the teacher and your fellow classmates. Talk to each other, meet new friends – ask “How are you doing?” Get the instructor off topic like you used to do in school! It can be fun! Try it once and you’ll be hooked! Further along these lines are discussions which recognize this new method of delivering courses will help us bring our courses to people that may not be able to come to the Hutch – those in nursing homes, assisted living centers, etc.

In closing I have to thank our Board of Trustees, staff and everyone associated with the college who are contributing and serving in these troubled times. Without wonderful, dedicated people we would not have a Senior College. In the meantime – wash your hands, stay safe and take care.

Peter Reilly

The first Zoom meeting of the Curriculum Committee since the obligatory shut down was well attended. After an initial discussion we determined that the Committee will move forward with two major objectives for the Fall Session: Creating a curriculum based on a return to regularly held classes at the Hutchinson Center, and considering the possibility that we must plan for online classes in case we cannot hold “brick and mortar” classes. (Note: Nine our Spring Session Instructors indicated that they could teach the announced Spring Course at the Hutchinson Center in the Fall).

We are recommending that we begin as soon as possible to offer online classes using Zoom and that we attempt to schedule training for Instructors. Our first foray into online instruction should be gratis and open to all Senior College members in the state with a limited number of class registrations. However, it was recommended that future classes should have a fee attached to be determined by the Finance Committee. It was also a recommendation that courses offered during the summer be abbreviated ones not lasting more than an hour or two at the most.

Following the approval of the Board of Directors that we move forward with this initiative, a Zoom training session was scheduled with Staff of the Hutchinson Center. Twenty-five potential Instructors registered for the course. Short training films were emailed to participants and these can be found on our website. I highly recommend you take a look at them before joining a Zoom class. They are short, to the point, extremely helpful, and demonstrate how easily one can learn to use Zoom.

In addition, look for several online classes on the website in the near future so we can all start “Zooming.” But remember you will have to bring your own cookie and drink!

Nancy Perkins, Chair

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.

Corona Chronicles Common Ground Fair Edition

Going to the Fair ~ But Not This Year
Photos, Sketches & Text by Rita Swidrowski, Belfast
September 2020

I know a friend who can’t make her annual pilgrimage to a beloved place this fall.
Instead she’s sharing photos and memories of her past trips. I like this idea.

The Common Ground Country Fair is my annual pilgrimage. I go to join in the celebration of the harvest season, of community and cooperative sharing, of living in harmony with nature, of caring for the the earth and for one another. All with joy, artistry, respect, and, well… Love. Good things to have in these times. I go to rejoice in the midst of September’s vivid color, light and energy before the gray of winter sets in.

I will miss the Common Ground Fair in Unity. I can only imagine what it’s like for the participants and organizers. At least there will be a Common Ground Fair to attend online and we can still support the farmers and artisans who work so hard all year.

The Fair

I love the farm animals, including the favorites from my childhood County Fairs ~ The Horses. The Fair of my childhood was my city girl connection to country life. Even though it was modern & honky tonk in some ways, I adored it. All year I had the same anticipation I now have for the Common Ground.

There are teaching workshops, and demonstrations of old fashioned,
sustainable tools and crafts. Young people are learning and passing on ways and traditions of past generations.

So many stalls, booths and tents with produce
and handmade, homemade natural products and crafts!

And Food! The variety of healthy, local food delights me! The cotton candy of my childhood fair is replaced by Tacos, Fiddlehead-stuffed Ravioli & carrot juice!

Musicians, on stages and off, country dances, wandering minstrels…
Parades in which fair goers and bicycles participate!

Sketching at the Fair

Over the years, my steady companion at the Fair has been a small sketchbook in which I make quick visual and written notes.

One time I was sketching the little Popcorn House
when the Popcorn Lady popped out to photo my sketch!
A great pleasure: Sketching while listening to live music!


There is no Common Ground Fair this year.
But my sketchbook and I have been safely finding September joy
in some beautiful local gardens.
And next year we will appreciate the Fair more than ever!

Rita Swidrowski sketches, journals, teaches and lives in Belfast. You can visit her blog, Sketchbook Wandering http://www.sketchbook-wandering.blogspot.com/

Corona Chronicles Poetry: September 10, 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

May you go Gentle
Barbara Klie

Over ten years ago I took a Senior College poetry course with Ellie O’Leary, meant for students who wanted to learn to better appreciate poetry. It was one of the courses I’ve taken at Senior College to stretch myself. As with several of the stretch-myself courses I’ve taken, it was one of my favorites. One suggested assignment Ellie gave was that we write a form of poem called a villanelle. My computer defines a villanelle as “a nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain.” I’m sure Ellie explained it in a way that I understood better than I understand this definition! She had told us the Dylan Thomas’ poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night was an example of a villanelle. His poem has always disturbed me, so I cheated a bit and did not write an original villanelle, but altered his to suit my wish for how we all go into that good night. Here is my version.

May you go gentle into that good night,
Old age should bow and bend at end of day;
Rage not against the dying of the light.

Wise women at their end, know rest is right
They’ve had their chance to voice their final say
May they go gentle into that good night.

Mensch, at last farewell, recall how bright
Their simple helpful deeds had shone. May they
Rage not against the dying of the light.

Dear friend, the time to part is now in sight
Your seasons have turned, you can no longer stay
May you go gentle into that good night
Rage not against the dying of the light.

Barbara is a former member of the Senior College Board. Currently, she is a very active member of the Curriculum Committee where she serves as secretary. She has also chaired the Brown Bag Lunch program for several years.

Watson Gets His Needs Met
Jim Owen

I thought folks might like this poem. There are many dog owners in this town who love their dogs and some walk them by my house. I don’t often write about pets, but this dog is special, particularly in a time of a pandemic, social distancing, and a physical affection drought.

Watson is an English Springer Spaniel,
he lives next door,
a mid-sized dog, way too big for a lap,
long droopy ears, big expressive eyes,
a large nose and mouth to match,
short cropped hair in white, brown and tan,
on a walk, free of his leash
he ranges about with speed and surprising grace
nose scanning his surroundings like radar.

Watson is an extrovert
loves being around people,
a constant presence,
always alert to his family and their company.
whether he is lying, sitting or moving about.
Watson is a living argument
in favor of dogs,
he is funny,
he sings along whenever his owner
practices her violin.

He is responsive,
when told not to eat appetizers,
his legs overcome his desire.
He is protective,
alway ready to guard the front door,
even when firecrackers go off
several blocks away.
Like a cowboy sidekick,
in a TV western,
his soulful glances provide comic relief
whenever distraction is needed.

Unlike the cats I have lived with,
Watson longs for
pats, scratches, gentle stroking,
and comes back for more,
again and again,
anybody will do.
His big eyes, droopy eyelids
lead the way,
a deafening silent request for love,
and he thrives,
we should all be touched
as often as Watson is.

Jim Owen is inspired by the poetry of Billy Collins, Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco, E.B. White, Japanese Haiku and many others. A member of The Wheelbarrow School of Poetry in Belfast, Jim’s poems have been published in the Foreign Service Journal, several online journals, the Maine Island Trail Association’s Tales of the Trail blog, and a booklet published by The Wheelbarrow School of Poetry. One of his pandemic poems is on the front door of the Belfast Free Library. A member of the Board of Directors of Senior College Belfast, Jim was regional manager and counselor for an Employee Assistance Program based in Maine.

Tycelia Santoro

Lounging on the patio
I await the concert.
It begins: high pitched calls
followed by a tumble of trills,
pierce the air
again and again.

Sometimes the soloist
at the top of the highest tree
is joined for a duet.

Summer with the cardinals.

Autumn brings quieter times.

Hope for flashes of red among
the winter trees.

Hope for encores –

I take pleasure from the natural beauty of my surroundings, the scenic pleasures of our state, and the joy of my animal companion, a 12 pound terrier named Beanie (so named by his Louisiana rescue shelter for his pinto bean shaped markings). I find myself more attuned to changes in the weather and the world around me. I have watched spiders spin, chipmunks scurry, birds fly, and my dog sleep. I have listened to sounds of the night and the silent beginning of the day. I have marveled at both the rising and setting of the sun. The moon has brought serenity and peace most nights and I fall asleep with anticipation of the day to come.

Is this what we call making lemonade from lemons?

Corona Chronicles: August 15, 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

Yankee Child in Virginia
Leslie Woods

I hold a particular prejudice and this past March I visited North Carolina and examined this feeling. You see, when I hear a white man’s voice with a southern accent, the hackles on the back of my neck prick and my body stiffens as I wait to learn what sort of person he will be. I don’t like this feeling but I do know it lies in these snippets of my past.


My ancestors on both parents’ sides arrived in Maine in the 1630s and all of my family were born and raised in New England. Maybe my mother had always wanted change, but after my father died when I was two, she moved us to Richmond, Virginia. Aunt A, an old friend with four daughters had moved there and Mom had me and my six year old sister so, except for underwear, I never needed new clothes until I was 11.

Every summer my maternal grandmother drove to Virginia to carry my sister and me north. She stopped in New York City to take us to shows and one time Radio City Music Hall had a rerun of Showboat. I adored the dancers but immediately asked her who sang about the river. She said, “That’s Paul Robeson. I have an album of his at the farm.” Years later, after an eye operation, my husband rented movies for me including Showboat. I complained that the video was in black and white and he said it came that way. I said, “That’s not possible. When Paul Robeson sang, that movie was in color.”

Gram owned a small farm in New Hampshire for summers where I helped with the gardens and lambs. We heard family stories like Gram learning to play piano from a woman who traded lessons for medical services from my great grandfather. Opening their door in the morning, my grandmother said they never knew what they’d find—chickens, vegetables or a hod of clams—poor white people paying for the doctor.

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: August 15, 2020”

Corona Chronicles: August 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

Brenda Smith

The orange subway train clattered down the tracks into the station. As the doors slid open, a handful of people quickly exited. I strode into the half empty car and plopped down in one of the unoccupied bench seats just beyond the doorway. I kept my head lowered so not to engage in sight or sound with any of the other commuters already onboard. I did not want to invade their space, nor have them invade mine. Keep the distance. That’s the rule.

The train lurched forward heading for the next stop a couple of minutes away. I settled in and checked my cellphone for new messages. At the far end of the car a falling backpack thudded on the floor disrupting the silence. I shot a quick glance in that direction. I didn’t see any out of place backpacks, but my eyes caught the bright blue eyes of a young man staring intensely, directly at me. Startled by this unexpected connection, in the same instant we looked away from each other.

Since it was early afternoon, I speculated he might be a graduate student. He was comfortably attired in tan khakis and a navy blue polo shirt. His hair was a wavy light brown, not too long and a bit tousled. I tried to recall other features of his face, but the brilliance of those blues eyes dominated my memory.

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: August 4, 2020”

Corona Chronicles: July 25, 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

Nancy Perkins

Sitting at my desk I occasionally look up to see the beauty of the July garden. Peonies dominate the green backdrop of trees and nature looks elegantly decked out in summer splendor. But I am not thinking of my garden or the many chores waiting, rather I am remembering countless past summers spent in my home state of Virginia, the Old Dominion. For years I would spend summers in Richmond with my grandparents. Richmond in the 1950’s was a sleepy, Southern capital dominated by tobacco companies, state bank headquarters, and government. Gracious, tree-lined avenues lined with crepe Myrtle trees and grand oaks dominated the residential west end, home to the descendants of FFV’s (First Families of Virginia). Magnificent Monument Avenue stretched five miles from the downtown of the city to Henrico County. Five statues graced this avenue, dedicated during the Jim Crow era honoring the heroes of the Confederacy (Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Jeb Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury). A sixth statue, erected in 1996, is dedicated to native son, tennis great, Arthur Ashe. The Battle Abbey, the White House of the Confederacy, and the Valentine museum all paid homage to the mythical Lost Cause of the Confederate defeat. These monuments and museums loom large in my memory as part of my summer vacations.

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: July 25, 2020”

Corona Chronicles: July 2, 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

Barbara Klie’s photograph from Jim Kosinski’s photography class

Wicked Good Maine
The Misunderstood Dandelion

For a narrow window of less than 2 weeks each spring the fields of rural Maine turn a bright cheerful yellow with millions of dandelion blossoms. Renowned American naturalist John Burroughs described the phenomena by writing, “The dandelion copies in gold upon the green expanse, the stars of the midnight sky.”

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: July 2, 2020”

Corona Chronicles: June 21, 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 nanella133@gmail.com.

Protests, plague, and presidential politics pretty much dominate the airwaves as the summer season begins. It has been a tumultuous spring and as a young Black friend wrote “sometimes I just start crying from nowhere.” I understand what she says for the events in this country have brought many of us to tears. Yet we have learned to seek solace from books, film, cooking, sailing, gardening, and other pursuits that transport our minds to better places. I have deeply appreciated the ideas, thoughts, poetry, and art that transport us in these uncertain times that so many of you have shared. I look forward to receiving more items for the Chronicle. Email your contribution to me at nanella133@gmail.com. Thank you and stay safe.

Nancy Perkins

It goes without saying that any statements made are those of the author and are not attributable to Senior College Belfast.

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: June 21, 2020”

Corona Chronicles: June 5, 2020

We began the Corona Chronicles to keep the membership of Senior College connected and it has been gratifying to discover that it has connected us during this period of physical and social distancing. The Chronicles is brought to you by SC member Janet Williams, who for years has published the monthly Senior College newsletter. Janet dubbed this addenda to the newsletter the Corona Chronicles and prepares and distributes it. Thank you Janet Williams!

We continue to receive interesting comments and stories from so many members. Pam Chase wrote: I met up with a friend to walk down by the boathouse recently, maintaining social distancing between ourselves and others. As we parted I said “Let’s do what I do when I talk with a grandchild on the phone. Put your right hand on your left shoulder. Put your left hand on your right shoulder. Now squeeze. That is a hug from me to you.” We were smiling at that. We have to do what we’re able to stay connected.

Suzie Williams has enjoyed a number of movies while physically and socially distancing, including Harriet, Ford vs Ferrari, A Dog’s Journey, Blinded by the Light, Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and many others.

Patricia Keogh writes: An author that I did not read in my lifetime was Anthony Trollope. One year ago I read my first novel by this author. I fell in love! So I decided to do a little project while being isolated and away from my friends and family. I learned about this guy and his life. I got a list of novels that he wrote and started to go down the list to read them. Right now I am on The Warden (1855), one of his earliest novels. I have The Duke’s Children waiting in my queue. I love this English period from the early 1800’s up to the end of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1901. The inequities in society, the unjust and unfair life experience of the poor contrasted with the rich and the landed gentry plus those to the manor born creates a tension that makes his books so interesting. Anthony Trollope is my Covid 19 buddy and I am delighted to have made his acquaintance!

From poetry, paintings, essays, and just brief jottings we have managed to reach out and touch one another during this continued period of isolation. If you have something to share please email me at Nanella133@gmail.com

Nancy Perkins

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: June 5, 2020”

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 nanella133@gmail.com.

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

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: May 30, 2020”

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 nanella133@gmail.com.

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

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: May 22, 2020”

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 nanella133@gmail.com.

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!

Continue reading “Corona Chronicles: May 4, 2020”

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

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.

18th Annual Festival Of Art Call For Artists

Glen Cove Tide by Featured Artist Anne Spencer

CALL TO ARTISTS for the annual Senior College Festival of Art (June 4 – 7). Open to Maine artists 50 years of age and up. Registration period is March 1 – 31.

For information sheet for artists (IMPORTANT!): Click here

For registration form (rich text or pdf): Download rich text or Download pdf

This is a non-juried multi-media exhibit for amateurs and professionals, and shows the work of 140-50 artists each year.

Planetarium Trip 2020 is Cancelled

The trip has been cancelled to to COVID-19, and all checks will be returned on Friday.

Bus trip to the Planetarium on the University of Maine campus in Orono Tuesday, April 28, including a show at the Planetarium entitled, “Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe”. The presentation is a visual tour, seemingly flying into space and seeing planets; other events are planned as well.

The bus leaves the Hutchinson Center at 8:30 am and returns about 2:30 pm. Bring a brown bag lunch. Cost: $20 per person, plus an optional $3 per person to tour a lunar habitat module. Registration deadline is April 6. If we do not have enough participants by that date, the trip will be cancelled. If you would like to attend, but can’t afford it, contact Martha Laitin, Special Events Chairperson, 323-2368  

For printable registration forms: click here

For further information: click here

Paper registration forms are available in the Senior College office.