Registration is open for Winterim Classes  2021

Winterim Courses 2020-2021: Keep away Winter blues and take a Senior College course

Want to try writing stories and poetry? Want to know what’s happening to our climate? Want to live a healthier life and manage pain? Want to learn how Abraham Lincoln speaks to us now? Or a history of cheese in Maine? Or films about war? Or permaculture? Or the Watersheds of Waldo?

Check out the Winterim Course Offerings and register early.

One More Zoom Class in December

War, Protest, and Great Music

Instructor: Pete Reilly

  • Zoom Class
  • 3 Sessions: Wednesdays at 4pm – 5:30pm, December 2, 9, and 16th
  • $15
  • Registration closed

This 3 day course will be a “Readers Digest” review of the Vietnam war told through the popular music of the period. The 60s and 70s are a time of incredible civil disturbance and unrest. The country is being ripped apart, but yet somehow the artists and musicians of the time are inspired to write and perform music that gives identification and maybe a significance that can only happen through art and music. We will look at many prominent singers and groups, but will spend a little more time on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young whose music so captured the impact of those years.

3 Sessions: Wednesdays at 4pm – 5:30pm, December 2, 9, and 16th – $15

Registration for this class is closed.

Read More

Winterim Wonderland 2021

Winterim Wonderland Course Introductions 2020-2021: Keep away Winter blues and take a Senior College course

Want to try writing stories and poetry? Want to know what’s happening to our climate? Want to live a healthier life and manage pain? Want to learn how Abraham Lincoln speaks to us now? Or a history of cheese in Maine? Or films about war? Or permaculture? Or the Watersheds of Waldo?

Join us for a free online Winterim Wonderland introduction with course instructors introducing their courses on December 2nd at 10.00am.

Registration for this event is closed.

Maine Senior College Network Statewide Zoom Class Opportunities

Senior College Belfast is part of the Maine Senior College Network that serves the 17 Senior Colleges in our state. Several representatives from Belfast attend weekly meetings via Zoom to discuss issues, activities, and initiatives with network members.

All members of Senior College Belfast are invited to attend all classes throughout the state. Senior Colleges will open registration to their members first. If classes have spaces, they will offer seats to the members of other senior colleges.

You are encouraged to go to and click on MSCN ONLINE to review courses open to all members of Maine Senior Colleges. You may also sign up for the monthly newsletter compiled by Anne Cardale the Director of the network.

A Winter Outing at Home

Senior College Special Events Committee has arranged for a special live and interactive Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium in December. The 45-50 minute show, “Legends and Lore of the Sky” will be presented by the Planetarium Director, Dr. Laatsch at 10:00 am on Thursday, December 10.

We will be guided through the night sky as it appears in our area and hear the stories from a variety of cultures about constellations such as Orion the mighty hunter, Leo the lion, The Great Bear, and Andromeda, chained to a rock along the
coast. We will gain a new understanding of the night view from our window.

The presentation will be free of charge for a maximum of 50 Senior College members and friends. Registration for this event will be open until Tuesday, November 24 or until the session is full.

Registration for this event is closed. Senior College may offer this event again if there is enough interest. If you are interested in a future virtual trip to the Planetarium, email Martha Laitin at

Registration Form

Legends and Lure of the Sky Registration
What is your relationship to Belfast Senior College *


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What is Happening to Northern Climates?

Senior College at Belfast, in collaboration with the Camden Conference, will offer a course this winter entitled What is Happening to Northern Climates?. This year the topic of the Camden Conference is the Arctic and its focus will be on the geopolitical implications for a changing Arctic region. The Senior College course will highlight the science forcing those changes and projections for the future. The Camden Conference will take place February 20-21, 2021. The College course will run for 6 (1 ½ hours ea.) sessions, beginning January 11th and ending February 15th, 2021. The course will be an excellent tutorial about how and why our climate is changing. As such, it will be a very strong preparatory experience for those planning to attend the February Camden Conference on “The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril”.

Severe wildfires, southern hurricanes, extreme weather, the warming Arctic, melting glaciers are all part of our daily news cycle. It is impossible not to recognize that no matter where we live, our world is being impacted by a global transformation. Senior College at Belfast is pleased to offer a course that will help us understand our changing climate. Perhaps more importantly, it will bring home how climate change in northern latitudes affects us locally AND what we can do!

Lectures and discussions will put in perspective – fire, drought, tropical storms, changes in weather patterns, melting permafrost, land ice vs sea ice and so forth. The course will explore effects of changing greenhouse gases, including vegetation change and, of course, sea level rise in terms that we will all understand. The role and attribution of humans in the process will be examined and explored. Senior College at Belfast is proud to present this timely and relevant course.

The course will be taught by Dr. Susan Conard. Susan has a PHD in Ecology from the University of California, Davis and worked with the US Forest Service for more than 25 years including time at the White House reviewing climate change reports. She is now retired, but still serves as Co Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

Please Note: To Register there is a $20 course fee, All course fees are waived for High School students and teachers. To learn more and register, click here or for more information call Nancy Perkins at 207 218-1369.

E-News December 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Hello everyone,

As I write this on a dreary, rainy Saturday in December I am amazed at the myriad activities within our remarkable organization. The well-attended fall session wrapped up recently with a fascinating presentation on the history of Maine food and many are happily enrolled in Pete Riley’s class on “War, Protest and Great Music,” a special December offering. Over 40 of us visited (via Zoom) the Planetarium at University of Maine in Orono, and six members of the Board of Directors attended a workshop on board development presented by the Maine Association of Nonprofits. The 19th edition of the Corona Chronicles was recently mailed featuring reflections and photographs of our animal friends. Pandemic or not we have stayed happily and busily engaged in Senior College programs and committees.

None of this would occur were it not for those singular and special individuals who volunteer as teachers, hosts, committee and Board members day after day and year after year. It is not easy to thank so many for so much especially during this time of social distancing and isolation. Nothing would be more welcome than the opportunity to personally thank each of you who have made this a successful and exciting fall session.

As 2020 draws to a close we are preparing for the Winterim session that kicks off with Susan Conard’s course on Climate Change, a preparatory presentation to the Camden Conference. We have invited several high school groups to sit in on this important course for we believe this is an issue that will be of major import in their lives. In addition there are, as always, a selection of courses to challenge you, entertain you, educate you, and provide an opportunity to gather via Zoom with friends and neighbors. We hope you will find a course to your liking and sign up today!

This winter a group of Waldo County residents including representatives from organizations (Senior College Belfast e.g.), businesses, University of Maine Hutchinson Center, county libraries, and others have initiated a “One Book” program entitled “Waldo Reads Together” under the umbrella of Aging Well in Waldo County. The group has selected The Nickel Boy by Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead and will be asking everyone to join in the county-wide read. Information on this project may be found at Aging Well in Waldo County.
Books will be made available free of charge for anyone wishing to participate who cannot afford to purchase the book. Following the February reading of the book there will be Zoom discussions concerning diversity, racial justice and equality in America based on this engaging novel.

Finally, we can only hope that 2021 brings a decrease in the incidences of Covid 19, a success of the vaccines, and a renewed sense of hope for a semblance of life as it was. That includes a return to our classes, conversations, and conviviality at the Hutchinson Center.

In the meantime we shall keep calm, carry on and celebrate the upcoming holidays with gladness, joy, and hope!

Nancy Perkins

Sixty attendees came to the online Winter Wonderland session introducing Winterim 2020-2021 courses. Enrollment for these courses is already very good. Our instructors also receive great evaluations: of one recent course a participant said that it exceeded expectations because the subject turned out to be more interesting than the participant had thought it would be. Moreover, “the instructor’s enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge made me look forward to being up and awake enough to attend class at 7.00 am CA time. (That is no small feat!).” Issues with Zoom and online participation are helped by assigning hosts to each class. As for reliability, we can still hope for better broadband coverage across the state. In the meantime, we are working on a great roster of Spring 2021 courses.

Deirdre Good, Chair

Virtual trip to a Planetarium

The Special Events Committee brought a Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium’s Director, Dr. Laatsch to 47 stargazers on December 10. With the aid of some computer magic we saw groups of stars in constellations connected like dot-to-dot pictures to roughly approximate characters, then with another click became sketched images. Then, we heard the stories of the constellation characters and creatures as imagined in different parts of the world.

If you have interest in the stars there were several books and resources recommended: The Patterns in the Sky: Myths and Legends of the Stars, by Julius Staal is a comprehensive collection of stories about each of the 88 constellations. Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey, the author of the Curious George series of children’s books, is appropriate for grandchildren ages 10-12 as an introduction to stargazing.

Several apps for cell phones are also available that allow you to point your phone to the skies at night and have the visible constellations identified. Some apps are appropriate for iPhones or iPads and some are for android phones. Look them up online to find the one that suits you best: “Sky Map” (for androids), “The Heavens- Above” (for Apple devices), “Sky Safari” (for Apple devices).

The stars you see tonight are the same stars your grand-parents and great grand-parents saw. Take a minute to look up!

Martha Laitin

Finance Committee

Tidbits from the Treasurer

While the pandemic has tried its very best to keep us apart and hunkered down at home, your board members and instructors have done a great job of pivoting to delivering our stimulating classes to an online format using Zoom. Initially we wondered how many of our members would make the transition with us. We cancelled the summer semester entirely and created a “rolling” budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020-2021. We budgeted very conservatively at first, assuming that at least 200 members would renew their memberships. As of today 269 of you have renewed your memberships representing $5,550 in revenue – thank you so much! Accordingly, we have revised our budget upward to 300 memberships.

For the fall semester we offered 15 courses that generated $5,220. This amount exceeded our original course fee projection by 25% – such an encouraging outcome! As a result we are revising our initial course revenue estimate for the year upward by 20%. For winterim we are offering 13 classes and as of today they are 67% enrolled. If you have been thinking about ways to stay busy after the holidays, we hope you’ll consider registering for one of our classes to help us reach full enrollments. Gazing into the crystal ball we are seeing the potential for a spring semester that would match the activity level of the fall semester and are using that as a baseline for our projections.

We have been delighted that several of our members have also made an additional donation to the Senior College. We have not budgeted for donations but certainly appreciate any extra funding people are able to contribute. As of the end of November we are showing, despite every obstacle 2020 has thrown at us, a net profit of $4,000. Not only that but we have nearly $85,000 in checking, savings and CDs in the bank. Overall the Senior College is in a great financial position and is actually prospering during this pandemic. Thanks for helping to keep us vibrant and flourishing.

Brenda Smith

2021 Corona Chronicles

As we begin the 11th month of this worldwide pandemic Senior College will continue to publish the Corona Chronicles which have proven to be popular reading for many of us and friends both near and far. We offer a very special thanks to Janet Williams for putting together the Chronicle month after month!

For this first issue of 2021 we are asking for your reflections, resolutions, hopes, and aspirations for this new year. Photographs, poems, stories, artwork, and statements from the heart are needed. Please forward to or Thank you!

Nancy Perkins

E-News November 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Dear Senior College Members and Friends,

November has arrived and Fall classes are drawing to a close. Many of us have enjoyed a variety of classes and we are extremely grateful to the team of outstanding Instructors who made our first Zoom session a success.

We also want to extend our appreciation to our roster of Hosts. These individuals have quietly worked to assure that the Zoom classes operated smoothly. This is an essential role in assuring Senior College remains vital and viable. It is reasonably easy to become a Host and we would welcome any volunteers. Please email me at

There are still openings for the November 19 class taught by Bangor Daily News columnist and food historian Sandy Oliver. Sandy will present What’s For Dinner In 1820: A Bicentennial Look At Maine Food. Perhaps we can all pick up some new ideas for Thanksgiving dinner!

We are happy to announce that Pete Reilly will be presenting War, Protest, and Great Music, a three week session beginning Wednesday, December 2 at 4:00 p.m. Join Pete with a cup of tea or your choice of libation for an entertaining trip back to a time we all remember well. Who can forget the wonderful sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and countless others who made such evocative and memorable music?

We are extremely excited about our new collaborative effort with the Camden Conference. Sue Conard will present a course dealing with climate change beginning January 11. This six week course will be preliminary to the Camden Conference’s topic The Arctic which takes place in February. (Scroll down for a full description of this class).

Finally, I want to encourage each of you to register for a Zoom class. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive and all believe Senior College classes are a wonderful antidote to the isolation we are all living with today. If you have questions about Zoom please let us know for there are people who are more than willing to help you learn. Visit the website at to register for the current classes.

In the meantime stay safe, healthy, and connected!

Nancy Perkins

The Belfast Senior College Curriculum Committee in this time embraces both continuity and change: continuity in that we continue to offer a variety of wonderful courses for body, mind, and soul taught by excellent local people, and change in that all our teaching is online for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to imagine what our lives would be like without Zoom in this pandemic where we must isolate to keep ourselves and our communities safe. Meeting online for shared experiences allows us to stay connected and to sustain connections, friendships, and learning. Now, transferring teaching and learning to an online platform also means we need intentionally to find ways to use online resources to best effect. We learn from others who have been deploying online learning longer than we have, including partners in Maine’s Senior College network, and they offer us tools they already deploy successfully. For a preview of Winterim and some Spring courses, please join us online on Wednesday December 2nd from 10:00-11.00 a.m. (link to be sent out closer to the time).

Deirdre Good, Chair

A Winter Outing at Home

Senior College Special Events Committee has arranged for a special live and interactive Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium in December. The 45-50 minute show, Legends and Lore of the Sky will be presented by the Planetarium Director, Dr. Laatsch at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 10th.

We will be guided through the night sky as it appears in our area and hear the stories from a variety of cultures about constellations such as Orion the mighty hunter, Leo the lion, The Great Bear, and Andromeda, chained to a rock along the coast. We will gain a new understanding of the night view from our window.

The presentation is free of charge for a maximum of 50 Senior College members and friends. Registration for this event will be open until Tuesday, November 24th. Click here to register.

Our Changing Climate

Senior College at Belfast, in collaboration with the Camden Conference, will offer a course this winter entitled What is Happening to Northern Climates? This year the topic of the Camden Conference is the Arctic and its focus will be on the geopolitical implications for a changing Arctic region. The Senior College course will highlight the science forcing those changes and projections for the future. The Camden Conference will take place February 20-21, 2021. The College course will run for six one-hour online sessions, beginning January 11th and ending February 15th, 2021. The course will be an excellent tutorial about how and why our climate is changing. As such, it will be a very strong preparatory experience for those planning to attend the February Camden Conference on The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril.

Severe wildfires, southern hurricanes, extreme weather, the warming Arctic, and melting glaciers are all part of our daily news cycle. It is impossible not to recognize that no matter where we live, our world is being impacted by a global transformation. Senior College at Belfast is pleased to offer a course that will help us understand our changing climate. Perhaps more importantly, it will bring home how climate change in northern latitudes affects us locally AND what we can do!

Lectures and discussions will put in perspective – fire, drought, tropical storms, changes in weather patterns, melting permafrost, land ice versus sea ice and so forth. The course will explore effects of changing greenhouse gases, including vegetation change and, of course, sea level rise in terms that we will all understand. The role and attribution of humans in the process will be examined and explored. We are pleased to present this timely and relevant course at a time when this issue is in the forefront of topical issues of the day.

Nancy Perkins, president of Senior College, is also pleased to announce that the online course will be open and free to local Maine high schools. The Environmental Science class at Belfast High School is already planning to attend. According to Nancy, “Belfast Senior College will be celebrating its 20th year in 2021 and it is so right that we will be marking the occasion working with our local high school to foster intergenerational learning.”

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.

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

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

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: Animal Stories

Jack and Charlie
Barb Rehmeyer

Jackson arrived first in 2006. He liked to “sing” under the window, especially in the evening, in hopes to come inside. Because he liked to sing, I named him after one of my favorite singers – Jackson Brown. He was an orange tabby cat and had two triangles above his eyes much like a jack-o-lantern. Hence the name seemed to fit. We thought he was about a year old. I hung up a “Lost Cat” sign at the local shop, but I never heard from anyone.

Jackson was very affectionate. He was always eager to be petted and belly-rubbed and enjoyed sitting on any available lap. Sometimes this was a nuisance because he liked being as close as possible, crawling in-between my knitting or sitting on the book I was reading. Jack loved attention and loved being part of our family.

Charlie arrived in 2010. He was a real goofball! One of his favorite places to sleep was the bathroom sink, which can be quite shocking in the middle of the night. I often felt Charlie was part dog because he behaved more like a dog than a cat. He followed me around everywhere. I’d go to the garden and Charlie was there. I’d go to the bathroom and Charlie followed. Whenever I arrived home, Charlie showed up to greet me and follow me in the house.

Charlie grew to be a pretty massive cat, outweighing the other cats by about five pounds. But he was a lover not a fighter, friendly to everybody including the grandchildren. The other cats disappeared when the kids showed up. Not Charlie! He would let them pat him and pull his tail and never tried to scratch them. “Charlie” was one of my granddaughter’s first words. I’ll never forget the rapture on her two-year-old face the day Charlie walked between her legs while she was standing in the yard. Charlie had the most intense green eyes.

One morning in the fall of 2016, Charlie didn’t show up for breakfast, which was very unusual. We looked for him and called for him, but we never found him. Remember I said Charlie followed me everywhere? So his presence was greatly missed.

Jackson disappeared on May 31, 2018. It was a Thursday and I went to work at the library around 9:00 a.m. Jack was sleeping on the bed in the screen porch so I propped the screen door open with a rock so that he could get out if he wanted. That was the last time I saw him. My husband died in January of 2018 and Jackson was a great comfort during the months of grief afterwards. He sat in my lap and slept beside me in bed. I missed him greatly. I still miss him.

So that’s the story of my two friends. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t know where they went. But I am grateful that they were part of my life.

Barb Rehmeyer lives in Liberty and is the director of the Liberty Library. She has three grown children and five grandchildren.

Jack and Charlie

My Elegant Beast
Kristin Frangoulis

I have a lights-out lover.
He creeps nightly to my bed.
He will lounge and will hover,
As his paws caress my head.
He will strut across my heart,
As if it was a pillow,
Purring from the very start,
Acting rather mellow.
A muffler his body makes,
And his cheek lies on my face.
We sleep until the dawn breaks,
Then a morning pose he makes.
He dreams of what next to kill,
As he stalks the window sill.

Kristin Frangoulis writes and paints in Belfast. She lives with her husband, George and several cats. She also hosts WBFY radio show, “Poetry By The Bay,” and co-hosts the TV show, “Good Morning Belfast” with her husband.

Conversations with Stinky
Brenda Smith

“How’s the weather out there this morning Stinky?” I inquire with a gravelly voice, unused since last speaking to it some eight hours ago. It stares at me. Stinky is still there, at eye level, clinging to the screen door leading out to my deck. This morning puffy white clouds with flat blue bottoms form a backdrop for my companion.

I know it’s not nice to call something stinky unless it is an over ripe block of limburger cheese. It would be nice to know if Stinky is a her or a him so I could affix a gender appropriate name to it. For now, Stinky will have to suffice as a nickname for the prehistoric looking creature it is – a brown marmorated stinkbug.

He clings on to the screen longingly desirous of the warmth and brightness inside my apartment. Out there the nights are growing longer and colder. “I’m sorry Stinky, Covid-19 update #24 of Penobscot Shores states in bold letters, ‘Outside visitors are not permitted inside the Ocean House. Only masked people who reside in the apartments are allowed inside.” No exceptions!”

Stinky is persistent though and has not abandoned its perch for over a week now. I say “goodnight and stay safe” to Stinky when I turn off the living room light at night. When I reappear in the morning I find Stinky has scooched a few inches to one side or the other and perhaps a tad up or down.

2020, this bizarre year of the pandemic, has left me feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before. Our lives have been turned upside down, unable to see or spend time with our friends or family except via a virtual world called Zoom. I so miss the smiles hidden under masks that conceal our faces from the bridge of our noses to under our chins. I find myself questioning whether I am actually going deaf or whether speech is garbled just enough that I strain to understand what is being said to me by the few other masked people I might encounter in a week.

Is it no wonder then, that a maskless six legged, two antennaed, inch and a quarter long insect who refuses to leave me alone, should become my unlikely confidant. As a conversationalist Stinky doesn’t have much to say, but I couldn’t dream of finding a better listener.

Every morning I tell Stinky about how many new cases of the virus have been reported. “Stinky, this virus is spreading and breaking records every day. Today it’s up to 243 cases. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to go to Hannaford’s where some people “prefer” not to wear masks. Do you think I should keep my Physical Therapy appointments Stinky? Who knows how many other babies my therapist’s baby has been around in daycare and for each of those babies how many family members were they exposed to? And how many other people were each of those family members exposed to?”

Stinky doesn’t get too excited when I begin to grow hysterical. That in turn has a reciprocal calming effect on me. We are slowly building some trust in each other as we both hunker in place. By now, Stinky knows I will not hurt it. It will not have to squirt its smelly defensive liquid to repel me. By Googling its species I know Stinky will not bite, sting or cause me or my house any damage. That’s the sort of apartment mate I can tolerate.

We both have hard lives right now. While I plot ways not to become infected with Covid-19, Stinky is worried about finding shelter and food to survive just a while longer. It’s a matter of life or death for both of us. I am worried about the predicted weather change tonight. The forecast is for heavy rain and 45 mile per hour winds.

It takes strength and endurance for Stinky to stay attached to the screen for days on end, but I’m worried about how my bug buddy will cope with gusts tonight strong enough to topple some power lines. When I warned him of the impending storm Stinky was speechless! “If you need to find a more secure place to hang out than on my screen door, I‘ll understand. You’ve gotta do, what you’ve gotta do. You should find a crack and take shelter while you can.”

The weather guessers got it right this time. Overnight the rain pelted viciously and the wind wailed furiously. I prayed that Stinky would find a hideaway because its diminutive quarter ounce of weight would be defenseless against the storm’s force.

In the morning, from the hallway I could see there was no longer a tiny body attached to the screen door. I felt a tinge of grief as I realized that Stinky was gone. I imagined that a great gust of wind had swept Stinky into the air taking it aloft on a magical carpet ride to some magical destination. How could I have gotten so attached to a little bug?

I walked to the door to gaze out over the bay, admiring the view that starts my every day. I was startled by what I saw. Tucked behind the door’s side panel, still clinging to the screen was Stinky. I let out a whoop of joy. “Stinky you made it! How did you do it?” I was amazed and elated. “Well little buddy this is going to be one great day!”

I pondered the miracle of Stinky’s survival and felt humbled by what Stinky must have endured. Clearly there was a lesson in it for me. In these pandemic darkened days when life’s routine has been thrown askew, the audacity of this tiny creature to survive a raging tempest gives me inspiration and hope. I know I must cling to the promise there will be a day when I no longer fear Covid-19, just as tightly as Stinky clung to my screen door. For now, we have each other.

Brenda Smith fulfilled a life-long dream when she moved to Belfast in 2019. An accounting graduate of Bentley University, she worked as a CPA and Vice President of Finance for several non-profit organizations. She earned her MS from Suffolk University in Philanthropy and Media and has produced, directed and edited many award winning videos. She is most proud of the coveted “Telly” award on her desk. Now retired, she is busy with several writing projects: an early memoir recounting some of her hair-raising global adventures, a later memoir about living with the extremely rare Stiff Person’s syndrome, and writing short essays about things in life that make her smile. She is a board member and treasurer of Belfast Senior College.

Sweet Memories
Yvette Reid

When my son Adam was around a year old, we had a long-haired dachshund named Dickens and a wire-haired dachshund named Reveille. Every day Adam and the dogs would stand at the storm door waiting for my husband to come home from teaching school.

Adam is now a high school teacher with a son of his own, and a much larger dog.

Yvette is a retired school librarian. The photos were taken when they lived in Connecticut, but they have lived on Islesboro for thirty plus years.

Al’s Sonnet
Kristin Frangoulis

He knocks at the door and asks to come in.
He nurtures us all, especially the small,
With a face that he sports with a smile or a grin.
He wears the same coat, summer, winter or fall.
A tweed kind of thing with ebony stripes,
Mixed up with black spots he tries to erase,
A lap of his tongue cleans his face with a swipe.
He moves with a lope, a lion’s smooth grace.
And bathes every night in a claw footed tub.
He falls into bed with a grunt and a sigh,
Too tired to yowl and carouse at the pub.
He purrs us to sleep with a sweet lull-a-bye.
Some call him a cat, but we call him Pal,
Our shadow and friend, our Sweet Baby Al.

Dog Love
Nancy Perkins

My lifelong love affair with dogs began when I met my first pet, a silky, caramel colored cocker spaniel named Taffy. Taffy had been my Daddy’s dog long before I was born and as a toddler there are countless black and white photographs of me with Taffy. As an only child for nearly five years Taffy was my constant playmate and confidant. I clearly remember Daddy breaking the news to me that Taffy had become ill and had died. None of the modern day euphemisms were employed. Taffy died just like I would some day. I learned early that all living things die but as a five year old it didn’t really register.

For my 12th birthday I was given a beautiful black and white English Spaniel whom my mother insisted be called Peter. All of my adolescent angst was shared with Peter who slept by my side. I lost my best friend when he was killed by a driver who used our driveway as a quick turnaround. I was disconsolate and mourned Peter for years. His was the first death of a living being to whom I had been close that I experienced. It marked a new phase of my life. I had loved him dearly and had lost him, a pattern we all learn sooner or later.

Our family welcomed another dog and I grew up and left home for college. I missed the family dog. But soon I was married and from that point on I always had a dog. There was a collection of 4-legged friends over the years who were part of our family: Tory, Abner, Zack, Sophie, and finally a beautiful black lab born in a shelter in Beaufort, South Carolina. My son named him Beaufort but he became Beaufie to me. He was a perceptive, loving companion and was at my side following the death of my husband. He helped me during those dark days but sadly Beaufie died at age 13 and I felt totally and completely alone with children grown and on their own. I had grieved so greatly upon losing my special friend that I swore I could not bear losing another dog and vowed never to adopt again.
Several years later I remarried. My new husband owned a handsome cat named Otis. Soon after we retired and moved to Maine. It wasn’t really home to me for a long time and I often considered returning to Virginia. One day my husband suggested that we adopt a dog. I fell in love at first sight with a diminutive mixed terrier, from Louisiana, named Pinto Bean. Even Otis welcomed the new member of our family. Sadly not long after Otis died.

Beanie was a lively and enchanting pet. He went everywhere with us, ate his home cooked meals with us, and inserted his 12 pound body between the two of us every night. We envisioned many happy years and adventures with Beanie but it was not to be. He died in early October of this year, in our arms. He was somewhere between 13 and 16 years old. I still see him at times and feel his cold black nose on my face. I still cry when I think of my Bean and his faithful presence. I have to remind myself that we gave Beanie a wonderful home and a happy life in Belfast. He had dog friends, people friends, and a family who loved him. He gave us so much more than we gave him, he brought joy and happiness to us. While I may have saved him he really saved me and like all the dogs I have owned taught me important life lessons. A dog can teach an old girl new tricks. Soon it may be time to welcome another dog into my life to both learn from and love.

Nancy relocated to Belfast from Virginia five years ago after a career as a nonprofit fundraiser and agency director coupled with political activism. A member of St. Margaret’s Church, the Belfast Garden Club, and the board of Waterfall Arts, Nancy is particularly happy to be part of Senior College Belfast.

Chaos and Cats
Kristin Frangoulis

I swim in a sea of cartons.

Our belongings all packed up,
Mountaineer Organic Chickens,
Northland Apples fresh from the truck.
That’s what the labels announce.
Their contents are mysteries to find.
Six cats on top of them pounce:
Black Panther, one of a kind,
Four tabbies, a mother and kittens,
Fat gray who growls and hisses.
Whatever I need is hidden.
I step on tuna in dishes.
I lament my loss of home,
And wish I could find my comb.

The Optimist and the Pessimist
Paul Sheridan

A child psychologist had twin boys—one was an optimist; the other, a pessimist. Just to see what would happen, on Christmas Eve she loaded the pessimist’s room with toys and games. In the optimist’s room, she dumped a pile of horse droppings.

In the morning, she found the pessimist surrounded by gifts, crying.
“What’s wrong?” the mother asked. “I have a ton of game manuals to read … I need batteries … and my toys will all eventually get broken!” sobbed the pessimist.

Passing the optimist’s room, the mother found him dancing for joy around the pile of droppings. “Why are you so happy?” she asked.
The optimist shouted, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Paul Sheridan has taught courses for Senior College on films, photography, and safe driving. He and his wife! Karen Gleason, are film buffs and live in Northport.

Corona Chronicles: December 19, 2020

Happy Holidays!

We’ll be home at home for Christmas
Covid 19 will keep us in
There won’t be family gatherings
Or the sounds of a merry din.

We will raise a little tree
Decorated with our favorite things.
We’ll deck the halls with greens
And our angels will spread their wings.

It really won’t seem like Christmas
Without all of our family here.
But we will still try and celebrate
And raise a glass of holiday cheer.

Christmas Eve we’ll light the candles
A taper for each family member!
Then the house will shine quite bright
In the midst of a cold December.

As we listen to the carols
And enjoy a small repast
We will pray the threat of Covid
Will be over soon, at last!

For this year of 2020
Will be one we won’t forget.
And we hope that 2021
Shall be the best year yet!

Nancy Perkins

Watercolors by Audrey Deveney

Retreat To Little River
Gerald George

Turn the news off! Nerves keep screaming “stop!”
I beg an hour away in a place that’s safe.

Little River, I take my quest to you:
speak to me of unprecedented peace.

You trickle to the agitated bay,
but the rest lies quietly behind a dam,

making a spacious pond of gentle water,
its surface broken only by skips of wind.

You lie so still as if the nodding trees
that green your shoreline wave the world away

and make me feel relieved. O would that you
could do that now, and for more lives than mine.

Gerald George is a former winner of a poetry prize from the Maine Senior College Network, has published two books of poetry, and authored a play produced in the 2008 Maine Short-Play Festival. He and his wife Carol are retired in Belfast, and, before the covid virus, regularly attended classes in the Belfast Senior College. May that day come again!

Watercolors by Audrey Deveney

The Two Wisemen and One Wise Woman!