Democracy in a small Maine town

HERE IS A VINTAGE CIRCA 1941 PHOTO OF A LOCAL TOWN HALL.

 

greenwood town hall

 

No account of Maine’s development and spirit would be complete without mention of its great sea-faring activities. Even before statehood in 1820, Maine produced ships for the military and for private merchant fleets. Maine had the lumber to produce ships, it had the ocean front–2500 miles of it–from which to commence. The CHRONICLE editor points out that sea-faring gave what would have been a fairly provincial existence the worldly experience necessary to broaden thought. Country boys were given a chance to learn the skill, gain in authority, and see places only dreamed of by many.

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neighbor Ann asked me to post her letter:

Dear Editor,

Hot button political squabbles and maneuvering are more earnest and enduring than local community, neighborly caring, love of the land, and connections to local historical values.

I’ve noticed a lot of letters in The Citizen with multitudes of negative reasons for not having industrial wind turbines or for placing stringent requirements on them. Our house straddles the border of Greenwood and Bethel so we get to make vital consequential decisions on these important issues in both towns. But! when in the bedroom closet (a corner of which is in Greenwood), do I think one way? And when I’m in the living room, (Bethel) do I think another way? Absolutely not. I’m adamantly faithful in my ideological hubris no matter where I stand.

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The Trouble with the

 

As well as promoting disruption, writers themselves can be peculiarly seriously and appallingly disrupted.

While looking through an early collection of (indie published) short stories I noticed—distressingly, disturbingly—that at least one story had too many of “the.” This was a stirring professional consideration: Is it worth the trouble to fix these the’s? Carefully, I debated. Three editions: hardcover, softcover, e-book. Each would have to be changed, uploaded, and the new edition republished. I could get sidetracked and start looking for “the’s” throughout the collection. I’d end going carefully through, combing for the “the”, extracting wherever found oppressively redundant or replaceable.

The story had been written four decades ago. True, I gave it the cursory reading and editing after three decades (in order to publish), but somehow had missed the distracting overabundance of the. One hundred and four of them out of 1400+ words. Do you want a story containing a whooping 10% of the?

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killing the monster…or?

above our neighbors…sounds like someone’s up on the hillside, maybe just off from the ledge? with a muzzleloader, maybe a flintlock? maybe trying to kill the monster. R. says this about the gun because of its sound, a pre-BANG bang.

a monster? but more likely they practice now at dusk, nearly dark, in hope of shooting a deer during muzzleloader season. at this time of year, we wear hunter’s orange even when going out the door. very dim, raining out there now.

compiling table of contents

(lowercase apology: no voice recognition software on this machine…)

not long ago i compiled a collection of essays. so a table of contents was needed to help in the arranging, a list of titles made and cut apart to organize in sequence according to um … topic, genre, colors mentioned, wavy lines, stars, and uh… intuition?

 

it’s supposed to be a collection including a variety from satire, through straightforward, plus creative (nonfiction). includes maine topics.

 

table of contents compiled

 

in this lower image, to the right you can see my sneakers where i perch on a step-stool to take flash pictures of the process

doing all this made it more fun!

 

 

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chapter 27, literary lessons, quotations from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

“Now I must either bundle it back in to my tin kitchen to mold, pay for printing it myself, or chop it up to suit purchasers and get what I can for it. Fame is a very good thing to have in the house, but cash is more convenient, so I wish to take the sense of the meeting on this important subject,” said Jo, calling a family council.

where Little Women was written, 1941 image (wiki)

“Don’t spoil your book, my girl, for there is more in it than you know, and the idea is well worked out. Let it wait and ripen,” was her father’s advice, and he practiced what he preached, having waited patiently thirty years for fruit of his own to ripen, and being in no haste to gather it even now when it was sweet and mellow.

“It seems to me that Jo will profit more by taking the trial than by waiting,” said Mrs. March. “Criticism is the best test of such work, for it will show her both unsuspected merits and faults, and help her to do better next time. We are too partial, but the praise and blame of outsiders will prove useful, even if she gets but little money.”

“Yes,” said Jo, knitting her brows, “that’s just it. I’ve been fussing over the thing so long, I really don’t know whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. It will be a great help to have cool, impartial persons take a look at it, and tell me what they think of it.”

 

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the little girl who stopped the big war

samantha smith

the little  maine girl who stopped the big war

In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons—terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That’s precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never—never—will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on earth. 

–from Yuri Andropov’s Response to Samantha’s Letter

Maine car-lovers rejoice!

Got a glimpse of a report—so, the headline really—about Maine being among the most car-friendly states in the Union. I was surprised. This is not normally what we think of here in Maine. Would you think Maine, with an estimated population of 1,331,479 and an area of 35,385 square miles could hold its own in a group where surely—what’s the name of that hectic state? —SoCal, with a population of 22,680,010, and an area of 56,512.35 sq. mi. is likely car-lover number one?

Still cruising the web for facts on it all, I got to thinking of goodies coming for us Maine car-lovers, including pavement.

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In this little world of learning,

a goodly heritage

CHRONICLE editor Lee included words about the village school in his collection of Maine writings. The educator Mary Ellen Chase writes of the old-time two-room school she attended as a child. She points out the flaws of the “system”; reuse of old books, obsolete maps, “harassed and overworked,” teachers. And she tells of its strengths: “pride in learning well,” “solidarity of outlook” and the instillation of morally strengthening ideas. In this little world of learning, perhaps considered narrow and barren by some today, a love of learning flourished in Mary Ellen Chase as she glimpsed learning at levels higher than her own. Learning was something mysterious and wise, as she saw in “the beauty and order of common fractions” that an older student had transcribed on the board. In this I find the idea that knowing is not as enlivening as the process of learning. Once the thrill of revelation wears off, one wants to proceed through the process of learning afresh.

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