Living in the Northeast

 Posted by at 6:31 am
Feb 262011

Thanks to one of my favorite magazines and websites I went on a mental journey this morning. Parts of it went back over fifty years to the memory of gathering sap with my Dad. Our tools then were bit and brace, an old truck with a home-made tank on the back, some shiny new buckets we picked up at the railroad station. My journey began when I read the ongoing blog “Dispatch from the Sugar Woods” by David Mance III.

I made another turn at an article regarding The Secret Life of Snow. This article is part of a weekly column called “The Outside Story” – a weekly column on forestry subjects, natural history, and ecology syndicated in dozens of newspapers.

I could have travelled a lot longer and further. I might even have bought a diameter tape and 10-factor prism or looked at some resources available to teachers. Instead, I decided to rush here and tell you about The Northland Woodlands magazine and Center for Education. The mission of the center is “to advance a culture of forest stewardship in the Northeast and to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural wonders, economic productivity and ecological integrity of the region’s forests.”

If you live in the Northeast—or want to—these are folks you want to know and this is a site you’ll want to visit. One thing that may surprise you is that this is a “non-profit” organization that actually sticks to its mission. In fact, I’d been reading the magazine for a long time before I realized the non-profit nature. They produce a quality content-rich publication. The writing is superb and the information is both interesting and informative.

Journey on over to Northern Woodlands.  Then see where your mouse and your mind take you. I’ll bet you have fun and learn something too!


Tax Workshop for Landowners

 Posted by at 7:25 am
Feb 152011

SWOAM, the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, has partnered with the Maine Forest Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Maine Revenue Service to bring 16 workshops to landowners in March.

For those in the area, one will be held on Wednesday, March 16th from 6-8 PM by Lisa Whynot of the Maine Revenue Service and Gordon Moore, MFS District Forester. Topics to be discussed include the Tree Growth, Open Space, and Farmland tax law. These are the three primary ‘Current Use’ property tax programs that may be of great interest to landowners.

For additional information about this particular workshop contact Peter Robinson at 564-7433.

A complete list of workshops (including six that are specific to federal tax issues) around the state can be found at the SWOAM website. Look under the events tab.


Fall 2010 Courses

 Posted by at 7:21 am
Aug 152010

The Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative Catalog will be out soon! I’ll be offering three courses this fall. For detailed information, course schedule and to register online, visit the PVAEC website. (As of this writing, the fall courses hadn’t been listed yet.) You can also call the office at 564-6525. The Fall Brochure should be out soon and will include the following:

Sales and Influencing Strategies Workshop

Do you need to be more persuasive?  The techniques you will learn have been applied in situations including advertising, public speaking, customer service and even parenting.  This is an action-packed and information-crammed program that’s fun to boot!  You’ll learn, for example, that cows don’t give milk; you actually have to take it!  Or at least you need to know some basic techniques for getting those cows to yield the precious fluid.  We won’t be milking cows, but we will be learning techniques to increase the returns from our sales and influencing efforts.

9/28/2010 , Tuesday from  6:30 – 8:30 pm at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft

 Brainpower… Discovering Your Mental Abilities

 Mental patterns and routines allow us to take in, categorize and handle great amounts of information, but they also account for most of our “stupid mistakes.” With awareness, we can manage the process and increase mental flexibility. After experiencing first-hand the flexibility and potential of the mind, participants learn how they can develop important mental skills such as fact-finding, problem-solving, and “happying.”

 9/14/2010, Tuesday from 6:30-9:00 at  SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft

Ten Dating Rules to Help Your Job Search

The idea of having a new job is exciting. For most folks the idea of finding that new job is dreadful. This fun seminar will ask you to make job searching a bit more fun by using a few basic marketing principles. You’ll learn how to turn your job search into a program and how a properly designed resume will help you answer tough interview questions. High School Seniors welcome and encouraged to come!

 10/12/2010, Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:30 at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft.

Each of these courses has a minimum enrollment, so don’t procrastinate registering!


The Silent Victims

 Posted by at 4:33 am
Jun 212010

Most clients discover fairly quickly that I spend a fair amount of my available volunteer hours working with children… second and third graders. So it goes without saying that a recent headline caught my eye. “Housing Crisis Wreaks Havoc On Children” It’s not an article for the faint of heart.

It’s a fairly long article filled with statistics… some that are frightening. One of the lead paragraphs points out that a large number of Americans are spending nearly half of their income for housing, leaving very little for other basic necessities. “Middle and lower income households with children are dedicating more than half their outlays to housing, leaving less than $600 per month left for all other necessities… Similarly burdened elderly and single person households had even less (under $500) left over after housing expenses…”

A gross over-simplification is that housing costs (remember to include taxes and utilities) are out pacing income growth. We hear it in town meetings. “I haven’t had a raise for three years but my taxes keep going up!” I hear it from first time homebuyers who are rightfully often buying “less” home than the numbers say they can afford. The real estate industry used to encourage people to stretch their limits. I’m not sure that’s a wise move in today’s economy.

If you are thinking about a home purchase or relocation, an objective analysis of housing costs goes along with applying for a mortgage. But remember, your “mortgagability” is a snapshot in time. The current foreclosure crisis is built in part on people who are now living in homes they simply can no longer afford.

Beyond that, if you have some stability in your life, how about considering a helping hand to those who do not? There are lots of programs that do not require a major commitment of time and money. One of those here in Piscataquis County is called Smart Starts for Students.

The campaign represents a school supply assistance program for the greater Piscataquis area by providing starter packs of new school supplies for families in need throughout MSAD #4, #41, #46, #68 and Union #60. Last year nearly 250 kids benefitted from the program and there’s every reason to believe the need will be even bigger this coming school year. Penquis is looking for donors to help empower our kids.

Donations can be money or specific items. There are lots of options! You can “back to school” shop for a specific starter kit or just some items… you can pick which district your donation will go to and even decide whether you want to help at the elementary, middle or high school level. Penquis is working really hard to make it easy for us to help. Look for drop boxes around the area where you can leave items. You can find details regarding the program at the Penquis web site or call the office at 207 564-8196 564-7116 (see comment).  Parents may use the same resources to register their children for the program.

Maybe if we help some of these kids get through school they’ll be able to figure out how to get us out of the mess we got ourselves in!


Five Minutes For Memorial Day

 Posted by at 9:09 am
May 262010

When I drove out of town the other day I got to wave to a couple of friends who were installing our flags on the the electric poles along Main Street. The day the flags go up is a special day for me and I love coming home later in the day to see those flags flying. So thanks to Jeff and Gary for the work–and to the many others who made the flags possible with donations and support.

I have occasionally speculated that Memorial Day could just be considered a day of thanks. But I’m not going to lobby for that because I do think it should be about remembering–it’s the remembering that makes us thankful. Watching Jeff and Gary reminded me of “helping” my Dad get ready for the day many years ago. There were trips to the cemetery to plant flowers and place flags… a special day then, too. I guess the rituals were enough for a five year old to understand something special because I don’t remember many words. The speeches after the parades are long gone. But I do remember a crisp uniform and a somewhat strange combination of pride, sadness, and happiness as we went about the day. 

I’m glad I still experience that combination of feelings every year. Many things have changed but some have not. If you need some words to help with the memories, pride, and appreciation spend five minutes watching this video.


The Road Less Traveled?

 Posted by at 3:21 pm
Apr 092010

Moving to and living in the country can mean many things… a healthier lifestyle comes to mind. But when it comes to rural roads, that may not be the case. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than half (56%) of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. Yet only 23% of the U.S. Population lives in rural areas.

Extra caution is encouraged when traveling in rural areas — particularly unfamiliar ones. This is especially true for buyers out looking for and at property–don’t let your search distract you! Also, while it’s often not high on the list of purchase considerations, just how safe is the road your new home will be located on? Rural hazards are many including blind corners, hills, animals and livestock in the road and farm and logging machinery.

You might find a website developed by the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota of particular interest. The site maps out every traffic fatility from 2004 until 2007 with basic information. There’s even a “heat map” feature that creates a sense of accident density. Visit the site at But not while you’re driving!


Get Fresh Coffee…

 Posted by at 7:13 am
Dec 022009

Get some more coffee, I’m going to editorialize a bit.  And I’m not even going to pretend this has anything to do with real estate. (Although anything that improves the area…)

As many of you know, I’m a card-carrying member of Valley Grange in Guilford. Among my favorite community service projects we do are the ones involving kids… Words For Thirds involves giving dictionaries to every Third Grader “from Monson to Milo.” Some of us are also “bookworms”–volunteers who visit school and listen to the kids read to us.  I often go to recess with the kids when I “bookworm.” I do it mostly because I have fun, but also because it gives me a chance to talk to the kids and encourage them and hopefully help them. Yesterday it was pretty cold and I ended up helping what seemed like a lot of kids with broken zippers on their coats. It’s still pretty early in the season for coats to be tattered, torn, and zippers broken and you know some of these are hand-me-downs and thrift shop purchases. (You should see some of the creative “zipper fixes” kids come up with!)

This morning I looked at the Piscataquis Santa Website and I am heart sick. As of last Saturday, there were 574 kids throughout the county registered as needing help… and 155 have “sponsors” working on fulfilling their wishes… I wonder how many of the 424 that haven’t been adopted are kids I read with… and I play with… and fix zippers for… So I’m asking reader to finish reading this and then go to the site and read the list. You should be struck by the number of children whose list includes only coats and clothes—no toys. Folks, this just isn’t right.

The Santa Site makes it fairly easy to find and “adopt” a kid. If you need help figuring out how to do that, you can call Jim Macomber or Sheree Brown at the number listed on the site. If you can’t adopt a kid, do what you can… how fast can you knit some hats and mittens or make some toys? Send a small check or a big one (information on the site)! Let’s try to make sure “our” kids experience the spirit of Christmas, okay?

And thanks to my colleagues at Maine Choice Realty for their generous help with this… they’re out shopping for a three year old boy…

UPDATE: As of December 17th there were some 650 kids signed up and all but 65 have been “adopted” or sponsored, so it’s looking pretty good… still not too late to help, though! Let’s not take any chances that a child will get left out or forgotten!

FINAL UPDATE: A WABI-TV5 news story on December 22nd announced the Piscataquis Santa Program met its goal! Way to go, people! Over 65o kids had a happier Christmas because of this community effort.


Orange Isn’t Just For Pumpkins

 Posted by at 9:50 am
Oct 262009

The Irish have the wearing of the green; Maine has the wearing of the orange. When venturing into the woods some orange clothing is always a good idea, but it becomes a requirement during hunting season. In fact, for a few dollars you can pick up a vest, clip a compass to it and maybe carry a small survival kit in one of the pockets. You carry a spare tire in your car, right? Do you think more of your car than you do yourself?

Fall means shorter days, colder weather and a number of hunting seasons. Deer season is open the entire month of November and there will be a lot of hunters in the woods. Think orange! Be safe and be smart.