Posts Tagged ‘webster’

Annual Father’s Day Trek

Monday, June 11th, 2012

By Jean Webster

The coming of Father’s Day takes me back to those days when we left our winter home in Sullivan County for our summer place in Maine. One year John insisted that (a) we’d take the kids out of school early (classes in New York ended in late June) and that (b) we’d leave on Father’s Day, head east, stop in Connecticut for breakfast before continuing our eight-hour trip.

“We’ll find some place to stop around Danbury,” he assured us. Stephen and Kim were so young then, they had very little say in the matter.

Just as though he knew we’d find his new favorite place near Danbury, there was a sign – “Father’s Day Breakfast, All You Can Eat, Ramada Inn.” Long tables were laden with serving dishes holding bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and more bacon. John’s food heaven has always been filled with rashers of bacon, which we seldom eat at home.

That perfect Father’s Day breakfast set the pattern for our annual trip to Maine.

And, every year, our car was stuffed with everything we four needed for the next few months. Clothing, especially for those kids who kept growing, so we couldn’t leave things to use the following year. Summer clothes, sure, but warm clothes too, because summer in Maine isn’t like summer elsewhere. Some people say it’s more like – well – winter.

In addition to the four humans in the car, we had Rocky, a shepherd-collie mix and Velvet, a Maine cat who was confined to a wooden lobster crate.  Big Vel didn’t travel well. He mewed. He barfed, he did everything you’d expect an animal to do in an unhappy eight-hour ride.

This trip included many stops – bathroom, walk the dog, clean out the cat’s box, switch drivers, more food, candy, drinks. We’d discovered that the best way to keep our kids happy in the back seat was with plenty of food and snacks. When they started whining or fighting, the non-driver would dive into the cooler or bag of goodies and toss something into the back seat.

Of course, we played all the usual games:  I spy. The alphabet game. The license plate game. And the “educational” game – 20 Questions.

Another favorite stop was an old Chinese Restaurant in Haverhill, Mass., where the kids found a couple of dishes they would eat. The ever popular Pu Pu Platter, with fried rice and some little pork slices. Not gourmet, but filling.

“Remember the Fudgeanna,” refers to a trip when the kids were around 10 and 7. We were at a Howard Johnson’s for our ice cream break, sitting at a big counter with other customers. The ice cream menu showed this giant square dish with four scoops of ice cream – enough for our whole family. Of course, sharing was out, so I said, “No, get something smaller – one scoop each.” A whine went up around the counter. My proposal was vetoed, not just by our kids, but by John and other people sitting there. “Oh, let them try,” someone said. It goes without saying that three-plus scoops remained in both square glass dishes when they quit.

After years of taking the same route, eating at the same restaurants, things became pretty tired. We started reading aloud to each other. Stephen and I were into fantasy and we read “The Hobbit,” then “Watership Down,” and “Shardik.” That kept us happy for a while.

The real change came when we added a second car. A Volkswagen Bug, which Stephen drove to high school. That split us up, and gave us room for more “stuff.” The most memorable trip in that period was Father’s Day 1979, during the Energy Crisis. Stephen and I were traveling in the Bug. It was Sunday, fewer gas stations open on the highway. I was concerned we’d run out of gas, so for a while we exited frequently looking for an open station. But we didn’t run out of gas, and we decided to just go on. It all worked out.

Life went on. The kids went off. We left New York to spend winters in Portland and five months farther up the coast. The trip is about an hour and a half, and we start transporting “stuff” early, so we’re ready to move in when it’s warm enough. Stuff today includes about 20 house plants, food, some warm clothes, and other items I can’t live without in any season. No dog. No cat. Just us.  Father’s Day is quieter, breakfast is blueberry pancakes or waffles, and calls from the kids.

Memorial Day

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Small Town Memorial Day, East Boothbay, Maine, 2005

By Jean Webster

People gather this chilly morning on a bend in the road
Just below the hill where a white church sits.
Some face the memorial erected years ago
Some look out over the river where two shipyards still
Send ships and boats off into the world.
Others face the Mill Pond, but few here recall
Its working days.

Several generations are represented, from sweet toddlers to elders
Who remember too many wars, too many young people dead
Or permanently impaired in body or mind. Men in uniforms
From several wars march together, lift their feet in unison
Turn to face the memorial as an army would
United in their actions – perhaps in their thoughts as well.
A lone trumpeter plays Taps, the notes soaring over the pond
Followed by a reverent silence. The player rejoins the band
For the Star-Spangled Banner and the drums beat the cadence
For the marching men.

Young people on bikes stream in, park and join the crowd.
Children holding American flags watch with solemn faces
Listen for echoes of the guns over the water. Even their dogs are quiet.
The minister speaks of past wars, reminding us about the “War to End
All Wars,” an optimistic expression now part of our language.
But we know better.
The minister reminds us that each year
Fewer towns and cities gather their people to pay tribute.
As this small town has today.

Waving flags and marching feet end the Memorial Day observance.
The flag-waving children march in a group, their faces bright
Looking forward to the next event, the next moment in their lives.
May they carry with them the memory of this day
The minister’s prayerful words, the sweet toddlers,
The elders and the men in uniform, all united in a single cause.
For now.

A New Library Rises in Grahamsville

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

By Jean Webster

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. In Grahamsville, it has taken a community of people to raise a new library, one that dwarfs the 1898 original, which still stands.

When my husband and I visited Grahamsville recently, we were amazed by the size and beauty of the new building. What an undertaking for this community, where we lived for 30 years. To think that a group of people in this hamlet of about 2,000 could raise enough money to build a new library boggles the mind.

The first Daniel Pierce Library was a cozy place, as old fashioned as the era in which it was built. It was always busy with people borrowing books, reading newspapers, or heading to meetings. The Boy Scouts met upstairs, and in the basement were groups like the Alchemy Club (poets who met monthly), the Monday Art Group, and others.

But the library board eventually recognized that the building was so crowded that they couldn’t order new books without disposing of old ones. A new building was needed, but how to afford it in a town and county far from prospering?

In 1898 there was a rich patron. Daniel Pierce, the founder, had grown up on nearby Thunder Hill, but he went west to make his fortune. Near the end of the 19th century, Pierce visited his hometown, and discovered that the only library was in a small storefront that also housed the funeral parlor. He donated seed money to build a public library with the condition that it be named for him. But Pierce never endowed the library, which had to be supported by the town after it was built.

The 21st century’s library construction became a community project, much like the building of a medieval cathedral in 12th century Europe. Joann Gallagher, the longtime librarian, says one person – Grahamsville resident Phil Coombe Jr. – spearheaded the plan to build the new library, to raise the needed funds, and to find workers.

Coombe, a former state corrections commissioner involved in the building of several prisons, said he wanted the town to have a library that would last 100 years.

A large portion of the money for the construction was gathered through community grants and construction grants from the New York Public Library System. Additional funds came from people in Grahamsville and the surrounding area. Smaller donors who gave more than once included Tri-Valley School children, who contributed their pennies, dimes and nickels. Ann Holt, a Grahamsville resident and retired Sullivan County Community College science professor, has donated over $300,000 and will have a room named for her in the new library.

I remember the Pumpkin Parties, which originated in the 1990s to generate money for the library. The parties still take place every October at the Fairgrounds, and are a great place for families to celebrate Halloween and the arrival of autumn. Though the proceeds aren’t huge, all go to the library.

But money wasn’t the only commodity local people gave. Just as in medieval times, Gallagher told me, local artisans, plumbers, architects, and woodworkers offered their time and expertise. In fact, anything the building needed doing was done by volunteers. Vendors even supplied materials at cost. Gallagher calls all these people “fabulously generous.”

It’s a beautiful building, constructed and furnished inside and out with style and thoughtfulness. It will be used for all those meetings and large events, maybe even weddings.

In addition, a museum dedicated to the towns of Mantela, Lackawack, Eureka, Old Neversink and Bittersweet – all flooded out during the constriction of the nearby Rondout and Neversink Reservoirs – has been added to the library building with funding from New York City. Fittingly, this Time and the Valley Museum joins the new Daniel Pierce Library at the center of town.

Snowe Takes a Hike

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Olympia Snowe

By Jean Webster
Senator Olympia Snowe has been all over the news since her surprising announcement that she’s through dealing with what she called “an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies” in Congress.

Since then, the question has arisen about whether Maine without Olympia Snowe would be like Massachusetts without Ted Kennedy, both of whom served in the Senate for decades, he for 47 years, she for a total of 34 years in the House and Senate (plus five years in the Maine Legislature before that).

My immediate response is “no.”

I respect Snowe as a person who often did good work, without keeping her name in the public eye. But as a lifelong Democrat, I never voted for her.

Of course there were years when I wasn’t in Kennedy’s corner either. These were the times when his personal behavior more than embarrassed his family and his country, culminating in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. It was the low point in his life and ruined any chance to be president, though over time he worked his way back from spoiled rich guy to patriarch of his family and beloved senator who was admired by several of his ideological opposites in the Senate.

But, besides that personal conduct, there were vast differences between Ted Kennedy and Olympia Snowe. He was a public person, frequently seen in the news, not only in his home state but in the national and international media and had a far more public persona than Snowe. Despite their differing personalities, Snowe and Kennedy worked closely together, particularly on defense issues.

Snowe has served on a number of important committees in Congress – Small Business, Intelligence, Commerce, Science and Transportation – but she’s seldom seen in the news. It seems she prefers to remain in the background.

Between Snowe and Susan Collins – Maine’s other Republican Senator – Collins wins hands down in getting her face and name on television and radio, and in print. Probably three to five times more often. If Snowe has a statement to make, she does it quietly and without fanfare. Perhaps she’s more like Maine’s first woman senator, Margaret Chase Smith, another Republican, who worked quietly yet who was one of the first members of the Senate to stand up to condemn the tactics of Joseph McCarthy in 1950.

What will Snowe be remembered for? It will be her centrist views and her attempts to get beyond partisan politics. Recently, both she and Collins were called the most moderate Republicans in Congress. In 2010, they were two of the three Republicans to support President Obama’s financial reform bill.

Although Maine voted wholeheartedly for Barak Obama, people here are very loyal to their two Republican senators. I think it’s the Town Meeting mentality; every March, Mainers convene in town halls to vote for those who will run their local governments. In a mostly rural state, these are their neighbors, their friends. In Maine, we vote for the person, not the party.

In 2008, I made phone calls for Tom Allen, the Democrat running against Susan Collins. Remember, I was calling only Democrats. But many I spoke with said yes on Obama, no on Allen. When I asked why, they would invariably cite a personal story about how “Susan” helped them. No problem about crossing party lines. I understand that Susan’s not Olympia, but to me it’s an attitude here in this state – about people and about how to vote.

Perhaps it’s this attitude of fairness that Olympia Snowe misses in the Senate of the 21st century.

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Alchemy of Words: 80 Years Worth

Monday, January 9th, 2012

By Jean Webster
One day sometime in the 1970’s, I sat on the doorstep of Inez Gridley’s house on a hillside in Grahamsville, and shared with her a story I’d been writing, looking for advice.

The next time we met she invited me to a meeting of the Alchemy Club, a poetry group which by then had existed for about 40 years and is still going strong after 80. Inez was one of its founders.

“You’ll get feedback there,” she said.

The idea for the club was hatched by Inez George Gridley in her farmhouse around 1930. A writer since childhood, she wanted someone else to hear and respond to her poems. For that, she sought out two good friends, Mabel Hill and her daughter, Evelyn Hill Huntsberger, both poets.

The three were the first members of what was to become known as the Alchemy Club. Homemakers, and teachers in one-room schoolhouses, they managed to write and meet regularly, reading their poems to each other, evaluating and revising their work.

In the early 1940’s they took a correspondence course from Clement Wood, a versatile and prolific poet and writer in New York City. He critiqued their work, and challenged them to try new forms. I remember them quoting Wood’s lessons. They even attributed their personal success to his courses. His “Complete Rhyming Dictionary and Poet’s Craft Book,” published in 1936, is still available.

Inez told us that when she was short on funds, Wood assured her, “Don’t worry if you can’t pay this month. Send it when you publish your first poem.”

Those words were prophetic. In addition to her poetry in The Alchemist (the club’s quadrennial anthology), she published collections, including Journey from Red Hill, Potatoes and Puddingstones, and, when she was 92, Pitfalls & Promises. Several are available through the Ramapo-Catskill Library System. Her work also appeared in popular magazines and The New York Times. Here’s an example, titled “Growing Old”:

I want to milk this old cow dry.
When the last sweet stream pings in the pail
and she grows tired of my pulling and fumbling
she will kick me over
and send me flying head over heels.
I’d like to go out the way I came in
Kicking and squalling.

Inez also wrote about local history, contributing to Time and the Valley, a book about the villages submerged by the Rondout Reservoir.

As the group grew, members adopted the name “The Alchemy Club,” because as poets they took everyday events and turned them into gold.

After resisting for a time, I took Inez’s advice, joined the club, worked and learned to write poetry. Writing and reading poems has taught me to see the world differently: to home in on the small things, whether in prose or poetry; to be more direct; to listen and look. I believe composing poetry has helped me to be a better writer.

The Alchemy Club meets monthly at the Daniel Pierce Library in Grahamsville. There are no dues. “Just bring a poem,” they say, “with copies for everyone.”

Each person reads her/his poem, and listens to comments. Then, the poems are mailed around to the group for people to re-read and make written comments. I found these remarks to be more direct and helpful, perhaps because we had more time to consider what we’d read.

Publication of The Alchemist began in the 1960’s. It appears about every four years, and everyone in the group can contribute poems and the funds to produce the chapbook, now about 80 pages.

I was one of two editors of the 1995 anthology, which was dedicated to Inez and Evelyn. Both were still active members more than 60 years after they and Mabel Hill had dedicated themselves to making golden the ordinary and extraordinary events of life. Evelyn passed away in 2004 at the age of 94, Inez one year later at 97.

Today, the newly named Alchemy Writers’ Workshop isn’t only about poetry though it is still the focus. The Workshop is always open to new members – the next generation of writers turning everyday events into gold.

Jean Webster, a poet and freelance writer formerly of Grahamsville, lives in coastal Maine.

Swarms and Ladders

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

By Jean Webster
Honeybees the world over are in danger, from commercial beekeepers with 30 to 40,000 hives whose honeybees pollinate farmers’ crops, to backyard beekeepers with one or more hives. Blame has been placed on pesticides, used on agri-farms, that can kill a hive within a few years as well as mites and diseases that cause deformed and weakened bees.

Five years ago, we started with one beehive in the backyard of our home near the ocean in mid-coast Maine. It had more to do with a retirement occupation than the plight of the bees. Since then we’ve become champions of honeybees, like the thousands of backyard beekeepers in small towns and even in cities like New York and Chicago. It’s not about the honey. It’s about the bees.

All went well our first year. We joined a regional club, learned a little, and got about six pounds of honey. Sweet! How little we really knew.

The following year we learned firsthand about swarms – when nearly half the 60,000-plus bees in the hive take a new queen and abandon the colony. Why? No one is sure. It could be crowded quarters or an aging queen. We learned that “swarms” can happen frequently.

Our bees swarmed one Sunday morning while we were enjoying coffee and the newspaper on our front porch. We heard the swarm before we saw it, and immediately went into action. Houses here are practically within arms distance. We had to move fast.

The bee club has a “swarm chain,” a list of people looking for bees to populate a hive. We already had a second hive in the woods near my brother-in-law’s house. So we contacted Linda who lives about five miles away and who was in the market for bees for another hive.

Linda had recently rescued a swarm, so we followed her instructions. Fortunately, the swarm (which looks like a giant’s beard, with all the bees clustered together, keeping the queen safe in the center) was in a low bush. But, it was in our neighbors’ yard. Understandably, they weren’t happy, but we assured them we just needed time and space.

It took less than half an hour to coax the swarm – 30,000 bees – into the wooden box Linda would use to transport them home. Our remaining bees could get on with their work, bringing in nectar and pollen for the hive.

Two weeks later our honeybees swarmed again. This time, I was on my own. I’d ignored a few bees in our dining room skylight on Saturday. That was the clue. Now, there were about a dozen. And, when I walked outside for the paper, I saw the telltale “beard” on a flowering bush by our driveway – about five feet high.

Checking the “swarm chain,” I contacted Ken, a longtime beekeeper who was delighted to claim the swarm, and “rescue” the stranded bees in my skylights.

We both wore protective gear: a lightweight one-piece suit, long gloves and a pith helmet with netting over it. This outfit made it difficult for a rebellious bee to sting us.

Using clippers, Ken cut the bee-covered branch off the bush and shook the bees into the bucket I held. I quickly whisked the screened cover onto the bucket, and our second swarm was ready for transport.

Now for the bees in the skylights. They’d probably arrived the day before the swarm to scout for a new home. Our old cottage has many entrances for honeybees. They were simply trying it out.

For this rescue, we used a ladder and two yogurt containers with covers. “I haven’t done this since I was a kid,” Ken said, thrilled to be renewing this odd pastime.

One at a time we liberated the dozen or so bees in my skylights by scooping each into a container. I hurried each one outside, hoping she’d return to our much-decimated hive. And that’s how we rescued those scouts, mostly without harm.

There were no more swarms that summer, but also no honey for us. Beekeepers have to leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to survive the winter.

However, the 2011 season rewarded us with nearly 125 pounds of honey. This “gold” came from three hives at three locations. The flavor of the honey is a combination of plants and flowers in each neighborhood.

How beekeepers harvest the honey is another story.

Jean Webster is a poet, freelance writer and candy shop proprietor in Maine.

Talent Show

Friday, April 29th, 2011

By Jean R. Webster
The scene was so familiar. Sitting in a middle school auditorium in a small Missouri town with a couple of hundred parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Waiting for the blue curtain to open, and the 2011 Talent Show to begin. Waiting for Grace, my 13-year old granddaughter, to sing. It could have been 30 years ago at Tri-Valley School in Grahamsville, N.Y. waiting for Grace’s mother to perform.

In Kirkwood, kids from 11 to 14 were in charge, operating stage lights, the mixing board and the plush curtain. The results were interesting.

The program listed everyone in the show, including Grace, whose name was listed as “Grade.” An omen, I thought.

Seven o’clock. Show time. But instead of spotlights on the stage, we were plunged into darkness. No lights. No emcee. The audience grew quiet. Expectant.

Finally, the curtain opened to reveal a boy seated at a bright blue drum set. He seemed bewildered. Without a word of introduction, with no help from offstage, he played his drums. After a few minutes, the curtain unexpectedly closed. Still, the audience applauded and whistled and called out his name.

Minutes later a girl appeared in front of the curtain, stage left. When the spotlight found her, she sang her song to canned music. Then she too looked offstage. Had she forgotten the words? She left without finishing.

Again the audience applauded. Supportive. Cheerful. The sounds of small town America. We’re with you, no matter what.

A man in a gray suit came on stage, a microphone in his hand. “I’m Mr. Grady, and I’m the emcee,” he said. A math teacher who doubled as baseball coach. He welcomed the audience and brought on two eighth-grade boys, carrying mics. They wore long gym shorts and clean t-shirts. “They’re in their Sunday best,” Mr. Grady said. “They’ll introduce the rest of the acts, and maybe tell a few jokes.”

The show continued. The “best dressed” boys dragged their mics and told some groaners, like the one about the zucchini who goes into a bar, and is told, “Sorry, we don’t serve food here.” We all laughed. The boys then introduced three performers at a time. The audience loved these boys.

A garage band with three guitars and the boy on the blue drum set thumped out a Nirvana song. Their singer sang, the bass player maintained a bored look and his counterpart downstage tried to pretend the audience wasn’t there. Keeping the beat, the drummer seemed to be the only one having fun. That was another throwback, this one to our son’s band rehearsing in our garage. We usually escaped to a friend’s house.

One of my favorite acts was the juggler with another guitar-playing kid. To me, anyone who can juggle is a winner. But performing to an audience of his peers, teachers and parents raised his success close to miraculous.

In spite of all the quirky things that happened – curtains, lights, introductions – I found myself laughing, smiling, keeping time to the music.

A dozen girls sang a Taylor Swift medley. Some sang better than others, but they all finished together – sometimes the most you can ask as a group of singers. Two solo dancers performed. The couple in front of us recorded one of the girls on their IPhone.

And Grace? First her friend and accompanist Bianca played the Beatles’ song “Blackbird.” Then, Grace sang Katy Perry’s “Firework,” from the “Teenage Dream” album. It was going well until Bianca’s amp rebelled. It was the dreaded feedback. But, they went bravely on, and finished the song.

At the end, the techies dashed on stage for a bow, along with Mr. Grady and the best dressed boys. The audience gave everyone a final cheer.

The evening ended as quickly and un-dramatically as the ones I recall. The mood was upbeat, positive. People were satisfied with what their kids had done.

I’m happy to report that small town America is still out there.

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Guest writer Jean Webster is a poet, and has reported for the Times Herald-Record. She lives in Maine where she and her husband operate Orne’s Candy Store in Boothbay Harbor. She can be reached at

A Governor’s Mouth

Friday, January 28th, 2011

By Jean Webster

Soon after Paul LePage was sworn in as the new governor of Maine last month his name and picture made the national news and Stephen Colbert’s program.

The reason? LePage told the Maine Chapter of the NAACP that he was too busy to attend one of the half dozen Martin Luther King breakfasts in Maine. Then, in response to media criticism, LePage said that the NAACP can “kiss my butt.”

He still wasn’t through. He then said he wouldn’t be held “hostage by a special interest” group, and if the NAACP “wants to play the race card, it’s not going to work” because “I have a black son.”

One of the many “open mouth, put foot in it” remarks by the new governor.

That LePage has a black son is a blatant lie. Devon Raymond, 25, is a native of Jamaica, not Maine. The LePage family met Raymond when his father was caddying for Paul LePage during a Jamaica vacation. But, he was not adopted by the LePages, nor does he live with them, although they are helping Raymond through college, and sometimes invite him to their home for special occasions.

That LePage would call the NAACP a “special interest group” is beyond insulting. How would he then characterize the Right to Life rally where he spoke the same weekend as the breakfast he would not attend? Were they holding him hostage? What power do they have over him?

During the campaign last year, LePage showed why he was backed by the Tea Party. In a speech to a group of fishermen and media he said, “When I’m your governor you’re gonna be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama: Go to hell.’ ”

This shocked even the state’s Republicans who have voiced their concern about their new governor’s tactless remarks.

This is not the way most Mainers behave. Most of us have a more congenial way of looking at the world, our lives, and our politics. There is a kind of civility here. As a transplanted New Yorker married to a “Maine-iac” I’ve learned that people here are more laid back and, in many instances, more tolerant. For the most part, natives and newcomers respect each other, the land, the lakes and the ocean, which is not only our state’s neighbor, but its benefactor.

Perhaps it’s this mystique that has attracted tourists and “people from away.”

Paul LePage grew up in Maine but he never learned civility. For example, during the campaign, there were questions about his family’s homes, one in Waterville, Me. and one in Florida. LePage had turned the Florida home over to his wife, Ann LePage, a few years ago, but press reports revealed that Mrs. LePage was claiming residency in both states, violating tax laws in Maine and Florida. It was resolved recently, when she paid what she owed.

Then, after pledging to do away with cronyism, LePage hired his daughter for a $41,000-job as assistant to his chief of staff. Lauren LePage, 22, was a biology major who graduated from Florida State University last June. Her only work experience has been as a clerk in a variety of stores, including Marden’s Surplus & Salvage, the business her father has managed.

Governor LePage just keeps going. Now, he’s saying “go to hell” to the environment. In order to make Maine more business-friendly, LePage proposes that all of the state’s environmental laws conform to the less stringent federal standards. In a recent report, LePage addressed vernal pools, commenting that “if vernal pools are intermittent and dry up after a rainfall, I’m going to recommend that we ignore them.”

He’s obviously ignorant about the very definition of vernal pools, which fill in springtime and are breeding areas for frogs, salamanders, spring peepers, and other spring creatures important to woodland life. Yes, they dry up when the weather warms. But by ignoring them, we ignore the life of our woods, one of the principal attractions that draw visitors, and their dollars, to our state. Significant vernal pools are protected by the 2006 Natural Resources Act shielding the land around them from development.

The fact is that Paul LePage was elected by 38 percent of the voters, who were thrilled to throw out the Democratic governor and Legislature. Now we’ll see if Maine can attract tourists and new business with a head of state who can’t control his mouth, or his principles.
                                                                   * * *
Guest writer Jean Webster is a poet, public relations consultant and freelancer. She has worked for newspapers such as the Times Herald-Record and the Boothbay (Me.) Register. She lives in Maine year round, where she and her husband John operate Orne’s Candy Store, a seasonal business in Boothbay Harbor. She can be reached at