Agriculture for ME–Ag Day 2010

Valley Grange has been a strong supporter of the “Read ME” program since it’s inception. Developed by the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom organization, the program involves volunteers reading and giving out agriculturally themed books to Pre K to 4th Grade Classrooms. This all takes place during Ag Week, March 14 – 20 this year.

We understand this year’s book has been written and published specifically about Maine. In the past Valley Grange has worked to schedule classes in concert with Sheila Richards of the PSWCD–this has proven to be most efficient in terms of getting materials in a timely fashion.  Bookworms have volunteered to handle McKusick Elementary School and Guilford Primary School (SAD 4) in the past and will do so again this year.

Teachers/administration from other districts might want to check out the program at the MAITC site  where there’s preliminary information about the program and forms to request classrooms be included. I would not worry about the deadline of January 1st that’s shown on the web site. A recent newsletter indicates the deadline is January 15th so there’s still some time.

 We’ll keep everybody posted here. If you’d like some additional information or help getting organized, send me an email.  January 15th will be here before we know it!

Merry Christmas–not from the store!

 And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. 

Most will recognize that quote is from Dr. Seuss… and we use it here to offer a wish that Christmas does mean “a little bit more”… or maybe even a lot more to all!

Christmas does not, of course, “come from a store.” But thanks to those who did go to the store and help with the Piscataquis Santa Project–or to put it more personally, helped make a kid’s Christmas warm, happy, and meaningful.  We as a community came together and did a very good thing. A special thanks to the organizers and the sponsors who worked so hard and cooperated so well!

Most of us still will do a lot of last minute shopping. But in our haste let’s remember what we are looking for–and remember what we are not looking for and won’t find in the stores. Don’t let these next few days go by without experiencing some of the true joys of Christmas… the joys of giving, the joys of sharing, and the joys of being. Find a child to read a Christmas story to… or let a child read a story to you. Give and get some hugs. Look for the smiles and hear the laughter going on around you. But don’t just sit on the sidelines. Join in!

All of us from Valley Grange wish our fellow Grangers, friends and neighbors the very best Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

January Bookworm Schedule

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you Reading is fun!learn, the more places you’ll go.”

— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

January 5 – Walter Boomsma
January  7 – Guy Downing
January 12 – Barbara Goodman
January 14 – Nathalee Marsh
January 19 – Barbara Goodman
January 21 – Walter Boomsma
January 26 – Walter Boomsma
January 28 – Susan Burleigh

“Worms” are reminded to check for school cancellations during major storms… also, if you are unable to make your scheduled time, please let Mary know or call Walter or Nat to sub. Let’s not disappoint the kids!

Piscataquis Santa Update

The list is long. I need help!

As we say in Maine, “We’re gainin’!” As of this morning, out of over 650 children’s wishes, only 65 are left unmet! So let’s take a moment for a collective cheer, some applause and pats on the back… and then get right back to work.

Practically speaking, we have less than a week left. You can still visit the web site or call Sheree Brown at 564-7116 to adopt a “whole” kid… or just donate a gift and Santa’s helpers will match it up to a needy child. There are lots of drop-off locations… too many to list here, but you almost can’t go anywhere without seeing one. If you aren’t seeing one, check the Piscataquis Santa web site.

Speaking of checking the site… I scanned the list this morning. There’s a seven-month-old little girl who only wants a winter coat… an eleven-year-old girl who likes to read… a six-year-old boy who needs ski pants and likes matchbox cars…

Excuse me… I think I’ll go shopping.

UPDATE: Last night (22nd) a news story on WABI-5 announced that the Piscataquis Santa met it’s goal and is serving nearly 65o kids! WAY TO GO, PEOPLE!

More Music in Guilford

After rescheduling twice, the PCMS/PCHS Holiday Concert took place last night… and even included some great moves by fourth graders who performed a choreographed version of “In the Spirit.” Nice moves kids!

Those who braved the night were also treated to some great band music, two jazz numbers, and the PCMS Chorus. Most would admit junior and high school bands usually aren’t very good but we try to encourage them. Well “ours” are exceptional and therefore exceptions and they earned the enthusiastic applause.

One could almost hear the shifting in seats when “Santa Meets Sousa” was introduced. Can you imagine traditional Christmas Music played John Phillips Sousa style?  No? Well, you should have been there because it “worked” and sounded great!

The evening concluded with something of a competitive sing-along (audience versus all the kids). I’d like to tell you the audience won. The kids were pretty enthusiastic though. So the “safe” conclusion is that everybody won! I know I felt like I did!

Fellowship Breakfast Includes Treats For Santa

Grangers know how to cook and eat!

Our first annual fellowship breakfast

The hall was toasty; the food was great… and the fellowship was warm as Grangers gathered for their first annual “Fellowship Breakfast.” One of the highlights of the program was the gift table for our Piscataquis Santa.. There wasn’t any cookies and milk, but there was quite a pile of assorted gifts! One of the sounds of Christmas for Grangers is clicking needles! Many of the gifts were hand-made mittens and hats… there were lots of books and some stuffed bears… It took Tim and Susan a few trips to “load up” for delivery on Monday. Thanks to all who helped… and remember–it’s not too late!

Laura Pratt reported during the meeting that she had knitted mittens for everybody in her grandson’s class and was thoroughly enjoying the thank-you notes from the kids and teacher… it does seem like everyone has the Christmas Spirit! Our program for the morning included folks sharing special memories or Christmas stories… we had a few wet eyes and a lot of warm feelings.

I’ve called this our FIRST annual fellowship breakfast because I suspect it will become a tradition. We had fun cooking together, working together, and sharing memories and thoughts! Isn’t that an important part of Christmas? Shouldn’t spend some time with family and friends… cooking (and eating!) together and working together and sharing together?

One More Christmas Story…

Like much of what travels around the Internet, the author of this is unknown… When Barbara “fluffed” her lines as Gatekeeper during our recent meeting I was reminded of this story and the point that life is not about perfection–it’s about laughter and fun.

My husband and I had been happily married (most of the time) for five years, but hadn’t been blessed with a baby.

 I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart, and raise it with His Word as my guide.

 God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son.

 The next year, God  blessed us with another son.

 The following year, He blessed us with yet another son.

 The year after that, we were blessed with a daughter.

 My husband thought we’d been blessed right into poverty.  We now had four children, and the oldest was only 4 years old.

 I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it.  As a minister once told me, “If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella.”

 I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs.  I was off to a good start.  God had entrusted me with four children and I didn’t want to disappoint Him.  I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks.  I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, (more…)

A Christmas Thought or Two…

This will be part of the program for our Fellowship Breakfast…

This story has been making its way around the Internet… I’ve researched it some and it appears to be based on truth. I suspect some “editorial license” was taken in the version I received… and I’ve taken a little more!

He earned $32 for an hour's work. Not bad!

A relatively plain looking man showed up at Washington DC’s Metro Station one cold January morning. He carried a violin and without much fanfare played six Bach pieces that lasted about forty-five minutes. An estimated two thousand people passed this street musician.

After only three minutes of playing, one middle-aged man slowed to listen, stopped for a few seconds and hurried on. The street musician received his first dollar from a woman who didn’t stop.

As his “gig” continued, people reacted in various ways… Most barely noticed him. Many times children would notice and try to watch, but their parents would tug and hurry them along.

When he finished playing no one applauded. Few noticed him playing, no one noticed he stopped. When he collected the money from his case, he had $32—not bad for an hour’s work.

Of course what no one knew was the street musician was actually Joshua Bell, one of the most acclaimed musicians in the world. He’d played one of Bach’s most intricate pieces on a violin worth an estimated three million dollars. Just two days prior he had played the same piece on the same violin in a theatre in Boston where the average ticket price was $100.

The “concert” at Metro Station was a bit of a social experiment, organized by the Washington Post to establish some thoughts regarding peoples’ priorities and perceptions.

Nearly two thousand people “missed” talent and beauty because they were in a hurry and it was offered in a place and at a time when they didn’t expect it.

And now it’s the Christmas Season, a season that increases our expectations. We expect to give (and get) gifts. We expect to exchange greetings. We expect to feel some sense of joy and peace that we don’t the rest of the year.

But I wonder. Even with our heightened expectations, what are we going to miss? How much talent and beauty will we not notice?


Gridlock in Guilford!

Last night as I drove into Guilford, I was sure there’d been an accident. Driving conditions were bad and traffic was backed up for quite a distance in both directions. As we inched along it became increasingly clear there was no accident. All these people were headed to PCHS for the 2009 Holiday Concert being put on by McKusick and Guilford Primary Schools. I confess I was part of the traffic problem as I’d appointed myself to represent Grange Bookworms at the event.

The crowd wasn’t disappointed. The gym was colorfully decorated by the HUGS group and the energy level was high—not just in the kids! Camera flashes were popping like a summer thunderstorm and small wonder: this was truly a “Kodak Moment.” The kids were “color coordinated” by class… all the kindergartners wore red including one little girl who had red flashing earrings on! The third graders were in angel” white and most were, in fact, acting angelic!

Bookworms should be proud and feel wanted. Two third graders saw me in the audience and came over acting very lady-like. “Hi, Mr. Boomsma. Have you checked the schedule?” I offered them a look at my program for the evening. “No, not that one. When are you coming to our class to read with us?”

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

The kids really did do a great job… it was obvious that they’d put a lot of work into rehearsing. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a more enthusiastic rendition of “Jingle Bells” and when all the kids joined together to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” you could tell they meant it. The evening was a proud moment for our community! 

I might just have to appoint myself to go to the Middle School Concert. It’s scheduled for Tuesday the 15th at 6:30 PM. Assuming the community supports our kids and schools as much at that one, I’d definitely suggest carpooling.

Quick Santa Update!

The list is long. I need help!

As of December 5th there were 600 kids signed up who need help from Piscataquis Santa… and 359 still not taken. Were you one of the last kids to be picked whenever there was a game at school? Remember how that felt?

Of couse there are non-specific gifts rolling in for children in general, but this is not the time to be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand (or snow). Be an elf–a Santa’s helper. Figure out what you can do and do it now!