Friday, June 30, 2017

Book review of "Our Souls at Night" reviewed by Jen Dupree, Windham Public Library

Ever since I read “Plainsong,” I’ve been a fan of Kent Haruf. “Plainsong” is a novel that has stayed with me for nearly twenty years; in part because of its no-nonsense prose, its sweeping landscape - but also because of Haruf’s control as a writer and because of his tenderness toward his characters.

Haruf died in 2014, but just before his death he finished “Our Souls at Night,” which is his finest novel. With writing so spare it leaves no room for equivocation, Haruf fully renders the lives of Addie Moore and Louis Waters, seventy-ish neighbors, who fall upon an unexpected friendship. Just as Haruf uses the Colorado towns he grew up in as landscape for his novels (particularly his trilogy of “Plainsong,” “Eventide,” and “Benediction”) he also uses the landscape of his second marriage as material for his final novel. 

Addie and Louis, both divorced and lonely, find solace in each other in an unusual and touching way. These are people you will want to spend time with; people you will root for and people you will love. This is not a whiz-bang novel. It’s a slow, quiet opening of friendship that will grab you by the heart and not let go. 

Haruf was born with a cleft lip and, as he says in an essay, he “learned to live completely inwardly.” It is that self-containment that makes Haruf such an astute observer of life. 

After you’ve picked up your copy of “Our Souls at Night,” stop by the Children’s Room at the Windham Public Library on Wednesday, July 12 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to Skype with author Maryrose Wood (“The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,” “The Long Lost Home” and more).
Read the books ahead of time and bring your questions!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Movie Review: "Wonder Woman" by Daniel Kilgallon

"Wonder Woman” follows the “Man of Steel”, “Batman v Superman”, and “Suicide Squad” as the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe. While the same incarnation of the character made an appearance in “Batman v. Superman”, this marks the first full length film adaption for the quintessential female superhero. 
I have honestly enjoyed the first three movies in this DC franchise thus far, but most critics have not felt the same, to say the least. Because of that, “Wonder Woman” certainly had high expectations to keep this cinematic universe afloat, before they bring it all together when “Justice League” comes out in November.

Diana (Gal Gadot) is the princess of an Amazonian region called Themyscira, an island inhabited and protected by a society of female warriors. One day, an undercover American pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash lands on their shores and is rescued by Diana. She soon informs her people that the rest of the planet is in the midst of the First World War. Diana quickly decides to leave her homeland and fight alongside Trevor in the hope of ending the global conflict. She assumes the identity of Diana Prince, as she discovers her true powers and uncovers her ultimate destiny - becoming Wonder Woman, a true goddess amongst men.

When Wonder Woman came to save the day in “Batman v. Superman”, I had no doubt about Gal Gadot’s ability to play this iconic character and she totally owned the role once again in this well-deserved standalone movie. Gadot added a whole new dynamic to her performance by portraying Wonder Woman’s courage and curiosity as she became integrated to the real world throughout the movie. This was a near perfect depiction of the character and I can’t wait to see what else Wonder Woman will bring to the screen in “Justice League.

The first act of “Wonder Woman” paints an excellent origin story and if anything, I wish that the film spent even more time in the paradise-esque setting of Themyscira. Luckily, it was just as entertaining to watch Wonder Woman dominate the battles during the breathtaking World War I fight sequences.
My only complaint with this movie is that it contains some issues with choppy storytelling and a last act that featured an average antagonist at best. That aside, “Wonder Woman” is an outstanding comic book film that holds up with the best of the genre in recent years. While this milestone movie will rightfully appeal to women all around the world, I think “Wonder Woman” can truly be enjoyed by all audiences.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie review of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" by Daniel Kilgallon

Nearly fourteen years ago, a movie based on a Disney theme park attraction hit theaters and unexpectedly brought the concept of a summer blockbuster back to life. “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was an instant success and gave us one the most iconic film characters of the decade in Captain Jack Sparrow. It spawned an extremely profitable franchise and now, Johnny Depp is back for the fifth installment, “Dead Men Tell No Tales.
This time around, Captain Jack Sparrow embarks on a quest to find the magical trident of Poseidon, a tool with the power to control the entire sea. Along the way, he encounters an enemy from his past named Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Salazar leads a crew of undead sailors who intend to rid the ocean of pirates, with Sparrow as their number one target.

When “On Stranger Tides” came out in 2011, I was pretty disappointed by the film’s overall story and heavy reliance on recycled jokes from the three previous installments. I honestly had low expectations for the fifth chapter because of that, but still hoped that it could bring this diminishing franchise back to life again. 

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” is not a perfect movie, but it is definitely an improvement on its underwhelming predecessor. Johnny Depp yet again delivers a great performance, but surprisingly, this didn’t turn into the Captain Jack show as much as it has in the past few movies. This film offers enough supporting characters to supplement Depp’s performance and they all have truly interesting ties to the rest of the franchise. Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”, “Skyfall”) brings another awesome villain role to the big screen; and his character of Captain Salazar has motivation that is actually meaningful to the story. 

While “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is a satisfying chapter in the “Pirates” saga, it is not without its flaws. The film’s action scenes are all pretty exciting, but too over the top for its own good at times. There's also a lot going on at once; a few subplots definitely could have been eliminated to make the story flow better. However, I give this movie a lot of credit for improving on that forgettable film from six years ago. It seems like the franchise has set itself up for one more chance to end on a high note with a sixth and (hopefully) final installment; make sure you sit through the credits of this one.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Join Loon Echo Land Trust for a kayak tour and more

On Saturday, June 10 join Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) staff for a fascinating paddle along the shores of Hancock Pond in Denmark. This pristine lake lies near Loon Echo’s Bald Pate Preserve in Bridgton and the 1600 acre Perley Mills Community Forest, owned by the Towns of Denmark and Sebago.

Bring your kayak or canoe, a picnic lunch and meet at the public boat launch on Hancock Pond Road at 10 a.m.  While drifting about, Loon Echo Stewardship Manager, Jon Evans and Staff Biologist, Paul Miller, will touch on a number of topics including wildlife and habitat as well as land conservation and environmental protection of the region’s forests and watershed. This enjoyable 3-hour program is an easy to moderate activity level, free and open to the public. Registration is required by calling 207-647-4352 or emailing Jon Evans at

On Wednesday, June 21, celebrate the long awaited Summer Solstice on Loon Echo’s annual hike up Bald Pate Mountain at Bald Pate Preserve in Bridgton.  This annual trek has been a Loon Echo tradition for nearly 20 years and is a great way to welcome summer’s arrival. Bring your hiking boots or sneakers, water and plenty of snacks. This moderate hike will last approximately 2 hours. Hikers will meet at 3 p.m. at the Bald Pate Preserve parking area on Rt. 117, just south of Five Fields Farms Apple Orchard.

Loon Echo Land Trust's popular Acoustic Sunset Concert Series, on top of Hacker's Hill Preserve on Quaker Ridge Road in Casco, ME returns June 23 for its 6th season. This summer's opening concert will feature the vocals and guitar work of nationally renowned musician, Bruce Marshall.

A tireless performer with great originals, an expressive, soulful voice and accompanying guitar style on acoustic and steel dobro.  He’s earned a reputation as one of New England’s best. Accessible by car, the open, grassy fields of Hacker’s Hill’s beautiful land allow for comfortable seating and extraordinary sunset views of the Lakes Region and White Mountains acting as a backdrop to the performance. Bring a picnic dinner, a lawn chair or blanket and soak up the splendor of the sunset while listening to the music. 

The concert will run from 6 to 8 p.m. with a suggested donation of $10/Adults and $5/Child to benefit the ongoing stewardship efforts of Hacker's Hill. Hacker's Hill is car accessible. Parking is available by driving to the road into Hacker's Hill Preserve on Quaker Ridge Road in Casco, approximately one mile south of the Route 11 intersection and four miles from the Route 302 intersection. Parking at Hacker’s Hill is limited so carpooling is advised.  

For more information about upcoming events or ways you can support Loon Echo Land Trust, go to their website or call 207-647-4352.   

Book Review of “Poor Your Soul”. Review by Jen Dupree of Windham Public Library

While I’m often a reluctant and infrequent memoir reader, Maine author Mira Ptacin’s memoir, “Poor Your Soul”, is one I would highly recommend. This is a deeply moving personal account of loss and triumph. At twenty-eight, Ptacin found herself unexpectedly pregnant. At first uncertain, she eventually embraces the pregnancy, her new marriage, her future. Sadly, an ultrasound at five months reveals that something is terribly wrong, and Ptacin and her husband must wrestle with choices that all feel unthinkable. 
Ptacin weaves her own turbulent story with her mother’s story of immigration from Poland and the tragic loss of her son, Ptacin’s brother. Ultimately, this is the story of two women finding strength in the face of tragedy. It is so intimately written, so well-crafted, that it feels like you’ve been invited to a family dinner at Ptacin’s and you get the pleasure of sitting back and listening while stories unfold around you.  

The stories of these two women come together seamlessly to create a cohesive narrative, but also to create a conversation between writer and reader--an exploration of questions that are sometimes just asked and never answered; a place to pause and reflect on feelings and on events that might be impossible to process in the moment. 

I sometimes find memoirs overly ambitious, too directive and too self-centered. “Poor Your Soul” is none of those things. Other memoirs I have loved include: “Townie” by Andre Dubus, “When We Were the Kennedys” by Monica Wood, and “The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age” by Joyce Carol Oates. These happen to be three of my favorite writers of fiction as well, so maybe good writing is just good writing.

Stop by the library to browse, or join us on Thursday, June 22nd from 10:15-10:45 for our first Calm as a Critter Yoga Class (for children ages five and up). The classes will run through August 17th. For more information, contact the Children’s Room at 892-1908.   

Friday, June 2, 2017

A variety of outdoor activities offered for free on National Trails Day

BRIDGTON, ME (May 24, 2017) – Loon Echo Land Trust is offering an exciting variety of free outdoor events for the public at their preserves this June. There is: hiking, trail work, paddling and even a hilltop concert; there is something for everyone.

 National Trails Day is being celebrated across the nation on Saturday, June 3, 2017, providing an opportunity to “give back” to your favorite hiking trails. Join Loon Echo staff as they celebrate this annual event by doing some fine-tuning on the Sue’s Way Trail at Pleasant Mountain Preserve.

Participants will meet at the Bald Peak parking area at 9 a.m. and wrap up the day around 2 p.m. The agenda for the work day includes: trail definition, branch clipping, and drainage clearing. Along the way, participants will also stop at the famous Needles Eye, a geological feature that has intrigued folks for many generations. Work boots and long pants are required for this event. Volunteers should also bring plenty of water, snacks and bug spray. 

This free program is appropriate for all skill levels, from beginner to expert. Tools and training will be provided, however, feel free to bring you own loppers, handsaws or garden hoe. 

The Bald Peak parking area is located on the right-hand side of Mountain Road, approximately one mile from its junction with Route 302 in Bridgton. To register call Loon Echo at 207-647-4352, send a Facebook message or email Jon Evans at

Enjoy an evening of music by local musicians at Riverside Hill Community Center

The Raymond Hill Community Center (RHCC) wishes to invite you to an Evening of Music at the newly restored Riverside Hall, 7 Raymond Hill Rd., Raymond, ME on Saturday, June 10 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The RHCC’s mission is to provide an open and welcoming space for people of all ages to come together, share thoughts, ideas and/or creative projects and to promote community connections.
Please join us for a night of good music, conversation and fun. Light snacks available.

The music includes, David Young and Friends. David is from Raymond, a Windham High School senior and winner of The Maine Academy of Modern Music Best High School Guitarist Award.
Music also includes, Mark Accousti and Friends. Mark is a Raymond resident and plays professionally from Florida to Maine. He is also founder and alumnus of the Raymond/Windham Summer of Love Festival.

Additionally there is Dos Canosos - comprised of Raymond residents, Raul Freyre, Gary Wittner and Rafael Freyre. Dos Canosos performs throughout Maine and Northern New England. Raul’s professional vocal and percussion music career began in Miami and Boston before coming to Maine’s music scene. Gary is an internationally known guitarist and recording artist and Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador. Rafael completes the trio and provides “bottom” for many of Maine’s premier Latin and World Beat bands. 

All proceeds to benefit the Raymond Hill Community Center.
FMI: MaryAnn @ 310-3600 (655-7059) or

Kinderkonzerts performed for Windham and Raymond students By Nancy Cash Cobb

The Portland Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet played three Kinderkonzerts on Tuesday, May 30 for over 1000 Windham/Raymond K-3 students. 

The players also held trumpet and trombone master classes for Windham Middle School players. 
Thank you to the Windham PTA, WPS Cultural Arts and Windham Middle School for funding these concerts.