Gabe Gregoire

Gabe Gregoire

Should Your Kid Question What's Accepted?

Remember how the Red Hen was making a loaf of bread, and any animal that said, “Not I,” when she asked, “Who will help me?” didn’t get any of the fresh-baked bread? And remember how the ugly duckling, the one that all the other ducks picked on, ended up developing into a beautiful swan? Well, forget all that. It’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Jack’s giant snacks on the Red Hen, and the Ugly Duckling grows up to be an ugly duck. Those and many other nursery rhymes and fairy tales are turned on their heads. And the children’s book has been adapted for the stage by John Glore, to be produced at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine (142 Free St, 207-828-1234), opening performance on Friday the 17th at 4:00 p.m. For this show only, see the play and meet the actors at a festive gala party afterwards. Tickets are $18.00 at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2836965 , or two punches on a Theatre punch pass (includes admission to the party after the show).

 

Stinky Cheese will prove to youngsters that a sarcastic wit can come in handy, as long as it doesn’t turn bitter. But building scenes in your head, scripting clever retorts for yourself, can lead to a dangerous inner space. Developing teens are especially vulnerable to retreating into their thoughts, which is exactly what happens to Caden Bosch, the main character in Challenger Deep, this month’s book selection in Portland Public Library’s Many Voices Teen Book Group. The meeting this month is Saturday the 18th at 2:30 p.m. in the teen library.

 

Many Voices is about diversity. Diversity is about understanding. Understanding teens like Caden, who is paranoid about his muttering peers, and lies about having joined the track team at school to go wandering for hours, imagining a world where he’s part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench. He’s paranoid there, too. Even the captain’s surly parrot is an antagonist in Caden’s mind. Soon, the young man spends so much time negotiating this mental labyrinth, that his parents have no choice but to let him get one of the scarier-sounding diagnoses. Portland teens who read the book and talk about it at Many Voices, like the younger kids learning about norms and boundaries at Stinky Cheese, will gain a new perspective. They’ll need it for the decisions they’re going to make later on.

 

FMI on Many Voices: contact Emily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Harper at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (207) 871-1700 x773.

  • Published in Kids

An Old Soul On Four Legs

Do you know someone who insists that their dog is the reincarnation of another dog from their family history, or even claims that their pet is a deceased human relative in a new, animal body? Or, as a dog lover, are you the one in your family who holds such beliefs? Maybe it’s a look in your dog’s eye, or just the feeling of comfort they give you, that you know only one soul is capable of giving, no matter if their original body has passed on. To be sure, there are things that happen in the universe whose workings that we, as humans, are not privy to. Who’s to say that animal reincarnation is not one of them?

 

In the Universal Pictures film A Dog’s Purpose, that’s exactly what’s going on, except the dog is aware that it is the same individual throughout the four canine lives the movie depicts. Viewers who have an idea of reincarnation as a process one goes through because one’s work on earth is not quite completed during the first (or first few) lifetimes, will be comfortable with the approach this film takes. The dog, Bailey, whose inner voice is spoken by Josh Gad (Bradley Cooper was originally cast in the role), is rescued from a hot car by a boy named Ethan as the story begins to unfold in the 1950s. Of course, Ethan and his family adopt Bailey, who stays with them until his death of old age, his boy now a young man with crushed dreams of athletic glory and a broken-off relationship with his one true love. Bailey’s next life is as a female Chicago Police K-9 dog. Heroic, of course, enough to go down fighting. Next, it’s a Corgi’s life, beloved by another family until another natural passing. Finally, as the escaped abused pet of a dysfunctional family not too far from where Ethan found Bailey’s previous self decades ago, well, you see where this is going.

 

A Dog’s Purpose met with some controversy around its release, when a video surfaced that seemed to show a dog being forced into water against its will, during production. The film’s original Los Angeles premiere was postponed due to the backlash from outraged animal lovers and animal-rights organizations. But an independent investigation by an animal-cruelty expert found that all safety measures had been observed, and that the clip had been doctored by whomever leaked it. Dennis Quaid, who plays the adult Ethan in the film, said that it did not seem, in context, that  “...the dog was frightened. The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that's what happened. They took the dog out."

 

Considering that A Dog’s Purpose, as of February 5th, has achieved a domestic gross of $32.9 million against a production budget of $22 million, we think it’s safe to say that no bad karma (speaking of cosmic forces at work) was incurred from the leaked-footage incident. And if the karma’s good, it might be part of your purpose to go see the film.

 

For the week of February 9-15, A Dog’s Purpose is playing at the Cinemagic theaters in Saco, Westbrook and Clarks Pond (South Portland).

  • Published in Pets

True Guilt-Free Fun

Move your body more, feel better. It’s a fact. It’s part of the reason why we pursue our individual sports, whether we cycle, run, ski, bowl, or just do push-ups as part of our morning routine. Athletes can testify as to the benefits of physical activity. Medical science proves it, and doctors recommend it. But the main thing? It’s fun.

 

However, it is possible to have a lot of fun and still be productive and helpful. That’s where Camp Sunshine and Relay for Life come in, with these two events for a cause on Saturday the 4th.

 

First, it’s the Camp Sunshine Portland Polar Dip, at the East End Beach, at 1:00 p.m. Camp Sunshine is an award-winning family retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake, specifically for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. At this event, the goal is to raise $15,000.00 to send six families to relax and commune together in a difficult time. The sporting part is, the way to help raise this money is to get a few friends to pledge, and run into the frigid waters of Casco Bay. Trust us, it’s a great way to get your heart rate up. The Portland dip is part of a larger “Freezin’ for a Reason” campaign to raise $350,000.00 in total, with nine dips across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. So get your water shoes and join in! RSVP online at www.freezinforareason.com (click on the Portland Polar Dip).

 

Or, try something that’s a little less of a shock to the system and a little more social, namely the 2017 Relay For Life of Greater Portland Kickoff, at The Rink at Thompson’s Point, at 1:30 p.m. The Relay for Life has been raising money to help fight cancer for years, and the idea here is to have registered online at www.relayforlife.org/greaterportlandme and go to this kickoff for some energizing fun. There will be ice skating, snow tubing, and hot chocolate. Families are welcome. The first 20 people to register will get a free tubing session or a free ice skating (with skate rental) session. And everybody will be able to pick up their team captain packets, chat with the event leadership team about changes to the Relay for Life for this year, and bond with fellow relayers before the big day in May. Lifelong friendships have begun at kickoffs.

 

As a responsible, productive member of society and an athlete, you owe it to yourself.

  • Published in Sports

Somewhere To Turn

Most parents would tell you that raising a child, with all the challenges the job entails, is the most wonderful blessing they’ve experienced in their lives. We think our children are divine beings, brought to this planet to teach us, as we’re teaching them. We have someone who will always be the most important person in the world to us, including ourselves.

 

Some parents face an especially difficult challenge, however, when their child exhibits signs that his or her brain chemistry is a little to one side or the other. A boy might not really care about relating to his schoolmates, or a girl might go into cycles of horrible lows and scary-exhilarated highs, or vice-versa, or some other sign that keeps a parent up at night. Mental illness can tear families apart.

 

But it doesn’t have to. Meet Nancy Pizzo Boucher, an author whose family has direct experience with these disorders and who has devoted her literary career to mental health advocacy. She will speak about her newest book, Replanting Lives Uprooted by Mental Illness: A Practical Guide for Families, at the Freeport Community Library (10 Library Dr), on Monday the 6th at 6:00 p.m.

 

Boucher’s presentation will be approximately 90 minutes long, and will cover several of the topics under the mental-health umbrella, including the general impact of mental illness on families, the importance of a ‘person-first’ approach to healing and rebuilding relationships, how to partner with those who have lived and are living the experience to support regaining wellness and advocating for loved ones, even a brief history of the origin of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She uses terms like ‘best outcomes’ when speaking of the healing process, and a quick reading of her book confirms the fact, her approach is businesslike and goal-oriented. Considering that families sometimes have to cross chasms that many of us would find impossibly wide, her go-get-em methods are sure to be of interest to parents whose kids might be going through symptoms.

 

Boucher’s first career was in special education, spanning 24 years. When her first-generation Italian-American family was struck, she went to work, and soon was speaking up in legislative hearings on mental illness, blogging, advocating, and being a family speaker for Voices of Recovery of Portland. Now she is in crisis intervention. If your family is struggling with the effects of mental illness, go hear Nancy speak. You won’t regret it.


Freeport Community Library: (207) 865-3307

  • Published in Kids

"Okay, Spot, I'm gonna tie you to this thing..."

Anyone who has ever owned a larger dog has fantasized at one point or another about speeding along behind it on a dog sled, yelling, “Mush! Mush!” The word ‘Iditarod’ flashes through your mind as you imagine your dog at the head of the pack, striving forward against the weight of the sled and against the elements, until you sled victoriously past the finish line to the cheers of thousands.

 

Hey, why not try it? Or at least watch others, who may have the requisite dog team and knowledge to sled with them, at the Musher’s Bowl, at Five Fields Farm (Route 107, 6 miles south of Bridgton), on Saturday and Sunday the 4th and 5th, starting at 10:00 a.m. (Registration and bib pick-up begins at 9:00 a.m.)

 

But it’s not just dog sledding that will be taking place along the sloped apple fields and S-curved cross-country ski trails around the farm. Are you ready for this? There will also be a sport called skijoring, which is a combination of Nordic skiing and dog sledding, involving a regular dog-sledding harness for your dog, attached by a towline to a special skijoring (literally translated as ‘ski driving’ in Norwegian) harness for you.

 

If you want to race, we hope you are an early-bird reader this week, because pre-registrations are due on Thursday the 2nd (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

 

Here is the schedule of events:

 

10:00 1 dog skijor

10:454 dog speed

11:30 3 dog junior

12:00 lunch break

1:00 6 dog speed

2:00 2 dog skijor

2:45 recreational skijor and sled

 

So if your dog jogs with you, or runs beside you on cross-country skiing jaunts, join the fun and live out your fantasy of conquering the tundra with your powerful canine.

The Musher’s Bowl is brought to you by sponsors Paul Field, Five Fields Farm, Loon Echo, South Bridgton Congregational Church and Mike Friedman. Church members will offer a variety of homemade soups and baked goods for sale. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce at (207)647-3472.

  • Published in Pets

The PSO Takes Kids Out of This World

Did your son or daughter hold their breath, perching on the edge of their seat, the first time they saw a Sith Lord stalk onto the silver screen, while that ominous music boomed throughout the auditorium? That music is John Williams’ Star Wars Imperial March, and it’s only one of the galactic-themed pieces that will be performed by the Portland Symphony Orchestra at their second Discovery Concert: Outer Space Symphony, at Merrill Auditorium on Sunday the 29th at 2:30 p.m.

 

The concert is meant for kids ages 5 to 12. Tickets, required for all audience members, are $10.00 at https://tickets.porttix.com/public/ . In addition to the Star Wars Suite, the PSO (conducted by Andrew Crust) will play Williams’ “E.T. Adventures on Earth,” the 'Star Trek' theme, and familiar space-oriented pieces by composers Ferde Grofé and Gustav Holst. Youngsters will ‘go where no one has gone before,’ on an engaging and educational tour of the cosmos with stops around our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and beyond.

 

The PSO invites kids and caregivers to arrive an hour or so early for family fun before the concert. There will be an ‘Instrument Petting Zoo’ where young concertgoers can familiarize themselves with everything from French horns to timpanis, a game called ‘Podium Hero,’ and a slew of other fun things to do before everybody finds their seats.

 

Hey, we didn’t get our flying cars, and our kids probably won’t get their warp-speed spaceships, but we know they spend time thinking about what’s out there beyond our atmosphere, and the Outer Space Symphony is a good place to enrich their imaginations and sense of connectedness with the universe. And, in all likelihood, you yourself will be battling Darth Vader with a lightsaber in your imagination, just like you did years ago. Can’t go wrong.

 

For a supplemental ‘Online Insights’ video about the concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD5Bp-S5kcI

  • Published in Kids

Who's the Best Kisser?

Everyone has had the kind of day that feels like a Monday after a three-day weekend, though the calendar says it’s a run-of-the-mill weekday. The boss was all over you. You spilled coffee on your shirt, right before a Skype call with a new client. That clicking you’ve been hearing in third gear turned into a solid clunk-clunk-clunk, and you barely made it into the driveway. Then, your grocery bag ripped open, right in the doorway. As you fumble with your keys, you ask yourself if it could get any worse.

 

Well, as any dog owner could tell you, that’s about the time your furry best bud comes running from the other room, tail wagging with unbridled joy to see you, and makes you forget The Day To End All Days, with one simple formula: Doggie kisses. The only instant cure for a horrible mood.

 

To celebrate the power of those sloppy salves for sadness, and to get ready for Valentine’s Day, The Dog Wash, Etc. (1037 Forest Ave) is holding a Doggie Kissing Booth on Saturday the 4th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event will feature donation-based photos by photographer Dana Berenson, exciting dog-themed raffles and giveaways, and the lively company of canines and canine lovers alike. The company Open Farm, makers of the world’s first and only Certified Humane dog food, will hold a demo and give away food and treats. All money raised will benefit Almost Home (where the shop owner got his dog Jeb), Buddy Up (started by the good folks at Happy Tails and where another coworker got her dog) and Maine Lab Rescue.

 

Last year’s Kissing Booth happened to be on the coldest day of 2016, but the turnout was still great and lots of money was raised for the ARLGP. This year, says Emma of Dog Wash Etc., “We're encouraging anyone to show up, whether or not they bring or even have a dog. Last year we had as many couples and families puckering up in the booth as we did pups. Plus we've always got handsome shop dog Jeb [pictured] for anyone who needs some puppy lovin'.”

 

You know you want your face licked. Head out there with your pup.

 

FMI: https://www.facebook.com/events/1243144892439673/ or 207-797-7082.

  • Published in Pets

You Thought You'd Never Ride Again...

You’re at the top of the 1,310-foot Ragged Mountain at the Camden Snow Bowl, balanced precariously at the entrance to a 400-foot ice-lined toboggan chute. You can see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, stretching to the horizon, as you adjust your goggles. The chilly winter wind stirs the flakes of powder around you. Legs are wrapped around laps, grips are tightened, and now you and your team of two or three good friends are ready to go. Did you remember to wax the bottom of your toboggan? It’s too late to think about it. The signal timer is counting down. Three … two … one, and whoosh! You launch yourselves, plummeting down the toboggan luge track at breakneck speeds, shooting hundreds of yards onto the frozen surface of Hosmer Pond at the bottom, vying for one of the coveted mahogany trophies in the 27th running of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

 

Pique your interest? Registrations for the Toboggan Nationals weekend, February 10-12, are now open at www.camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championships/ for two-person, three-person and four-person teams as well as a “experimental” division for ‘makers’ who want to race in unconventional ways. Registration closes on the first. The cost is $30 per person. The entry fee for experimental teams is $120, and teams in this class can consist of two, three or four people on the toboggan.

 

The weekend, the crowning event of Camden’s WinterFest, is billed as “Maine’s Mardi Gras.” Quite a claim, but the consensus is that organizers, racers and fans have helped the event live up to the moniker: “Teams have raced dressed as the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy Gale, Crash Test Dummies, and bags of Wonder Bread. Some prepare for the event by lubing their sleds with secret ingredients to heat up the competition, while others prepare to tailgate and sneak over for some time on the ski slopes … Carhartts and Bean boots are as popular as beads and masks.”

 

Last year, warm weather forced officials to move the event to another part of the mountain and condense the entire competition into one day of racing. But this year, the ice on the pond looks good, and no snags are foreseen that would prevent hundreds of competitors from around the country and the world from taking the plunge. Event Chairman Holly S. Edwards said, “Our race is all about turning the bitter cold into something to celebrate. Riding a wooden sled 400 feet down an ice-luge with three of your best friends in bunny costumes is nothing if not exhilarating! And people come from all over to take a shot at winning, or just conquering their fear …”

 

We can think of much worse ways to spend a mid-winter’s weekend.

 

FMI: www.camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championshipsor 207-236-3438

  • Published in Sports

It May Be a Stretch...

If somebody said to you, “Abduct the arm while moving the hip medially,” would you know what to do? The instruction comes from a LinkedIn article about ridiculous things said by yoga teachers, and it didn't top the list. Unfortunately, many professionals in the field of yoga instruction lack the ability to create and maintain a human-level rapport with their students, and some of us who would have found a lifelong, fruitful pursuit of body/spirit balance are instead left with a bad taste in our mouths. Others may consider yoga to be too new-agey, suitable for those who have such a surplus of time and money that they commit to months of meaningless mat time.

 

But in southern Maine, the culture of true yoga is thriving, and we are lucky enough to have a healthy smattering of instructors who treat students as people first. These souls have found a solid connection with the energy within, and nobly endeavor to share the methods involved with average people. This week, there are three local yoga events that can open doors in Portlanders’ lives that they might not have even known were there:

 

Go to Strala Yoga at Bright Star World Dance (108 High St, 3rd floor) on Thursday the 19th at 8:00 p.m. to begin to let go of your daily stress and see how moving your body can ease your mind. Instructor Kendra Varoskovic says that Strala “is yoga that moves far beyond poses, helping you blow past your goals and get into your dreams.” Sounds good to us! Drop in tickets ($10.00) and five- and ten-class passes ($40.00 and $70.00, respectively) are available at http://www.kendravaroskovic.com/store/c2/Classes.html or by calling (207) 370-5830.

 

Not quite ready to get that serious yet? Maybe Yoga and Beer! at Falmouthed Brewery (15 Ocean St, SoPo) on Friday the 20th at 5:30 p.m. would be more your speed. This is a safe and fun Vinyasa yoga community, open to all experience levels and body types. Be a part of it (and enjoy a delicious local brew) for $15.00 at the door. You may reach Abbie, the instructor, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or

860-944-5225.

Finally, and this is a big one, there is Community Yoga for World Peace, at East End Community School (195 North St) on Saturday the 21st at 10:00 a.m. This is a morning of gentle yoga and mindfulness to raise funds for Crutches 4 Africa, an organization that provides medical supplies to the underserved, in this case, in Uganda. The class will be led by two locally renowned instructors, Susannah Sanfilipo and Satoria Pelton-Angulo. Satoria teaches an inyengar-influenced style, and Susannah’s psychologically-informed teaching style enables students of all ages, experience and physical condition to discover the benefits of yoga. RSVP for $10.00 per individual, $30.00 per family (kids 14+) at https://www.eventbrite.com/ (search events in 04101).

All events are BYOM (Bring Your Own Mat).

  • Published in Sports

A Chance To Fight Rabies

Horror stories abound, about wild rabid animals biting or scratching house pets, causing sorrowful losses of beloved family animals. In reality, raccoons are the most common culprits of infecting domesticated animals in our region, and if your dog or cat isn’t vaccinated, the risk is real. The Centers for Disease Control recommends immediate euthanization for unvaccinated pets that are exposed to rabies. In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, the number of reported rabies cases had increased by 2.8% from the previous year. Worried? There’s a very simple solution, even if you’re on a strict budget, at these two clinics in the area on Saturday the 21st:

 

The first is at Jordan Bay Animal Hospital in Raymond (1242 Roosevelt Tr) starting at 10:00 a.m. The cost is $10.00 (cash only) per dog. Vaccinations will be for one year, or for three years if documentation is provided that the dog is up-to-date. Also, you may buy a dog license for 2017 from the Raymond Town Clerk, who will be on-site. Prices are $6.00 for a spayed or neutered dog and $10.00 for a non-altered dog, by cash or check made out to Town of Raymond. The Jordan Bay Animal Hospital may be reached at 207-655-3900.

 

The second clinic takes place at Westbrook Community Center (426 Bridge St) from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thanks to Stoneledge Animal Hospital, with assistance from the Dehler Animal Clinic, rabies vaccinations for both cats and dogs will be offered for $15.00. The Animal Refuge League will also provide low cost microchipping, at the price of $35.00. Dog licenses will be available for $6.00 (spayed/neutered) and $11.00 (non-altered). The Community Center’s phone number is 207-854-0676.

Alternatively, if your pets are all taken care of, and you just want to kick back, why not do it in a way that will still help the less fortunate animals in the area? There are two opportunities to enjoy great food and drink to support the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and their work, this week. On Tuesday the 24th at Flatbread Company (72 Commercial St, #5) between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m., a portion of dine-in and take-out flatbread proceeds will go to the cause, and raffle baskets will supplement those funds.

Then, at Gritty McDuff’s (396 Fore St), between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday the 26th, fifty cents from every pint sold will be donated to support furry friends in Maine. You must mention the fundraiser when ordering to initiate the donation. So hoist one up to our pets!

  • Published in Pets
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