Gabe Gregoire

Gabe Gregoire

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Shakespeariment brushes up on the Bard

The Sam L. Cohen Children’s Library at the Portland Public Library invites you to “Shakespeariment: Interactive Workshop for Children,” on March 19 and 26 from 3 to 4 p.m. Educators will help kids work together to make their own Shakespeare stories for the stage. With improvisational games and literacy challenges, this introduction to Shakespeare is a perfect program to inspire and challenge, for ages 5 to 12, organizers noted.To know some Shakespeare provides a head start in life for young people. Just think of all of the common phrases coined by the Bard, like “to use one’s mind’s eye,” “to find method in someone’s madness,” “to be eaten out of house and home,” “to have a heart of gold,” or “to be living in a fool's paradise,” just to name a few.

Author Ross Farrelly said, “Studying Shakespeare benefits students in [many] ways. Shakespeare's language is tricky to read aloud and comprehend, and it is harder still to perform in front of a theatre full of family and friends. If children can understand Shakespeare they can understand anything. ... [S]tudents gain strength, determination and the capacity to deal with minor hardships (like forgetting your lines on stage) by studying ... Shakespeare.”

Kids who attend the Shakespeariment won’t have to memorize anything, but they will surely catch the flavor of the language.

Here are descriptions for the two Saturday afternoon programs:

March 19 Shakespeariment: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - It’s time for all ages to celebrate the First Folio exhibit by acting out a silly story from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. With Theatre Educators from the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, we’ll play some vocabulary improvisational games that use our whole bodies, and imagine ourselves near a bank where the wild thyme grows. We’ll be fairy kings and queens and fall in love with very handsome… DONKEYS?!?

March 26Shakespeariment: The Tempest - Did you know Tempest means storm? With Theatre Educators, we’ll play some whole-body vocabulary improv games, create our own roaring tempest with some simple handmade instruments, and imagine ourselves on a deserted magical island.

The Portland Public Library can be reached at 207.871.1700; or visit

  • Published in Kids

Prime numbers: Crazy8s 4-H Club aims to make math fun

There is a brand new activity series for kids called the Crazy 8s 4-H Club that meets at the Portland Public Library for the next six Wednesdays, starting on the second at 3:30 p.m. (no meeting on March 30).

Crazy 8s is an after-school recreational math club aimed at getting young people excited about the possibilities of mathematics and helping them understand the math that surrounds them in society. The program is designed by Bedtime Math, a national nonprofit (lots of fun at, mission statement, “To help kids love numbers so they can handle the math in real life”).

Crazy 8s is anything but your traditional pencil-and-paper math club. It’s social and collaborative, with creative, hands-on activities such as Glow-in-the-Dark City, Super Cube Shuffle, Epic Air Traffic Control, and Funny Money, among others.

The club is open to youngsters ages 7 to 12. It will be led by trained 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Ambassadors who are students from the University of Maine. They facilitate STEM activities with youths across the state.

4-H was founded in 1902 under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Space is limited and will be first come, first served. The PPL can be reached at 207.871.1700.

  • Published in Kids

Microchipping basics: Clinic at Pet Life helps owners track their pets

There will be a dog and cat microchip clinic at Pet Life in Portland, 91 Auburn St., at noon on Sunday, Feb. 28. Microchips will cost $35 per pet. Dogs must be brought on leashes, and cats must be in carriers. The event is sponsored by and benefits the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

For those who are unsure whether they want their pet microchipped or not, holistic pet care expert Dr. Karen Becker offers this view:

“A microchip is a glass bead about the size of a grain of rice which is implanted between an animal’s shoulder blades. It contains a radio transmitter, an antenna, and a computer chip with a 10-digit code. The information contained in a microchip has to be read by a scanner — it is not a GPS system that will allow you to track and locate your pet.

“Most humane societies and rescue organizations require that adopted pets be microchipped, so if your pet came from a shelter there’s a good chance he or she already has one.

“And I highly recommend that if your pet gets a microchip, you insist on anesthetic. No matter what you have been told, the procedure hurts — the chip is inserted with a really big 12-gauge needle!”

For perspective, a 12-gauge needle is 2.769mm wide at its outside diameter, the thickness of two dimes stacked together (2.700mm).

At the microchip clinic, shots will be administered by certified vet techs from the Refuge League. Maine does not require specific certification in microchipping, but administering injections is a part of vet tech training. No local anesthetic will be used. When asked about the size of the needles and the pain they may cause, a Guest Services Representative from ARLGP described the level of pet discomfort as “just a pinch, with no residual pain.”

Still not sure? Becker recommends that if your pet is well-behaved and leashed or housebound, with no tendency to bolt, you may want to forego the procedure. But remember, the unexpected can happen, and microchips are the number one way shelters reunite lost pets with their owners. 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and only 649,000 make it back home.

Pet Life can be reached at 207-797-0779.

  • Published in Pets

The Dog Wash Etc. goes the extra mile with delivery service

Want convenience when it comes to getting pet supplies? The Dog Wash Etc., at 1037 Forest Ave., offers free delivery within Greater Portland with a minimum purchase of $30, less than the price of a large bag of dog food. Outside the immediate service area, the minimum increases to $50. Those who live on the islands in Casco Bay serviced by the ferry are not excluded, but they must pay a $3.15 freight charge or send The Dog Wash Etc. an email about their accounts at the terminal.

The store has always delivered to customers who have requested it, but has only recently made a public offer of same, to combat online retail giants, who they say “are siphoning money from the local economy while adding no benefit to our community.”

Delivery orders are made online, at with secure payment and automatic calculation of whether a location is within area. Customers can write instructions such as when to make the delivery or where to leave it, during the checkout process, but in any case, The Dog Wash Etc. will call back about new orders and get that information within a couple of hours of the order being placed. Most customers get their supplies later the same day.

Store Manager Emma Dunham, when asked what she liked best about the program, said, “We’ve got elderly clients who have trouble managing a 20-30 pound bag of dog food, or people’s cars will be in the shop and they can’t make it over, could be anything, and because of these unexpected situations, we’re trying to take the pain out of pet ownership.”

The Dog Wash Etc. can be reached at 207.797.7082. They are a member of Portland Buy Local.

  • Published in Pets

Celebrities vs. farmers: Farmer Games event helps program for low-income residents

For guaranteed family fun, come to the Farmer Games on Sunday, Feb. 21 between 1 and 4 p.m. at 84 Cove St. in Portland. The event is put on by the Portland Farmer’s Market to raise funds for their Low Income Access Program, and admission is $5 per person or $10 per family.

The main attraction at the Farmer Games is a competition between local celebrities and local farmers, in three frenetic rounds: the obstacle course, bagging and weighing, and setting up a market stand. At presstime, three of the four celebs have been named: Sam Livingstone from Allagash, Chef Matt Ginn from Evo and local food writer Avery Kamila. The four farmer contestants are Grace Pease from Merrifield Farm in Cornish, Matt McInnis from North Spore of Westbrook, Austin Chadd from Green Spark Farm of Cape Elizabeth and Emily Echner from Goranson Farm of Richmond. The games will continue until only one player is left, and that winner will receive the golden pitchfork.

Molly Nelson, who has been farming since age 10 and is a former apprentice, said her daughters play a big role at the three separate locations that comprise Merrifield Farm.

“There are three generations that work at Merrifield, so both of our daughters are farmers, Ruby and Grace, and we were surprised because they went off to college and came back to farm,” said Nelson.

But Merrifield has been bringing produce to Portland since the days of horses and buggies — so farming is a tradition.

The family of their father, John Pease, has farmed for generations in Cornish since the 1700s, she said.

At the Farmer Games, there will be local food to eat, provided by Portland Food Co-op, and plenty of farmers-market-themed carnival games for the whole family to play. Remember the ring toss at the county fair? Try aiming your token into a strawberry pint instead, or playing a game called the Potato Bounce!

“Farmers rarely, if ever, get a day off, and when they do, they don’t tend to spend it with their customers, so you have a chance to see what these great people are like in their down time,” said Project Manager Clara Moore. “Also, we will be introducing the Friends of the Market program: this is a yearly membership program, think like a public radio membership. It’s going to be a great day.”

  • Published in Kids

Children can learn rhythm and rhymes through puppy-inspired works

The theme is dogs, from as young as a puppy to as old as a grizzled hound, at Morning Music: Canine Chorus, at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22. Families with kids ages 1-3 can sign up for this four-session music class that teaches children rhythm and rhymes through puppy-inspired songs, books and poems. Kids will discover fast, slow, high and low rhythms and sounds, as well as identifying and creating beats with shakers and other percussion instruments. Morning Music: Canine Chorus is an exploratory early music class for kids and caregivers that lays the foundation for musical learning in children. Toddlers will make connections between sound, stories and music by processing poetry and music through song, movement, rhythm games, and of course, their imaginations! After the fourth session, caregivers will be given a packet of song and sound exercises to keep the fun going at home, where real canines may join in with a howl.

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