Joe’s Journal

Thoughts on a snowy afternoon

Posted:  Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 8:15am

So, asked the summer visitor who was on his way to Hilton Head, Naples, Key West or some other warm location,what do Mainers do in the winter?

Well, answered the Scribbler, we do what everyone else does in the winter. We work. We volunteer to help others. We take care of the house. We yell at the TV set.

We have dinner with our friends who are too busy to have dinner in the summer because they are flooded with relatives, former neighbors and colleagues who happen to choose Maine for a summer vacation.

And, of course, we shovel snow.

Last week, for instance, we attended an art opening at Studio 53 featuring 43 local artists’ take on “the Nude.” Despite the chilly winds and slippery streets, the gallery was packed with patrons eyeballing paintings, sculptures, fiber hangings, sketches and photos of folks in their birthday suits. While the talk was artsy and lively, many patrons stopped and smiled when they saw Bob McKay’s offering hanging in a corner.

It featured a large blue oil painting of a working lobster boat and her skipper. While Bob did a great job capturing the scene, he included a nude female stern man, wearing boots, of course, as she dragged the bait box. McKay told me he painted the scene as a gag, and was surprised when an admiring patron pulled out his gold card and bought it.

Political oddity

Last week, when the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, lots of attention was directed at Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins when she voted to oppose the President’s pic for that office. While the Collins vote generated a lot of comment, pro and con in Maine and on the national scene, the vote of another Republican senator grabbed my attention.

Lisa Murkowski, the GOP senator from Alaska,  joined Collins in opposing DeVos. While Murkowski, like Collins, said she opposed DeVos as unqualified, and because DeVos was not an advocate for public education, there was another striking factor in her vote.

The political Golden Rule says: Them that got the gold, got the rules.”

In this case, Murkowski, who had reported she received more than $43,000 in campaign contributions from DeVos and her family, still voted no.

We have all heard of “Pay to Play,” where lobbyists donate big bucks to a politician in hopes they will vote to support their favorite legislation. But for a donor to pony up $43,000 to a politician and have the recipient vote against them is very, very rare.

Gra$$ anybody?

As our local selectmen and state legislators try to get their arms around the fact that last November, the voters approved a measure that legalized the recreational use of the demon weed, you can bet some of them were casting a lustful eye at a story from Colorado.

It seems the Colorado Department of Revenue reported that taxes from the medical and recreational use of marijuana generated some $200 million in tax revenue in 2016. If Maine lawmakers get a hint they might generate new tax revenues like Colorado, you can bet it won’t be long before dope stores open in our towns. I guess the good news is it will probably put the street dealers out of business. 

Railroad secrets

In case you missed it, the other day, the Maine legislature quietly voted to override another veto from Gov. Paul LePage.

Their vote blocked the public from a former public record that allowed the general public to see what is carried by the railroad cars that rumble through their home towns. Does the public care what is in the cars? Remember the terrible  2013 rail accident just over the Maine border in Canada’s Lac-Megantic where a 74-car drag got loose and slid down a hill setting fire to a town and killing 42 residents?

Just for the record, one account claims this is the 460th time the legislature has voted to hamstring the public’s access to government business by amending the FOAA law.

P.S. It also keeps our brave first responders from knowing what is in the railroad cars when they are called to a train wreck.

Instant spring

Are you a bit tired of shoveling snow? Me too. But here is a tip to bring a bit of springtime into your home.

Grab your clippers, go outside and find a forsythia bush and slice off a few branches. Bring them inside the house, cut off the bottom of the branches and stuff the branches inside a vase filled with water. Set the vase by a window, and in a few days, you will be rewarded with bunches of bright yellow forsythia blossoms.

Voila, instant springtime.