Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Norlands ravaged by inferno

On my way to get coffee this morning, I was shocked and saddened by the huge story on the front page of the Portland Press Herald in the vending box I passed. Going online to find out what had happened, the story unfolded, as well as a posting on Craig's List with a plea for help. I'll post both the story and the link for assistance to Norlands below.

WMTW posted a terse article about the fire, which has video footage included:
Washburn-Norlands Fire Deemed Accidental
POSTED: 10:41 pm EDT April 28, 2008
UPDATED: 3:29 pm EDT April 29, 2008

LIVERMORE, Maine -- Fire heavily damaged the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore Monday night. It broke out just after 9 p.m. in the barn and by the time firefighters arrived, there were flames shooting out of the building.

The fire also spread to the middle house connecting the barn to the original mansion. The president of Washburn-Norlands, Cathy Beauregard, said the good news is that the mansion itself was spared. But the barn was destroyed and some of the livestock died in the fire.

The Maine state fire marshal's office said a heater set up in the barn sparked the fire. It was put there to keep several newborn piglets warm. The fire marshal's office has ruled the fire an accident.

Firefighters from several towns helped fight the fire and shuttle water to the scene. Beauregard said about 100 neighbors also showed up to help out.

There were no reports of any injuries.
While no one was hurt, and the fire spared the historic mansion, headquarter of so many historical activities for the region, assistance is still needed. On, a plea was posted by a local who wants to get the word out about how people can help:
Last night (Monday, April 28), a devastating fire ripped through the barn of the Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. The barn—along with several animals—was lost. The extent of the damage to the mansion has not been fully determined at this time. More information about this sad event can be found on the Lewiston Sun Journal’s web site at For those who are not familiar with the Norlands, their web site is (NOTE: there is a link to send donations via the web on their front page as of late this morning).

For decades, the Norlands has offered the community an opportunity to travel back in time to explore Maine’s rich history. Thousands of school children have enjoyed field trips to the school & mansion (I went as a child back in 1980...and my daughter enjoyed a school outing there just last year). For thousands of local residents, their annual Heritage Days has been a tradition not to be missed.

As the embers are still cooling, the Norlands Board of Directors is already committing to rebuild—no matter how long or how hard the task will be.

I’m just a citizen (not associated with the Norlands) that was saddened by this event, and who recognizes the value of this organization. Those wishing to help are instructed in a Sun Journal article:

To donate grain, hay, money or other goods to Norlands, call the center’s main number and leave a message at (207)897-4366. Mail can be sent to: 290 Norlands Road, Livermore, ME 04253. Drinkwine can be reached by cell at (207)740-0777, or by e-mail at vlnorlands[at]

No pressure. Just letting folks know in case they want to help.
There you have it. On a positive note, they are also determined to rebuild again.

Casting call: Make your dog a STAR!

Motion Media, the Maine entertainment company we know and love for bringing us the zombie flick "2" and the Bigfoot comedy "Monster in the Woods," is gearing up for its newest production, "The Adventures of Teeni the Wonder Dog." This family film tells the story of Christina, a young girl living with leukemia, and the little dog that enters her life and helps give her hope.

WHEN: Saturday, May 3rd, from 10:00am-1:00pm
WHERE: The Kennel Shop, Millcreek Shopping Center, 50 Market Street, South Portland
WHAT: Bring yourself and your dog for a canine casting call!
FMI: Contact Olin Smith at olinmmfv[at]

Primary casting is done, with production to begin in May/June, but plenty of canine roles are still available. If you think your dog has what it takes to be a movie star, an open casting call will be held at The Kennel Shop at Millcreek Shopping Center in South Portland on May 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some shooting for the film may be done that day.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see your dog up on the big screen," said producer Olin Smith, whose dog will play the title role in the film. "We need dogs and lots of them, so bring yours down and make them a star."

"TEENI" is based on a story by Producer Olin Smith ("Monster in the Woods," "Mud") and was written by Al Lamanda ("2," "Dunstan Falls"). It will be a family drama in the spirit of "Benji" and "Old Yeller." John Lane (Lobsteroids, 2) Executive Produces this touching drama.

Members of the press are welcome, but are asked to contact the Producers beforehand to receive a press pass.

Photo by Michelle Souliere (c) 2006.

Be a frog friend

The Forecaster brings to our attention that it is that time of year when the peepers start their peeping, and the Maine Audubon Society seeks for volunteers to keep track of all those little green and brown guys. Ribbit! Hop to it, oh ye green-loving citizens of Maine! Need is strongest in northern and downeast areas of the state. Photo by Michelle Souliere (c)2007.
Volunteers sought for frog survey
(published: April 24, 2008)

FALMOUTH – It’s the time of year when noisy Maine peepers herald the beginning of spring.

It’s also the time that Maine Audubon is sending out a call for volunteers across the state to listen for and note the sounds of frogs on several evenings through the early summer.

Although the heavy snow cover and a cold spring delayed the season by about two weeks, the spring peepers can now be heard along the coast of Maine and as far north as Acadia National Park, Maine Audubon wildlife biologist Susan Gallo said.

Gallo is asking for volunteers to help in the Maine Amphibian Monitoring Project, which will survey Maine’s amphibian populations for the 12th consecutive year.

Volunteers are asked to conduct two-hour roadside surveys and commit to helping with the project for three years. Ideally volunteers will have e-mail and Internet access, Gallo said.

People who want to volunteer will be asked to take an online quiz on frog calls before being asked to make 10 stops along an assigned route, waiting five minutes at each stop to list the frog species they hear.

Maine has nine species of amphibians, and usually only a few are heard at any one time, Gallo said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Gallo at 781-2330, ext. 216, or sgallo[at] . Potential volunteers can take the frog quiz, designed by the U.S. Geological Survey, at
An updated list of areas still in especial need of volunteers can be found here. At the time of this post, the following areas were targeted for recruitment: St. John, Chapman, Greenfield, Madison, Caucomgomoc Lake, Bridgewater, Moose Mountain, Dickey, Bootford, Penobscot Lake, Musquacook Lake, Oakfield/Stair Falls, Patten, Pittston Farm, Ellsworth, and Tunk Lake.

The Maine Audubon Society hosts a headquarters for information about the Maine Amphibian Monitoring Program, which can be found online here:

Fairfield shop has lively ghost

Shown here: "Lori Higgins, owner of Jack & Jill Hair Fashions & Gnarly Nails, in the basement of her Main Street business in Fairfield on Thursday. Higgins and other employees have seen unexplained movement and heard noises throughout the building." Photo by David Leaming, Morning Sentinel, 2006.

From one of last week's issues of the Kennebec Journal comes an interesting tale of ghosthunting:
Fairfield shop impresses Gardiner ghost hunters

FAIRFIELD -- Ghost hunters think there is indeed something funny going on at Lori Higgins' Jack & Jill Hair Fashions on Main Street.
While exploring the building, at the invitation of its owner, founders of the Maine Ghost Hunters Society say they found what they call "an extensive amount of evidence indicating high amounts of paranormal activity."

Digital photos exhibited by South Gardiner ghost hunters Julie Velez and Robin Coleman show what they call "orbs" floating in a room. They claim that digital-sound recordings taken from the salon, and posted on the group's Web site (scroll about halfway down the page), capture an unearthly voice asking for help.
Unexplained activity began occurring at the 150 Main St. location in August 2004, Higgins said, when she began remodeling the store front in the brick Masonic building.
After seeing a 2006 Morning Sentinel article online about Higgins' claims, Velez and Colman contacted Higgins for permission to poke around. (See below for 2006 article)

The Society, currently with seven members, was founded last year. The group has posted its adventures in what they call haunted homes in Gardiner and in Monmouth, as well as the Fairfield location.

Society members said they used "electromagnetic field detectors" to reveal the presence of an entity perhaps trying to materialize for them. They also said they detected unexplained noises, movements and temperature drops.

As for the 1791 date, Mark McPheters of the Fairfield Historical Society said the brick structure where Jack & Jill is located on the ground floor -- the Masonic Building -- was constructed circa 1900.

"Before that, there were wooden stores side-by-side from when the town was built," McPheters said. "Fairfield was founded in 1788. Buildings were put along the street, shoe stores, harnesses and a hardware store at the corner, whatever people needed."
Read full article here: [Source]

Here is the 2006 Morning Sentinel article that made the Maine Ghost Hunters Society interested in exploring Jack & Jill Hair Fashions:
Ghost thinks flying objects in the spirit of things
Friday, September 01, 2006
By DOUG HARLOW, Staff Writer, Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

FAIRFIELD -- As far as anyone knows, this ghost does not go bump in the night -- it goes bump in broad daylight and has been known to toss a spoon and a beach ball across the room.

The specter at 150 Main St. even showed himself once to a little boy who was playing while his mother got her hair done.

Lori Higgins, owner of Jack & Jill Hair Fashions and Gnarly Nails on Main Street where the unexplained activity has been occurring, even has a name for it.

"We named him Harold," Higgins said. "I don't know why, it's just Harold."

Higgins said most of the creepy stuff began around August 2004, when she remodeled the store.

Loud, head-turning squeals, moving furniture and unintelligible mutterings since have become a frequent happening at the salon, not just for her, she said, but for her employees and customers alike.

"If this wasn't anybody but myself just experiencing this stuff, I probably would have gone, 'Well, who's going to believe me,'" Higgins said from the back room of the beauty parlor where most of the sounds and sights have been happening. "But it's not just myself, it's clients, it's past workers, present workers."

She said the loud sounds include the dragging of a chair across the floor, but nothing is moving and nothing is seen. There are sounds of someone banging their feet in the basement or on the stairs, but again, nothing is seen, Higgins said.

On another occasion, she and a another woman were sitting at the break table in the back room, when the darndest thing happened.

"We were sitting there finishing up lunch when a spoon just up and -- whoop -- flew right to the wall right there," Higgins said. "She saw it, she actually saw it, so ..."

Other happenings include low, unintelligible whispering, she said.

"You can hear garbled whispers sometimes, that happens from time to time," she said. "We can't tell what he's saying, it's jumbley. It's garbled. You can't tell."

Higgins said there also are cold breezes that sneak up on employees and customers, even in the summertime.

On another occasion, Lui Giordano, the Gnarly Nail man at Jack & Jill's, was finishing new tiles for the floor and went to a store room for more adhesive, when the darndest thing happened -- again.

"This was after hours in August and I was finishing up painting and we needed more materials out back," she recalled. "He went in first and went to reach for more glue and a beach ball came out of nowhere and hit him in the head.

"He was all set. He was done for that night. I had told him of all these weird happenings we couldn't explain and he was 'Ya, Yeah, whatever.' It happened to him and I said, there."

Giordano said the episode made his hair stand up.

Another time a client brought her little boy into the shop with her, Higgins said. The boy's toy truck skipped into the back room and the child retrieved it.

"He proceeded to come out front and ask us who the old man was out back, right at that stairway," she said. "If you don't experience something, then you're not going to believe."

Higgins said the building was built around 1907 as a five & dime store at one time and a ladies' clothing store, as well as a beauty parlor before she took over.

She said the presence is fun, not scary.

"He's playful. He's funny. He's not threatening, I talk to him," she said. "I just know it's a him, but I have not visually seen him here -- yet."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Springtime in Eastern Cemetery

Christina White of Spirits Alive sent along a note inviting interested folks to enjoy the Eastern Cemetery as spring blooms within its gates, and also to apprise us of upcoming events. Here it is! (Photo from one of the 2007 Workdays).
Good Afternoon,

The Accolade Cherry Trees are in bloom at the Congress gates of the Eastern! Pick-up the gate key at Carlson Turner bookstore (right across the street from the Eastern) and take a stroll, have a seat, enjoy! (This 6 acre cemetery is located on Congress/Mountfort/Federal Streets at the foot of Munjoy Hill.)

On Saturday, May 10th from 9a till 1p, Spirits Alive sponsors its third year of Work Days at Portland's oldest burial ground, the Eastern Cemetery. We host a Saturday Work Day each month beginning in May and concluding in October. Meet at the Congress Street gates.

We'll be planting/watering/mulching about 40 small caliper saplings and it looks like we'll also install two new flowering shrub beds at the Congress Street entrance. With the installation on the 10th, Landscape Architect Barry Hosmer and Spirits Alive volunteers will have installed about 150 trees and flowering shrubs. Each season, this historic site is transforming into an inviting site with offerings of color, light shade, texture and even habitat for birds and insects.

All are welcomed, green thumb or not. Wear sensible shoes, bring work gloves, a bottle of water and sunscreen or a hat. Bring tools if you have them-- a rake, shovel, pruning shears, and wheelbarrow are very useful. We also take loan of City tools so those will be available.

Not up to planting trees? We have light pruning and trimming to do as well, and though volunteers have already done a trash pick-up, there's more to do.

Each May 10 volunteer will receive a ticket for a free 2008 Spirits Alive tour of your choosing as a "thank you." And, once again, Shipyard Brewery is donating their delicious Capt. Eli soft drinks.

Every hour volunteered on this site makes a great difference. Join this great group of Master Gardeners, green-space advocates, history buffs, neighbors, and Spirits Alive volunteers.

Let us know if you'll be joining us!

Christina and Spirits Alive

Sunday, April 27, 2008

REVIEW: In Search of Sarah Ware

In Search of Sarah Ware: Reinvestigating Murder and Conspiracy in a Maine Village by Emeric Spooner has been eagerly awaited by local history fans, as is attested to by his success so far in selling copies of the small self-published first edition. This well-printed volume arrived in my mailbox hot off the press, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve stolen time here and there to read it.

The most compelling element of this book is precisely what drove Spooner to write it – the tragedy of an unsolved murder with an innocent victim. Swept under the judicial rug after a late trial of the primary suspect, who was acquitted, Sarah Ware’s case has continued to call out from the mists of the past to Bucksport residents such as Spooner, who is the assistant librarian at the Buck Memorial Library. When I asked him what the starting point had been for him, he replied, “The place where Sarah lived, and the beginning of [Miles] Lane -- in my backyard, literally. The house lights I see at night are from the house that Sarah lived in, not more then 150 yards across a field and bush.”

The story is a sad one. Sarah Ware, a middle-aged divorcée, disappeared from the route of her evening errands in Bucksport on the night of Saturday, September 17th, 1898. No one seemed much concerned with her disappearance at first. Two weeks after the fact, Deputy Sheriff Genn’s suspicions were aroused enough for him to approach Mrs. Miles, with whom Sarah had been living as a housekeeper, and begin asking questions.

Men in the village turned out for the initial organized search effort on October 1st. On the second day of their search, when their eyes turned to the pastures near Mrs. Miles’ house, they found Sarah’s deteriorating corpse. Found as it was, with terrible damage to the skull, the state of the body was enough to arouse dire opinions about the method of her demise. A few optimistic men tried to put forward theories of what sort of “accident” might cause such a death.

A handful of local men preparing to lift her remains into a coffin at the site discovered, on jostling the body, that she had not only been bludgeoned, but also decapitated, as her head dislodged and rolled away from the corpse. When all was said and done, the inquest jury came back with the judgment that Sarah Ware had “met death at the hands of a person or persons unknown.”

Spooner has transcribed the available documentation of the proceedings, giving us the rare chance to examine what emerged in them for ourselves. What is immediately apparent is that, from the beginning, her death was the cause of conflict and supposition among the townspeople.

The text does not include the questions levied upon witnesses by the examiners, so we are unable to know how much of each person’s statement was volunteered, and how much was steered by questioning. Statements regarding supposed knowledge of Sarah Ware’s habits, morals, personality, mental health, and all manner of details of her personal life are peppered throughout the testimony, leading the careful reader to believe that although a murder may have been committed, in some people’s minds the victim herself was on trial as well.

This is the state of affairs as Spooner launches us into the complicated morass that is the search for Sarah Ware’s murderer. Having spent so much time wading through this material, the author has had time to piece together theories of his own and develop opinions about some of the town characters that people the landscape of this case.

Additional materials are provided here and there to flesh out otherwise unattached names, and to give the reader a feel for how all of the lives in this tiny Maine town intertwined at the turn of the century. Even if there had been no murder, this material would make for a fascinating read, enough to make even Agatha Christie herself inspired.

The accounts of surrounding events vary from witness to witness, and even from one telling to another. People contradict themselves regularly, and some, including William Treworgy, the defendant in the eventual murder trial, avoid explaining themselves entirely. It is no wonder that over a hundred years later the story is still not resolved, if the community was unable to determine the truth of the matter at the trial four years after the killing.

Spooner has been researching the story of Sarah Ware for over two years, and has dug through piles of old newspaper clippings, court documents, and other historical ephemera in his quest for answers. Most recently he was rewarded by finding a photo which includes among its members a woman he thinks can only be Sarah Ware. The resemblance to newspaper portraits of her is indeed startling.

In addition, he interviewed every living descendant of the people mentioned in the newspapers and court documents that he could find, in the hopes of gleaning insight into what the families of the area thought or knew about the murder. “About 80% of the witness list, both defense and prosecution, still have family members who live in town today. It is these people who I interviewed.” A few declined to divulge all the sensitive details they knew, but most were very open with their information.

When I asked Emeric Spooner what his goal was in publishing this book, he replied, “My hope in publishing the book is to set the record straight with the true facts behind the mystery, while making it interesting to read, and spur those families still around to check in their attics for trunks full of photos, diaries, and [examine these] belongings for any piece of evidence that might shed light on the case. That, and slap any of the professionals investigating cold cases, with today’s technology, across the face and say, ‘We have the blood stained cape!’ We have the personal effects and evidence taken from her murdered body. Do DNA testing on it! Check the bloodstains to see if they are all hers.”

Spooner has certainly succeeded in making the subject interesting to read. While some tangents of his arguments and suppositions are at times hard to weave together in the sequence presented by the book, one only has to look at the maze of information to realize that the task was a difficult one at best, and, as Spooner himself says in closing, “The investigation is ongoing.”

The publishing quality is very good, especially impressive considering it was self-published. The restrained design of the front cover features a photo of the area near which key elements of the story take place, while the interior pages are printed on a very pleasant antique white paper stock, which I must say made turning the pages an enjoyable experience.

Readers may have some trouble with Spooner’s syntax and sentence structure, but after a while this seems to blend in with the somewhat archaic tone of the court transcriptions, and the interest of the material itself in many cases makes up for the lack of an editor. Researchers may find themselves frustrated by the lack of citations, leaving this book out of the running as a scholarly historical text, but this could easily be amended with an appendix in a future printing. No doubt Spooner himself will be happy to furnish any necessary information in the meantime, as his meticulous research bespeaks a record-keeping nature.

All in all, the book is well worth the read, and as Spooner sets to work on his next book about another local mystery, the historic Trim family triple homicide of 1876, we can only hope that someone in the publishing world will pick up on this book and, with some careful engineering, set it on the right track for a full-scale printing, so that it reaches a wider audience.

In Search of Sarah Ware: Reinvestigating Murder and Conspiracy in a Maine Village is for sale at BookStacks, at 71 Main Street, and Bittersweet Gift Shop, at 81 Main Street, both in Bucksport, or online at Readers may also visit to purchase the book and find out about other area mysteries.

NOTE: In an effort to expand ourselves into the the wide world of Strange Maine related books, historic and otherwise, this post represents the first of hopefully many book reviews. We hope these will help our readers find even more material that is of interest to them. If you have a book that you think would fit our interests, please feel free to mail review copies for consideration to:
Michelle Souliere, Editor
Strange Maine Gazette
P.O. Box 8203
Portland, ME 04104
Our readers may also be interested to know that there is a short video clip from the Boston Chronicle’s television segment about the Sarah Ware murder and Spooner’s work on it here:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Also known for our inflatable silliness

Among Maine's extraordinary entertainers is Fred Garbo, of Norway, Maine. The press of Springfield, Illinois geared up for his company's much anticipated performance with an April 17th article by Tamara Browning. Among the tidbits of information about what the audience can expect, Garbo's history and ingenious ideas are mentioned.
Garbo has been a professional performer since 1974 (when someone gave him money for doing card tricks). On “Sesame Street,” Garbo was the acrobat inside Barkley the Dog. On Broadway, he was the chief juggler in the musical “Barnum,” and he’s also toured Europe, Hong Kong and Australia with the Obie Award-winning Foolsfire, with Bob Berky and Michael Moschen.

Garbo also has tumbled for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and danced with the dance company MOMIX in Brazil.

The 53-year-old Garbo founded the inflatable theater company nearly 18 years ago, when he took a break from show business to do skydiving. While packing his parachute, he was struck by its bright colors, strong material and portability, he says in an artist’s statement.

“The parachute material inflates into a huge, big prop and then deflates down to nearly nothing,” Garbo says in the statement. “I took this idea to my friend and hot air balloon artist, George York. Between us, we devised what would be the first in a long line of strange new props.”

Among the props in the New Victory Theater show was an inflatable dog.

“It’s an ‘Air-dale,’” Garbo exclaims[...]. “Good dog!”

Read full article here: [Source]
Incidentally (and in an odd coincidence), Fred Garbo was one of Patrick Dempsey's early entertainment instructors.

PHOTO: Inflatables such as this dog highlight Fred Garbo’s shows. Credit: Fred Garbo Inflatable Theatre Company

EVENT: Maine Petroglyphs talk

WHAT: Maine Historical Society invites you to... a screening of Song of the Drum: The Petroglyphs of Maine
WHEN: Thursday, May 1, 7:00 pm
WHO: Donald Soctomah, Historic Preservation Officer and Tribal Representative to the State Legislature, Passamaquoddy Tribe
WHERE: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland

Historian Donald Soctomah will screen the documentary "Song of the Drum" and discuss efforts to research and preserve the distinctive Passamaquoddy petroglyphs of Machias Bay. These rock carvings, some of which are more than 3,000 years old, reflect powerful spiritual beliefs and the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans in Maine.

Soctomah will also share information about the collections and stories that are being gathered in the museum of Passamaquoddy history and culture in Princeton, Maine.

The above event is FREE and Open to the Public.

For more information call 207-774-1822 or email info[at]

Juggling frenzy spawns celebrity

Who knew? Patrick Dempsey started out his young entertainment career juggling in Buckfield, Maine. On an Australian news site, he is interviewed about his upcoming film, Enchanted, and reveals all:
Q: Is it true that you began your entertainment career as a juggler, when you were in your teens?
A: "As a kid I started off juggling and loved it. I was second in the International Jugglers' competition in the junior division in 1982. I loved ski racing, I was a big skier and I remember my ski teacher was in a vaudeville troupe and he happened to be juggling and I told him I would like to learn, I was naturally good at it. I went home and practiced all night and he introduced me to some great clowns and jugglers. Then suddenly the town where I lived in Maine had become the hotbed for a new Vaudevillian movement and juggling opened a whole new world for me and started me off as a performer."
There's an extensive 2002 interview with him about his Maine connections here, and about his home on Harpswell Neck, on, from Portland Magazine's Mark Griffin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Disturbing Goat Slaying in Stonington

Maine does not have a large body of publicly reported ritualistic animal sacrifice (more often misuse of animal remains is a prank or a protest), but every now and then something weird and disturbing turns up. And then that turns out to just be something random, like a hunter baiting coyotes. Here is the sequence of events:
Slain goat prompts police investigation
By Eric Russell
Friday, April 18, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

STONINGTON, Maine - Hancock County Sheriff’s Department deputies and a local animal control officer are investigating a bizarre case involving a slain goat that they said could be anything from a ritualistic killing to a disturbing prank.

A woman from Stonington called authorities shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday after her teenage daughter came across the dead animal, according to Deputy Jeffrey McFarland. The girl was walking in a wooded area near an all-terrain vehicle trail off Route 15A.

"It looks like she came across a goat hung in a tree with its belly slashed open," McFarland said Thursday. "The area where it was found is set back a quarter mile in the woods, and it doesn’t appear that there were any houses close by."

Charles Berhalter, the animal control officer for the town of Stonington, investigated Wednesday night and referred the case to the sheriff’s office. Berhalter said it looked to him like a ritualistic killing of some kind.

"I didn’t get too close because it was getting dark, but it was disgusting," he said. "It was cut open and they had taken some of the innards out. The girl that discovered this was upset horribly. Her mother said she was hysterical."
"These things really irk me. I’m 76 years old and I love animals. I don’t know how anyone could do this," Berhalter said. "People in town need to know that this happened."

...McFarland said he knew of only one small farm in the general area, but the sheriff’s office had not received a report of a missing goat as of Thursday evening. Both he and Berhalter said they couldn’t remember a case like this.

Read full article here: [Source]
The authorities didn't mention how deteriorated the body was, but the date hardly seemed likely for a sabbat celebration, and it was a little early for a moon sabbat (the full moon was April 20th). All in all, it seemed like a pretty nasty affair. But then it turned out to be fairly innocuous (by comparison -- in reality it's still pretty creepy):
Goat killing not ritualistic, official says
By Eric Russell
Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

STONINGTON, Maine - The mystery of a slain goat that was discovered late Wednesday is over not long after it began.

Charles Berhalter, the town’s animal control officer, confirmed Friday that the animal was not the victim of a sacrificial killing or a disturbing prank as was initially suspected. Instead, he said, a local resident had bought the goat from a farmer in Surry and then hung it up with the intention of catching coyotes.

"I thought for sure when I first saw it [late Wednesday] that it was some kind of ritualistic killing, but I’m sure glad it wasn’t," Berhalter said.
"We have seen some satanic signs and things up here on Route 15, so that’s why I initially thought it could be related," Berhalter said.
Other than the paperwork, he said, the incident is history.

Read full article here: [Source]

Thanks for the votes!!!

Well, much to my delight, the Strange Maine blog won "BEST BLOG" in the Portland Phoenix's Best of Portland annual awards. Yippee! All within one week, I was interviewed on WMPG, and then honored by this big fat kudo. Excitement! So thank you, thank you, thank you, all you readers out there who took the time to vote, and thank you to all of you who didn't even know who we were but voted for us because you liked our name (I can guarantee there are at least a few of you out there).

I would also like to thank Wil Whalen over at Where There's Wil, There's Always a Way, who won last year's Best Blog of Portland, for so graciously mentioning that there's a tiara involved. Who knew?! I'm wearing it now. Sure, it's invisible, but *I* know it's there. (ha, you're all thinking, "Michelle in a tiara?!" Truth is stranger than fiction, always!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

EVENT: Strange Maine Gazette on the radio!

WHEN: Monday, April 14th from around 10:15pm to 10:45pm
WHERE: WMPG, 90.9 FM and 104.1 FM in the Greater Portland area, or listen online here to their streaming broadcast.
WHAT: DanK of the Random Thought Crime Generator show interviews me about the world of Strange Maine

Who knows what will surface? According to the WMPG website, the show customarily features a mix of soundtracks, novelties, spoken word, experimental, and instrumentals from all genres, especially jazz, surf, and r&b, but when Dan approached me about doing an interview, I was very pleased and not a little excited (that means "a lot excited")! Nifty dandy!!!

Tune in and check it out!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CALL FOR ART: Man-Witch Mayhem!

In addition to the recent, weird, very non-traditional lighthouse-themed call for art from Sanctuary Tattoo, we have another exciting opportunity for Maine artists. TIME TO GET BUSY!

Portland metal band Man-Witch has announced a terrifying new prospect for local artists -- The Man-Witch Art Show!

Draw the Death Truck! Draw the Flaming Pillow of Fear! Draw the Necro-Atomic-Abominomicon! Heck, draw the Super Ultra Mega Terrifyafearinator! (...if you dare)

The dates:
  • Open Submissions will be accepted at Geno's Rock Club from July 11 to July 25. Art must be ready to hang! Sorry, no freestanding sculpture (the lobby is a little too trafficked and hazardous for freestanding art to survive long). Limit 3 pieces per artist, please. Entry forms will be provided at drop-off.

  • On August 1st the First Friday Artwalk opening for the show will be held, followed by live rock with MAN-WITCH!!! ARRRGHHHHHH!!!!

  • The Man-Witch Art Show will be available for viewing at Geno's from August 1 to September 3.
  • Use any media you like -- photos! comic strips! collage! paint! ink! ...and other things too numerous to be mentioned without causing insanity!!!

    Other subjects for prospective artists to ponder include Thunderhog, Ape Bait, Some Sword, Skull Island, Zombie Zü, not to mention the unmentionable band members Stella Hell, Max Headwound, Jurgen A. Rocknow (see flyer image above), and The Doctor & Benjamin Von Franklinstein! Do not hesitate to plunder their origin stories and more from their MySpace site,, or simply listen to their downloadable song samples for hours on end and thereby inducing an art frenzy of epic proportions (it happens)!

    Sponsored by the Art Horde!

    Photos of Jurgen and the band as shown here are all by Chris Wallace (Flickr links feature photos by yours truly).

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Tunnels Unearthed in Bangor

    Some interesting items are emerging from the subterranean world of Bangor, as recorded by the Bangor Daily News. I wonder if the Bangor Explorers Guild has been in yet?

    PHOTO shows Stephen Wintle of Facility Management Group Incorporated peering into a tunnel which was discovered in the basement of the Penobscot County Courthouse. The four foot deep tunnels snakes under the building and was used for ventilation. Photo taken Friday, March 28, 2008 for the Bangor Daily News by Kate Collins.
    Bangor: Courthouse work yields surprises, hazards
    By Judy Harrison
    Friday, April 04, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

    BANGOR, Maine - Murphy's Law has been hard at work in the basement of the Penobscot County Courthouse. Since renovations began last fall, the century-old building has revealed a few hidden secrets and more hazardous material than expected.
    The latest discovery (a system of tunnels that appears to have been part of the original building's ventilation system> came last week when workers removed the concrete floor. The original building was completed in 1833. The tunnels are not on the plans for the courthouse that was constructed between 1901 and 1903.

    Davis speculated that the system might have been left over from the original courthouse built on the same site. It was torn down when construction on the current building began as the 20th century dawned.
    The entire concrete floor, several inches thick, was removed by hand, a few chunks at a time, in wheelbarrows last week. A new concrete floor is expected to be poured later this month once it's determined how to keep the ventilation system from being filled in, according to Collins.

    "When they peeled the onion, they found more things that we did not know existed," Collins said. "We found silica that had to be removed along with more asbestos and more lead paint. One of the bigger secrets is that we've found more tunnels that we didn't know existed."
    As the project began last fall and the walls came out in one room, old steam pipes and a tunnel, believed to have been installed when the building was completed in 1903, were uncovered. They have been sealed off.

    They appeared to go under Court Street to the former YMCA building. That building was constructed in 1890 and replaced in 1970 with the current structure.

    The tunnels yielded yet another unwelcome surprise -- several 5-gallon cans that contained a chemical that has yet to be identified. In addition to testing the cans, soil in the tunnels where they were found will be tested for contamination.

    From a historical perspective, the finds have been exciting but sometimes a little scary, Collins said.

    "We've truly peeled back the onion skin and we're making it a much better place and a safer place," he said. "One of the things we found was an electrical conduit laid in the floor that had rusted away. There were exposed live wires under the floor. That's simply too dangerous."
    Read full article here: [Source]

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    An ape's age ago in Maine...

    It was 35 years ago this year that the Durham, Maine, area was flooded with sighting reports of a gorilla-like creature. Loren Coleman has the scoop on Cryptomundo!

    This is the same sighting we discussed back in a January 2007 post about the sighting, which includes my favorite Bigfoot quote ever: "I fell right down in front of him and all he did was look at me. I would have known if it were a hippie or something. But it had a regular monkey face. You have seen a monkey before, haven't you?"

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    The Lighthouse Strikes Back

    Wow! Okay, this should be a fun show -- submit your art now!!! (see below for more info from Chris Dingwell at Sanctuary)From Chris:

    I wanted to let you know about our JUNE art exhibit -- "YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE"

    I'm very excited to announce that we are going to be doing a group show of really crazy, whacky, totally screw-ball LIGHTHOUSE ART! the show goes up in June; June 4th to be exact, and anyone can participate.

    The only stipulations are:
  • The work must be about or include some form of LIGHTHOUSE image

  • It must of course be your own original artwork

  • It must be non-traditional in some form; how is up to you, as long as it goes beyond the usual Maine Lighthouse postcard art. Using such images for the sake of satire is of course totally appropriate as well.

    We already have a bunch of great local artists on board, but we always need more! Show us what you have. If you are intending to submit three-dimensional work, please contact Chris Dingwell at the gallery first, otherwise no pre-approval is necessary. All work must be delivered to the gallery by Wednesday, JUNE 4th. Work that doesn't meet the criteria will not be included.

    For more information, contact
    Sanctuary Tattoo and Art Gallery
    31 forest Ave.
    Portland, Maine 04101
    e-mail: chris[at]