Unnatural Deaths Is all about Maine

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I purchased and read Bob Fuller’s novel, Unnatural Deaths, when it was first published in 2009, and a recent conversation with Bob reminded me of how much I had enjoyed it, so I hauled it off the shelf and read it again this week. And I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

Bob really captures us Mainers, especially in his dialogue, and all of my favorite novels include great dialogue. There is plenty of murder and mayhem here, but it’s the way Bob presents the goodness in Maine that really pleased me. And given today’s disappointing and dysfunctional governing at nearly all levels, there’s an important message in this novel about this as well.

Weaknesses cited at Fish and Wildlife Department

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This is the third in a series of columns about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. Two outstanding and experienced national consultants, Mark Duda of Responsive Management and Jodi Valenta of Mill Creek Communications, have been retained to assist the agency with this project. I plan to follow this process very closely, attend as many of the meetings and events as I can, and tell you all about it, for two reasons. First, I’ve been making recommendations to improve communications at DIF&W for many years, and this year submitted legislation to re-establish the marketing position at the agency. Sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne, the bill garnered a lot of support at its public hearing, including from sportsmen’s groups and tourism officials, and was held over to next year by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, to see how it might be used to advance this new DIF&W project. Second, this project is all about you. And I want to give you a chance to participate.

Fishing Memories - Inside and Outside of Church

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My church pastor, Desi Larson, is embarking on a series of sermons with a fishing theme, and asked members of the congregation to send her fishing stories Here are the two stories I just sent to here.

Fishing with Vishal          

My grandson Vishal spent his first three years in an orphanage in India. He joined our family six years ago and has been a real treasure. Vishal is an exceptional artist and athlete, and he’s also a fishing machine. Fishing is where we connect most closely, and every day on the water with V is a very special day for us both. It amazes me that this young boy could start his life so far away in India, and end up here in Maine as my fishing buddy.

Spring Creek Bar-B-Q is “uptown” Monson’s hidden gem

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                We were planning our trip to Moosehead Lake when George mentioned we’d be going right through Monson, which meant one thing to both of us: the terrific little BBQ place we’d discovered there a couple of years ago. My mind couldn’t stop thinking about that hidden gem and the delicious smoky meats produced at Spring Creek Bar-B-Q. So to say it was a bit of a disappointment when we drove up to the old place and saw that it was vacant, is an understatement. But I quickly recovered when I spotted their sign in their new location, two buildings up the street!

The irreplaceable Andrea Erskine retires from Fish and Wildlife Department

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“She’s irreplaceable.” That was the comment of one of my friends after he heard that Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is retiring. And I agree with my friend. We will never have a Deputy Commissioner with the depth of knowledge and experience that Andrea brought to her job.

In her message to DIF&W staff, announcing her retirement, Andrea wrote, “It is with a heavy heart, nervous belly, and worried mind (mixed in with a little excitement) that I announce my upcoming retirement from the best agency in State government. Easily, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. The heavy heart results from having such a fulfilling career, working with some of the most talented, caring and dedicated people, and having to walk away from all that. I have loved every (well, almost) minute of my time here. The nervous belly and worried mind are merely a result of not knowing what the next chapter will bring for me, as all I have known and lived is ‘fish and wildlife.’ We shall see!”

Pingree picks ticks and deer get sprayed with chemicals to kill them

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“As the deer snack, their ears, heads, necks and shoulders rub against vertical rollers that are treated with acaricide. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricide to other parts of their bodies.”

Yes, some places, worried about Lyme disease, are spraying deer with chemicals to kill the ticks that carry the Lyme virus. I learned this, and other fascinating information, from health news reporter Jackie Farwell in a Bangor Daily News story published on August 11, 2015. You can read the entire story here.

Farwell reports that the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s tick lab has created a new website, “This new website is specific to Maine and Mainers and focuses on prevention of tick-borne disease,” Dr. Peter Rand, the lab’s senior investigator, said in a news release.

Bad Moon Rising by Stephen Pickering

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I’ve always been impressed by folks who retired from careers that had nothing to do with writing, who then begin writing in their retirement years. It’s probably easier to write nonfiction, at least it is for me, but those who can write compelling novels are definitely few and far between.

I’ve been working on a novel for many years and have only gotten up to 8,000 words. Just 60,000 to go! I think it’s particularly challenging to write good dialogue, something that I value as a reader of novels.

Stephen Pickering has somehow mastered the craft of writing fiction, and he’s particularly good with dialogue. His novel, Bad Moon Rising, published by North Country Press in Unity, is, well, masterful. I raced through it in a single day while vacationing in Lubec. It’s that compelling.

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