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Latest project, “Better Times Will Come” by Janis Ian, with Ryan Williams, baritone

During the 2020 pandemic, singer songwriter Janis Ian started a project from a song that she wrote one day. Hoping to give some exposure to musicians out of work, it quickly became a hopeful diversion for many, and another opportunity for me to work with the talented young baritone, Ryan Willaims. Ryan is clearly one of the easiest musicians I have ever worked with. Check out our recording: https://www.loriarsenault.com/better-times-will-come-janis-ian-with-ryan-williams/

To Bee or Not To Bee

A Real Story for Real Kids

When I was little, it was a good thing to read books to kids about make-believe things, and sometimes really scary things. But sometimes we got scared about things that we shouldn’t be afraid of, like bees. As I think about it now, I think it would have been good to have lots of stories about things we shouldn’t be afraid of, like bees!

We also read books about scary people, like old witches that eat children, and stuff like that. Well now that I’m nearing the age of an old witch, I think that was supposed to be just make-believe. Even more important, I think the children today should hear stories about all the wonderful things that people can learn when they get older, and that they’re not scary at all.

It was the spring of 2020 when I turned 65 and everyone had to stay home because of a pandemic. That’s when I first learned how wonderful carpenter bees can be. It all started when I found a little bee dying outside my back door. You can read about that in my post named, “Bee Well.”

I did a lot of reading and learned about that kind of bee and how some people say they’re bad and some people say they’re good. I learned how to help my little bee get well so that she could fly away and take care of the flowers in my yard and lay her eggs so that new bees could be hatched next spring. I also learned that I had neighbors who were afraid of their carpenter bees, and afraid that their homes would be eaten up and ruined.

What I learned is that bees like to live in plain wood. They don’t like it painted because that would mean it belongs to whoever painted it, and bees don’t paint. No, carpenter bees like plain wood that’s not painted so they can build their nests and come back to the same place year after year. As the wood gets older, the bees can even tell that their whole family lived in that same old wood, so they can always find their way home.

Well today, I discovered a new thing about my new bee friends.

To beeeee continued!

For the Children

The Short Version

Be calm, be reasonable, be respectable, be kind, be helpful, be generous, be a good example of a world that will be good for all of us, rich and poor, old and young, educated and not, healthy and not, working and not, religious and not. All of us. Thank you.

The Longer Version

Friends, I think it matters not who is right or who is wrong. Everyone is doing what they think is the right thing to do, and we should honor each other as such. But these are some things I need to say.

Make no mistake that there are those who will benefit greatly from this pandemic and from whatever cure is decided. For those of you who are on the receiving end of this misfortune, I hope you will share your profits with your employees, the needy around you, and with education and research, which is never sustainable. And for those of you who have worked hard all your lives to build a retirement plan that will sustain you and your family, thank you. That, too, is a sign of generosity.

Make no mistake that there are many who will get this virus, who can maintain a healthy attitude and practices that help them ride out the storm. Can our health care providers learn from them, not only from the practices of the science, but from the practices of those who have survived?

Make no mistake that there are many of you who are already suffering great loss and uncertainty. I hope you will reach out to those around you with gratitude, and let yourself be helped and embraced in the same way that you would help if you had plenty. Many of those who have plenty give what they have in secret, so that you can retain your dignity.

Make no mistake that there are those who are working to capacity, worn and tired, while others are being paid to stay home as if they are on vacation. Be assured, this is no vacation, to be told we cannot help or go to work. If there is something we can do to help, I hope you will also reach out with gratitude. You have capable people sitting at home feeling helpless.

Make no mistake that there are those for whom staying at home works just fine. Be assured that these are also doing their part, helping those around them, providing help where they can.

Make no mistake that some politicians are better leaders than others, but that is why we have a government of the people. We are in this together, we are the educated, the uneducated, the wise and the foolish, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the religious and the secular, the left, the middle and the right, and we all have something to say whether we’re at home or out and about. We expect politicians to represent all of us, keeping your hatred to yourselves. If you can’t do that, then please get out of politics.

Make no mistake that it is a good thing to discuss issues of politics and religion, but if any of you are using your politics or religion to beat up anyone else, please stop. It does not help anyone, and only keeps your own hatred pouring into your own soul, and teaches that same hatred to your children who will have to live in that world you are creating.

Please, everyone, be gracious, be professional. Ok, you can be funny too. Too many are angry, and too many are crying. If all you can share with others is laughter, joy and good will, thank you for that too.

Bee Well

On May 4, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, I found this queen carpenter bee on the ground by my back door. She was struggling and it didn’t look like she would survive. So I moved her to a safe place in the yard and kept watch. As the evening chill came on, I moved her to a box in the house. She accepted some sugar water and got strong enough to walk several laps around the box, interacting with her surroundings.

This video shows her after a little nap, still moving pretty slowly. It was hard to tell if she was injured or not, or if she would make it through the night.

Overnight she found a comfortable place to be, and remained there without much movement. But the house was chilly, so positioned the piano lamp over the box and the warmth of the light made her mover head around but did not move from her resting place. On this “throne” that she found, she was able to curl her body around underneath her. I presumed this is how she would live in her nest. It appeared that she fell from the nest above my back door, so perhaps she is old and it was time for her to die. I don’t know. But I made her some breakfast and waited to see what would happen.

Video above is the little bee having supper. That evening I brought her box outside and she fairly quickly climbed halfway up the side of the box as soon as she felt the fresh air. But it was too cold out to see if she’s ready to leave. I felt that she needed to be stronger.

One of my friends following the story on Facebook suggested that I find her a flower so she could get some pollen. So, that’s what I did. At this point, I needed some advice. I brought the little creature out into the sun, and she started grabbing her wings, until she couldn’t hold onto them anymore. They started flapping and buzzing. So I brought her back int the dark and the buzzing stopped. She continued climbing all over the flower. I think it was a good experience that gave her some strength, but ws concerned that she still wasn’t strong enough to survive if she flew off. With her wings buzzing like they did, she could certainly have taken flight. My friends suggested that I find a beekeeper, so I did!

Joanne came over and looked at my bee and thought she was doing really well. She brought me some honey and a little piece of a honey comb that the little queen took to right away.

After a cold weekend, at the advice of the beekeeper, we built a wooden house for moving the queen outside. The goal is that she will build her nest in this rather than in my house. I moved her into the new house and put all her stuff in the house for her, but it seemed like she was going to need some additional time getting used to the new place. At least overnight.

The peg coming out of the side of the house is a hole the size of a carpenter bee nest. My son Dale made the house, and made the hole an L shaped tunnel just like a carpenter bee would make. Once we remove the peg from the side of the house, she’ll be able to get out on her own. Then the house will go into the back yard near the reeds, and hopefully she will be able to attract her colony back to her nest, and pollinate the beautiful purple flowers that live in my back yard.

The story continues…

Further Reading

Please read about carpenter bees, and help save these valuable pollenators.

If you don’t want to share your home with them, there are simple ways to give them a home right near yours. They are wonderful pollinators, and we need them to survive.

Here’s another article that will help you decide to keep your carpenter bees, or help find them a new home.

Lori’s bug rescue started a long time ago!

What’s in the jar?? As I recall, it was either a grasshopper or a beetle.

Amazing Grace

This is my friend Ryan Williams and me singing “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. This was a nice collaboration. Ryan is our newest singer at St. Anne’s Church in Gorham.

As I think of amazing grace, I really am quite amazed at what I see going on around me. In the midst of a pandemic, people have a nearly incontrollable urge to communicate. At the same time, we have scads of people communicating all of their frustrations, but unable to get through the log-jam keeping government offices unable to deal with the massive amount of communication that needs to be done.

I have an image of Geraldine sitting at the switchboard on Saturday Night Live

So, it seems to me that there are a lot of people interesting in having information that needs to get out to a whole lot of people, and at the same time we have only few people who don’t know what a network is and how it works. In case anyone is wondering, we are all part of a great network.

Can we all try to make better use of our networks and each other in the way that will help ease everyone’s frustrations, and get things done that need to be done. Goodness abounds.

Grace is indeed amazing. In faith, we call it Amazing Grace. In FIRST Robotics, we call it Gracious Professionalism.

Team Earth

So, one of the problems we face is that somehow there is a lack of faith in the goodness of people who are in a better place, who have more than they need. We need to keep our faith in goodness itself. The first thing to be done is to know in your heart that we are all in this together.

Before thinking that anyone with more than enough money has no goodness, it’s important to see that they are in the best position to help in some way. It could be helpful to do some checking around to see what they are indeed doing.

So, I think the thing to do first is to begin to see every person from the top to the bottom as on the same team. We are indeed on the same team, Team Earth. It’s important to refrain from taking out our frustration on other members of our team. Everyone is a hero on this team, from those who have nothing, to those who have a lot.

This is my opinion. So, if you’re thinking of ways to prove to me that I’m wrong, please don’t respond to me. I am going forward believing that we are all on the same team, and that this is the first step. I have friends on both sides of the fence, and the only way that I can help one is to help the other, and visa versa.

Pine Tree District FIRST Robotics 2020 Volunteer of the Year

Pine Tree Volunteer of the Year

I was speechless to have received this award for my work with FIRST Robotics. I have so many thanks to give to the whole FIRST Robotics community, the Pine Tree District Committee and my local Team 172 for taking such special care of our kids, our mentors and our communities, holding up the highest ideals not just in science and technology, but in human and community relations. Thank you to all of my FIRST Robotics colleagues for your energy, your gracious professionalism, your curiosity and drive, and as much as anything else, for your friendship.

As I look down the list of friends who congratulated me on Facebook and by email, it makes me smile to see how many of you work with young people in your craft. Every moment that you think of them, care about them, worry about them and struggle to be the best that you can be for them is every bit as valuable as anything you might teach them, and only a fraction of what you will learn from them.

I can say as much for those I see on my list who work with elders, serving them, and even empowering them. I think of the couple in their 90s who were still rollerskating competitively,, teachers to a new generation. I think of the elder communities that are enriched when we bring music to them, in a band made up of youth and elders. And it is this way in FIRST. Is there any greater thing than to see youth and elders working together?

We are all part of a great web of multi-generational communities, “out here” and on the ground. We all have to take care of this great community and support each other. Thanks to all of you for doing that in your unique way, so that together we can make the difference that is needed right now.

Restarting the Career, and Reclaiming the Hobbies

Being newly retired, not ready to stop working, and prompted by the 2020 stay-at-home orders, I’m ready to start something new. Being really good at working from home, I’m once again self-employed as an individual, and as Arsenault Artist Management, with several more skills under my belt than the bookkeeping that I did from home years ago when my kids were little.

From time to time, if you care to check back, you’ll see things added or adjusted as I live more and learn more. These are arranged in alpha order, lest they reflect my priorities. They don’t. Just happy to keep learning…

Bee Keeping – Read my article “Bee Well” and see that this is a distinct possibility, but I don’t really think it qualifies as a career option.

Bookkeeping – I suppose I could still do that. My experience is with Quickbooks and keeping things simple. No big companies. Small business bookkeeping, the kind of services that help a new business become old.

Classical Guitar lessons – my undergraduate degree is in classical guitar, and I was told recently by a student that I’m a really good teacher. So, yes, I would consider giving lessons again, and I would even consider giving virtual lessons. I’m thinking that lessons would be 45 minutes for adults, 30 minutes for beginners. Inquiries welcome.

Sewing Machine Fun – If given a chance, I may be able to help you fix your own machine if you told me what the problem was. I’ll post my sewing machine collection soon, so you can see what my experience is. 🙂

Virtual Assistant / Customer Service / Artist Management – Really, really talented people may be so focused on their talent that they may need other kinds of help. Suggestions welcome.

Website design and content management – As you can see from this site, I have broken into WordPress and some of the other CMS platforms that are available now. I’ve been working on websites for 25 years, and have never known what I was doing until I did it a few times. Further, I’m pretty quick to say what I am and am not interested in learning how to do.

For both web design and bookkeeping, I’d rather not work by the hour, because my value to you is not how long it takes me to do something, but how quickly I can do it. We’ll agree on a budget and what needs to be done, and then I’ll do it. 🙂 Now that I’m retired, do contact me if you need some help with any of these things. I’ve never been known for my ability to make a living doing any of these things… if you know what I mean.

Lily

Thoughts About Boredom

One of the very first things I learned about training dogs was to teach them to be bored. It’s actually a kindness to the animal, giving them freedom to be at peace with wherever they are, and whatever they are doing. We do well to share that lesson with children and adults too! I don’t really understand boredom… there is always something to do, and now especially when staying home is really useful.

The Gift of Faith

You do not know, but you believe. That is what faith is. But faith is not automatic; faith is a gift. What does that mean?

Think of when you receive a gift that you’re not quite sure of, but you love the one who gave you the gift. Would you throw it away, or would you set it on the table? Each time you walk by it, you look at it, twist your face a little, and think about throwing it away. But you don’t, because it reminds you of the one you love. So you keep it. For years and years you keep it, if only because it reminds you of the one you love.

Then one day when you are out walking on the street, you see the very same item in a shop window. It reminds you of the one you love so strongly that you have to go into the shop and see why it’s there, and how they got it. Turns out, it’s not for sale. It’s just there because the shop owner wants to show it to the world, which so badly needs this gift.

And maybe your doubt gives it the greatest meaning of all.