Jillian – DETOP Finding Its Groove

Jillian – DETOP Finding Its Groove

CHERRYFIELD, ME — Table of Plenty is once again finding its groove after a 15 month hiatus. Savannah and Corrie hosted this week and made making enchiladas for a crowd look easy. People are enjoying the picnic tables outside in the shade. We are relishing the opportunity to break bread together once again.

Savannah’s daughter Ocean is often a help and made us the love note after the meal at home that night. Makes me smile.

Learn more about DETOP.

Jillian – Witness to Mission Vaccination Crew from Sunbeam Galley

Jillian – Witness to Mission Vaccination Crew from Sunbeam Galley

CHERRYFIELD, ME — The Mission Covid-19 vaccination trips aboard the Sunbeam have a unique hum of excitement. It is my honor to witness it from my little spot in the galley while trying to offer a little nourishment to the hardworking vaccination crew.  

A little white cooler with a bright red lid transports among locations the cherished vials of Moderna vaccine. Everything is centered around this cooler. Handled with deference one would give bone china or an organ meant for transplant, the cooler is whisked through the Sunbeam salon, to-and-from Sharon’s boat office. There vaccine vials are stored in a special medical fridge with its sensors and record keeping.  

While we are underway, the vaccination crew is often huddled, socially distant, double and triple checking numbers: vaccinations available, people signed up, ages, dates and appointment times. Because of time constraints with vaccine transportation, our travel time between islands is also a factor.

The vaccination crew make a lot of phone calls to coordinate it all. They make even more phone calls when the weather or vaccine availability sets up a speed bump.

I’ve seen Mission president, John Zavodny, preparing stacks of vaccination cards given to people once they’ve had their shots.

After an island clinic, Douglas Cornman returns to the Sunbeam with a stack of vaccination forms with information he needs to enter into the national database.

Nurses Sharon Daley and Maureen Giffin wear many separate pairs of blue gloves. They schlep their totes of medical supplies island to island for the pop-up clinics. Their totes are inventoried and replenished often. One tote is clear and holds – among other things – a big round clock that is an indispensable tool for the fifteen-minute wait everyone has after their inoculation.

People are grateful to be vaccinated. They laugh, cry, and dance. They love the “I’ve been vaccinated” stickers. One gentleman who had his first shot was wearing a t-shirt that said simply “vaccinated”. He was all smiles!

Jillian – Recollecting Terry

Jillian – Recollecting Terry

Terry and Bonnie at a DETOP.

Recollecting Terry
by Jillian

I learned recently our friend Terry died. It wasn’t a surprise. He’s been shuffling around with an oxygen bottle for a while, struggling to catch his breath. It’s been a handful of tough winters for he and his wife Dottie.

As Terry’s health diminished, friends and community helped with his firewood. I remember a conversation, years back, at one of our Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) suppers. We all were seated, eating at the big round table. Terry said he needed help carrying firewood into the house. Adam and Mark went over that weekend to move firewood. They did so for two winters.

Others took turns. Zach, Maeve and her son, Jaden, carried wood for a while. Neighbors looking out for neighbors. In summer, the Mission’s Housing Rehab workers moved and stacked big piles of firewood into Terry and Dottie’s wood shed.

Dottie and Terry have been together fifty years. Strong folk, back to the landers. They’ve lived many, many years off the grid, good and simple. Before coming to Maine they lived in a retrofitted bus in New Mexico. They first got electricity only three or four years ago when Terry needed it to power his oxygen supply. Scott Shaw, working through our Housing Rehabilitation program, had power strung down their long driveway, into their home.

Last fall, the Mission’s Megan Smith and Scott Shaw worked with Downeast Community Partners, to have two propane heaters installed in Dottie’s and Terry’s house. When Dottie called the Mission to tell us of Terry’s passing, she said Terry was proud of his new propane heaters. It’s reassuring knowing Dottie, without relying solely on wood, will be warm this winter.

Heart mending needs warmth.

I didn’t really know Terry before we were regulars at our DETOP community suppers. I knew he was old friends with Mooney. Like me, raking blueberries initially brought Terry and Dottie to Maine. I also heard Terry wasn’t afraid to have fun at Joan’s parties way back in the day.

The Terry I got to know over the last ten years was a gentleman. He held doors, asked about your loved ones, and about how so-and-so was doing. He was always charming and, with depth and attention, happy to engage in conversations. Terry had a soothing laugh. He told good stories and asked to hear yours. The mention of his wife Dottie always made him smile big.

Sometimes at our community suppers Maeve and I would box up something for Terry to bring to Dottie who prefers to stay home. She is feisty, tiny thing, with a smart strong spirit. Maeve and I wondered, making up a care package, what Dottie would like to eat. Cake or kale?

Early in the pandemic, when I stopped by to drop off a Family Food Center box, Dottie’s cute dog came running out to greet me. Bark, bark! This little dog is a bit chubby. Ha! I suspected then and there that maybe the dog shared some of Dottie’s Table of Plenty goodies.

Terry loved Table of Plenty, and Terry was loved at Table of Plenty. Pastor Priscilla had an instant soft spot for him. Young men loved having long conversations at the supper table about life with him. And Bonnie? Well, you can see their friendship in the picture here. Bonnie said Terry mistook her for a nun in the early days of our community supper.

Talking recently with Joan I asked her for few Terry stories from back when they all were young homesteaders. She said Terry bought their modest place with money inherited from his mother. Before putting down roots in Maine though, he and Dottie used a portion of the inheritance to travel in Europe.

Joan said she first met Terry some thirty-odd years ago when he delivered a truck bed full of wood scraps to a Rainbow family gathering she was hosting at her “Happy Hollow” farm. Terry knew the bunch of hippies camping in Joan’s yard would enjoy that firewood at the nightly campfire.

And with that — a story, a cycle of warmth, love and life — I will end my little homemade eulogy for our friend.

Recollecting Terry has been a gift.

Jillian – Pies Make Me Think

Jillian – Pies Make Me Think

Written by Jillian

A friend and I were talking on the phone recently. In the conversation he posed this question to me: Name an item in your life that brings you comfort during these trying times? I didn’t have a ready answer, but have since been giving it thought. What exactly did he mean by “an item”? An amulet? A self-care gadget? A Linus blanket? A talisman? A favorite sweater?

My beloved water bottle covered in wool brings me comfort on chilly nights or when I’m sick. Also, I wear a sea urchin necklace I ran 26.22 miles to get. It reminds me of an available inner reserve. Crossing a parking lot early in our relationship, Steve saw a tiny pewter high-heeled shoe. He picked it up and gave it to me. I imbue this little treasure with true love.

None of my precious objects speak to these troubling times though.

With more reflection, I recognized I do have something that reassures me lately. Something that says to me “Things will get better.” This beautiful objet d’art leans on the windowsill, right next to where I sit catching the sun’s rays. It is, of all things, an eight piece pie scorer.

This nifty aluminum device has nine arms radiating from a center knob. It is a kitchen tool. By pressing down with it on a pie, the pie scorer makes perforated marks. It is incredibly useful for cutting many uniform slices of pie quickly.

My friend Julie presented me this pie scorer at the onset of the pandemic. I have yet to use it. Julie, a pie maker herself, knows I handle a lot of pies both aboard the Sunbeam, and at our weekly Table of Plenty community supper. Making pies has always been so enjoyable for me. All the steps involved, from incorporating the cold butter into the flour, to rolling out the pastry and wrapping it around a delicious filling, require time, attention and practice.

Pies are confectionery sculptures. Betty, a steward on the Sunbeam for many years, is remembered for her beautiful pies. It is my honor to humbly carry on her tradition.

My mother taught me to make pies. Pies fall into one of four categories – cream, fruit, custard, or savory. All are delicious, but, living in Cherryfield — “the blueberry capital of the world” — blueberry might be my most favorite.

Pies make me think of home, hearth, bounty, family. Pies embody love. They are baked to share with others. They are given in friendship to say thank you or, I care about you; I hope you are feeling better, I’m sorry for your loss, or, I was thinking about you. Pies are served after Sunday suppers, at coffee hours, receptions, picnics, and gatherings where people are enjoying one another. Pies are part of a caring community.

This pie scorer awaits when, once again, we come together. This utensil gives me hope.

Jillian and St. Francis of Assisi

Jillian and St. Francis of Assisi

From Scott Shaw this morning:

“I wanted to send this pic of Jillian ‘caught in action’ posting one of her inspiring signs in Cherryfield. I happened to be driving by and busted her red handed posting one of her quotes of hope and inspiration!”

Scott Shaw is the Mission’s Downeast Campus Facilities and Housing Rehabilitation Manager. Jillian is the Sunbeam Steward.