The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Saturday, March 21


Winter in Maine has its beauty, but it goes on and on for so long. This week Spring has sprung according to the calendar, but here in Maine the winter remains.

When I arrived back in Maine, I was greeted by a driveway engulfed in snow. Bob, my neighbor and Bruce, my Realtor, had kept open a narrow path to the front door. The rest was frozen in about 3 feet of snow and ice. Finding someone to help me dig out was a challenge.
Finally I found two young fellows who labored hard for about two hours. “Mister,” one young man said. “We cant get through the ice....sorry.” At the bottom of the drive was a block of ice that had accumulated from the run-off of the down spout. It was about a foot thick and larger than a 4x8 piece of plywood. I paid the fellows and applied salt and waited and waited for a warm day.

Yesterday, was the first full day of Spring.

I talked with Marilyn on the phone. She told me that up at her camp in Dexter Maine, the ice fishing is in full bloom. Marilyn say the ice is about a foot thick. Across the lake little shanty huts pop up like Spring flowers do in warmer places. Mainers gather in these huts, bore a hole into the ice and wait. They stay warm by imbibing liquid heat. Like the old joke says, “Fishing – one jerk waiting and waiting for another jerk.”

Ahhh, Spring in Maine!

Wednesday, March 11

Letting go...

Letting go is harder than I imagined. It's complex and filled with contradictions.

I left Lafayette about a week ago to return to Portland Maine. For two days I drove across country in the pouring rain. Yes, a difficult trip and one where I was grateful to arrive safely at the homes of friends and family along the way. I needed their welcome, support and encouragement more than I knew.

The process of letting go had begun in Lafayette. I began to sell or give away my stuff. I packed a large sized suit case, not for Ukraine, but for the Good Will. I downsized my collection of shirts and pants and ties and jackets. A few had been with me since Seminary days – some 35 years ago. Am I unusual or do many men like to hold onto clothes. I say to myself...”One day they will come back into style”....right?

My colleagues at AARP will remember the day I brought the Kelly Green shirt out of hibernation. It was a winner in the earlier 70s when bell bottoms, leisure suits and vivid colors were the latest and greatest. What was I thinking...I thought its time had come again.

On a bright summer day, I wore it to the office complete with matching tie. The reaction was immediate. My AARP friends were kind enough to snicker to my face and not behind my back. The shirt is now history. I will miss you, green shirt.

I posted a list of stuff to sell and kicked the letting go into a higher gear.
TV gone.
Stereo, no more.
Micro Wave, I'll cook without you.
I got rid of kitchen gadgets, side table, shower curtain, towels and a real nice vacuum sweeper. I think saying on the posting that “it suck real good” sealed its fate.

LUM got my Fiesta dinnerware for parties minus two plates and two cups that I still needed. I guess I could have gone to paper plates this last month, but I was not ready for that change...yet. In fact, while I know I needed to let go and I know that keeping a blender or a toaster in a box in storage for two years makes little sense, I still mourn their going.

I am downsizing, yet still I managed to fill my car with a lot of stuff for the ride back to Portland.
Back in the 70s, I remember watching Franco Zeffirelli movie about St. Francis – Brother Sun Sister Moon. I was moved by it. Here is a good review. Use cntrl-click to open or paste into browser.

Upon returning from war, St Francis is shown throwing robes and bolts of clothe of immeasurable value to passersby on the street below. He is depicted as giving all to the poor. Free of possessions, he dances on the roof tops.

I feel like I am facing a St. Francis moment without his soul and spirit. A part of me likes my least some of it. The idea of having just 5 or 6 winter/summer shirts for two years is unsettling. For days now I shifted the ones I will keep from one closet to another. The same with pants – 3 pairs. Socks and underwear are easier to let go. I can part with them. Thank goodness.
I am also letting go of friends . This may be harder still. I have grown to value my friendships more than just about anything.

In Lafayette, I had a wonderful experience of reconnecting with people I knew in the 70s and 80s. I was amazed by how comfortable I felt with people that I had not seen for decades. The warmth and welcome of people like Tom and Peg and Al and Anne remains with me. And maybe that is what is different about letting go of friends. You do not really loose them. You just modify the way you stay connected. I have kept friends from Seminary, Washington DC, Boston and AARP. We may not see each other much, but pone calls, emails and visits keep us connected.

I made a lot of new friends in Lafayette. The LUM staff and Joe were amazing. I felt like part of the gang in short order. LUM Board members and Campaign volunteers welcomed me with open arms too. Our paths are joined. It was good to be a part of raising $2.9 million.

As I embark on the Peace Corps, I take a great group with me. With a chuckle, I call all of them...”MY PEOPLE.” Thanks and let's use the email and Skype to stay connected! Visits??

Yesterday, the storage company came to do an estimate. I will be keeping family heirlooms and a few pieces of antique furniture. But mostly my stuff is going into two 8x8x5 storage boxes. I am sure St. Francis would have done it with one.

Two final items need to be car and my home. I suspect that soon I will no longer own either. Mmmmm...wonder how that will feel? Mournful? Freeing? Or a mix of contradictions. What am I without my stuff? Letting go is hard.....