Milfoil, Mud and Muffins
There’s plenty of reasons to be annoyed at Eurasians. Their culture is older than ours. Their money is worth more than ours. They can’t make up their minds which continent they live on. And their milfoil is more invasive than ours.
It’s only the second time that plant, described by state officials as “aggressive” and – no kidding – “an unfortunate byproduct of globalization,” has been found in Maine (the other incident was in a Scarborough sand pit). If left untreated, Eurasian milfoil clogs up waterways, making it impossible to boat, swim or fish there. It also kills native plants and inhibits the growth of local fish. It’s been linked not only to international terrorism, but also to clandestine python-related organizations. (Warning: This linkage may be largely a product of the author’s overactive imagination.)
To combat the milfoil threat, the United States declared war on Eurasia.
Well, not the United States, exactly. Just the state of Maine. And not all of Eurasia, either. Just the milfoil in Salmon Lake. On Aug. 8, divers removed more than 70 plants from the lake and immediately transferred them to Guantanamo Bay for questioning. According to reliable sources, several of the aquatic detainees confessed – although, only after being promised they’d be waterboarded – that they’d entered Maine from neighboring states and Canadian provinces on the hulls of pleasure boats and attached to fishing gear. Their goal was to spread throughout the Belgrade Lakes, thereby destroying local tourism and forcing Mainers seeking lakeside vacations to travel to Eurasia.
Even though this evil scheme was thwarted, vacationers may still be booking flights to foreign lands just to get away from the rain. After roughly 21,000 consecutive days of precipitation, roads have been washed out in southern Maine.
Some Freeport residents were forced to boil their water, when a pipe was ruptured. Mold is growing on my deck like Eurasian milfoil. And the incessant whining of children too long confined indoors (“I don’t wanna go to the International Museum of Milfoil Art”) can be heard as far away as, well, Eurasia.
In some parts of Maine, this has had a negative effect on tourism. Business is off anywhere from 5 to 15 percent compared to last season, according to anecdotal evidence. The one area of that industry that seems to be thriving is luxury resorts, places that charge anywhere from $400 to over $1,000 per night (that’s $25 per night in Eurasian money).
From Kennebunkport to Camden, the high-end hotels say the lousy weather and even lousier economy haven’t kept wealthy patrons away. Maybe they like their water boiled.
Another consequence of the frequent downpours is that the hay crop isn’t getting harvested.
Normally, farmers would be preparing to cut a second crop at this time of year, but due to the wet weather, the first crop is still in the fields, too soggy to put away for winter. If this keeps up, horses and cows will be forced to subsist on milfoil.
Marilyn Monroe made news in Maine this past week. It seems this guy named Schani Krug bilked a bunch of people out of $500,000 to finance a movie about Monroe’s first husband, James Dougherty. Dougherty retired to Maine several years before his death, and his heirs helped back the film, which is called “Marilyn’s Man.”
According to the investors’ lawyer, Krug (say, isn’t that a Eurasian name?) used the cash to pay for personal luxuries, including what is euphemistically termed “dating services.” The flick had minimal distribution and made no profits. On Aug. 7, a judge ruled Krug had to pay back the money, but the erstwhile film producer didn’t show up in court, and it’s unlikely any of the cash will ever be seen again.
Also unlikely to be seem again – at least at the State House – is Arba Eugene Powers. (Arba? Isn’t that a Eurasian name?) Powers, a Houlton native who’s been dead for longer than it’s been raining, was an actor of some renown in the 19th century. For reasons no one can explain, his portrait has been hanging in the State House, alongside those of governors, senators, judges and noted milfoil exterminators. Most of these esteemed personages are white males, and some politicians want more space devoted to paintings of women and Native Americans. To make room, Old Arba is being shipped off to a museum in Aroostook County, and others may follow him out the door.
If any of those portraits head south, they’ll find the going a bit easier. The southbound lanes of Interstate 295, closed most of the summer for resurfacing, reopened on Aug. 9, about three weeks earlier than expected.
Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week.
The Chestnut Street eatery is not only a popular lunch spot, but also a necessary stop for any politician visiting the area. It was first opened in 1908 by Stergios Dahtaras (say, is that a Eurasian name?), whose wife was a Simones, in a makeshift building made of soda crates. During the Great Depression and World War II, Simones’ couldn’t always get its trademark red dogs, and sometimes resorted to selling cubed Spam in a roll. Once, the stand even had to offer just the roll – but with condiments, of course. Times improved and Simones’ has since moved across the street to a building constructed of more conventional materials, although it still retains the air of a place that’s seen a little history. And a lot of soda.
A century from now, those of you who are still around may be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Sham Foundation Muffin Endowment.
It seems that a performance artist named James Sham was on his way to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, which contrary to its name is located in East Madison, when he spotted the Empire Grill, which is actually in Skowhegan. The grill, renovated for the movie “Empire Falls,” struck his fancy, so Sham decided to raise money for an endowment that would give out one free muffin a day to one of the diner’s customers. Forever. Somehow, he collected nearly $9,000 from acquaintances and area businesses, and invested the donations in a certificate of deposit. The interest pays for one 70-cent muffin a day (that’s the grill’s cost). The lucky winner is chosen more or less at random by the staff. Sham said he did it because he’s into “creating interaction that begin with the mundane.”
Milfoil muffins, anyone? They’re free.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.