Literacy volunteers, spoons and a poet

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DEAR SUNSPOTS: Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin is offering a Tutor Training Workshop on March 10 and 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at USM/LA College in Lewiston. We would really appreciate it if everyone would please spread the word about our need for tutors. Those who are age 21 or older, have a 12th-grade reading level or higher, are patient, creative, and organized, have the qualities of a good tutor. We have many adults waiting for a volunteer tutor. In particular, there are a few highly motivated individuals with developmental disabilities who want to become more independent by improving their literacy skills. Literacy is the gift that transforms lives. Anyone who is interested can email us at literacy@literacyvolunteersandro.org or call 207-753-6658. Details can also be found on our website at www.LiteracyVolunteersAndro.

Sun Spots has helped us find many excellent volunteers over the years. We really appreciate your help.

— Tahlia, executive director, Lewiston

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The other day I was at an antique shop and overheard a conversation about “five o’clock spoons.” I wanted to ask what they were talking about but was too timid. Is there really such a thing and what does one do with them?

— No name, no town

ANSWER: I only know this because my mother is a collector of antiques and she actually has these special spoons. Once upon a time, when life was more genteel, five o’clock spoons were a component in a set of silverware. They were used for 5 p.m. tea, of course! The spoon is approximately 5¼to 5½ inches long and is slightly shorter than a regular teaspoon which is 5½ to 6¼ inches long. They are a bit longer than an after-dinner coffee spoon which is 4½ to 5 inches long.

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If you lived in the Edwardian period in England, you would have to concern yourself with knowing how and when to use over a dozen different spoons. I won’t even mention all the different types of forks and knives and the various nuances of long-forgotten table manners! Aren’t you so glad you asked?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Who was Maine’s first poet laureate?

— No name, Lewiston

ANSWER: Kate Barnes, second daughter of writer and naturalist Henry Beston and poet and author Elizabeth Coatsworth, has the distinction of being appointed to the honorary position of Maine’s first poet laureate, serving from 1996-1999.

As a child, she spent her summers in Nobleboro at Chimney Farm. She attended college in California, married Richard Barnes, and had her first poem published in The New Yorker at the age of 23. She went on to have poems published in dozens of magazines and anthologies and had four books of poems published. She was a popular reader and well-loved teacher. She returned to Maine from the West in the early 1980s. According to her obituary in 2013 and published in the Bangor Daily News, “Kate was a gifted artist, a serious scholar of literature, a maker of beautiful handmade books, and a serious student of song. Also a lover of dogs and horses, Kate spent most of the last thirty years of her life living at her farm on Appleton Ridge in Appleton.”

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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