FOR A HISTORY OF THE MUSICAL WONDER HOUSE in Wiscasset, Maine, click below on a LINCOLN COUNTY NEWS article from 2014:

WISCASSET, MAINE — In a stately old home you will find on the shelves and in the drawers, on display and out of sight in Wiscasset’s Musical Wonder House, cylinder records, thousands of them, mixed up and out of sorts. Some are valuable, some are not, but all are windows to a bygone era of recorded sound.

As the Musical Wonder House finished its season, the museum’s staff and supporters looked forward to a busy winter of sprucing up items in a vast collection of music boxes and gadgets. The place is known for miles around for its elaborate wind-up musical cufflinks, shoe brushes, footstools, teapots, cigarette dispensers, snow globes, paintings, and more.

The age-old craft of restoring antique tune carriers may have some computer-based company in this off-season’s workload, though: creating a database that catalogs the venue’s enormous and scattered collection of cylinder records.

Longtime Musical Wonder House visitor and volunteer Glen Gurwitz is an expert on the cylinders, which predated disc-shaped records and were developed in the late 1800s for use in Thomas Edison’s Phonograph machine — or another subsequent imitation.

Gurwitz spent an entire week sizing up the seemingly endless task of sorting through the museum’s cylinders in anticipation of an effort to organize the collection with an online database.

Cylinders were matched with appropriate canisters, which were compared with the correct lids. The old records came from various sources, as people who’d discovered them in attics or garages over the years would offer to donate or sell cartons full of the musical antiquities to the Wiscasset collectors.

“You can’t get this stuff from a book,” Gurwitz said. “You have to be doing it for years. Is it made out of brown wax or black wax, or celluloid? Is it foreign or domestic? Is it vocal or instrumental? Does it play for two minutes or four minutes? Is it something extraordinary or something very average?

“There are thousands of them around here — they’re all over the place,” he continued. “You can open up any drawer in the house and find them. Which ones are worth $5, and which ones are worth $500? There may be some here worth $1,000, but this isn’t a money hunt. This is a way of seeing what they have and taking inventory.”

Gurwitz, who lived in Vermont, is a retired customs inspector on the U.S.-Canadian border south of Montreal, has been visiting the Musical Wonder House since 1969.

The longtime historian of recorded music talked about the old cylinders and their players so contemporary listeners might relate to them.

“People have always valued entertainment,” he said. “At one time, almost every household had a piano or an organ or violin. By the 1920s, most families had some kind of a phonograph, the same way we all have computers and cell phones now.”

The phonograph and similar machines fell out of favor at the end of the Roaring ’20s, as the onset of the Great Depression left many Americans unable to afford new cylinder records to play. In addition, free music and news soon began to be broadcast over the airwaves, and old gadgets like those that populate the rooms of the Musical Wonder House became obsolete.


I remember the day I stepped into the Musical Wonder House to apply for a bookkeeping position for Mr. Danilo Konvalinka. Greeted by a formal but friendly Glen Gurwitz, I was overwhelmed by the cases of shiny, intriguing, vintage music boxes of every size and shape, some so ornate they were pieces of art. Next my eyes skimmed the Grand piano, wind up phonographs, shelves of music sheets, and antique tapestries covering nearly every wall in every room. Ushered upstairs to a room with boxes of random paperwork and receipts to be sorted, calculated and presented to Mr. Konvalinka in a form appropriate for tax processing. After that first day I questioned my motive for accepting such a position but decided to give my effort a second day.

The second day I arrived at the hour expected, near lunchtime. Glen met me at the door and invited me to meet and talk with Mr. Konvalinka, who immediately asked me to call him Danilo. He was cooking and invited me to sit down at his black and white enamel top kitchen table and talk with him as he stirred the dish on the beautiful but enormous eight burner commercial gas stove in his huge old kitchen. His dish, he explained, was a Bavarian specialty (the name now escapes me), made with sauteed and shredded cabbage, grated carrots, fennel seeds, celery seeds, a bit of olive oil, a tiny measure of apple cider vinegar, pepper, and salt. We shared the savory dish as we talked to get to know each other. His history was fascinating, and he certainly had a fascination of everything musical.

At the conclusion of our lunch, Danilo asked whether I would like a “tour” of his establishment. I was nearly beside myself at this invitation and merely managed to nod enthusiastically YES. As we walked from impressive dark room to dark room, (blinds prevented fading his valuable tapestries) the back of his fingertips swiped lightly across each tapestry as he explained its complicated significance and that he personally collected most of them in foreign countries. Some of them were one-off originals. His face glowed with pride, drinking in my excited reactions to each tapestry, obviously significant to him.

Next, we advanced to the shelves and shelves of numerous unique music boxes. Opening the glass doors of one, he gently brought a couple individually off their glass shelves and wound each fragile mechanism to play the tunes just for me. The ornamentation of some of these handcrafted boxes was exquisite, and what an extensive collection! Some of the musical tunes were humorous, some were catchy, and many were classical music tunes. We must have spent hours in that room, him demonstrating how each music box worked, winding and playing the tunes for my fascinated face.

When my bookkeeping project was completed, Glen and I shared another scrumptious lunch and lively conversation with and prepared by Danilo. It was a bittersweet couple of weeks for me as I did not want it to end.

Danilo Konvalinka peacefully passed on in 2015. He was a great and impressive man who loved music. I am richer for having met and come to know him just a little bit. He taught me through the tours of his MUSICAL WONDER HOUSE much more than how to cook that cabbage dish!


Her out of control behavior has been normalized by party leadership
by Caren White

Everybody’s favorite Bad Girl, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has managed to get herself into hot water both in Washington and back home in Georgia.

Greene, you might remember, came to Washington spouting QAnon conspiracy theories. She claimed that 9/11 was a hoax because there are no photos of a plane hitting the Pentagon. I guess she never saw the video of the plane hitting the Pentagon.

She also believed that the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings were staged. Perhaps no one has told her that there is a video of her harassing David Hogg, a Parkland shooting survivor, on his stance on gun rights.

And then there is her off-the-wall claim that wildfires in California were caused by space lasers controlled by Jews.

Her social media posts advocating the execution of Nancy Pelosi were enough to get her stripped of her committee assignments. By Democrats. The Republicans refused to discipline her.

That had the unfortunate effect of allowing her more time to run amok in the halls of Congress, setting off metal detectors, demanding AOC debate her on green energy, putting up an anti-trans sign on a wall across from the office of a representative whose child is trans and screaming at AOC through a mail slot:

“I am an American citizen. I pay your salary through the taxes that you collect from me through the IRS. I am a woman. I am a female business owner and I’m proud to be an American woman. And I do not support your socialist policies. If you want to be a big girl, you need to get rid of your diaper and come out and be able to talk to the American citizens.”

[NOTE: SERIOUSLY? Who’s on their knees peeking and screaming and harassing a member of Congress through a mail slot to have an ADULT conversation?]

Nancy Pelosi suggested that an Ethics Committee open an investigation into Rep. Greene’s behavior after she confronted AOC on May 14 after a vote demanding to know why she (AOC) supported Black Lives Matter and Antifa terrorists

Notice that once more it is the Democratic Party disciplining a Republican member because her own party refuses to do anything to moderate her behavior.

Meanwhile, Greene has teamed up with everyone’s favorite pedophile, Matt Gaetz, to form a joint fundraising committee and launch what they are calling an “America First” tour around the country.

Back home in Georgia, it has come to light that Greene and her husband are double dipping in a little income tax scam. They have claimed two Homestead exemptions on two separate residences.

The problem is that Georgia only allows one Homestead exemption per couple no matter how many homes the couple owns. The penalty for violating this statute is a fine that is equal to twice the couple’s tax bill which in Rep. Greene’s case works out to $12,000.

Not earthshattering but definitely annoying.

When asked by a reporter about this, Rep. Greene told the reporter to “mind his own business.” She also put out a statement calling the report about her little tax dodge a “pathetic smear.”

Since the Republicans find nothing wrong with her egregious behavior, it’s safe to assume that they are okay with her breaking laws and terrorizing her fellow legislators.


So let’s imagine how the Republicans would react if it were a Democrat filing false income taxes, threatening fellow legislators, screaming through mail slots and putting up offensive signs.

They would be all over them like a pack of rabid dogs.

This is exactly what’s wrong with the Republican Party.

They are willing to tolerate behavior in their members that is so far outside of the norms of our society that it is illegal.

Tolerate? Encourage would probably be a better description.

Violence and the threat of violence has become the standard. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is automatically declared an enemy.

Not a fellow citizen who holds different views.

The enemy.

Even the party’s former chairman, Michael Steele, says that the “the GOP has morphed into one of the largest anti-Democratic movements in the world.”

The math is truly frightening. Republicans, aka the largest antidemocratic movement in the world, control 30 state legislatures, 27 governorships, 212 (out of 435) seats in the House of Representatives and 50 seats in the Senate.

The largest antidemocratic movement in the world controls more than half of our states and close to half of our federal government.

The midterms will be here soon. Elections that traditionally favor the party out of power. We are looking at the very real possibility of Republicans gaining control of both the House and the Senate in 2022.

Even scarier than that, thanks to the census and a healthy dose of gerrymandering and voter suppression, Trump or a Trump wannabe could win the election in 2024 and become president.



They seem to think that I don’t understand what they stand for
by Tessa Schlesinger

Photo courtesy of M. White

So let’s talk about your point that all conservatives are not the same.
It boggles my mind every time a conservative wants to discuss his views with me. I have yet to meet one that doesn’t seem to think that I don’t have a good knowledge of what they believe and stand for. They appear to think that because I’m a progressive, I must be misinformed.

The truth of the matter is that I have been a progressive since 1966 — that’s probably before they even knew the word existed. I grew up in a political family and I have lived, voted, and worked in several countries. I have lived under a variety of political systems, including apartheid, welfare states, neoliberalism (laissez faire capitalism), and mixed economies (democratic socialism).

So Let’s Forget About Trump and the Crazies for the Moment

Let’s talk about traditional conservatism — the type that upholds American traditions (or British ones, if you’re living in the UK), less government rather than more, Judeo-Christian beliefs, American exceptionalism (Oh, yes, and British exceptionalism), individualism, a strong military and police force, limited welfare options, and Christian prayer in schools.

I have no time for outmoded traditions. Traditions belong to tribes, and there is no place for tribalism in the world anymore.

I am a hardcore atheiest — Judeo-Christian beliefs are primitive myths. They have no bearing on reality, and a great many of their so called ethics are anything but ethical. It’s perfectly okay to be gay, to sleep with people before one is married, and to have an abortion.

Individualism is the root of narcissism. People who grow up been taught that they are entitled to do and have anything they like without checking the consequences of their own actions on others are not good people. They are self-centered, and, over a period of time, communities comprising them fail. That’s because communities only work when the people within them work collectively for the greater good. Virtually all religions have been based on the greater good — individualism has no place in any civilization. Nor do I have any interest in the pursuit of happiness. I am in pursuit of fairness and dignity for all people — black, white, pink with purple spots, and dark green.

American exceptionalism boggles my mind. Sorry, but there is nothing great about America. America is technologically behind Europe. Its food is both more expensive and very unhealthy. It’s misinformed about a great many things, and because most Americans don’t travel to Europe, to New Zealand, to Australia, etc. they have no idea how limited and retrogressive they really are. American exceptionalism lives only in the minds of a percentage of Americans (the conservative type).

“Welfare only for those who are genuinely in trouble” is a diatribe that I constantly hear. I happen to believe that it’s welfare for everybody who wants it. I firmly believe in Universal Basic Income, and having studied Modern Monetary Theory, I think it’s true that governments can print their own money, and there won’t be any negative consequence. We are producing twice what we need on this planet, and most of it is being trashed and going into landfills and the seas. I am a strong believer in the Welfare State. Germany has the third largest economy in the world, and she is very, very much a welfare state, and she pays her people well. So Margaret Thatcher’s famous statement “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” is poppycock. Welfare is part of the political system in Western Europe.

While I accept that there needs to be a core military and a police force (there will always be crime and wars), what I don’t accept is that 60% of American taxes must go to the military. Nor do I think it’s sane to provide military weapons to the police. In no other western country are the police militarized.

Small government, i.e. privatization, is a serious misunderstanding of the goal of government. Yet conservatives constantly put the profits of business above the business of government. I am keen to shut down 50% of business to stop producing all the excess that is causing climate change, as well as completely removing lobbying (state capture) from government. I don’t believe that business should have any input whatsoever in government. And I believe that government is elected in order to serve the needs of the people. The more the population grows in numbers, and the more complex society becomes, the bigger government needs to be.

Prayer in schools. I don’t believe that mythology about non-existing entities who live in the invisible world ought to be taught to children as facts. Nor should they be encouraged to believe that their prayers will be answered. This leads to delusion. To my mind, schools are there to teach people working skills, the sciences, the numbers, the liberal arts, and language. That’s it. Religion ought to be totally abolished.

Ah, yes. Capitalism — the great love affair of conservatives. Well, capitalism is responsible for making most of the world poor. Modern civilization is the result of the Enlightenment — not capitalism. Capitalism (like totalitarianism) effectively slowed down progress. Marx pointed out the long-term outcome of capitalism a century and a half ago, and he was right. I’m also tired of conservative ignorance confusing totalitarianism with communism and socialism. Then, again, they also don’t know the difference between liberalism and progressivism.

Family values. Oh — lordie. Which family would that be? The ones where the husband shoots his wife and 2.5 children because he had a bad day? The ones where the husband forces his wife into submission because the bible tells him that women are to submit to him? The ones who are interfering in woman’s contraceptive choices because they don’t want women to have sex outside marriage? The world has moved on. Jesus Christ does not exist. And there are more important things in life (like climate change, poverty, billionaires) than trying to prevent a woman from sleeping with the men she chooses to sleep with.

They’re all dead now. All the unofficial fathers of modern conservatism: William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan. All of the self-anointed torch bearers for Edmund Burke are dead, and you might be tempted to think that these men (always men) … were men of principle. Good men. Strong men. … That is because the entire philosophical foundation of conservatism is a template for exploitation. William F. Buckley was a rich asswipe with an affected accent who never had to worry about money a day in his life. There must be a moral order, although whose morals should be adhered to isn’t quite clear. You cannot create a Utopian society, so there’s no point in trying. Change is bad and dangerous. Inequality is not only inevitable but necessary. Men should only count on their fellow man for help, and not on any kind of state-created support system. Source.

My Disconnect with Conservatism

Of course, I have not gone into details here. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the inclination. And I really am sick and tired of going over and over the same thing again and again. I’ve been going over it for half a century. So forgive me, if I don’t want to debate or discuss conservatism with one more conservative. I understand exactly what it is. It worked in a tribal world — it does not work in a global one.

Nor do I have time for the type of people who are enamored with guns, think America is the most free country in the world (if only you knew), and that America won WWII on behalf of the Allies.

All Conservatives Are Not the Same

When I tell a conservative that I have no desire to debate him, and that I don’t debate conservatives, I am told “But all conservatives are not the same.”

Oh, I’m sure that there is a green one with yellow dots, tall ones, ones that speak two languages, others that don’t own a gun, and more. However, none of this eliminates the core philosophy and value system of conservatives. And it’s the core philosophy that I have a problem with.

A RUSTY PORTAL – photo by P. Williams

So, no, I’m 70 this year. I have lived in enough countries, read enough books, and have sufficient inches of qualifications to reach an accurate decision. The fact that many conservative men have an issue with my not wanting to discuss conservatism with them has more to do with their belief that they can influence me than anything else.

Not going to happen.

I’m a kick-ass woman with a mind of her own.


Springtime is the maiden’s most fruitful time. When the dawning sunshine warms the earth and all things that grow upon it, when birds begin to sing, frogs begin peeping, woodchucks emerge from hibernation, squirrels and chipmunks begin their dance around each other fighting for seeds or burrowing for those hordes of stored nuts and bees begin to buzzzzz. Bulbs begin to force spiky green heads up through the dirt, buds form and blossoms burst forth in a stunning array of colorful bouquets. The warmth of the sun begins to awaken all that became dormant in the cooler weather which announced the arrival of winter.

During the winter she provides shelter for the cocoon “seeds” of springtime in her reed-like tresses where they are safe from harm, warm and dry. The sunny warm days of spring produce a mesmerizing bounty as the most recent generation of delicate butterflies begins to emerge from a thick bed of ferns in a clearing of trees, spiraling toward the warm sun in a tornado-like frenzied swirl, a Fantasia-like event to behold.

Honored to be included in the magical journey of the fragile butterfly hatchlings trying their new wings as they begin to flap them in the warm fresh breeze to dry, she delights in being the first witness. Watching the delicate wings fluttering in flight from spot to spot in a warm spring meadow filled with fragrant blossoms and honeybees drawn to their mission, an annual event. She is equally pleased when fall begins to bite at her antennae and the caterpillars spin their cocoons for her to shelter yet another generation of one of earth’s precious beauties.



Could this be someone you know? Or even you?
By Brooke Meredith

There are the obvious signs of a not-so-great person, such as habitual lying, being manipulative, cruel, etc.

And then there are signs that are less obvious. Those we might need to pay closer attention to, which signify someone with not such stellar character.

Here are a few of those sneaky, less obvious ones.

They Don’t Give Much Thought or Care to Their Behavior With Regards to People Around Them

This includes behavior or thought toward strangers, not just people they already know and like.

Think examples of people who act like this:

Taking loud cell phone calls on an otherwise silent public bus

Blasting music or videos from their phone in an otherwise generally quiet public space

Not making space for people on public transport

Spilling something and not cleaning it up

Always taking the bigger slice, or the better seat, or the more enticing looking option and leaving the lesser ones for others

Leaving dribble all over the toilet seat for the next person to have to deal with

Taking the last piece of chocolate every time so your partner/family doesn’t get it

In general, it boils down to a lack of thought or concern for others, for their feelings and thoughts, and for being kind and generous in the direction of others.

Dogs Don’t Like Them

Now, of course, this isn’t a blanket rule. There will be times a dog’s initial impression is skepticism or dislike, and it’s more a reflection of the dog than the person.

But, if a generally good-natured dog doesn’t like someone, this might indicate several things about the person. An aura that is…off. Aggressive body language or energy. Lack of boundaries (as in, a person who oversteps and touches or does things without thought for the other person’s feelings). A person who isn’t especially thoughtful to those around them.

evaluating personalities, feeling comfortable, sensing danger, insulting behaviors
DOG comfortable in surroundings

Dogs sense things. Emotions, auras, body language, etc. So if a dog’s hackles are raised, this might be indicating something.

So while it’s not a certain statement if a dog is hesitant or even dislikes someone, it can be a sign worth noting.

They Leave the Spaces They’ve Entered Worse Than They Were Before

This includes things like:


Leaving a huge mess in the kitchen after you’ve cooked for someone else to deal with

Not bothering to take off your outdoor shoes when entering someone’s home and tracking dirt everywhere

Leaving dirty clothes all over the floor

Walking away from the pile of dog poop your pooch just left

Going to visit someone when you’re in a terrible mood and letting it ruin the occasion.

This applies to both, leaving a physical space literally worse off, or tainting and wrecking the emotional atmosphere.

They Don’t Ever Apologize For Anything

And, when or if they do, it either sounds forced, fake or gives off the impression they are doing it for personal gains.

Why is this problematic?

It either means someone is disconnected from the feelings of others and doesn’t particularly care about them, or that they are arrogant, defensive, and self-righteous.

Either one is troubling and a sign of poor character.

They Are Not Truly Interested In Others

We all have known people like this who, for the most part, only talk about themselves. All conversational topics lead back to them. Their favorite topic? Them, their own dramas, their feelings, and their opinions.

They might ask you questions, though you can often tell it’s out of obligation or surface social nicety, but not for genuine interest. When you do talk a bit and answer a question they’ve asked, you can see their attention wandering.

All of this indicates someone who is quite self-centered and entrenched in their own world, without much room left for anyone else. They might be painfully lonely or not, which is part of why they are so fixated on sharing things about themselves with others. It could be a desperate means of trying to feel heard and seen by others, of trying to get attention and connect.

Either way, it’s unlikely to be a mutually satisfying, fulfilling relationship with someone like this, who lacks legit curiosity in others.

They View Other People Through Black and White, Good or Bad Lenses

Check out The Coddling of the American Mind (The NY Times bestseller by two insightful, progressive, liberal professors) for more on this. It’s a superb, eye-opening read. In short, though, this is becoming a common American way of thinking. Of regarding others as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”, based on surface, simplistic, singular moments of judgment.

We look at someone who is saying or doing something we don’t like in a single moment and now often decide right off the bat that, “they are racist,” or “they are bad,” or “they must be a republican and are, therefore, not good,” or “they read this book by this author I don’t like so that means we could never be friends.”

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Swift, black and white judgments based on simple things made way before you get to know someone in a deeper, more complex way. This is a strong sign of people who live their lives in fear-based, shallow, simplistic, immature thinking.

They Dismiss Wisdom and Truth

This could be anything, from refusing to admit they behaved in a cruel, dishonest, manipulative (you insert the adjective here) way in a certain situation to someone.

It could be that when a loved one presents a counter-argument to something they’ve said that holds merit and logic, still they don’t allow themselves to be swayed because they are so attached to their own opinions and what they feel a need to keep believing.

It could be when someone who cares about them tells this person they’re worried about a certain behavior they’re doing that is either hurting themselves or others, they then grow enraged, dismiss them, and no longer speak to them because of the painful truth they were saying.

This can actualize as many different things, a refusal to acknowledge and listen to wisdom and truth. It’s a problem because it doesn’t make one’s life better, it makes it worse, and it also likely causes problems for the people around them too.

They Don’t Keep Their Word

This can be anything, from always showing up thirty minutes late, to promising they’ll call and they don’t, to saying they’ll help you with something and then bailing, to always canceling plans.

Watch out for these types.

You cannot feel trust toward someone who you cannot rely on, whether they are a nice person or not. And without trust, it’s going to be hard to have a good relationship with someone. This type of behavior also shows a lack of thought, respect, or care for those around them.

They Don’t Give You the Respect of Their Attention and Focus

We all have occasions when we feel scattered, are distracted, are not feeling good, or are struggling, which might make us subpar listeners. This is human.

But, if it’s a frequent occurrence that this happens with a particular person in your life, it’s a huge red flag. As in, a red flag that showcases a serious lack of respect, lack of interest, and lack of investment in the connection with you.

What might this look like? Here are a few examples:

Someone who is regularly checking their phone when in your company, looking at it, reading texts, responding to them, simultaneously doing Instacart when hanging out with you, etc.

A person who, much of the time, when you are telling them something, you see their gaze wandering, they appear distracted, disengaged, or not particularly interested.

Someone who is constantly bringing everything you say back around to themselves, their life, their feelings, their opinions.

A person who feigns interest and asks obligatory questions but with whom you can tell, the interest isn’t legit.

They rarely to never remember the details of things you tell them. The specifics of what is happening in your life or the things you told them last time you met up, they do not recall or ask about any of it.

They don’t retain knowledge about you as a person, things you’ve revealed to them over the relationship, such as food preferences, big things that have happened to you, your basic likes and dislikes, your main life goals and dreams, etc.

You realize that in a particular relationship in your life, you know a lot about that person, and they don’t know nearly as much about you.

All of this indicates someone who is just not that interested, and someone who isn’t giving you respect, effort, or thought. It also implies a person not actually capable of connecting with others.

The above behaviors and traits imply a person who does not have great character and thus, is likely to be someone you will not have a healthy or satisfying relationship with.

I’d recommend ceasing effort with these people and investing your time elsewhere, with those who do not act in these ways.

It’s likely to result in far happier, healthier social connections.