Horoscopes – November 12th 2021

By Autumn Koors-Foltz, Staff Writer and Astrologer.

Heavy, passionate, and contemplative, welcome to the watery depths of Scorpio season. Lasting until November 21st, Scorpio season is iconic for its intensity of emotion. It’s time to look inward and come to a reminder of yourself. The season isn’t just for long cries in the shower and mysterious auras, but rather, an opportunity to test the natural limits of your emotions and to consider how it connects you to yourself. As a fixed sign, there is a reputation for stubbornness, but rather consider it a buoy or submarine – a stasis in the plunging depths of the sign. As a water sign, Scorpio is the ocean itself, salt and boundless unknowns. Don’t be afraid to take a plunge. Prepare for the full moon on November 19th accompanied by a partial solar eclipse. The solar eclipse begins the next two years of eclipses that will all occur on the Taurus-Scorpio axis, with the sun in Scorpio and the moon in Taurus, or vice versa. Think about loyalty, in all its formations.



What would it feel like to let your everglowing fire dim to just the hottest coals? Challenge yourself to find warmth in minimalism.



Loyal Taurus, there’s nobody as deeply rocksteady as you: do the people you surround yourself with cherish your devotion?



Gemini, go deeper. Allow others to know you in the same way you yearn to learn them.



Take the opportunity to focus on you, and only you, this season. What can you learn? What can you harness?



There’s no performance like a full moon dressed in an eclipse. Enjoy the show, and be a performer in it.



Others see what you put yourself through, Virgo. Others see you. It is okay to let yourself be seen.



Now is the time for a decisiveness that calls all the moisture from your air, Libra – don’t be intimidated, instead, be excited. What would it feel like to stop your flight?



There is a drama in levity, Scorpio. Allow yourself to laugh in your season, as all the rain that falls is in your name.



Your season is on the horizon. But don’t rush, don’t let the fire consume your feet. Stay a moment.



It’s easy to get lost in the earthen nature of work, but allow yourself some time to process all that’s happened to you. That time is sacred.



Don’t spread yourself so thinly among causes and ideas. Lay it on single, thick, and dance in the heavy wind.



Harden your water for whatever comes your way, Pisces. You may need to cultivate a bit of roughness to endure the season.

The Bite Me Beaver – November 2021 Issue 4

Dear Beaver Bite, I have a bit of a work problem. I’m behind in a few of my classes, and I don’t want my grade to be affected. I keep trying to catch up, but it seems like everytime I do one piece of work, my teachers assign me another one. How do I get ahead of the workload and save my college career? Thanks, -Schedule Stuffing Student 

Dear Student, What we have here is a classical overloaded student scenario. See what most people don’t know is that there is a pretty easy trick to get out of this one. Put simply, if you burn any work you receive, you actually won’t end up doing work. To further the effect simply say that “somebody set it on fire” when anyone asks about your work, all while staring at any paper within the room unblinkingly.


Dear Beaver Bite, I think I might be addicted. To coffee, that is. If I don’t have any coffee when I wake up in the morning I have the most terrible headache and I often find myself drinking at least two cups of coffee a day. It’s not that I want to totally remove all caffeine from my life, but how do I wean my coffee addiction down to make sure that I am keeping healthy? -Coffee Connoisseur 

You may think that you want to keep healthy, but that is only before we get to you. Soon, you will always want to wake to the smell of coffee. Soon you will hum the “Folgers in your cup” jingle before stopping and viscerally retching because Folgers is actually bad and now you can taste it. Then the gourmet beans come out. And soon you are one of us.


Dear Beaver Bite , I’m afraid for my girlfriend’s time management skills. Lately, she’s been playing more and more Minecraft when she normally would be doing her work, and I think that the Minecraft might be slowly taking over her life. Last week, she even started playing minecraft when we were supposed to be hanging out. How do I get her to stop playing minecraft? -Blocked Boyfriend

The first step is acceptance. Look at that big blocked brute, that constructed work of craftsmanship that is Minecraft. You can’t compete with all of those blocks. So many different types of blocks. What do you have, wooden planks? Have you even finished punching a tree yet? Can you even make a crafting table? The strategy isn’t to get rid of Minecraft, but to cope with the fact that Minecraft is not going away.

What are you thankful for?

By Paige Lusczyk and Jessica Gervais, contributing writers.

MARY ‘25: …. the sunshine and the four seasons.


HORISUN ‘24: …. the kindness with those in our community.
NICK ‘24: …. all of the resources on campus i.e. the Thrifty Beaver and Johnson Scholars.
EMILY ‘24: …. my fiance.


RACHEL ‘23: As a CA, I’m very thankful for the CA staff as well as all health services on campus…. mental health…. physical health.
ABBY ‘23: …. my dogs.


ALEXIS ‘22: I am thankful to experience in-person classes for my last semester. Although it’s not ideal, it shows the ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel.

Matthew Gavin Frank on Diamond-Smuggling Pigeons and More

By Alexis Sack, contributing writer 

Matthew Gavin Frank is a poet and nonfiction author who read excerpts from his 2021 book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, during the Visiting Writers series on November 4th. Interviewing him allowed me to see his thoughts behind his books and how being a chef impacted his writing, while also learning some pigeon facts.

  1. What made you decide to transition to being an author, after becoming a chef? Was this transition difficult at all?

I’ve loved writing ever since I was a kid. My mom was a junior-high school English teacher and would read to me all the time. I remember in 5th grade collaborating with my friend, Ryan, on a series of gross-out stories called “Death at Dark” (I, II, III, and so on). Mrs. Buccheim, our English teacher, was so excited that these two boys were writing extracurricularly that she allowed us to read our work in front of the class each week. In order to satisfy the expectations of our peers, Ryan and I felt a pressure to ratchet up the intensity of each subsequent installment, which, to us at that age, meant ratcheting up the gruesomeness. Once, in Death at Dark part IX, I think, some serial murderer forced his victim’s hand into a garbage disposal before killing him, and we compared the resulting carnage to something like “a punctured egg yolk dripping from his ruined wrist.” Shannon Elliott, the cheerleader on whom I had a serious crush, started crying. After that, Mrs. Buccheim put a stop to our public readings, which at first made me really sad, you know? My first real writerly rejection. But eventually, I sensed something infectious, and even addictive in this sort of rejection. Writing not only had the power to reveal, but the power to get one banned; the ability not only to confirm expectations, but also to agitate them.

I remember one night, years later, after a grueling 15-hour shift in the restaurant kitchen, going out for drinks with the crew to unwind. We all started asking ourselves what we liked to do in our spare time, when we weren’t working, when we weren’t cooking. I remember that I said, “Well, I like to write poetry.” It was a fabulous conversation…killer. After mulling this over, I realized I needed to chat about such things with some like-minded folks, to seek out a community of writers. An old friend of mine asked if I had heard of MFA Programs. I hadn’t.  He explained to me what they involved, and I couldn’t believe that such constructs existed. It sounded like a dream come true to me. So, I pursued that, and then kept tumbling down the rabbit hole.

  1. How has your experience as a professional chef impacted your writing, if at all? Are there any specific stories that might stand out?

When I got to the fine-dining stage of my long career working in restaurant kitchens, we chefs oftentimes challenged ourselves to take two seemingly dissimilar ingredients and, via experimentation and trial and error, uncover a third ingredient that would best bridge the original two. Sometimes, in order to foster that edible “connective tissue,” we had to manipulate the texture and/or temperature of that “bridge” ingredient. In this way, we found that a black olive sorbet could be the bridge between lamb and orange; that a licorice syrup perfectly bridges cured chicken thighs and dehydrated watermelon rind.  When properly combined, the flavors would meld, and have this seemingly singular (if still delightfully complex) impact in the mouth.  I find myself doing this in my writing as well, attempting to uncover—via research and imaginative alchemy—the secret connections between seemingly dissimilar bits of subject matter.

And I still sometimes feel compelled to write about food directly.  I wrote a book a few years back called The Mad Feast, which is kind of a weird, lyrical anti-cookbook cookbook of sorts.  There are 50 essays, which engage foods typical of each of the 50 U.S. states, and then digress from there, gathering in odd elements of U.S. history.  The book is concerned with why we eat what we eat, and where we eat it, and what such inquiries can tell us about ourselves.

  1.  I know I never really cared for reading non-fiction and I didn’t think I’d enjoy writing it (based on preconceived ideas), but I took a Creative Nonfiction Writing course that changed my mind. Is there anything you’d like to say to other people who might have that same mindset of what they think nonfiction is versus what it can be?

I confess that I’m still not terribly confident that I know what “creative nonfiction” means. Many of us who purport to read, study and subsequently write nonfiction tend not to really call the genre “nonfiction” at all, but instead refer to it as the “essay.” And, I know that the term essay has often been narrowly defined in academia, but the term “essay,” as a literary term at least, is a verb, which simply means, “to try, to make an attempt.” And so, that’s what we nonfictioneers do: we produce a series of risky attempts.

“Nonfiction,” after all, is a meaningless term. It’s the only genre defined by what it’s not.  Nonfiction is NOT fiction. But what is it, then? This is one reason the term is so woefully inadequate. Nobody really knows what it is, not even those who have long labored both critically and creatively within the genre. We are ever debating what constitutes creative nonfiction (or the essay), what its parameters are. In the academy, at least, “creative nonfiction” is offered as a relatively new discipline and focus in English Departments and MFA Programs and, as such, there isn’t the long and wealthy history of scholarship on this so-called genre, as there is with poetry and fiction. Nonfiction, comparatively, has yet to be pinned-down, and so rigidly defined, which is what makes it so exciting, and what makes what we talk about and debate and wonder about and experiment with in the “creative nonfiction” classroom so important, so urgent, so electric. Because the conversations that we have are the very conversations that will help impact and form the future scholarship of the discipline, and the ways in which it’s discussed, and read, and written. And while I’ve been referring to “creative nonfiction” as a “genre,” what I also love about it, is that “creative nonfiction” is not a genre at all, but an umbrella term for a multitude of sub-genres and experiments with genre, and trans-genre work…  It’s so exciting how works of “creative nonfiction” often prove how woefully inadequate my ideas are (and have been) in regard to my ability to both pin-down, and to resist pinning-down, the “genre.”

  1. Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite? Or maybe at least one that you enjoyed writing the most?

Oh, this is tough, as I tend to fall in love with all my subjects. I’ve already mentioned Flight of the Diamond Smugglers and The Mad Feast. A few years ago, I also wrote a book called, Preparing the Ghost, which is about the first-ever photograph taken of the giant squid, and the ways in which that photograph changed how we greeted the concept of the “sea monster,” and the “monstrous” in general—in art, science, literature, religion…  I still often think about the giant squid. It haunts me. After latching on to a bit of subject matter like this so intensely, across many years, it’s difficult to squeegee your brain clean of these obsessions.

Matthew Gavin Frank is a poet and nonfiction author who read excerpts from his 2021 book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, during the Visiting Writers series on November 4th. Interviewing him allowed me to see his thoughts behind his books and how being a chef impacted his writing, while also learning some pigeon facts.

  1. How do you come up with the ideas for your books? How much research goes into them?

I obsess easily. I come from a long line of folks who suffer from often-overwhelming OCD, and I’ve learned to channel mine I suppose. Sometimes, a story or an image or a bit of subject matter simply latches onto me, and I can’t quite cut it loose until I feel as if I’ve exhausted a multi-faceted investigation into it—until that bit of subject matter yields its secrets.  My latest nonfiction book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, is about, in part, the ways in which trained carrier pigeons are used by diamond smuggling rings along coastal South Africa. Like many carrying over a childish sort of curiosity into adulthood, I am attracted to forbidden places. In fact, 10 out of my 12 juvenile arrests were for trespassing. So, when I heard that a portion of South Africa’s West Coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and was officially closed-off to the public for the better part of 80 years (the heyday of diamond exploration and mining in the area), plunging the local communities into a mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Beginning in 2007, De Beers deemed portions of this land “over-mined,” and once they began to withdraw some of their interests there in the ensuing years, the doors to some of these previously closed towns slowly began opening to the public for the first time. Eventually, I navigated the hoops necessary for a visit. Flight of the Diamond Smugglers began in earnest when I was visiting the so-called Diamond Coast, chatting deep into the night in a bar with a former diamond diver. He told me about the ways in which workers would sometimes use trained homing pigeons to smuggle diamonds out of the mines, and that if pigeons are overloaded with too much weight, they can lose their natural GPS, and begin landing at random. This happened along coastal South Africa—diamond-bearing pigeons dropping from the sky onto the local beaches. I couldn’t get that image out of my head. A rain of birds, burdened with gems. It was that image that eventually led me to investigate further.

  1. You’re going to be writing at UMFs Visiting Writers series. How do you choose which excerpts to read or which books to read from?

I’ll likely read a couple of excerpts from Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, as it’s my latest. I tend to choose sections that represent different stylistic flourishes that occur in the book. So I’ll probably read a brief lyrical and/or research-heavy section, and a more narrative/memoir-ish section. What I really enjoy about such events is that they are part of the long, serpentine, interconnected and essential dialogue between writers, our readers, and our peers; between members of our wonderful, twitchy, arty community.

  1. Is there anything you’d like to leave the students at UMF with?

Can I leave you with some cool pigeon facts that I uncovered when researching Flight of the Diamond Smugglers? I hope so, because here they are: Pigeons have demonstrated the capacity to recognize all 26 letters of our alphabet (and other alphabets, if so trained); they can differentiate between two different human beings in a photograph; they pass the “mirror test,” meaning that a pigeon recognizes its reflection as its own image, and not as another bird—which is unheard of in the animal kingdom for the most part. Did you know that B.F. Skinner [the behavioral psychologist] kept a bunch of pigeons in cages and deprived them of food? For a few seconds each day, a mechanism would dispense a meager pile of seed. And soon, the birds developed what Skinner determined to be superstitious behavior. They seemed to believe that by acting a certain way, or performing some kind of action, they could compel a feeding. One pigeon came to believe that if it turned around three times in succession counterclockwise, that would yield a feeding. Another was compelled to swing its head like a pendulum six times, three to the right, three to the left. And another nodded in bursts of five. Yes-yes-yes-yes-yes.

Mainely Outdoors Provides Activities to Students

Mainely Outdoors Provides Activities to Students

By Charity Webster, contributing writer

The current pandemic has really made UMF have to think outside the box in the sense of student body activities. This challenge has been extremely difficult due to the past and current restrictions on the students gathering together. Mainely Outdoors (MO) has great programs that students can be involved in and stay socially distanced without a mask. They offer so many COVID-friendly options at no cost to the students. If hiking is your game or if you like snowshoeing in the winter, Mainely Outdoors has you covered.

“We have all types of ability trips, beginner’s trips are the place for someone to learn something new” said Sam Shirley, Student Leader and Kat Robinson, Program Supervisor.

Mainely Outdoors was founded by James Toner, a man who loved the outdoors and wanted to bring that to the UMF student body. He was passionate about this club and the great state of Maine’s outdoor activities. Since then he has passed on this passion to other students like Sam Shirley.

“Sam is currently the passion of MO and why MO is so active at this time, he is the one to continue to drive the club, we are very thankful for the time and effort that Sam put in during COVID and keeping the program alive” Assistant Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center Allison Thayer said.

Shirley clears the paths and lawns at Prescott Trails, maintains the trails all year long, and is currently training Robinson to replace him after he graduates. He has been with MO since his Freshman year. He grooms the cross country trails, and preps and leads the weekly mountain biking trip. You can rent equipment of your choice at MO at no cost to you as long as you agree to return the equipment in a timely manner.

James Toner passed away in 2018, and his legacy lives on through Mainely Outdoors. His scholarship is given to a sophomore who demonstrates a passion for the outdoors and is in a related major. “This is a substantial and giving scholarship for students who may be in the Outdoor Program at UMF.” said Robinson

Activities that MO offers includes canoeing trips, kayaking, camping, mountain biking, and hiking. Winter is fast approaching and they will soon offer snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, indoor ice skating, and some downhill ski trips.

“Leading hiking trips is Robinson’s favorite part about MO, and it’s getting a “bit chilly” for boating but they do rent canoes and kayaks.” said Robinson.

“The most popular activity is coming up November 13, to spend the day at Acadia National Park,” said Shirley. On this day trip to Acadia, they will take a driving tour through part of the park, stop at a variety of roadside stops, and do a few short hikes (< 3 miles). This trip is provided at no cost to students, and they provide the transportation! Be sure to register soon to reserve your spot as this is a popular trip.

Additionally, whenever there is a full moon, Robinson leads a local full moon hike.

Find information on the James Toner Scholarship by visiting the website: https://www.umf.maine.edu/alumni/the-james-toner-memorial-scholarship-fund/ Go to Mainely Outdoors Facebook page and LIKE it, to find out more on  upcoming events! Mainely Outdoors is located at 114 Quebec St. Farmington, Maine or call 207-778-7373