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THE PIANO MANâ€™S WAR Pete Sides and Other Rebels Fight Lyme Disease and the Medical Establishment
By Alison Fromme
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Volume 13 Issue 3
The Piano Man’s War
Giving Back, Giving Together
By Alison Fromme
By Elaine Farkas
For Citizens & Northern Bank, charity begins at home.
Pete Sides and other rebels fight Lyme disease and the medical establishment.
By Gayle Morrow
Swatting season is closer than you think.
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Back of the Mountain By Linda Stager
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The Piano Man’s War Pete Sides and Other Rebels Fight Lyme Disease and the Medical Establishment By Alison Fromme
hen Pete Sides left his house to walk his dog on a crisp fall day in 2015, everything seemed normal at first. But he only made it about fifty yards down the road before he realized something was terribly wrong. Numbness overcame his left foot. He struggled to walk, and he knew he had to turn around. When he reached his driveway, he fell to his knees. He crawled to the house and told his wife, Carol, “We’re going to the hospital.” What was going on? Just days earlier, he had played several rounds of golf. All his life, he’d been active. Working eightyhour weeks at Robert M. Sides, the family music business in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Spending time with his kids and grandkids. Flying airplanes, racing cars at Watkins Glen. He rarely had aches and pains, and almost never took aspirin. Now, he thought he might die. At the hospital, Pete required a wheelchair. Doctors first thought a bone spur in his foot might be the culprit, but that was quickly ruled out. As he waited for answers, the numbness spread up his left leg and down his right. His legs felt weirdly wet, even when he knew they were dry. Then, a key piece of Pete’s health history rose to the surface. Months earlier, in April, he had found a tick embedded in his skin, in an awkward spot on the back of his arm. He knew ticks. He had 6
pulled them off his dog, and he understood the risk. This tick was fat, engorged with blood, and deep in his skin, with only its back end visible. It had clearly been lodged there for a while, probably long enough for the tick to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. At the time, he went to his regular doctor, who prescribed two days of antibiotics as a precaution. And that was that. Or maybe not. The hospital doctor, with knowledge of Pete’s tick, ordered another Lyme disease test. It came back positive. Pete soon learned he was one among many in his community. “Everybody knows somebody with Lyme,” he says. Many local people, to their surprise, find their doctors and hospitals don’t seem to have an answer for this complicated and elusive disease, and, with other sufferers regionally and nationwide, seek solutions with pioneering doctors operating outside the medical establishment. The Scope of the Problem The number of recorded Lyme diseases cases is rapidly rising in Pennsylvania. In 2012, just over four thousand cases in the state were reported to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2016, the number totaled almost nine thousand. The state’s Lyme Disease Task Force estimates that as many as 70,000 Pennsylvania residents See Lyme on page 8
Adult deer tick, ixodes scapularis by Scott Bauer / CC0 1.0 Tiny terror: the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is a carrier of Lyme disease. 7
Fighting back: Thomas Putnam, whose battle with Lyme disease is ongoing, has helped found a Tioga County (Pennsylvania) support group for fellow suffers.
Lyme continued from page 6
could be affected each year by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The CDC estimates that 300,000 new infections occur nationwide each year. “Lyme disease is a big problem in Pennsylvania, for a lot of reasons,” says Dr. Stanley Martin, director of infectious diseases for Geisinger Medical Center. The dramatic rise in new cases, he says, is partly due to better awareness of the disease and more testing. It’s a very common infection—so common that people can become infected and recover without even realizing it. It’s also often over-diagnosed, he says, because common symptoms of Lyme disease—rash, fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pain—overlap with other medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia and autoimmune disorders. Every week Dr. Martin sees patients who suspect they have the disease. Perhaps they saw a tick and noticed the telltale rash. Or, perhaps they feel unusual pain, weakness, and tingling. The first challenge
is accurate diagnosis, he says. To make a diagnosis, doctors use a combination of clinical symptoms and blood serum tests. The tests are not perfect—they cannot detect very early infection—and the results can be tricky to interpret, even for some health care professionals, he says. If blood tests come back positive, then Dr. Martin will likely prescribe antibiotics, usually a course of oral doxycycline for seven to ten days. Dr. Martin also says he spends time cautioning patients that they might not feel better immediately. He explains, for example, when you have strep throat, you get a fever and your throat swells. As you take antibiotics, the inflammation dies down and you start to feel better. With Lyme disease, the inflammation does not subside very quickly. What’s usually needed, he says, is “the tincture of time,” plus pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen. He emphasizes that most patients
respond well to antibiotics and fully recover. Ongoing Issues Pete Sides remained at the hospital for almost a week and received additional antibiotics. The numbness in his legs subsided, and although he left the hospital upright, he required the assistance of a walker. Pete is not the only one in the area to experience lingering symptoms after being treated for Lyme. Between ten and twenty percent of patients continue to suffer after conventional treatment, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. When unusual symptoms struck Thomas Putnam (left) in March of 2017, he turned to his primary care doctor. His fever spiked at 104 degrees, lightheadedness prevented him from walking, and his head throbbed with pressure and heat. His first test for Lyme disease came back negative. He visited an infectious disease specialist. Still negative. The specialist told him that his body was probably just recovering from a stubborn virus. But his symptoms worsened, and he could barely complete his work at Hamilton-Gibson Productions in Wellsboro. He tried an infectious disease specialist in Rochester. The third test was positive. He took antibiotics for a month, and started to feel better. But intense fatigue and brain fog returned during the summer, so he returned to his doctors. The Rochesterbased infectious disease specialist suggested he should visit his primary care doctor. His primary care doctor suggested seeing the infectious disease specialist. Thomas adjusted to his ongoing fatigue and brain fog by coming home early from work and napping. This wasn’t just stress or burnout, he says. It was distinctly different. Pete’s symptoms persisted as well. For months, he held onto walls or chairs to steady himself while he walked. Determined to get better, he decided to drive two hours away to visit a doctor who offered treatment not covered by insurance: long-term antibiotics, dietary regimens, and supplements. “I don’t care what it costs, I have to do something about this,” he recalls saying at the time. After additional testing, he was
told he had two other bacterial infections transmitted by ticks, babesiosis and bartonella. Now he reports that, three years and several doctors after the initial tick bite, he is doing much better and tapering off his treatment. Thomas also sought additional care. “I love my primary care doctor. But because this treatment is so outside the standard protocol, he cautioned me about going to Lyme specialists,” Thomas says. But when you’re very sick, you have a different perception of risk. “If they’re the only ones willing to offer treatment and hope, then why wouldn’t someone see them? It’s really tough. Do I take my chances on long-term antibiotic treatment and worry about the long-term side effects? Or try something else, when there is little else to try?” Dr. Martin is one such doctor who strongly warns against unconventional treatment. “A lot of people are convinced that they need more antibiotics,” he says. But according to clinical studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine, antibiotics don’t work. Additionally, a CDC report states that “at least five randomized, placebo-controlled studies have shown that prolonged courses of IV antibiotics in particular do not substantially improve long-term outcome for patients with a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease and can result in serious harm, including death.” Dr. Martin adds that patients need to consider the possibility that ongoing symptoms might be caused by other health problems, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue/myalgic encephalopathy—not an ongoing infection that could be cured with more antibiotics. The Biology of Infection When a tick lodges into a person’s skin, it’s looking for a meal. It clamps itself onto the skin with a saliva cement, as it slowly sucks blood through a tube held in place with barbs. Some ticks are as small as a poppy seed, and they can secrete an anesthetic that numbs the skin to avoid detection. In Pennsylvania, about fifty percent of blacklegged ticks carry the Lyme diseasecausing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi in their guts. When ticks feed on people or animals, the spiral-shaped bacteria can travel from the tick’s cool belly into the hot skin of a mammal. It’s something See Lyme on page 10
Don’t Get Ticked
n this part of the country, there are lots of people who like to do things outdoors, and that means they come in contact with ticks,” says Dr. Lee Meyers, of Guthrie Family Practice in Wellsboro. “And we still want people to enjoy the outdoors and lead active lifestyles.” The most important way to avoid contracting Lyme disease, she says, is to be vigilant about checking for ticks when you return from outdoor activities. She suggests changing clothes, bathing, looking and feeling all over your body, and asking a friend or family member to help check hard to reach places, like in your hair and on your back. In the first few hours, ticks will likely just brush off. But if you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic, she says. Many people are worried about Lyme disease because they have a friend or family member with the disease. Many see their doctor for tick removal. At Guthrie’s walk-in clinic, a doctor or nurse practitioner will use a special removal device, ask for the patient’s medical history, and plan next steps. For example, if the patient just gardened that morning and hadn’t been outside for the previous week, then it’s likely no further treatment would be needed, Dr. Meyers says. A tick needs to be attached for about forty-eight hours before the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted. In contrast, if the person had a rash and fever, she would prescribe antibiotics, usually a twenty-one-day course of doxycycline. Alternative antibiotics are available for kids under eight years old, pregnant or nursing women, and people who are allergic to doxycycline. If no tick was discovered, but Dr. Meyers suspects that a patient’s symptoms might be caused by Lyme disease, she will order a blood serum test. This test doesn’t detect the Lyme disease bacteria itself. Instead, it searches for antibodies that the person’s body creates to fight the infection. Antibodies don’t show up right away because the person’s immune system takes time to respond to the infection—and that means the test works best a few weeks after infection. The test is performed in two stages. If the first (ELISA) comes back positive, a second test (the Western Blot) is completed. A Lyme disease diagnosis is only made if both tests are positive. Testing isn’t recommended for people who have no symptoms. Usually twenty-one days of antibiotics are also prescribed for the later stages of the disease, she says. If a patient experiences facial paralysis, cardiac, or other severe problems, they’ll be referred to specialists. “Most patients are better within twenty days,” Dr. Meyers says. This is not, she cautions, the kind of treatment that works in a couple days. 9
BRADFORD CO. Lyme continued from page 9
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of a shape-shifter, changing which genes are turned on or off to accommodate the change of environment. When Borrelia burgdorferi enters a person, the infection triggers the immune system. The first line of defense is inflammation. Next, generalized immune cells arrive to gobble up anything foreign. Then, specialized immune cells target and kill the bacteria—these cells are made after the infection specifically to recognize molecules on the bacteria’s surface. For many people, the infection stops right there at the surface, evidenced only by an inflammation-induced rash. If Borrelia burgdorferi evades these immune system defenses, though, it multiplies at the tick bite site and can travel throughout the body, corkscrewing its way between cells, attaching to humanmade molecules, and lodging itself in different tissues, including muscles, joints, nerves, and even the heart. The bacteria can hardly make any of its own components needed for life—like sugars, fats, amino acids—and absorbs these things from its surroundings. The person’s immune system keeps attacking as the infection spreads, and Borrelia burgdorferi can continue to change its surface molecules to avoid detection or hide out in lymph nodes or dense tissue like tendons. Prescribed antibiotics can aid the body’s defenses and help eliminate the bacteria. Borrelia burgdorferi doesn’t produce any known toxins that sicken people. Instead, it’s the body’s response—the inflammation and the immune processes that show up in stages—that makes people sick. It starts out as some combination of a skin rash, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes progresses to more alarming symptoms like memory problems, facial paralysis, an irregular heartbeat, or debilitating arthritis. But disease progression is not always straightforward. Different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi can cause different problems. For example, the European strain, if left untreated, can cause a lesion that alters the texture of the skin. Each person’s immune system varies in unique ways, and symptoms may be compounded by underlying and coexisting health issues. Studies show that animals respond to infection in very different ways—mice can remain infected but don’t usually exhibit any symptoms, for example, whereas dogs develop arthritis. Nor is Borrelia burgdorferi the only bacteria transmitted by ticks. Other rare but problematic tick-borne diseases can further complicate the patient experience. At the 2011 meeting of the Committee on Lyme Disease and Other Tick Borne Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, scientists called for better diagnostic testing and more research—and research continues today, with attempts to develop improved diagnostic tools, treat persistent symptoms, understand the bacteria’s biology, and control tick populations. Many questions remain. For example, no one knows for certain if long-lasting, unresolved symptoms are caused by ongoing infection, or continued immune response to dead bacterial fragments, or tissue damage remaining after a long-gone infection. Two recent studies in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and the American Journal of Pathology found that monkeys who were infected with Borrelia burgdorferii and treated with antibiotics still harbored live bacteria that could be transmitted back to ticks—a finding that conflicts with previous evidence. “We’re not where we want to be [in terms of understanding
all aspects of the disease],” says Dr. Martin. “We’re going to solve the Lyme disease problem with medicine, and more science.” What Next?
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Alison Fromme is a writer living, Ithaca, New York. She contributed to The Science Writers’ Handbook (DaCapo Press 2013), and was the recipient of a National Association of Science Writers Career Development Grant and a Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts fellowship.
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For those ten to twenty percent of patients still suffering after Lyme treatment, the pace of science is excruciatingly slow. And the lack of treatment options offered by conventional medicine is maddening. Fatigue, brain fog, neuropathy, arthritis, and other symptoms can seriously disrupt daily life. Depression often follows. Many patients report that their doctors dismiss their pain. The 2016 Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Task Force report acknowledged that patients experience “delays in diagnosis, confusion, frustration, limited treatment options, ongoing illness, with, in many cases poor outcomes, disability, and a significant financial burden.” “Doctors had me thinking I was lazy and crazy,” says Linda Wales, of Millerton, Pennsylvania, who first became sick in 1995 with severe pain migrating through her body, fatigue, and Alzheimer’s-like confusion. After several episodes of remission and relapses, she saw twenty doctors and then turned to prayer. She was diagnosed in 2001 and says she’s been symptom-free since 2011. Along her journey, a doctor suggested that Linda devote time and energy toward raising awareness of Lyme disease. She organized her first event at the local high school, then started a support group and co-founded the nonprofit A Hope For Lyme. That nonprofit now runs support groups in two Southern Tier communities, Horseheads and Addison, fields phone calls and emails from people concerned about Lyme, and organizes events in the area. Last year, the group partnered with Arnot Health graduate medical education to provide a symposium for students and healthcare professionals, and the event is slated to repeat again this year, with an additional presentation for the public. “Helping others helped me not focus so much on how bad I felt,” Linda says. “It’s very rewarding.” Now, Thomas Putnam is following Linda’s lead in starting a Tioga County (Pennsylvania) Lyme disease support group, along with another resident. The goal at each monthly meeting is to offer an educational component, a question and answer period, and time to socialize. About forty adults of all ages, including locals and neighboring county residents, attended the first meeting in January. People shared their stories and offered empathy and encouragement. “When people get together, they are just so grateful to be around others who understand,” says Thomas, who reports that he’s feeling much better, although he still experiences relapses. “Often you can’t tell a person is suffering.” During the few weeks following the meeting, Thomas says he received about twenty phone calls from people searching for direction. “It’s really hard that there are no clear answers, and people are desperate. People are really suffering.”
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Ashes to Ashes
A Forester, a Forestry Company, and a Four-Legged Team Cut Loss into Legacy By Gayle Morrow
n Norse legends, Yggdrasil, or the Tree of the World, is sacred and mythical and, by most accounts, an ash tree. Magic aside for just a moment, the ash also has practical uses. Its bark and leaves have been used in traditional medicines; its wood has been used to make carriages, boats, airplanes, furniture, musical instruments, and for smoking food. Cows, goats, and rabbits enjoy munching on its leaves and branches. Some species of ash can live to be 300 years old. Roy Siefert (above), a man who knows and loves trees—he was Tioga State Forest district forester from 1999-2014—was keeping the proverbial weather eye on the “good bit of ash” growing on his Chatham Township property. It wasn’t that he was anticipating anything unexpected from his trees—quite the contrary.
“I knew about the emerald ash borer coming,” he says. “Once it is present, it is pretty much determined that the ash trfees will die.” The EAB, Agrilus planipennis, is native to Asia but has been labeled as an invasive species in the U.S. It showed up in southeastern Michigan in 2002, likely arriving in this country on wood packing material. As of August 2017 it has been found in thirty-one states and in Ontario and Quebec. The female EAB lays her eggs in bark crevices and the resulting larvae then munch their way around the tree’s inner bark, diminishing its ability to access and use water and nutrients. It is not only a death sentence for individual trees, but the subsequent mass loss of ash from the ecosystem has effects on other plant and animal species, as well as leading to changes
in soil nutrients. And there are the millions of dollars in losses and costs to property owners, municipalities, and the lumber industry. Knowing all this and more, Roy decided to cut his trees before they died. He explains that the wood can still be used then, but that the trees rot quickly when they’re left standing. That’s not only dangerous, but wasteful, and Roy had other ideas for his doomed ash. He approached Wheeland Lumber in Liberty about cutting his ash. Wheeland is a family-owned company he’d worked with in his capacity as district forester and whose methods and philosophies he found compatible. And, just as important, he felt they would be helpful with what he wanted to do with the proceeds of the sale. Dave Schultz, a forester with Wheeland, explains that his See Ashes on page 16
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employer has “made donations over the years to different things, but I’ve never seen one like this.” So, Dave continues, he told Roy he believed this was “a special thing” and that he would take it upon himself to handle the “logistics of the operation.” That included addressing Roy’s concerns about wet areas on his property that wouldn’t be conducive to the use of heavy equipment, and about having the “least amount of impact on the forest.” That led to a discussion about using horses to log out the trees. “I met with Roy, and talked about how things would get paid out, about the timing, and a lot of different things,” Dave says. “I knew it was right up Roy’s alley to have it done with horses.” And it was. Using Belgians and mules, Laverne Keim, with Keim Logging in Ulysses, began work in mid-January and, within a month, the trees were all cut. Dave also counts adjoining landowner Dale Martin as a helpful contributor to the project, as he was willing to allow the use of portions of his property for the work. “There was a big wet area and a gully that would have been problematic without Dale’s help,” Dave notes. So, remember the magic of Yggdrasil? When he was district forester, Roy often worked with Roger and Andy Graham, a Liberty-area father and son team who were loggers. “We had a good rapport with them while we were working with state sales,” Roy recalls. Sadly, both men were killed in separate logging accidents, leaving, in Dave’s words, “a couple of boys who don’t have a dad or a granddad.” There was a fund set up for the boys, now teenagers, at First Citizens Community Bank, and Roy will be putting a portion of the money he’ll get from the sale of his ash trees into that fund. He will also be donating to the North Central Pennsylvania Conservancy (www.npcweb.org) and to the Pennsylvania Forestry Association (www.paforestry.org). The PFA is the oldest forest conservation organization in the country, Roy notes, having started in 1886. The Conservancy, with a focus on land protection via means such as estate planning and easement purchase, is the entity that last year purchased 132 acres on either side of the Pine Creek Rail Trail along the Marsh Creek Road and has since created an additional access area to the trail there that includes a rest area and an enhanced wildlife viewing area. Roy, in his characteristically understated way, says he opted to make these donations “mostly because of the work I do.” He serves on “a couple of different boards, specifically forest-related,” and says he “always thought of our forests as the greatest asset, our game lands, too.” “A lot of it is payback for my enjoyment of the forests,” he continues. “People think of [forest] landowners only having property to make money off it, but [for him] it’s mostly for enjoyment, wildlife habitat, and privacy. Making money is not the primary thing, so I want to support organizations that have that philosophy.” He adds that he grew up in Bucks County, and when he visits it nowadays he doesn’t recognize it as the same place. He doesn’t want that to happen here. “It is important to enjoy and value the natural resources around you,” he says. “You can use them but in a manner that ensures we have them for future generations.”
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Giving gang: C&N employees fill boxes in an effort to give back to their community; (from left) Halle Niklaus, Sandy Christ (retired), Diane Egly, Charity Frantz, and CEO Brad Scovill.
Giving Back, Giving Together For Citizens & Northern Bank, Charity Begins at Home By Elaine Farkas
orth central Pennsylvania is a geographically rugged region, with picturesque small towns and farms dotting the rolling landscape—clearly not a cityscape. But the problems of big cities are problems everywhere: children go hungry, we face an opioid epidemic, and resources are often scarce. But here, in the face of adversity, when we are in pain, our neighbors hear us and extend a hand to help. Citizens & Northern Bank, based in Wellsboro, is a great example. C&N has been serving the banking needs of its neighbors for more than 100 years, but has also been a steward of other local community needs. Some time ago,
employees began a tradition of “dress down” Fridays, soliciting a donation for the privilege of dressing casually at work, with proceeds going to local charities. Encouraged by their visible progress, the employees decided to make a larger contribution by selecting one cause and donating for “blue jeans Friday” one Friday per month. These funds collected monthly were used to help a different charity or nonprofit annually. The concentrated, focused impact of their “Blue Jeans for Babies” campaign has resulted in an even more extensive organizational giving structure that now extends to all the regional bank branches. This grassroots campaign, created and funded by the generosity of employees,
continues today. Always wanting to do more, employees strived to have a bigger positive impact on the needs of the community. It was this desire that motivated the Giving Back, Giving Together community fundraising campaign, spearheaded by Charity Frantz (above, second from right), the director of marketing for the bank. This campaign began in March 2015 and has raised $175,000 for local charities and nonprofit organizations since then. Each year, employees vote to select a local charity or non-profit organization, and then each bank branch forms a team. Each team’s members decides the activities they will See Charity on page 20
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engage in to raise money or collect goods and services, and then competes with the other teams. The first campaign under Giving Back, Giving Together targeted hunger, one of the many challenges facing families in local communities across the Twin Tiers, and the issue has become more widely felt as food prices have risen sharply all around the country. By working together in 2015, C&N employees supported the Feeding the Hungry campaign, raising an astounding $50,000 to reduce hunger. This was substantially more than their initial goal of $10,000, and the amazing effort resulted in donations to twenty food pantries across nine counties in our region of Pennsylvania and New York. In 2016, Citizens & Northern employees elected to support local emergency services and first responders, with a campaign resulting in more than $60,000 raised to support those fire and ambulance services. The bank’s branches started competing in more creative ways this time around. Some branches, for instance, invited fire and emergency services to their locations for a children’s event, during which donations of supplies were collected. The kids got to learn about fire engines and emergency service work, and the volunteer first responders got a financial boost. The most recent Giving Back, Giving Together campaign was a unique event to help local disadvantaged children. Employees raised $72,000 to remodel the Children’s House in Bradford County, with local contractors and volunteers pitching in to do the work. The Children’s House is a child and family advocacy center that gives the victims of child abuse a safe and comforting place to interact with law enforcement and child advocacy personnel. In addition to the local competition between bank branches, 2017 saw larger contributions from the corporate level of Citizens & Northern. A corporate golf tournament was just one event organized to help the Children’s House, raising over $20,000. Another tournament is planned for June 25 for this year’s theme of supporting local libraries. The 2018 campaign will address literacy and local library resources (or lack thereof ), two often overlooked needs in many communities. For many of our neighbors, the library is the only access for Internet, and for children who need that access for research and schoolwork outside the classroom, the lack is particularly problematic. Regardless of the reasons—economic, geographic, technical, or some combination of those—lack of Internet access limits many children from advancement in a variety of educational activities and communications. Supporting the libraries that fill such a huge void, in turn, supports some of the unmet educational needs those children have. So, local bank branches are planning everything from book readings to book drives. Community members can get involved by visiting their local Citizens and Northern branch and asking about Giving Back, Giving Together or by going to the bank’s Facebook page. Every “like” earned on the Facebook Giving Back, Giving Together hashtag results in one dollar toward the campaign. Elaine Farkas currently resides in Tioga, PA, with her husband and a rather large cat named Sasha. She teaches physics and runs the planetarium at Mansfield University.
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With a Series of Young Adult Novels, Author Paul Nelson Helps Readers See Through His Son’s Eyes By Linda Roller
he people in this world who are called “caregivers” are amazing folk. Those of us who watch or assist can only be astonished at the strength, the patience, the perseverance, and the love that they lavish on people who need it most. It is as though caregivers are super human, with super powers. Lock Haven resident Paul Nelson is one of these special people—a
person who has been not only the primary caregiver for Michael, his son, who has lived with an autism diagnosis for almost two decades, but who, at the same time, was taking care of his wife, Cynthia, during her sixteen-year battle with lupus. Cynthia’s disease settled in her brain, creating hallucinations and eventually making her totally dependent on Paul for all the daily
tasks we take for granted. When his wife died in 2013, Paul began thinking about how the world, and Cynthia’s illness and death, looked to Michael, who, with moderately severe autism, is mostly non-verbal. Years of taking care of Michael had taught Paul his son’s limitations, but his special “caregiver eyes” also saw his strengths. He saw the
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intelligence and amazing analytical talents. He saw that Michael had a photographic memory. Years of work and caring helped him “to see people with autism and their amazing abilities.” Recent research confirms what Paul sees, and it appears that, in many instances, indications of autism are present in people of remarkable intelligence and ability. Paul says, “Think Einstein. Mozart may have been autistic. Think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates.” And look at what Dr. Temple Grandin, certainly one of the most well known individuals with a diagnosis of autism, has done to communicate to the world about the world of autistic people. But how to tell Michael’s story? How to tell the tale of a whole group of people with different challenges and abilities? Paul found a simple and direct way: storytelling. And the book he wrote, Through Fisher’s Eyes, along with the books that followed, gives the reader a real insight into the world that Michael, sees. The books, on the surface, seem simple. The language is straightforward, with a limited, unpretentious vocabulary. But don’t be fooled. These are the stories of a visual person, not a verbal person. The resulting imagery and story are rich. Paul calls the three young adult books that feature Fisher, a character based on his son, “autism fiction.” And there is fiction, and action, with Fisher’s autistic friends’ super powers, and meetings with Michael, a spirit who guides and helps Fisher develop his power and his self-confidence. But the situations, the reactions of other people to Fisher and his dad, and life in a world that communicates in a far different manner, are very real. As real as the reactions Fisher has to the world, and the ways that he and his friends learn to quiet their minds, and develop the skills they need to adjust. These books are also adventure novels, filled with ghosts, demons, and aliens. The books are available locally at The Liberty Book Shop in Avis and The Bus Stops Here in Lock Haven. Nor has Paul stopped writing—he has more stories to tell and the books have taken on a life of their own. He has just released a self-published novel, Saving Worms After the Rain, which is told from an adult point of view. It is complete with history and mystery, and set in the wilds of north central Pennsylvania. Like his young adult series, there is a thread of autism woven into the story, giving the reader a chance to see another way of looking at a situation, at the world. This book has caught the attention of an editor, making it more likely that it will see a wider audience. Fisher’s Autism Trilogy, which includes Dark Spectrum and A Problem with the Moon, is attracting attention. A group from PACE University in New York City is now recording the books for audio distribution. The University is using the books as textbooks for students who are learning more effective ways of working with and for people with autism. The first book, Through Fisher’s Eyes, has caught another eye—that of someone in London who is interested in a film based on the story. Paul’s goal was to create a means by which people with autism can be seen, seen as the bright, creative, compassionate individuals they are. His goal was to help us all see the world Through Fisher’s Eyes.
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Woodland Mosquito by Katja Schulz / CC BY 2.0 Commons
Swatting Season is Closer Than You Think By Gayle Morrow
n a warmish (relatively speaking) deep winter day, there was a mosquito out and about at our house. Don’t you guys hibernate? I wondered, swatting at it. I don’t know of anyone who professes a liking for mosquitos. Well, maybe Richard Attenborough’s character in Jurassic Park. Nor do I know what useful purpose mosquitoes serve in the scheme of things. So I searched “what good are mosquitoes” and found that they do have some decent PR. Fish eat mosquito larvae—it’s evidently a compact little package of protein—and the adult skeeters are food for bats, spiders, and birds. And, who knew, mosquitoes are quite helpful as pollinators. That’s right. Of the 3,500-4,000 species of mosquitoes (and why we need that many I haven’t a clue—can’t we replace some of those with something useful like cookie trees or vodka bushes?), only a few hundred carry the diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, Zika, and West Nile Virus that are harmful to humans. And it’s only the
ladies of some species who need blood for supper. The rest of the little buggers enjoy nectar of various flavors and evidently just flit around minding their own business, pollinating plants, and serving as a meal for somebody else. There is even some research that shows mosquito saliva might be useful for treating cardiovascular disease. That factoid alone, however, does not make me appreciate a circling, whining cloud of blood-sucking insects, so, I was pleased to discover Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis, better known as Bti. The original strains of Bt, which are naturally occurring bacterium found in soils, have been the darling of organic gardeners for years. Bt sets its sights on plant-eating caterpillars like cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms, paralyzing their digestive systems and resulting in starvation. Bti is a newer strain that produces toxins which target larvae of fungus gnats, blackflies, and mosquitoes, the presence of which are a huge detractor to the enjoyment
of outdoor activities. You can buy Bti in a variety of forms—granules, tablets, pellets, handy little chunks, even spray. You put the prescribed amount in standing water (obviously it is best not to have standing water, as that’s where mosquitoes like to lay eggs, but…), including flower pots, animal watering troughs, bird baths, and rain barrels. It doesn’t work instantly (most things in Nature do not), and does break down in sunlight, so the experts recommend a fresh application every seven to fourteen days. Bti is not harmful to people, pets, livestock, or honeybees. There is one more thing you can do to dissuade at least one species of mosquito from targeting you as a source of liquid refreshment. A recent study in the journal Current Biology revealed that some the disease-carrying mosquitoes, such as the Aedes aegypti, identify their human targets by odor, and can associate our smell with unpleasant interactions for at least twentyfour hours. What’s unpleasant interaction to a mosquito? Swatting at it.
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ith a classic Indian head neon sign in its window, Brown’s Cigar Store, in the heart of Corning’s Gaffer District, also comes complete with an iconic wooden Indian greeting customers when they walk through the door at 6 West Market Street. But it is more than the heady tobacco aroma of the exotic cigars that welcomes neophytes and aficionados alike; it is the friendliness of owners that has been making visits here memorable for 128 years. “This was always a place where people could bring their kids,” says Terry Smith, one of the owners. “They weren’t going to hear or see anything that would be offensive and it still is that way today. This is one of the few places people can still smoke in, but our customers are courteous. When a woman or child enters, they stop smoking. It is just common courtesy.” Although now one door down from the original site where John Comosh opened a book, news, and tobacco shop in 1889, the store is still much the same. W.E. Brown, the corporate namesake, took over the business in 1917, followed by Harry Brown in 1929. Bernard Smith (BeJay) took over the business in 1947. Today his children—Terry, SueEllen, and BeJay, Jr., continue the tradition. Terry explains that cigar smokers don’t inhale, but rather enjoy the flavor of the cigar. For the cigar smoker it’s camaraderie, a chance to relax, and the opportunity to enjoy cigars made from exotic tobacco blends and hand-rolled in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Or it may be to indulge in the ultimate—the Arturo Fuente Opus X, the most exclusive cigar in the world. For others, it’s a special occasion—a wedding, a child’s birth, a get-together, or bachelor/bachelorette party. For those times, Brown’s will not only offer expertise in selecting the right flavor and the intensity of cigar, but also a venue in which to smoke it. “We have catered parties and special events here in the store,” says SueEllen. What the new or occasional customer needs to know, Terry says, is “talk to your tobacconist. If you are not a cigar smoker we’ll guide you to something a little more discerning that fits your tastes and your pocket.” Brown’s Cigar Store is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Give them a call at (607) 9622612 or find them at www.brownscigarstore.com. ~AJ Sors
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Hamming It Up
For Spring Holidays, in Our Columnist’s Kitchen By Cornelius O’Donnell
y parents were—in the food department—as predictable as Old Faithful. Thanksgiving meant turkey and Mom’s delicious dressing. Christmas was a standing rib roast surrounded by a delectable Yorkshire pudding, with crispy edges that outlined the meat like police tape and chalk marks at a crime scene. As for St Patrick’s Day—can you guess? You’re right if you said corned beef and cabbage (but we had that often through the year anyway). Easter came between these latter two “hols,” as the Brits would say, and as both my parents cooked, there was usually ham. It might
be fresh or cured, but there it was, sharing the table which was set with Syracuse china, nice old silver, 1920s-era pale green etched water and wine glasses (so few survived), and pink linen to match the china. Being a traditionalist, it’s ham for me, then, and I will be serving it in a modified form on April 1. To wit, I’ll be fooling around in the kitchen and making a recipe I’ve since found to get the “ham what am” on my table. Personal note: after mom passed, my brother Rob and wife Diane got the pink-rimmed china. I’m using Spode’s Countryware bought at a good price years ago from the sale corner at a prominent
Manhattan store. It will be passed on to a niece, who chose this china (at my urging) when she married. (I’m not sure if the “traditional food” gene is there, however.) White Bean Casserole A casserole for Easter may seem hopelessly wrong for the holiday, but this one is so easy, plus it gives you time to iron the ribbon on your bonnet, hide the eggs, and make a great dessert knowing that you can bang the made-ahead main dish into a preheated oven and not worry, then proceed to ham it up, as the title says. I cribbed the basic recipe from a James Beard cookbook. He loved this sort of no-nonsense dish and so do I. And the cognac takes it to a whole new level. Perhaps, as a son of the Ould Sod, I should try Irish whiskey next time. 4 large (15 oz.) cans of white cannellini beans—drain all but one can 1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper 4 Tbsp. tomato paste (I love the tubed paste—screw the top back on to use again and again—waste not…) 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped 2 c. cooked ham, cut into ½-inch cubes 1 lb. kielbasa or other garlic sausage in ½-inch slices ½ c. white wine or dry vermouth 4 -5 strips of thinly sliced bacon ½ c. cognac or bourbon ½ c. fresh breadcrumbs—use a processor or blender or Panko crumbs
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the beans, thyme, pepper, and tomato paste. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet on medium-low heat; sauté the onion until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking until it is fragrant. Don’t let the garlic burn. In a 3-quart casserole, put ¼ of the beans and then ½ of the onion/garlic mixture and then ½ of the of the ham and sausage. Repeat the layers twice more. Top with remaining beans. Pour the wine or vermouth over the top and lay on the bacon strips moistened with the cognac or bourbon. (Beard loved cooking with cognac.) Scatter the bread crumbs evenly over the top. Cover and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 45 minutes. If your pan is minus a cover, improvise with a sheet pan or aluminum foil. Serve with a crisp green salad and cheese bread. Serves about 8. And do wave at Peter Cottontail if you see him. (Is there a Peggy Cottontail?) For March 17, 18, or 19, or, Anytime, Really Here’s another idea I found in my files that deserves wide circulation. It’s great as is by buying corned beef at the deli counter—or as a way to use up the leftovers from your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. My Irish friend (we went to the same high school) gave me this terrific idea: top of the morning to you, Bill. See Hamming on page 30 29
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Hamming continued from page 29
Stuffed French Bread, Irish Filling This filled loaf is called a Croustade. I call it delicious—a great party dish to pass or include on the buffet. Add a crisp salad and call it dinner.
1¼ lbs. thinly sliced cooked corned beef 1 stick unsalted room-temperature butter, chunked 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onions 1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 3 tsp. Dijon-style mustard 1 tsp. dried mustard powder 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley 2 Tbsp. fresh chives or green onion tops 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce Freshly ground pepper to taste 3 to 4 Tbsp. heavy cream
Roughly chop the corned beef. Place the beef plus all remaining ingredients except the cream in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process using on/off switch until well combined. Then add the cream a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Slice off the ends of a loaf of French bread and scrape out the soft interior with a serrated knife, leaving just a bit of the white interior. If the loaf is long, cut it in half before stuffing it. Stuff the hollowed bread with the corned beef mixture. Pat the filling as you go to fill all the hollows and stuff from both ends. Cover the bread tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to firm things up. Slice thinly and arrange in overlapping rows on a platter. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes (orange ones if you can get them) and watercress or parsley sprigs. Time for wearing of the green and garnishing with greens. Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Horseheads, New York.
2027 Lake Road Elmira, NY 14903 Full Display Showroom Professional Installation Serving the Twin Tiers
• Softwashing is safer and cleans better than power washing. • We clean decks, patios and docks. • Eco-Friendly and biodegradable cleaners.
(607) 732-1537 www.classictileimports.com
Did You Know?
MOUNTAIN HOME can manage your large volume PRINTING jobs!
Give Gwen a call and see what we can do for you!! (570) 724-3838 Winter Storm? Downed Power Lines? Extreme Cold?
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Start Planning your
Start Planning your
Hearthstone features an unmatched ability to create any imaginable style of custom, luxury, hand-crafted Log and Timber Frame homes or Heavy Timber commercial structures.
Scott Walker,your Project Manager Start Planning
570-295-1083 • Lock Haven, PA 17745 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.hearthstoneh
Hearthstone features an unmatched ability to create any imaginable style of custom, luxury, hand-crafted Log and Timber Frame homes or Heavy Timber commercial structures.
Scott Walker, Project Manager
570-295-1083 • Lock Haven, PA 17745 email@example.com • www.hearthstoneh
Hearthstone features an unmatched ability to create any imaginable style of custom, luxury, handcrafted Log and Timber Frame homes or Heavy Timber commercial structures. Scott Walker, Project Manager: 570-295-1083 Lock Haven, PA 17745 • firstname.lastname@example.org
HOME is where the is.
Don’t wait until the cold of winter leaves you stranded! Call Today! With the fuel of your choice, you can have a new fireplace, insert or stove installed BEFORE an issue occurs!
S A L E S • S E R V I C E • I N S TA L L AT I O N Wood • Coal • Corn • Pellet • Gas
By Heat-N-Glow, Regency, Leisure Line, Hitzer, and Magnum
Advanced Air HVAC & HEARTHS, LLC 754 Canton Street, Troy PA • 570-297-7770 HOURS: Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm 32
Toll Free: 866-423-8247
Free Quotes • 24 Hour Emergency Service 49 Main Street, Lawrenceville, PA 16929
Visit our Website at
Nice older home, has 5 bdrms, 1 1/2 baths, awesome sun porch, all natural hardwood floors, 4 upstairs bdrms, 1 bdrm down. Carriage house, black smith shop. 1.2 ACRES ................................ C-6 www.realestatebywinters.com
4525 County Rt. 11 Cameron Mills, NY $109,900
114 E. High St., Painted Post, NY Ph: 607-937-5438 • Fax: 607-962-3536 email@example.com
“For Real Service in Real Estate”
Available at Amazon & Bookstores
(or by appointment, feel free to just call)
FISHER’S AUTISM TRILOGY
Spend the night in a bookshop! See listings on Airbnb.com. HOURS: Thurs & Fri 10-6; Sat 10-3
Inspired by his autistic son Michael
Used, Rare and Out-of-Print Books. Your source for unusual books on any subject. Browse our in-stock selection of over 40,000 hardcover books and paperbacks.
by Paul Nelson
1 East Park St., Avis, PA 17721 • 570-753-5201 www.TheLibertyBookShop.com
Autism Fantasy Fiction
Liberty book Shop
SERVICE DIRECTORY SHOPPING
www.matthewsmotorcompany.com Matthews Motor Company is a family owned and operated full service car dealership. We have an on-site NAPA Service Center and a AAA Approved Body Shop. We also have the largest Car Rental Fleet in Tioga County. County.
Prescriptions In-Town Delivery 570-297-2848 14 Elmira Street Troy, PA 16947
Call (570)724-3838 today!
Hauber ’s Jewelry • Diamonds & Quality Jewelry • Bulova & Seiko Watches and Clocks • Fenton, Charms, Trophies and Engraving “We do watch batteries!”
Morris Chair Shop
54 Windsor Ln., Morris, PA 16938 (570) 353-2735 www.MorrisChairShop.com
OUR 2018 PUZZLES ARRIVE IN MARCH!
25 Main St. Wellsboro, PA • 570-723-4263 www.popscultureshoppe.com
Potter County Veterinary Clinic Lindsay Windsor, D.V.M.
Open M, T, Th, F—8:30am-4:30pm; Wed—8:30am-8pm
Phone: (814) 274-0857
2525 Route 6 West • Coudersport, PA 16915 Fax: (814) 274-0721
You could promote your business here! Call (570)724-3838 today! 33
B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
Sweet Heat By Linda Stager
have always wanted to see an old-fashioned sugar shack in action so I was thrilled to be invited to a nighttime boiling session at one of the few remaining wood-fired commercial operations in the county (this one is near Tioga).Â When I left at 10 p.m. the shack inside was still in full roar. Outside, I turned around and snapped this amazing scene of fire and sparks spewing out of the stack.
S A L E S • S E R V I C E • PA R T S
784 County Route 64, Big Flats, NY • 607-796-5555
Convenient “Drive-In” Service Entrance
“Courtesy Shuttle” to area
Service Department Hours:
Shopping Centers & Restaurants!
Monday thru Thursday 7:30am to 6:30pm; Friday 7:30am to 6pm
We can pick you up when your vehicle is ready!
Saturday 7:30am to 4pm
600 B I G F L AT S
B AT H
w w w. s i m m o n s - r o c k w e l l . c o m
Join Us in Our Pledge:
by 2018 Colorectal cancer screening saves lives.
UPMC Susquehanna has made the pledge to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the â€œ80% by 2018â€? initiative. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., but can be prevented. We are asking members of all the communities we serve to become one of the 80% who will get a colorectal screening by the end of 2018. Help us meet our goal by getting screened and talking to your friends and family over 50 years of age about getting screened. Know your risk factors and symptoms. UPMC Susquehanna offers screening colonoscopies throughout northcentral Pennsylvania. For more information visit UPMCSusquehanna.org/Colonoscopy.
"The Piano Man's War" by Alison Fromme. Pete Sides and other rebels fight Lyme disease and the medical establishment. This issue also featur...
Published on Feb 16, 2018
"The Piano Man's War" by Alison Fromme. Pete Sides and other rebels fight Lyme disease and the medical establishment. This issue also featur...