By SULLIVAN CRADY, Islander Corespondent
GRAND ISLE - If you asked Julie Prior to describe herself, she would probably answer you with “… a wild child” who never felt the need to hide her personality from the world. The walls of her home are nearly covered in photographs of white-water rafting, cliff jumping, weight lifting, soccer and a plethora of other sports and activities which she fell in love with so many years ago. However, the physical and mental impact which Lyme Disease has had on her during the past few years has made engaging in her favorite pastimes next to for weeks at a time.
When she was first bitten by a tick at the base of her skull while climbing a mountain on November 1st, 2008, Julie’s primary care physician felt confident that despite developing cold and flu symptoms, she did not have Lyme Disease. It eventually took months of pleading with her physician and other doctors around the state before she was finally diagnosed with the condition. The medical community at the time felt the presence of Lyme in a patient could accurately determined by the appearance of a large, circular welt on the bite, commonly known as a “Bulls-Eye” rash; Julie never developed this rash, so her doctor sent her home, assuring her that she was simply feeling the effects of cold and flu season (according to a 2014 survey, 50-70% of Lyme patients in Vermont never developed any rashes).
Unfortunately, by the time Julie, with the help of her mother who has become her “… number one health advocate, always fighting for me and making sure the doctors believed…” were able to get the antibiotics necessary to treat the disease, the damage had already been done: “… my body didn’t respond as well as it would’ve been liked to those treatments because of the stage it was in, it was too far.” Over the course of the following decade, Julie Prior would undergo repeated surgeries to help treat neuroborreliosis, a late stage condition in Lyme Disease sufferers which can affect a patient’s brain, nervous system and joints. Just the enormous stack of medical records sitting in Julie’s house speaks volumes about how extensive her treatment has been during this process.
Despite the severe impact of the disease, Julie refused to let it be an excuse for her to give up on her life, crediting her passion with remaining active as a huge factor in retaining her stamina this late into her fight with Lyme: “The doctors have said that if I had stopped going out and pushing myself, I would be permanently bed-ridden or in a wheelchair right now.” She was driven to do something to help give her life purpose, stating, “… that no matter how bad things get, you can always still do something to make someone else smile.”
The opportunity came after several years after she contracted Lyme, when Julie met Carl Penske, her current partner and someone she credits as “… one of the people who has kept me going.” While helping Carl in his business, Julie would do anything she could to make him and his employees smile, striking mockingly risqué poses while clad in a Carhartt jacket and blue jeans, playing up the part of the “… sexy Vermonter, which is ironic because I couldn’t be sexy if I tried,” Julie commented.
Eventually someone suggested combining Julie’s goofy nature with Carl’s amateur photography to create a “Vermont pin-up girl” calendar, scrapping the bustiers and high heels for denim jackets and steel-toe boots. The photos contain settings from Julie lounging in a dinghy out on the lake to showing off her inner cowgirl on a 2500 lb. keel winched up from the lake bed.
Due to health complications the project was pushed back repeatedly, but Julie is glad that, thanks to the support of her family, friends and local businesses, the calendars will be available for release in 2020.
The calendars will also include information on the prevention, symptoms and treatment of Lyme Disease, all sourced from VTLyme.org, a non-profit which Julie has become involved with during her illness.
When asked where the profits for these calendars will be going, Julie, positively beaming with pride, said “100% of the money we make from the calendars will be donated to VTLyme.org as a thank you to their support for me and to help them fight Lyme Disease in the future.”
When all is said and done, Julie expects to be able to donate roughly $20,000 from the 2,500 calendars she plans to sell.
Calendars are available at local Island businesses for $10 or if mailed for $12. You can email vtpinupgirl@gmail. com for more information.
While upbeat, Julie knows there will continue to be worse days in the future, but she is thankful for the good days. Making a calendar was not in fact Julie’s first idea for raising money and telling her story; she initially thought of writing a novel about the experience, but it just didn’t fit her style, “… and eventually I thought, ‘Well, this book is going to be really depressing and boring, and there won’t be a happy ending, so who’s going to want to read that?’ It depressed me just to write it!” Showing people that, despite the bad days, weeks or even months, the good moments don’t have to stop has become her mission with this project.
One of Julie’s greatest worries about putting her story out in public was unintentionally causing fear of the outdoors and a reluctance to being adventurous, which is why she finds so much of the literature on Lyme Disease somewhat depressing. When asked whether she would have stayed off that mountain in 2008 if it meant that she wouldn’t have gotten Lyme, she said, “Definitely not, because it’s not in my nature… I will never not do something because ‘Oh, it’s dangerous’ or ‘Oh, I might get hurt’; it’s just not who I am… And, if I never had Lyme, I wouldn’t have met Carl. Would I go through all of this again, to have what I’ve had with him? Yeah.”
At the conclusion of the interview, Julie mentioned that after being bed-ridden through the winter, she was headed to her daughter’s house that evening to celebrate a belated Christmas with her children, presents and tree included. In honor of a woman who wants everyone’s day to end on a high note, you just can’t beat an ending like that.
Remi Dion was spotted by Islander photographer Rob Swanson last Monday biking on Route 2 in North Hero. Remi was on a bike trek to Boston, MA from Montreal, a 300 kilometer (372 mile) ride in subzero wind chills. Dion told The Islander he undertook the journey as a project.
Along the way, he contacted Swanson to keep Islanders updated on his progress.
“I’m on my way to be in Boston by Thursday evening but my toes are a bit cold and my ankle hurts a bit.
The sunny hours are short, so I’ve been up as it rises around 7:15 and get on the road by 9 a.m., just the time to pack up my gear and tent. Yes, I have been sleeping outside.
Tonight is my first night in the warmth of a home, a host from the website warmshowers.org which puts cyclists and hosts in touch”.
Thursday morning Dion in an email to Swanson wrote, “Last day on the bike. Brisk morning, greeted by a police officer to check my identity. I’ll be in Boston tonight, only ~90km (55mi) to go.
Thanks to your post, I was invited to a monthly gathering of the Cambridge cycling community, organized by CrimsonBikes. That should be fun. I’ll send a pic when I arrive, probably on Friday morning though, to have some sunlight.”
On Friday morning, we received Remi’s final update, “I arrived in Boston Thursday evening as planned. There is a big snow storm forecasted for Sunday. I was lucky with the little wind and bright skies I’ve had. The weather has been really good to me.
I made some great encounters and your one of them. Your pictures made it to Boston. A group of cyclist who bike from Boston to Montreal every month of May for 5 days reached out to me thanks to you! All the Best.”
By Tonya L. Poutry
The Champlain Islands, The Islander, and Vermont lost a unique treasure when long-time journalist Lynville “Lyn” Jarvis of South Hero died Dec. 29, 2018.
For more years than I can remember, Lyn has shared his journeys across all seven continents with readers of The Islander and viewers of WCAX-TV’s “Across the Fence” and “In the Kitchen with Across the Fence”.
His travels ,“Globe Trottin’ Travels with Lyn”, brought us to exotic locations such as Iceland where he stood on a wind swept beach and watched the Aurora Borealis dance overhead; Obidos in Portugal – where when 13th century Queen Isabel marveled at its beauty, her husband King Denis, simply gave it to her. For centuries after, the Kings of Portugal followed suit, presenting the picturesque little town to their queen as a wedding gift and Montserrat in Spain, a mountain top monastery, home to some 80 Benedictine monks
In 2015, Lyn shared his journey to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico with Islander readers. While there, he visited Chiapa de Corzo, the oldest colonial town in the state of Chiapas, to help celebrate the “Fiesta de los Parachicos.” This ancient festival honors the healing of a child by an Indian medicine man. Dancers parade around the entire town wearing elaborate hats made from ixtle, a fiber obtained from the yucca plant and carry tin rattles called chincnins. The girl’s dresses are all hand-made, embroidered with multicolored flowers decorated with lace.
Lyn said, “the celebration embraces all aspects of local life promoting mutual respect among communities, groups, and individuals including strangers like us who came all the way from Vermont to walk beside them, something we will never forget.”
Lyn lived a life full of mutual respect for everyone he met. His genuine pure heart and kindness made him the gentle voice that has filled our living rooms at 12:10 p.m. on “Across the Fence” and his written words in the pages of The Islander gave us all the chance to travel the globe alongside him.
You can only imagine the delight of this newspaper when Lyn came into the office to announce “The Islander” would make it to all seven continents. He was leaving for a trip to Antarctica with the latest issue of the newspaper. I remember asking him to snap his photo with penguins for our feature, “And The Islander Goes To…”. He certainly did not disappoint.
Other places Lyn has visited and shared with us include Quebec, Cuba, Buenos Aires, Rio De Janiero, Albania and Montenegro, Holland, Croatia, Italy, Vietnam, Portugal, Ireland, Cambodia, Spain, India, Rome, Peru and Turkey.
In 2017, Lyn completed his quest to visit all 50 states by visiting Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
Even when traveling to neighboring states, Lyn would share the stories with us. In April of 2016, he covered the World Figure Skating Championship in Boston for us.
In January of 2017, Lyn visited Times Square in New York City and brought stories of the Big Apple home to us.
These are just a sampling of the incredible experiences Lyn has shared over the last ten or more years.
He also shared his love for delicious food in his “In the Kitchen with Lyn” feature. Recipes such as Cherry Cobbler and Green Bean Casserole are just a couple of the dishes contributed.
Although he loved to travel, there was no place like home in The Islands.
From reporting on butterfly migration, the history of morning glories, recording breaking attendance on Vermont Day at the “Big E” in Springfield, Mass. to photographs of his neighbor’s cat, Irving - - Lyn filled our pages with knowledge, love and laughter.
Throughout the years, Lyn has covered the South Hero 4th of July parade, the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Hackett’s Orchard, culinary competitions at the Champlain Valley Fair - taking home a few blue ribbons himself, and countless concerts hosted by Island Arts for The Islander.
Island Arts was a very near and dear organization for Lyn’s. Early February, he would stop in to announce the St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage meal at McKee’s to support the scholarship program of Island Arts. Always early in hopes for a big turnout.
He joined Island Arts in 2004 and became Vice-President of the board shortly after. His tireless work has helped so many children further their interest in the arts.
The 2017 Island Arts’ program was dedicated to Lyn reading, “Thank you Lyn for being our long time marketing wizard and putting Island Arts on the map”.
We are all very lucky that the voice that has filled many living rooms for many years will never be lost. “Across the Fence” videos documenting Lyn’s travels are available on Youtube.com.
In one of Lyn’s “Across the Fence” adventures, he visited Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep temple, one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. Upon exiting, Lyn stopped at the Flame of Eternal happiness where you can add oil to the flame and receive a sacred and unique blessing.
Lyn’s blessing “I will be happy forever and ever and always be supported by angels.”
By Kate Kinney, Mentoring Coordinator
It is obvious that Lacey and Doug have lots of fun together! Today when I joined them, they were busy making ‘Puffy Paint’. Made from equal parts craft glue and shaving cream, then adding color as desired. Stir and stir and stir; looked good enough to eat! As you can see from the photo, they painted a couple of really nice pictures together once the puffy paint was made. Someone made a really good choice, matching these two. Doug’s second major in college was art and Lacey says that she LOVES art. In fact, her favorite thing to do during the mentoring sessions is Arts and Crafts. They were being very experimental, with different brushes and different textures with the paint, how can you help but love it?
Doug confessed that he learned about Puffy Paint on YouTube and we all agreed that YouTube is a great website, where you can learn to do all kinds of things.
Other things they like to do together are playing Uno and Puzzle Stories. In the Puzzle Story, you read a story and then find the ending by putting a puzzle together. Sounds intriguing! They have made slime before and Lacey does not need a recipe because she has it all memorized. Since I have not made slime before I had a few questions and learned that it can be kind of like play dough. You can stretch it, squeeze it, play with it. And if you want to save it when you are done, you need to store it in a sealed container.
Lacey told me a bit about herself. She is in third grade this year and she really likes it, in part because of the two fish in the classroom, Flash & Chomps. She says that they have to watch the growth of the fish carefully, because at some point, one will eat the other! Lacey told me that she has 4 siblings, a dog, and a mom and a dad at home. She thinks it is the perfect family and would not want it any other way.
Lacey also has a birthday coming up this month and she’s excited that Doug’s birthday is the day before hers. She’s hoping to share cupcakes on that day to celebrate their birthdays, because it just so happens that her birthday is on mentoring day this year.
I think that Doug was simply destined to be a mentor. He says that year after year he was asked to join. Finally, last year he decided that he could commit to the time. He is very happy that he did. Although he and Lacey are such a good fit, there is one thing that they just cannot agree on. When I asked them, what was the best part about the mentoring time, Lacey said, “Seeing Doug”. But Doug disagreed. He says the best thing is “Seeing Lacey”. Oh well, cannot always agree on everything!
Doug explained that it is really important to him to spend the time with Lacey every week, even with his very busy schedule. But he appreciates that Lacey is flexible. If one week, Doug cannot get there on his regular day, he calls in and reschedules for the next day. When he told me that, Lacey immediately said, “That’s what I really like about you.” Apparently, both of them would really be disappointed if they could not have their time together each week.
By Tonya L. Poutry
NORTH HERO – A fifteen-year adventure comes full circle for Island resident Carol Miller Tuesday, Oct. 30 as she relocates to Pennsylvania.
In 2003, Miller purchased her home in Grand Isle after summering with friends Hank Bishoff and Izzy Hayes. All three had lived in Pennsylvania prior to Hank and Izzy relocating to the Champlain Islands.
Carol followed soon thereafter after a short stint in Rhode Island. She packed up on Oct. 30 in 2003 and became a full-time Islander.
Over the years, she has been a member and lay preacher at the Champlain Islands Methodist Parish, a Chairperson of the Trustees at the Grand Isle Methodist Church, a Grand Isle Schoolboard member, a HomeShare Vermont volunteer, on the board of Directors of Champlain Islanders Developing Essential Resources (C.I.D.E.R) and a leader of the Living Strong in The Islands program sponsored by C.I.D.E.R.
Thirty members of the program bid Miller the sweetest goodbye on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the North Hero House with an aptly fitting “Roast”.
Co-leader of Living Strong, Judy Steacy, emceed the roast mentioning Miller’s strong commitment to the community, her master joke telling, her love of Celtic dancing, the UVM Women’s Basketball Team and her outstanding leadership of the Living Strong program.
Miller took on the program in 2003 when it was called the “Strong Living” program with Carol Stata. Strong Living was a research project by Tuft’s University. The program aims to teach balance and strength through exercise for older citizens. Every twelve weeks, C.I.D.E.R. would provide data to Tufts for the project.
When the project was canceled by Tufts, the program which had grown considerably, became Living Strong in The Islands.
Robin Way, Executive Director of C.I.D.E.R. said the program now has about thirty people at the two classes offered on Tuesday and Thursday at St. Rose of Lima in South Hero.
“The program has decreased falls in our senior population. Actually, out of everyone here, only one person has had a fall and recovered well.” Way told The Islander.
It was clear, that all of the folks who came to the roast had become more than exercise partners, but great friends.
Miller spoke of sharing each other’s joys and sorrows, mourning the loss of friends, holding surprise parties that are always announced and how the group is made up of heroes and heroines of the Islands. “We do everything that we can to support our neighbors.”, Miller said.
One of the biggest challenges of the program Miller said was the Pie Ladies, “The Pie Ladies will bake pies, put them on our tables, and expect us for the next hour to exercise.”
Miller speaking of the Living Strong program told the crowd, “This is the greatest opportunity I’ve ever had.”
In keeping with the true form as a lover of puns, Miller offered a final joke, “What is Irish and stays out in your yard?”
“Paddy O furniture”, the group responded.
A fitting goodbye to a woman who has left her mark in the Island’s community and the hearts of many residents.
To learn more about the Living Strong program, contact Judy Steacy at 802-372-6425.
BY Mark Kennedy
SOUTH HERO -- More than 50 people of all ages participated in the fifth Champlain Islands CROP Hunger Walk, raising nearly $5,400 toward this year’s goal of $7,500, all contributions carefully counted and tracked by Lee English, Susanna Jaeger, and Kari Banas.
Bagpiper Joe Pobieglo led Walkers from the Congregational Church of South Hero (CCSH) last Sunday, Oct. 21, along South Street to Route 2 and back toward Hackett’s Orchard through spitting snow and blustery wind, with Carol and Dick Ernst in the warm CIDER sag wagon for any who needed a break along the way. Neither wind nor snow deterred most of the Walkers from enjoying lively conversation or frolicking in the leaves while making their way to Hackett’s Orchard and back to CCSH for Hackett’s apples, cider, and cider donuts.
Piper Joe happily surprised everyone by meeting the Walkers at Hackett’s Orchard, where Ron Hackett welcomed all and led the group to a leeward side of the Orchard where he described some of the 118 year history of the Orchard and his, Celia’s, and their family’s more than 50 years as its stewards. In the midst of trees spanning the Orchard’s entire history, including one of the original trees, Ron answered questions and discussed his family’s commitment to sharing the Orchards bounty. The Orchard annually contributes thousands of pounds of apples to the Vermont Food Bank and various Island organizations, as well as space, refrigeration, and other support for Food For Thought, the Island’s food and literacy program, sponsored by CCSH during long summer and sometimes winter school breaks and available to families whose children receive subsidized lunch during the school year.
Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Walk by publicizing, contributing, or walking. Contributors to this year’s Walk to date include dozens of individuals and families as well as many local Island businesses.
Additional contributions are needed to reach this year’s $7,500 goal and continue to be received on line (Crophungerwalk.org, Champlain Islands CROP Hunger Walk) or through the CCSH office, 24 South St., South Hero, VT 05486, checks payable to CWS/CROP. Contributions support local, national, and international short and long-term needs for food and clean water: 25% of the total raised remains in the Champlain Islands, shared evenly by Food For Thought and the Grand Isle County Food Shelf, located at the Grand Isle United Methodist Church; 75% of the total provides food and clean water following disasters, such as this year’s hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis, as well as long term through seeds, tools, training, and wells.