July 21, 2018

Archives for 2015

Quilt Display at Acton Library During February

OLD SAYBROOK – The Acton Public Library will be displaying Jane P.R. Nettleton’s original quilting designs in their atrium display case for the months of January and February.

The Acton Public Library is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. The library is open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

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Marshview Gallery Exhibits Work of Carlos Rios During February

marshview photo
AREAWIDE –
During February the Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook features the art of Carlos Rios.

Born in Colombia, Rios began his training at the Academia Superior de Arte and Bellas Artes in Colombia.  He moved to the U.S. in 1965 to further his education at the Paier College of Art in Connecticut.  He has lived with his wife in Milford for over 30 years.

Rios works in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors. His style and taste is eclectic, ranging from impressionistic to contemporary.  He is constantly experimenting and creating new works, as well as researching and developing new materials, media and ideas to use in the creation of new pieces.

His work is internationally known, and his original paintings and prints are in collections and exhibits throughout the world, including many foreign embassies. More information can be found at his website, www.carlosriospaintings.com.

A reception will be held Friday, Feb. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Marshview Gallery. All are welcome to meet the artist. Refreshments will be provided.

The Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc., 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. All ages are welcome to view the gallery.

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Romance Novels Featured in LVVS February Sale

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) has announced that February’s monthly book promotion gives all aspiring cupids an opportunity to shine.

Romance novels are the special feature of the month.  Pay just $1 for five selected paperbacks or $1 for all hardcover romance novels.

The book sale is located in the LVVS offices in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday 9 a.m. to noon.

All book sale proceeds benefit the LVVS tutoring programs. For more information, email info@vsliteracy.org or call 860-399-0280.

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Essex Library Hosts Wnek’s ‘Soul of the Landscape’ Photo Exhibit During February

'Whispers of Past' by Peter Wnek illustrate's the photographer's captivating style.

‘Whispers of Past’ by Peter Wnek beautifully illustrate’s the photographer’s captivating style.

ESSEX – Award-winning photographer Peter Wnek explores the ‘Soul of the Landscape’ in his exhibition and sale of fine art photography at the Essex Library, which runs through February.

‘Soul of the Landscape’ celebrates the beauty and spirit of our woodlands and waterways, as seen in Whispers of the Past and its breathtaking view along the Connecticut River. Wnek’s work captures the light and details one might expect from a painting—which is no accident. He has long been inspired by the purity and innocence of the American landscape as portrayed by the 19th century Hudson River painters. “I strive for that same warm light, the luminous or stormy skies, to invoke a charm or a mood,” he explains.

Wnek’s photographs often reveal the story of the landscape—its whisper of bygone days, the intrinsic cycles of nature. With a focus on local scenes, this exhibit speaks to the beauty that surrounds us, the coastal vistas and woodland spaces that are unique to our state. In a familiar kaleidoscope of colors, see the rising and setting sun, the harmony of sky and land, the collusion of rock and sea.

As Wnek explains, “I am intrigued by the soothing compositions and repetitive patterns that collectively reveal the Divine at work.”

Featured in this exhibit is Silver Glade, an image of trees on a ridge near Meriden. It recently won the Salmagundi Club of NYC’s 2015 “Henry O’Connor Award” for excellence, portraying the gentler, quieter landscape of New England.

It is that voice of New England which Wnek most hopes to capture in his photographs, “those intimate moments of our own landscapes” waiting to be revealed.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during the Library’s regular hours. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex. Call (860) 767-1560 for more information.

 

For more information about photographer Peter Wnek, visit www.PeterWnekPhoto.com.

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Essex Garden Club Brings Holiday Spirit to Essex, Thanks Residents for Support

Xmas policeman 2015
In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden club members decorated merchant window boxes and tubs of the villages of Essex as well as the town park gazebo on Main Street. Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, designers helped the town put on a festive face for the “Trees in the Rigging” held in November, and the Holiday stroll in December.

The “Silent Policeman” was decorated this year (from left) by Lumie Han, Gay Thorn, Eve Potts, Kirsten Wendell, Sandy French, Mylan Sarner and Liz Fowler. Thanks to both Liz Fowler and Suzanne Tweed for their efforts in coordinating the day of decorating.

Finally, The Essex Garden Club would like to thank the Essex community for its continued support, especially during their spring May Market and extends best wishes to all the resident of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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Tickets Still Available for ‘Caravan of Thieves’ in Chester, Feb. 28

Caravan of Thieves. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Caravan of Thieves. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Question: How does a hot band get recruited to play in a concert series?
Answer: One way is when it sneaks up on and knocks out the series producer.

This is how the booking for Caravan of Thieves, the musical ensemble that has dazzled audiences throughout North America with their creativity and showmanship, came to be. The band will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester in a concert open to the public.

David Zeleznik, the new director of the synagogue’s Music & More concert series, recalls that he had his first Caravan “experience” unexpectedly several years ago in Norwalk when it was the opening act for Hot Tuna.

“We had never heard of Caravan of Thieves before, but from the first song they immediately hooked us and were the subject of much animated discussion in the car ride home. Their songs are witty, completely original, and speak to the themes of love and life with a big helping of irreverence and fun. When I starting putting together this, my first season as producer of Music & More, I immediately thought of Caravan as my ‘producer’s choice’ selection for the series. My hope is that others catch the energy and get on board the Caravan Freaks bandwagon.”

Caravan of Thieves began as a duo consisting of Fuzz Sangiovanni (of Deep Banana Blackout fame) and his wife Carrie Sangiovanni. The two discovered their voices blended quite well with one another. Fuzz said, “It started as a romantic, bohemian vision of a couple making music, performing on the road, in parks, venues, traveling around and avoiding responsibility as much as possible …The first thing we discovered was we loved singing together, harmonizing our voices. Just seemed to click right away.”

The couple added a violinist and an upright bass player in 2008 and the band released their debut album Bouquet in 2009. Their second album, Mischief Night, was recorded at a sold-out show in Fairfield. Caravan of Thieves released a third album in 2012, and a fourth last year.

Fuzz said about the group’s third album: “We had a concept going in, both from a sound and production standpoint, lyrically and thematically. A lot of crazy stuff happens on the road, and we took our experiences from on and off the stage, and brought them into the studio with us.”

He continued, “Life is ridiculous, all our lives, like an amusement park ride. In this case, we picked a funhouse, since those are ridiculous too. And we wanted to expand the range of what we can do instrumentally but still keep it non electric, so we added a few more gritty and twangy stringed instruments that were fun to spank, like banjos, resonator guitars and ukuleles, as well as an orchestra of kitchen appliances for some additional percussive bang.”

Samples of Caravan of Thieves music can be found on YouTube.

Tickets ($25 general admission; no charge for children under 16) for this concert are on sale now and may be purchased online at cbsrz.org, or by calling the synagogue office at (860) 526-8920.  Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.

 

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You’re Invited to a Sunflower Painting Party, Feb. 28

sunflowerCHESTER – Come to Maple and Main Gallery on Sunday, Feb. 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. and create your own painting of a vase full of summery sunflowers.

Gallery artist Cindy Stevens is hosting the Sunflower Painting Party and will bring all supplies as well as walk participants through the process step-by-step so they can go home with a painting. No prior art experience necessary.

The cost is $40, and wine and light refreshments will be served. You can sign up and prepay by check or cash at Maple and Main; send a check to Cindy Stevens Fine Art, 30 East Main St, Clinton, CT 06413; or call Cindy at 860-304-1666 and pay with a credit card over the phone. Checks should be made payable to Cindy Stevens Fine Art. Space is limited and prepayment is necessary to reserve your seat, easel and canvas.

Maple and Main Gallery is at One Maple Street in Chester. More information at mapleandmaingallery.com or by calling 860-526-6065.

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Kids Share Their Love of Knitting in Chester, Feb. 28

Anne Winslow, left, started the popular Kids Knit program at Chester Library.

Anne Winslow, left, started the popular Kids Knit program at Chester Library.

CHESTER – When Anne Winslow was age seven, her grandmother taught her how to knit. Now this Chester grandmother teaches children how to knit at the Chester Public Library on Saturday afternoons.

The group has been growing and the 100-year-old library can get crowded. So the Kids Knitting group decided to share the art and fun of knitting with their friends. They will hold a knitting event on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 12 to 2 p.m. at the Chester Museum at The Mill, during Chester’s “Always on Sunday” happenings.

The event is free and open to all. All children must have parental supervision. Assistance will be provided for new knitters. Beginner supplies will be available, or please bring your own.

This event also gives the Kids Knitting group a chance to spread the word about their Knitted Squares Blanket project. They are collecting their knitted squares to be sewn into a blanket, which they will donate to a charity.

For more information, call Chester Library at 860-526-0018 or visit Facebook.com/ChesterCTPublicLibrary.

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Essex Garden Club Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

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ESSEX — Essex Garden Club members collected nonperishable food items for the Shoreline soup Kitchens and Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows.

Individual members and the club donated $1,705 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge. The total weight of the  food donation was 376 lbs.

Pictured packing the food for delivery are Barbara Campbell and Nina Thurston.

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Vista Embraces The Spirit of Giving

Vista Stuff a Bus - printFrom collecting food for local pantries to donating toys, the Vista community embraced the Spirit of Giving this holiday season by seeking out and creating opportunities to give back.

AREAWIDE — Eric Stuebner is among the many Vista members who were inspired to give back, donating several food items to the Westbook branch of Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Inc. – a nonprofit that operates several food pantries and meal sites scattered along the Connecticut shoreline.

“It’s the right thing to do to help people in need,” said Eric, a Westbrook resident.

For the Thanksgiving holiday, a group of Vista members organized a “Stuff-a-Bus” food drive for the Madison Food Pantry. Thanks to the contributions of students, members, staff and community members, a total of 272 pounds of food was donated.

Vista member Lauren Borges used her culinary skills as a way to give back to local first responders. To show her appreciation for their dedicated service, Lauren baked vegan dark chocolate chip cookies for the Clinton police and fire departments— which she hand delivered.

Perhaps the most popular way Vista members chose to give back was by donating toys. In hopes of making the holidays more cheerful for children in need, members Chris Bailey, Leslie Strasser, Linay Dibble, Julie Butler, Alex Drago and Matt Sarti donated toys to the Toys for Tots program.

Several more members opted to make a difference by donating articles of clothing. Member Sue Miller donated new gloves and winter hats to the “Mitten Tree” at Technique Printers in Clinton, which distributes donations to numerous local charities. Clinton housemates Matt Christiaanse, Laurie Seagull, Kirsten Hadad, Andrew Hart and Evan Brookman organized their own clothing drive to benefit Westbrook Youth & Family Services.

Vista students, members and staff are always proud to support the communities where they live and work, and the Spirit of Giving is especially important during the holidays.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501C3 nonprofit organization.  Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success.

For more information about Vista, visit www.vistavocational.org

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Valley-Old Lyme Warrior Football Alumnus Fairfield-Sonn Named All-American

All American Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn stands with his proud parents, Lynn and Jim Fairfield-Sonn of Old Lyme.

D3Football.com All-American footballer Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn stands with his proud parents, Lynn and Jim Fairfield-Sonn of Old Lyme.

Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn, who graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 2012 and now attends Amherst College where he is a senior safety on the College’s football team, was named to the 2015 D3football.com All-America team, and earned recognition on the Third Team Defense. Fairfield-Sonn played a key role on the Valley-Old Lyme Co-op football team while attending high school in Old Lyme.

Fairfield-Sonn became the fifth member of the Amherst football team to garner All-America praise from D3football.com. In addition to his most recent accolade, Fairfield-Sonn was also named to the D3football.com All-East Region First Team Defense, the New England Writers Division II/III All-New England Team and the NESCAC All-Conference First Team Defense.

Fairfield-Sonn also picked up two yearly awards and was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, while also claiming the Joseph P. Zabilski award – which is announced by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston and recognizes New England’s top offensive and defensive players for Division II and III.

Congratulations, Jimmy!

Click here to read the full article on which this article is based. The original article was first published on the Athletics section of the Amherst College website.

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‘Creating & Maintaining Change: The Path to Healthy Living’ at Essex Library, Feb. 23

visitingnursesAREAWIDE – Are there areas of your life that you would like to improve? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and say “if only I could be thinner, stronger, happier…” or “I wish I could worry less, have more energy,” etc.?

Research shows us that even small changes in lifestyle can have a big impact on our improving our health. So why do we feel overwhelmed and powerless to change? This interactive workshop will help you explore what is important to YOU and get you started with an action plan for success. Strategies for making healthy lifestyle changes you can live with will be explored.

This free event will be presented by Deborah Ringen, MSN, RN-BC Faith Community Nurse of the Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Essex Library.

Call the Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Adams Hometown Markets Raise More Than $7,200 For Families in Need

deepriverShoppers contributed more than $7,200 at Adams Hometown Markets during the past two months in support of The Great American Milk Drive.

Customers at 12 Adams Hometown Market locations made $1, $3, or $5 donations, with the funds raised distributed in the form of over 1,400 milk vouchers to clients of the Connecticut Food Bank.

 A similar drive last year was very successful, says Tony Groszew, Adams Hometown Markets’ Director of Sales, who expressed appreciation to the hundreds of shoppers taking part in the campaign.

The drive was part of a national effort aimed at providing highly desired and nutrient-rich gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most. The local effort also involved Guida’s Dairy, the New England Dairy Promotion Board’s Must Be the Milk program, and the dairy farm families of Connecticut.

The donation drive included Adams Hometown Market locations in Deep River, Derby, Milford, Shelton, Terryville, Thomaston, Watertown, Canterbury, Lisbon, Plainfield, East Lyme, and Portland.

“This was another impressive effort by Adams Hometown Markets’ management and its shoppers,” says Jill Monti, Regional Marketing Manager for New England Dairy Promotion Board. “There are hundreds of Connecticut households struggling to put food on the table, and while milk is frequently requested by families in need, it is not always available because it has been difficult to donate. The generous help of Adams Hometown Markets’ staff and customers really makes a difference in the lives of local families in need.”

Connecticut Food Bank Interim CEO Paul O’Leary adds, “We are grateful to Adams Hometown Markets and our partners at the New England Dairy Promotion Board for recognizing the importance of getting nutritious food into the hands of people who struggle with hunger. Their outstanding support and the generosity of Adams customers made this drive a great success.”

For more information on the Great American Milk Drive, visit www.mustbethemilk.com/milkdrive/

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The Movie Man: “Spotlight” Explores How “Globe” Reporters Exposed Priest Sex Scandal

Spotlight_movieTonight, I look back to a scandal that has rocked the institution that preserved Western Civilization in the Dark Ages, transformed hospitals, and, believe it or not, science. Thirteen years ago, the Boston Globe revealed a series of stories to the public, and many in the world began to distrust her. What I speak of is the Catholic Church, and the priest sex scandal.

This is a New England film, as many big parts of New England life are displayed throughout it via product placement. Dunkin’ Donuts, W. B. Mason, and other familiar logos are seen throughout it. For those of us who know Boston well, many popular, yet not mainstream popular, or, rather “hipster” streets are seen and spoken about through dialogue.

We begin in 1976, in which a bishop visits a Boston Police station in regards to a priest who abused a young boy, and he assures the boy and his parents they will never hear from the priest again, and the bishop and the priest then drive off. Twenty-five years later, members of the Boston Globe have a goodbye party for one of their editors who is stepping down after the New York Times bought out the newspaper.

New editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) comes in from Miami and expresses interest in going deeper into a case involving a priest, who severely abused countless children, as he feels there is something that is being hidden from the public.

How could somebody take on a church? This is the basic theme that is dealt with as the journalists from the Globe’s Spotlight section begin to dig deeper and deeper into this horrible scandal. A member of a survivor group, SNAP, comes to them, having previously tried to contact the paper many years prior. While his organization is small, comprised of only 10 members, Spotlight eventually catches on and realizes there has to be a scandal in their midst.

While they are presented with the same facts that we are today when we discuss the scandal, that perhaps only a very small percentage of ordained priests have engaged in such awful activities, they realize they need to take action because there are numerous victims out there with stories to be heard.

Several scenes take place in which the journalists meet with the survivors (as one asserts they are survivors because some ended up taking their lives) and they tell their stories. It is a completely heart-wrenching ordeal to listen to, as they describe being initially excited that their parish priest took an interest in them, only to violate the in the most unimaginable way.

Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston at the time, is our enemy, despite his cheerful and outgoing personality. The stories of Church corruption in the Middle Ages suddenly return to 21st century America. Cardinal Law is reaching out to officials, taking advantage of loopholes to keep legal documents confirming his corruption away from the public’s eyes.

And though he only appears in three or four scenes, he does not have the lasting effect of the antagonizing villain that we see in other films, such as Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs consisting of only 16 minutes of screen time, but earning the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and being ranked by the American Film Institute as the greatest villain in the history of film.

Many interesting points are made, as people bring up that these stories were brought to the newspapers on many occasions, but turned down. Michael Keaton’s character, Walter “Robby” Robinson, notes that he originally shot down the claims when he worked for a different section of the Globe 20 years prior, and another brings up that we all stumble around in the dark and only realize what has happened when the light enters. Boston is a tightly-knit community, one character says, pointing out that if it’s true it takes a village to raise a child, as he quips, it also takes a village to [destroy him].

I will not post a disclaimer to share that I am a lifelong Catholic, myself, and have been brought up in the Church in a very intimate manner. Baptism, CCD, First Communion and Reconciliation, Confirmation, Catholic high school, and even participated in campus ministry as a student at Quinnipiac. I do not intend to bash Catholicism, as journalists such as Christopher Hitchens might have done when reviewing a film like this, nor do I seek to engage in apologies, but rather to show the honest side of the faith.

This film has been received well by the Church, of all viewers, especially by Seán Cardinal O’Malley, Law’s replacement as Archbishop of Boston, who claimed the investigation by the Globe prompted the Church “to deal with what was shameful and what was hidden.” Vatican Radio also shared similar words, calling the film honest and compelling. Anyone who is involved with their local church can describe how there is now a zero-tolerance policy for things of this nature, and how Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have made these events a main focus during their papacies.

I will close with a reference to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, since I read all three volumes this summer … to my surprise. Plus, who doesn’t feel super smart when they close an article with a quote from a piece of classical literature?

(Dante addresses a pope who is confined to be buried face down into a furnace, who is guilty of simony [buying of sacred things])

And were it not that I am still constrained by the reverence I owe to the Great Keys [1] you held in life, I should not have refrained from using other words and sharper still; for this avarice of yours grieves all the world, tramples the virtuous, and exalts the evil.

Of such as you was the Evangelist’s vision when he saw She Who Sits upon the Waters locked with the Kings of the earth in fornication.[2] Gold and silver are the gods you adore! In what are you different from the idolator, Save that he worships one, and you a score?

Inferno, Canto XIX

[1] Papacy, the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” given to St. Peter by Christ.

[2] The Whore of Babylon, from Revelation 17-18

Kevin Ganey

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

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Friends of Essex Library Holiday Book Sale Continues Through Wednesday

Holidaysalepicture
ESSEX — The Friends of Essex Library are preparing for their Holiday Book Sale, featuring books in pristine condition suitable for gift giving, stocking stuffers, and hostess gifts—all with very attractive pricing.  Also included in the sale will be adorable Teddy bears, Essex Library canvas tote bags, seasonal CD’s and DVD’s.

The sale will run from Monday, Nov. 23, through Wednesday, Dec. 23, at the Essex Library, 33 West Ave., Essex.  For more information, see the library’s website at www.youressexlibrary.org.

The proceeds from this sale will support the Friends ongoing projects, special programs, and activities making the library a better experience for all who enter the newly installed doors, which were a gift from the Friends of Essex Library.

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Vista Hosts Day Program Open House, Jan. 19

Day Program members Yan Qin Keller and Josh Buglione participate in a painting activity. Photo by Vanessa Pereira.

Day Program members Yan Qin Keller and Josh Buglione participate in a painting activity. Photo by Vanessa Pereira.

WESTBROOK & MADISON — Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, a nationally accredited community-based education program for individuals with disabilities, is hosting an Open House for its Day Program on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Offered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Vista’s Day Program is a structured experiential day program in a peer-based setting. Participants in the Day Program enjoy a fulfilling and active schedule that includes work experiences, arts programming, group instruction, fitness, social skills training, outings and more.

The Day Program Open House will include a guided tour of Vista’s Madison Campus as well as the opportunity to meet Vista leadership and hear from current Day Program members about their experiences. This free event is ideal for families, friends, school district representatives and Department of Developmental Services caseworkers, but is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the program.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, Vista has been assisting individuals with disabilities achieve personal success for over 25 years. Accredited by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES), Vista provides an array of services to over 300 individuals and their families. Its population is comprised of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and ADHD.

To RSVP for the Day Program Open House, contact Vanessa Pereira at vpereira@vistavocational.org. Registration is also available online at www.vistavocational.org.

Vista’s Madison Campus is located at 107 Bradley Road, Madison

Editor’s Note: Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, visit www.vistavocational.org

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Donna Scott’s Slim-down Challenge Begins at Essex Wellness Center, Jan. 9

Essex Wellness Center

Essex Wellness Center’s ‘Fitness on the Water’ facility.

Essex Wellness Center welcomes new challenge from new manager

The River Valley Slim-Down Challenge, now in its fifth year, begins Jan. 9, 2016. It combines exercise and nutrition with a sense of competition and a chance to win some big bucks – all with the goal of losing a few pounds as we head into 2016.

The River Valley Slim-down Challenge was created by Donna Scott, CPR, WLS, formerly of IFoundFitness in Deep River, who has recently been named as Manager of Essex Wellness Center’s Fitness on the Water facility on Novelty Lane in Essex Village.  Scott is certified as a Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She is also AFAA-Certified as a personal trainer, Zumba and Mad Dogg spin instructor.

“The River Valley Slim-down Challenge has enough elements to keep people motivated to shed those pounds they’ve been thinking about. Built-in incentives keep participants on track, and the camaraderie to improve personal health is fantastic,” said Scott. “The Challenge isn’t only about losing weight; it also helps to improve balance, flexibility and overall fitness.”

To join the challenge, participants pay an entry fee of $65 and then agree to take a minimum of two weekly Fitness on the Water group classes such as yoga, spin, barre, bootcamp workout, Zumba, or one weekly personal training session. The entry fee includes an initial wellness assessment and nutrition workshops throughout the 12-week period as well as fitness tips, advice and supervision from Donna Scott.

The entry fee goes towards a jackpot, which also gets a boost from small “penalty fees” incurred when a participant misses a weigh-in or gains instead of loses weight in a particular week.

The prize jackpot will be divided by the three top “losers” in terms of body weight percentage. In addition to the jackpot, top ranking winners receive prizes from local businesses including Essex Wellness Center massages, and more.

“Everyone who has entered in the past has lost weight and feels better about themselves, which is the greatest reward of all,” says Scott.

To join the 2016 River Valley Slim-Down Challenge, call 860-581-8225 or email donna@essexwellnessctr.com The Challenge runs Jan. 9 through April 2, 2016. Participants may enter individually or as a group with friends or colleagues. Sign-up before Jan. 9 and receive a three-class pass to Essex Wellness Center’s Fitness on the Water.

To learn more about Essex Wellness center, visit www.essexwellnessctr.com or facebook.com/essexwellnesscenter.

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Letter from Paris: COP 21, Part II — Reaching Consensus was a “Tour de Force,” But Much Work Still To Do

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

cop21-logoAt 7.26 p.m. precisely on Saturday, Dec. 12, Laurent Fabius, president of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 21 , choking with emotion, announced that an  universal accord had been reached.  The several thousand people in the audience rose in a standing ovation and started congratulating each other.

After two sleepless nights, the “facilitators” wrenched out an agreement by consensus from the 195 Convention’s members.  The suspense lasted until the absolute final minute when Nicaragua tried to interrupt. It was too late — the president had already snapped down his gavel.  The conference could very well have been a failure – it had to overcome a block from the oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia –  but on that last day, there were no grim faces, as had been seen in Copenhagen, only a general enthusiasm. 

Credit should be given to the involvement of the French organizers.  For two years they traveled several times around the world to meet every leader.  President François Hollande was talking to president Xi Jinping just one month before the start of the Convention.  All paid homage to the professionalism of Fabius who seemed on a mission throughout the process. “You did an amazing job,” commented John Kerry,  while  Al Gore added, “This is the finest diplomatic performance I have seen in two decades.”

In a nutshell, the agreement reads as follows: 

  • its main objective is to limit the increase in temperature to “well below” two degrees by the end of this century 
  • developed countries should reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas and the developing countries should “mitigate” them 
  • Article 9 stipulates that “developed country parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing countries” 
  • the agreement, which will be ratified in April 2016, requires an annual payment of 100 billion Euros, with a revision every five years

President Barrack Obama is expected to use an Executive Order to avoid the likely opposition of the Republican majority in the Congress; in the absence of coercion and sanctions —  a mechanism of control by satellite (France is financing the “MicroCarb” satellite) — provides an attempt at transparency and ongoing verification by a committee of experts thus making the agreement de facto binding.

Never before has there been such an awareness of the threat caused by global warming. The vagaries of the climate and the fact that 2015 is the warmest year in recorded history contributed to this sense of urgency.  Today any debate about climate skepticism has become obsolete.  

What makes the Paris conference different from all the ones before is a groundswell of positive intentions.  For the first time the main polluters of the planet – China, the US and India – are on board and are determined to make the agreement work.  Already 187 out of the 195 countries have announced their voluntary contributions.

Today the action of society as a whole is crucial.  It is important to note that, at the Bourget, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), private associations and a number of organizations  were working just a few steps from the UN “Blue Zone” for government officials  (at the Lima, Peru, COP, they had been “exiled” 15 kilometers away).  Giant screens in the hallways made it possible for the general public to follow the proceedings, breaking away from the closed door policy of the past.

After the initial euphoria felt on Dec. 12,  a number of questions remains unanswered, some of the objectives are unclear – no date was set as to when to reach the greenhouse gas neutrality nor when to end the use of fossil energy, no price was put on carbon – and the unfairness of many decisions has become apparent – such as the financing  and the sharing of responsibilities between the “North” or rich countries and the developing countries — or to put it another way,  who pays whom and for what?  Until now Europe, and France in particular, have been paying a great deal.  A country such as Russia has not paid one cent so far.  Are China and India – the big polluters of the planet – still considered as part of the developing world and expected to be on the receiving end of hundreds of billions of Euros?

Nicolas Hulot, militant environmentalist and an icon in France, deemed  the agreement very positive even though it was not perfect.  “Such a movement of solidarity around the planet has never been seen before,” he stated, adding, “There is a momentum, which needs to be seized and followed by action.” 

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New Buses Arrive for Transit District

 9 Town Transit board members Leslie Strauss and John Forbis show off the agencies newest buses. Photo by Estuary Transit District.

9 Town Transit board members Leslie Strauss and John Forbis show off the agencies newest buses. Photo by Estuary Transit District.

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit welcomed four new buses into its fleet this December. The new buses feature the bright blue and green design and offer the latest in passenger comforts.  These buses will expand the district’s fleet to accommodate its tremendous growth in ridership over the past several years.  The total cost of $337,708 was paid for with Federal Transit Administration and Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

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Lorraine Lieberman Honored as LVVS 2015 “Unsung Hero”

LVVS's 2015 'Unsung Hero' Lorraine Lieberman

LVVS’s 2015 ‘Unsung Hero’ Lorraine Lieberman. Photo courtesy of Joanne Argersinger.

WESTBROOK — Lorraine Lieberman of Killingworth was awarded this year’s Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) “Unsung Hero” award at the annual LVVS Holiday Social on Dec. 8. Her many contributions throughout the years have helped both tutors and students to improving English language skills and the quality of life in our shoreline communities.

Lieberman is an active tutor, tutor interviewer and tutor contact person for the organization.  Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is most grateful for her dedication, service and ‘always going the extra mile’ in the cause of literacy.

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Acton Public Library Taking Applications for Honorary Position of Old Saybrook Poet Laureate

Acton Public Library is now taking applications for the honorary position of Old Saybrook Poet Laureate. Applications can be requested from the library or downloaded from the library’s webpage. The deadline for application submissions is January 31, 2016. All applications received will be reviewed by a selection committee, appointed by the library board.  The Old Saybrook Poet Laureate will be announced on March 18, 2016.  A formal recognition will take place in April, at the library’s annual poetry night celebration.

At their October meeting, the Acton Public Library voted to begin the search process for the first poet laureate for the Town of Old Saybrook, joining other communities throughout the state who have appointed residents to this position.

The mission of Old Saybrook’s Poet Laureate Program is to communicate the value of poetry and use poetry as a means to inspire, inform, and entertain the community at large. The Poet Laureate of the Town of Old Saybrook will serve as the ambassador of the community’s vibrant literary life, promoting its literary community and celebrating the written word.

To be considered for the position, a nominee must be a poet and resident of Old Saybrook, over 21 years old, and available and willing to collaborate with other Connecticut town poets to develop and present poetry-related activities that address the objectives of the laureate program. Interested poets can self-nominate or be nominated by others. Applications are available at the library, or may be downloaded from the library’s website. For more information, please contact the library at 860-395-3184, or our website: www.actonlibrary.org.

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Letter from Paris: COP 21 Tackles Climate Change in Challenging Times

Nicole Prevost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

All eyes are on the COP21 United Nations conference on climate change taking place in Paris from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12. The “Conference of Parties” or COP, have been held every year since COP 1 in Berlin, in 1995.

In the middle of nowhere, in an industrial and non-descript vacant lot – a preview of what our world will become if the conference does not bring concrete results – the Bourget site has been turned into an ephemeral city of tents, movable partitions and kilometers of carpets. The recyclable constructions will all disappear at the end of the conference. More than 3,000 journalists are covering the event.

The circumstances were exceptional, barely two weeks after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks. France is living under emergency rules and the danger is still present. More than 120,000 police, army and special forces are deployed throughout the country. Terrorism and global warming were on a collision course. It was a huge challenge for France to organize the conference. The highways and part of the beltway were closed to facilitate the arrival of the thousands of visitors. The Parisians had braced themselves for total chaos … but it turned out to be the most peaceful two days in a long time.

The inaugural day was quite a show of protocol. There was first the greetings of the 150 leaders, followed by photo-ops and smiles. Elham Aminzadeh, the vice-president of Iran, dressed in her long robes, walked past the French president and prime minister to shake hands only with Segolène Royal, French minister of the environment. Then everyone scrambled to find his or her place for the giant “family pnoto.” Leaders of Israel and Palestine or of Russia and Turkey had to stand apart to avoid a diplomatic incident.

This year the heads of States spoke at the outset of the COP. It was believed that their declarations of intent — powerful but brief (three minutes each) — would galvanize the public and give a boost to the working sessions to follow. One sensed a definite will to reach the objective of limiting the global warming to below two degrees by 2100. “Greenpeace could have signed Francois Hollande’s speech,” commented Jean Francois Julliard, the director of Greenpeace France. Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi announced his country’s support of an ” International Solar Alliance.” China is becoming the world first producer of renewable energy. The liberal new prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is changing his country’s attitude about the environment.

Early in the conference, 11 developed countries, including the US, France, England, Germany and Sweden, made the solemn commitment to contribute 250 million Euros for a transfer of renewable technology to the poorest countries.

In the 1970s, the advocates of ecology were not taken seriously and pretty much disregarded. Things have now come a long way from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which so few countries ratified or from the 2009 COP 15 of Copenhagen, which ended up with a weak and non-binding text.

At the midpoint of COP 21, its president, French minister of foreign affairs Laurent Fabius, exhorted the participants to seize the momentum. He urged delegates not to wait until global warming becomes irreversible.

The pollution of the atmosphere is measured in particles per million or “ppm.” To-day it is 400 as compared to 250 in the pre-industrial era. In Peiping, pollution is 25 times higher than that of Paris on it worst day.

In 1990, the developed countries (also labeled as the “North”) produced 14,000 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the emerging countries 7,500. In 2012, the North had slightly reduced its emissions to 13,000 and the “emerging countries “, called G77 + China , ( actually numbering 134 now), almost tripled their emissions to 20,000. It is ironic that the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) is still included among the “emerging” countries.

The main stumbling block at the COP 21 is whether the developed world will have to pay 100 billion Euros per year to the other countries even though they are profiting from the technology it created. Besides, if one has to wait for the “big emergents,” headed by China and India, in the name of “climate justice,” to catch up, the planet will be gone by then.

In the early evening of the inaugural day, I saw a convoy with blue strobe lights, going against traffic in a one-way street in front of my windows. Who could that be, I wondered? It turned out it was President Barrack Obama driving toward the very secluded three-star Ambroisie restaurant on Place des Vosges. In the elegant dining room, under crystal chandeliers, the president, John Kerry and their party seemed to have a great time with Francois Hollande and his cabinet ministers.

Nicole Prévost LoganAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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OSW 8th Grade Football Players Compete in FBU Championship

Left to right:  Justin Badolato, Jeffery Miller, and Dominic Santullo

Left to right: Justin Badolato, Jeffery Miller, and Dominic Santullo

Three Old Saybrook-Westbrook (OSW) Youth Football players have been named to the Connecticut 8th Grade team for the Football University National Championship.  Defensive lineman Justin Badolato from John Winthrop Middle School, linebacker Jeffery Miller from Westbrook, and center Dominic Santullo of Old Saybrook were chosen after a series of tryouts and will compete in the second round of tournament games this Saturday against Southern Jersey in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Round one was played in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.  Victory this coming weekend will mean they move on to compete against Indiana.

The FBU National Championship is described by the organization as the single biggest event in youth football.  Sixty-four teams from all over the United States and Canada representing their state or province battle in a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion. 6th, 7th and 8th grade divisions compete throughout the month of December to be crowned national champion. Participants include 6,000 athletes representing thousands of youth leagues. This year the FBU “Championship Weekend” is in Naples, Florida to showcase the best teams in the nation. All American Games, parent company of FBU, is a sports management and marketing company based in Rockaway, N.J., that produces and manages many of the nation’s premiere high school and youth sporting events, including the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for the country’s best high school players.

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Talking Transportation: Saving Money on Metro North

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

With the holidays upon us, let’s review some money-saving tips for riding Metro-North into the city for commuters and day-trippers alike:

TRANSITCHEK: See if your employer subscribes to this great service, which allows workers to buy up to $130 per month in transit using pre-tax dollars. If you’re in the upper tax brackets, that’s a huge savings on commutation. A recent survey shows that 45 percent of all New York City companies offer TransitChek, which can be used on trains, subways and even ferries.

GO OFF-PEAK: If you can arrive at Grand Central weekdays after 10 a.m. and can avoid the 4 to 8 p.m. peak return hours, you can save 25 percent. Off-peak’s also in effect on weekends and holidays. These tickets are good for 60 days after purchase.

BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE: If you buy your ticket on the train you’ll pay the conductor a $5.75 – $6.50 “service charge”… a mistake you’ll make only once ! (Seniors: don’t worry, you’re exempt and can buy on-board anytime without penalty.) There are ticket machines at most stations, but the cheapest tickets are those bought online. And go for the ten-trip tickets (Peak or Off-Peak) to save an additional 15 percent. They can be shared among passengers and are good for six months.

KIDS, FAMILY & SENIOR FARES: Buy tickets for your kids (ages 5 – 11) in advance and save 50 percent over adult fares. Or pay $1 per kid on board (up to four kids traveling with an adult, but not in morning peak hours). Seniors, the disabled and those on Medicare get 50 percent off the one-way peak fare. But you must have proper ID and you can’t go in the morning rush hours.

FREE STATION PARKING: Even stations that require weekday parking permits usually offer free parking after 5 pm, on nights and weekends. Check with your local town.

METROCARDS: Forget about the old subway tokens. These nifty cards can be bought at most stations (even combined with your Metro-North ticket) and offer some good deals: put $5.50 on a card (bought with cash, credit or debit card) and you get a 5% bonus. Swipe your card to ride the subway and you’ll get a free transfer to a connecting bus, or vice versa. You can buy unlimited ride MetroCards for a week ($31) or a month ($116.50).

BUT IS IT CHEAPER TO DRIVE?: Despite being a mass transit advocate, I’m the first to admit that there may be times when it’s truly cheaper to drive to Manhattan than to take the train, especially with three or more passengers. You can avoid bridge tolls by taking the Major Deegan to the Willis / Third Ave. bridge, but I can’t help you with the traffic you’ll have to endure. Check out www.bestparking.com to find a great list of parking lots and their rates close to your destination. Or drive to Shea Stadium and take the # 7 subway from there.

The bottom line is that it isn’t cheap going into “the city”. But with a little planning and some insider tips, you can still save money. Happy Holidays!

Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Celebrating a Year of ‘Pearls and Plaid’

The charming exterior of 'Pearls and Plaid' in Haddam.

The charming exterior of ‘Pearls and Plaid’ in Haddam, Conn.

Just a few weeks ago, on Nov. 12, local Haddam boutique “Pearls and Plaid” celebrated its first birthday. The store is located just a few shops down from the Goodspeed Opera House by the Haddam Bridge, making it a popular destination for tourists as well as regular townies.

A peek inside the store.

A peek inside the store..

The tiny store is packed with clothing draped on walls and mirrors, spread on top of and underneath chests and drawers, and hung on pipes. Kristin Lemley, who is both an employee and sister of owner Caroline Lemley, comments,“From the start she (Caroline) really didn’t want it to be a typical clothing store with racks and shelves. We wanted it to be interesting to look at and always changing.”

The store’s professed style is, “Where northern prep meets southern charm,” and its inventory certainly lives up to its logo. Rompers, dresses, jewelry, and various accessories are the most popular items in the store, and new items arrive just as quickly as the old ones sell out.

‘Pearls and Plaid’ is a great example of the local businesses that are the heart and soul of our small communities. These businesses bring the community together and provide a more intimate experience than larger scale corporations. Just as we rely on them to bring character to our local communities, they rely solely on our support to maintain their status.

A veritable treasure trove of items are always on sale at competitive prices.

A veritable treasure trove of items are always on sale at competitive prices.

Let’s commit to keep the charm and personality in our small towns by supporting ‘Pearls and Plaid’ and all the other small businesses in our local area to ensure many more anniversaries are celebrated!

Editor’s Note: Pearls and Plaid is located at 4, Norwich Rd., East Haddam, CT. Its regular opening hours are Tue-Fri: 12 to 6 p.m., Sat: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 860.876.7328.

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LVVS Congratulates Class of Fall 2015 Tutors

WESTBROOK — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) is pleased to congratulate the 2015 Fall class of tutors. Tutors are trained through comprehensive nationally accredited workshop sessions held by Literacy Volunteers. On completion of workshop sessions, trainees receive certification as a tutor and are assigned a mentor for support and guidance.

Trained volunteer tutors are matched with students in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading. Tutors carry out our mission of providing one-on-one tutoring to anyone seeking to improve their English skills. Through the LVVS services, students become acclimated to American culture and the English language resulting in them becoming productive, happy members of the community. There is no cost to the student.

Congratulations to the 2015 Fall class of tutors: Deborah Huddy of Clinton, Susan Taylor of Clinton, Rosanne Vinci of Clinton, Paul Aresta of Deep River, Karol Gardner of Deep River, Joseph Katan of East Haddam, Tricia Carey of East Lyme, Margaret Azarian of Guilford, Sandra Maccarone of Madison, Anne Maxwell of Niantic and Jane Gonzalez of Old Saybrook.

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Country School Selected as Finalist in United Arab Emirates STEAM Initiative

Learning through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Learning through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

The Country School is one of three finalists selected to advise the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Education as it seeks to implement a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum for all Kindergarten-3rd Grade students.

Following a global search, the UAE identified the independent Pre-School through 8th Grade school as one of its top three choices to assist with the planning and implementation of the nationwide STEAM initiative. If selected, The Country School will partner with SmartStart Education, an academic solutions company based in New Haven, to plan and oversee implementation.

“We couldn’t be more honored that our signature STEAM program may serve as a global model for 21st century learning,” said Head of School John Fixx. “For the past five years, Country School teachers have immersed themselves in this effort to inspire meaningful, deep, and lasting learning through integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. We know it works on our campus, and we look forward to sharing what we have learned with others across the globe.”

Fixx said The Country School was also delighted to be partnering on this venture with SmartStart Education, a team of administrators, teachers, and academics committed to helping people reach their full potential. He commented, “Like The Country School, SmartStart is all about promoting excellence in teaching and learning.”

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 200 students, ages 3-14, on its 23-acre campus in Madison. STEAM is one of several signature programs at The Country School; others include Elmore Leadership, Outdoor Education, and Public Speaking. Through STEAM, students are invited to tackle real-world problems that require them to ask challenging questions and work together to come to a solution.

By integrating all elements of the curriculum, STEAM engages all learners, and the hands-on, creative nature of a STEAM exploration means the learning will last. Perhaps most importantly, STEAM gives students the skills they need for success in the future—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—and the inspiration to be tomorrow’s innovators.

Since adopting the STEAM model five years ago, The Country School has shared its learning in a variety of ways: during a summer teacher institute, through periodic teacher workshops, and through a series of STEAM events for area students and families. In addition, Country School teachers have been invited to facilitate STEAM workshops at outside conferences.

The Country School also hosts regular forums on the topics of parenting and education through its Teacher Institute-Partnering with Parents program. The next Teacher Institute-Partnering with Parents event will have a STEAM focus when, at 6.15 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2016, The Country School hosts a screening of Most Likely to Succeed, the acclaimed new film that invites us to reimagine education. This has been brought forward from the previously announced 7 p.m. time to allow for a panel discussion and Q & A after the film.

Visit www.thecountryschool.org or contact communications@thecountryschool.org for more information.

For more about SmartStart Education, visit www.smartstarteducation.com.

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Artisans Harbor Announces New Artist Show, Addition of Custom Framing

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Artisans Harbor  is very pleased to announce the addition of -Ron’s Custom Framing Ron Staskelunas brings with him 10 years of custom framing experience. He apprenticed with the best in the business and honed his technique prior to launching his own framing business located at Artisans Harbor 188 Main Street Old Saybrook.

Ron’s expertise and creative eye will ensure each customer is more than pleased with a collaboratively selected frame, matting or shadow box for fine art paintings, photography, prints, mirrors, needlepoint, collages, posters, keepsakes, heirlooms, jerseys and pretty much any memorabilia.

Artisans Harbor is also announcing three new artists showing now through Jan. 15th. Pastel painter Steve Linde is a signature member of the Connecticut Pastel Society and also serves as its Vice President. He has won awards at the CPS Renaissance Shows. Mary Mellot has been painting in landscapes, still life, and portraits in oils for over 40 years and her paintings are in collections throughout the U.S. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her portraiture paintings.

Old Lyme artist Randie Kahrl’s painting style is varied and often unexpected. An artist who is still evolving, she has certainly mastered different aspects of art, and yet is anxious to always explore new areas and ideas, whether it is color, edges, impasto and texture or simply the tension created by dramatic lighting. Visit Artisans Harbor Wed.-Sat. 12-5pm.

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Follow the Stars Through Chester’s Holiday Festival, Tonight

Maple and Main Gallery, located across from the town Christmas tree, will be serving wine, appetizers and chocolates. Music will be provided by Sibling Thrivarly until 8 p.m. Enter the free drawing for an oil painting, “Star Gazing,” by Faye Mylen of Fairfield, her interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh's painting, “Starry Night.” The painting shown here of Chester’s own Starry Night is by Barbara Rossitto, a Galelry artist.

Maple and Main Gallery, located across from the town Christmas tree, will be serving wine, appetizers and chocolates. Music will be provided by Sibling Thrivarly until 8 p.m. Enter the free drawing for an oil painting, “Star Gazing,” by Faye Mylen of Fairfield, her interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, “Starry Night.” The painting shown here of Chester’s own Starry Night is by Barbara Rossitto, a Gallery artist.

Follow the stars through Chester’s Holiday Festival, tonight

“Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars,” Frank Sinatra sang. We can’t promise you the moon, but you can certainly play among the stars during Chester’s Starry Night Stroll on Friday, Dec. 4.

The annual Holiday Festival in Chester Center will be dazzling with starry specials and activities. The picturesque historic village will be beautifully decorated for the holidays and the streets will be lined with luminaries. Saint Lucia Girls will walk around offering cookie treats. Carolers will stroll through the village on their way to the town’s Christmas tree, which will be lighted at 6 p.m. while the community gathers for a sing-along.

All evening, the shops and galleries will offer light refreshments and beverages while you browse. At the Chester Gallery  the annual Postcard Show, where all art is 4×6 inches or smaller, will open with a champagne reception. Leif Nilsson will preview his new works of the Connecticut River Valley and his gardens beginning at 5 p.m. Bill Vollers is reopening Gallery 31 • 47, exhibiting new work in an expanded gallery space. Refreshments will be served.

Lori Warner Studio & Gallery will host a reception for Mandy Carroll-Leiva’s new small collection of champagne diamonds serving as the foundation and inspiration. Visit the Dina Varano Gallery to see the unveiling of Dina’s new collection created especially for this holiday season. On this special themed Starry Night, an original hand-painted, starry holiday card will be given away with every purchase.

The 4 Water Street businesses are offering prize drawings, sales, refreshments.

And that’s just a sampling of what’s happening on Starry Night in Chester!

Free parking is available in the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center.

 

 

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Sen. Linares, State Officials Honor Deep River Veteran

Left to right: Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Member PW Louthain, and Sen. Art Linares.

Left to right: Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Member PW Louthain, and Sen. Art Linares.

U.S. Navy veteran PW Louthain of Deep River was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 during a Nov. 30 ceremony at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The Hall of Fame was established in 2005 to recognize the continued contributions of Connecticut veterans to their cities and towns. This year, 11 veterans joined the 104 veterans who are currently in the Hall of Fame.

State officials, including State Sen. Art Linares, were on hand to congratulate Louthain and thank him for his service to his country and to his community.

Louthain served in the Navy for 20 years as a Senior Chief Machinist Mate and then worked for Electric Boat in Groton. While at EB, Louthain and a group of other U.S. submarine service veterans decided to sponsor and organize a Groton Sea Scout ship. A Sea Scout “ship” is the functional equivalent of a boy or girl scout troop.  As a member of the Westbrook Elks Lodge 1784, Louthain has served as liaison to the Westbrook-based Sea Scout Ship Stars and Stripes 1784.  The co-educational youth organization helps youth in the region to gain confidence and become good citizens.

“The inductees into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame have not only answered the call of their nation, they have answered the call of their communities,” Sen. Linares said. “It is what they have done beyond their military service that truly sets them apart as individuals worthy of this special honor. The example PW Louthain has set and his public service is most worthy of the respect and admiration of all Connecticut citizens. His volunteerism has inspired young future leaders in our region.  I was honored to join him and congratulate him on this memorable day.”

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‘Deck The Walls’ on Show at Lyme Art Association

‘Village Morning' by Barbara Lussier is one of the signature paintings of the exhibition.

‘Village Morning’ by Barbara Lussier is one of the signature paintings of the exhibition.

The Lyme Art Association’s (LAA) festive art exhibition and sale, Deck the Walls, opened Nov. 27 and is on show through Jan. 8, 2016. An opening reception featuring live music will be held next Friday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free and all painting purchases from 5 p.m. on Dec. 4 through 5 p.m. Dec. 5 will be tax-free.

More than 200 original works of art by member artists will be on display and priced to sell as holiday gifts. Artwork by newly inducted LAA Elected Artists will be featured in their own exhibition in the Goodman Gallery.

'Curious' by Kim Muller-Thym is featured in 'Deck the Walls.'

‘Curious’ by Kim Muller-Thym is featured in ‘Deck the Walls.’

“For Deck the Walls, the Lyme Art Association features a wide variety of appealing subjects at affordable prices that are great for holiday shopping. We hope to help solve those gift giving dilemmas – a beautiful piece of artwork is always appreciated!” says Jocelyn Zallinger, Gallery Manager.

The LAA is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 12 to 5 p.m., and by appointment. The building is located at 90 Lyme Street in Old Lyme, at the corner of Halls Road.

Call (860) 434-7802 for more information, or visit www.lymeartassociation.org.

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Old Lyme Town Band Gives Holiday Concert in Deep River Tonight

OL Town Band 01

Old Lyme Town Band

The Old Lyme Town Band will be performing a holiday concert in the Deep River Town Hall this evening at 7 p.m.  All are welcome and admission is free.

Other holiday concerts by the band in the local area through Dec. 16 are as follows:

OLTB

Visit OldLymeTownBand.org for more details.

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Letter from Paris: ‘Francofonia’ Explores German Attitude to Louvre Art During Occupation, but with Broader Message

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Like irritating mosquitoes on a hot summer afternoon, three fighter planes of the German Luftwaffe fly over a majestic and impregnable Louvre museum.  This is the opening image of Francofonia, a documentary reflecting on art and the courage of men fighting to protect it against forces of destruction.  A most appropriate and needed interlude at this particularly tense time for the humanity.

Although labeled a documentary, Francofonia – a Russian-German-French production – is part newsreels, part fiction, part poetic images. The film, directed by the well-known Alexander Sokurov, won an award at the September 2015 Venice Film Festival.

Count Wolff Metternich, a German officer of Prussian origin, walks down a vaulted hallway. He is there to meet  Jacques Jaujard, the French director of the Louvre.  The two men are stiff and on their respective guards.  Metternich asks Jaujard, “Do you speak German?” “No,” responds Jaujard, “The answer is, I am very French.”

A scene from 'Francophonia.' Image courtesy of Films Boutique.

A scene from ‘Francophonia.’ Image courtesy of Films Boutique.

Ironically both men are on an identical mission.  In 1939, most of the Louvre’s art work, including the “Victory of Samothrace” – the museum’s most illustrious treasure – was removed by the staff and hidden in the cellars of French castles.  Metternich had done precisely the same thing with the collections of the Cologne cathedral before the start of the war.

With an element of pathos, Sokurov imagines the visit of German military to  the Louvre.  Did they realize it was an empty place except for Assyrian winged bulls and other monumental sculptures, which might have been left on purpose to act as the watchdogs of an idea?

Two iconic guides take us through the deserted Grande Gallery.  A fat-bellied Napoleon, behaving like the host, points at the David’s painting of his coronation.  “This is me,” he says proudly. But  it is with irony that Sukurov shows “Napoleon crossing the Alps” by Delaroche as an undignified and tired man riding a mule  rather than the dashing rider imagined by David.  Our other guide, Marianne, wearing the distinctive Phrygian bonnet, repeats over and over  “Liberté,  égalité, fraternité.”

Sukorov accompanies us through an empty museum filled with the memory of treasures now gone.  A hand touches the diaphanous finger tips of a statue;  Clouet’s delicate portraits come alive;  and so do Millet’s peasants, sitting  by the fire, their deeply-lined faces showing their exhaustion.  The greyish, almost sepia, quality  of the photographs adds to the eerie feeling.

The camera moves in and out of the Louvre and depicts difficult scenes, which demand pause for thought.  A tanker is struggling in the fury of the Baltic. Will the works of art it carries in its containers survive or be crushed by the waves?  The frozen body of a well-dressed little girl lying on a street during the siege of Leningrad evokes the human suffering caused by war.

Francofonia is a complex film, which can be read on several levels.  It came on the Paris screens not long after the blasting of Palmyra and other archaeological sites by Daesh (ISIS).  The message is crystal clear — art, which is the legacy of our civilization, is too precious to die.

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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A Successful Year for the Essex Tree Committee

Red cedar

One of 33 Eastern Red Cedars planted at the West Avenue gateway

In 2015 the Essex Tree Committee received donations of 40 trees from both individuals and community organizations.  Thirty three of these trees were Eastern Red Cedars planted at the West Avenue gateway (see photo).  These were donated by the Essex Foundation and the Essex Fire Department.  Other trees included a Swamp White Oak tree located at the Methodist Hill donated by the Essex Police Union.  Two Princeton Elm trees, donated privately were planted at West Avenue and South Main Street.  A Sunset Red Maple donated by the Essex Rotary Club was planted also at South Main Street.  The Essex Garden Club donated a London Plane, planted at 15 Dennison Road. The Essex Tree Committee donated a Saucer Magnolia to the Essex Elementary School.  And Bartlett Tree Experts planted a Red Sunset Maple at 147 Dennison Road.

Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden, thanks all who donated trees to the town of Essex in 2015.  These trees will enhance the beauty of the streets of Essex for many years to come.

To make a donation to the Essex Tree Committee, please contact Augie Pampel at augiepampel@att.net.

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Cappella Cantorum Presents a Holiday Festival with Chorus & Brass, Sunday

Christmas-musicCome and celebrate the holidays at Cappella Cantorum’s Holiday Festival concert with chorus and brass, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

The concert will feature John Rutter’s ‘Gloria,’ Daniel Pinkham’s ‘Christmas Cantata,’ Hanukah songs, selections for brass and a carol sing.

Barry B. Asch is the Music Director and Conductor, Deborah Lyon is Assistant Music Director and Accompanist and Patricia Hurley serves as Cappella Cantorum Festival Brass Manager.

Tickets purchased in advance are $30 and are available at CappellaCantorum.org or by calling (860) 577-2950. Tickets at the door are $30, students $5 (cash or check only).

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Biographer Discusses Life & Times of Playwright Eugene O’Neill at Essex Library, Thursday

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O’Neill

ESSEX — The Essex Library invites you to meet with Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, Robert M. Dowling for a talk on the life of Eugene O’Neill and a signing of his biography: Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts on Thursday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library. The Irish Times calls the book “a powerful narrative”, and it has won praise from The Sunday Times, The Washington Post, Booklist, Provincetown Arts, and Publishers Weekly.

Dowling’s extensively researched book recounts O’Neill’s tumultuous life and highlights how the stories O’Neill told for the stage are interwoven with the events in the playwright’s own life.

Robert M. Dowling is a professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. He serves on the board of directors of the Eugene O’Neill Society and on the board of The Eugene O’Neill Review.

Books will be available for sale and signing through Essex Books. This program is free and open to all. Please call the Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’ by Edward O. Wilson

SocialConquest_Mech.inddWho are we?

This has been the eternal question of our curious and self-reflective species. Paul Gauguin, in Tahiti in 1897 in his final painting, expanded this question into three: D’ou Venons Nous? Que Sommes Nous? Ou Allons Nous?  (Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we going?) As the weather cools, it is time for some serious reading …

Edward O. Wilson, the noted Harvard chronicler of ants, has embarked on a trilogy to try and answer all three. The first, The Social Conquest of Earth, addresses the Gauguin threesome in short, pithy chapters, easy for today’s creatures accustomed to electronic social networks. No Proustian rambling for him!

“We have created a Star Wars civilization,” he begins, “with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life.” His argument, which represents the story of the evolution of social life and its driving forces, is controversial.

It goes like this: “The social conquerors of Earth” dominate today, but they include not only homo sapiens but also ants, bees, wasps, and termites, species that are possibly more than 100 million years older than us (we emerged several 100,000 years ago, only spreading across this globe over the past 60,000 years). It is altogether probable that these other “eusocial species” — less than two percent of  the one million known species — will remain long after we disappear.

Our human condition is both selfish and selfless: “the two impulses are conflated … the worst of our nature coexists with the best, and so it will ever be.” Our “hereditary curse” is “our innate pugnacity … our bloody nature (in which) individuals prefer the company of others of the same race, nation, clan, and religion.”

Wilson continues, “The biological human mind is our province. With all its quirks, irrationality, and risky productions, and all its conflict and inefficiency, the biological mind is the essence and the very meaning of the human condition.”

In answering the question, “What are we?” Wilson explores the origins of culture, language, cultural variation, morality, honor, religions and creative art, suggesting “human beings are enmeshed in social networks.” And in these networks, we express our “relentless ambivalence and ambiguity … the fruits of the strange primate inheritance that rules the human mind.”

Wilson submits that religions are logical hallucinations in response to the ever-unanswered question, determining that, “ … religious faith is better interpreted as an unseen trap unavoidable during the biological history of our species. Humankind deserves better … than surrender and enslavement.”

The final chapter of this engrossing and illuminating exploration asks, “Where are we going?” Do we have free will? Wilson answers his question thus: “We are free as independent beings, but our decisions are not free of all the organic processes that created our personal brains and minds. Free will therefore appears to be ultimately biological.” Are we social creatures? Wilson suggests, ” … group selection (is) the driving force of where we have been and where we are going.”

We, a convoluted and introspective species, live in an “extremely complex biosphere” in which we must respect the “equilibrium created by all the other species, plants, animals, and microorganisms around us.” Failure to do so may mean our collapse or even that of the entire system.

But Wilson concludes on an optimistic note, saying, “Earth, by the twenty-second century, can be turned, if we so wish, into a permanent paradise for human beings, or at least the strong beginnings of one.”

This first philosophical exploration of human existence has been followed by the second, The Meaning of Human Existence, published in early 2015, and the third, The End of the Anthropocene will follow shortly.

Together they require serious reflection.

Editor’s Note: The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O.Wilson was published by W. W. Norton & Co., New York 2012.

Felix Kloman_headshot_2005_284x331-150x150About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.

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LVVS Offers an Affordable Gift Idea

In the spirit of affordable giving, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is having a “Fill a Bag for $5” December book promotion on specially selected books.

The LVVS bookstore has a large variety of hardcover, paperback, and children’s books that include selections by well-known authors and topics such as gardening, crafts, and religion. Buy a bag full and fill a basket or stocking for a special reader or favorite teacher in your life.

LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive. Book sale hours are Monday-Thursday, 9-2:00 and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 10:00AM-Noon.

Visit www.vsliteracy.org or call at 860-399-0280.  All book sales, promotion or otherwise, benefit the LVVS tutoring programs in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading.

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Start the Season with ‘Trees in the Rigging’ Community Carol Sing & Boat Parade, Today

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights.

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights.

ESSEX  Kick off the holiday season in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade on Nov. 29.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars.

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Ave. and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum. The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 22th Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowed-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send an email to crm@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: Vessel name; Type of boat and description; Owner(s) name; Contact information (phone and preferred email); Decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). Registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Make your Own Parade Lantern

Carolers can make their own lanterns for the parade.  Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can. Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through. Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle. Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main St., Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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Ring in the Season in Chester Today

On Sunday, Nov. 29 Chester will “Ring in the Season” at its first Holiday Market of 2015. The town criers will ring out the news of what’s happening in town that morning.

On Sunday, Nov. 29 Chester will “Ring in the Season” at its first Holiday Market of 2015. The town criers will ring out the news of what’s happening in town that morning.

Once again Chester Center will welcome the holidays with its annual Holiday Market on four Sundays, Nov. 29 through Dec. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stroll through the picturesque historic Chester village while shopping the market of local growers and producers of artisan baked goods, jams and jellies,  fall vegetables, fresh seafood and meats.

Want fresh seafood? Local Catch will be at the Chester Holiday Markets each week with a wide selection.

Want fresh seafood? Local Catch will be at the Chester Holiday Markets each week with a wide selection.

To add to the holiday spirit, Chester shops, restaurants and galleries will be dressed up in their holiday finery and offering special holiday happenings. On Sunday, Nov. 29, the Holiday Market theme is “Ring in the Season,” so you’ll find ding-a-ling discounts in some shops and town criers ringing out the news of what’s happening in town.

Buy Chester! Chester Rotary hats, Chester Historical Society books about Chester, Chester ornaments from every year including the new one – all will be sold at Chester’s Holiday Markets.

Buy Chester! Chester Rotary hats, Chester Historical Society books about Chester, Chester ornaments from every year including the new one – all will be sold at Chester’s Holiday Markets.

A schedule of each week’s happenings will be at Facebook.com/ChesterSundayMarket and Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and will also be available at the market.

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Hadlyme Hall Fine Art & Crafts Show Runs Through 4pm Today

drawing_of_hallThe 14th annual Fine Art & Craft Show at Hadlyme Public Hall will be held over Thanksgiving weekend from Friday through Sunday. The event features artist Brian Keith Stephens from Old Lyme, Conn.

at_the_showAdmission for Saturday and Sunday is free. The show is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A variety of artists — many local — will be exhibiting mixed media, holiday home décor, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, stoneware, wood carvings, jewelry, pottery, and sculpture.

All the artists have been asked to prepare “Small Wonders” in order to be able to offer some pieces that are affordable for all and suitable for holiday gift lists.

A full listing of the artists exhibiting is given below

 

Phyllis Bevington – Oil On Canvas

JoAnna Chapin – Watercolors

Linda Elgart – Oils & Enhanced Giclees

Paula Emery – Oils & Collages

Maureen Girard – Mixed Media

Matthew Goldman – Prints, Books, & Cards

Bud Haines – Handcarved Birds

Bonnie Bryne LeMay – Oil Paintings

Jill Beecher Matthew – Palette Knife Oils

Thomas McLean – Oil Paintings

Ron Olansen – Oil Paintings

Cora Preibis – Oil Paintings

Erin Reemsnyder – Photography

Maureen Tarbox – Oils & Watercolors

Lisa Tellier – Oils & Watercolors

Amy Amelia White – Oil on Canvas

Paul Maulucci – Wooden Bowls

Julliet Rutigliano – Eclectic Sterling Jewlery

Paula Goldman – Silver Circle Herbals

Frank Michael Winiski – Metal Sculpture

Marcy Furphy – Mayflower Soap

Laurie Gelston Alt – Ceramic Sculpture

Nancy McKinnon – Ballek’s Nursery

Hadlyme Garden Club

Loreen O’Neil – Handmade Felted Bags

For further information, click here.

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Land Trust’s Annual Photo Contest Celebrates 10 Years

Michael Cathcart (Honorable Mention, Cultural Category, 2015 contest)

Michael Cathcart (Honorable Mention, Cultural Category, 2015 contest)

The deadline for the Tenth Annual Land Trusts Amateur Photo Contest is January 31, 2016. Entry forms for the contest will be available only by email after December 1, 2015 at photocontest@lymelandtrust.org.

Amateur photographers are invited to share their love of the natural world by entering their favorite photographs.  Children age 14 and under are especially encouraged to submit photos in the Youth category. Participants, no matter their town of residence, may submit photos that focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside of Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem, and East Haddam. Land Trusts in these towns sponsor this photo contest.

Submissions are accepted from the first to the last day of January 2016. Contest rules are available online at lymelandtrust.org. The link is http://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/.

Contest awards are being funded with the generous support of RiverQuest /Connecticut River Expeditions, Ballek’s Garden Center, Essex Savings Bank, ChelseaGroton Bank, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, and Alison Mitchell in honor of her late husband John G. Mitchell. John G. Mitchell was a life-long environmentalist and former photo contest judge.

A panel of three judges will award $100, $75, $50 and $25 cash prizes in each of five categories. The categories are Landscape/Waterscape, Plants, Wildlife, and Cultural/Historic (human interaction with nature, including domestic animals and buildings), for participants 15 years of age or older. Photographers 14 years old or younger may enter photos on any of these subjects in the Youth Category.

The Photo Contest will be judged by William Burt, a naturalist and wildlife photographer acclaimed for his beautiful books; Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and  Skip Broom, a respected, award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright.

All entered photographs, plus all winning photos, will be displayed and celebrated in a public reception Friday, March 11, 2016.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Essex Land Trust, the Old Lyme Land Trust, Salem Land Trust, and East Haddam Land Trust encourage amateur photographers to join the fun and share wonderful photos from these southern Connecticut towns. Previous Land Trusts Photo Contest winning photos, viewable at https://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/, highlight the beauty of these towns and the pressing need to preserve the environments within these towns.

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Concert in the Garden Features Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet, Dec. 13

Leif Nilsson Concert in the Garden will feature the Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet on Sunday December 13 from 4-6 pm.

Bistro style seating in the Gallery.  Gates open half an hour before the show.  First come – first seated.

BYOB (Shop at the Chester package store across the street!)

Suggested donation $10.

Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet

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Armed with a provocative, whiskey-soaked tone, New York based jazz vocalist Michelle Walker is a charismatic and very versatile singer that uses an artful blend of blues, bebop, swing and soul with playful rhythmic expressiveness. She bends the lines and pushing the boundaries of jazz vocal art with rich colors and adventurous flexibility. She moves easily from a dark, deep tone to a mid-range, swinging lilt. In her upcoming release, Love Misery, Michelle brings together a collection of jazz standards, original songs and her arrangements of contemporary pop tunes effortlessly with her own genre-bending style. Mike Joyce of The Washington Post says “Walker….has seductive charm…” A Stunner in Concert. Dave Nathan of All About Jazz says “…[Walker]…she has an extraordinary degree of musicality….” Michelle is often compared to Cassandra Wilson, Nina Simone and Betty Carter in style and tone. Over the past 10 years, her group has toured internationally and has been a premier performer at Festivals, Concert Halls and Performing Art Centers including the lighting of the White House Christmas Tree.

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Happy Thanksgiving … and Let’s Talk Turkey

We wish all our readers a very happy Thanksgiving holiday and are pleased to republish an article that our good friend Linda Ahnert wrote for us in 2007 to celebrate Thanksgiving that year, but it it still as topical today as then.

Who Doesn’t Love Thanksgiving?

Giving thanks_bookSeveral years ago, a book entitled “Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie” was published. The co-authors are Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation, Mass., and Sandra L. Oliver, food historian and publisher of the newsletter “Food History News.”

The book is a fascinating look at how an autumnal feast evolved into a “quintessential American holiday.”

Most Americans, introduced to the story of the Pilgrims and Indians during childhood, assume there is a direct link between the traditional holiday menu and the first Thanksgiving. But we learn from the book that many of those food items—such as mashed potatoes and apple pie—were simply impossible in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. Potatoes were not introduced to New England until much later and those first settlers did not yet have ovens to bake pies.

What we do know about the bill of fare at the first celebration in 1621 comes from a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow to a friend in England: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

Later 90 Indians joined the party with “their great king Massasoit whom for three days we entertained and feasted.” Then the Indians “went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation.”

So venison was a principal food on the menu. It also seems safe to assume that mussels, clams, and lobsters (all in plentiful supply) were served as well. According to other journals of the colonists, the “fowl” that Winslow described were probably ducks and geese. But wild turkeys were also bountiful in 1621, and so it is very likely that they were on the Pilgrims’ table. Thank goodness for that.

Throughout the New England colonies, it became common to proclaim a day of thanksgiving sometime in the autumn. In period diaries, there are many descriptions of food preparation—such as butchering and pie baking—followed by the notation that “today was the general thanksgiving.”

By the 19th century, Americans were taking the idea of a “thanksgiving” to a whole new level. The religious connotations were dropping away in favor of a holiday celebrating family and food. Roast turkey had become the centerpiece of these fall celebrations.

Turkeys, of course, were native to North America. (Benjamin Franklin, in a letter, had even proposed the turkey as the official U.S. bird!) And turkey was considered to be a fashionable food back in the mother country. Just think of the significance of turkey in Charles’ Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” When Scrooge wakes up in a joyful mood on Christmas morning, he calls to a boy in the street to deliver the prize turkey in the poulterer’s shop to the Cratchit family. (Earlier in the story, the poor Cratchits were dining on goose.)

It is thanks to a New England woman that Thanksgiving became an American holiday. Sarah Hale was a native of New Hampshire and the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” a popular women’s magazine. She lobbied for years for a national observance of Thanksgiving. She wrote editorials and sent letters to the president, all state governors, and members of Congress.

Finally, in 1863, she convinced Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day might help to unite the Civil War-stricken country. The fourth Thursday in November was now officially on the American calendar.

Connecticut’s own Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this description of a New England Thanksgiving in one of her novels—“But who shall . . .describe the turkey, and chickens, and chicken pies, with all that endless variety of vegetables which the American soil and climate have contributed to the table . . . After the meat came the plum-puddings, and then the endless array of pies. . .”

The autumnal feast became a national holiday, but each region of the country put its own spin on the menu. Not to mention that immigrants have also added diversity. The result is a true “melting pot” of America. The second half of “Giving Thanks” contains recipes that reflect what Americans eat for Thanksgiving in the 21st century.

In the South, for instance, the turkey might be stuffed with cornbread and there would be pecan and sweet potato pies on the table. In New Mexico, chiles and Southwestern flavors may be added to the stuffing.

There’s the “time-honored traditional bread stuffing” recipe. There’s also one for a Chinese American rice dressing and directions for a Cuban turkey stuffed with black beans and rice. Desserts run the gamut from an (authentic) Indian pudding to an (exotic) coconut rice pudding. Old-fashioned pumpkin pie is included as well as the newfangled pumpkin cheesecake.

But no matter what food items grace our Thanksgiving tables, it seems that we all end up stuffing ourselves silly. Perhaps overeating started at that very first harvest celebration in 1621. In Edward Winslow’s letter describing the feast with the Indians, he noted that food was not always this plentiful. But he wrote his friend in England “ … yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

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The Movie Man: See ‘Spectre’ … Though It’s Not Bond’s Best

Headshot_v2We’re delighted to welcome a new writer to our fold today. Kevin Ganey joins us as our movie critic: he will be submitting regular reviews of movies in a variety of genres. He has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at Shoreline Web News LLC, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

He opens his column series with a review of the latest Bond movie, ‘Spectre:’

"Spectre poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

“Spectre poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

“Bond. James Bond.”

Since the 1962 release of Dr. No, six actors have had the pleasure of playing the iconic James Bond, or 007. For many years, it had been consider blasphemy to assert that any of the six actors aside from Sean Connery was Bond, as in he truly embodied the character and was the first actor moviegoers would think of when somebody brought 007 up in conversations. However, on a cold night in November of 2012, as I left the Niantic Cinema after seeing Skyfall, I literally proclaimed to others that Daniel Craig, not Connery, was Bond.

I do not think that I am alone when it comes to this opinion. My younger brother shares it, and he also proudly tells people that he knows every line to Craig’s first film as Bond, Casino Royale. We are fans of Craig’s gritty approach to the character, a quiet man with a killer’s stare, a force with which to be reckoned. He was not as comical as Roger Moore, or as suave as Pierce Brosnan, or, as my mom says, “campy” like Sean Connery. Each actor brings a new approach to Ian Fleming’s iconic spy, and I must say that I am more than satisfied with Daniel Craig’s interpretation.

So, it was with great pleasure that I embarked on a journey to Westbrook’s Marquee Cinema 12 on the premiere date for Eon Production’s 24th film about the secret agent, Spectre. When I was 11-years-old, my parents gave me a DVD collection that contained seven Bond films, which included Dr. No, Goldfinger, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Licensed to Kill, Goldeneye, and Tomorrow Never Dies, and I was quickly captivated by this heroic figure. As soon as I learned this film’s title, I immediately remembered the organization of the same name that Bond was constantly combating in the earlier films. The name stood for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.

This film begins just weeks after Skyfall left off, with Judi Dench’s M still in the memories of all MI6 agents, replaced by Ralph Fiennes. Bond has just completed a semi-rogue mission in Mexico City (ordered by Judi Dench’s M just before she died in a video message), thwarting a terrorist attack during a Day of the Dead celebration. Grounded by the new M, Bond requests help from Moneypenny and Q to make him disappear in order to find more information in regards to the mission he just completed.

He is led back to a member of QUANTUM, a criminal organization — Mr. White, whom he encountered in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, now leads him on the trail to the even bigger organization “Spectre,” headed by a mysterious man named Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz. M also deals with the emergence of a young government official, whom Bond calls C, running a new organization that monitors criminal activity, who also seeks to bury the Double-O system.

This film brings the previous four Bond films together, as all the villains were connected somehow before, and, without giving away too many spoilers, Oberhauser reveals this to be a form of revenge against Bond, as he knew him very intimately in the past. And I take a further risk by saying this to ardent Bond fans: Oberhauser reveals himself to be a memorable character from the earlier films.

I was expecting a great performance from Waltz, since he has won two Academy Awards over the last five years, but sadly, I was unhappy with his portrayal of a Bond villain. And my disappointment was compounded because Javier Bardem, who played the villain in Skyfall, and is also an Academy Award winner, gave what I consider to be one of greatest performances as a bad guy in that movie.

But Spectre does have its redeeming qualities. Sam Smith’s credit song, “Writing’s on the Wall” (I think this was also a reference to an exchange between Bond and Q in the 1995 installation, Goldeneye) was enjoyable and had a similar approach to Adele’s “Skyfall.” Q provided entertaining gadgets, including the classic donation of a multi-purposed watch, as well as humorously “giving” Bond an incomplete Aston Martin.

The main team that we are familiar with at MI6 (M, Q, and Moneypenny) is much more hands-on than they have been in the past, with all members in the field, partaking in the missions, in contrast to previous installments when Q stays in his lab, Moneypenny helps brief Bond and shows hints of her crush, and M behind the desk scolding Bond for going rogue.

But the way I saw it as I entered the movie theater, as long as you did not have a song by Madonna or an invisible car (both came from Die Another Day, which was the reason for rebooting the series), we were in for a good Bond film. Granted I should not enter a movie theater thinking “as long as it was not as bad as X, then it’s a great movie!”

What I will say is that it was a decent film, worthy of being a part of the Bond series. It is not the best, as I came in expecting greater things, but nonetheless, I have no problem including this on a list of Bond films to binge watch (an interesting millennial term) in a weekend. I would definitely recommend this movie to fellow movie-goers, not because of its critical value, but simply because it is an installment of the world’s most famous spy.

Who’s the other guy again? Jack Ryan?

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Letter From Paris: Thoughts on the Aftermath of Friday the 13th

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.10.55 PMThe Nov. 13 attack was not the end of it.

The Parisians lived through a first somber weekend listening to the non-stop sirens of police cars. On Nov. 18, RAID (Recherche-Assistance-Intervention-Dissuasion), assisted by hundreds of special police forces launched a massive assault in St Denis, barely one kilometer from the Stade de France and next to the 12th century basilica of the kings of France. At four in the morning and for seven hours the tiny street became a war scene of incredible violence. Explosions shook the shabby buildings so much that walls and floors collapsed.

Two suspects, a woman and a man, unidentified for almost two days, were found in the rubble. Terrorist Salah Abdelslam was still on the run. Every day the police uncovered new details about the terrorists — in Montreuil and in the 18th arrondissement. On Nov. 23, a belt with explosives was found on a sidewalk in Montrouge, south of Paris. The Belgium connection intensified, particularly in Melenbeek, a town with a mostly Moslem population and 85 mosques. One week after the French attack, a major terrorist threat forced the Belgian capital to shut down for several days.

How are the French coping? They feel “80 percent anger and 15 percent pain,” commented Thierry Pech, head of the Terra Nova Fondation. One feels outraged that petty delinquents, often on drugs, would commit such atrocities. A mood of mourning and solidarity spread throughout France.

We are now in another era, prime minister Manuel Valls declared, and we will have to learn how to live with terror but must not give in to it. The French people have heard this sobering message and are behaving with great dignity, albeit with nervousness. At no point did the citizens feel an infringement on their personal freedom. Public debates , such as the Friday night TV show “Ce soir ou Jamais”, are more heated than ever.

There was a temporary disconnect between the politicians and the general public. During a stormy session at the Assemblée Nationale, Les Republicains (LR) (new name of UMP) gave a hard time to the prime minister. Catcalls and jeers made his speeches barely audible. The right wing daily Le Figaro explained how Christian Jacob, leader of the LR parliamentary group, instructed his party to calm down. On the following day, the behavior of the deputés was exemplary as they voted unanimously to prolong the Etat d’urgence (state of emergency) for three months.

To reassure the population, the government took several security measures including the creation of 10,000 posts in the police and border control personnel. A major change in the Code Pénal was put in place to facilitate searches of private homes and house arrests, as well as preventive arrests without the intervention of a judge. Close to one thousand searches were carried out last week, which is more than during a full year under normal circumstances. To enhance the efficiency of the police, the definition of legitimate defence is being altered.

The Patriot Act, signed into law by the US Congress on Oct. 21 2001, developed surveillance on the whole nation and the gathering of “metadata.” It is very different in France, since the new administrative and judiciary steps, taken by the Executive, are targeted at a concrete enemy of about 11,000 dangerous individuals, registered on the “S” form, living in the midst of the population, practically next door. In the US, the task of protecting the country is shared between the Justice Department, the Homeland Security, the FBI and the 50 states. In France, overall responsibility lies with the Ministre de l’Interieur – at present Bernard Cazeneuve.

When it became known that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was finally identified in the St. Denis assault, a co-author of the terrorist attack of Nov. 13, had been on the loose for several months, it literally infuriated public opinion. Flaws in the surveillance system became obvious. That man was well known by the Intelligence officials, had taken part in four out of six recent aborted attacks, and, at one time, was convicted to 20 years in prison. He made several round trips to Syria and apparently passed easily through porous airports, including Istanbul.

Close to one million migrants have entered Europe since the beginning of the year and there is no end in sight. Should the Schengen principle of free circulation of people and goods within the European Union (EU) be suspended? The Paris correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung thinks that, to abandon Schengen, would be a very serious threat to the survival of Europe.

But many disagree with that opinion.

The “Schengen Space” was created in 1985 for five countries and intended to function in peaceful and normal times when the external frontiers were real. That is not the case any more. How can Greece, financially broke, stop or at least control 80 percent of the migrants who have landed on their shores?

The European Commission is trying to alleviate the situation somewhat. One decision is to apply the PNR (passenger name record) even on EU nationals entering the continent. The other is to intensify the controls of arms and assault weapons’ spare parts coming mainly from the Balkans. The idea of depriving bi-national jihadists of one of their nationalities is also being considered.

On the diplomatic and military scenes, the repercussions of Nov. 13 have been huge. It seems to have caused a major turn- around in the main powers’ policy – a 180 degree shift, one might say. No one wanted to admit they were making concessions, but they did. Suddenly Putin recognized that the Russian plane had indeed been blown up over the Sinai desert. He changed course and started limiting his air strikes to Daesch (ISIS) and no longer to Syrian rebels. In a recent interview in the courtyard of the Elysée Palace, John Kerry did not mention the ousting of Bachar al-Assad as a preliminary condition to negotiations. The French, who had been the most hawkish among the warring countries prior to 2012, skipped Assad’s removal as well. It is concentrating the action of its Rafales on Rakka, the self-proclaimed capital of Daech. At this point, none of the main powers are willing to put “boots on the ground.” The only boots one has seen so far are Kurdish boots.

This will be a marathon week for François Hollande: Cameron on Monday, Obama on Tuesday, Merkel on Wednesday and Putin on Thursday. His objective is to build up a single coalition against Daech.

Intense soul-searching and analyses by experts are going on to try and understand a conflict to which we have never before been exposed. Can we win a war against terrorism? No, said former minister of foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin. We cannot defeat this invisible enemy, which we have helped create.

What is Daesch really and what does it want? To destabilize our society by increasing the divide between Moslems and our secular values, says Gilles Keppel, professor at Sciences Po and a specialist on Islam. Philosopher Alain Finkelkraut believes that Daesch is not just reacting to the bombings. He says that by nature it is a conquering culture and today it is on a crusade to destroy the West.

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Vista Members Publish Memoirs

From left are Evan Brookman, Devery Morgan, Jocelyn Ruggiero, Dana Rupley and Matt Christiaanse during the memoir reading at CREATE Art Studio. Credit: Vanessa Pereira

From left are Evan Brookman, Devery Morgan, Jocelyn Ruggiero, Dana Rupley and Matt Christiaanse during the memoir reading at CREATE Art Studio. Credit: Vanessa Pereira

Four members of Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center have accomplished a feat many have only dreamed about— publishing a book.

Evan Brookman, Matt Christiaanse, Devery Morgan and Dana Rupley recall memories, life experiences and even look to the future in memoirs they wrote and published during a seven-week Vista Arts Center class taught by writer Jocelyn Ruggiero. These newly published authors shared passages from their books on Nov. 12th during a reading held at CREATE Art Studio in Madison.

“I liked telling my story to my family, friends and Vista staff,” said Dana. Her memoir, “Pieces of My Life,” recounts her early years at Vista and includes anecdotes about loved ones. “I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

In his memoir, “My Life at Vista and Beyond,” Evan, too, focuses on his time at Vista. He chronicles his journey through the program—from the nerves he experienced his first week, to the confidence and friendships he has developed over the years.  His book also serves as a tribute to his late grandmother, of whom he shares fond memories.

“I thought making part of [the book] about her would be a perfect way to honor her,” Evan said.

Matt took a different approach in his memoir, “My Life.” Instead of recalling a memory, he imagines what the future may hold and details his aspirations of moving to Los Angeles to become an actor and singer.

Devery, who Jocelyn called a prolific writer, centered her memoir on a more emotional topic—the cause of her disability. In “I Fought My Way in Life,” she tells the story of how her life was forever changed after being involved in a car accident at age two.

Although a painful story, Devery enjoyed the writing process. She said writing gives her a voice and allows her to express things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

“For me, writing is like a painting where you have nothing on paper, but in time, you will get a beautiful picture and writing is the picture,” Devery said. “If I could write for a living, I would be in heaven!”

Copies of these memoirs are available for purchase. For information, contact Arts Program Manager Amanda Roberts at aroberts@vistavocational.org.

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Volunteers Needed for Tax Preparation Assistance

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help low- to moderate-income households prepare and file their taxes to ensure they get back the money they have earned.

VITA is a national program of the IRS, and volunteers are trained and certified to ensure that working families and individuals are filing for all of the appropriate tax credits. The program also helps families who might be struggling financially by saving them costly fees associated with tax preparation and rapid refund loans.

The program is looking for volunteers for two VITA sites located in downtown Middletown to provide free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers. Tax preparation is offered January 23–April 12, 2016 at Middlesex United Way’s office in 100 Riverview Center and at NEAT’s office on Main Street.

No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers complete training and are certified by the IRS. Training will be held January 4-7 or January 11-14, 2016, and volunteers need to attend consecutive evening sessions.  Volunteers will be trained to let taxpayers know if they qualify for additional tax credits, such as the federal and the state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one 4-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons and evenings or on Saturdays; maintain confidentiality of all client information; and interact with the public in a helpful and supportive manner. Opportunities to become certified as an advanced tax preparer are also available.

In 2015, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned more than $770,000 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average adjusted gross income of about $21,000 and received an average refund of $1,656, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

To volunteer or learn more, contact Leah Meyer at 860-227-7409 or leah.meyer99@gmail.com.

VITA is a free program offered by the federal government. Local VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

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Head for the Woods Today with Old Saybrook Land Trust

OSLT Board members on the Oyster River property after it's purchase was complete in 2014. L-R Bob Lorenz, Joe Nochera, Cathy Malin, Ann Gamble, Barb Guenther, Laurel Friedmann, Mike Urban and John Ogren.(photo by Jen Gamble)

OSLT Board members on the Oyster River property after it’s purchase was complete in 2014. L-R Bob Lorenz, Joe Nochera, Cathy Malin, Ann Gamble, Barb Guenther, Laurel Friedmann, Mike Urban and John Ogren.(photo by Jen Gamble)

OLD SAYBROOK – Saturday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Old Saybrook Land Trust will work on their property fronting the Oyster River. The public is invited public to join in the fun/work and share in a barbecue lunch.

The OSLT purchased the six acres in 2014 and has since worked to remove excess brush and improve accessibility. Come on out to help continue the work, or just stop by to enjoy the late fall weather and meet some OSLT members. This property is a great bird watching area, and a knowledgeable naturalist will help with spotting and identifying the many types of birds known to frequent the area. Bring binoculars if possible.

To reach the property, travel on Ingham Hill Road by McDonald’s in Old Saybrook, and look for the Old Saybrook Land Trust Event sign along the right hand side of the road near mailbox number 68. This is a free event.

For more detailed directions and other information , visit oslt.org, or send an email to oldsaybrooklandtrust@oslt.org.

 

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Letter from Paris: Je Suis en Terrasse — Reflections on Life After the Terrorist Attacks

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

For the second time in 2015, Paris was the target of the terrorists. But, in contrast to the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre, the attacks were not made in the name of an idea, like freedom of expression — especially of the press, or to single out the Jewish community, but aimed at French society as a whole. The blind rampage was intended to butcher the greatest number of normal Parisians having fun on a Friday night.

The killings took place almost simultaneously in five places obviously following a well prepared scenario acted by three professional and heavily armed commandos. Never before had the French been exposed to kamikazes. The carnage left 129 dead, 355 injured including more than 99 in critical condition.

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It all started at 9.20 p.m. at the Stade de France, north of Paris, on Friday, Nov. 13, where the Bleus were playing against a German soccer team in front of 80,000 spectators. President François Hollande was in the crowd. He left discreetly at half time. In spite of two explosions, the match went on uninterrupted to avoid the panic. Afterwards the public lingered on the lawn, still dazed. Spontaneously the crowd started singing the Marseillaise. Outside the stadium, the double suicide had left a scene of destruction. The social networks went to work. Taxis offered free rides. Twitter launched an operation “open doors” to disoriented people.

In rapid succession , the terrorists drove from one crowded place to another in the 10th and the 11th arrondissements to proceed with their slaughter: Le Petit Cambodge, the Carillon bar, the Cosa Nostra restaurant and finally La Belle Equipe on Rue Charonne,

An American rock group was on stage when four terrorists broke into the concert hall Bataclan packed with an audience of 1,500. They started shooting blindly at people. From the account of a seasoned policeman, the scene of horror was apocalyptic. Bodies were lying in pools of blood. After holding a group of hostages for three hours and using them as ramparts against the assault of the special forces, the terrorists blew themselves up, using their belts padded with sophisticated explosives.

Why was the 11th arrondissement again the main target of the terrorist attack? Since I live there, I have pondered over this question. Ann Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, gave some of the answers during an interview on TV. The 11th, she said with some pride, is a multi-ethnic, socially mixed population with large and visible religious communities. It has a distinct personality, rebellious and rather impertinent. The French call these types of people “bo-bo” (meaning bohemian-bourgeois.) It is an unpalatable cocktail for the IS (Islamic State).

The other reason why terrorists seem to be attracted to the 11th might be the availability of good hiding places in this working class arrondissement – the largest of Paris. Geographically the 11th is close to “difficult” suburbs. Finally, It is near the highway leading to Brussels. The inquiry has revealed connections between the authors of the Paris attack and the Molenbeek district, a hotbed of radical Islam in Belgium.

Eiffel_Tower_model_flowers

As it is often the case at time of crisis, people show their best side. It certainly was true with the French who rose up above their usual attitude of self-disparagement. Here are just a few examples — the police, the SAMU (ER), the Red Cross, the army, the BRI (brigade de Recherche et d’Investigation), the RAID (Recherche-Assistance-Intervention-Dissuasion) and other elite units could all be considered as heroes. Doctors and surgeons happened to be on strike on Friday Nov. 13, but returned to work with news of the killings. Some even volunteered in services other than their own. At the Pompidou hospital, dozens of volunteers waited three hours to donate blood. People living near the attacks opened their apartments to wounded victims.

François Hollande acted as a compassionate and strong president during the crisis and announced immediate security measures to reassure the population. He declared a etat d’urgence or highest state of alert, suspending temporarily individual liberties and including the delay of all street manifestations, of public gatherings and the closing of monuments, etc. It was a bleak sight for the tourists to see the Tour Eiffel lost in darkness. To emphasize national unity, Hollande convened a Congress made up of the National Assembly and Senate in solemn Versailles. It was the first time that had happened since the Algerian war in 1962.

The French colors appeared on monuments around the world in an amazing show of support. President Obama was the first leader to make a declaration; Angela Merkel, who marched in the streets of Paris on Jan. 11, extended her message of friendship; David Cameron declared – in French – Nous sommes tous solidaires. The Moscovites laid flowers in front of the French embassy in Moscow. In a different tone, Bashar al-Assad told the people of France: you suffered last night, but think of what the Syrian population has lived with during the past five years.

One detects an acceleration of terrorist attacks: Ankara in October, Lebanon and the crash of a Russian plane in November. IS is now exporting its war to other countries. It is an assymetric war since one side welcomes death. Zero security is impossible to guarantee. All one can do is to minimize the danger .

For the past 15 years, France has been on the front line of the war against radical Islam and acted alone in the Sahel, Mali, Nigeria, Chad. For the past two and half months, France has taken part in the air strikes over Syria. This is a brave but dangerous policy, probably untenable in the long term.

Bernard Guetta, specialist in geopolitics and commentator on France-Inter, described the Nov. 13 tragedy as a shock therapy, which might lead to a strong coalition able to defeat IS.

On Sunday, two days after the attack, the Parisions were still nervous. I was walking on the Bastille square when police cars suddenly cordoned off the avenue — rumor of an explosion spread. In a panic, people started running. I had to run also so as not to be caught in the stampede. Thankfully, it was a false alarm!

It is your duty as a citizen, a comedian joked on the radio the other day, to sit on the terrace of a cafe and have a drink to show you are not afraid. To-day, one does not say, “Je suis Charlie,” but rather, “Je suis en terrasse.”

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