Category Archives: Categories

Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

Deb Howland-Murray calls herself “a portrait artist who benefited tremendously from growing up in Westport’s artistic environment. After a sojourn for college and adventures, I returned to Westport. I have lived here for the past 35 years.” 

She writes:

Each spring people pour out of their houses and into nature, shedding months of cold the way a snake sheds its skin.

This year brings new significance to this outdoor migration: a heightened longing for beauty and distraction in the spring of COVID-19.

Maybe that’s why so many people flock to Winslow Park. They come not only to walk dogs, but to enjoy its 28 acres of sunny fields and dense woods. They are parents with children riding scooters and bikes, joggers, couples sitting in conversation on the park’s benches, and teenagers anxious to try their skills on the dirt bike jumps in one of the forested, trail-laced sections of the park.

The Winslow Park dirt bike course. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Winslow is a treasure. Now more than ever, it’s a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. I’ve watched it come to life this spring, delighted in April’s little purple flowers, the massive trees leafing out in May, the fields that now read yellow with buttercups.

These are such a sharp contrast to the trash, broken glass and empty vape boxes carpeting the dirt bike section of the park.

Vape boxes litter the dirt bike area. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

I like to watch the teenagers barreling down the course’s steep hill and becoming airborne on the ascent. But it saddens me that the fun is coupled with such disrespect for the surrounding environment, one that’s dotted with wonderful examples of human creativity as well as natural beauty.

The dirt bike course was created by enterprising teenagers, and adjacent to it there is a remarkable lean-to someone made from large branches. Next to the lean-to, a picnic table waits invitingly in the shade. I’ve seen people meditating there.

But who would want to stop there now? Who could bring their small children to play among the empty cans and vape boxes? Which paw will be the first to be sliced by glass shards? When will an unknowing puppy be drawn to the scent of food on a snack wrapper and make the unfortunate mistake of swallowing it?

Trash left on tables. The lean-to is in the back. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Don’t get me wrong. I love teenagers; I raised 5 of them. An avid skier and hunter-jumper rider, I’m all for the excitement of speed and the joy of flying through the air. I want the kids to have fun in the park. They seem like good kids, wearing their helmets and respectfully keeping a physical distance when they meet others on the trails. They’re polite.

I’m happy that they have a safe, outdoor place to congregate in small numbers at such a difficult and disappointing time to be a teenager. And I’m not interested in passing judgment on what they might or might not be drinking or smoking. That’s up to their parents.

But speaking directly to you, young people: Nature is not your trash can. The park is there for all to enjoy. Now especially, we need to add what we can to each other’s enjoyment.

The Winslow Park lean-to. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Please, kiddos: Create whatever mess you want in your rooms – I certainly did. Just bring a bag with you to the park, collect your garbage and drop it in the trash cans when you exit.

We dog owners do the same. Believe me, collecting your garbage is not nearly as gross as what we are collecting and ferrying to those cans! But what if we didn’t? What if the area you enjoy was full of the kind of waste no one wants to step in?

So, c’mon. Litter-ally, place your drop in the massive bucket of consideration we need right now. It’s not too much to ask.

Once Homeless, Comedian Stands Up For Homes With Hope

It sounds incongruous: an organization providing housing and support services for homeless people sponsors a night of stand-up comedy.

Isn’t that a bit tone deaf?

Not at all. For one thing, it’s a fundraiser. When you ask for money — even for a cause that’s no laughing matter — it helps to offer something in return.

For another, the 4 comedians headlining Homes With Hope‘s June 20 “Stand Up At Home” benefit all believe in the organization, and its mission.

Cristela Alonzo

Cristela Alonzo sure does. She’s the first Latina to create, produce, write and star in her own US primetime comedy (ABC’s “Cristela”). She’s also the first Latina lead in a Disney Pixar film (“Cars 3”).

Plus this: For the first 8 years of Alonzo’s life, her family squatted in an abandoned South Texas diner. Her mother worked double shifts as a waitress, but they were homeless and destitute.

Alonzo is eager to participate in next month’s livestream. She is particularly inspired by Homes With Hope’s sponsorship of Project Return, the program that teaches life skills to homeless young women ages 18 to 24 in a warm, safe environment.

The comedian relates strongly to them. Her Mexican mother — who died when Alonzo was 22 — never learned English. She never met her father.

Alonzo was working as a server when she answered a help wanted ad for office help. It turned out to be a comedy club. She lied about her qualifications, and got the job.

“Everyone I knew did physical labor,” she said the other day from her home in California. “I never knew stand-up comedy was a job. Using your mind seemed outlandish, impossible.”

Comics at the club liked her. Some encouraged her to try comedy herself. Keith Robinson predicted that one day she’d be a comedian. She thought they were being nice.

A year later, Alonzo gave it a shot. “It stuck,” she said simply.

Her style is “very personal. If I mention healthcare, I talk about how we made do without it.” She paused. “In a funny way, of course.”

She’s had support from icons like Wanda Sykes. But — as a Latina comedian at a time when there were virtually no others — she forged her own path. “I built my house while designing the blueprint,” is her description.

Cristela Alonzo is proud to support organizations like Homes With Hope.

Yet comedy is only one part of Alonzo’s life. She is an activist on behalf of Latinos, immigrants, the disenfranchised and underrepresented. She sits on the advisory boards of organizations like People for the American Way; La Union del Pueblo Entero, founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and Define American, a nonprofit media and culture group.

“Talking about my struggles normalizes them,” she said. “I thrive in the trenches. When I do stand-up, I can talk about what I have learned doing activism.”

For the once homeless comedian, comedy is “a dream come true. I love it.”

And next month she’ll love helping an important Westport organization raise much-needed funds, so they can keep helping homeless people too.

(Joining Cristela Alonzo on the”Stand Up at Home For Homes With Hope” livestream on June 20 are Roy Wood Jr., the host of Comedy Central’s storytelling series “This is Not Happening”; Hari Kondabolu, whose comedy album “Mainstream American Comic” debuted at #1 on iTunes, and Mark Normand, whom Jerry Seinfeld called “the best young up-and-coming comic” in 2019. There are special appearances by Staples High School graduate/”Dear Evan Hansen,” “The Greatest Showman” and “La La Land” composer/lyricist Justin Paul; Westport resident/former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. For tickets and more information, click here.)

 

 

COVID Roundup: Retail Reopening; World Bee Day; College Admissions; More


Tomorrow is a red-letter retail day. Natalie Toraty — owner of Noya Fine Jewelry on Riverside Avenue — writes:

“Tomorrow morning, many small privately-owned businesses will reopen their doors. We all do it with great relief, and heavy heart since the unknown is greater than the known. Some of us won’t survive this crisis. The next few weeks will determine if we can keep going.

“Most of the stores reopening throughout Westport are privately owned local businesses. Hopefully that will bring people out, and might fill the gap we all have of interactions, conversations, shopping and going out.

“Now more than ever, supporting small local businesses is crucial — for the town, for the businesses, and for everyone’s real estate investment.

“We can all shop international brands all over. But what our local boutiques offer is different: a different experience, unique service and personal taste. We cater to the local shopper, our customers. We all have a niche.

“We all have guidelines, and we must comply. Our shoppers need to follow guidelines as well (wearing masks, social distancing, etc.). Many of us have stricter rules than were asked for. Please support us!


Among the many Westport businesses reopening tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20): Savannah Bee.

Bee-lieve it or not, that’s also World Bee Day!

The popular Bedford Square shop will open Monday through Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Sunday (12 to 6 p.m).

Curbside pickup is available for those who want it. Just call 203-557-6878 or email julie@savannahbee.com

Through Bee Day, Savannah Bee will provide:

  • Honeybee information packets and “Adopt-a-Bee” through their “Bee Cause” charity (over 600 free, educational observation beehives throughout the US and Canada).
  • Info on Westport’s Pollinator Pathway information, and emblems.
  • Free honey straws, temporary tattoos, and fun activity packets for youngsters to learn everything they can do to save bees.
  • Families can learn about healthy and safe ways to treat lawns and gardens without pesticides.

“We want to stay open in Westport,” says store manager Julie Cook. “We truly appreciate all the support you continue to provide us over the past 3 years. Westport needs Savannah Bee and we need you.”

She signs it, “All my bee-est.”


No one knows what college will look like going forward. But a group of experts has some ideas.

They’ll share them next Tuesday (May 26, 7 to 8:30 p.m.).

Steinbrecher & Partners — the Main Street educational consultants — present a live webinar. Topics include the college admissions process going forward, the relevance and future of testing, and college expectations for the Class of 2021 and beyond.

Panelists include admissions deans and directors at Boston University, Union College and Rhodes College, and the founder and CEO of Carnegie Prep. Moderator Richard Avitabile of Steinbrecher, who for over a decade oversaw admissions for 7 New York University schools.

For free registration, click here.


One more sign the world is slowly returning to normal: Stop & Shop’s shelves, early this morning:

(Photo/Molly Alger)


But here’s another “sign of the times” photo. We’ve all seen plenty of “Westport Strong” and “We’re all in this together!” signs. This one off South Compo was a tad less optimistic:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


And finally … “Don’t breathe too deep/Don’t think all day.” That — as any “Rent” fan knows — it what it’s like when you’re “Living in America/At the end of the millennium.”

Or the middle of a pandemic.

Friday Flashback #192

Today’s the day: The Compo Beach parking lots and Longshore golf course reopen (with many COVID-related restrictions).

Beachgoers will see plenty of changes: no picnic benches or grills. No bathroom access. Limited parking capacity.

Golfers will adapt too. There’s no carts, no putting, no slicing your shots (just kidding about that one).

Compo and Longshore always change. Usually of course, it’s incremental.

Check out this 1935 aerial photo of the beach (bottom), Longshore (left side), and environs. What changes do you see, from 85 years ago? Click “Comments” for anything interesting that catches your eye.

 

At Staples High, Distance Learning Is Far From Remote

Staples High School’s distance learning experience got off to a bumpy start.

Though administrators and teachers had made plans in case schools closed, it took a few days after the sudden shutdown on March 11 for staff and students to figure out what really worked.

New technology was part of it. So was adjusting to new ways of interacting, new rhythms, new expectations.

But teachers and teenagers soon settled in. Since September they’d built relationships, bonds and trust. All were needed as they navigated unfamiliar educational waters.

Since March 11, Staples High School has been empty of students and staff. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The other day, principal Stafford Thomas asked students for feedback. Emails poured in. There were pages of praise for teachers of subjects that can be taught somewhat easily online, like math and English, and those that are more difficult (music and culinary). Students praised administrators, counselors and paraprofessionals too. Someone even cited School Resource Officer Ed Wooldridge, who visited a student on her birthday.

Here’s a tiny sampling:

“Mrs. Howden has remained a beacon of positivity. Her care and compassion for students is clear in every email she sends, call that she makes and Hangout that she hangs out in. She attempts to connect with her students every day, provides great reassurance they can do the work, and praises them when they produce.”

“Mrs. Herzog has been very understanding and kind throughout this process. She truly cares not only about her students’ success in class, but their mental health as well. It is because of her that I have been able to push through in these dark, scary times.”

“Mrs. Colletti -Houde set up Google Hangouts to talk about workload and changes to our schoolwork. She lightened up our classes by having us make a ‘class playlist.’ Her group assignments allow us to mimic in-class activities and have a little fun, while still learning as much as we would in the classroom.”

“Ms. Neary always supports her students, through our educational and laughter-filled Google Meets, the numerous recipes she posts to liven up our monotonous schedules, or her daily posts that brighten our day. She constantly goes the extra mile. She always asks how she can improve her teaching for us.”

“Mr. Giolitto is very flexible. He allows you to time manage yourself, while still helping us feel connected with other classmates. He takes time to carefully craft our assignments.”

“Mr. Young writes us a letter every day about what we are going to do in class, why it is important, and how he misses us. He is awesome, and makes me want to read and write more.”

“Ms. Lin recognizes what it’s like to be in our position. She’s so open with letting us know we don’t have to be perfect all the time. She has taught me the importance of just taking this (and life in general) one day at a time.”

“I can video call Ms. Wirkus after class. She explains a difficult concept to me, even while taking care of her own children.”

“Mr. Abraham has gone out of his way to record teaching videos of himself. Something as little as hearing his voice, as opposed to one he found online, has really boosted my spirits. And he responds by email the minute someone asks a question.”

“Ms. Delmhorst made a folder where we put things like birthdays, videos, recipes to boost morale. She is very organized, which makes things less stressful for me.”

“Mrs. Thomas has kept math lessons consistent with her teaching style the rest of the year. That means a lot to me, because I need a structured curriculum.”

“Mr. Rosenberg constantly teaches us new and interesting ways to sing well.”

“Mr. Baskin (substitute teacher) works with me daily, helping shepherd a resistant 10th grader towards completing her research paper, making videos with me so we can show Intro to Journalism students how to conduct them, giving feedback and life lessons to World Literature and AP students. What an asset to our community.”

Radio production teacher Geno Heiter earns raves for the way he conducts his virutal classes.


It has not been easy. World language teacher Joseph Barahona admits, “the first 3 weeks were a total nightmare. I felt like I was a new teacher, working 11 to 12 hour days. Having 8- and 11-year-old at home, trying to help them with their distance learning while trying to come up with a modified curriculum and new platforms was the biggest challenge.

“Fielding a slew of emails from parents and students was exhausting. I am the least tech person in the world, so switching online was challenging and frustrating.

“I also had to temper my high expectations for students, trying to find the sweet spot between the right amount of challenge but not too much. I reached out to them to see if I was giving too much or too little work.”

Like her colleagues, English teacher Barbara Robbins missed seeing her students every day. Once she began using Google Meet, “it began to feel more like we were back in our cozy classroom.” Seeing their faces and hearing their voices lifts her spirits. She keeps meetings small to increase engagement, and meets every day with students for individual help.

She’s also chatted with her class about the importance of reading for pleasure during a time of hardship.

Barbara Robbins and her 12-year-old daughter Scarlett offer a message to students.

Social studies instructor Daniel Heaphy already had projects lined up. But he soon found difficulties contacting some students, and designing assignments that were both valid and practical. “As teachers, we’re used to things being one way, with our own standards. We had to adjust for the greatest good,” he says.

English teacher Brendan Giolitto notes, “It’s difficult not giving feedback face to face. You learn so much more about students based on body language, tone, etc. It was hard getting a feel for how students were faring in a digital classroom.”

He has given his students autonomy — choices in readings and writing topics, for example. If they have ownership of what they’re doing and feel their assignments are personal, he says, they can find meaning in this new style of education.

Math instructor Jen Giudice misses being able to draw a reluctant student into a classroom discussion. She also misses “the synergy of students working together, and discovering things in small groups.”

She is used to learning new technology, but not “all at once and in uncharted territory. I wanted so badly to have it all up, running and perfect right away. I didn’t want my bumps in the road to discombobulate thins for the students.  I wanted things from my side to be seamless — yet it wasn’t.”

English teacher Ann Neary maintains continuity by “dressing as usual.” She has learned to give “super concise directions,” and slowed the pacing of her lessons. She set up “virtual Socratic seminars,” small group book clubs, and records her lessons for those who cannot be there when class meets.

Her priority is “the well-being of my students”; her challenge is “maintaining community and building empathy.” To help do that she posts recipes for bagels, links to yoga videos, and photos of herself dressed as characters in the books she’s reading. Here’s a screenshot of herself teaching, and as Anne Morrow Lindbergh:

As teachers and students adapt to, and even embrace, distance learning, small moments stand out.

For Giolitto, it was reconnecting with his “Connections” class. That’s the program — introduced this year — in which teachers meet with small groups twice weekly, for 20 minutes each; they’ll stay together throughout their Staples careers.

“All year, we’ve worked to build a community at Staples. To have a majority of my group show up and discuss everything — school, positives that are happening in their lives, TV shows, even Tiktok — brought a sense of normalcy and comfort in difficult circumstances.”

Giudice — who praises her math department colleagues for their help through the distance learning effort — says, “each day, the simplest events keep me going. At the end of our Google Meet sessions, so many students say ‘thank you’ before signing out. All of their voices chime in. It makes it all worth it!”

The first time Barahona ran a Google Meet class, every new face that popped up on screen filled him with joy.

“Seeing them made me realize how much I truly love teaching, and how much joy students bring to my life,” he says.

One of Enia Noonan’s world language students brings his her pet snake to lessons. The class is learning about him — in Italian, of course — while other students have played the piano, ukelele and marimba.

Siblings who studied Italian at Staples before graduating have made guest appearances during her “virtual Italian coffee bar conversations.”

“We’re lucky that our students see the value in face-to-face interaction, especially while studying a new language,” Noonan says. “They play an important part in making distance learning effective. They are my raggi di sole — rays of sunshine — throughout this experience.”

Friday Flashback #192

I have a tough time remembering what I did yesterday.

Fred Cantor knows where he was exactly 50 years ago today: Friday, May 8, 1970.

The alert “06880” reader/amateur historian/attorney/documentary producer was with several Staples High School classmates, watching his beloved New York Knicks win their 1st NBA title.

The other day, he emailed several detailed paragraphs about that night. They’re not germane here — though in this sports-less world, ESPN should interview him ASAP.

The reason Fred contacted me is because 3 years later — when the Knicks won their 2nd (and only other) crown — David Levine created a famous 4-page poster for New York magazine.

Fred feels a particular connection to that piece, because that summer he worked at the Longshore tennis courts. There he met Levine — a summer resident here from 1956 to 1977.

In 2011, the Westport Library featured an exhibit of the famed illustrator’s work. That was one of many. He had shows across the US and Europe. Levine’s caricatures were featured in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Playboy, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Nation and for over 40 years, The New York Review of Books.

One of David Levine’s most noted caricatures was of President Lyndon Johnson, in 1966. He had revealed a gall bladder operation scar to the public (photo). The artist envisioned it as a map of Vietnam — and added a Pinocchio nose.

Levine’s son Matthew now lives here. He’s an artist too. His works have been featured often on “06880,” and he manages his father’s art estate. David Levine died in 2009.

In 1988, David Levine drew New York real estate developer Donald Trump wearing a suit — and diapers. In 2015, as Trump was beginning his run for the presidency, it sold at auction for $1,500.

As for that Knicks poster that Cantor remembers so well?

He’s not the only one. It hangs today in the Museum of the City of New York, part of an exhibition on basketball.

Known mostly for his caricatures, David Levine also painted watercolors. This is “Compo Beach, Low Tide.”

Friday Flashback #190

By now, you’ve probably binge-watched every television series you ever thought about watching. Plus many you never would have thought of, unless there’s a stay-at-home-in-a-pandemic order.

You’ve probably also watched every movie you ever wanted to see. Plus all those everyone told you you should see, even if their taste in movies sucks.

You can’t watch sports on TV, even if you hate sports, because the only live events are dart championships and soccer in Belarus. (I’m not kidding.)

But wait! There’s another entertainment option! 

Sure, Manny’s Orphans was filmed in 1978. Yeah, it’s a “Bad News Bears” ripoff: A team of misfit orphans plays an elite prep school in soccer. (Spoiler alert: The orphans win.)

Yet there are many compelling reasons to pop this one in the ol’ VCR (or click below).

  • It was directed by Westport’s own Sean Cunningham (just before he got his big breaks with “Friday the 13th” and “Spring Break”).
  • It starred many local kids, as both orphans and Creighton Hall prep school snobs.
  • It was filmed almost entirely in Westport and Bridgeport (you don’t think the orphans lived here, do you?). One of the best scenes involved a massive food fight in the posh, wood-paneled Greens Farms Academy library.
  • Yours truly was deeply involved. I recruited many of the actors. I choreographed all the soccer scenes. I even played the referee (and have an IMDb page to show for it).

Yeah, that’s me. Go ahead, laugh. As referees, we’re used to it.

Westport loved it. There was a world premiere at the Fine Arts Theater. Junior high girls shrieked when their classmates appeared on the big screen, wearing only their underwear.

No, “Manny’s Orphans” did not sweep the Oscars. (To the best of my knowledge, not even the referee was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.)

The Creighton Hall snobs.

Yes, it went from the Fine Arts almost immediately to airplane distribution, bypassing most theaters entirely.

What a movie!

But still, it’s ours. If you don’t have anything to do tonight — and sorry, but you know you don’t — why not gather around the TV or laptop, and watch The Greatest Soccer Movie Ever Made.

Or at least the few clips available on YouTube.

 

And when you’re finished with that, check out Sean Cunningham’s other Bad News Bears ripoff, also filmed in Westport with local talent: “Here Come the Tigers.”

You can find it, at least, on Amazon Prime.

(Hat tip: Russell Sherman)

COVID-19 Roundup: Gardens; $$$; More

 


The Westport Garden Club‘s spring plant sale is always a red letter date for green thumbs.

Like so many other events, it’s fallen victim to the coronavirus. But, the club says, it’s only postponed — not canceled. A new date will be announced soon.

COVID-19 has not knocked other plans. Members of the 96-year-old organization continue to beautify and maintain gardens and cemeteries all over town.

They’ve been busy at Grace Salmon Park, Nevada Hitchcock Park, Adams Academy, Earthplace and more. No more than 2 members work at any time, and they keep far apart while weeding, pruning and planting.

Next up: extending the Pollinator Pathway project begun last year, and enhancing the town with floral accents.

Beautiful Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Ginger Donaher)


Westport Rotary Club grants are usually a big deal, unveiled with fanfare at a big May meeting.

This year, the pandemic forced a change. $80,000 in funding was announced by email. And it’s going out now — not next month — because for many recipients, the need is urgent.

Thanks to fundraisers like LobsterFest, and ongoing hard work by members, Westport Rotary can help 35 local organizations. They include Staples Tuition Grants, Homes with Hope, CLASP Homes, and a wide range of Westport-based social services, housing, education and addiction services organizations.

Also receiving grants: Bridgeport and Norwalk organizations that serve the needy, including Mercy Learning Center, Family ReEntry and the Carver Foundation.


Speaking of Mercy Learning: Many Westporters are longtime volunteers. The Bridgeport program provides underserved women with academic, language, computer and life skills; early childhood education; assistance preparing for citizenship, and mental health, job and financial counseling.

Recently, many more Westporters have given generously, as the organization adds food, medicine and diapers for women in need.

Yesterday, the National Catholic Reporter shined a great spotlight on MLC. It’s featured in the paper’s “Saints Next Door.” Click here for the full story on this wonderful institution — and the great people behind it. (Hat tip: Diane Johnson)


More great philanthropic news:

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is giving 90 grants totaling $1,359,500 from its COVID-19 Resiliency Fund. The project was launched just a month ago. Click here for the list.

But they’re not stopping there. An anonymous donor will match every donation — up to a total of $500,000. Click here to make a donation of any size. Every dollar counts!


And finally, a beautiful song that means more than ever, these days:

COVID-19 Roundup: “A Chorus Line”; Virtual Bingo; More

Everyone loves “A Chorus Line.” Especially anyone who’s ever been in it.

That includes Alisan Porter.

The former Staples High School actor/singer (and “Curly Sue” movie star, and “The Voice” winner) played Bebe in the Broadway revival of that epic show.

It closed in 2008. But 44 cast members leaped — literally — at the chance to dance in a video: “A Chorus Line in Quarantine.” From around the world — in living rooms, kitchens, on decks and apartment rooftops and in their yards and streets — they sent clips of themselves reprising the opening number.

The montage is amazing. And there — at the 1:46 mark — is our own Alisan. Enjoy! (Hat tip: Susan Thomsen)


One of the bright spots of the pandemic is the number of young people who are doing great things to help.

Staples High School student Natalie Bandura launched “Masks That Matter.” She and other teenagers sew washable, reusable homemade cotton masks, then distribute them to Westporters and others in need.

Whether you need a mask or want to help make them, click here. The website is clean and easy to navigate.

Natalie hopes to supply everyone in Westport who needs one with with a mask. Together, she says, “we can help flatten the curve here in town.”


Nearly a month ago, in the early days of the pandemic, a group of Westporters started a virtual bingo night. They play every Thursday, from across the country (all have Westport ties). The winner chooses a non-profit to get the buy-in pot.

So far, they’ve given away nearly $500. Last week’s winner picked the Gillespie Center. For more information, email Stan@witkow.com.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.


Meanwhile, Molly Alger notes that the Fine Wine Company in Compo Shopping Center offers this good-looking (and tasty) new mask:


Speaking of signs, Darcy Hicks felt compelled to post this in the house she’s self-isolating in with a lot of guys. Okay, they’re her husband and sons, but still…


And finally … we started today’s Roundup with a former Staples Players star. Here’s a song from another.

P!nk offers an inspiring version of “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.” Which of course was written by 2003 graduate Justin Paul, and his partner Benj Pasek.

 

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Aspetuck Preserves Are Open; Senior Shopping Hours Abuse; Facemask Donations; Norwalk Hospital News; Store And Resources Information; More

Gotta get out of the house? Unless you’re quarantined, we all do. Safely, of course.

All 44 of Aspetuck Land Trust’s trailed nature preserves are open; click here for details. Visitors are welcome. Please don’t park in the street; leave your dog at home — and keep your distance from others.

Enjoy — and take this “06880” challenge. When you’ve visited all 44, let us know. No cheating — proof required!


Several readers report that the early-morning “senior shopping hours” at Stop & Shop and Stew Leonard’s are being abused by a number of people “clearly not in their 60s or older.”

The hours are meant for people in that high-risk group to shop when crowds are lighter. “06880” urges all readers to play nice. We are all in this together.


Kudos to Westporter Jenna Brooke Purcell. She spent her day (carefully!) collecting extra face masks from private homes, and getting them to medical personnel, first responders, and others who need them most. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen and News12 Connecticut)


Norwalk Hospital has opened a drive-through collection site for pre-screened people suspected of having COVID-19. It’s in the parking lot by Stevens Street and Elmcrest Terrance.

It is not a testing site; it is a place to give a specimen sample for a test. Testing is done offsite. The collection site is only for people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Called the doctor’s office and had a consultation
  • Based on symptoms and other information provided, the doctor ordered a test
  • Scheduled appointment at the collection site.

For more information, click here.


A reader reports that her regular mammogram screening appointment was “pushed out” to June, by her radiology group. She is in a high-risk group, and is scrupulous about her testing regimen. She was told that postponing tests are “a directive from the state.”

She called her breast surgeon. He told her that was not true; the decision was made by her radiology group, and other radiology facilities have followed suit.

If any readers know of any breast cancer test sites that are open, please reply in the “Comments” section below.


Our Town Crier — Betsy Pollak’s awesome site for local goods, services and happenings — has posted a very comprehensive list of resources for kids and parents to do at home.

It includes arts and crafts, games and puzzles, baking, online educational games, science experiments, singing, stories, safe and educational sites for teens, indoor games and trivia. Click here, and enjoy!


Savannah Bee Company says: “It has been a tough decision to stay open downtown as well as to be one of the only holdouts in our neighborhood, but the call was made because of the remarkable healing properties of the products we carry. It is our hope that we can help our loyal customers in some way to stay as well as possible for as long as possible. We are open in Bedford Square from 12 to 5 p.m. for pre-paid curbside delivery until further notice.

“We offer a wide array of highly effective nutrient-rich products to help boost the body’s natural immunity during the health crisis. They include plant-based honey soaps, anti-oxidant rich Saw Palmetto and local New England honeys, fortifying bee pollen & royal jelly supplements, healing lotions and anti-bacterial and anti-microbial propolis throat spray.

 


Also open for business: Westport Hardware. They have curbside pickup — and they’re even quicker than Amazon!


Westport School of Music is offering online lessons. Adults, teenager and younger students are learning piano, violin, viola, cello, bass, flute and voice via Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. Click here for more information.


The Chess Club of Fairfield County — which runs all Westport elementary school programs — is offering a free online “intro to chess” course. It’s taught national master (and 3-time Connecticut champ) Ian Harris.

It’s for ages 8 – 13. Each session is 45 minutes, at 3 p.m. Space is limited. Click here to register.


This is a particularly difficult time for our homeless, hungry and vulnerable neighbors. Homes with Hope continues to need food for its pantry and meals. Click here for all details. To make a monetary donation, click here.


It’s been quite a week (and it’s only Thursday).

Need a drink? I sure do!

Fortunately, just about every liquor store in Westport is open. They’ve got curbside service and delivery too.

Call ahead for hours and details. Then raise a glass (or two)!

A typical crew. This group’s at Kindred Spirits & Wine, next to Stop & Shop.