Tag Archives: Friends of Sherwood Island

A Tribute To Cathy Talmadge

Countless Westporters know and love Cathy Talmadge.

Those who don’t, should. Every resident’s life has been touched, and impacted, by hers.

Cathy’s longtime friend Amy Ancel calls her “a passionate, tireless volunteer and leader with Wakeman Town Farm, Earthplace and Friends of Sherwood Island.”

Cathy is also a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting. Over the past 15 years she has served on the RTM’s Public Works and Environment Committees.

She works quietly yet doggedly to help make Westport a better place to live.

Cathy Talmadge.

Cathy is now seriously ill.

Her friends at Wakeman Town Farm want her to know what an inspiration she has been to them, and so many others. Cathy’s friend and colleague Christy Colasurdo writes: 

When I met you more than  15 years ago, I was in awe. You were a wonderful cook, gardener, traveler, swimmer, environmentalist, and served on at least 2 town boards.

And that’s just skimming the surface.

You clearly relished your role as a conduit between the players in town and the organizations you served. You knew everyone who was anyone, and they obviously knew and respected you.

But the thing that impressed me the most was how you were always the first to quietly jump in to lend a hand, whether it was wrangling permits from the liquor control board, rolling up your sleeves to sew masks during COVID or dropping off used file folders to cut down on paper waste.

When I think of you, I picture you in your sunny kitchen with a soup bubbling on the stove and a golden retriever and Siamese cat at your feet, switching out your seasonal planters, or working away at your sewing table. You befriended and surrounded yourself with local environmental “greats” like Sal Gilbertie and Norm Bloom, and you were viewed as a civic leader on par with these giants for your commitment to Earthplace, Sherwood Island, the RTM, Wakeman Town Farm and other local organizations fighting for a more sustainable environment.

Cathy Talmadge, at Wakeman Town Farm.

At the Farm you were one of the pioneers, putting yourself in the mix to ensure a successful initial renovation of the aging Wakeman residence to provide a cozy and warm welcome to the first caretaking family.

After this you took on the dual roles of town liaison and farm treasurer, helping create accounting systems, guiding budget decisions, managing the Farm’s first audit and so much more.

To many of us at the Farm you were a valued team player and, more than this: family.

I was deeply affected by your fight through serious illnesses, leading to your kidney transplant last year.

Thank you for your friendship, and for being such a wonderful person. Please know that you have always been an inspiration to me and many others. and that we are with you now.

Roundup: Harvest Fest, Shorefest, StoryFest …

If you didn’t have somewhere to go yesterday, you just weren’t trying.

In addition to Slice of Saugatuck — the gorgeous festival already covered on “06880” yesterday afternoon — there were several great events.

Wakeman Town Farm raised nearly $100,000 at their annual Harvest Fest. The evening featured fantastic food and drinks, a kick-ass band, and the always-special pastoral setting.

The tent … (Photo/Gregg Bromberg)

… the food … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… the band … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and the $20,000 check from Earth Animal. (Photo/Dan Woog)

=======================================================

From the farm to the beach … yesterday evening, Friends of Sherwood Island threw their annual Shorefest, at Connecticut’s first state park.

The meal …

… and the moon. (Photos/Gene Borio)

=======================================================

Yesterday also marked the final day of StoryFest, the Westport Library’s celebration of the story in all forms. It’s the largest literary festival in Connecticut.

Panels included this one on activism …

… and the finale, which included food, drink, and the “Reading Glasses” podcast, live from the Library stage.

(Photos/EJ Crawford)

======================================================

Also last night: guitarist Robert Cray, at the Levitt Pavilion.

Now get set for next Saturday’s Lobsterfest at Compo Beach, courtesy of the Westport Rotary Club.

September in Westport: It doesn’t get much better than this!

=======================================================

Friday was a big night for Staples High School football.

After an address by 3 active servicemembers, quarterback Caleb Smith led the Wreckers to a 42-13 rout of Conard-West Hartford. It was the season opener for both teams, at Paul Lane Field.

And the Gridiron Club presented Catch-a-Lift founder Lynn Coffland with a check for $23,000. Funds were raised this summer by the club and players, who participated in the “Murph Challenge.” The money helps post-9/11 combat wounded veterans, with gym memberships and fitness rehabilitation.

The Wreckers travel to St. Joseph next Saturday, for a 1:30 p.m. contest.

Gridiron Club and Catch-a-Lift representatives are all smiles Friday night.

=======================================================

A reader writes:

“There is a severe water shortage. It is recommended to water lawns at night.

“Did Longshore not get the message? Or are they privileged? I’m curious …”

=======================================================

Jill Grayson witnessed this “Westport … Naturally” standoff recently. She did not mention who backed off first.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

=======================================================

And finally … anyone who lived through 9/11 remembers the profound sadness that hung in the air, and crept into our hearts, for so long.

There was little anyone could do, besides grieve. But music — as it always does — helped heal.

Three songs in particular will always remind me of the weeks after September 11, 2001. The world changed forever that day.

And so did the way I will always hear these songs.

(“06880” is fully reader-supported. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Tutti’s, Kugel, Newman & Redford …

A man with a big heart needs a new one.

And one of Westport’s most big-hearted restaurants is helping.

Jimmy Nuzzo — known to many as “DJ Jimmy Jams” — was born with a congenital heart defect. After open-heart surgery at age 7, he lived a healthy life for years. He owns Dance to the Music Entertainment, and is a loving husband and father.

Now he needs a new heart — and liver.

Jimmy Nuzzo (3rd from left), with his family.

On Sunday, August 28 (4 to 7 p.m.), Tutti’s on Riverside Avenue is offering a $25 penne with meatball dinner — large enough to feed 2 people. It’s to-go (and cash) only. 100% of the proceeds go to help Jimmy.

Mangia!

=====================================================

Speaking of dining (though a different cuisine):

Chabad of Westport hosts “Kugel with a Twist” (September 7, 7 p.m.).

The Nosher editor Shannon Sarna Goldberg and Connecticut food blogger Liz Arronson Rueven will chat about modern takes on Jewish comfort food.

It’s free, and open to the community. However, attendees are asked to bring one kosher item (dried fruit, raisins, dates, nuts, tomato/spaghetti sauce, cereals, oatmeal, jelly, canned tuna, ketch, mustard, mayo, vegetable/corn oil) to stock Chabad’s mobile kosher food pantry, to arrive this fall.

Anyone donating $180 to held fight food insecurity will receive a signed copy of Sarna’s “Modern Jewish Comfort Food.”

Click here to register, and for more details.

Eat!

Kugel

===================================================

Longtime Westporters Carl Addison Swanson and his editor Jo Ann Miller have just published their 54th book,

It details Swanson’s experiences — some fictional — during his 1969 Vietnam tour. tour.

“365 Days and a Wake-up” is “not your normal war novel with blood, guts and gore,” Swanson says.

“I was watching ‘M*A*S*H,’ the movie, on late night TV, and remembered some of the humorous things, amidst the insanity, of events which occurred. I attempted to capture them.”

Swanson, known for his fast-paced, plot-driven narratives as well as his prolific publications, owns a Bermuda publishing house, and is a senior editor at a national magazine.

“365 Days” is available Labor Day. The hardback version follows in mid-October. Click here to order. Click here for Swanson’s website.

=======================================================

Paul Newman has been in the news lately.

The actor/car racer/philanthropist died in 2008, but his life in Westport with Joanne Woodward is featured in the CNN/HBO film “The Last Movie Stars.”

Arthur Klausner sends along a recent Tweet that “stars” Newman’s friend, Robert Redford. In the clip from 1980, the former Weston resident recalls a long-running practical joke the two men played on each other, involving melted-own automobiles and their homes.

Arthur wonders how long the “garden sculpture” remained at Newman’s North Avenue home.

=====================================================

The Levitt Pavilion has just added a new ticketed show.

Orebolo — featuring Rick Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach and Jeff Arevalo of Goose — take the stage on September 7 (7 p.m.).

The trio has built a national following nationwide. Formed during the initial COVID surge, they shared a home. They learned new covers, and explored Goose’s deep catalog acoustically.

Tickets are $15 (members) and $18 (non-members, plus a $2 facility fee). Member pre-sale is active now; public tickets are available Monday (August 22) at noon. Click here to order, and for more information.

Orebolo

In other Levitt news, an opening band has been added to this Sunday’s (August 21, 6:30 p.m.) Allison Russell ticketed show.

She hand-picked Bailen, after opening with them at the Edmonton Folk Fest. Children under 12 are free (with an adult in the BYO-lawn chair section).

As for Allison: she released a new single yesterday, featuring Brandi Carlile:

======================================================

Also this weekend: a pair of Friends of Sherwood Island State Park programs.

Tomorrow (August 20, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.), 2 interns with a big net will set up on the beach across from the Nature Center. They’ll show how many creatures they can pull out of Long Island Sound.

On Sunday (August 21, 2 to 3:30 p.m.), butterfly expert Michele Sorensen will lead a walk. She’ll start at the Nature Center porch, then explore nearby gardens and dunes for a variety of species. Buckeyes, swallowtails, sulphurs, fritillaries, monarchs, skippers and pearl crescents are all possible. It’s suitable for ages 5 and up.

Click here for more information.

Monarch butterfly (Photo/Tammy Barry)

====================================================

Native Westporter and Pepperidge Farm manager Agnes “Aggie” Veno died peacefully last week, with her family by her side. She was 67.

Aggie was passionate about arts and crafts, and participated in craft fairs throughout Fairfield County. She was especially good at crocheting. She was also an excellent cook and baker, who enjoyed gatherings with her extended family.

She was an avid volunteer at St. Luke Church too.

She is survived by her mother Marie, sister Joann (Steve) Porch, godson Nicholas Vena, Jr., and many cousins, including Sadye Bella Bustillo, who had a special place in her heart. In addition to her father Andrew, she was predeceased by her brother, Andrew J. Veno, Jr.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held today (Friday, August 19, 10 a.m., St. Luke Church). Interment will follow at Assumption Cemetery in Greens Farms.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To send an online condolence, click here.

Aggie Veno

===================================================

One more rainbow photo from last night — this one perfect for “Westport … Naturally.”

Koda lives on Soundview Drive. But he’s a frequent visitor to Old Mill Grocery, around the corner.

(Photo/Karalyn Hood)

=======================================================

And finally … in honor of last night’s beauty, enjoyed by Koda (and many “06880” photographers):

(To share a pot of gold — or just a few pennies — with “06880,” please click here. Support for this blog is greatly appreciated!)

Roundup: New England & State Champs, Sherwood Island Friends …

One of Staples High School’s most accomplished athletes has gotten very little recognition this year.

Yesterday, junior Francine Stevens represented her girls track and field team at the New England Championship, in New Britain. She finished 4th at 400 meters, with a time of 57.85.

Francine holds 7 school record. Last week she broke her own, at the state open meet.

Next weekend she heads to Greensboro, North Carolina. She’ll compete against the nation’s best in 100, 200 and 400 meters, at the Adidas Nationals.

Francine Stevens, with her New England medal.

=======================================================

Congrats too to Luke Brodsky and Alex Gudarrama. They won the state invitational doubles tennis championship, with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 defeat of a Darien duo.

Tighe Brunetti reached the finals too, but fell to Tighe Brunetti fought hard but fell to Fairfield Warde 6-4, 6-2.

Luke Brodsky and Alex Guadarrama.

Staples has one more individual state champion: Anna Lemcke.

The senior broke 80 for the first time in her golfing career, and tied for first place in the state open tournament at the Black Hal Club in Old Lyme.

It’s a remarkable achievement: In last year’s open, she finished second to las.

Anna’s choice of college is perfect for a golfer: the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland. (Hat tip: Valerie Smith-Malin)

=======================================================

One final sports note: Yesterday, the Angels won the Little League championship.

But for Pell Schmeisser, that honor paled beside another: He was named the winner of the Perrin Delorey Sportsmanship Award. Perrin, a Little Leaguer, died in an automobile accident in 2018, after a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Previous winners include Jack Hanlon and Dylan Burdeshaw. (Hat tip: Lauren MacNeill)

The Little League champion Angels. Perrin Delorey Sportsmanship Award winner Pell Schmeiser is in the bottom row, far left.

 ===============================================================

In most homes, graduation is a big deal. For a few days at least, a boy or girl feels like the most important person in a family.

In one Country Road home though, the honor must be shared 3 ways. Movin’ on up, indeed!

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

=======================================================

Friends of Sherwood Island’s annual meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. today (Sunday, June 12), in the state park’s main pavilion. All are welcome.

Guest speaker Juliana Barrett will speak on “Climate Change and Connecticut’s Coastal Forests.” She is an educator with the Institute for Climate Resilience and Adaptation, part of the University of Connecticut’s Sea Grant program. 

The meeting includes a tribute to the Nature Center’s architect and benefactor, Westporter Peter Wormser.

Click here for more information.

=======================================================

Meg Kirby — co-owner and namesake of Peggy’s Cottage, the popular all-things-Irish store across from Stop & Shop — died Friday afternoon. She had battled illness, but passed peacefully.

Her husband, Brian Ellard, says: “She loved her little shop, and put her heart and soul into filling it with special things. Heading off to work every morning and looking forward to seeing everyone for a chat put a big smile on her face. I thank everyone for their love and support over the last few years, especially the last few months.”

Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby, in Peggy’s Cottage.

======================================================

Chris Grimm spotted this white squirrel at MoCA.

It’s not an albino — the technical term is leucistic, for “reduced pigmentation” — but it’s a fascinating subject for “Westport … Naturally” nonetheless.

(Photo/Chris Grimm)

=======================================================

And finally … on this day in 1817, the earliest form of a bicycle was driven by Karl von Drais. It had no pedals; the rider straddled a wooden frame supported by two wheels, and pushed the vehicle along with his feet while steering the front wheel.

The bicycle’s original name: “dandy horse.”

(“06880” relies entirely on donations from readers. Please click here to help.)

 

Roundup: Hazardous Waste, Earth Day, Queer Cook-Off …

=======================================================

Get ready to “waste” a whole day on April 23.

That’s Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day (Greens Farms railroad station, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Sponsored by the Department of Public Works, it’s a free program for residents of Westport, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Among the items accepted: gasoline, kerosene, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, paints, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints.

Before bringing household hazardous material to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled
  • Do not mix chemicalsIncompatible products may react, ignite, or explode, and mixed waste may become non-recyclable.
  • Keep products in original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with paper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in the back of the vehicle away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home.
  • Keep your windows open and drive directly to the collection site.

REMINDER: Westport residents can recycle antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, light bulbs and electronics at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Questions? Call 203-341-1793.

======================================================

Don’t believe everything you read here.

Of course Earth Day is not today (as I mistakenly said yesterday). Which means all the events sponsored by Friends of Sherwood Island will not take place tomorrow.

The correct date for the Sherwood Island activities is Saturday, April 23. They include:

Friends’ Garden Team Activities (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Friends’ table on East Beach across from the Nature Center).

🌱Bring a reusable water bottle; get a “Protect Our Wildlife” sticker (while supplies last).

🌱Tour the Dunes Restoration project site; plant a stem of American Beach Grass.

🌱Learn about native plant species planted for wildlife at the park; get a list for planting at home.

  • “Why Reducing Food Waste is Critical to a Sustainable Future” (9:30 to 11 a.m.).
  • “Walk Through Sherwood Island’s History (From 12,000 Years Ago)” (noon to 1:30 p.m.).
  • “Salt Marshes and Marsh Migration at Sherwood Island” (12:30 to 2 p.m.)
  • “Environmental Role of Trees at the Park”(2 to 3:30 p.m.)

=======================================================

Aspetuck Land Trust celebrates Earth Day too (naturally).

Next Friday (April 22, noon) there’s a virtual “Lunch & Learn” webinar called “2/3 For the Birds.” That’s because birds need 70% (approximately 2/3) native plants to maintain healthy population levels. Click here to register.

The next day (Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. to noon, Trout Brook Valley Jump Hill Preserve), there’s a vernal pool hike with wetland scientist Edward Pawlak. Space is limited; click here.

On Sunday, April 24 (10:30 a.m. to noon, Trout Brook Valley orchard and blueberry patch), the Spring Hawk Walk returns. Raptor specialist Larry Fischer hopes to catch one or more hawks to present to the group, while discussing fascinating details about those extraordinary creatures. Space is limited; click here.

Birds need native plants to thrive.

====================================================

LGBTQ Pride Month is June.

Westport Pride gets a jump on the festivities May 19 (6 p.m.). Three teams of “chef-testants” (a local chef, plus members of the local LGBTQ community and allies) has 30 minutes to whip up an appetizer and entrée — using items in a mystery box — for 5 judges in a “Queer Cook-Off.” It all takes place in Aitoro Appliance’s Norwalk kitchens.

Celebrity chefs include Bill Taibe (owner/chef of Don Memo, Kawa Ni, The Whelk), Jes Bengtson (executive chef of Terrain Café and Amis Trattoria), and Arik Bensimon (executive chef of the Monogram Design Center).

Judges include Brian McGunagle (founder, Westport Pride), Tony Aitoro (CEO, Aitoro Appliance), Matt Storch (chef/owner of Match and Match Burger Lobster), Stephanie Webster (founder/editor-in chief, CTBites) and yours truly (Dan Woog, executive editor of “06880”).

Guests can observe the competition while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and beverages. It’s a fundraiser for Westport Pride — and a great way for the LGBTQ community and allies to get together, get ready for Pride (and eat well). Click here for tickets.

==================================================

Meanwhile, there’s always something cooking at Wakeman Town Farm.

Upcoming classes, workshops and more include:

  • “Modern Japanese Cooking with Chef Caroline Fey” (April 27, 7 to 8:30 p.m.). A 4-course menu celebrating modern flavors.
  • “Make Your Own Spa Essentials” (May 2, 7 p.m.). Do it without harmful additives. Take home your own creations!
  • “Blooming with Paints” (May 9, 6 to 8 p.m.). An art workshop brings to life a floral still life arrangement.
  • “Pizza-Making Class for Grades K-1” (May 12, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.). Topped off with eating!
  • “Learn to Make Goatmilk Soaps” (May 21, 11 a.m. to noon or 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.). Enjoy!

Click here for more information, and to register.

Kids learn pizza-making, using Wakeman Town Farm’s own brick oven.

=====================================================

Staples High School soccer fans knew Alan Fiore as a passionate, high-scoring attacker.

Music fans will soon know him as an indie pop/rock artist.

The 2021 SHS graduate — now studying at Berklee College of Music — has just released his first song. “Take the Bait!” was inspired by artists like Dayglow, the 195, the Bleachers and COIN.

Alan produced, mixed and mastered it all himself. Click here for links to all streaming platforms. Click here for Alan’s website, and more music.

Alan Fiore

=====================================================

Whether you’re hunting eggs or afikoman this weekend, Jolantha has you covered.

This was Weston’s favorite pig* yesterday:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

*Good for Easter ham; not kosher for Passover.

===================================================

Nearly every “Westport … Naturally” photo shows an outdoor Westport wonder. That’s (naturally) where most are.

Today, Molly Alger takes us inside the Senior Center for this beautiful, patriotic and Ukrainian-colorful arrangement:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

=======================================================

And finally … today is April 15. It’s also Good Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. So taxes are not due until Monday (April 18).

Still, because this is the traditional IRS deadline, we present:

Roundup: Shorebirds, Costumes, Paul & Joanne …

====================================================

Shorebirds are nesting at Compo Beach.

As usual, Parks & Rec is on the case.

Department staff has staked out an area near the site, keeping people away from the fragile birds and their eggs. A sign offers information about the threatened wildlife.

Stay away! It’s their beach too.

In fact, they were here first.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

======================================================

Speaking of shorebirds: A week from tomorrow is Earth Day. But the big events at Sherwood Island State Park are Saturday, April 23.

Friends of Sherwood Island offer several events. They include:

Friends’ Garden Team Activities (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Friends’ table on East Beach across from the Nature Center).

🌱Bring a reusable water bottle; get a “Protect Our Wildlife” sticker (while supplies last).

🌱Tour the Dunes Restoration project site; plant a stem of American Beach Grass.

🌱Learn about native plant species planted for wildlife at the park; get a list for planting at home.

“Why Reducing Food Waste is Critical to a Sustainable Future” (9:30 to 11 a.m.).Host: Pippa Bell Ader, Sustainable Westport Zero Food Waste Challenge. Ongoing at the Friends’ table outside the Main Pavilion.

“Walk Through Sherwood Island’s History (From 12,000 Years Ago)” (noon to 1:30 p.m.). Host: Cece Saunders, owner of Historical Perspectives in Westport. Guided walk. Meet at the Friends’ table outside the Main Pavilion.

“Salt Marshes and Marsh Migration at Sherwood Island” (12:30 to 2 p.m.) Host: Michele Sorensen, environmental educator, captain of the Friends’ garden team. Guided walk; also pick up plastic waste on the marsh. Gloves and bags provided. Meet at the Friends’ table on East Beach across from the Nature Center.

“Environmental Role of Trees at the Park” (2 to 3:30 p.m.) Host: Louis Pietig, Friends’ of Sherwood Island Advisory Council member. Guided walk. Meet at the Friends’ table outside the Main Pavilion.

=======================================================

Did you miss VersoFest? Or do you just want to relive last weekend’s Westport Library first-in-any-library-anywhere music and media festival?

Click below for a short highlight video. Jerri Graham and Verso Studios’ vivid photos will bring it to life. And get you psyched for the 2023 show, already in the planning stages.

=======================================================

The curtain came down on “The Descendants” last weekend. But the final act came later.

Staples Players’ talented costume crew — the behind-the-scenes students and parents led by Christie Stanger, who designed and created so many wonderful outfits — had a great idea:  bling out a young audience member’s own clothes to look just like the costume of one of the Descendants!

This lucky, randomly chosen winner had her jean jacket and leggings made to look just like Evie’s. She also got a bunch of cool Evie-like accessories. She even got to meet Evie after the show.

Thanks for spreading joy, Costume Crew!

Lucky winner holds her Evie costume.

====================================================

Speaking of entertainment: Not much gets by Fred Cantor.

The other night he watched “The Drowning Pool.” The 1975 noir film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward streamed on TCM.

At the end — yes, Fred watched the credits — he saw that it was “A Coleytown Production.”

Digging further, he found that “Coleytown Productions Inc.” is a California corporation formed in 1969. It dissolved in 2014. Joanne Woodward was the CEO.

Other copyrights held by Coleytown Productions included 2 other Paul Newman films: “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” and “Pocket Money.”

Screenshot from “The Drowning Pool.” (Photo/Fred Cantor)

=======================================================

The other day, “06880” noted that Drew Coyne was named Connecticut’s Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year.

Now the highly lauded and popular Staples High School social studies instructor is vying for national Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year honors.

Every nominee for the $10,000 demonstrates “a commitment to engaging students in historical  learning through the innovative use of primary sources,  implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical  thinking skills, and participation in the National History Day Contest.” The winner will be announced in June.

Drew Coyne

======================================================

After 7 years of providing a dedicated gluten-free, organic, non-GMO-certified commercial kitchen, C&K Community Kitchen no longer maintains its gluten-free status. It still “enthusiastically stands on its  devout organic, non-GMO foundation.”

Questions? Contact Sarah Kerstin Gross (candkcommunitykitchen@gmail.com), or call 203-226-0531.

======================================================

Dale Najarian is the Westport Book Shop’s latest guest exhibitor.

The Westport artist is showing several abstract landscapes on wood panels. She  works in several mediums, including watercolor, acrylics, mixed media and oils.  She also has a passion for photography.

Najarian earned a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She worked for over 15 years as a graphic designer and art director at design firms and advertising agencies in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

She serves on the advisory board for the Norwalk Art Space, the executive board of the Artists Collective of Westport, and is a board member and project manager for #UNLOADusa.org, a nonprofit organization using arts to talk about gun violence in America. She is also an active member of the Greenwich Arts Council and the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.

Dale Najarian at the Westport Book Shop.

=====================================================

Longtime Saugatuck Co-op resident Johanna Straczek died peacefully last month, at 96. Her family says she “lived a full and vibrant life.”

She started her own accounting firm and worked daily at a front desk, even after selling the company years ago.

“Always dressed with taste and seldom without a signature chapeau, her slight but powerful presence graced our town with a genuine air of European culture,” her obituary says.

Born in Austria in 1925, Johanna learned multiple languages and studied opera in  Vienna before coming to the US. She attended Sacred Heart University, sharpening her business acumen.

She became a fellow of the National Tax Institute, was a longtime Rotarian, and member of several tax associations.

As treasurer of the Saugatuck Co-Op on Bridge Street, where she lived, she is remembered for her dedication volunteer work, and her soprano voice that she gifted at holiday parties (especially “Stille Nacht/Silent Night”).

Johanna is survived by her sister, Vera Romatko and brother Carlo Romatko.  She was predeceased by her husband John and sister, Nadia Romatko Krower.

A celebration of her life is set for April 20 (Unitarian Church, 11 a.m.).

=======================================================

The other day, David Ader searched for wild mushrooms at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.

Instead he found this tree. He writes: “What you see are fresh scratches from a claw. Given where they were on the tree, I assume it was a small bear. The claw marks are very different from, say, a deer rubbing antlers, which would be higher up.”

He has not seen the bear this year. He is, however, “hopeful.”

(Photo/David Ader)

=======================================================

And finally … Bridgeport’s Sound on Sound Festival features some big names September 24 and 25. Among them: Dave Matthews, the Lumineers, Stevie Nicks and Brandi Carlile,

The biggest might be Ringo Starr. He kicks things off September 23.

That’s quite a coup. You know he don’t come easy. (Hat tip: Mark Yurkiw)

Sherwood Island Dune Restoration Takes Root

Twenty years ago, officials at Sherwood Island bulldozed all their dunes away. They wanted state park visitors to have an unimpeded Long Island Sound view, from the parking lot and concession stand.

It was not a great idea. It affected the coastal wildlife habitat, and lessened the shoreline’s resiliency to rising seas.

Five years ago, Friends of Sherwood Island board member Michele Sorensen wondered how her group could improve the dune habitat. Ecologist Juliana Barrett met Michele and then-park supervisor Jim Beschle on April 5, 2017. She said that to build out the dunes, they had to plant dominant grass before April 15, or after November 15.

That afternoon Michele ordered 800 American Beach Grass culms. She corraled up a small team of volunteers — including 2 grandchildren — to spend 4 days during Easter, planting.

Michele Sorensen, at the start of the dune restoration project.

The project has continued ever since.

Every year during Fairfield County Giving Day, the “Friends Garden Team” fundraises to buy plants, tools, signs and supplies. Michele provides a matching grant of up to $1,000. Last February’s effort was the best yet.

Westporter Bill Yaffa — whose company sells erosion control cloth — suggested using it at the park. An experimental sand patch had a 97% success rate (far better than the usual 60-85%). This spring the group will expand the areas they plant in sixfold, using jute cloth.

The dune restoration project, last August.

Since 2019 — when Michele became a University of Connecticut advanced master gardener — she has been assisted by nearly a dozen other master gardener graduates and interns from around Fairfield County, and local helpers like Westporter Lavinia Larsson and Barbara Dahm, now in her 80s.

Barbara’s connection with Sherwood Island dates back to when her parents brought breakfast, lunch and dinner, spending all day at the beach.

Current Staples High School sophomore Jackson Cregan and his father Johannes were key members of last November and April’s plantings too.

Jackson Cregan, hard at work.

Birds, butterflies and many other creatures have taken advantage of the restored dune habitat.

And no one has complained that they can’t see the shore from the parking lot or concession stand.

Friends Garden Team members Heather Williams (Westport Shellfish Commission) and Westporter Barrie Holmes, with hundreds of plantings.

Roundup: RTM & Hiawatha, Sherwood Island, VFW …

======================================================

Start time for the Representative Town Meeting’s special June 8 (Tuesday) meeting to reconsider the Planning & Zoning’s adoption of a new zoning district that would enable a 157-unit development on Hiawatha Lane has been pushed ahead to 7 p.m.

However, the RTM will not address the petition until 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. To attend by video, send an email to RTMcomments@westportct.gov; include your name and address, to receive participation details.

Emails may be sent before the meeting to RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov; this goes to all RTM members.

=======================================================

It’s called “CT Trails Day.” But Friends of Sherwood Island are actually sponsoring two days — today and tomorrow — of activities at Connecticut’s first state park.

Today, there’s a Wonder of Flight Interactive Air Show (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), featuring radio-controlled model planes, helicopters, gliders and drones, followed by a Butterfly Walk with Michele Sorenson (2 p.m.; meet at the Nature Center).

Tomorrow (Sunday), Louis Petig leads a Nature Walk at 1 p.m. along the Sound. It begins at the Nature Center, and includes birding locations, the Connecticut 9/11 memorial, model aircraft airport, trailheads, wetlands and a pine forest.

Questions? contact Cece Saunders: cece@historicalperspective.org; 203-984-1488.

Sherwood Island — a state park in the heart of Westport’s shore. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

=====================================================

At last: There’s smooth sailing — well, driving — to the beach.

Just in time for this weekend’s 90-degree weather, Hillspoint Road has been repaved. Residents and beach-goers have been frustrated for weeks, after Aquarion’s work left the street rough and rutted.

Striping should begin next week, weather permitting.

RTM member Andrew Colabella credits teamwork with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, RTM colleague Chris Tait, Joey’s by the Shore owner Hal Kravitz and resident Robin Tauck for helping move the project along.

(Photo/Chris Tait)

=======================================================

Speaking of Tauck: The upscale guided tour and cruise company — based now in Wilton, but for many years a Westport operation, where many family members still live — will resume tour and river cruise operations in Europe, Africa and central America, beginning this month.

Some North America tours have already begun. Click here for details.

=======================================================

To celebrate National Garden Week, the Westport Garden Club decorated the 4 “bumpouts” on Main Street. The plantings also celebrate the club’s #FridayFlowers campaign.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

=====================================================

Two new merchants have joined the Pride parade.

Throughout June, Sweet P’s Bakery/The Porch @ Christie’s will donate 20% of the proceeds from Pride cookies, trays and packages to Westport Pride, our LGBTQ community organization.

Pam’s James is contributing 10% of the sales of Pride Trio jams.

Click here for a full list of vendors participating in this summer’s “Merchants of Pride” program.

=======================================================

A limited audience saw Staples High’s first live musical performance of the school year last night.

Thunderstorms moved the first of 2 Pops Concerts was moved from the Levitt Pavilion to the auditorium. After a year of COVID, that hardly mattered.

A variety of choruses, orchestras and the freshman band entertained the socially distanced — but very grateful — crowd. Despite the masks, it was a sure sign that the district’s superb staff had shepherded through a very difficult year.

And that music makes us all truly alive.

The 2nd night of the Pops Concert — with other groups — is scheduled for tonight. All tickets have already been distributed.

Luke Rosenberg directs the Anima Cantorum.

Staples High School music instructors (from left): Luke Rosenberg, Candida Inanaco, Phil Giampietro, Carrie Mascaro, Jeri Muehleise. Innaco retires this year, after 36 years of teaching. (Photos/Dan Woog)

=======================================================

The Artists’ Collective celebrates Westport’s return to actual, live activities with 2 big events.

A pop-up art show opens in the Westport Country Playhouse barn June 12. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. every day, through June 19. An artist’s talk on closing day begins at 4 p.m.

Participating artists include local favorites Lucienne Buckner, Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Jen Greely, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Mary Ann Neilson, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack, Ellen Schiffman and Jahmane West.

The Collective’s very popular trunk show returns in the Westport Library’s lower parking lot: July 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

What is the Artists’ Collective of Westport? Click below to learn more.

=======================================================

The return to indoor events came too late for the Westport Country Playhouse to stage its full summer productions.

But the venerable theater welcomes a series of special events, to support next year’s full reopening.

“Cabaret in the Robards” is 3 evenings of shows featuring Broadway talent, with music, song and comedy.

The first one — June 26 — is “An Evening with Brad Simmons and Tonya Pinkins.” She’s a Tony-winning Broadway veteran; he’s a famed music director and concert artist. They’ll combine for show favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Click here for tickets and more information.

=======================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features horseshoe crabs. They’re back. I am told that prime time — figuring in the tide, moon, mating season and more — is June 24.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

=======================================================

And finally … today, Westport celebrates Pride Day, with a 10 a.m. to noon festival at Jesup Green. Hit it, Diana!

 

Roundup: Black Bear, Private Ryan, Chad Knight …

===================================================

A black bear has been making its way south, from northern Fairfield County. On Saturday, it roamed around the Cranbury area of Norwalk.

Yesterday, the medium-sized mammal lumbered into Westport. Stella Wong spotted it in her Old Hill back yard, around 9 a.m.

“It looked healthy and beautiful,” she reports. Then it headed downhill, toward Wilton Road.

(Photo/Stella Wong)

Later yesterday, the bear was spotted at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, near Mahackeno.

No word on whether it had a membership pass.

======================================================

Last night’s Remarkable Theater showing of “Saving Private Ryan” was rained out.

It’s rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1, 8 p.m.). So you can extend your Memorial Day weekend one day.

Click here for ticket information, and future shows.

======================================================

Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.

Jackson Cregan remembers.

The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:

“100%  of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.

“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.

Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.

Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.

Jackson Cregan, with Michele Sorenson.

======================================================

Congratulations to Chad Knight!

Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.  

Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.

Chad Knight

=======================================================

Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.

News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.

Click here for the report.

Screenshot from yesterday’s News12 report.

======================================================

The Sunrise Rotary Club has missed 2 years’ worth of Great Duck Race fundraising efforts. Which means we haven’t seen Sunny the Duck bobbing in the Saugatuck River for 2 years either.

But the club is marching in today’s Memorial Day parade. And they’re marching with “Little Ralphie,” Sunny’s smaller counterpart.

Club members inflated Ralphie yesterday. They had a blast.

From left: Sunrise Rotary president George Masumian; members Jake Labate, Mark Mathias and Mike Hibbard. Little Ralphie is behind them. (Drone photo/Mark Mathias)

=======================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes this mommy and her 10 babies. Can you find them all?

(Photo/Molly Alger)

=======================================================

And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.

Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.

I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)

Roundup: Aquarion, Abilis, Art …

===================================================

Do you know a person, business or organizations in Connecticut dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability?

Connecticut’s water utility wants to honor them, with an Aquarion Environmental Champion Award.

Winners will join previous honorees, including Sikorsky, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, the Trust for Public Land and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition.

Winners in the Adult, Non-Profit Organization, Large Business, Small Business, and Communications categories can select an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant. The winner of the Student category (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.

Click here for details.

======================================================

COVID has done 3 things, all related:

  • Postponed United Methodist Church’s annual giant tag sale for 2 years in a row.
  • Spurred many Westporters to clean their closets, cupboards and bathrooms.
  • Decreased donations to non-profits that provide items to clients.

On Saturday, May 15 and Monday, May 17 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), there’s a solution to all 3. That’s when you can drop off items at the church (49 Weston Road).

Here’s what’s needed:

Gently used items: baby clothes, children’s clothes (ages 4-10), youth clothing for teenagers (desperately sought!), men’s and women’s suits, pajamas, jackets, t-shirts, dress shirts, shoes of all sizes and designs (dress, sneakers, sandals, etc.), socks, dishware, cups, glasses of all sorts, suitcases, traveling bags.

New items: hair products (shampoo, conditioner), skincare products, deodorant, toothpaste, floss, sunscreen, nail clippers, razors, soaps, lip balm, moisturizer, lotion, hairbrushes, shower gel, shaving cream, mouthwash, wet wipes, diapers, canned foods, Jersey Mike’s gift cards worth $10 and $20 (for homeless youth).

Items should be sorted (gently used, new), packed into large plastic garbage bags, and labeled clearly (for example, “Children’s Clothing” in one bag, “Shoes” in another).

They’ll be distributed to Person to Person, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Summerfield United Methodist Church, and agencies working with the Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches.

Questions: email ganderson24@optonline.net or kbrumit@optonline.net.

United Methodist Church, 49 Weston Road. (Photo/Dan Woog)

======================================================

People with disabilities face many challenges. So do their siblings.

Abilis — the non-profit that helps hundreds of special needs families — holds a “Sibshops” workshop on May 19 (5 to 6:30 p.m., Zoom). It’s open to area children ages 10 to 14 whose brother or sister has a disability.

Sibshops are “high-spirited, fun workshops that combine recreation, discussion and information.” They provide safe spaces for siblings to share thoughts and feelings, while meeting others in similar circumstances and learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Click here to register. Questions? Email schulte@abilis.us.

=======================================================

Art has helped many people through the past (very difficult) year.

A new virtual exhibit — “The Healing Power of Art” — shows viewers exactly how that happens.

It features works from 18 artists, including Westporters Rebecca Fuchs, Dorothy Robertshaw and Lisa Stretton.

Art can be purchased directly through the website, at various prices. Click here for the virtual show; click here for a video on how to navigate through it.

“Sherwood Umbrellas,” by Ceal Swift

=======================================================

Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, offered a devastating view of fashion publishing. Her 6 books have sold over 13 million copies.

Her newest — Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty — goes on sale May 18. The night before (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), she’ll chat virtually with Westporter Jennifer Blankfein about her latest book, and the women — a TV anchor with everything, and her stay-at-home supermom sister — in it.

The conversation is sponsored by the Westport Library. Click here to register.

Lauren Weisberger

======================================================

Friends of Sherwood Island’s annual general meeting will “bee” very special.

A presentation titled “Pollinator Pathways & The Green Corridor:
Improving Biodiversity on Protected Land in Our Own Yards” is set for May 23 (4 p.m.).

Click here for more information. Questions? Email lizannlwv@gmail.com or call 203-451-5755.

=======================================================

And finally … happy 70th birthday to Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, producer and right-across-the-Fairfield-line neighbor Chris Frantz.