Tag Archives: Westport Book Shop

Roundup: The Porch, Club 203, Westport 100 …

Bitter temperatures, then quick warming yesterday caused a frozen pipe to burst during lunch at The Porch @ Christie’s.

A screen shot from a video by Dylan Curran (below) shows water cascading between 2 light fixtures, down the front of a display case, and into one of several trash cans.

But nothing stops Andrea and Bill Pecoriello. The owners worked their magic tirelessly, and opened again this morning.

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Speaking of The Porch:

The popular Cross Highway deli/restaurant is the site of the next Club 203 party. Westport’s great social group for adults with disabilities celebrates St. Patrick’s Day there the night before: March 16, 7 p.m.

Westport Country Playhouse was the scene of the club’s recent Valentine’s dance party. Over 120 guests and a dozen volunteers enjoyed stacks of heart-shaped  pizzas donated by Planet Pizza, sweetheart cookies courtesy of Stew Leonard’s and The Pantry, and a jewelry-making and artful “live love” project sponsored by MoCA of Westport.

Click here for more information on Club 203, and the St. Paddy’s Day social.

Rockin’ Club 203’s Valentine’s dance, at Westport Country Playhouse.

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Yesterday’s Roundup noted that although the Norwalk Bed Bath & Beyond store is not accepting coupons — and everything is 20% off — it was not on the chain’s list of hundreds of stores slated for closing.

But Bobbie Herman — who told “06880” that both it and the Fairfield store will close — was right.

A call to the Norwalk location yesterday confirmed the news. The person who answered said the news has not yet been announced officially. The final day is “sometime in March.”

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Two years ago, Jay Norris sat with 4 other Black men. Their goal was to create a  social community in Westport for people of color.

The men would network. They and their spouses would attend cultural events, and dine out together; they’d organize beach parties and other events for their kids.

Hoping for a few more men, they chose an optimistic name: Westport 10.

They’ve met at places like La Plage, Autostrada and Hudson Malone. Their children have gotten together. By their presence and involvement in local affairs, they’re making Westport more comfortable for themselves — and more welcoming for all.

Westport 10 has grown rapidly. They’re now up to over 50 men and their families.

So Jay has announced a new name: Westport 100.

Congratulations! Here’s hoping for more name changes in the future.

At a recent Westport 100 lunch at Hudson Malone, clockwise from bottom right: Titus McDougal (wearing a cap), Alexis Johnson, Lorenzo Wyatt, Kevin Christie, Dr. Stephan Grevious, Ron Gordon, Trey Ellis, Vinny Spencer, Roy Adams, Timothy Tanksley, Jay Norris, Ted Parker, C.D. Glin,

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New York Times crossword puzzle editor and NPR puzzle master Will Shortz entertained hundreds of puzzle solvers and word lovers yesterday, at the 24th annual Westport Library contest.

The crowd worked on 3 puzzles he brought — all yet to be published in the Times — and then followed along as 3 finalists competed onstage. Before the final round, Shortz led a series of word games.

“You’re sharp!” he said, as one man took about three nanonseconds to turn one word (“mechanize”) into the name of an animal by adding another (“chimpanzee”).

The crossword champion — who won a previous contest here — was Glenn Ryan. He finished the final puzzle — an always-tough “Saturday” one — in 6 minutes, 48 seconds.

The rest of us are still working on it.

Will Shortz, leading word games at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Last week, Matt Murray’s radar detector started going bonkers at various spots it never had before.

He realized it was triggered by boxes on telephone poles. Looking closely, he saw that they’re property of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. He worried that “Big Brother” was monitoring speeds.

A state Department of Transportation traffic study box. (Photo/Matt Murray)

They are on (among other roads) North Avenue, Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane — all areas that are being studied for traffic patterns, prior to recommendations for improvement.

Westport Police Chief says, “the data is not vehicle specific. Nor is it being used for enforcement.”

Matt sends along this link, from a barcode on the radar box.

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Kat Evans is this month’s featured artist at the Westport Book Shop.

Her luminous color field paintings are on display through February 28. All are available for purchase.

Kat’s art has been shown in juried solo and group exhibitions, and hangs in collections throughout North America, Europe and Japan. She is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport.

Kat Evans, at the Westport Book Shop.

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The Westport Country Playhouse Script in Hand 2003 play reading series begins with  “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

The fun-filled, insightful social satire is set for Monday, February 13 (7 p.m.). Script in Hand eadings offer intimate storytelling. Professional actors bring words to life, without sets or costumes.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Readers submit many great sunrise photos.

This one — from a few days ago, at Compo Beach — makes it to the top of the “Westport … Naturally” queue. The birds add a special touch.

(Photo/Simon Gurvets)

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And finally … today is National Fart Day. No s—.

(If you click here to contribute to “06880,” I’ll keep posting final items like this. If you contribute a lot, I’ll stop.)

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Roundup: Tyre Nichols, Ruegg Grants, Michael Franti …

The Tyre Nichols story is national news.

Despite Hearst Connecticut Media’s story yesterday, there is not a Westport connection.

A Connecticut Post story headlined “Advocates call for policing reforms, as Lamont questions whether Tyre Nichols incident could happen in CT” quoted Scot Esdaile, president of Connecticut’s NAACP chapter, as saying, “It’s not only happening in Memphis, we’ve seen it in New Haven, we’ve seen it in Westport, we’ve seen it in Hartford, we’ve seen it in Bridgeport.”

However, the link associated with “Westport” referred to a case from 2011 — in Westport, Massachusetts.

A statement from the Westport (Connecticut) Police Department says: “Understandably, (we) were disappointed by this article because we feel we have worked hard to build relationships and have never had any incident that resembles what we saw in Memphis.”

Hearst Media deleted the Westport link.

Esdaile apologized to Chief Foti Koskinas, the Westport Police Department and the town of Westport. He said that he meant to reference West Haven.

Esdaile added, “I have had a conversation with the chief along with Harold Bailey, the chairman of the Westport Civilian Review Panel, and we had a wonderful and energetic conversation. I apologized during the call several times, and we are looking forward to working together in the future.”

Koskinas called his conversation with Esdaile “productive, and brought about a positive resolution.”

 

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If you’re a local non-profit organization, the Westport Woman’s Club wants to give you money.

Ruegg Grants provide up to $10,000 for a 2023 project. Proposals should be “high-profile initiatives that make a meaningful difference in the Westport community.

The grants — established in 1995 by an endowment from former WWC member Lea Ruegg — go to projects that enhance social services, health, safety, the arts or education. Recent beneficiaries include the Westport Astronomical Society, Project Return, Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm.

Click here for the grant application. The deadline is February 28.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors to grant applications.

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The first big ticketed event of the Levitt Pavilion has been announced.

Michael Franti & Spearhead‘s “Big Big Love Tour” kicks off the Stars on Tour Series on Saturday, June 24 (7 p.m.). Phillip Phillips is the opening act.

Franti is a globally recognized musician, activist, hotel owner (Soulshine Bali) and award-winning filmmaker revered for his high-energy live shows, inspiring music, devotion to health and wellness, worldwide philanthropic efforts and the power of optimism.

His hits include “Sound of Sunshine,” “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “I Got You.” Spearhead’s 12th studio album, “Follow Your Heart,” debuted last June at #2, behind Harry Styles.

Levitt Pavilion members can purchase tickets now. The public ticket sale begins Friday (February 3, 10 a.m.). Click here for details.

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Here in Westport, we take garbage trucks for granted.

In Lyman, Ukraine they are game-changers.

A small part of the $252,000 donated by Westporters recently went to the purchase of 1 large and 1 small used trash trucks.

They’re vital to the reconstruction of our new sister city. When the Russians fled last fall, after 5 months of occupation and carnage, they took or destroyed all the vehicles. Refuse from the occupation — including bombed-out buildings and schools — has piled up ever since.

Katya Wauchope created this video, with footage supplied by Westport’s on-the-ground partners, Ukraine Aid International and Alex 21:

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Last August, “06880” highlighted Aiden Schachter. The rising Staples High School junior started a business — creating and selling LED light clouds — that has taken off nationally.

That’s impressive — and time-consuming. But it’s not all Aiden does. He is also a varsity wrestler.

And a pilot: He soloed on his 16th birthday. Next month, he hopes to get his full license.

Westport is justifiably proud of Aiden. Now the whole state can be.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) just posted a video starring Aiden. Check it out (below): The story of this athlete/cloud-making entrepreneur/pilot is truly uplifting.

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After several years, the Greens Farms train station waiting room has reopened.

That’s good news for commuters during this winter — even if they have not yet needed to take refuge from bitter cold.

It’s open from 5:30 to 10 a.m. No coffee vendor yet — but that is on the front burner.

The Greens Farms train station waiting room is open again.

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Getting into and out of the Westport Book Shop just got easier.

A handrail — often requested by patrons — was just installed on the steps to the Jesup Road used book store.

Now there’s one more reason — besides helping fund the Westport Library, and keep people with disabilities employed — to stop in and browse.

Surrounding the Westport Book Shop handrail (from left): Evan Payne, cc-manager Katherine Caro, Lia Walker, Lori Wenke. (Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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Coming up at Earthplace:

Family Campfire (February 11, 1:30 to 3 p.m.; $30 member families, $40 non-member families): Learn about animal tracks while roasting marshmallows next to a crackling fire; meet an “animal ambassador,” and participate in a guided activity. Click here to register.

February Break Camp (February 20-24, 27; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., $100/day; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $150/day; ages 3-12): Spend winter school break outside with nature; animal encounters, and self-chosen activities. Themes change daily. Click here to register.

Maple Sugaring Magic (March 5, $20 per family; 1:30-2:30 and 3-4 p.m.): Take part in a New England tradition. Learn how to identify maple trees on a trail walk, tap a tree and collect sap, and make maple syrup at home. Finish with tasting fresh maple sap, syrups and other maple goodies around the campfire. Click here to register.

Books & Beverages (March 15, 7 to 8 p.m.; free):  Participate in a casual discussion about “A Sand Country Almanac,” with naturalist Becky Newman. BYOB and snacks. Weather permitting, it’s outside. Click here to register.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows what — even in mid-winter — is always one of our town’s most beautiful spots.

(Photo/Michelle Harmon)

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And finally … Barrett Strong, Barrett Strong, whose 1959 hit “Money (That’s What I Want),” helped launch Motown Records, and who later co-wrote “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Ball of Confusion” and “War,” died on Sunday. He was 81. Click here for a full obituary.

(It would be tempting to follow up the item above with a crass plea for donations to “06880,” but I won’t do that. I’ll just say: Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones, Fashionably Westport, Sunflower Bean …

For an hour and a half yesterday, Josh Koskoff kept a packed Westport Library crowd rapt.

The Staples High School graduate — and lead attorney in the recent groundbreaking Alex Jones defamation lawsuit — took the Trefz Forum audience through the entire case.

Josh Koskoff, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston — sponsors of the very informative talk — recorded the event. Click below to learn all about “The Case Against Alex Jones.”

Fashionably Westport is back!

The raised runway event– sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association, and held in the Westport Library’s Trefz forum — has 2 key elements.

It showcases downtown Westport’s fashion and beauty merchants, while benefitting Homes with Hope.

Professional stylist Amy Guzzi returns as runway director. The date is Saturday, March 4.

But Fashionably Westport is also a 2-day event, with in-store activities and promotions.

VIP tickets include light bites, a DJ and gifts. Click here for all tickets.

And hey: Do you want to model? Click here for details.

For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, click here or email Jill Dunn: events@westportdowntown.com.

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Speaking of the Library:

First they announced that the Smithereens and Marshall Crenshaw would headline the Friday night (March 31) show at VersoFest 2023.

Now comes news of the opening act, on Thursday, March 30: Sunflower Bean.

The Brooklyn-based band kicks off the 4-day festival at the state-of-the-art Verso Studios’ Trefz Forum. Hysterica does the DJ honors.

Sunflower Bean singer-songwriter Julia Cumming returns to her home base of Fairfield County, hot off the band’s headlining presence at South by Southwest 2023.

The band’s “Headful of Sugar” was named #41 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums of 2022.”

Sunflower Bean formed in 2013. The next year, Jon Pareles of The New York Times described their sound as “… what might have happened if psychedelia had emerged after punk and the Police rather than before.”

The band has toured extensively with artists like Beck, Cage the Elephant, Interpol, Courtney Barnett, The Pixies, The Kills, DIIV, Courtney Barnett and Wolf Alice.

Tickets for the show are $25; click here.

Sunflower Bean

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A new mixed-use development — with 136 apartments, more than 6,800 square feet of retail space, and a pool, dog run  and walking trails — has been okayed for the Westport border.

“Nancy on Norwalk” reports today that the Norwalk Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved plans for the proposal on Renzulli Road. It currently runs from Kings Highway South in Westport — between Rivard Crescent and Strathmore Lane — to Westport Avenue (Route 1) in Norwalk. Kings Highway South marks the Westport/Norwalk border.

Renzulli Road begins on the Westport/Norwalk border.

Renzulli Road would now become a cul-de-sac, with no outlet onto Westport Avenue.

The principal engineer for the project promises a “significant amount of landscaping” including trees around parking areas and the back property as a buffer with neighbors, and plantings throughout. The site will also include feature an improved storm water management system.

The site now houses a dry cleaner, and a vacant building that was once a liquor store.

The next step: approval from the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Westport Avenue is a state road. (Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

A rendering from Bruce Beinfield Architecture of the proposed Renzulli Road apartment and retail complex.

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Staples High School is justly proud of its Players theater troupe and Orphenians, the elite a cappella singing group. Both have been around since the 1950s.

But Soundings — the award-winning literary magazine — is a decade older.

Founded in 1947, it’s now an annual print and digital magazine showcasing student submissions ranging from prose, poetry and short stories to 2D, 3D and digital art.

But a few years ago, Board of Education funding was cut. Soundings now relies on a GoFundMe appeal. The goal is just $1,000 — but ever dollar helps. Click here for more information, and to contribute.

(Need more incentive? Click here to browse the archives.)

Meanwhile, Soundings seeks submissions from students. This year’s theme: “The world is your playground.”

Short stories, essays, visual media and more (and questions) can be sent to Soundings@students.westportps.org. To be eligible for a cash prize, include a $5 submission fee (not mandatory).

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Speaking of literature: Staples High School graduate Bruce Lawder reads his poetry at Westport Book Shop (February 2, 6 p.m.).

After graduating from Dartmouth College, and earning a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Zürich, where he also taught, Lawder now lives in Europe.

Space is limited. RSVP:  bookshop@westportbooksaleventures.org; 203-341-5141.

Bruce Lawder

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Speaking of reading: The Westport Library is sponsoring a winter program for kids.

It’s a way to decorate the Children’s Library with colorful mittens. Here are instructions for young readers (or their parents)

  • Log into READsquared and create an account. Then start logging your reading.
  • Keep track of reading progress in the READsquared program.
  • For every 50 minutes read, you can decorate a mitten for display in the Library.
  • When you’ve read 250 minutes, you’re halfway to the end. You’ll get a coupon for a free shake at Shake Shack.
  • When you’ve read 500 minutes: congrats! Go to the Library to choose a free book to keep.
  • Winter Reading ends March 4 — or when you’ve read 500 minutes.

Click here for details.

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Applications are now being accepted for an affordable 2-bedroom rental at 52 Church Lane.

The 822-square-foot unit must be rented to families whose annual income is equal to or less than 80% of the state median income (family of 1, $63,056; of 2, $72,064; of 3 $81,072; of 4, $90,080). The rental rate is $1,622 a month, plus utilities.

Email info@davidadamrealty.com, or wrote BW Church East, c/o David Adam Realty, PO Box 5040 Westport, CT 06881 to request an application.

52 Church Lane

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MoCA Westport’s “Cocktails and Conservation” series continues next Thursday (January 26, 6 p.m.).

This extra-special event includes a collaboration between several Westport-based female influencers, in the areas of art, fashion and design.

“The Intersection of Art, Fashion, and Lifestyle” conversation will be led by Sade Strehlke, editor of POPSUGAR of Westport.

Panelists include style maven and WEST owner Kitt Shapiro; noted photographer Jane Beiles; content creator and founder of Designport Jen Berniker, and social “artrepreneur” and founder of Invest in Her Art Diana Mashia.

Guests who arrive early can explore the Paul Camacho and annual high school exhibitions, and buy a drink or cocktail from the new bar service, The Cup Bearer.

Advance registration requested; click here.

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Pamela Kesselman spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene at Compo Beach.

“You must always keep your guard up,” she warns.

(Photo/Pamela Kesselman)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard of Sunflower Bean, the band that kicks off this year’s Verso Fest on March 30 (story above), click below.

You won’t be alone. It’s already got over 3.7 million views.

(After you’ve finished listening to Sunflower Bean — and buying tickets to VersoFest 2023 — there’s one thing left. Please click here to support “06880,” Without us, you’d never know about stuff like this. Thank you!)

Roundup: Intensity, Longevity …

The ad said: “INTENSITY — everything must go!” 

Westporters worried that the tennis/squash/fitness/dance center just over the Norwalk line would close. 

Racquet sports are still there. But the health and fitness component is changing.

Clair Mason, owner of Elliptica, and co-owner of Intensity — says that the health and fitness industry has changed. COVID, and the rise of paddle and pickleball, provided an opportunity to remodel both businesses.

Elliptica developed a virtual offering, with a class and partnership with a machine manufacturer. 

And all Intensity fitness classes are now under the Elliptica brand at a new (and nearby) location: 345 Post Road West, Westport. They include barre, Herman Walker Body Design System, dance fitness, bodypump, Pilates, bootcamps and more. For more information on Elliptica, click here

On January 1, Intensity became a racquets-only club. There are 6 indoor tennis courts, 4 squash courts, 4 pickleball courts and 2 new paddle courts. A warming hut opens soon. For more information on Intensity racquets, click here

Clair Mason owns both Elliptica and Intensity.

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Speaking of fitness: For Peloton, COVID was just what the doctor ordered.

The stationary bike company’s sales surged during the pandemic. With gyms closed, home workouts — which Peloton delivered, via its equipment and streaming platforms — were the only game in town (or anywhere else).

Since 2018, Peloton had a retail presence here. The Main Street store — one of the few of its 80-plus outlets not in a mall — closed temporarily, along with nearly every other retailer.

It reopened (though supply chain issues made it difficult to meet the enormous demand for bikes and treadmills).

This coming Sunday, it will close for good. The decision is part of an “aggressive” reduction in retail stores (and, last summer, the elimination of roughly 780 employees.

Peloton’s fortunes crashed as quickly as they rose. As COVID eased, people returned to the gym.

The Main Street tenant before Peloton sold Sperry boat shoes. There is no word on what kind of business — sports and leisure-related, or not — will replace it.

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Speaking still of fitness: Longevity Westport — the center offering non-invasive, quick and very sophisticated testing of muscle mass, bone density, metabolism, cardiovascular health, oxygen consumption and more — opened on Post Road East in 2021.

But — true to their name — they may be the business with the longest time before hosting an official ribbon-cutting.

It’s set for this Saturday (January 21, 1835 Post Road East). First Selectwoman Jen Tooker does the honors at 1 p.m.

She’ll be followed by 3 speakers: Ralph Esposito, a naturopathic physician and head of nutrition at Athletic Greens; Atlas Nutrition chiropractic physician Dr. Beth Atlas, and Sherpa Westport’s Jean Paul Desrosiers.

All will offer specials for customers. In addition, Longevity will provide 50% off a second test, with the purchase of a full price test (and 20% off a bundle package).

There’s food too. Healthy, of course.

Inside Longevity. The DEXA scan machine is at left.

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Hard to believe, but Westport Book Shop is 2 years old.

The used book store (and much more) honors the milestone with several community events.

A Volunteer Appreciation Celebration is set for January 28 (10:30 a.m. to noon), at the Westport Library across Jesup Green from the shop.

A “Show Your Love” competition offers a $50 Westport Book Shop gift card. Just film a short video showing why you love the Book Shop, then post it on social media.

Every entrant receives a free vinyl record, CD or book of their choice from the current inventory ($6 or less). The deadline is 6 p.m. January 27. Click here for details, and the entry form.

Meanwhile, story time for kids at the Book Shop runs on Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29. Call for details: 203-952-0070.

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Westport favorite Melissa Newman — one of our own — headlines this week’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, January 19; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 7 p.m.; $15 cover; reservations strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com).

Joining Melissa: guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Phil Bowler and drummer Arti Dixson.

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PFAS chemicals in the Weston water supply?

On this week’s “What’s Next in Weston?” podcast, 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor describes how her town has addressed the issue, with remediation and clean water for every family.

The bi-weekly series is produced by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to listen:

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s first “Lunch and Learn” webinar of 2023 is called “Landscapes for Better Living.”

On January 27 (noon to 1 p.m.), Jay Archer of Green Jay Landscape Design will discuss how ecological landscape design, organic horticulture and land stewardship can improve human health (and save the planet).

In addition to designing, building, managing and maintaining beautiful, natural ecosystems and plantscapes, Archer has taught, lectured and consulted with organizations from NYBG and The Institute for Ecosystem Studies to the Native Plant Center, Nature Conservancy and Audubon International.

For more information and to register, click here.

One of Jay Archer’s ecological landscapes.

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Many “Westport … Naturally” photos are gorgeous.

This one isn’t.

A reader who lives nearby writes: “I saw these giant birds in the dumpsters behind Gaetano’s.

“The dumpsters are open, and so is the door on one side. There were others in a tree, walking nearby, and sitting on the roof of a house, all waiting their turn. Apparently they are black buzzards.

“I called Gaetano’s. The woman who answered said, ‘yeah, it’s been like that all week.’ I said, ‘just close the dumpsters.’ She thanked me.”

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And finally … today is the birthday of Muhammad Ali. “The Greatest” boxer — and an important political activist was born in 1942. He died in 2016, age 74.

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(If all the stories above about fitness leave you exhausted … take a break! As you rest, please click here to support “06880.” Thank you!)

Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Long Lots, Taxes …

A leaf blower ordinance — discussed for years, and blowing in the wind for the past few months — was finally enacted last night.

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting voted 22-9 in favor of the proposal, which regulates when and which types of leaf blowers can be used, and by whom. The town of Westport is specifically exempted from the rules. Enforcement will be done by the Conservation Department.

Click here, the scroll down to Slide #28, for the full ordinance, and supporting materials.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education voted 4-3 to request up to $600,000 from the Board of Finance (which meets tonight), for 2 modular classrooms at Long Lots Elementary School. The portables will be placed behind the school, near a small play aea.

The Board also discussed redistricting. Pieces of the puzzle include unbalanced populations at Westport’s 5 elementary schools; Stepping Stones preschool, currently housed at Coleytown El but slated to move to Long Lots after a new building is constructed, and the schedule for that new Long Lots.

The new portable classroms would be placed behind the school, at the upper left on this photo. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Westporters — especially seniors and those with low to moderate incomes — can once again take advantage of the town’s no-cost full-service AARP/VITA/IRS Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.

On-site personal counseling is available by appointment at Town Hall (Mondays from 1 to 7 p.m.) and the Senior Center (Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.), starting January 23. Call 860-590-8910 for an appointment.

The service is also available through a secure internet site. Click here for an appointment.

The “SimplyCT” counselor group that services Westport prepared and filed more than 7,000 returns last season – almost all electronically. Federal refunds of over $10 million were received by their clients..

The program is administered by Westport’s Department of Human Services.

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Westport is less than $10,000 away from its goal: raising $250,000 to support our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

Yesterday’s donations brought the total to $241,700. Our partners on the ground — Ukraine Aid International, founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — are arranging for building supplies, a trash truck and more to be delivered immediately to the war-torn town.

It is far quicker and cheaper for those to be sent from Poland and elsewhere in Europe, rather than the US.

Can we reach our goal today?

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

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Most of us have already forgotten the recent pre-Christmas wind and rain storm. After all, it happened last year (ho ho).

But Westport’s Public Works Department continues its clean-up efforts. They were out again yesterday — in more rain — at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

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Grammy winner Frank London headlines tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, January 5, VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, sets at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; $15 cover; dinner from 7 p.m.).

The trumpeter will be joined by pianist Roberta Piket, bassist Hilliard Greene, drummer Billy Mintz and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

Wall calls London “one of the most inconoclastic traditional musicians I have ever met. I have heard him tear down the walls of parochial practices of old and new jazz, swing, bop, klezmer, Gypsy, Baltic, Cuban, West African and many other musical genres, and create community across the globe while bringing joy to literally hundreds of thousands  of concert goers.”

Wall and he were partners in Hasidic New Wave, a band combining traditional Jewish celebratory music with downtown jazz, funk and “pure improvised mayhem.” They play together now in Zion80, a “mixed marriage of avant jazz and Afro beat.”

London will play new works inspired by Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Azar Lawrence and others, with an ethnic twist.

Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com

Frank London

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The Westport Book Shop’s guest exhibitor for January is mixed media artist Katya Lebrija.

Her works from the “Destinations” collection feature real and imagined places. Much of her work is inspired by her Mexican heritage.

Lebrija’s art has been exhibited throughout Connecticut, New York, Vermont Mexico City.

Her art is on exhibit at the Book Shop through January 31. All work is available for purchase.

Katya Lebrija at Westport Book Shop.

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Longtime Westporter Richard Auber of Westport died peacefully on New Year’s Day, surrounded by his family. He was 87.

Dick lived on Long Island before moving with his wife and 5 children here in 1975. He served in the Air National Guard for 6 years.

After graduating from St. John’s University he had a long career in the business world, and retired from the New York Transit Authority in 1987.

He met the love of his life, Elizabeth Mary Schick, in church choir. They were married for 64 years. He enjoyed sharing his singing talents with the St. Luke Church choir every Sunday morning. He also sang with the Hoot Owls and Fairfield County Chorale. He was a gifted storyteller too.

Dick is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Betty) Auber; children Patricia Auber (Tom Magro), Richard (Tatyana Nivina), Ron (Cheryl Fogg), Judy Auber Jahnel (Ferdinand) and Christine Auber (Michael Bauersfeld); 7 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; his sister Marilyn Fitzpatrick, many nieces and nephews, and countless friends and extended family.  He is predeceased by his brother Robert and sister Edna.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday (January 7, 11 a.m.. St. Luke Church). Contributions can be made in his memory to the St. Luke Church Matthew 25 fund, or Food for the Poor.

Dick Auber

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Westporters love Compo Beach.

But long before we were here, there were birds, and fish.

They’ve been doing what they do naturally for millions of years.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo of how they do it comes courtesy of Laurie Sorensen.

(Photo/Laurie Sorensen)

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And finally … Earth Wind, & Fire drummer Fred White died Sunday. He was 67.

The New York Times says he “propelled some of the funkiest songs in pop history, helping to provide a soundtrack to the nation’s weddings, bar mitzvahs, high school reunions and any other function at which people of all ages dance.”

Click here for a full obituary.

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Roundup: Hamlet At Saugatuck, World Karting Champ, Italian Culinary Tour …

The Planning & Zoning Commission continued its discussion of the Hamlet at Saugatuck proposal last night.

P&Z members and proponents of the plan — which includes hotel, retail, residential and waterfront space near the train station — spoke about height, floor area ratios and requirements for public open space.

Votes on text and map amendments — necessary for the project to move forward — may be taken at the next P&Z meeting (Monday, December 12).

Part of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck marina.

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Speaking of real estate: November’s numbers are in.

Here are the figures for single-family homes, with comparisons in parentheses to November 2021:

  • Total sales: 23 (down 30.3%)
  • Median sales price: $1.595 million (up 1.6%)
  • Inventory: 118 (down 7.8%)
  • Days on the market: 57 (down 9.5%).

83% of homes sold within 90 days of listing.

Only 1 condo sold in Westport last month. The price was $495,000. However, the inventory of condos is 37. (Hat tip: Meredith Cohen at William Raveis)

The most expensive home on the market in Westport right now is on Charcoal Hill Road. The 6-bedroom, 8 1/2-bath house can be yours for $12.5 million.

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The last time we checked in with Vivek Kanthan, he had qualified to represent the US in the 2022 ROK Superfinal World Karting Championship in Italy.

He did win. But now the 13-year-old Westporter is a world champion.

Vivek Kanthan: world karting champion.

The venue was South Garda Karting Track in Lonato, Italy. Ninety racers from 25 countries qualified through their own national competitions.

The event is raced over 4 days. Competitors are eliminated, until only 36 drivers remain for the Superfinal world title.

Vivek won all 4 elimination heats, with a perfect score. He was the first American ever to do so.

In a very tactical, skillful and tense Superfinal, he executed a switchback passing maneuver on the last lap, to win by 0.077 seconds. Racers from Australia and Romania were 2nd and 34d, respectively.

Next year, Vivek moves up a race category. He will continue to compete in Europe against the world’s best kart racers. To follow his Instagram, click here.

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The sun was out yesterday. The high was almost 50.

So these 5 guys headed to Old Mill for a swim.

(Photo/Denise Pearl)

And why not? It’s the off-season. No beach stickers required.

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Westport Book Shop’s December artist exhibitor is Westporter Jarvis Wilcox. Seven oil paintings featuring nature, landscapes and still life are on display in the Jesup Green used book store. A reception is set for December 10 (5 to 7 p.m.).

Wilcox painted in upstate New York for a decade, then in the Hamptons for 25 years. He now lives here, and is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport, and Silvermine Guild.

All artwork on display is available for purchase. To see more of his work, click here.

Jarvis Wilcox

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Steve Davis returns to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 on Thursday (December 8), for Jazz at the Post. He brings some great collaborators too.

Davis — one of the most widely recorded trombonists today — will feature selections from his latest CD, “Correlations,” and his Grammy Award-winning original compositions.

He’ll be joined by saxophonist/”Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Jason Clotter and drummer Jason Tiemann.

Shows are 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. There is a $15 cover. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Steve Davis

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Take a culinary tour of Italy — without leaving Westport.

Chef Robert L. Gorman leads the first in a series of Wakeman Town Farm dinners on January 6 (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.).

In Tim’s Kitchen, guests will experience many flavors of Italy. Chef Robert starts with imported salami and cheeses; moves on to tagliatelle Bolognese and a variation on bistecca Fiorentina with gremolata and harvest-roasted vegetables, ending with classic tiramisu. He’ll discuss the background of each course, too.

Click here for tickets ($150 each) and more information.

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Humans are not the only ones who can enjoy a “Westport … Naturally” sunset!

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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And finally … today is the 53rd anniversary of Altamont.

On this day in 1969, a free Rolling Stones concert turned violent. 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards. There were 3 other deaths; scores of injuries; many stolen vehicles, and lots of property damage.

Less than 4 months after Woodstock, Rolling Stone magazine called it “rock and roll’s all-time worst day.”

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Roundup: Staples Football, Alumni Soccer, Community Theater …

Congratulations to the Staples High School football team!

In a wild Thanksgiving game at Paul Lane Field with 7 lead changes — and an especially crazy final 1:30 — the Wreckers prevailed over Greenwich, 39-38.

Victory for the Wreckers! (Photo/Greershotz Photography)

Staples’ first victory over the Cardinals in 5 years — despite several nail-biters — was an important one.

The blue-and-whites — now 9-1 — secured a home game for the first round of the state class “LL” (extra large schools) playoff. They host Fairfield Prep on Tuesday. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.

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Also Thursday: Over 50 alumni and varsity players participated in Staples boys soccer annual Turkey Bowl.

The oldest participant was Dave Wilson, a former Wrecker captain and Dartmouth College captain from Staples’ Class of 1975. The youngest were current sophomores — a 50-year gap.

The event raises funds for the Albie Loeffler Scholarship.

Turkey Bowl participants. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

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This is the final weekend for the Westport Community Theater’s (and long-COVID-delayed 65th season) presentation of “Ghost-Writer.”

The 90-minute play ia directed by Alexander Kulcsar, and features Ann Kinner, Rob Pawlikowski, and Deborah Carlson.

Performances are tonight (Saturday, November 26, 8 p.m.) and tomorrow (Sunday, 2 p.m.), at Town Hall. Tickets are $25. For reservations, call 203-226-1983. For more information, click here.

 

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The Westport Book Shop’s second annual Winter Family Fest is set for next Saturday (December 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon).

Children will enjoy snowflake-themed crafts on Jesup Green, and holiday story readings inside the store.

The event is on, whether there are real snowflakes or not.

Fun for kids next weekend, inside and out.

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The sign near the Bayberry Lane Extension bridge project says it will be completed by November 30.

This was the scene yesterday:

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

They’ve got 4 days to meet their deadline.

And today and tomorrow are the weekend.

I’m just sayin’ …

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And finally … James Connaughton snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo near Center Street.

“Turkeys that got away?” he wonders, surveying yesterday’s scene. “Or late to dinner?”

(Photo/James Connaughton)

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And finally … the photo above reminded me of …

Roundup: Book Sale, Mattresses, Club 203 …

Yesterday’s weather was gorgeous.

But plenty of people headed inside: to the Westport Library’s ginormous Book Sale.

At least one youngster found exactly what he was looking for:

(Photo/Eve Potts)

The book sale continues today (Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.; half-price day) and tomorrow (Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; fill a Book Sale bag for $8, or your own equivalent-size bag for $5).

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Also yesterday: Sustainable Westport’s mattress recycling event at Earthplace.

Over 60 mattresses and box springs were diverted from the incinerator, with the help of Bye Bye Mattress. More than half were picked up at residents’ homes and brought to Earthplace by Boy Scout Troop 36, for a small donation..

Plenty of people slept well last night, knowing they’d done good things for our planet.

Saving the planet, one mattress at a time. (Photo and hat tip: Pippa Bell Ader)

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And … amazingly … this was another scene from yesterday:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Hey! It’s mid-November! Let’s put on some shorts and play volleyball at the beach!

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Club 203‘s first 2 events were spectacular successes.

Now, the local social club for adults with disabilities announces the third.

A “Gaming and Pizza Night” — featuring games (pool, pinball and video), plus plenty of giveaways — ise st for November 19 (7:30 p.m., Toquet Hall).

Club 203 encourages independences. Parents and caregivers can drop off loved ones, then visit the nearby Westport Book Shop. The store on Jesup Road — a few steps from Toquet Hall — employs people with disabilities. They’re staying open late especially for the Gaming and Pizza Night.

To RSVP for the event, click here.

 

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Former Westporter Virginia Pils died earlier this month. She was 96.

The Los Angeles native graduated from UCLA in 1948. She taught high school English in Michigan before earning an MFA in drama at Yale.

She moved to New York City where she almost worked for Alfred Hitchcock

She married George Pils in 1958, and had 4 children. He died in 2011.

They lived in 3 states and 6 towns before settling in Westport in 1974. She was a Brownie leader and assistant Girl Scout leader; served on PTAs and the League of Women Voters; was a member of the Ecumenical Society in Westport, and president of the local American Association of University Women chapter. She was active with First Church of Christ Scientist, and sold advertising for The Christian Science Monitor,

When Virginia’s children were older she returned to teaching drama at The Seabury Center. She also taught English at Fairfield Prep and the Daycroft School.

She loved seeing shows at The Yale Repertory Theater and on Broadway. She enjoyed traveling with her husband to Europe, Asia and Alaska.

Virginia is survived by her children: Dwain (Beth)  of  Cornelius, North Carolina; Diana Pils Marino (Kevin) of Stamford; Gary (Bonnie) ofo Norwalk, and Gregg of Fairfield, and grandchildren Jessica Pils Fields, Mat Pils Stanley, and Tyler and Ava..

The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home nexxt Saturday (November 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), with a service at the funeral home to follow at 1 p.m.. Click here to leave online condolences.

Virginia Pils

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Leaves are not the only colors this fall.

This “Westport … Naturally” bloom was spotted (and photographed) by Alina Rodescu-Pitchon,

(Photo/Alina Rodescu-Pitchon)

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And finally … in honor of the Earthplace event (see above):

(Please click here to support “06880.” You’ll sleep easy, knowing you did your part for Westport’s hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Staples Sports, Craft Fair, Black Holes …

Two Staples High School sports teams fell in their quests for FCIAC (league) championships last night.

Both were seeded #3. Both lost to the #1 seeds.

The field hockey team dropped a 3-0 decision to Darien, at Brien McMahon High School. The Blue Wave earned their 5th consecutive title.

The girls soccer squad lost 3-1 to St. Joseph. Evelyn Chudowsky scored the Wreckers’ goal, assisted by her sister Natalie.

Both teams — along with boys soccer — start state tournament play next week. The football team, meanwhile, is still in contention for a state playoff berth.

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Meanwhile, the Staples fieldhouse shifts from sports to crafts this weekend.

CraftWestport — a favorite Westport Young Woman’s League fundraiser for over 45 years — returns Saturday and Sunday (November 5-6). Like so many other events, it’s been a COVID-induced hiatus for 2 years.

Over 175 contemporary crafters and makers from across the country will exhibit at what has become Connecticut’s largest indoor crafts festival.

Ticket sales sales fund the WYWL’s community grants to are charities like Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Homes with Hope, Westport Emergency Medical Services and many others.

CraftWestport includes original fashions, accessories, jewelry, home décor, furniture, photography, and artwork like ceramic, glass, metal, wood and mixed media.  Food items including honey, maples syrup, cheese and more are also for sale.

Show hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket s are $11 adults, $10 seniors, $5 ages 12-18; children under 12 are free; click here to buy.

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I was a (very) occasional patron of Freshii.

The oddly named fast-casual bowl-and-a-bit-more restaurant next to the downtown Starbucks opened 9 years ago.

Now it’s closed. I’m not sure how long ago it left, but it looks like a while.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t go there much.

Black holes: fact or fiction?

Defy the gravitational pull of Netflix. On November 15 (8 p.m.), open your laptop to the Westport Astronomical Society’s free online science lecture series. Dr. Jeremy Schnittman — a NASA research astrophysicist — highlights the most interesting and exciting aspects of black holes, explores recent discoveries, and notes some science fiction hits and misses.

Click here for the YouTube livestream.

Jeremy Schnittman

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Chris Frantz — of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club fame — returns to the Westport Library.

On November 19 (7:30 p.m.), he brings his Emerging Musicians series back to the Trefz Forum. He’ll spotlight 2 Fairfield County acts: Residual Groove (a funk-fusion, improv-heavy dance band) and contemporary singer-songwriter Brian Dolzani.

The Emerging Musicians series features up-and-coming regional, national, and international music, hand-picked by Frantz. The goal is to bring new music to new ears, and incubate rising talent. The concert is a collaboration and production of Verso Studios at The Library, and the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets are $10; there’s also a cash bar. Click here for more information.

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Mike Evans is a Westport Weston Family YMCA basketball coach. The Weston native is also the founder of Full Court Peace, a non-profit that repairs basketball courts in underserved communities, then uses the sport to bring people together.

Now he’s written a book about his time in Belfast, where he brought rival Protestant and Catholic teenagers together to play as one team

In “The Belfast Blazers,” Evans dives into the Irish city’s dark history. He describes meeting members of the Irish Republican Army (and the Dalai Lama). Click here for more information.

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TAP Strength is well known for its comprehensive, personalized approach to wellness.

On November 16 (6 to 8 p.m., 180 Post Road East), the fitness studio turns into an art studio. Miggs Burroughs, Bonnie Edelman and Alex Silver will show their work. 2 Roads Brewery will provide libations.

Can there be a better way to work out?!

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For more than 100 years, Save the Children has been saving children.

On November 14 (11:30 a.m., Green’s Farms Congregational Church), Ann Marie and miles and Kim Kilroy — high-ranking members of the non-profit’s leadership ship —  will tell the Y’s Women how Save the Children does it. The public is invited.

For decades, Save the Children was headquartered on Wilton Road. The main office is now in Fairfield.

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Lauren Tarshis — a Staples High School graduate, longtime Westporter and author of the wildly popular “I Survived” children’s book series — will read from her latest book and answer  children’s questions at the Westport Library.

The event is this Saturday (November 5, 3:30 p.m.).

We’ve got a question: Will Lauren survive all those kids?!

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Meanwhile, across Jesup Green from the library, there’s Julie Leff: Westport Book Shop’s Artist of the Month.

A member of the Artists’ Collective of Westport, WestonArts and Art/Place, she exhibits 4 vibrant photorealistic oil paintings, with a floral motif.

All work is available for purchase. On sale too: note cards with 12 images of Leff’s paintings.

 

Julie Leff at the Westport Book Shop.

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Everybody — including Wilbur, Rady and Diane Johnson’s Jack Russell — enjoys our fall foliage.

Now everyone who follows our “Westport … Naturally” feature can admire it too.

(Photo/Diane Johnson)

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And finally … on this day in 1783, Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 was performed for the first time in Linz, Austria. It is also known as (surprise!) the Linz Symphony.

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Roundup: Scholars, Cyndi Lauper, Universe …

Twelve Staples High School seniors have qualified as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Congratulations to Aalok Bhattacharya, James Cao, Sharmila Green, Emma Losonczy, Colin Morgeson, Gavin Thomas Rothenberg, Katharine Shackelford, Matthew Shackelford, Tegh Singh, Lucia Wang, Lilly Weisz, Tom Zhang   

Nationwide, 16,000 semifinalists — fewer than 1 percent of the over 1.5 million students who took the 2021 PSAT/NMSQT qualifying exam –will compete for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $28 million.

From left: Aalok Bhattacharya, Tom Zhang, Colin Morgeson, Sharmila Green, Lilly Weisz, Emma Losonczy,


From left: Lucia Wang, Gavin Thomas Rothenberg, James Cao, Matthew Shackelford, Katharine Shackelford. Missing: Tegh Singh.

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A sold-out crowd loved Cyndi Lauper’s Friday night benefit concert at the Levitt Pavilion.

And she loved Westport.

That’s not just “06880” speculation. The legendary singer/actress posted “thanks” on both her Facebook and Instagram pages.

She put on a great show. It was clear the girl just wanted to have fun.

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There’s a true hometown flavor to this week’s Jazz at the Post.

“Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall will be joined by Westport’s own Melissa Newman.

She’s had a long career singing jingles for companies like AT&T and Chevrolet. Neighbors know her from performances at Blue Lemon, Tengda and Harvest.

There are 2 shows — 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. — on Thursday (October 6) at VFW Post 399 (465 Riverside Avenue). There’s a $10 cover. Food service starts at 6:30.

Guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Phil Bowler and drummer Matt Moadel will join Greg and Melissa.

Reservations are strongly suggested. Email JazzatThePost@gmail.com.

Melissa Newman

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For thousands of years, humans have wondered about the universe: How big is it? How did it start? How will it end?

Only in the last few decades have we had the space tools to begin to find answers.

Marty Yellin has special insights. With a doctorate in biomedical engineering, he worked at PerkinElmer on a top secret program to design and build the largest spy satellite ever. Then he helped design and manage the Hubble Space Telescope.

On October 20 (10 a.m., Westport Library Trefz Forum and Zoom), he offers an overview of the fascinating, often mindboggling discoveries made by modern  telescopes. Click here for the Zoom link.

Just an infinitely small portion of the universe. Can you see where we are?

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Need another reason (besides great books) to go the Westport Book Shop this month?

How about Susan Lloyd’s shells?

The longtime Westporter exhibits an assortment of 2-dimensional shell art works, including mirrors and mosaics.

Over 15 years, her work has evolved to include skulls (plastic reproductions), old dolls and Saints (for their stories, not religious reasons). Colors, shapes, textures and shell varieties are all important elements n her designs.

Her work is on display through October 31, and is available for purchase. To see more of her art, click here.

Susan Lloyd at the Westport Book Shop, with shell art.

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The 13th annual Push Against Cancer is coming soon. And a group of Westport dads is pushing hard, to raise money for campers and their families at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, it offers fun, friendship and a healthy dose of mischief to seriously ill children at its great facility in upstate Connecticut, plus  outreach to hospitals, clinics and communities across the Northeast. All services are free.

The event is Sunday, October 16 (10 a.m., Staples High School). Andy Berman and Adam Vengrow are spearheading the dads’ effort. Click here to help.

Adam Vengrow (far left), Andy Berman (far right) and friends get ready for the Push Against Cancer.

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It’s still early October. But Al’s Angels is getting ready for the holidays.

This year’s goal is to provide toys to over 20,000 children suffering from cancer, rare blood diseases and financial hardship.

They’ll do it by providing an Amazon wish list. Just click here; purchase as many needed items as you wish, and have them shipped to: Al’s Angels, 342 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880.

You can also make a cash donation; click here.

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Date clarification: Westport Moms’ 2nd annual Fall Family Festival is next weekend — not the coming one. It’s Saturday, October 15 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Greens Farms Academy; $20 per family).

The event includes food, crafts, games and fun (bouncy houses, ninja course, music, art projects, DJ, pumpkin and cookie decorating, face painting, hair extensions, glitter tattoos, magic, STEM activities and more).

Many businesses will show off their products and services — all with activities for kids.

Organizers Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post ask attendees to bring gently worn jackets, for donations to a local non-profit.

A scene from last year’s Fall Family Festival.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is one of the happiest ever.

And why not? Junior, Winston and Frank are thrilled to be back (legally) at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Nicola Sharian)

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And finally … in honor of the upcoming Westport Astronomical Society lecture (story above):