Tag Archives: Westport Garden Club

Roundup: Theaters, TVs, Films …

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Westporters know that this is a great community for music.

Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.

The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.

The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.

No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.

Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)

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Speaking of the arts: White Barn — Lucille Lortel’s famed experimental theater that straddled the Westport-Norwalk line — and the actress/director’s nearby home were demolished a while ago.

Now a number of trees have been cleared too, in preparation for the construction of 15 homes.

Some remaining wetlands won’t be touched, nor will 5 acres around the pond that are now part of the Norwalk Land Trust.

But this is the scene, not far from what was once the White Barn Theater:

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And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.

But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.

On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.

Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.

Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.

Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.

Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.

The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)

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The Westport Garden Club’s annual sale — a beloved event since 1928, though canceled last year by COVID — returns this Friday (May 14, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

More than 1,000 perennials, including native varieties, will be for sale on Jesup Green. Club members will be on hand to answer questions. Can you dig it?

Getting ready for the sale.

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Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.

This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?

University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely and veggie whisperer/WTF farmer Ryan Brunelle will “field” questions. Click here to register.

Master gardener Ryan Brunelle.

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Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome are real issues. One of Mark Motyl’s young relatives suffers from looking too long and closely at his phone.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, with remote learning and working, followed by more hours watching TV. Light-emitting pixels damage many eyes.

Motyl offers a solution. He’s the creator of Vivid-Tek — an immersive theater whose components hide in a credenza or bench.

Light from Vivid-Tek’s screens is reflected — not direct. Without sacrificing resolution, it is gentle, tolerable, and more “cinematic.”

Motyl’s screens can be used during the day for remote learning, Zoom calls, exercise classes, gaming and more. When not in use, they disappear into custom furniture.

Vivid-Tek’s showroom is at 1252 Post Road East (the former Splatterbox, near Fortuna’s). For more information click here, call 203-(203) 246-2011, or email info@vivid-tek.com.

Vivid-Tek’s screen and controls can be hidden in a bench.

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Last month, “06880” reported that 2 Bank of America branches — the one next to the Starbucks drive-through, and another further east on the Southport line — had been permanently closed.

But, BOA said, customers could use the main Westport branch — next to Design Within Reach.

Yesterday, I had a non-ATM banking need. I headed downtown.

Nope! Still closed!

That’ll teach me to read “06880.”

That about sums it up.

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Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of Staples: The boys rugby team is having a great season.

They’ve qualified for one of 16 spots at the national tournament in Kansas City June 17-19 — and are raising $50,000 to cover travel expenses. Click here for more information, and to help.

The 2021 Staples High School boys rugby team.

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Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.

Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.

Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.

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The canal separating Canal Road from Saugatuck Island floods regularly.

But not always.

Other times — like yesterday — it looks like this:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografik)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Eve Potts. Even the roadway near her Regents Park condo are beautiful this spring.

(Photo/Eve Potts)

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And finally … on this day in 1989, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm, at 44. You may not know his name — but you sure know his drumming:

Roundup: Shore Birds, Sundance, Swimsuits …

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An American oystercatcher is nesting at Compo Beach.

Parks & Rec is on the case.

Department staff has strung rope around the site, keeping people away from the fragile bird and her eggs. A sign offers information about her habits.

Another sign describes other threatened shorebirds. It’s fascinating to read.

And heed.

The oystercatcher sign …

… and another, describing piping plovers and least terns. (Photos/Dinkin Fotografik)

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An excited “06880” reader writes:

I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”

Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.

I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?

Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.

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Last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, the Westport Garden Club’s “Friday Flowers” project brightened up our town. Once a week, members placed beautiful bouquets at very visible spots.

The Garden Club has picked up again this year. The first Friday Flowers of 2021 was delivered to Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Keep your eyes open every week. And if you see a Westport Garden Club member: thank her!

Friday Flowers at the church entrance. (Photo/Pat Nave)

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Speaking of Saugatuck Church: Boy Scout Troop 36 — which they sponsor, and provide meeting space for — helped make yesterday’s mattress recycling drive a huge success.

The Scouts picked up 34 mattresses and box springs throughout town. Then they headed to Earthplace, and helped load the items into a truck.

The Scouts’ efforts doubled the number of items received during Sustainable Westport’s project

Troop 36 Scouts also volunteered at Earthplace, filling containers with free compost for residents.

Boy Scout Troop 36 members, with mattresses and the recycling truck.

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Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.

The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.

They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.

“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.

“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable,  just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”

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Westport PAL’s motto is “It’s all about the kids.”

And kids of all ages love car shows.

The PAL is sponsoring one on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Of course.

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The other day, “06880” highlighted the Connecticut Preservation Award for 70 Turkey Hill South.

An award ceremony was held last week, via Zoom. Here’s a video of all 10 awards. The Westport one begins at 16;13. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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There’s always something new at George Billis Gallery.

An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.

Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.

The exhibit runs through June 13.

“Jewel Landscape,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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And finally … Happy Mother’s Day, to every “06880” mother out there.

None of us would be here without you. We love you, moms!

Roundup: Ramadan, Michael Douglas, Daffodils …

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It’s a Ramadan tradition for Muslims to visit civil service offices, meet executive officers in person, and thank them for their contributions.

Yesterday, Feroz Virani, Adil Kassam and Tameeza Asaria — members of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Fire Chief Robert Yost with a gift of appreciation.

At Town Hall …

… Police headquarters …

… and the fire station. (Photos courtesy of Town of Westport)

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Westport Republican Town Committee member Jim Campbell has tossed his hat in the ring: for chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.

A former chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee whose early and avid support of Donald Trump was chronicled in Evan Osnos’ New Yorker story “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” Campbell is an executive with Frontier Communications.

Jim Campbell

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The cover story for AARP Magazine’s April/May issue is Michael Douglas.

In a long interview about his life and career, the 76-year-old actor mentions his teenage years in Westport:

I was into hot rods, tinkering with cars. I worked at a Mobil station at one point, and my first real award was Mobil Man of the Month. I was also a member of a group called the Downshifters. A little bit like the Jets in West Side Story: [sings] “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.”

I had a D.A. — when you’d comb your hair to look like a duck’s ass — the D.A., we called it. We were known to spend a little time locating automobiles that had parts that we wanted. Not proud about it, but it kept me out of a lot of other trouble.

Click here for the full interview.

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Scott Smith writes: “I can’t remember a prettier season for daffodils and forsythia. I read an New York Times article on tulips that suggested the snow cover this winter may have helped. I

“I don’t recall buying any type of daffodil with multiple blooms, though I know some such varieties exist. So when I spotted this pretty bloom in my yard, I wondered if I have some sort of self-evolved mutant. Anybody else around town have this sort of daffodil?”

Daffodil lovers: Click “Comments” to respond!

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Speaking of blooms: The Westport Garden Club’s annual plant sale has a new venue: Jesup Green. The date is Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

Also new this year: the option to pre-order plants online, for curbside pickup. The ordering page goes live May 1, at http://westportgardenclub.org.

Held annual since 1928 (except during World War II, and last year’s pandemic), the event features over 1,000 homegrown perennials from members’ own gardens, with a special section of Connecticut native plants. Club members will be on site, for advice. Each plant has a tag with care information too.

The Westport Book Shop — across Jesup Green — will offer a selection of garden books.

Proceeds from the sale — and the club’s booth at the Westport Museum for History & Culture’s May 1 Spring Market — support the club’s projects, including maintenance of local public gardens and parks. For more information, click here.

Getting ready for the sale.

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Westporter Melissa Bernstein has been very open about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression. LifeLines — the multimedia platform recently launched, in collaboration with Doug, her husband and fellow Melissa & Doug toy company founder — has gotten great publicity.

One of the most in-depth and powerful stories was just published in the Washington Post. Click here to read. (Hat tip: Marc Selverstone)

Melissa Bernstein reads her “LifeLines” book.

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Food insecurity and cancer are both difficult situations. Too often, they go together.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Pink Aid is helping struggling moms feed their families. With every the breast cancer support group will purchase food cards for women battling both breast cancer and financial hardship.

Pink Aid will send every donor’s mother a card acknowledging the meaningful gift. For every donation of $100 or more, they’ll send the donor (or donor’s mom) a reusable insulated grocery bag. Click here to donate.

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From the Cincinnati Reds to Greens Farms Academy. That’s the unusual career path for the private school’s new athletic director. Eric Lee — senior director of player development for the MLB team — begins his next job in early July. He replaces Tauni Butterfield, who is moving to North Carolina after 2 decades at the Beachside Avenue school.

Lee’s 8 years with the Reds includes stints at director of baseball operations and senior director of international operations. He played baseball at Haverford, where he earned a BA i political science. He then taught world history and coached coaches baseball at basketball at Hawaii Preparatory Academy before returning to Haverford as an assistant dean of students and assistant baseball coach. He also worked and coached at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC — and earned a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Eric Lee

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And finally … on this day in 1965 Luciano Pavarotti mad his La Scala debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of “La Bohème.” Here he is, 21 years later:

Roundup: Remarkable Theater, Clear Cutting, Coffee An’ …

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Art imitated life last night, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A 40-foot movie screen was erected for the Remarkable Theater’s 2nd season — and a cameraman was there to film it.

The (metaphorical) curtain rises tonight at 7:30 p.m., with “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” “Sneak previews” follow through Tuesday. Click here for details and tickets.

(Photo/Doug Tirola)

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A reader writes:

“We residents on Pequot Trail are very upset by this week’s clear cutting of a lovely wooded area that provided privacy for multiple properties around the entrance to our street. Every time I turn onto the street now, my heart sinks.

“We’re sad enough that the charming house is being torn down — we get that this is inevitable — but did all of the mature trees and coveted privacy for multiple homes need to be callously destroyed?

“I called the town and was told that initiatives to restrict tree cutting have failed multiple times. I wonder what needs to happen to get our town, which prides itself on being so ‘green,’ to put a stop to this kind of environmental desecration?

“To preempt  any comments about ‘city people’ moving in, this property was bought by a Westport family. That makes it so much more disappointing.

Clear cutting, around the house that will be demolished.

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When COVID canceled last year’s annual plant sale, the Westport Garden Club planted a sign: “See You in 2021.”

True to their promise, this year’s in-person (sale is set for Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The new location is Jesup Green.

Gardeners can purchase plants the day of the sale, or online starting May 1. Click here for information.

Online orders will be available for curbside pick-up. And club members will be on hand during the sale to offer expert advice.

In more Garden Club news: “Friday Flowers,” the campaign initiated in the dark days of last spring to lift spirits and beautify the town, returns this summer. The first installation (May 7) is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Floral arrangements made by club members will be displayed each Friday through Labor Day.

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The annual Compo Beach grooming project is underway. As the weather turns nice — and more folks are vaccinated — it comes not a moment too soon.

The work is impressive to watch on the ground.

And even more impressive by drone.

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

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For a long while, Coffee An’ was open for takeout only.

They’ve now got indoor seating too. It’s limited, socially distanced, safe — and within amazing aroma distance of their wide selection of donuts (an’ more).

There are plenty of great breakfast and lunch places in town. Coffee An’ is at the topo of any list.

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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Amy Mandelbaum is vice president of the OUT Foundation, which encourages the LGBTQ community to participate in fitness, health and wellness activities.

She also owns CrossFit Westport. There’s no better place to encourage the inclusion she champions.

So on Saturday, April 17 (9:30 a.m. to noon), her gym — just over the Norwalk line, at 19 Willard Road — sponsors an “OUT Athletics” event. The warmup and workout is fun, doable — and everyone is welcome.

There’s food, coffee, and gift bags from sponsors like Garnier and Goodr sunglasses. Each heat lasts 45 minutes to an hour; then comes (socially distant) socializing.

For more or information or to sign up, click here.

Amy Mandelbaum

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With little rainfall and low humidity recently, Westport’s brush fire danger is high.

The Fire Department responded to 2 brush fires yesterday — simultaneously.

The one on Sherwood Island Connector was quickly extinguished. The other — between Parsell Lane and I-95 — brought 30 firefighters and officers from Westport and Fairfield, with 7 engines and 1 ladder. It burned 3 1/2  acres, but there was no property damage or injuries.

Westport Firefighters were dispatched to two simultaneous brush fires, one on the Sherwood Island Connector at Nyala Farms Road and the other on Parsell Lane.

Be careful out there!

(Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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This is amazing! Who would have guessed that “the friendliest curbside experience in America” is located right here in Westport? At our Fresh Market!

A cynic might demand proof.

I just want to know: Is this “the friendliest curbside experience” for supermarkets throughout America only? Or does it include everything: restaurants, bookstores, hardware stores, liquor stores, whatever?

Either way, this is very, very impressive.

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If you missed Monday night’s TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay Contest livestream — or read the essays on “06880” the next day, and want to watch the winners’ powerful deliveries — click below.

Spoiler alert: They’re great.

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“06880” has faithfully reported on ospreys: their return, their nests, even their empty platforms.

But they’re not the only wildlife to admire. Sherwood Mill Pond teems with more than ospreys. Matt Murray snapped this shot of a heron yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … today is the birthday of songwriter Yip Harburg. He was born on the Lower East Side in 1896. he survived the blacklist of the 1950s, and died in 1981.

Roundup: Jazz, Food, Black History, More


Outdoor entertainment returned to MoCA Westport last night. A socially distanced crowd enjoyed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Alexa Tarantino Quartet.

More concerts will be announced soon.

Outdoors at MoCA.

With food insecurity still a serious issue, the Westport Woman’s Club Food Closet is grateful for a nice donation from Westport National Bank.

Any organizations or family can donate food to neighbors in need. Bring non-perishable donations to the WWC 44 Imperial Avenue) from 9 a.m. to onoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If the clubhouse is locked, call 203-227-4240.

Monetary donations are also welcome. Click here, or send a check made out to Westport Woman’s Club to WWC, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

At the Westport Woman’s Club food pantry (from left); Wendy McKeon, WWC food closet co-chair; Robin Clark, WWC member and Westport National Bank vice president; Selma Blue, WNB head teller.


The “hidden history of Black Westport” will be visible to Westporters next Saturday (September 12, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.)

As a follow-up to the Westport Museum of History & Culture’s “Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport” exhibit, guides will lead tour groups (maximum of 10 people) throughout downtown.

They’ll describe local history, from enslaved people to soldiers, sailors, activists, artists, and respected residents, through existing buildings and long destroyed sites.

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required; click here to register. Foe moew information, email programs@westporthistory.org.


Aarti Khosla needs help in providing chocolate hearts to every Westport and Weston educator, as a show of thanks for all they do. 10% of all proceeds benefit another educational institution: Mercy Learning Center.

Click here to purchase hearts ($8 each). You can also stop by Aarti’s store, Le Rouge Chocolates (190 Main Street).

 


The final (and 15th) #FridayFlowers are on display at the Compo Beach lifeguard station. The Westport Garden Club — sponsor of the summer-long floral project — is grateful to the guards, and everyone at Westport Parks & Rec — for keeping our beaches safe and fun.

Pictured below (from left): David Levy, Noah Ross, Mia Parkes, Ella Thompson and Avery Tucker.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

RTM representative and Westport Writers Workshop founder Jessica Bram undergoes brain surgery at Yale University Hospital this morning.

Doctors will drain excess hydration to reverse motor, cognitive and memory impairment resulting from a recent fall.

Jessica sends affection and high regard to the Westport community, past and current writing students, RTM colleagues, and Webb Road neighbors.


And finally … today is National Be Late for Something Day. I’ll have a song for you later. Maybe.

Roundup: Election Day Ballots, Pink Aid, More


It’s been a long 5 months since COVID-19 struck.

But Election Day will be here before we know it.

In Connecticut this year, an elector can vote either in person at the polls from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, or by mail (absentee ballot).

The Secretary of the State will send applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters the first 2 weeks in September. Completed applications should be delivered to the town clerk’s office as soon as possible, either by dropping off in the black drop box at the rear entrance of Town Hall, or by mailing to Westport Town Clerk, 110 Myrtle Ave, Westport, CT 06880.

Ballots will be issued by the town clerk’s office starting Monday, October 5 by mail or in person by appointment only. Beginning October 5, completed ballots may be dropped off in the drop box behind Town Hall, or by mailing to the address above.

Click here for more information about absentee voting, checking or making changes to voter registration, and registering to vote.

NOTE: If you have already submitted an application to receive a mail-in ballot for the November 3 election, disregard the additional application you will receive from the Secretary of the State next month.


Pink Aid turns 10 this year. For a decade, the organization has provided emergency financial funding to breast cancer patients in treatment.

Pink Aid began serving women in Connecticut and parts of New York. They’ve now expanded to meet the needs of patients and families throughout the US.

During the pandemic, needs have become even greater. To meet increased need, the group launched a Pink Aid Lipstick Challenge. Participants can “Pucker, Post & Pledge” — and get friends and family to do the same.

Click here to learn more. There are some great social media posts too — including a very sweet one from Courtney Prussin.

One post in particular is really sweet – Westport’s young breast cancer survivor Courtney Prussin and her daughter Camryn created an Instagram reel, which Staples cheerleaders will promote.

If you’re on Instagram, you can see the dance @cprussin31.


This week’s #FridayFlowers project graces Fire Department headquarters. Our firefighters are grateful to the Westport Garden Club.

And, as shown in the photo below, assistant fire chief Matt Cohen and deputy fire chief Mike Kronick  — with all their colleagues — will take excellent care of the arrangment.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


For years, visitors to Burying Hill — and boaters on the Sound — gazed at the sprawling compound just past the beach. It was owned by one of Westport’s most famous (and now Hollywood’s infamous) men: Harvey Weinstein.

You won’t be able to see it much longer. On Thursday, demolition began.

(Photo/Lisa Seidenberg)


And finally … happy 158th birthday to Claude Debussy!

 

Roundup: Fire Hero, Values, Flowers, Free Library, More


Nick Marsan is a dedicated member of the Westport Fire Department. The job he and his fellow firefighters do for us is phenomenal.

He’s a hero even off duty. At 6 p.m. Thursday, Nick and another off-duty firefighter — Jim Lyons from Norwalk — saw a 33-foot boat explode and catch fire in Norwalk Harbor, 100 yards off shore.

Nick and Jim swam out to assist the 6 boaters, who had jumped into the water. Nearby resident Tony Aitoro — of the appliance family — got in his boat and helped, with life rings and preservers.

I’m sure Nick was enjoying a day off, after many exhausting shifts during Tropical Storm Isaias. It was certainly not just “another day at the beach” — but heroically, Nick, Jim and Tony were there. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

Nick Marsan


Two different philosophies of life, spotted recently in Westport. This lawn sign:

(Photo/Bob Fox)

And this vehicle, parked near the Longshore tennis courts:

(Photo/Luke Garvey)


The Westport Garden Club missed last week’s #FridayFlowers project, thanks to Isaias.

They’re back this week though, with a gorgeous arrangement at the plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. Enjoy!

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


“06880” is a big fan of the Westport Library.

But we also love the tiny “free libraries” that pop up on front lawns here and there. The latest is at 105 Hillandale Road, near Morningside Drive South.

It’s simple: Take a book. Or leave a book.

That’s it. No library cards. No late fees. And they’re open 24/7. Read!

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)


Ellis Laifer and Eli Koskoff were musicians, friends, and fellow Class of 2015 Staples High School graduates.

At Bowdoin College Ellis met a singer from Brooklyn, Tobi Omola. They performed, collaborated, and did a themed thesis together. For their final event, Eli flew from the University of Southern California to Maine for a live concert with them.

The trio clicked. They released songs on Spotify. Now — playing a mixture of folk R&B, hip hop and indie music, and calling themselves Fortuno — they’re a streaming sensation.

Their recent single “Wait” is getting plenty of attention. Click here to listen; follow “FortunoMusic” on Instagram and Facebook.

Fortuno (from left): Ellis Laifer, Tobi Omola, Eli Koskoff.

And finally … let’s remember Helen Jones Woods. She played trombone with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female, multiracial ensemble in the 1930’s and ’40s. She died last month from COVID-19 complications. She was 96 years old.

 

Roundup: Busted Chops, Haiku, Suite Tooth, More


Tonight, Church Lane celebrates its closure to traffic with music.

Busted Chops plays funk and soul between Spotted Horse and Urban Outfitters, from 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your friends — and masks!

Busted Chops takes over tonight, fro 6 to 9 p.m.


First there were planters. Now comes haiku.

This weekend, the Westport Arts Advisory Committee’s is placing 20 lawn signs throughout downtown. Each contains a photo of Westport, and a haiku by town poet laureate Diane Lowman.

Rotating lawn sign “art shows” are designed to keep downtown visitors inspired and smiling during the pandemic. Here are 2 signs — still packaged — for the first round.


Among the Westport Garden Club’s many roles: maintaining the “Beach Buds” garden at the entrance to Compo Beach.

Yesterday they added more color, through their #FridayFlowers bouquet. They came from Ginger Donaher’s garden.

So even if you arrive too late this weekend and find the parking lot closed, you’ll have something to smile about.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


It’s a syrupy name, but it does the job. SuiteTooth — already active in New York City and the Hamptons — has just started working in Westport. They solve  a big obstacle to visiting the dentist — it’s inconvenient (especially now, during the pandemic) — by offering at-home preventative dental care (cleanings, exams, X-rays and sealants), plus cosmetic services like whitenings.

Their mobile dental suite can be set up inside a home, outside, or in a pergola or pool house. (You do have a pergola, right?) They just need an 8×8 space, electricity, WiFi and a bathroom.

For more details, click here or call 347-256-1445.


And finally … it’s already August. Can September be far behind?

 

Roundup: Compo Playground; Comet; Art; PAL; More


The latest reopening is a big one: the Compo Beach playground.

Everyone — except those under 2 — must wear a mask. Social distancing must be observed.

Other than that: Have fun!


The Neowise comet got plenty of publicity when it first arrived.

It’s still visible — all the way through August 15. In fact, says Elyse Heise — who took the great photo below, at Saugatuck Elementary School — it just hit peak brightness yesterday.

The view tonight should be as bright as the day this past week, when she took this shot.

(Photo/Elyse Heise Photography)


Three downtown galleries — Amy Simon, Pop’TArt and Sorelle — are sponsoring an art walk this Thursday (July 30, 5 to 8 p.m.). There’s live music and refreshments (masks required, of course).

If this one goes well, more are planned for future Thursdays.

Amy Simon Fine Art


For decades — and very quietly — Westport PAL has impacted thousands of lives.

In addition to organizing 10 sports for 2,000 kids each year, supporting Staples High School sports, helping with field enhancements, organizing the 4th of July fireworks and Main Street Halloween parade, PAL awards college scholarships. Since 2003, they’ve handed out $400,000 in aid.

Their fundraisers are low-key. Unfortunately, their biggest — the fireworks — was canceled this year.

But the 58th annual Chief Samuel Luciano Golf Tournament is still on. Set for September 14 at Longshore, it’s more important — and fun — than ever. Click here to register, and for more details.


In these tough COVID times, EnergizeCT has expanded their rebates and incentives. The popular — and free — Home Energy Solutions program helps state residents save on bills by reducing waste.

Virtual visits (“pre-assessments”) offer a look into a home’s energy efficiency situation, so experts can make suggestions and explain how the rebates work.

There is no co-pay, regardless of how the home is heated. And the insulation rebate rate is now $2.20 per square foot — more than twice the previous $1 rate.

For more information, click here or call 877-947-3873.


This week’s #FridayFlowers — courtesy, as always, of the Westport Garden Club — adorn the entrance to Longshore.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


And finally … play ball! Baseball is back!  There’s new grass on the field …

 

Roundup: Bingo; Bridgeport Rescue Mission; Flowers; More


Stan Witkow reports that the weekly virtual bingo game just crossed the $5,000 mark.

Anyone can play. The winner chooses a non-profit to receive his or her winnings.

Homes With Hope has been a major recipient of the weekly winnings, receiving $1,235. Other include Bridgeport Hospital’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Connecticut Food Bank and Harvest Island food pantry on Long Island.

Players come from across the country. Some are Westport ex-pats living in Florida, and stranded in California.

Games are every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Newcomers are welcome. Email stan@witkow.com for details.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.


Ariana Napier reports that during the pandemic, Bridgeport Rescue Mission is providing twice as many meals and 3 times as many grocery bags as before.

Requests for donations have not stopped. She’s not stopping either.

She and generous Westporters have donated 1,395 pounds of food and other items so far. Just 605 pounds more are needed to make 1 ton.

Items most in need:

  • Peanut butter and jelly (plastic)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tuna
  • Cereal (family size)
  • Macaroni & cheese (box)
  • Canned soup, stew, beans .

Items can be dropped off in bins at Ariana’s driveway (14 Jennings Court). Questions?  Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


Yesterday’s Westport Garden Club #FridayFlowers arrangement celebrated the reopening of the Westport Library. The beautiful flowers were created by Beverly Stanley and Laurie Holst, left and right respectively in the photo below.

(Photo/Kelle Ruden)


And finally … sure, no one likes wearing masks. But it’s an order. It’s an important way to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s no big deal. Just put on your mask, and then …