Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Traveling Along Route 7

From Rural Intelligence

“I love Route 7,” says photographer Stephen Donaldson. “It’s not only the history of our region, it’s the history of our country. It’s the road the defines western New England.” Stretching from Norwalk, CT, on the Long Island Sound to Vermont’s border with Canada, the 308-mile stretch of road has scores of farmhouses, clapboard churches, cemeteries, barns and breathtaking vistas, which Donaldson has loving documented in his new book, Along Route 7 (Schiffer Books; $45.) While the natural landscape becomes bigger and bolder as you drive north, the manmade landscape—especially from the 18th and 19th centuries—is remarkably consistent, which is why many of the best preserved towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont look so much alike. “It’s a very comfortable part of the world,” he says.

Naturally, Donaldson has favorite parts of the road. He says nothing compares to the stretch from Bulls Bridge in Kent, CT, through Cornwall and Falls Village to Canaan. “It’s the Goldilocks section—it feel just right,” he says. “It feels very intimate. The landscape seems to wrap itself around you.” The most breathtaking part is just north of Bennington, VT. “It’s very dramatic when you arrive in this valley with 3,000 foot mountains. There’s a private toll road called the Equinox Skyline Trail, with incredible views.”

Route 7 is called the Ethan Allen Highway in both Connecticut and Vermont, but not in Masschusetts. “Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield, raised in Sheffield, and was very involved in Vermont politics,” says Donaldson. “It’s the mystery of Massachusetts as to why it’s not named the Ethan Allen Highway there, too.”

Photographs by Stephen G. Donaldson.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What To Do Today

by Maria Sacco

It's Christmas Day, you have had your fill of candy canes, plum pudding, Christmas Cheer and visiting relatives.

In need of a break?  Head out to Bantam Cinema.  It will be open this afternoon with two movies- Nine starring Daniel Day Lewis ( a Litchfield County Resident) and It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep (another Litchfield County Resident) and Steve Martin .

Go to Bantam Cinema for show times. Enoy a great movie, organic popcorn, or a variety of other treats. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

All of us at Litchfield Country Living wish you the happiest of holidays and a stellar 2010!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cross Country Skiing In Litchfield

by maria sacco

Not all skiiers want to barrel down a mountain.  Some prefer to cross country ski. Some years our area barely gets enough natural snow fall to make a snowman, some years we are blessed with an over abundance of snow.  Unlike most ski resorts, if you want to cross country ski, you are at the mercy of mother nature!   Here is a list of local areas that offer cross country skiing.

All Connecticut State Parks and Forests permit cross country skiing. The state DEP has designated 12 areas that are well suited for cross country skiing.  Click here for that list. 

Locally, Topsmead State Park in Litchfield offers over 500 acres of land for skiing. Topsmead is located on Buell Rd in Litchfield. 

White Memorial Conservation Center is open to cross country skiiers, weather permitting.  They do not offer rentals, but several local shops will rent out equipment.

Woodbury Ski Area is one of the few areas that offers both cross country and downhill skiiing. They also offere lessons.  Click here to go to their lesson page. Click here to get mountain conditions.

Winding Trails Cross Country Ski Area is located in Farmington.  They offer groomed trails and lessons.  Click here to go to the lesson page.  Click here for current trail and skiing conditions.

Some years Connec

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Downhill Skiing In The Litchfield Area

by maria sacco

Litchfield County has several Ski Areas, the best known being Mohawk Mountain located in Cornwall Connecticut.   Here is a list of several ski areas, let us know if we have missed your favorite!

Mohawk Mountain:  Located in Cornwall, Mohawk has been a favorite ski destination for over 50 years. Weekday hours are 9:30 AM until  10:00 PM, Saturdays 8:30 AM until 10:00 PM, Sundays 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM.  Mohawk offers both skiing and snowboarding. Programs include private lessons, group lessons, childrens programs, and racing programs.  Click here for more informaiton on lessons.  Click here to go to Mohawk's page for current conditions at Mohawk.

Ski Sundown: Located In New Hartford, Ski Sundown is another of Litchfield's family freindly ski area's. Opening day for the 2009/2010 season is this Friday, December 18th.  Ski Sundown offers both skiing and snowboarding, kids programs, adult lessons, racing teams, private lessons, and more.  Click here for Ski Sundown's page of current mountain conditions.

Woodbury Ski Area: Woodbury is not just the Antique's Capitol of Connecticut, it also has it's own ski area.  Woodbury Ski Area offers skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, private lessons, kids programs, racing teams and you can set up your own private skiing party/event as well!  Click here to go to their current mountain conditions and click here for more information on the mountain.

Just a short drive up in the Berkshires, Ski Butternut, Berkshire East, Ski Bosquet, Jiminy Peak, and  are just a few of the mountains that offer skiing In Massachusettes.

Ski Butternut: Ski Butternut offers skiing, snowboarding, children's programs, adult programs, private and group lessons, and more. Located in Great Barrington, Mass, Ski Butternut is just over the Connecticut/Massachusetts border.  Click here for today's mountain condtions and clcik here for more information on programs.

Ski Bosquet: Ski Bosquet is located in Pittsfield, Mass. It offers night skiing, snow tubing, group lessons, private lessons and more. Click here to go to the conditions page and click here to get more information on lessons.

Jiminy Peak: Located in Hancock, Mass, Jiminy Peak is the largest ski and snowboard resort park in southern New England. It offers childrens programs, adult programs, skiing, snowboarding. Click here to get the latest mountain conditions at Jiminy Peak.  Click here for program information.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Litchfield Area Music

by maria sacco

Music abounds in the Litchfield Hills.  We are lucky to have several Venues providing us with a large variety of artists and performers.  Here is a partial list of area events, some well known to area residents, some new! We welcome your suggestions.

The Warner Theatre: Located in Torrington, the Warner offers music, plays, dances, comedy and so much more.  Upcoming shows include A Holiday Doo Wop Celebration, Gregg Allman, Momix Revisited, Don Quiotxe, Comedy Night, David Sediris and more. Click here to go to the web site for further information on upcoming events.

One of Torrington's newest venues is Studio 59.  On a quiet street in Torrington, Connecticut, is an historic church, just minutes from downtown. It is here that a bit of old Paris has been recreated as Studio 59, a performance gallery. Owner and founder Timothy Alexandre Wallace has transformed this quaint old church into a setting reminiscent of an Eighteenth Century European drawing room, complete with comfortable wing-back and parlor chairs. Upcoming events include a New Year's Eve celebration, poetry readings, and a Winter Solistice Festival.  Click here to go to the events schedule.

Up in Norfolk, the Infinity Music Hall is chock a block with a fantastic schedule. Upcoming performances include Judy Collins (SOLD OUT), New Riders of the Purple Sage, Littlefeat, The Yale Wiffenpoofs, Al De Meolia, Buckwheat Zydeco, Jane Monhiet, and so much more.  The Infinity has also opened it's Bistro.  Click here to go to their events schedule.

The Palace Theather in Waterbury is another gem of a venue. Upcoming Events include the Musical Hairspray, A Chorus Line, Cirque Dreams Illumination, The Smothers Brothers, and Itzak Pearlman.  Click here to go to the schedule.

In Litchfield at The Common Ground Coffee House and Internet Cafe, they feature area artists as part of the Litchfield Community  Center Music.  Playing on December 19th, Ian Campbell, On January 16th, Jenna Bollard.  The Common Ground is located on route 202 behind the Irving Twin Stop Gas Station.

In New Milford, Hunt Hill Farm founded by Skitch and Ruth Henderson,  has a variety of arts and music.  The Henderson Cultural Center at Hunt Hill Farm Trust has an ever changing schedule.  Click here to go to the web site.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pack Your Bags Fuller and Fly!

From the Litchfield County Times

For weary travelers tired of paying excess baggage fees or having to leave their luggage at the airport, there is now a solution. Luggagelimits.com, an up-and-coming travel Web site that provides information about luggage weight limits for various airlines, went live on Aug. 5. Begun by Luke Dudley of Litchfield, www.luggagelimits.com is finding its niche with ever-increasing traffic and a link on the global travel Web site Lonelyplanet.com, as well as mentions in English and Australian media. Luggagelimits.com is completely free and does not require a membership to use.

Mr. Dudley, an algebra teacher at the private Forman School in Litchfield, realized that there was a massive gap between the information passengers needed about airline luggage allowances and the airlines' efforts at making such information available.

"I had the idea, because being a boarding school, every year, every term, these kids would come and go with so much stuff-computers, lacrosse sticks, their school clothes and casual clothes-and they're flying from everywhere, so it costs them a small fortune," said Mr. Dudley. "But also in the past, I've been caught out, because I've lived in England and Australia, and regulations seem to change every time I fly."

Luggagelimits.com allows users to search by airline and airport for the weight and size allowances for luggage-an increasingly important measure in travel budgets, now that most airlines charge fees for bulky or excess luggage to offset the rising costs of fuel. Mr. Dudley, a native of England who has also lived in Australia and traveled widely himself, noticed that while baggage information is often available on airline Web sites, it can be difficult and time consuming to find, and often changes without notice.

"Some airlines are more difficult than others; the smaller the airlines, the more gaps in their information. There are also some I haven't tackled, purely because their Web sites aren't in English. Some airlines don't even print the info I can offer, and I have to refer my users back to the reservation department number on their Web sites."

In addition to varying luggage allowances, Mr. Dudley said, some countries have different methods of measuring luggage, which can confuse travelers even more.

"America seems to have its own way of baggage rules. We have a by-the-piece system, but the rest of the world, or a lot of other countries at least, do it by weight. You have to keep your head up, otherwise you get caught using the wrong one. So I'm tracking and gathering their info with a tool I made that gathers info from their Web sites. I've just put it in a palatable, manageable way, and put it in one place."

Luggagelimits.com also functions as an answering service regarding prohibited items, which has led to some strange questions, Mr. Dudley said.

"One of the most recent bizarre inquiries was, 'Am I allowed to bring my Thanksgiving leftovers in my carry-on?' My answer was 'Yes, but please don't sit next to me.' There have been all sorts of questions; the most complicated ones are for specifics, like diabetics needing needles for their insulin, when, obviously, needles aren't allowed on flights. A lot of missionaries have e-mailed me-this is interesting-asking if they are allowed a greater amount of luggage, because they are taking huge loads of bibles to Africa."

While he has not had any direct contact with executives at airlines, Mr. Dudley said that no one who has contacted the industry has been unhappy with his service so far.

"I've had no negative feedback at all from airlines so far. I've had e-mails from employees, asking me consider adding their airlines and things like that. Generally all the feedback has been very positive. I just have a better tool than a lot of airlines themselves have."

Mr. Dudley, who runs the day-to-day operations of the Web site with some help from friends and relatives, is optimistic about making it a profitable venture in the future, while keeping it free to use.

"There is scope in the model for profit to be made. The site is free for users, so it's an odd sort of case, in that in order to make profit, I've got to have a huge amount of people use the site, but the idea was always to keep it free for the users. I dare say I might be able to, though. There's a great many people who fly every day, and I really only need a small percentage of those people to make it profitable. It's just growing awareness among those people, taking time to develop stronger search engine standings. If I just add South African Airlines, for example, they carry about 30,000 people a day; even a small percentage of that would get the numbers to increase very dramatically."

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Home Town Holiday At Hunt Hill Farm

See The 37th Annual Christmas Tree in the Silo Gallery

thru January 4th, 2010

One of Litchfield County's Best Kept Secrets Hunt Hill Farm

View the 27 ft. towering tree decorated with hand-crafted wooden ornaments by folk artist Joy Gaiser. Adorning the tree are 21 well-known New Milford buildings, over 40 snow-capped pine trees and a moon with the silhouette of Santa and his eight reindeer at the top. Gaiser’s garland of festive picket fences and snowflakes made by 4th graders at Sarah Noble Intermediate School add the finishing touches to this spectacular tree!

The New Talent Gallery will feature artist  Diana Luscombe for a second year, displaying her “Healing Strokes” paintings and a new line of note cards.

Photo from the Hunt Hill Farm Trust Web site.

Hunt Hill Farm Trust

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Visitor From The Far North

From Greg Hanisek's Column in the Waterbury Republican

Birds arrive in and pass through Connecticut from far-flung places at this time of year. Snow Buntings visit us from the top of the world, leaving the open Arctic expanses where they nest in search of less-frozen, but otherwise similar, places at our latitude. Since these are birds from beyond the treeline, they have no interest in Connecticut’s extensive forests. We find them in open places such as farmland, close-cropped turf and beaches. The big parking fields at Meigs Point in Hammonasset Beach State Park is a good place to find them, along with Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs. This Snow Bunting was photographed by Ed Doyle of Litchfield on a recent visit to Cape Cod.

Photo of Snow Bunting from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Live Music in the Litchfield Area

Dan Barry's Colum in the Hartford Advocate

Two venues in Torrington and Litchfield offer up an awesome night of brews, rock, and metal.

People around Litchfield County don’t really think it as a destination for music. Instead, the draw seems to be toward the bright lights of Hartford or New Haven — or possibly toward smaller, artsier enclaves like Chester or Middletown. And yet up in this area, there’s a higher-than-usual number of good venues sprinkled in among the ordinary bars. I visited two of them this past weekend.

My evening got started at the Cambridge House Brew Pub in Torrington, where newcomers Addison Station were playing. Based out of Manchester, the group comprises Trent Gerbers on lead vocals and harmonica, and Jeff Kenniston on vocals and acoustic guitar. The acoustic duo carefully selected pop songs that showcased their excellent dual harmonies. They did oldie-but-goodies like “Mrs. Robinson” right next to a silly cover of “Hey Ya.” They nailed the chorus harmonies of Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” and they even brought out an old flame I haven’t heard since the ‘90s — Tonic’s “If You Could Only See.” They may be a cover band, but at least they didn’t seem slavish about it, largely because they matched their selections to their strengths.

Later that night I headed to Litchfield, which under most circumstances hardly seems like a place you want to party. However, naysayers probably don’t know about Ditto’s, the pub attached to Bohemian Pizza (342 Bantam Road, past the town green). Imagine a cross between a dive bar, a log cabin, and a classy pizzeria, and you’re well on your way to envisioning what this place is like. Amidst colored lights and big amps was Headwrench, a take-no-shit metal band influenced by groups like Pantera and Priest. The hair was long and sweaty, the guitars were sharp and pointy, and the small crowd only grew as they barreled through their set.

Headwrench have massive underdog appeal. No one in the band is handsome enough to entertain notions of Jimmy Page flamboyance. No one seems to have any pretense about wanting to be a big star, even in this time when metal is cultural gold. And their traditional metal influences are almost unheard of now that grind, sludge, and deathcore have each taken their turn molding metal in their own image. Frontman Scott Wilson took his wireless mic and walked all throughout the building, riling up people who weren’t even in the same room as the band. Lead guitarist Steve Rose is the best local shredder you’ve never heard of; his Kerry King-sized bear paws seemed poised to snap the neck off his guitar. It’s passion and anger, not ego, that drives this band.

The kicker is that Headwrench played original material almost exclusively. They have a knack for writing hard-driving ‘80s- and ‘90s-style metal without aping their influences. Late in their second set, they played a well-timed cover of Pantera’s “Regular People (Conceit)” that brought all the boys to the yard. One senses there would have been a pit if there weren’t restaurant tables strewn throughout the room. At worst, drummer Will Fitzgerald lost sync with the band a few times, but it’s more than likely because there were no monitors to link him up with the rest of the band. He was also in the back of a small, recessed area that probably deadened the sound even more. The missteps were a little too glaring to cover up, but everyone in the band was good-natured about laughing it off and forging ahead. Man, being angry is fun!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Arethusa Farm Dairy

From the Providence Journal

Farms are being put to bed for the winter, but for some, life remains busy inside their barns. While there’s been a dramatic loss of working farms throughout New England, some are creatively reinventing themselves even in a tough economy.

Arethusa Farm in historic Litchfield is an operation that continues to evolve. What began as a moderate-size dairy farm, operated by one family for 100 years, has now become one of the top dairy breeding and award-winning farms in North America. This is not your grandfather’s farm.

The original farm property, close to the center of town, was saved from development in 1999 by longtime neighbors, and now owners, George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis. The farm was up for sale and a golf course or tract housing on the rolling pastures were proposed by developers. Both possibilities compelled Malkemus and Yurgaitis to jump in.

As new owners, Malkemus and Yurgaitis were committed to restoring the farm’s heritage, saving irreplaceable agricultural land and open space — and making sure that Connecticut didn’t lose yet another farm. Plus they wanted to treat the animals in the best possible way, in state-of-the-art (but traditional-looking) barns offering all-around cow comfort.

Arethusa Farm’s owners also happen to be president and vice president of Manolo Blahnik USA, high-end fashion shoes (familiar to anyone who’s watched “Sex and the City”). While this seems like an odd juxtaposition — the glitzy, high-fashion world meets the bucolic setting of, well, “designer” cows — it’s logical. The two businesses have superior quality at their cores.

Sure, ample resources were necessary; not everyone can buy a local farm to save and transform it. These owners did their homework, hiring the best people they could find who knew how to breed premier cows and make the farm grow, especially in reputation, by carving out a very precise niche.

Two of Arethusa’s star-status cows, Melanie and Veronica, made history by winning the two top awards at the 2004 World Dairy Expo, which no single farm had ever done. Think Secretariat winning the Triple Crown, and you get the idea.

But Arethusa Farm isn’t just about an investment, nor is it for cachet. Owner Malkemus says, “What we have tried to do, through the grace of God, is to support the industry and bring it back to Connecticut. Hopefully, we’ve accomplished something.”

The farm has 300 head of cattle—Holsteins and Jerseys. Its revenue streams are embryo sales to U.S. and international farms, sales of cattle offspring, leasing bulls and selling high-quality milk. It hosted a phenomenal international cattle sale in 2008, called Global Glamour, where one of the Holstein consignments fetched $1 million and the 40 animals sold averaged $97,000.

Reinventing itself again in June 2009, Arethusa Farm Dairy was born. Before this the breeding farm’s milk was mostly a by-product sold to Marcus Dairy. The farm decided it was time to process and sell its own premium-quality milk, following a drastic drop in milk prices paid to farmers (a 50-percent drop over a six-month period); in addition, embryo sales had slowed down because of the U.S. economy and a weakening euro.

Even before the dairy operation began, Arethusa had been a recipient of a national milk-quality award from Dairy One and was already producing high-quality milk. They felt that they could capitalize on this by meeting the growing demand by educated consumers for local, fresh and natural products. The dairy’s truck, which sports a color photo of its prize cows, is painted with the slogan, “Milk like it used to taste.”

The farm uses a low-temperature vat-pasteurization method that yields exceptional milk, with a flavor close to melted vanilla ice cream, and which preserves the taste best, unlike the high-temperature process more commonly used. This is artisan milk, bottled at a Bolton, Conn., family-run business, Fish Family Farm.

There are 10 full-time employees, plus two trainees from Japan and one local high-school agriculture student. Most have come from out of state — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine — and ages range from 15 to 70. New England has so little production agriculture left that there aren’t many young people interested in working on farms, so Arethusa needs to tap a larger area.

The local communities of Litchfield County appreciate the good will that Arethusa generates. The farm hosts visits for 4-H groups and Future Farmers of America, and supports local high-school farm education.

Arethusa Farm’s success is truly about doing the right thing — the right staff, the right facilities and the right way to run a farm with superior care for the animals. The ripple effect of sustainable agriculture and supporting the local farming sector are at the core of this farm’s principles and a theme that repeats itself as they continue to creatively adapt.

Linda Hedman Beyus is a Connecticut-based writer.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Local Artist Participates in Reality TV Series

Local Artist Edward Spaulding DeVoe does not personally know high-end decorator Christopher Hyland or television personality George Oliphant. Mr. DeVoe has never seen "Open House: To the Rescue," an NBC/LX-TV home redecorating series. Nor, for that matter, is Mr. DeVoe familiar with the O'Hara family of Parsippany, N.J.

However, all of those people, places and things are interwoven. And by next month, Mr. DeVoe will be part of that circle.

The Bridgewater painter was recently contacted by Mr. Hyland, who works on the "Open House" series with host Mr. Oliphant, and was asked if he would be willing to contribute a painting to the O'Haras' New Jersey home, destroyed in a fire but now rebuilt and refurnished by the television program.

Mr. DeVoe, a proponent of charitable work, readily agreed, even if he still doesn't know all the details.

"We haven't been given a date of when the show will run, but it will be between now and Christmas," said Mr. DeVoe, whose art, while hanging at a New York City display, was noticed by Mr. Hyland. "But I do know that my painting will be featured above the mantelpiece in the living room."

Already dubbed "Firebird Suite," the interpretive painting is part of Mr. DeVoe's music series of paintings inspired by classic works. In this case, the muse was Igor Stravinsky's composition of the same name.

Though his art typically follows a realist approach, the music tends to pull a more abstract element out of his paintbrush. Indeed, in the case of "Firebird Suite," the O'Hara family will enjoy a multi-colored swirl of energy, snaking through the canvas in patterns that almost, but not quite, represent a majestic and honorable avian.

"Normally, I do these to live concerts, but I did this one to a recorded piece of music," said Mr. DeVoe on his music series method. "In this case, I wanted it to be non-specific. I'm very much a realist, and some of the sketches looked like birds, but I took that out and used the pure energy of the music."

Just as he doesn't know when the show will air, he's also unsure of whether he will be on hand for the house unveiling, which, as with many home makeover shows, will feature the previously sequestered O'Hara family coming back home in an intensely documented "ta-da" moment.

Even if Mr. DeVoe only gets to see the O'Haras' reaction on television with the rest of us, it'll satisfy his Samaritan spirit. According to Mr. Devoe, "I'm just happy to do something for a good cause."

©Litchfield County Times 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival This Weekend

Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival December 4th and 5th, 2009

Bethlehem will be hosting it's annual town holiday festival this weekend. There is ample parking at the town fairgrounds, buses will be transporting people to and from the village green and best of all, admission is free!
Festivities include tree-lighting in the centre of the Village Green, photos with Santa at the Firehouse, hay-rides, holiday music, and holiday shopping for handcrafted items such as toys, decorations, wreaths, and homemade jams, pies, and other goodies.

An ornament-making workshop is held at the Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden, which dates back to 1734 and is now a small museum. Bethlehem also has an Abbey-- the Abbey of Regina Laudis -- and visitors can buy crafts such as pottery, candles, knitted goods and wool from the abbey's own sheep, or iron work hand-forged at the Abbey Blacksmith Shop.

Visitors can also buy limited-edition pewter Bethlehem Christmas Town ornaments, at the Festival's Information Booth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Housing Trends Update

In October the housing market continued to stabilize, according to respondents to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance Monthly Survey of Real Estate Market Conditions. Real estate agent survey respondents reported increasing short sales, decreasing REO sales, and a rapid ramp-up in transactions by first-time homebuyers.

Please click here to go to the full report.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Poets and Poetry at White Memorial

LITCHFIELD-A free literary event, entitled "A Gathering of Exceptional Poets Reading from their Books," is taking place at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at White Memorial Conservation Center Carriage House.
In this coffeehouse style event, six poets will read from their books and hold an open discussion on the process of writing poems. A book-signing will follow the reading and discussion.

The participating poets are Cortney Davis, Jim Kelleher, Norah Pollard, David Leff, Cheryl Della Pelle and Jean Sands.

Ms. Davis is the author of four poetry collections, including the recent "Leopold's Maneuvers," winner of the Prairie Schooner Poetry Prize, and "Conversion/Return," a chapbook. Her memoir, "I Knew a Woman," won the Connecticut Center for the Book nonfiction award, and an essay collection, "The Heart's Truth: Essays on the Art of Nursing," was published this year by Kent State University Press. A nurse practitioner, she has co-edited two award-winning collections of poetry and prose by nurses, "Between the Heartbeats" and "Intensive Care" (University of Iowa Press). For more information, see her Web site at www.cortneydavis.com.

Mr. Kelleher is author of "Quarry," a book of poems that touch the heart with a focus on work indoors and out, the animals that share the field and woods at his home, and the everyday life of the everyman. He has taught in the Boston public schools and at the Connecticut Junior Republic in Litchfield. He is currently an adjunct professor of English at Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted and is the owner of Jim's Fine Carpentry. His poems are widely published and have been praised by major American poets including Maxine Kumin who said, "[Mr.] Kelleher makes tough, knobby poems out of what he knows as carpenter, wood splitter, snowplower, and canny observer of the natural world. He is one of a kind and so are his carefully crafted but unvarnished poems."

Ms. Pollard is the author of the poetry collections "Death & Rapture in the Animal Kingdom," "Leaning In" and "Report From The Banana Hospital." She is the daughter of jockey Red Pollard, who rode Seabiscuit to his famous win. Her poems are about horses, people, nature and life. Laura Hillenbrand, author of "Seabiscuit, An American Legend" called "Leaning In" "a work of singular radiance ... an elegant, truthful, resonant collection." Ms. Pollard is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize and is the former editor of The Connecticut River Review. Her CD recording of 26 poems is available at www.antrimhousebooks.com.

Mr. Leff is author of the poetry collection "The Price of Water" and the nonfiction books "The Last Undiscovered Place" and "Deep Travel: In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack." "The Last Undiscovered Place" is about living in a natural setting away from cement and tar. Mr. Leff is a freelance writer and a past deputy commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection. Poet and blues singer/songwriter Bruce Pratt said that in "The Price of Water" Mr. Leff "married lyric and narrative poetry and prose into a series of lush reflections and musings that entertain the heart and eye while edifying the soul." Mr. Leff can be heard reading some of his poems at http://www.westhartfordlibrary.org/authorslive/podcasts/davidleff/

Ms. Della Pelle is author of "Down to the Waters" and an educator, meditation instructor and master gardener who runs her own small business tending to client's gardens. She is also co-founder of Common Thread, a poetry performance group and founded the Walking Haiku Meditation Workshop, which draws on the Zen tradition inspiring poetry born on the tongue. She is a visiting artist in public schools, colleges and retreat centers, helping students find expression through poetry. Joan Kunsch, a poet and associate director of the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington, said of "Down to the Waters" that "the reader is carried along into the wonder of Della Pelle's own journey." Poet Sandra Bishop Ebner called "Down to the Waters" an "amazing debut book."

Ms. Sands, author of the newly released poetry collection "Gandy Dancing," is a journalist, reviewer, and correspondent whose interviews, essays, and feature articles appear in regional and national publications, as well as online. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is founder of "Writers' Work Workshops" and has taught poetry and creative writing and offered writing tutorials to adults throughout Northwest Connecticut for more than 20 years. Poet and memoirist Honor Moore said "Gandy Dancing" is "the narrative of an American Everywoman whose life does not often come into poems." In his review of "Gandy Dancing," poet Dick Allen said of the poems, "Not an image or sound is out of place." Visit her Web site at www.jeansands.com

For more information, contact the White Memorial Conservation Center at 860-567-0857 or send an e-mail to info@whitememorial.org. The center is located at 80 Whitehall Road in Litchfield.

From the Litchfield County Times
©Litchfield County Times 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

A rare loon in Connecticut

Greg Hanisek's blog at the Waterbury Republican-American: Normally, two species of loons occur in Connecticut. Common Loons can be found on both salt and freshwater during spring and fall migration and throughout the winter. Red-throated Loons follow the same schedule but are much less frequently seen away from Long Island Sound. Both species sometimes linger into summer, usually on Long Island Sound. Neither breeds in Connecticut, but Common Loon could potentially nest if it could find an undisturbed spot on one of our lakes.
This week I was fortunate to find a third species of loon, a Pacific Loon, on Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury. This is a very rare species in the East, so I was relieved when it decided to stay on the lake (it was still present this morning), allowing a lot of birders to see it and several to get good photos, such this one by Mark Szantyr....

We've used a photo from Wikimedia Commons of a Pacific loon, shot by John Mosesso, US Geological Survey

For the benefit of Litchfield's firehouse

Worthpoint: Items gathered from private homes, family estates, important collections and even the contents of a safety deposit box will be auctioned off later this month to help pay for the finishing of the interior of the new addition to the Litchfield Firehouse. The auction, to be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the firehouse, will be conducted by Tim’s, Inc., of nearby Bristol. The sale will feature sports cards, coins and stamps, rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, artwork, autographed items, collectibles and more.

“This will be no average fundraising auction,” said Tim Chapulis of Tim’s, Inc., himself a resident of Litchfield. “In many ways it will be a somewhat smaller version of our Cabin Fever Auction, held every spring at the Litchfield Firehouse.” The two-story, 2,150-square-foot brick addition to the existing firehouse was started in April and completed at the end of August. It comprises a meeting room, two offices, a storage room, two rest rooms and a communications room that is 90 percent complete. But much is still needed to complete the job, and that’s where the auction comes in.

The money would go toward interior walls, heating and air conditioning, electricity and phone service, insulation, carpeting, furniture, artwork and other decorations and appointments that will make the current shell habitable. “The work will take six months to complete,” said Litchfield’s Fire Chief James Koser, “We’d like to stud the walls and install the plumbing within three weeks of the auction.”….

Goshen Players Audition Annoucement

GOSHEN-Goshen Players, Inc. has announced auditions for its 62nd anniversary spring production, "Working." Auditions will be held at Old Town Hall at the junction of Routes 4 and 63 on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Callbacks will be Thursday, Dec. 3. In case of inclement weather, visit the Web site at www.goshenplayers.org or call 860.491.9988.
"Working" will be directed Jim Smith of Wolcott, with musical direction by Scott Stanchfield of New Hartford and choreography by Jack Crann of Bethlehem. Performances will be at the Goshen Old Town Hall on April 30 and May 1,7, 8, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., with 4 p.m. matinees on May 2 and 9.

Based on the best-selling book of interviews with American workers by Studs Terkel, "Working" explores the American workday from the Monday morning blues to the second shift blahs, using the original words of some very uncommon "common" men and women.

The cast will be an ensemble of between eight and 10 men and women of a diverse range of ages and ethnicities. All those auditioning must be at least 16 years of age. Most actors will fulfill more than one role in the production.

If actors or actresses wishing to audition have conflicts with the dates and times scheduled, they are encouraged to contact director Jim Smith at 203-879-1355.

Goshen Players, Inc. is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization that has presented quality musicals in the Goshen Old Town Hall annually since 1949, expanding their season to include straight plays in 2005. The venue for their productions, The Goshen Old Town Hall, was purchased from the town in 2004. Major updates and renovations to that space are currently underway.

From the Litchfield County Times

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Funds to protect Connecticut farmland

CT Environmental Headlines: Douglas Zehner, Connecticut State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced the agency has received $4 million through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).

ctfarm“This program helps ensure that valuable, productive land is protected,” said Zehner. “The funds will be used to purchase conservation easements to limit conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.” (Since 1996, NRCS has provided $21.6 million to protect over 8,000 acres of farms in Connecticut.)

NRCS will accept FRPP proposals from interested state, tribal, and local governments and non-governmental organizations until February 1, 2010. For those proposals selected for funding, NRCS will enter into an agreement to support efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites. NRCS provides up to 50% of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement. All funds will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible parcels through a statewide, competitive process. Applications submitted after February 1, 2010, will be held for Fiscal Year 2011 funding consideration.

Any state or town government or non-profit organization may apply for FRPP funds by submitting a proposal. Eligible entities must demonstrate a commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands, a capacity to acquire and manage easements, have pending offers on a farm(s), and available funding to match federal funds….

A Ford tractor, shot by N-Lange.de, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Friday, November 20, 2009

32nd Annual Goshen Turkey Trot

GOSHEN-The town's longstanding Thanksgiving morning tradition, the running of the Turkey Trot, will be celebrating its 32nd anniversary this year. The 6.2-mile race starts at 10 a.m. sharp Nov. 26 at the Goshen Fairgrounds on Old Middle Street and covers a hilly course on mostly dirt roads-the perfect prelude to a calorie-laden holiday meal, according to race organizers. The race is always held no matter the weather conditions.

There are many divisions, from 10 and under to Super Grand Masters. Walkers are also welcome. The field is limited to 400 with preregistration strongly encouraged.

Preregistration $15, while the race-day fee is $20. Race T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 200 registered runners. Thirty-one local businesses and professional organizations plus scores of volunteers make this event possible.

Race forms are available online at www.goshenrunningclub.com or at Goshen Wine and Spirits, Goshen Recreation Department and Sportsmen of Litchfield.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PPG Wins Award!

The Americas Property Awards 2009 in conjunction with CNBC, Maserati, The New York Times, The Daily Mail, The World and Kohler selected Portfolio Properties Group, LLP as 2009 Best Real Estate Agency Connecticut USA. “The Americas Property Awards 2009” are run in conjunction with the International Property Awards, the world’s most prestigious competition dedicated to finding the best real estate fields from across the globe for the last 15 years.

This symbol of excellence will be recognized and appreciated by the public who are becoming increasingly well informed and discerning about the properties they seek to buy. Entries were judged by a panel of 40 professionals whose collective knowledge of the property industry is second to none and unsurpassed by any other property awards. Over 62 Countries were represented at this year’s selection.

Stephen M. Drezen, Managing Partner of PPG, attended the Black Tie Gala Presentation at the US Grant Hotel, San Diego, CA. on Thursday November 12, 2009, with over 3300 applicants and over 55 winners in attendance. The event was chaired by Mr. Stuart Shields, Awards Chairman for the IPA. According to Mr. Drezen, “We are pleased to be the recipient of the 2009 International Property Awards ,for Best Real Estate Company, Connecticut, 2009. “

Portfolio Properties Group, LLP is headquartered in Litchfield County Connecticut with offices serving clients from all over the world, specializing in properties from $350,000 to $35,000,000. For over 35 years, PPG has responded to the needs of their clients through personal attention to detail.

Portfolio Properties Group, LLP is Litchfield County’s exclusive affiliate of Christie’s Great Estates, a wholly owned subsidy of Christie’s, London, England. For Further Information, Please contact: Stephen M. Drezen, Managing Partner, Portfolio Properties Group, LLP 860.491.2000, StephenD@PPGRealtors.com. http://www.ppgrealtors.com/

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wolf Kahn, master of pastels, in Kent

The Morrison Gallery in Kent: Pastels by famed artist Wolf Kahn are on display at the Morrison Gallery October 17th – November 29th. The exhibit, featuring 20 works of varying size, begins with an opening reception Saturday, Oct. 17 from 5-7 pm at 8 Old Barn Road in Kent, CT. Kahn's work currently hangs in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC and the Los Angeles County Museum.

Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927, where his father was director of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Kahn was sent to England in 1939 with a children's refugee transport and a year later he was able to join his family in the United States. He graduated from New York's High School of Music and Art in 1945, studied briefly with the painter Stuart Davis and, after serving in the U.S. Navy, studied with the renowned teacher and abstract expressionist Hans Hoffmann. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in just one year.

He is now considered one of the leading landscape painters of our time and is a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He and his wife, the painter Emily Mason, divide their time between New York City and their farm near Brattleboro, Vermont…..

Image by Wolf Kahn from the Morrison Gallery website

Hand-made tiles in Bantam

Planning some tile work? Maybe you're renovating, and you want swatches, samples, fresh thinking. Maybe you even want handcrafted tiles. You can get that locally at Bantam Tile Works. "All Bantam Tileworks products are handcrafted at its studio in Bantam at the renovated Switch Factory. Our tiles start as wet clay that is wedged, rolled, dried, cut, dried again, fired, glazed and fired again on the premises. All this work results in a finished tile that can be found exclusively at the Bantam Tileworks studio and showroom."

Their website also says: "Before opening Bantam Tileworks, owners Darin Ronning and Travis Messinger lived in Lower Manhattan and owned a store called Pepper Jones. The store was a combination of a coffee shop and tableware store that specialized in ceramics made by artisans. There they learned the value of working directly with customers to help them achieve their aesthetic vision.

"It was in New York that the idea of Bantam Tileworks first came to Darin. While visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art a friend pointed out a fountain made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and suggested that he put his nose up close to the glass. Darin quickly realized how many layers of color were visible in each piece of glass. It was something that he knew that he wanted to try to replicate in ceramic tiled surfaces.

"After moving to Connecticut in 2004 they got the chance to attempt just that. For over a year they worked with up to 8,000 colors, combining them to create multi-layered depth to the glaze. Through a lot of trial and error they narrowed the options down to the 100 most eye-catching combinations for the current, though ever evolving, Bantam Tileworks palette. "

Overseas players pursue dreams at area prep schools

Steve Barlow in the Waterbury Republican-American: For Bjoern Werner and Kai Brusch, coming to America has been educational in many ways. For their friends back in Germany, who think Americans eat all their meals at McDonald’s, the two football players have had to educate them that it’s not so. In fact, fast-food franchises are all but verboten in this leafy Northwest Corner town.

And their new friends here, who think the German autobahn is just one step below the Indy 500, they’ve had to educate them, too. “There’s no speed limit,” Brusch acknowledged, “but not everybody drives like a maniac.”

Those are just a couple of things the two have dealt with while pursuing their dreams of playing football in the NFL. There’s also been the adjustment to speaking English all the time, not to mention the inevitable homesickness brought on by being half a world away from home.

The gridiron is where things come easiest. Even the language barrier melts away: A tackle is a tackle, in German or English. “On the field, you understand everything,” said Werner, one of the top prep linemen in the East.

Werner and Brusch, both 19-year-old seniors, are at this all-boys private school through Global Football, a Texas-based organization that places overseas players at private schools in the United States. Salisbury is one of two schools in Litchfield County in the program. The other is Kent, which played a game in England last month arranged by the same outfit…..

Northwest Conservation District honors environmental defenders

Alex Taylor in the Torrington Register-Citizen: The Northwest Conservation District held its annual awards ceremony Monday night, recognizing over a dozen local officials and volunteers. Jeanne Cronaeur, executive director of the conservation district, said candidates were chosen by district members as well as environmental officials.

Founded in 1953, the conservation district is a non-profit local environmental organization that promotes the use of natural resources and education and technical services in 37 towns and cities in Connecticut.

George Closson, a Winsted Selectman and chair of the Plan of Conservation and Development Committee, said the conservation district had been essential in drafting the long-in-the-works plan as well as the town’s natural resource map.

According to Cronauer, the conservation district began advising the subcommittee over two years ago and provided technical consultation, mapping, and field work. “You can’t plan without the proper tools,” Closson said of the organization’s help. Closson was recognized for his work on the subcomitte.

Awards were also given to Art Mattiello, chair of the Sue Grossman Still River Greenway Committee, Shelly Harms, president of the Winchester Land Trust; Dick Labich, president of the Highland Lake Watershed Association; and conservation volunteers Annette Caputi, Goldie Danzieri, Arline DeWitt, Ann Koplar, Peggy Kucinskas, Annette Leather, Dot Pkas, Betty Wells, Ursula Woodman, and Carol Zongatti….

Bears in Huntington State Park, near Redding

Mine Hill Preserve

Peter Martelka in the Hartford Courant fills us in on a trail near Roxbury: Mine Hill Preserve is a place where your imagination and legends both come to life. While walking an old abandoned tramway to the iron ore mines, one can almost hear the braying of the donkeys that once pulled ore-filled carts along the rails. Farther along the trail, one might hear the tink-tink of picks extracting the ore while peering into the maw of a water-filled mine shaft.

And then there are the legends, as visitors walk the 3.5-mile trail surrounding the 360-acre preserve. One can easily imagine an oxcart traveling down the tramway as a German goldsmith was caught taking precious metals out of the mine when a box filled with silver ingots fell off.

Welcome to Mine Hill Preserve, home of the first purchase of the Roxbury Land Trust — a group that has preserved 3,316 acres of this small, turn-back-the-clock northwestern Connecticut town. While the granite quarries, abandoned mine shafts and old tramways are fun to explore, the draw of this preserve is the huge restored blast furnace and roasting ovens that take visitors back to a time when this hillside on the banks of the Shepaug River helped fuel the country's demand for iron….

Monday, November 9, 2009

Can you guess where this is?

Maybe you've visited it, but when we look at real estate ads, we always try to guess where the location is without peeking at the answer.

Westminster School names new headmaster

Rinker Buck in the Hartford Courant: The Westminster School has announced that William V.N. Philip, who has held a variety of teaching and administrative positions for 26 years at the school, will become the eighth headmaster there since the school was founded in 1888. Philip will succeed Graham Cole, who has been the school's head for the past 17 years.

An eight-member committee, assisted by an academic recruiting firm, spent most of this year conducting a national search after Cole announced in January that he planned to retire. But, after narrowing their search to four candidates, they concluded that their strongest candidate was a Westminster veteran.

"Bill's years of extraordinary service and accomplishment at Westminster encompass all of the qualities we were seeking in a new head of school," said John Armour, chairman of the Westminster Board of Trustees….

Image from the Westminster School website

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Water tumbling over rocks

From the Kent Falls website: Kent Falls, located in the northeastern section of the town of Kent, is a series of waterfalls on a mountain stream known as Falls Brook. The stream begins in the town of Warren, draining an area of six or seven square miles. It then flows west to the big fall where it plunges approximately 70 feet in a dramatic cascade. From here the stream descends in a series of lesser falls and cascades to the valley, where it enters the Housatonic River some 200 feet below the brink of the big fall only a quarter mile away. Much of the limestone over which the brook flows has been carved into interesting shapes including numerous potholes of all sizes.

...Acquisition of the park began in 1919 with the gift of 200 acres by the White Memorial Foundation. Other parcels were donated or purchased until the present 295 acres were acquired. The area was developed in the 1930's by the Civil Works Administration. In the mid nineteen-seventies, considerable trail reconstruction was done by the Youth Conservation Corps of Connecticut. The covered bridge is an authentic reproduction built in 1974 by a park employee, Edmund Palmer….

The Falls shot by Vux, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

Our river observed

From the Housatonic Valley Association website: ….As the Housatonic River moves into Connecticut, the valley changes dramatically. The valley walls narrow and are flanked by hills on either side. The river now flows through a much harder substrate consisting of limestone, quartz and granite, and the river bottom becomes much rockier. There are still some agricultural activities in this northwestern part of Connecticut due to the presence of the river's nutrient rich floodplains.

Just south of Bulls Bridge power station, water is diverted from the river and pumped uphill, through a penstock, to Candlewood Lake, the first pump storage reservoir built in the country. Constructed in 1926, it is the largest (5,400 acres) lake in Connecticut. When river levels are too low to support the power generation at the Rocky River Power Station in New Milford, lake water is sent rushing down the penstock and through the generators. Upon leaving New Milford, the river again changes dramatically, becoming a series of 3 in-stream lakes. Each lake is formed by a hydroelectric power dam. The Shepaug Dam forms Lake Lillinonah (1,900 acres) in Bridgewater. Farther south in Monroe, the Stevenson Dam, which is the largest, creates Lake Zoar (975 acres). The third lake is Lake Housatonic (328 acres), formed by the Derby Dam between Derby and Shelton.

The flow of the Housatonic River may vary in this area. River flows are periodically "ponded" behind the dams when normal river flows are inadequate. The water is then released to turn the turbines which produce electric power. Below the Derby dam, the river begins its final change, becoming an estuary, where salt and fresh water mix. The Housatonic River estuary produces one-third of all the seed oysters which are a vital part of Connecticut's commercial shellfish industry. In this lower 12 mile section of the river are tidal wetlands and salt marshes which provide important habitat for plants, birds, shellfish, finfish and other aquatic life. The Housatonic River enters Long Island Sound at Milford Point…..

An aerial view of Bulls Bridge, south of Kent, from the Housatonic Valley Association's website

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hit the Connecticut Wine Trail

ABC News: Wine from Connecticut? Yes indeed. Touring Connecticut's farm wineries is a great weekend excursion, right along with apple-picking and pumpkin patches. Most vineyards harvest their grapes this time of the year and host special events along with regular wine tastings and tours.

Connecticut currently boasts about 30 farm wineries across the state -- from Hopkins Vineyard in Litchfield County to Cassidy Hill in Coventry. The number has almost doubled since 2007. Haight-Brown in Litchfield opened in 1975 and is one of the state's oldest vineyards. New additions include estate-bottling boutique Northwinds in Watertown, and Saltwater Farm Vineyard -- which has a WWII-vintage airport hangar -- in Stonington.

…Connecticut's agriculture department has an entire lab dedicated to grape production. From these experimentation stations, the scientists work with several farms, suggesting what grapes would grow best in their regions.

Several farms have also staved off this year's early frost. Many producers reported an early yet plentiful harvest within their microclimates. Smith said Taylor Brooke Winery in Windham County, located at a high elevation, wasn't affected by the early snow….

Wine grapes, shot by Fir0002, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Two Connecticut schools recognized by EPA for green power purchases

CT Environmental News: Two schools in Connecticut are among the nation’s 10 top performers when it comes to buying green power. Greenwich Academy in Greenwich and Hotchkiss School in Lakeville were both recognized this week as part of EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

For the first time, EPA’s Green Power Partnership released a list of the largest green power purchasers among primary and secondary schools. The Green Power Partnership’s top 20 K-12 schools are buying nearly 113 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power a year, equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) that would be produced from the electricity use of more than 11,000 average American homes.

“These schools should be proud of their accomplishments and we are proud to have them as partners,” said Ira Leighton, action regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “As educational institutions, they have shown that they care about the environment at the same time they are teaching students about environmental responsibility and setting a standard for the rest of us to follow.”

…The Hotchkiss School, an independent boarding secondary school, buys about 2 million kwhs or 22 percent of its electricity through green power, all of which comes from wind power. In addition, the school recently competed in the Green Cup Challenge, an annual competition among independent schools with a goal of reducing energy consumption on campus.

“We are pleased to have received this recognition,” said Joshua Hahn, assistant head of the school and director of environmental initiatives. “Purchasing green power is an important component of helping Hotchkiss to become more sustainable, but it is just one part of our energy management strategies. We also work to curtail our energy through efficient technology and behavioral changes, attempt to use renewable energy resources when possible, and offset our carbon footprint in ways that are intentionally connected to our curriculum and to the lives of Hotchkiss students.”….

The main building at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, shot by Adrien Delessert, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

New dining spot in Millerton

From Rural Intelligence, a new restaurant in the neighborhood: Who would dare open a white tablecloth restaurant in this economy? A young couple like chef Tim Cocheo, 31, and his wife, Taryn, 30, who were half the team behind the now-shuttered Bottle Tree Grocery in Ancram, which had a cult-like following for its $49 prix fixe dinners on Friday and Saturday nights and its decadent Sunday brunch. Now, the Cocheos have opened No. 9 Restaurant and given the dining room at Millerton’s Simmon’s Way Village Inn a Cinderella makeover.

From the street (the address is Main Street, but the entrance is on Century Boulevard), the restaurant gives off a golden glow that fills you with optimism. When you walk in the door, you are not disappointed: the dining room feels like a warm embrace—mustard walls with wainscoting painted a Provençal green, brass sconces with silk shades that cast a flattering light, a large, homey patterned carpet (donated by Joan Osofsky of Hammertown Barn), and a state-of-the-art sound system playing the kind of music that makes you feel like you’re at a really swell dinner party. And in a way you are: Cocheo—who cooked in New York at the late, great La Caravelle and Wallse and then at Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA, before moving to the Bottle Tree—is a serious chef....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fishing Sylvan Lake near Waterbury

Fishing Works has a number of secluded fishing spots: Sylvan Lake can be found on the Waterbury USGS quad topo map. Sylvan Lake is a lake in Litchfield County in the state of Connecticut. The latitude and longitude coordinates for this lake are 41.5987, -73.0696 and the altitude is 446 feet (136 meters).

Anyone interested in fishing Sylvan Lake should consult with local guides and resources before heading out to fish. Anglers who have fished Sylvan Lake are invited to submit reviews of the lake. Tell us when you went, what you caught, how the experience ranked overall. Thanks for your reviews, they help to make Fishing Works the best website for anglers.

Feature Type: Lake
Latitude: 41.5987
Longitude: -73.0696
Elevation: 446 ft (136 m)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day trip -- Naumkeag in Stockbridge

A short drive away in Stockbridge, Massachussetts, you can visit an architectural gem: Experience Gilded-Age style and splendor at this marvelous estate, renowned for its elegant gardens and rare Berkshire “Cottage.” What makes Naumkeag a special place? With its gracious house, magnificent gardens, and panoramic views, Naumkeag is a quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age.

This architectural masterpiece is, at its heart, a family home. Joseph Choate, a leading 19th-century attorney, hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, & White to design the 44-room “cottage,” Naumkeag, which would serve as a summer retreat for three generations of Choates.

With its views of Monument Mountain, its stunning collection of gardens created by Joseph Choates's daughter, Miss Mabel Choate, and Fletcher Steele over 30 years, its original artwork, and its shingle-style house, Naumkeag creates an unforgettable experience for visitors. Don't miss the self-guided audio tour of the Naumkeag gardens, including the Blue Steps, a series of deep blue fountain pools, flanked by four flights of stairs and a grove of white birches. Walk through the equally beautiful Afternoon Garden, Tree Peony Terrace, Rose Garden, Evergreen Garden, and Chinese Garden to encounter the playful, inventive spirit of Miss Choate and Mr. Steele.

Bequeathed in its entirety in 1958 – from furniture to garden tools to its intact dairy barn – Naumkeag, a National Historic Landmark, provides a special link to Berkshires history. More than that, it is a place where you, like the Choates, can find beauty and rejuvenation in a lovely place…

The Blue Steps at Naumkeag, shot by Daderot, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Sampling the County's charms on two wheels

Maggie Behringer in the Litchfield County Times: In his new book, "The Moderately Lazy Biker's Guide to Litchfield County," the author, composer and frequent visitor to a friend's West Cornwall cabin has created a humorous, detailed and less physically demanding handbook for appreciating the area from the seat of a bike.

"I'm not a gear head," Mr. Sowash said. "I don't even have a spandex outfit. It's not what [biking is] about for me. I want to stop and loiter, look at the view, listen to the brook and smell the pines."

Though the Ohio native has been riding bikes since childhood, he didn't fully realize their magical potential until he received his Boy Scouts cycling merit badge. The 13-year-old found he might not have to rely on his parents to drive him around after he discovered the thrill of reaching far off places solely through the power of his own legs.

…It was his inherent love of history that brought the Midwesterner to New England. He has long been a fan of Connecticut author Odell Shepard (1884-1967), who among his many credits, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, English literature professor at Trinity College and lieutenant governor of Connecticut in the 1940s. After reading all of Shepard's published works, Mr. Sowash contacted the author's literary executive and was directed to Trinity College's Raether Library, which houses all of Shepard's papers. Hidden away in the collection, Mr. Sowash found a complete manuscript titled "The Cabin Down the Glen."

Retirement options at Geer

Geer Retirement Village: Geer is a 118-unit retirement community providing residential living apartments for Independent, Assisted Living and suites for the Memory Impaired,
is one of the most innovative retirement communities in the country. Built in the turn-of-the century shingle style with a stone fireplace in the great room entrance, it houses a variety of intergenerational activities. The Northwestern YMCA, Channel 6 Cable Television, and the Regional Community Center are located at Geer Village, making access easily available to all its residents. Many towns in the tri-state area (Millbrook, NY, Salisbury, CT and Great Barrington, MA) provide many cultural and sightseeing day trips for Geer Campus residents....

Energy audits target lost heat, and companies use technology to identify wasted dollars

Jonathan Shugarts in the Republican-American (Waterbury): If you haven't tipped off by the falling leaves and the frosty nights, winter winds are on their way to rattle your window panes. Thanks to the help of federal stimulus funds, energy companies are helping homeowners reduce bills this winter and beyond by making homes more energy efficient. For $75, a two-man team from Wesson Energy, Connecticut Light & Power, or any of seven other companies, will conduct an energy assessment of a home to determine if valuable heat is escaping.

If the home needs it, workers will caulk windows and seal doors they identify as sources of heat loss. Technicians also review water usage, test for leaking air ducts and survey appliances to check if they're wasting electricity.

In addition to the assessment, homeowners will receive up to 14 compact fluorescent light bulbs and an electrical metering device that measures the amount of energy being used by appliances. About $9 million in federal stimulus money for 2009 and 2010 allowed the state to expand the program called "Close the Gap!" and enabled any homeowner to participate.

…The technicians can test for leaks using the method. There are many culprits for heating loss, said Jack Starr, Wesson's division manager, including un-insulated attic hatches, recessed lighting fixtures that aren't air tight and venting ducts that lead to the outside of the home….

This storage shack doesn't look well insulated. Shot by יעקב, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

Events for kids

The local blog Rural Intelligence boasts some detailed coverage of upcoming events for children: Though she adored them, even wrote some good ones herself, Edith Wharton’s susceptibility to the power of the printed word was such that she refused to sleep in a room where there was a book containing a ghost story. This week The Mount, whose Friday night Ghost Tours have been so popular throughout this season (there have been unexplained taps on the shoulder, as well as the faint aroma of flowers and cigar smoke) is honoring Halloween with Ghostly Walks and Frightful Talks. Visitors are encouraged to wear costumes....

The Mount, home of Edith Wharton, in Lenox, Massachusetts. View from the walled garden. Photo: David Dashiell, 2006. Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New animal hospital in Litchfield

Litchfield County Times from October 15: Dr. Ferris Gorra, founder of Aspetuck Animal Hospital in Marble Dale, announced he has opened a new animal clinic next to Tail Waggers of Litchfield, at 568B Torrington Road in Litchfield.

Patients can be seen from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The new clinic will offer routine checkups, vaccinations and routine care for small animals, such as dentistry, lab testing, one-day surgeries and out-patient procedures. Toll Gate Animal Clinic will also offer alternative methods of care, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to its patients. Through a unique affiliation, additional services such as orthopedic surgery and procedures with multi-day hospitalization requirements will be referred or transferred to Aspetuck Animal Hospital in the Marble Dale section of Washington….

First National Bank of Litchfield to be acquired by Danbury lender

Marc Silvestrini in the Republican-American (Waterbury): Union Savings Bank of Danbury on Monday announced a definitive agreement to acquire First Litchfield Financial Corp., parent of The First National Bank of Litchfield. First Litchfield shareholders will receive $15 in cash per share, giving the deal an overall value of $35 million, Union Savings Bank officials said.

First Litchfield shares, which are traded on the over-the-counter "bulletin board" under the symbol FLFL OB, closed Friday at $5.80 per share before skyrocketing to $13.55 by the close of Monday's session on Wall Street. Before Monday, the stock had closed above $9.99 only once in the past 13 months, when it rallied to close at $10.83 on Jan. 15.

The First National Bank of Litchfield is a publicly traded national bank with assets of $520 million and nine retail branches: two in Torrington and single branches in Canton, Goshen, Litchfield, Marbledale, New Milford, Roxbury and Washington Depot. The company, which also has a full-service trust department in Litchfield, employs the full-time equivalent of about 120 people….

Electric cars in Lime Rock

Lime Rock Park: On Friday, October 30, one of the more interesting inter-scholastic competitions you’ll ever see comes to Lime Rock Park. It’s called the Connecticut Electrathon Challenge. Each year, high school and college students design and build electric racers, then head to the autocross course at Lime Rock to see which team can complete the most laps in precisely one hour.

Champions are recognized in five different divisions, and in the most recent race here at Lime Rock (May 15), the Old Lyme High School team no. 5 was the overall winner, completing 114 laps (close to 25 miles) on one charge of their battery pack. The cars are ingeniously designed single-driver machines. Some are three-wheelers, some are four, but they’re all aerodynamic in the extreme, and look very cool.

Lime Rock fans are welcome to come watch the Connecticut Electrathon Challenge races, held on the upper autocross course Friday, October 30, beginning around 8:00 in the morning. Pick out your favorite school and cheer them on to an “electric green” victory!....

Local author: Philip Roth's "Indignation"

From Amazon, via Publishers Weekly: Roth's brilliant and disconcerting new novel plumbs the depths of the early Cold War–era male libido, burdened as it is with sexual myths and a consciousness overloaded with vivid images of impending death, either by the bomb or in Korea. At least this is the way things appear to narrator Marcus Messner, the 19-year-old son of a Newark kosher butcher. Perhaps because Marcus's dad saw his two brothers' only sons die in WWII, he becomes an overprotective paranoid when Marcus turns 18, prompting Marcus to flee to Winesburg College in Ohio….

Monday, October 26, 2009

A good time for preserving land

Local resident Rinker Buck in the Hartford Courant: …[For] one group of patient Nutmeggers — land conservationists — this year has been so productive that it could well be called The Green Recession.

Last week, environmentalists and citizen groups in Madison were elated when the nonprofit Trust for Public Land announced that it had secured a $9.7 million deal to rescue the 42-acre Madison Landing site....But Madison Landing was just the latest in a trend that conservationists are calling "green-lining." A stalled housing market and tight bank credit is forcing many high-end developers to scuttle glitzy golf courses and McMansion projects. Often, the only way developers can unload their prime real estate is through conservation sales to nonprofits and towns....

A marketing photo of the Yale Farm, one of the properties mentioned in the article. Image from an online ad

Architects' showcase in Roxbury

Jack Corragio in the Litchfield County Times writes about an interesting architectural showcase by Charles Haver and Stewart Skolnick in Roxbury: … For example, the show will exhibit a 7,200-square-foot, barn-styled home the architects did in Kent. The blueprint hangs next to a twilight photo of the massive red house, and the juxtaposition is notable if for nothing else, the striking similarity.

But, in fact, there is something else. As big as that home is, the bulk of it is really just one big room, an open space separated by particularly tall cabinetry. The built-in cabinets act as functional partitions between the kitchen and the living room or dining room, while the overall open design reveals the country-fashioned wood-and-post support beams.

Built to suit, the open floor plan isn't the only distinguishing element of this home. Noting that the property has 50 acres the owner wanted to wholly admire at any given whim, the associates cleverly installed a standard barn feature with a unique new purpose….

This image shows a Litchfield county residence designed by these architects -- from their website