The Top of the Mountain

The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review by Dawn Drazl this past weekend calls Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking “one of the finest food memoirs of recent years.” If that’s not enough to send you scurrying to get a copy of the book, maybe knowing that it is penned by Newtown author and award-winning blogger Elissa Altman will do the trick. Elissa’s been crisscrossing the country promoting her new book this spring. I hope she can take a breather from her breakneck schedule and bask in the thrill of this review. Congratulations, Elissa!

Final preparations are underway for “Within Our Reach,” Saturday, June 8, at Newtown Congregational Church. Newtown Youth Voices is hosting the evening of song and spoken words, with special guests Peter Yarrow, poet Martin Espada, singer Vaneese Thomas, The Old Town Hall Band, and others. The event will stream live from the church at 14 West Street from 9 pm until just past midnight, celebrating Newtown’s commitment to fulfilling The Sandy Hook Promise. Admission is free, but seating is limited. The side doors of the church will open at 8:30 for the families, first responders, and any teachers of Sandy Hook School who wish to attend. After 8:45 the church’s front doors will open to the general public. Newtown Lions Club has arranged for a second viewing area in the hall of NCC. Please note this change from the original plan at another satellite location. The church’s Great Room will also include jugglers, face painting, and therapy dogs in a fun, informal atmosphere. Drinks will be available, and all are welcome to bring snacks to enjoy or share in that room. For more information visit www.withinourreach.us. The concert will also be live streamed at www.ustream.tv/channel/within-our-reach.

It’s time for the wearin’ o’ the green: and Newtown Action Alliance doesn’t mean St Patrick’s Day. The grassroots organization would be pleased to have as many people as possible join them in Washington, D.C., on June 13, to take part in the human Ribbon of Remembrance, in front of the Capitol. Wear green and be part of the day’s events that will commemorate the 26 who died 12/14, six months ago, as well as the 4,500 other gun violence victims who have died since then. For information, visit www.newtownaction.org.

Here’s a cause that gets two “meows!” from me: Look for donation bins at the Stop & Shop store entrances, in Sand Hill Plaza, the week of June 9 to 15. The Animal Center is hosting a cat food drive and hopes you can contribute Friskies and Purina brands of cat food to help them out. (Those are the brands preferred to keep the kitties’ diets consistent while they wait for adoption to their forever homes.)

On Saturday, June 15, the counseling center at 121 Old Mine Road in Trumbull will be dedicated to the memory of Trumbull resident Mary Sherlach. The Trumbull town council voted in February to rename the Trumbull Counseling Center as the Mary J. Sherlach Counseling Center, after Ms Sherlach, the school psychologist who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. The public is invited to join Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst, at 10 am, for the dedication ceremony.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy continues to resonate with our fellow state citizens. Alyssa Robinson of Berlin gave me a call this week to tell me about a big event planned for this coming Sunday, June 9, from 3 to 9 pm, at the Portland Fairgrounds. When her 10-year-old son, Jordan, came home from school last December 14, he had heard about the sad event and wanted to do something to make Newtowners feel better. So Jordan and his mom came up with the idea of “Light The Sky With Light and Love For Sandy Hook Angels.” Originally intended to be the release of 26 sky lanterns, Alyssa says that they quickly had well over 1,000 lanterns people wanted to release with them. Environmentalists deemed that to be several hundred too many to release at once, so Jordan and Alyssa went on to bigger plans. The Sunday event will have rides, live music, and a laser light show that begins around 8:30 pm. A fireworks show will follow, but realizing that the loud noise might be frightening to Sandy Hook families who she hopes will be in attendance, there will be a break to allow those who do not wish to be around the fireworks, to leave. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and all of the money goes to support six organizations: SHACK, the Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund for Education, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, the Newtown Lions Club counseling fund, the My Sandy Hook Family fund, and the Sandy Hook Family healing fund. Why is Jordan doing this? Because, says Alyssa, like so many others, they choose love. Detailed information on the June 9 event can be found at the Facebook page Light the Sky with Light and Love, or at www.lighttheskyct.com. Incidentally, all of those sky lanterns will be released some night in a neighboring state, Alyssa says.

Summertime means travel time. Peg Jepsen would like to remind everyone that she is available to help with paperwork and take passport photos any time anyone needs help. She operates out of the office at PJ’s Laundromat in Sandy Hook, and is available by appointment. Call her at 203-770-9157.

There’s still time to sponsor a table at the annual Newtown Chapter of Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut fundraising and volunteer thank you breakfast, which takes place next Wednesday, June 12, at The Waterview on Route 34. Buy a table that seats seven guests plus the host for $100, or sponsor a corporate table for 12, for $500. Not only do you get a delicious breakfast while supporting a worthy cause, you’ll be able to purchase raffle tickets for numerous items donated by local merchants. Guests are invited to arrive by 7:45 am for the 8 to 9 am event, in order that participants can enjoy the breakfast and still get to work on time. For information, contact Marg Studley at 203-426-3651.

Congratulations to Kathy Holick, who has recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. “Cat,” as she is known (and I do like that nickname!), has been instrumental in helping First Selectman Pat Llodra’s office process the continual flow of donated items since 12/14. The letter from President Obama that accompanied her certificate reads in part, “While government can open more opportunities for us to serve our communities, it is up to each of us to seize those opportunities. Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great Nation.” Sounds to me like Kathy deserves another award, on the local level: The Good Egg Award. Congratulations, Kathy, and thank you!

VFW member Donna Randle has a great big “Thank You!” waiting for some young man… but she doesn’t know who he is. Donna got an e-mail this week from Karen Szilagyi in the town finance department telling her that a boy had come in with $47 cash that he wanted to donate to the fund to help those suffering from the damaged caused by tornadoes in Oklahoma. The town had just mailed a check to that state, but Karen remembered that the VFW is collecting donations to buy gift cards to send to Oklahoma. Donna has received the money, which will be put toward the gift cards, and she would love for the young man, who sold three different kinds of lemonade she understands, to get some recognition. If you know who this generous young Newtowner might be, please contact Donna at ndrandle@charter.net or call 203-577-9568.

It sounds to me like one of those mountain lions that do not exist (officially) in Connecticut has been sighted again, and this time by our own Bee intern. Jim Dietter says he was riding his bicycle last Friday, around 7:40 pm, when he spotted a four-legged animal on Osborne Hill Road, near the Kearns farm. “From 100 yards away, it appeared to be a dog, about the size of a border collie,” Jim tells me. “As I got closer to it, within 20 feet, I realized it was a feline. The animal’s shoulders were 22 inches off the ground — slightly higher than my kneecap — and it appeared to weigh approximately 40 to 50 pounds. Its coat was a light honey color and its tail was long and bushy.” Now, so far as I know, Jim has pretty keen eyesight. He’s not saying that it was a mountain lion, but he has spent a fair amount of time in the great outdoors, and I trust he can tell a cat from a coyote. Whatever it was, the feline sauntered off the road into the thick underbrush and disappeared… or has it?

 Mountain lion or not, I’m not “lion” when I tell you there will be plenty to hear about next week if you… Read me again.

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