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NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

“And so was the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston …

Posted on November 17, 2019

Stockbridge MA in the Berkshires ~ photo by Jacqueline Bennett

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

As Stockbridge, Massachusetts, tucked sweetly in the Berkshires mountains, prepares for its annual celebration of Norman Rockwell fame ~ made iconic by the American illustrator’s depiction of the Main Street at Christmastime ~ my thoughts drift to another iconic tale of Stockbridge. The village is a touchpoint in the James Taylor classic “Sweet Baby James” 

 

Now the first of December was covered with snow And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frostin’. With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go ….

 

Perhaps it is the lullaby melody or having been young when that song was young but for me, it is bittersweet. Whatever Taylor had in mind when he penned his lyrics ~ the beauty of lyric and music is that it takes on personal meaning for the listener. To me, these moving, perfectly descriptive lyrics speak to the uncertainty of what’s ahead, joyful though it may be, amidst the beauty and tentativeness of the present moment. When James Taylor wrote that song, inspired by the birth of his namesake nephew, Taylor’s star was rising. Yet he was a young songwriter/musician who could not possibly have known the success that awaited him. 

 

Certainly we have all experienced moments where we can feel the ripeness of the future. Nonetheless we know that means what has been extraordinary about the present phase of life is slipping away and we already feel nostalgic for what will never come again ~ ” With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to to go …   

 

As you travel the roads of your life this holiday season, I hope you do feel ripeness in the future but also ~ breathe ~ and take in the beauty of these moments that will never come again.

“Goddess of the Woods” ~ White Birch Trees

Posted on October 28, 2019

“Goddess of the Woods ” White Birch ~ South Windsor, CT photo by Jacqueline Bennett

Buckland Road South Windsor, CT

 

 

 

Article & Photos By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Goddess of the Woods” ~ the perfect sobriquet for white birch trees. Considered to be enchanted, symbolic of hope, new beginnings and the promise of what’s to come. My love of white birch trees runs deep. Simply looking at a white birch is uplifting for me. They touch the soul.

Said in mythology and folklore to be enchanted, The “Magic of Birch” describes white birches (known too as silver birches) as carrying ancient wisdom yet appearing forever young. Written about extensively, they have been a muse for many a great poet and philosopher such as Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau.

In my family we hold treasured memories of the Bennett Farm in New Hampshire. Some years ago it was sold to a new owner but I learned from my cousin that when the farm was purchased by the Bennett’s in 1943, my Great-Aunt Rena dubbed it “Birch Acres” because of a thick of stunning, white birch trees that stood at the corner of a field on the approach from town.

I feel so fortunate to have these beautiful birch trees ~ seen in my photos here ~ close to home. Enchanting in any season, they are one of my favorite photo subjects ~ marvels of the majesty of nature. In the Battle of the Trees, writer Robert Graves speaks of the nobility of the white birch describing it as being “of high estate.”  

Powers of white birches are thought to be vast, both mystical and practical: purification, guardian of new beginnings, bringer of hope, channeler of emotion, protection. Sweet sap of the white birch is said to have medicinal powers ~ curative and preventive ~ such as soothing irritated skin, used in birch tea to avoid kidney stones, and easing arthritis & overall muscle pain. Tapped sap is used as well, to make birch wine. Cut straight from the easy to peel bark ~ “neat & cold “, it is touted to be like drinking water.  

Folklore suggests bundles of birch twigs can chase away spirits of the old. In fact, bundles of birch twigs are reportedly used commonly in gardens today as a “purifier”. Known too as “pioneer trees”, white birches are good for planting to rejuvenate woodlands after destructive disasters. They grow in all North European countries and in North America.

Beithe, the Celtic Birch, is the first tree of the Ogham which is the Celtic alphabet. As treesforlife.org. tells us, birches are “celebrated” during the Celtic festival of Samhain. This year Samhain runs from dawn on October 31 through sunset of November 1 ~ an event which evolved to be Halloween in Britain.

 

*Also referenced: ecoenchantments.com 

Averting Ecological Tragedy After Human Tragedy of WW II Bomber Crash in Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Posted on October 5, 2019

High-res version

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

A mystique surrounds World War II & the Greatest Generation which saved the world from tyranny. Nostalgia and fascination continue nearly 75 years later over the bravado of the dashing, young pilots who flew American fighter and bomber planes, and for the planes which helped the Allies win. Aviation enthusiasts and history buffs are eager to ride in the vintage planes that are still piloted around the country performing in air shows, and offer a chance to experience flight on the revered relics of a bygone era.

 

 

When news broke Wednesday morning October 2, 2019 about the crash of one such flight, a WW II B-17 G at Bradley International Airport (BIA) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, it clearly hit residents across the state hard; a treasured piece of American history up in smoke – not invincible. Then the news got worse – the crash was deadly. The toll of lives lost in the crash now stands at seven plus several more injured, two victims had to be transported from Hartford Hospital to the Bridgeport burn unit.

 

 

Photo Jacqueline Bennett ~ shows the Farmington River as it flows through Windsor, CT.

 

With concern about the “human tragedy” of the B-17 crash uppermost in his mind, it became incumbent upon Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks to also consider an “ecological tragedy” that could be impending, he noted during an interview Thursday. Chemical contamination moving downstream as a result of the B-17 crash was on the mayor’s mind, after leakage this past summer of perfluonooctanic acid (PFAS) into the Farmington River – which flows through Windsor.

 

“First and foremost our concern is with the safety of everybody up there,” Mayor Trinks said during an interview along the banks of the Farmington River Thursday, Oct. 3.

 

Approximately 50,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemical – thought to cause health risks such as cancer – had leaked this past summer from a hangar at BIA into the Metropolitan District Water Pollution Control Facility located in Windsor. The contaminated water was then dumped into the Farmington River which flows through town. State and local officials including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, State Attorney General William Tong, State Rep. Jane Garibay and Mayor Trinks, supported the formation of a state task force to investigate the health of the river, its fish and the safety of continued use of the firefighting foam.

 

 

In that the B-17 crashed into a de-icing building, in addition to PFAS, that meant there could also be drainage downstream into Windsor of a de-icing chemical, as well as, jet fuel. Crediting the quick response of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Airport Authority, Mayor Trinks said at this juncture, drainage appears to have been limited to the “northern most” part of Rainbow Brook. Skimming and booms have been used to facilitate containment. Most has been contained on-site at the airport, he said.

 

Photo from LOHud.com shows smoke billowing at the crash site.

 

The B-17 G bomber that crashed was owned by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. On its website the foundation has posted a message, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley.”

 

During a news conference broadcast Thursday, Katie Dykes, state DEEP commissioner, said samples had been taken from eleven sites along the Farmington River. Results from the testing will be forthcoming, she said. Mayor Trinks adds that clean-up and monitoring are expected to continue.  

 

Where Is Joe Hackett When You Need Him?

Posted on September 24, 2019

Joe Hackett, co-owner of Sandpiper Air on Nantucket – a.k.a actor Tim Daly. Photos from Facebook Mill Creek Entertainment..

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Where is Joe Hackett when you need him ?

 

I try never to say “never”, but I do NOT like to fly. About the only plane I can imagine myself boarding is Sandpiper Air piloted by handsome Joe Hackett ( who must be wearing his leather bomber jacket) en route to Hyannis, The Vineyard or Nantucket’s Tom Nevers Field airport. 

 

As real as Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are (some of my favorite places) ~ for those who may not remember, sensible yet intriguing Joe (who is a big New England sports fan and himself a former scholastic baseball and football player), Sandpiper and Nevers Field are fictional, existing in the world of the 1990’s sitcom “Wings.” So you can see how unlikely it is that I will be flying. 

 

Having decided to write this piece I researched Joe Hackett, a.k.a actor Tim Daly. Turns out Daly was graduated from Bennington College in Vermont with a BA in theatre and literature. No wonder he was able to depict the New England demeanor so well !

 

With some family members now living on the West Coast I am pleased, very pleased actually, to think they would like me to come visit. Nonetheless, I like my feet on the ground; travelling cross-country by train or car seems to be too much.

 

A native New Englander, I enjoy getting behind the wheel of a SUV and taking in the glorious New England states. The writer/photographer in me loves snapping photos and of course the allure of a story or two I may encounter …

 

As for Joe Hackett, at least if we went down my demise would include destinations I adore & ~ last, but far from least ~ a very handsome pilot.  

Jane’s Chocolate Mint Plant

Posted on September 20, 2019

Chocolate Mint Plant in a vase.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

When Windsor, Connecticut’s Jane Garibay put up a post saying she had an abundance of chocolate mint plant growing in her yard if anyone was interested in some, I was intrigued. Never before had I heard of chocolate mint plant.

 

After a bit of research I thought it would make an interesting topic for one of my floral/plant pieces on newsandviewsjb. A sensory experience! The aroma is just as described ~ reminiscent of the “classic Girl Scout cookies.”

 

According to bonnieplants.com, it is common for chocolate mint plants to grow rampant. So much so that if you desire, you may want to “tuck it in a pot to curtail its wandering ways.” That’s my plan.

 

Jane had an abundance of chocolate mint plant growing in her yard and offered to share.

 

I plan to “plant” a portion of the stems with soil in a pot for my Potter’s’ Bench on the back patio. Also, I have placed a few stems in a small vase indoors. Fragrant and pretty too.

 

In ground soil, chocolate mint is said to thrive when positioned near water gardens or in moist soil. It is said to favor partial shade but will still grow in full sunlight. A bonus, chocolate mint plant is known as a natural way to chase away pesky insects. Typically, it will survive a light frost. Perfect, because with autumn around the corner a light frost is surely not far behind.

Paper or Plastic? Not Any More in Connecticut

Posted on August 16, 2019

 

Took my Trader Joe’s bag to Big Y to avoid paying for another bag – single use plastic bag ban went into effect Aug. 1, 2019.

Article & Photo by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Paper or plastic? As of August 1, 2019 consumers no longer have the option of choosing paper or plastic bags at retail stores in Connecticut. A new state law has gone into effect banning single use plastic bags at retail stores for environmental reasons.

 

Shoppers now must pay 10 cents for plastic bags, money that will go to the state coffers. As of 2021 single use plastic bags are slated to be banned completely. Most consumers are saying it is hard to oppose something that is good for the environment. Nevertheless, many say they did reuse the plastic bags for purposes such as lining waste paper baskets. As well, some folks question why retailers are now charging for paper bags.

 

For months consumers have been encouraged to purchase reusable bags and bring them along when shopping. Since the first of the month it has become commonplace to see bags from other stores being utilized. (For example, I brought my Trader Joe’s bag into Big Y. ) New England-based Big Y is now selling – once no cost paper bags – for a dime. However, their new paper bags include handles. Apparently, those handles cost the store 10 cents ?

 

According to NBC Connecticut, Highland Park Market in Manchester expects their bag costs to “quadritriple” without the plastic option because of the greater expense of paper bags. Highland Park, arguably a more upscale grocery experience, has had handle paper bags right along – just saying. At Stop & Shop, through August paper bags will be available at no charge.

 

Macy’s is also offering reusable bags in the large shopping bag style, with Macys,com featured prominently on each side. In fact, every reusable bag I’ve seen put out by retailers essentially is an advertisement for their store. So, consumers now get to pay for advertising on behalf of retailers ?

 

Some grocers are still letting cashiers give out small, tinted plastic bags used for cold items, like meats or ice cream. At self-checkouts, shoppers are on the honor system – at the end of a transaction a question pops up on the terminal screen asking how many plastic bags you have used. Zero has been my choice, in that in my purse I now carry a small reusable bag with me. Yep, my keys, wallet, lip gloss and a reusable bag ~ the perfect Pavlovian subject since the point of forcing reusable bags into our lives is to “shift consumer behavior.”

 

Not everyone is acclimating. A man in front of me at Walmart a couple days ago had a cart filled with groceries and not bag to seen. Rather he held up his receipt as he exited. A challenge for retailers will be to keep track of purchases if consumers take exception to paying for bags; and dealing with the frustration of watching shoppers shuffle about boldly with reusable bags that advertise for other stores.

 

The bottom line is ~ things change. In fact, change it has been said, is the only constant in life ~ you can bag that.

 

*revised

Mom’s Recipe Box : “Sometimes A Girl Just Needs To Be Bad Pizza” from Maureen

Posted on June 19, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sometimes A Girl Just Needs To Be Bad Pizza” from her granddaughter Maureen has been added to Mom’s Recipe Box

 

 

“Sometimes a Girl Just Needs to be Bad Pizza” from Maureen 

 

Award Winning Pizza ~ by Maureen Muriel Lucas

What I love about this recipe is the blending of flavors between the sauce and the toppings. I’ve enjoyed cooking and baking all my life. My Mom, Muriel Anna Bennett Lucas taught me the love of cooking, as well as, baking. My Mom was an amazing woman. A great teacher of life. Along with my daughter, Kathleen, we would prepare wonderful, loving creations together. Always an adventure to try something new.

I enjoy making a recipe my own, so I experiment. A recipe is just a guideline ~ is my motto ~ when cooking in the kitchen. Baking ~ you need to be precise. I find that cooking or baking is quite therapeutic, as well as, enjoyable. The wonderful smell of the flavors permeating the house. 

This pizza smells wonderful baking. The satisfaction of seeing your loved ones enjoying what you created is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Hope you enjoy creating this pizza as much as I do. It’s fun to create with your children, no matter what their ages. Bon Appetito !

 

 

 

*A bit of family history that I asked Maureen if it was okay to share and she said “yes”. Growing up Maureen was known as “Dolly” to the family. It was a nickname given to her by my father, her grandfather, “Big Johnny”, because she was as pretty as a doll. And, he often sang the song “Hello Dolly” to her ! ~ JB

 

 

 

 

 

Looks great ! Yes- indeed – sometimes a girl just needs to be bad !

 

Enjoy award-winning homemade pizza! Homemade dough, homemade sauce with onions, garlic, hand crushed tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella ( whole) ricotta (half) Margherita turkey pepperoni less fat, less sodium (half), sprinkle of Italian seasonings. .~ MML

 

Toppings : one half cup of Part Skim Ricotta, one and a half to two cups Whole Shredded Mozzarella (I shred from the block), 4 oz Margherita’s Turkey Pepperoni (less fat and sodium ~ surprise, it tastes great!), one cup tomato sauce (recipe below ~ use more if you’d like), 4-6 Roma tomatoes (depending on size), Italian seasoning ~ shake on desired amount.

Pizza Dough : one package pizza active yeast pack, one cup warm water. one tsp sugar, one tsp salt, 2 tsp vegetable oil (I prefer Mazzola), two and a half cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur’s is best)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Tomato Sauce : one jar of your favorite sauce, 4 Roma tomatoes ~ blanch then remove the skin, one half cup of chopped sweet onion, one tsp of chopped garlic (fresh makes a difference), one tsp butter, one – 2 tsp of Italian seasoning, fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

In medium Dutch oven melt one tsp of butter, place the onion into saute until translucent. Then add garlic until soft (it cooks fast). Then add jar of sauce, and crush by hand the blanched Roma tomatoes. Then blend together. Let it come to a soft boil then add the other tsp of butter, then turn down to a high simmer. Once it is at a nice simmer add Italian seasoning and salt/pepper to taste. Let it simmer one half to a full hour. This allows the sauce flavors to blend together.

Pizza Dough : Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients; beat vigorously for 20 strokes. Let rest about 5 minutes. When ready press on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If necessary use rolling pin. Shape to size of pan. Then begin your creation !

Smooth sauce on top of dough. Not too much ! Make sure you have the crushed Roma tomatoes spread across, as well as, onion and garlic. Then sprinkle some of the shredded mozzarella cheese to lightly cover. Next place ricotta about the pizza; just press or spread lightly. Then top with the rest of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top as desired.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Removal will be easy with the parchment paper. You will have a nice award-winning pizza.

Buon Appetito !  

 

 

*Look forMom’s Recipe Box” as an occasional feature on newsandviewsjb where recipes are added to the Cecelia G. Bennett Collection to honor the memory of my mother