newsandviewsjb

NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Journalism Strong

Posted on January 21, 2021

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

A free press is at the heart of our democracy. No one goes into journalism expecting to win popularity contests or be cuddled by those whom we cover. Nonetheless, it has been tough to witness the treatment of fellow journalists over the past four years, especially the White House Press Corps as they endured lies being told about their work, being called names and even tossed out for doing their job – asking hard questions.

 

Through it all, they remained true to the guiding principles of the field – truth and accuracy. They did not back down. They kept asking their questions and reporting the facts. What people might not realize is how powerfully most reporters believe in the history of our nation, the Constitution and , oh yes , that beautiful First Amendment. Every day you do your job you are exercising the rights protected in that amendment.

 

Some days it is more prevalent than others and often risk is involved. I recall being a young reporter for the Manchester Herald in Connecticut when there was turmoil within the fire department in the town I covered. Those in charge were trying to cover up what was going on. I still remember what it felt like on a cold winter’s night to make a long climb up a stairway to where the department was attempting to hold an illegal closed meeting. I was the only reporter present that night; I opened the door, walked in and stood my ground -feeling a tremendous responsibility to get the truth out to the public. That is just one example of what I have encountered through my career, and one example of what journalists face even on the local level.

 

Despite the beating the field of journalism took over the last four years, thanks to the fortitude of courageous reporters, the effort to undermine the free press failed. I am so proud to say we in the United States are journalism strong.

Nantucket Blue Bouquet

Posted on January 6, 2021

Story & Photo By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

You had me at ‘Nantucket’.

 

My affection for Cape Cod and the Islands – Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket runs deep. So this lovely New Year’s gift of a Nantucket Blue Bouquet was quite wonderful.

 

Truth be told I had never before heard of a Nantucket Blue Bouquet but Nantucket Blue Hydrangeas are very popular. The bouquets come in various designs some are solid blue typically created with blue hydrangeas and blueberry chinoiseue, others are hydrangeas mixed with soft peach and white roses. Mine is a mix of the bright blue Nantucket hydrangeas, with oriental lilies, small white daisies, baby breath and greenery. 

 

It is absolutely gorgeous having found a home in the center of my dining room table. It feels like the bouquet itself is welcoming in the new year and  new beginnings – flowers can have such an amazing effect.

 

Nantucket blues are also popular growing flowers/plants which I just might try come summer. Since my flowers are already cut they are best cared for with flower food – which I have , in a spacious vase -which I have and with periodic fresh water – which I will do. 

New Year’s Day Brunch – Perfectly Social

Posted on December 31, 2020

Ideas for New Year’s Day Brunch pastries (Water’s Edge Westbrook CT)

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Bloody Mary

I’ve often thought New Year’s Day Brunch is the perfect social event. None of the pressure of New Year’s Eve – no pressure to drink, no pressure to bring a date, you can dress -up in your new Christmas digs or dress -down in those tried and true jean..

 

And, it’s New Year’s Day so it’s all about fresh starts and new beginnings. A refreshing way to spend a late morning, early afternoon.

 

About the only booze one can expect is a Bloody Mary or Champagne Mimosa, should you choose to take an honorary New Yea’s Day sip. Nonetheless,  completely optional.

 

 

 

Champagne Mimosa

This is a ideal day to do family pot luck , eventually, members may have a special dish or two to which people look forward like homemade crepe smothered in molasses . Or it’s a fun day to try new recipes. A New Year’s Day Brunch is also  a perfect day to converse – bring back the art of conversation.

Homemade crepe

Formsl brunch ideas

 

Instead of focusing on late night partying of New Year’s Eve –  start a great new tradition – New Year’s Day Brunch, the perfect holiday..

 

Pointsettia Says Christmas

Posted on December 15, 2020

 

 

Photo & Article by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Little says Christmas more than a pointsettia plant. With festivally scarlet-colored blossoms that welcome, a pointsetia lights up a spot.

 

Native to Mexico, the plant’s name is derived from John Poinsett who was the first ambassador from the USA to Mexico in the 19th Century. Pointsett had botantical plantations at his home in South Carolina and sent some of these cherry, red plants back to the states which is how they were introduced in America.

 

They are thought to bring good luck to both the giver and receiver ” if handled with affection.” Keep your poinsettia in a warm room and mist it daily, experts suggest. With proper care,  pointsettias can live all year.

 

The shape of the pointsettia’s blossoms is said to resemble the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus.

 

 

Christmas Tree Sales Up Amid Pandemic

Posted on December 2, 2020

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett Christmas Trees arrive in Manchester CT for sales.

Story & Photo by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

From the United Kingdom to Wisconsin, USA to local tree lots Christmas Tree sales are reportedly soaring as people seek to raise their spirits amid the COVID -19 pandemic.

 

“Demand spikes for real Christmas Trees,” reads one headline, with an estimated increase of 25 percent more customers buying trees this season than last season.

 

Ironically, it was only a few weeks ago that tree growers were worried about about a slow year. Turns out quite the opposite is true.

 

This first weekend in December is traditionally the busiest time for tree shoppers to visit lots or tree farms, such as the ever popular Dzen’s Christmas Tree Farm in South Windsor, Connecticut. Governors, TV personalities and ordinary folks have made buying a tree at Dzen’s, where you can select and chop down your own, a tradition. Former WFSB anchor Dennis House and his family returned to Dzen’s recently to pick out their tree. Of course the presence of reindeer at Dzen’s is quite the attraction.

 

In Manchester, the 1st Utilities Volunteer Fire District sells Christmas Trees annually as a fundraiser. Pictured are trees arriving from out-of-state last year for their lot. It was a grand sight.  Meanwhile in Windsor the Jaycees have been selling Christmas Trees also as a fundraiser for years.

 

For the moment there are ample sites to get a tree. Nonetheless, with people scrambling to put the difficulties of 2020 out of mind , it is hard to say just how long a even large shipment of trees will last this season.

84th Manchester Thanksgiving Road Race Goes Virtual

Posted on November 24, 2020

The 2020 Manchester Road Race has gone virtual so there will not be any shoulder to shoulder runners as in years before.

Write-up and photo by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

This year there won’t be any large crowds running instead runners must register with a new app and then can run the 4.748 miles at any location of their choice, even at home . Virtual registration began October 1 and continues to Nov. 24 at 9 pm. The registration fee is $20 – registration is unlimited, according to the MRR website. Runners must complete the distance between 8 a.m. EST Thursday November 19 and 9 p.m. EST Wednesday Nov 28.

 

Elite runners, many from out of state, or global contenders have not be invited this year due to concern about the pandemic. Where ever runners are completing in the race, officials ask that they please practice social distancing.

 

Although most events connected with the race have been cancelled, the Ray Crothers MMR Blood Drive will still be held at Manchester High School Friday November 27th from 8 am to 4:30 pm.

Leaving Just Rt. 6 Shop, Shady Glen Closes Parkade Store

Posted on October 21, 2020

For those of us who grew up with Shady Glen as a part of our lives, news that the Manchester Parkade shop closed October 17 was indeed sad. I was so young when I began going to Shay Glen – the Rt 6 shop which remans open – that my father used to carry me in with him. The ice cream counter was always three rows deep with customers and Dad always took the time to let me admire the ice cream mural on the wall. We would bring cones out to the family waiting in the car.

Their menu also includes signature items like fried cheese , cheesefurters, secret recipe cole slaw. Some years later the Parkade shop opened and was aptly described as half of a iconic Manchester restaurant.

Owner Billy Hoch was quoted as saying the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll.

Certainly hope the Rt. 6 shop can be sustained. After all is Manchester even Manchester without Shady Glen?

First Time Peach Picking at Irish Bend Orchard

Posted on September 7, 2020

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

With Labor Day Weekend upon us and the fairs held this time of year cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to do something a little special. My first time peach picking at Irish Bend Orchard in Somers, CT turned out to be a great choice..

 

 

The folks who run Irish Bend couldn’t have been more pleasant and it was fun to try a new adventure. As well, the customers and staff were following the current masks and social distancing protocols. 

I definitely got my steps in today because pickers follow the orange flags to the rear, west side of the orchard. On this day three types of peaches were ripe for the picking with golden Messinas in abundance and it was the last day for white peaches – better known as Sugar Giant. I figured I knew how to pick peaches from watching so many Hallmark movies, so I enlisted the gentle twist approach. It is easy to understand why farmers need to hire pickers when their crops are ripe and ready – it is a big job. Fun for a day trip but it cannot be easy to fill up bag after bag, after basket.

 

 

 

      Judiciously picking about a dozen, I figured  I had plenty to put up a batch of my Wicked Girl jam – this will be another first for me – peach jam.  In addition to local honey and other fresh from garden items, they sell peach jam at Irish Bend Orchard, however, I started making my own Wicked Girl jams about two years ago, in that, what was available on the store shelves was too sweet for my taste buds. I keep my recipes pretty simple and thus far I have gotten positive feedback. Also selected a few ears of corn on the cob and a couple nice looking tomatoes from their farm stand. Whenever possible I like to support our Connecticut farmers. Irish Bend’s new hours are Fri, Sat, Sun 9-5.

 

All in all, today’s adventure was just peachy !

On Foot Along Two of the the Nation’s Most “Amazingly Scenic” Trails

Posted on August 25, 2020

I adore White Birch trees !

Loop Trail and Ledge Trail.

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

USA Today has named two trails in New England as among the top ten “amazingly scenic” in the country. It turns out I have short-hiked one – a portion of the Appalachian Trail that goes through October Mountain State Forest in Lee, Massachusetts and have visited Acadia National P:ark in Maine, home to the second, the Parkman Trail.

 

Admittedly, notions come over me from time to time and two years ago I decided I wanted to do something out of the ordinary specifically on October 1. Perusing online maps I discovered a place called
October Mountain in Lee, Massachusetts.”Perfect” I thought, “October Mountain on October 1st “. And, easy driving distance from the Greater Hartford, CT area where I reside.

A family of walkers.

 

This mountain is foreboding. Upon arrival. one is greeted by heavy, dark forest and soon enough signs that alert visitors to black bears that roam the space – hunting is allowed year round. YIKES ! I am what I describe as a walker/hiker – recreational at the most – but I do enjoy fancying myself  as more than just walking ever since I traversed some easy, low trails at the base of the White Mountains many moons ago. As well, as a teenager I visited Acadia  National P:ark with my family.

 

Lee Campgrounds are at October Mountain.

Alert – You are sharing this place with bears. Where is Daniel Boone?

Year round hunting notice.

P:ark ranger hut.

My sister Candy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admittedly again, upon arrival at October Mountain I felt a pang of the “flight or fight syndrome” but worked through it to stay, get out of the RAV4 and make our way along a couple trails. The park was hosting a motocross competition that day and there were some other hikers about, including a family. The park ranger was in his hut and overall it was probably a relatively safe day to be on October Mountain – a name I adore.

 

Scenic, definitely. I am a lover of white birch trees and have a couple photo ops that were snapped of me peaking through white birch branches.

 

From the get-go, I was glad that we stayed. So neat to think I have actually hiked the Appalachaian – even if it was just a short trail or two. How great to have been on foot at October Mountain and Acadia National Park and to have each be part of a special recognition of America’s grand natural resources. To think I have been to both – right here in my beloved New England !

Windsor, CT’s Brown’s Harvest Hosts 3rd Annual Sunflower Festival

Posted on August 16, 2020

Brown’s Harvest in Windsor, CT hosting its 3rd annual Sunflower Festival the weekend of August 15th-16th photo by Jacqueline Bennett

 

Write-up & Photos By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Sunflowers, sunflowers everywhere ….  With so many events cancelled due to the COVID pandemic , here’s one that is still on ~ the 3rd Annual Sunflower Festival at Brown’s Harvest in Windsor Connecticut. It ran two weekends, including through 4 p.m. today ~ Sunday, August 16th.. Tickets are available upon arrival.

 

Brown’s Harvest is a fourth generation farm that soon enough will have pumpkins galore on hand but presently they are bringing ‘sunshine’ to those who stop by to see multiple variations of sunflowers they planted. At $5 for the younger ones and $17 for adults you can venture into the sunflower field and of course bring one home. Everywhere one looks the sunflower motif can be seen and after months of cloistering indoors it seems so nice to be outside enjoying such an uplifting sight. Per requirement of Connecticut Gov. Lamont, visitors are required to wear masks but they can be momentarily slipped off for photo ops. Speaking of which, for professional photo opportunities such as wedding pics, a site fee is being charged..

 

In addition to the field of sunflowers, hay rides are available. As well there is live music, food trucks, vendors and local artists have some interesting sunflower sculptures to view.