Category Archives: Connecticut

Finding my way around a place I used to live: Stamford



New England scene, Trumbull

New England scene, Trumbull

I easily found the house I lived in some 28 years ago, although it has clearly been restored to its former glory (before five 20-somethings, including me, rented it). There it was, all tarted up on Interlaken Road, just off High ridge Road and exit 35 of the Merritt Parkway. But I was soon lost in downtown Stamford, whose skyline has radically changed since my days as a reporter there. I never did find the Stamford Advocate. I am pretty sure it is not where it once was. Oh well. I moved onto to SoNo (south Norwalk) and it took me awhile to get my gap bearings there too although I finally remembered Washington street was the old heart of the renovated area! which has now spread beyond to several other blocks.

Fortunately Stew Leonard’s, the mega supermarket/ kids funhouse is much the same and the place still makes me smile with its kitschy Chuckie Cheese-like figures dotting the food displays. fortunately the food looks as good as ever and my suitcase is full of bagels, bialys and a Cronut or two (part croissant, part donut). oh and two cans of bumblebee tuna, which I can’t seem to find anymore in Iowa. Myra and I had a good lunch at Valencia lucheria, a taqueria  in Norwalk…I had an arepa with pork (sort of a deep I ate is called. it’s Venezuelan.

Ye olde house...Stamford

Ye olde house…Stamford

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Good eats in New Britain, Fairfield, Monroe Connecticut

Fairfield beach with Myra

Fairfield beach with Myra

Work brought me to the central Connecticut city New Britain but I arrived hungry and in a hurry after an early morning flight from Iowa. Looking for a place to grab a quick bite before a 2:30 pm meeting, I was prepared for something like Subway. Instead I got lucky and stumbled upon a terrific homey deli called Angelo’s where I had an excellent tuna sub, a safe and dull option given all the other good options (Stromboli sandwiches, loaves of bread slathered with pesto etc) but it did the trick.

In Monroe last night with BFF myra and her lovely daughter emma (shout out to Shane,are you reading?) we had a delicious meal on the patio of Tula…good sandwiches, pasta, salads, flat breads.) I had bucatini alla amitriana (sort of a red sauce version of carbonara with out the cream but with the bacon.)

The next night we picked up salads at Chefs Table in Fairfield and had promo seats, on fold up chairs  in the beach in Fairfield. Perfect night with old friends.

Beach picnic with Myra and David, Fairfield.

Beach picnic with Myra and David, Fairfield.


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I still am not in the mood to write about anything much – as the details keep coming out about the shooting in Connecticut. I talked to my friends in nearby Trumbull and they were very shaken. They know the mother of one of the victims- a teacher at the school – and at least one other victim, the school psychologist, was from Trumbull. They are sick of hearing Newtown described as “bucolic.” So media – find another adjective.

See the video below for a look at one of the guns that was used – purchased, apparently, by the mother/teacher/victim of the shooter – which is hard to fathom. This has GOT TO STOP.


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Gun control NOW – thoughts on the Connecticut shooting

Bushmaster M4 Type Carbine
Bushmaster M4A3 with magazines
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin  United States
Service history
Used by Over 60 nations[1]
Wars War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
War in Iraq (2003-2010)
War in South Ossetia (2008)

TAKE A STAND – Go to the White House website and read the gun control petitions listed. (see the article below)

Honestly, I feel like marching in the streets – and I would if I could find people to march with me. And I probably could because I can’t see how people cannot support gun control efforts, especially after what happened in Connecticut today. Elementary school students? Teachers? Killed at a school? In the small New England town of Newtown, which I’ve driven through dozens of times (it’s 14 miles from the house of one of my best friends.) I’m so sad – and angry and frustrated that this could happen. And it could have been prevented. There is no reason for people to own assault weapons in this country – keep your hunting rifles, your pistols if you must. But an assault rifle or more precisely a Bushmaster M4 Type Carbine – which was found at the school? It took me mere seconds to find it on the Wal-Mart website. Surely it’s not for sale. I see from the Bushmaster website that “PLEASE NOTE: A Federal Firearms License is REQUIRED for the purchase of any Complete Weapon or Lower Receiver.” How did that Connecticut shooter get that weapon, more commonly used by soldiers in Afghanistan?

I am desperately hoping that some good, something positive can come out of this. I volunteer every week in an elementary school here in Des Moines and I think about those kids and those teachers. Schools should and must be safe places. How can we reassure kids of that today? It reminds me of the challenge parents like me had years ago on 9/11 – when we picked our kids up from elementary school on that horrible day. Something has got to change and I, for one, am ready to make some noise about it again.  Back in 1980, as a college kid, I spent an afternoon at a mall in rural upstate New York trying to convince people to sign my petition calling for tighter gun control. It was a hard sell. Surely that is changing. It’s got to.

Thousands immediately petition White House to address gun control, mental health

In the aftermath of an elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 27 people dead, including 20 children, thousands of citizens have formally called on the federal government to address the issues of gun control, gun violence and mental illness.

Within hours of the latest school massacre, six petitions were created on the White House’s website today calling for the president to address issues related to mass shootings. All the petitions had at least 200 signatures as of 4:30 p.m. EST, and one had garnered more than 5,000.

The first petition called on the Obama administration to “immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress,” requesting legislation to change the way citizens obtain guns.

Other topics focused primarily on starting a conversation about gun control. One request called for mental health to be declared a “national emergency” to prevent future shooting such as today’s issue at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and the shooting earlier this year at a movie theater in Aurora Colo.

The mental health petition also said gun control needed to be discussed.

One petition read:

We ask that President Obama form a commission of appointed citizens to explore meaningful steps we as a nation can take to control and reduce gun violence. The commission would have a time limit to develop recommendations that would be forwarded to Congress for review and action.

The petitions each have one month to accumulate 25,000 digital signatures in order to garner a formal response from the White House.

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The connection between Cornwall, Connecticut and Hawaii’s Big Island: who knew?

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Hawaii, I’m reading Sarah Vowell’s book  Unfamiliar Fishes which traces the history of the U.S. annexation/Americanization of  Hawaii  in 1898, which began with the efforts of  New England missionaries in the 1820’s to Christianize the islanders.

To date, I’ve learned that some of the Yanks who arrived, full of Christian fervor, in 19th century Hawaii – first landing their boat on the Big Island’s western shore, where I will be landing in a plane in January –  had spent time in Cornwall, Connecticut, a sleepy little village in the state’s bucolic northwest corner where my husband and I happened to stop en route to the Berkshires in September.  Small world.

There’s even a plaque in  Cornwall marking the former grave site of  Hawaiian Henry Opukahaia – credited with helping bring the Yankee missionaries to his homeland – who was originally buried there in 1818.  An orphan, he found his way to New Haven where he converted to Christianity, got swept up in the missionary fervor, and went to a school run by missionaries in Cornwall. He ended up dying at 26 in Cornwall before he could return to Hawaii to spread the Good Lord’s word. His remains were transferred to Hawaii in 1993 where they’re in a vault facing the seat at Kahikolu Church in the town of Nao’opo’o, Kona on the Big Island. (Might be worth a visit.)

Overall, I’m finding  Vowell’s book a good preparation for Hawaii (both in understanding Hawaii’s  history and culture and in figuring out what to see  there) and a good read, although it is definitely not your typical historical tome, punctuated as it is by Vowell’s  rambling digressions, oft-witty asides and commentary linking the past and present, plus her apparent disdain for organizing her dense copy into chapters.  (I’m half way through and so far the book is one very long chapter.)



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Williamstown Mass – where to stay, eat, what to do

It rained most of our day in the Berkshires but we still enjoyed the scenery. First stop Great Barrington where what Rubiner could resist a visit to Rubiner’s Cheesemongers – an artisanal cheese shop in an old bank on the main drag owned by a cousin of mine.  The cousin wasn’t around – and there wasn’t any cornbeef for the “Rubiner Sandwich” (no joke) served in the Rubi cafe behind the cheese shop but we enjoyed our visit – eating two sandwiches in what appeared to be the former bank’s boardroom, now the cafe. Also dropped in at a clothing store I liked last time I visited several years ago – and bought a few things on sale.

In Williamstown, we stayed at the River Bend Farm B&B, a very unique place located right beyond the Williams College campus. Run by two free spirits, it’s a meticulously restored 18th century house – plus modern day amenities like plumbing and heat. There are only four rooms, only two occupied and we had the place largely to ourselves – staying on the ground floor in what was the parlor, a lovely room with plastered ceilings, old moldings, wrought iron chandelier, fireplace. Next door was the kitchen – which looked like something out a living history farm with a big stone hearth with iron implements and dried herbs hanging on the wall. The bathroom was unique too – dark wood with big old pots on shelves (and a well-functioning shower.) Breakfast was good – homemade granola, muffins, jams. Definitely would return!

We splurged at Mezze for dinner, a white- tablecloth restuarant whose chef is known for his locally-sourced ingredients. We had a very good pork dish and pasta with a pork, beef, sausage ragu.Another keeper.

En route to the Berkshires on Highway 7 in Connecticut we stopped briefly in the pretty village of West Cornwall – where we crossed a covered bridge above a raging river (truly – the rivers were all raging thanks to Irene and causing havoc in many places.)


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