Here’s the thing about coyotes – they’re scary.
While really beautiful animals, they are dangerous. A recent case in point is the killing of a pet dog in the upper Black Rock Turnpike area by two coyotes. A Pomeranian, a fairly tiny dog, was attacked by the coyotes in the dog’s back yard. See the story in the Fairfield Citizen. The area where the dog was killed is not exactly a tranquil spot. It is busy with cars and commercial enterprises and the Merritt Parkway entrances and exits. Don’t be fooled into thinking the coyotes only travel in forested areas.
I live in a busy neighborhood, on a street that is used as a shortcut for many motorists. The neighborhood is densely populated as well.
One summer night a few years ago, I was awakened by loud rustling of the leaves in my compost area, which is contained within a grove of trees in my back yard. The noise was so loud that I was forced to get out of bed to see what – or who – was there. The security sensor light behind my garage was tripped on so the entire area was fully illuminated in the early morning hours. And there, digging in the leaves, was what appeared to me to be a coyote. It looked like a cross between a dog and a fox. It had a fairly bushy tail and a long face with erect, pointed ears. I described it to a friend of mine, who is familiar with all kinds of wildlife, a couple of days later and she confirmed for me that it was a coyote.
What struck me as odd about this creature was that when I went to the window and peered out – not even making a sound – it looked up at me and stared me down. Would a dog do that? I don’t think so. All kinds of wildlife travel through my neighborhood. We’ve had turkeys, ducks, turtles and deer and the more common ones of raccoons, skunks, woodchucks and geese.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, eastern coyotes were first documented in Connecticut in the 1950s. “Since then, they have expanded their range and are now common throughout the state. Coyotes are opportunistic and use a variety of habitats, including developed areas…” Coyotes eat a variety of other wildlife, as well as garbage.
Coyotes have been seen in Fairfield for several years. Some people have reported having coyotes come very close to their houses.
We all need to respect the wildlife around us and to understand their habits and behavior. We also should make every effort to prevent conflicts with coyotes. For tips and other information, visit www.ct.gov/dep/wildlife.
Archive for February, 2011
Here’s the thing about coyotes – they’re scary.
Congratulations to the Fairfield Public Library and the Fairfield Woods Branch Library for helping to restock the shelves at Operation Hope’s Food Pantry.
In an innovative week-long effort, the library was able to collect from patrons and others and deliver 1,002 food and health and beauty items to the pantry. In return, the library successfully retrieved 329 materials, including books, DVDs, CDs and audio books. The patrons returning these items had their late fines waived. And then there were others, who had no overdue materials, but just wanted to help out.
The library is such an integral part of our everyday lives in Fairfield that it is a given that it would pursue such a program.
And it came at the right time too. According to Carla Miklos, executive director, of Operation Hope, which also provides shelters, a community kitchen and associated programs, the stock at the pantry is low. “Lean” is how she described it. And to make matters worse, the pantry is nearly out of the most commonly requested items, like canned tuna, pasta and soup.
Carla offered that if other organizations or companies placed a receptacle at their entrances with a poster asking for food donations, then perhaps a steady stream of items would be flowing into the pantry.
And one of the easiest ways to donate is to pick up a few extra items when grocery shopping.
For information about how to donate, plan drives or for a list of the items needed, visit www.operationhopect.org.
As part of the One Book, One Town community reading program, the Fairfield Public Library and the Pequot Library are asking for favorite recipes from patrons and other residents. Entries are due by Feb. 28 by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The recipes will be featured on www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org/obot throughout March.
The featured book in this year’s program is “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, who will appear at 7:30 p.m. on March 10 at Roger Ludlowe Middle School. One of the themes of his book is what it would mean to his family if he decided he did not want to eat his grandmother’s signature dish any longer.
In my family, the dish below was a favorite. My mother, who obtained the recipe from a neighbor (who was of Hungarian descent, by the way), made it for holidays – and occasionally just because she wanted to do it. The recipe, which I altered some from the neighbor’s, was given to me, and I cannot tell you how many times I have made this. It is expected for Christmas and Easter dinner to accompany the other items on the buffet. I am the favorite person in the room when I walk in carrying one, sometimes two casseroles. I also made it for the clients at Operation Hope’s community kitchen over the summer – on a 90-degree day.
Keep in mind it is labor intensive but utterly delicious.
3 pounds of ground beef
2 pounds of ground pork
2 large cans of tomato juice
2 large cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of tomato paste
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
Large container part-skim ricotta cheese
1-2 bags of shredded part-skim mozzarella
2-3 boxes of Ronzoni lasagna noodles
Hefty EZ Foil All-Purpose Pan 13 1/2″ X 9 1/2″ X 3″
Put all the liquid ingredients into large pot and start to simmer. Brown the ground beef; drain, put aside. Brown the pork; drain, put aside. Brown the garlic and onion in the remnants of the pan from the browning of the beef and pork. Do not over-brown because the garlic will get bitter. Dump the beef, pork, garlic and onions into the sauce. Add black pepper, oregano and basil to taste. Stir. Do not add salt because the cheeses will be salty enough once you put the lasagna casserole together.
Simmer the sauce for 6 to 8 hours.
Two sauce notes:
1. Make the sauce the day before you put the lasagna casserole together because it will taste better after it sits in the refrigerator overnight and then is reheated.
2. When you put the lasagna casserole together, make sure the sauce is hot; otherwise, the ricotta won’t blend.
Lasagna Casserole Layering:
Boil the noodles following the instructions on the box.
Follow this pattern:
Cover the bottom of pan with sauce, place layer of noodles, more sauce, place teaspoonful dollops of ricotta (about three in a row) and mash with fork until blended, sprinkle layer with grated cheese, then mozzarella (lightly). Next row: noodles, sauce, ricotta, grated cheese, mozzarella. Follow the preceding until you reach the top of pan. Add a good amount of mozzarella at top.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the lasagna casserole for 30-35 minutes in 350-degree oven uncovered. Make sure the mozzarella on top is melted. Take out of the oven and let sit about 15-20 minutes before serving.
This recipe makes two casseroles of lasagna. You will be tempted to use the no-cook lasagna noodles because they are “easy.” Don’t. They do not have the same flavor or texture once you put the casserole together.
The Carl J. Dickman Par 3 Golf Course. It has a nice ring to it.
The late Carl Dickman was an avid golfer. Playing on local courses was one of his favorite pastimes. Carl died in January at the age 84. He served the town and the state with dedication. He was a selectman for 16 years and a state representative for 10. He also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Water Pollution Control Authority.
And he was president of the H. Smith Richardson Golf Club. In his early career, he was instrumental in the development of the 18-hole public course. Golf was his passion – along with his family and his favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox.
To honor his service and his love of golf, the Board of Selectmen is in the process of considering naming some public property in town after Carl. At the selectmen’s meeting on Feb. 16, the members and other town officials talked about putting his name on a facility at the H. Smith Richardson Golf Course, like the driving range or the clubhouse.
Those ideas are nice, but they seem too small for a man who devoted his entire life to public service and his town of Fairfield. Even First Selectman Ken Flatto said at the meeting that Carl “epitomized that Fairfield spirit.”
Flatto will be sending a letter to the Golf Commission to seek its input, and residents are invited to offer their own suggestions by calling or e-mailing the selectmen.
So that’s where I come in. Here’s my suggestion: Rename the par 3 course off South Pine Creek Road in Carl’s memory. To be perfectly honest, that popular course has a rather non-descriptive name. It is a beautiful course, not far from the shore of Long Island Sound and adjacent to the Salt Meadows open space area. The nine-hole course is 1,240 yards long.
And it is part of the 132nd General Assembly District – which Carl represented for those 10 years. How perfect is that?
I was happy to read the article in the Fairfield Citizen the other day about the “graduation ceremony” at Holland Hill Elementary School for the fifth-grade students who participated in the DARE program.
DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is led by the Police Department in which the DARE officer, in this case, Officer Jay Walle, leads classroom lessons that teach the kids how to resist peer pressure and avoid drugs and violence. According to the department’s website, the 10-week program at the fifth- and sixth-grade level incorporates the police, parents and teachers. Students see the DARE officer once a week for a 45- to 60-minute class. Among the lesson topics are peer pressure, self-esteem and assertiveness, stress, problem solving, resisting violence and drug facts.
According to the national DARE website, “Every youngster should have the opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, secure and equipped with the skills needed to succeed in life. Contemporary America, however, is rampant with challenges that could keep children from a positive life path.”
Millions of children in the United States in more than 300,000 classrooms in 10,000 communities in all 50 states will benefit from DARE this year, states the national website. That is one large group of kids getting important life lessons. Additionally, the site notes that more than 50,000 law enforcement officers are certified to teach the program.
With drug use and abuse still prevalent – including the rising use of prescription drugs – the DARE program is a vital component of the school day.
Parents and students should be grateful that the DARE program is ongoing. Kids need all the tools they can get to make the right choices in their lives.
TeamBrent is on of those charitable organizations that needs to be written about and recognized over and over again.
It was created in 2005 by Dana and Mike McCreesh of Southport to battle childhood cancer as their son, Brent, fought stage IV neuroblastoma. On the TeamBrent website, www.teambrent.com, it reads: “Today he is a survivor who has no recollection of this treatment, and his worries are about scoring goals in soccer, not about keeping his platelets up so he can get chemo, but the fight goes on. Brent is living proof that your efforts make a difference. It is our hope that someday no child dies of cancer.”
TeamBrent has raised nearly $5 million, according to the site. Its two primary events are the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the PanMass Challenge. With St. Baldrick’s, brave participants shave their heads in exchange for donations. Hundreds of people have allowed their hair to be buzzed off at the yearly event. Through the PanMass Challenge, a bike-a-thon in August that travels over nearly 200 miles, TeamBrent has been involved in helping to raise money for a “dedicated treatment room to deliver targeted MIBG/radiotherapy program to relapsed neuroblastoma children” at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
But as the website notes, the effort to raise money and awareness takes place year-round. A fund-raising event under way by TeamBrent is a collection drive for the patients of the Yale-New Haven Hospital pediatric outpatient oncology/hematology clinic in Guilford. Being collected are used Wii, DS, XBox and PlayStation 2 games, which will be given to the transfusion room of the clinic, where kids with cancer spend hours getting chemotherapy and blood transfusions.
Drop off boxes are located in Fairfield at Optical Alternatives, Hobbytown, Giant Steps Toys, Gymnastics & Cheerleading Academy of CT; in Southport at Southport Family Dental & Southport Racquet Club, and in Westport at the Landmark Academy office.
With new games on the market all the time (I know from having to buy them for my great-nephews), kids always want the latest products and get tired of the old ones. The Team Brent collection drive is a great way for kids to clean out unwanted games and help a group of their peers at the same time.
For more information on TeamBrent, visit its website, where you also can find information on upcoming events and how to conduct ones of your own for the organization.
A wonderful opportunity has surfaced at the Fairfield Public Library’s Bruce S. Kershner Gallery for area artists.
The gallery is looking for artists to be included in its exhibition “Dialogue in Color,” which will take place from May 1 to June 10.
It is a juried show for artists who are over the age of 18 living in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Artists are permitted to submit up to two paintings, drawings, mixed media or fiber arts. The work must explore the connection that color initiates between the artist and the artwork and between the artwork and the viewer. The submitted work will be judged by Adrienne Ruger Conzelman, an art dealer and the owner of ARC Fine Art LLC, a gallery in Fairfield that specializes in contemporary art.
First-, second- and third-place winners will be given a three-person show at the Kershner Gallery in 2012.
The entry fee is $25, and the submissions must be on a CD/DVD. Entry forms are available at www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org/gallery.htm or artists can e-mail email@example.com to request one. The deadline is March 18.
Fairfield and other towns in Fairfield County are replete with artists in all genres, some of them rarely recognized for their talent. This is a great chance for artists to have their work seen and appreciated. The library is congratulated for opening up the gallery to local talent.
I always have believed that the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce is a misunderstood organization. The public has no idea all the good work that the chamber does for businesses and residents.
According to its website, “The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce is an integral part of the Fairfield Community. Founded in 1946 by a handful of business owners, the Chamber has grown to over 450 retail, service and professional members.” The site further states that “The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce — an association of business and professional people — promotes a climate for business that enhances the economic vitality and quality of life in Fairfield … The Chamber sponsors programs and activities in keeping with its mission. There are events specifically geared for members and the business community at large, and others with wide appeal to the greater Fairfield community.”
I would bet that the masses of people who attend the annual Arts and Crafts Show in June at the Old Town Hall Green or Trick or Treat on Safety Street in downtown Fairfield are unaware that the chamber sponsors the events. Both of them are hugely popular. Business people also have the opportunity to attend Business After Hours every month where they can network with their counterparts; it’s a good place to make connections and possibly find a job. It also is a co-sponsor of the annual Regional Business Networking Expo in March, another good place, especially now with unemployment still high, to search for a job.
The chamber promotes businesses in town in an effort to maintain Fairfield’s vibrancy and as a destination for shoppers, movie-goers and people looking for a night out at a good restaurant. And it has taken a stand on some hot-button issues, like the need for the third train station.
Many of the events sponsored or promoted by the chamber are geared toward its members, but in addition to the Arts and Crafts Show, it also hosts an annual fundraiser, at which it hopes to bring in enough money to continue to support its mission. The public is invited; in fact, it is encouraged to attend.
This year’s event, “The Spring Fling,” will take place on April 7 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the historic Burr Mansion at 739 Old Post Road. The cuisines of four restaurants – Coromandel, Fairfield Cafe, The Greenhouse Grill and Old Post Tavern – will be sampled and wines will be supplied by Greenfield Grapes & Hops. A silent auction and door prizes also will be available. All of that for $60 per person. Sounds like a nice way to usher in springtime after our long, cold, snowy winter.
For information about the chamber and its events, visit www.fairfieldctchamber.com or call 203-255-1011.