A Year’s Output of Our Planet’s Chromium MInes Visible Here: Motorcycle Mania 2011

August 12, 2011


Thousands of motorcycles with their drivers and passengers. plus thousands more spectators filled the entirety of Main Street and some of the surrounding streets with a sea of chromium and brilliant paint. This was Motorcycle Mania 2011, an annual event in Middletown, Connecticut for the past several years. Follow are a sampling of photos from the event.

I don’t know what motorcycle they rode in on but I am pleased they agreed to be photographed (obligatory eye candy)!

Note: Click on any photo to enlarge

There were a great variety of machines on display including Harleys of every description, Honda comfort bikes, Spyder trikes, and conventional  trikes; also spotted was a single Ducati and a Victory. There were quite a few female drivers but always solo and of course the usual pairing of guy driving and gal holding on in back.

No motorcycle rally would be complete without a cast of colorful characters and this event was no exception:

Bikes and more bikes:

The End (time to partay!):

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The Hazards of Restaurant Reviewing – Why Amateurs Fail

August 11, 2011

A Pan Seared Sea Scallop

The following review of the Mattabesset Canoe Club restaurant in Middletown by Matthew F. Donahue appeared recently in Middletown Patch:

Wandering the shops of Main Street, my path lit by the glowing neon open signs of local eateries, I often find picking a venue to indulge in Middletown’s latest gustatory creations difficult with so many options. One night I found myself wandering the beaten path of Main Street, venturing down the off-shooting street, deKoven Drive, heading toward Harbor Drive and happening upon the old Harbor Park Restaurant.

As it has recently opened under new ownership as the Mattabesett Canoe Club, I decided to give the new place a peruse.

As I walked through the park toward the restaurant with one of my closest friends, Kaila Madera, the outline of the Canoe Club’s exterior came into focus and it was evident at once: the entire building was renovated and business was looking up, as seen by the crowded parking lot. Pleased with the aesthetic changes to the exterior and sunset in the horizon lighting the Connecticut River with golden rays, we approached the door with excitement; we aren’t the type to skip a meal and seafood always tops my list of favorites.

The hostess greeted us with a warm smile, asked us where we would like to sit and led us upstairs to sit at an outside balcony table. Guided by the light of a flickering candle centered in the table, we perused the menu and found ourselves crippled with indecision. As the waitress approached, we both looked blankly at the menu and by the time she arrived, we decided to order multiple menu items, splitting each dish. Sampling never hurt anyone, right?

Starting off with some shrimp and a couple of fresh oysters, we were ready to tackle the rather large meal about to arrive. We started off with seared sea scallops drizzled with a balsamic reduction glaze served over risotto. After getting past the idea of the origins of sea scallops, I thoroughly enjoyed the lightly grilled wonders, noting the nice contrast between the sweetness of the risotto and tartness of the balsamic reduction.

After nearly licking my plate clean and prodding my seafood-apprehensive friend to be a little more adventurous, we welcomed our second course: pan-seared swordfish served alongside a fresh mango gastrique, served over a house-made succotash that featured snow peas and roasted vegetables instead of lima beans.  The mango gastrique, a sauce composed by carmelizing sugar and then adding vinegar, fresh fruit and juice, highlighted the perfecly cooked swordfish steak’s robust flavor, while adding a tangy kick at the same time.

Even more pleased with the pan-seared swordfish steak than the other dishes, we both agreed that it was a great combination and a must-have the next time we happened at the Canoe Club.

Taking a break from seafood, we took a breather and then sampled a small piece of slow-cooked braised pork shank, sitting atop a parsnip puree and served with slender and tender asparagus shoots. The pork fell off of the bone with ease and its tender meat was welcomed with warm hungry mouths, but the four to 12 hours of cooking did not prove as satisfying as first thought, although perhaps this was because our portions were merely samples of the entire dish.

About ready to burst, but ready to tackle another plate, we savored the taste of an unlikely pair, rosemary and blueberry, in our next dish: salmon toasted in rice paper served over a blueberry and rosemary red wine sauce. Apprehensive how the strong flavors of rosemary and blueberry would mesh, we slowly forked small bite-fulls into our mouths. I was pleasantry surprised how well the rosemary complemented the blueberry and red wine reduction, while contrasting with the crispy crunch of the salmon’s wrapping and cool cucumber chunks.

Kaila disagreed. Not a huge fan of rosemary and fennel, she thought the blueberry sauce was overpowered by the rosemary; however, upon completion of the dish, she still deemed the dish satisfying and even stabbed a few fork-fulls of mine!

Cleansing our palette with a fresh summer salad, we were about to throw down our napkins and call the meal a done deal when our waitress recommenced their new pineapple crème brûlée and we could not resist the temptation. We were not disappointed, either, even though we were definitely full, we somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée, dipping small pieces of biscotti into the custardy delight.

Fresh pineapple chunks proved refreshing and a nice alternative to a dish that usually remains rather bland with just a splash of vanilla.

Accompanied by an acoustic show, a great view and the best of company, our night out at Mattabesett Canoe Club was one to never forget!

Pork Shank, Parsnip Puree, and Asparagus

Our response:

Matthew Donahue, our young scout on the prowl for gustatory delights, just happened upon the Mattabesset Canoe Club while venturing on an “off-shooting” street. The ghost of the Middletown Yacht Club loomed as though reborn and aesthetically changed, the fleeting rays of sunlight reflected off the river enhancing the enchantment. Scout Odonahue and his companion were hungry and hardly ever known to skip a meal.

They were escorted to a balcony table by a smiling hostess. The table with its center candle provided the perfect atmosphere for a couple’s dining pleasure. The menu was presented and, what to their wondering eyes did appear but a plethora of visual and gustatory delights for eye and palate. They perused and perused but could not decide so when the moment of truth came our intrepid scout declared; “We’ll try everything, sampling never hurt anyone, right?”

And so it went, course after course, sample after sample, tidbit after tidbit, on and on with the balsamic reductions,mango gastrique, the rosemary and blueberry sauce until our explorer was about to lick his plate clean while simultaneously bursting.

Our explorers were about to throw up…or rather throw down… their napkins. but the meal was not quite “a done deal yet” because the waitress “recommenced” their new pineapple crème brûlée. (I don’t pretend to know exactly when the Canoe Club “commenced” their pineapple crème brûlée but I am pleased that it is being offered again)

Feeling “definitely full” our brave pair “… somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée”

Moral: Food writing and restaurant reviews are fine fodder for satire, and even ridicule, which of course was not our intent.

America Haters or Drunk Teens (or both!)

July 6, 2011

Reposted today from Steady Habits:

During Memorial Day Weekend Andy Bordick of Hebron repainted the iconic Eagle Rock on Rte 66 in Hebron, Connecticut. Sadly, over the just ended Independence Day Holiday Weekend vandals defaced the Eagle with red paint, creating a bloody mess. The vandal’s  political intent can be inferred by a close look at the top and bottom photos! Reportedly the damage is to be repaired today.

Bloody Vandalism – Independence Day Weekend 2011
Andy Bordick Repainting Eagle Rock on Rte 66 in Hebron – Memorial Weekend 2011

Bloody Vandalism – Independence Day Weekend 2011

Middletown Reads – Connecticut Reads

July 2, 2011

Encouraging our Youth to Read is of Utmost Importance – The Summer Reading Programs Statewide and Here in Middletown are Most Welcome – Public Must be Vigilant to Prevent Politically Slanted Textbooks from Entering the Curricula – Some Questions About Gender

The July issue of The Chronicle (Middletown’s Community Newspaper) carries an article by Karena Garrity about a Bookmobile that will travel about the city offering used books to students. The project,  sponsored by Middletown Public Schools, is called Middletown Reads.

In addition to the Bookmobile there is a contest offering a free Kindle e-Reader to the student, in grades 6-12, who creates the best project relating to a book or books read over the summer.

The winning project will be the one that best illustrates the student’s connection to the material read. Graphic works on paper or even audio or visual material are suggested. Entries are to be submitted on opening day of the 2011-2012 school year. for more information go to this link or email Ms. Buchanan at buchanana@mps1.org.

According to The Chronicle the Bookmobile will operate on Wednesdays through August 17 driven by the principals from each of the eight elementary schools in  the city. According to Donna Marino, partnership coordinator for Middletown Public Schools; “…studies have shown that if we can keep students reading over the summer months they are less likely to slide back academically.”

Credit: Catherine Avalone - The Middletown Press

Unfortunately the web site at Middletown Reads does not yet include details about the Bookmobile schedule merely stating; “Information about the book mobile on the way!”

Connecticut Governor's Summer Reading Challenge

Middletown Reads is part of the statewide effort Connecticut Reads sponsored by the CT Department of Education and the The Connecticut State Library.

I do have a question about the statement of purpose posted at the Middletown Reads home page where is stated;

“The theme for Connecticut’s summer reading program is One World, Many Stories. Middletown has embraced this idea with the understanding that any book has the capacity to take the reader somewhere new. To this end, the recommended lists contained on these pages promote stories about different countries, cultures, races, genders, socio-economics situations.”  (emphasis added)

Huh! Promoting “stories about different…genders”. What does that mean? Last time I checked there were two genders, male and female. If this simply means stories about men and women, or boys and girls, all well and good. Just wondering though…

To illustrate the extremes to which this “gender” business can be taken is a recent report regarding a school in Sweden where teachers have eliminated “gender” from their vocabulary and school activities.

 “At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys…The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward…Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten…” 

Brave new world here folks! A more sober, but still very liberal view, also from Sweden, can be read here.

One final note about politically slanted textbooks. I can only caution vigilance towards textbooks that  examine culture, government and public service in the U.S. and other countries but subtly promote foreign political systems while disparaging the U.S.

One such book, ““Social Studies Alive! Our Community and Beyond” became the subject of controversy in the Frederick, Maryland public schools where a parent complained; The entire slant of the book is you’re getting used to the idea of government running your life…Government is setting the rules. We’re all going to live by it, and we’re all a collective society”

Source: Washington Times, June 22, 2011

Also see Middletown Press, June 30

Prominent Local Conservationist Cited for River Dumping

June 19, 2011

The Hartford Courant reports (June 15) that Richard Sweet, a past president of the Middlesex Land Trust, was cited on May 9 by CT DEP, on a complaint by Boston Road resident Al Maine, for illegal dumping of construction debris into the Coginchaug River here in Middletown. Mr. Sweet owns the Savage Arms factory site at 465 Middlefield St where the alleged dumping occurred, and another site on the same street occupied by an auto body company. He also is the steward of a 20 acre site nearby owned by Middlesex Land Trust along the Coginchaug River off of Forest St.

Also according to Hartford Courant, Richard Sweet describes the charges against him as “absolutely ridiculous”; that the debris stored on his property was swept into the Coginchaug River by the Spring freshet. The source of the debris according to news accounts is another building owned by Mr. Sweet in the city’s North End which collapsed under the weight of snow last winter; the wreckage was subsequently hauled to the Savage Arms site. Mr. Sweet has not responded to the complaint; the 30 day period for doing so expired on June 9. In response to questions Sweet said the lumber was cleaned up and “There’s no story here, It’s over.”

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, an important watchdog and steward of the Coginchaug River, is monitoring the situation according to Executive Director John Hall.


In the photo map above we see the Coginchaug River as a dark ribbon winding from lower right to upper right. At top (green arrow) is the property at 398 Boston Road where some of the debris washed ashore according to owner Al Maine. The red marker near the bottom is the location of the Savage Arms property on Middlefield Street upriver from the Boston Road property. Directly below that red marker is where the debris must have entered the river as this area is just below the Savage Mill Dam slightly to the right.

Savage Revolving Fire Arms Company (c 1860)

This is the historic building at 465 Middlefield Street owned by Richard Sweet where the river dumping allegedly ocurred.

This close up shows demolition debris sticking out of the river bank at Richard Sweet's property, 465 Middlefield Road. It does not appear that this situation occurred accidentally or overnight. Credit John Hall

Finally there is this view of the Coginchaug River as it cascades over the Savage Mill Dam just behind the property above. The falling water here provided the motive power for the factory in the mid 19th century.

Savage Mill Dam

Motorcycle and Car Collide – Washington & West St.

June 9, 2011

Officer Examines Motorcycle Wreckage

June 9, 2011; 4:00 PM. While it is not clear exactly  how this happened but it appears that a car Westbound on Washington St attempted to turn left onto West St and either struck or was struck by and oncoming motorcycle. The motorcycle was demolished and the operator was thrown to the pavement;  the car’s airbag deployed. Both drivers were taken from the scene by Hunter’s Ambulance whose quick arrival was due to the fact the ambulance station is near that intersection.

Update: Hartford Courant reports:

A 22-year-old Bristol man is in critical condition following a serious motorcycle accident on Washington Street, police said.

Lucas Espinosa was traveling east on Washington Street, Route 66, when his motorcycle collided head-on with a 1999 Pontiac Grand AM attempting to turn left onto West Street about 4 p.m., police said.

The driver of the car, Jeanette Mosier, 21, of Middletown, was taken to Middlesex Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Police said she was later released…Espinosa was taken to Hartford Hospital. Police said they did not know if Espinosa was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.”

Update June 11: Middletown Press is reporting today that Mr. Espinosa’s condition has been upgraded from critical to fair.

The Scene at Washington and West St - Middletown 4 PM June 9, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Video from the scene. Credit: CLAIRE MICHALEWICZ Middletown Press

Connecticut and Mattabesset River Paddle-June 18

June 6, 2011

Bill Yule, Naturalist at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, will be our educator on this paddle. We will stop for commentary and questions at Wilcox Island, the confluence of the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, the open water of the Boggy Meadows, the proposed site of Middletown’s kayak launch, and at a sandy beach on the Coginchaug. Bill spent many hours paddling and exploring this area as a child, so he has observed its character and changes over a number of decades.

Paddlers need to provide their own boats, life jackets, paddles, drinking water, and snacks. Advance registration is not necessary, and there is no charge for the event. You may call 860-398-3771 for more information or in case of possible cancellation due to weather.

Reposted from The Jonah Center for Earth and Art

Middletown Hard Hit by Snow: Roofs and Buildings Collapse

February 6, 2011

Photobucket

John Brush Photo

Darrell Lucas Video (Feb 2, 2011)

Reposted from Middletown Patch:

“Mike DiPiro clearly seemed to feel he was the luckiest man alive.

DiPiro co-owns an accounting firm, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, at 505 Main St. He was on the second floor when he heard something crack on the floor above. He and an employee, Chris Conley, went up to investigate.

The century-old brick building, a former school, had a gym on the third floor. DiPino and Conley got there just in time to see 2-foot thick ceiling beams bending and cracking. “I said ‘Chris! Run!’ and we grabbed our jackets and ran in front of Luce where we called 911.”

DiPiro and Conley were the only ones in the building. At around 10 a.m., as they watched firefighters string caution tape along the front of the building, they heard another crack. The third floor crumpled into a cloud of brownish dust.

“A fire guy said ‘Run!’ and we ran; we were lucky we didn’t get hit by bricks.” A fireman’s helmet fell off and was crushed in the rubble…”

Photobucket

Photobucket

The 120 year old structure was solidly built; some details of the construction including the two foot thick ceiling beams can be seen in the above photos.

John Brush Photos

Birds in the Winter

January 19, 2011

Unlike veteran field birder and blogger Brownstone Birder I don’t feel comfortable with field I.D. of many smaller birds. However, this year’s harsh Winter season has provided many occasions to view birds at close range at my feeders. I have managed to photograph birds that I have seldom, or perhaps never, seen in field and wood. Attached herein are several photographs of birds seen through my back window here in Middletown. (Note: a loss of image clarity is the inevitable result of shooting through window panes; oh, and please correct me if I have misidentified any bird) (All photos: click to enlarge)

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Carolina Wren

Song Sparrow

Mourning Dove

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Middletown Photographer Jason Neely Exhibiting at New England Emporium Starting Jan 14

January 16, 2011

Four New England Landscapes-Jason Neely

Reposted from Middletown Patch

  • Jason Neely, a Middletown photographer, is displaying his work at the New England Emporium beginning on January 14th.  The New England Landscapes series is made up of twenty photographs taken in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut–including many from Middletown.

    Jason’s work was featured in the August 2009 issue of National Geographic magazine and was also used by the band Weezer on their 2010 release “Raditude.”

    A portion of all sales will go to the Middlesex Cancer Center.

Exhibit and Dining Space at New England Emporium

Jason Neely Photographs Exhibited at New England Emporium