West Hartford Has Some Tasty Balls 

  By Cami Beiter ~~~~~ When I get a hankerin’ for something tasty, I’ll often go to great lengths to get it. I’ll squeeze in an “errand” 15 miles out of the way to taste the best sub in town, bribe a kid or friend to accompany me to satisfy my disgusting coffee addiction or chicken burrito fetish.  I’ve perfected the art of scheduled to-do’s around my favorite geographical must-have-foodies. Here’s my newest “addiction:” On Mother’s Day, my family and I enjoyed an early dinner on Farmington Ave. in West Hartford.  It was a beautiful day; people walking about, sun was shining, shaded outdoor dining.  After our meal, I stumbled upon my latest must-stop-when-in-West-Hartford-food-pitstop.  It’s a small shop called, Tea Break, a well lit, clean, modern place located at 944 Farmington Ave. This is not your ordinary tea house. It serves the trendy new Taiwanese "Bubble Tea." Curious to try it out, I ordered a Strawberry Ice Blended with Lychee (clear tropical fruit tastes like a gummy bear) De CoCo.  I had them add some bubble balls, marble-sized pearls of chewy tapioca,  for good measure. What the hell, balls through a straw is something I’ve Read more...

Relay For Life Holds Deep Meaning

By Tim Jensen ~~~~~~ In the summer of 2008, I was on top of the world. I had two wonderful children, was editor-in-chief of my hometown newspaper, was coaching high school ice hockey and had just recorded the third hole-in-one of my life (on three different golf courses, in three different decades). Suddenly, in September of that year, almost everything changed. I had been experiencing increasing pain in my left leg throughout the summer, and in typical guy fashion, waited about six weeks before deciding to see a doctor. While awaiting the test results, I was laid off from my job. A week later came the diagnosis: a form of cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in my left femur. In layman’s terms, cancer had eroded away some of my left thighbone. The first step was surgery to attach more than a foot of stabilizing stainless steel to the bone. I am, to say the least, an extremely difficult patient, and Dr. Kevin Raskin and the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston did a phenomenal job during my eight-day stay there. A few days after returning home, I began suffering excruciating pain in the leg and called East Windsor Ambulance. Within an hour of arrival at Baystate Read more...

Teaching Kids That Sacrifice Is The Real Meaning of Memorial Day

  By Cami Beiter ~~~~~ As I sit thinking about Memorial Day and its meaning, I continue to think about it’s perception on the younger generation.  If we don’t emphasize and stress the importance of the sacrifices our service members have made (or making), how will they come to appreciate the luxury of their freedom? Reminding them to thank a soldier or thinking about grandpa and his war time duty, isn’t enough.  To them, it’s like telling them to clean their room.  If they aren’t truly vested with a clear understanding, they won’t appreciate the message.  What they need to understand is sacrifice, something we typically think nothing of on any given day. But talk to a veteran or a family affected by war and you will find a story. During WWII, my grandfather was a U.S. Army Paratrooper serving in Europe and member of the Office Of Strategic Services (O.S.S).  For nearly four years, he had virtually no written communication with my grandmother.  She would frequently receive a typed letter from a war office in Washington D.C., saying he was alive but whereabouts classified. My father missed my brother’s first birthday while on his first tour in Vietnam.  Read more...

Memorial Day As A Patriotic Party for Dead Soldiers? Or Can We Make It More?

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel ~~~~~~~ It's always surprising to me that Memorial Day is usually a big party instead of a solemn day of remembrance for the American soldiers who have died defending our freedom and freedoms of other peoples. I suppose we could say those men and women died for our right to slap a steak on the grill and we should show our appreciation by doing so. By all means, I say we should celebrate their lives with patriotism and the American way. But since visiting other countries and learning about their customs it occurs to me that I, myself, should make more of an effort to really honor the day in the way it was intended. "Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971," informs the History Channel. We closed shops and schools and met to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. We didn't go out to buy  mattresses at rock-bottom-prices.  So perhaps to assuage my own guilt over not taking the day seriously enough in the past, I am passing these bits of info along. And myself looking to teach my kids a bit of meaning behind the day off of school. Here's a few things you Read more...

If Cinderella had been a 40-year-old divorced mother of four….

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel ~~~~~~~~~ “A Ball? A Benefit Ball!... Of course I want to go to a Ball!” Count me in for a social soiree anytime. And even better, help support a friend. Just a few minor details to take care of. Who will take child #1 to dance? Phone call to fellow dance mom.  “Help?” How will #2 get to the baseball game? Call ex-husband.  “Help?” Okay, check, now onto the next thing. A doctor’s appointment. An errand to run. No problem, I got this. Look lots of time. Now, to the dress. It’s a conservative crowd. Cancel out most options as winter or too boho and I’m left with the red dress. Maybe not that one, it stands out in a crowd. Quick, two hours to go and I need a fairy godmother. Call fashionable friend with lots of clothes and jewels. “Help?” Fashionable friend is on the case but has lent most dresses to working friend, who is not at home but after panicky phone call has generously allowed us to enter home and expansive closet to attack dresses with abandon. First must pass confused teenage son of working friend who stares at the two car parade pulling into the driveway and women on the move rushing into house past over-friendly Read more...

Recollections on Mother’s Day

By Tim Jensen My mom is 80 and a cancer survivor, just like me. She is able to laugh at herself, which makes this story even funnier. When I was virtually immobile at my home after surgery shortly after my diagnosis, she and my dad would call to see if I needed anything. One day I said I was short on groceries, and she asked if there was anything else. I said, "Yeah, Dad said I could borrow some of his DVDs because I'm totally bored." Later, they dropped off a bag of items, then she called me that night to check on me. I told her, "Thanks for the groceries, but you didn't bring the DVDs." She replied, "Yes I did, they're on your kitchen counter." Looking there, I noticed a large pile of my father's underwear and began laughing hysterically. Apparently, at the time she didn't know what DVDs were, so she assumed I meant BVDs. Think about it - even if BVDs is what I needed, would you really bring someone's used pairs? Only a Mom can get away with that! Love you Mom! Read more...

A Rancher’s Lessons Teach True Grit

By Cami Beiter ~ James Lincoln Wood was known by many names. “Jimmy” by close acquaintances. “Jim” by fellow ranchers, large equipment retailers and feed store owners.  “Mr. Wood” by the many hispanic migrant workers he housed and employed.  “Jimmy Lincoln”...only to the ladies or childhood friends did he hesitantly permit such reference.   As a young girl, I heard people refer to him by all his various monikers.  I thought I detected a hint of hatred, a loathing...even jealousy when his name was said but also a level of respect and admiration, mixed with a healthy serving of fear.  Jim Wood was a successful rancher, owning thousands of acres in the fertile Salinas Valley.   For many years, my mother dated Jim.  He almost became my stepfather.  I’m glad he didn’t, for my life would have been very different.  It would have taken me away from the ocean, my friends, my school.  Still, for years many of my adolescent weekends were spent on his ranch...riding horses, working, complaining.  In order to make the transition (and reality) of the weekly sacrifice more bearable, my mother would often treat me to McDonald’s before the long and winding drive Read more...

Evolution Of The Butt

By Cami Beiter - As a teenager, I coveted the occasional cigarette with a select few, a very small circle. Most of my friends played sports. If our dirty little secret (and occasional habit) were discovered, coaches and parents, would have something say about it. We snuck a drag here and there...whether it was at a forbidden kegger, the late night concert or sitting on a friend’s deck after school. My high school had a designated smoking section. I’m not sure how it worked, or was monitored. I can’t imagine sending a note into school: “My child has permission to smoke in the designated area, stink like an ashtray and blow smoke rings with fellow classmates.” Those who frequented the smoking section were forever deemed a, “bleacher creature.” My friends considered it social suicide to be seen on that area of campus. Dudes sported Ozzy Osbourne T’s with ripped sleeves, big hair, acid washed jeans...while other creatures of the bleachers, the fashion requirement was black, black and more black. If my friends and I wanted to sneak a drag, we did what most girls did...smoked in the girls bathroom. We walked in, dead-bolted the lock to the main door, and lit up. God, Read more...

How To Kill A Spider

"Is that a spider!?" I interrupted my conversation with Brady to yell and point from the comfort of the couch. Glowing in the light from the recessed ceiling lamp, a thin eight-legged intruder dangled. After quickly blowing at it (what did I hope to accomplish, except that it curled up it's legs and swung at me) I ran to the other room. "Keep an eye on it!" I yelled to Brady. I spotted the vacuum but my other son spotted the fake rifle sitting next to it and laughed. "Whaddya gonna do Mom? Shoot it?" "No," I rolled my eyes. "I'm gonna suck it!" So, in honor of the spider who's life I had to snuff out with the long end of the vacuum cleaner, I give you last year's lovable spider column "Miss Muffet and Me" just in case you missed it the first time around. By Wendy Pierman Mitzel 4/9/13 The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and last night I heard it: “MOM! There’s a spider in the bathroom! Come quick, kill it.” If I was the character Fern in the classic “Charlotte's Web,” poor Charlotte wouldn’t have had enough time to finish the “SOME PIG” message before I took a shoe to her. I am not a fan of the spider species. Just writing about it makes Read more...
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