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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blowing Hot Air and Burning Down the Trash

Blowing Hot Air and Burning Down the Trash

By Dave Fisher, Managing Editor,, June 28, 2011
Reprinted with permission

The war for energy independence is raging at both ends of our fair state....

Watch out for bogus Chariho solicitation

Chariho superintendent Barry Ricci warns area residents to watch out for a rip-off artist who is asking for donations for the school.

Here is the warning he posted on the Chariho website:

  • "I’ve been informed that solicitations have been made on behalf of Chariho for donations for an anti-bullying curriculum. Chariho has authorized no such activity. Please refer all such matters to the Richmond Police."
  • Michele Bachmann's Story of America

    Just brew yourself a nice cup of tea and watch and learn, right after the jump:

    State Beach Passes Double in Price After Today

    South Kingston reminded me this morning that today is the last day to purchase State Beach Day and Season Passes before prices double in honor of the new fiscal year, which goes into effect Friday. If you have an out-of-state vehicle you may want to pay special attention, because season passes for you will be costing a whopping $120 this Fourth of July Weekend.  You can pick up your passes at any State Beach Facility, and they do take credit cards.

    Tilting at Windmills

    The errant knight Don Quixote is in town in Matunuck.
     - Republished by permission from South Kingston

    Man of La Mancha, the Tony® award winning musical within a play, is onstage now at Theatre By the Sea in Matunuck. The play, based on the book The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, takes place within a 16th century prison during the Spanish Inquisition.

    Top 5 Reasons to Go Native in the Garden

    Buttonbush has showy white flowers
    that attract butterflies, humming-birds
    and other pollinators. The nut-like
    seeds provide food for waterfowl and
    other birds in August.
    This article is republished by permission from our latest content sharing partner, Visit and sign up for their email updates to get more well-written news about environmental issues and causes in Rhode Island.

    By VANESSA VENTURINI/special to ecoRI News

    You’re a good Rhode Islander. Your fridge is stocked with farmers’ market goodies, you drink Rhody Fresh Milk and your go-to date night spot is Local 121 or Matunuck Oyster Bar — pronounced “Oy-stah Bahh.”

    But I would like to share with you the latest addition to what’s local in Rhode Island: Rhody Native plants.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Wind Power is Dangerous

    Breaking news! Scientists reveal new potential terrors that will be unleashed if we continue to implement wind power.

    Watch the video right after the jump:

    A Fowl Problem!

    Geese, ducks, and swans are a serious danger to the water quality in our salt ponds and freshwater lakes. This video (right after the jump) explains how people unwittingly make the ponds shores more attractive to these foul fowl.

    Tips to hosting a Green Fourth of July Cook-out

    We hope that food is locally sourced!
    Reprinted with permission from ecoRI News
    By ecoRI News staff
    With the Fourth of July fast approaching, the unofficial start of the summer cookout and picnic season has arrived. Here are some environmentally friendly ideas to help keep these outdoor gatherings simple and green:

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    It missed

    2011 MD appears as the track near the center of the picture
    Close call - but we're not dead. Yet 

    An audit that’s good news

    By Linda Felaco

    Even if the Republicans overturn the ban, I don’t intend to ever buy another incandescent bulb. Why would I? The CFLs use less electricity and last longer. They also don’t generate nearly as much waste heat as incandescents, meaning your air conditioning doesn’t have to work quite as hard.

    CCA attacks affordable housing - again

    George Wallace, 1963
    Charlestown role model?
    In the guise of attacking some state legislation that probably has no chance of passage, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance once again displayed its contempt for working families, the elderly and children.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Socially Conscious K & S Pizza Expands to Offer Fresh, Local Seafood

    Everyone's dream - pizza without guilt. And now, even more!

    Circle the wagons - again!

    Here's one more thing for the Charlestown Citizens Alliance and RI Shoreline Coalition to panic about....

    Rhode Island among the least friendly states for voting

    And the new Voter ID law just passed by the General Assembly isn't going to help our ranking....

    Michele Bachmann declares for President, invokes spirit of serial killer

    Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN), whack-job Tea Party favorite, made it official that she's running for President in 2012. She made the announcement in her birthplace, Waterloo, Iowa.

    Explaining why she picked Waterloo to announce, Bachman invoked the spirit of fellow Waterloo native John Wayne. Except John Wayne wasn't born in Waterloo, but another town more than 120 miles away.

    She apparently confused The Duke with another "John Wayne," namely John Wayne Gacy who lived in Waterloo for a time before going on to rape and butcher 33 young men and boys. If you've seen one John Wayne, you've seen them all, I guess.

    It's gonna be a looooooooong election season.

    Watch the video with Bachmann's gaffe right after the jump:

    CCA WRONG on Beach Committee

    So what else is new?

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Vampires on TV

    By Linda Felaco
    No, I’m not talking about True Blood. Not even the fiftieth showing of Twilight on Showtime....

    New York State passes marriage equality

    Rhode Island should carefully study the consequences of this action.

    from The Daily Kos

    Save the children!

    Well, this has me convinced!

    GoLocalProv announces best RI communities

    One reason why they won
    You'll never believe who got #1. Hint: it wasn't Charlestown.

    House GOP don't want us to have dark skies

    By Linda Felaco

    Now that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R–MI) has given his support, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are poised to repeal the 2007 law that will ban the sale of incandescent bulbs as of January 1, 2012. House Republicans introduced legislation to overturn the ban, which they consider to be unwarranted government intrusion in the lives of individual consumers, immediately after taking control of the US House of Representatives earlier this year, but Upton, a co-sponsor of the 2007 legislation, had not moved the issue to a vote.
    Replacing incandescent bulbs with more modern, efficient varieties that can be more easily directed where needed would of course go a long way toward our goal of preserving Charlestown’s dark skies. If Republicans are successful in overturning the ban, people will be able to continue using wasteful, light-spilling incandescent bulbs that interfere with stargazing.
    A vote on the repeal is expected to take place sometime this summer.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Help take repeat offenders off the road

    A year ago last month, 27-year old Colin Foote (right) was killed at the intersection of US One and West Beach Road by Laura Reale, a person who did not belong on the road. She ran the red light at West Beach at high speed and struck and killed Colin. Reale is a habitual bad driver with a long rap sheet for dangerous moving violations.

    For her crime, she is now serving 8 years of a 10 year sentence at the ACI, but that will not bring Colin back.

    Spearheaded by Rep. Donna Walsh, “Colin’s Law” was enacted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. Colin’s Law made it more likely that a habitual offender like Reale would be stripped of driving privileges.

    Laura Reale, Colin's killer, pleads guilty
    But over the months since, investigative reporting by Kate Bramson at the Providence Journal showed that some bad drivers were gaming the system to avoid detection and proper punishment. One gimmick that allowed Reale to avoid being taken off the road sooner was the trick of paying for tickets by mail ahead of the court date. That way, the violation is less likely to be examined and compared to the driver’s previous offenses that might trigger a suspension or worse.

    Donna Walsh introduced new legislation this year that will require any driver with three tickets within a 12 month period to appear in court, and not simply mail in the payment. This bill has already passed the House by 67-4.

    But now, the Senate version of the bill is stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and time is running out! The General Assembly is now rushing to end its session and without action on this bill in the next few days, it will die.

    PLEASEsend an e-mail to the members of the Judiciary Committee (below) and urge them to approve Senate bill 605 (2011 S-0605) to help keep driving maniacs like Laura Reale off the road

    Senate Committee on Judiciary
    Senator Michael J. McCaffrey, Chairperson,
    Senator Paul V. Jabour, Vice Chairperson,
    Senator Erin P. Lynch, Secretary
    Senator Maryellen Goodwin
    Senator Dawson Tucker Hodgson
    Senator Harold M. Metts
    Senator Donna M. Nesselbush
    Senator Rhoda E. Perry
    Senator Glenford J. Shibley
    Senator William A. Walaska

    Magnolias in Charlestown?

    By Linda Felaco

    We here in Charlestown are justifiably proud of our scenic beauty and natural landscapes. How will a changing climate affect the flowering times and types of plants we see around us? A new project announced on Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aims to answer that question.
     “Climate change is happening now, and it’s beginning to affect the things we care about, such as our treasured gardens, parks and natural landscapes,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco in a press release. “This new partnership provides a special opportunity for NOAA to connect with gardeners and communities across the nation to help everyone better understand what changes in local climate mean for the plants, trees and landscaped areas around them.”
    Already, at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Director Paul Redman said in the press release that researchers have observed that “plants are flowering earlier on average 1 day per decade over the last 150 years.” And according to NOAA, not only are some plants blooming earlier, but others are migrating from their traditional growing and planting zones. In fact, planting zones have changed in the past 10 years, and if the trend continues, plants normally grown in the south will start to be seen here up north.
    The project uses NOAA climate data to create maps showing how changes in average annual minimum temperatures affect which plants grow best where, information that can help gardeners, landscapers, and farmers. The goal is to develop a public clearinghouse for information about climate change and adaptation—information that is vital to the local economy, as our number one industry is turf and landscaping plants.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Are we all gonna die Monday night?

    Well, no. At 9:30 PM on Monday night, an asteroid named 2011 MD, approximately 60 feet wide, will pass the earth at a distance of about 7500 miles. It should be visible with a small telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

    The object was only detected on Wednesday. While there is no chance of it hitting earth, it will sling-shot around our planet at a height where it could hit or disrupt our satellites in high-earth orbit, such as our communications, weather and GPS satellites.

    This will be the second close encounter this year so far. Earlier this year, a similar sized object came within 3500 miles of hitting the earth.

    Once departed, now extradited

    By Linda Felaco

    James “Whitey” Bulger, inspiration for the character of Frank Costello in the Martin Scorcese film The Departed and, along with his brother William, the Showtime series (filmed all over Rhode Island) Brotherhood, is en route to Boston after 16 years on the run to face charges including 19 murders. Bulger, who moved to the top of the FBI’s most wanted list after the assassination of Osama bin Laden earlier this year, is perhaps best known in Rhode Island for having displaced the Patriarca family as the leading New England crime family by either killing or informing to the FBI on high-ranking members.
    Rembrandt's "Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee:
    Part of the Gardner Museum loot
    According to ABC News, it appears that Bulger has been “hiding in plain sight” in an apartment on the Santa Monica pier since shortly after his disappearance in 1995. In response to an anonymous tip, the FBI used a ruse to lure him out of the apartment and arrested him without incident Wednesday night. Bulger is expected to be arraigned in the federal courthouse in Boston at 4 p.m. today. For security reasons, the FBI isn’t providing any details about the anonymous tipster, nor will they say one way or the other whether that person will receive the $2 million reward the FBI had offered for information leading to Bulger’s arrest.
    Speculation swirls that Bulger’s arrest may finally solve the biggest art heist in U.S. history, the 1990 theft from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of artworks valued at a total of $500 million. Although no evidence links Bulger directly to the crime, it’s believed that as the leading crime figure in Boston at the time, the theft could not have been carried out without his knowledge.

    Charlestown gets rated in annual ranking of cities and towns is releasing its annual rating of Rhode Island cities and towns this week. Each day, they are printing several of their muncipal reviews, starting last and marching to first place.

    Charlestown wasn't in the bottom third, but we weren't in the top third, either.


    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Great labor video - The End of the American Dream?

    Here's a three and a half minute crash course in what went wrong with the American Dream, how the middle class got screwed and what you can do about it.

    Supremes to RI: Drown Already

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that power plants can’t be sued to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions on the grounds that the emissions threaten society with the effects of global warming, which include rising sea levels, an issue of obvious concern to the Ocean State. The original case was filed in 2004 by several states, including Rhode Island and our New England neighbors Connecticut and Vermont, and conservation organizations against five utility companies. An appellate court had ruled that the pollutants were indeed a nuisance to society, but the Supreme Court has now overturned that decision, once again siding with big business against the citizenry.
    - Linda Felaco

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Planning Commission does NOT like sandwiches

    On this rainy, dreary night I was in the right mood to watch the Planning Commission meeting on Clerkbase. The version that was up tonight appeared to be a truncated version because it skipped any discussion of either the wind ordinance or light ordinance even though both were listed on the agenda. Planning Commissar Ruth Platner made passing reference to these issues as matters that would be taken up at a different time or venue.

    But at the top of the portion that was on Clerkbase was what was, to me, the highlight: the Planning Commission really doesn't like Dave's Coffee's "pushing the envelop" of their approved road signage.

    Commissioner Kate Waterman was positively irate when she reported that Dave's had TWO sandwich boards posted at their Route One site (next to Galapagos), when they are only supposed to have one. And then there's that damned truck! It made me feel proud to be a Charlestown taxpayer to see these dedicated public servants devote so much energy to stomping down these scofflaws.

    Living in the City Makes You Crazy. Literally.

    Those of us who live in Charlestown tend to like the rural environs and slower pace of life here. Research shows that rural living is actually better for your mental health. A study published today in the journal Nature takes a look inside the brain to try to figure out why. People who live in rural areas had less activity in certain brain regions when they were exposed to “social stress,” and the scientists think this may lower their risk of mental illness. (Greg Miller, a reporter for the journal Science, provides a layman’s explanation of the research on Science’s online daily news site.) Both currently living in a city and having grown up in one seemed to cause changes in the way the brain handles social stress, providing yet more proof (as if we needed it!) that Charlestown is a great place to raise your kids.
    - Linda Felaco

    Got stuff? Dems want it.

    The "It's not the end of the world" tag sale was such a success (netting almost $1000) that the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee is planning to do another sale at the end of the summer.

    If you were among the many who came to the May tag sale, we had a lot of choice stuff for sale at incredible bargain prices - among the highlights was an entire table of very nice jewelry and Henry's Walsh's famous duck plucker. After donating the duck plucker for at least 30 straight years, Henry and the rest of us were shocked when somebody (a) actually knew what it was on first sight and (b) actually bought it.

    If you have stuff lying around your house, in your basement or attic, or in your garage that is in good condition and saleable - we want it. Please box it or bag it, if appropriate or if its furniture or appliances, leave it as is, and contact CDTC Treasurer Frank Glista  at 364-3723.

    Six Things To Do in Charlestown - June 22 through June 29

    Here is our list of recommended activities for the next week. Enjoy!

    • Be sure to visit the beach!
    • On Thursday at 7 pm the town is hosting an information session at the Meteorological (Met) Tower in Ninigret Park. This session will focus on the data collected by the tower and what it means for the prospects for wind energy generation in the area. There will be ample time for questions. The Met tower can best be reached by entering Ninigret Park at the Senior/Community Center entrance.
    • Last week's first Friday Farmers' Market at the Cross Mills Library was nearly rained out. Make up for that, if you can, by attending this week from 9 am until noon.
    • At the Friday Farmers' Market members of the Charlestown Historical Society will be showing off the start of construction of the new Museum. Check that out and leave your generous donation behind!
    • Of course, the Saturday Cross Mills Farmers' Market is still running, down the road across from the new fire station. This is a good choice for people who cannot attend the Friday market. Support our local farmers!
    • On Sunday, June 26, we will have the first concert in the new Ninigret Park Summer Concert series, starting at 5:30. Please come out for this to help our town make this a success and make the sponsors feel good about their financial support. Bring chairs or a blanket and a picnic basket if you like for this fun event.
    As usual, more details such as exact location are available in our Events Calendar.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Trees, Lights, and “DLYKLH”: A Contrarian View

    By Linda Felaco

    My husband and I moved to Charlestown the year before last, and we really love it here. Buying a house here was the best move we ever could have made at this point in our lives. But some things puzzle me about the town’s approach to certain types of issues. From reading Progressive Charlestown, I’ve learned that the town is facing a state mandate to provide affordable housing, just when property values and therefore tax revenues are down. In the debate about the beach bathrooms, there were those who said we couldn’t even afford to build them. That’s an issue of basic sanitation, what makes outbreaks of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, etc., a thing of the past. Not exactly a luxury item.
    So why are we dithering about trees, lights, and Driving Like Your Kids Live Here? I realize the horse has already left the barn on the tree ordinance, but, if I understand it correctly, invasive species like Japanese knotweed qualify as “trees” once they grow to 4.5 feet in height and 2 inches in diameter, meaning they can’t be cut down. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is nuts. I think we all have reason to be glad there’s no tree warden to enforce this.

    Light, Wind….and Trees?

    This week, the Town Council and the Planning Commission will once again take up two red-hot issues – light pollution and wind turbines. Go to Clerkbase for the agendas.

    On Wednesday, June 22nd, the Planning Commission will look at another draft of the proposed anti-lighting ordinance. This June 9th draft is only a little over five pages long. It adds the missing enforcement component that prompted my earlier criticism. The building inspector will be responsible for enforcement of the ordinance, although the ordinance is still vague about how that will be done. E.g. “[the building inspector] shall have the ability to assign penalties for non-compliance.”

    It also seems to me that the specifications for new lighting are described in more practical and understandable terms. The grand-father period for existing lighting is set at 10 years from enactment.

    The next day, Thursday, June 23rd, the Town Council holds a special meeting on site at Ninigret Park at the location for the meteorological testing tower for the proposed municipal wind turbine project – the one that the Town Council has already effectively killed.

    This little session is part of the town’s continuing charade of pretending to support alternative energy while effectively making sure that wind energy projects in town will never happen, The town’s moratorium on wind energy projects has already caused the town to lose federal funding to build the municipal turbines - and they are just not going to be built without that funding.

    The town has already ruled out commercial wind turbines. Only turbines for the use on an owner’s property (no extra energy to pump into the grid) are allowed. They must be less than 200 feet high and under 100 kV with a 3 to 1 setback. So if you want to build a 100 foot high turbine, it must be at least 300 feet from your property line in all directions (requiring a minimum of just over 2 acres). A 200 foot turbine would require 600 feet clearance in every direction, a minimum of 9.5 acres square.

    And you must meet every other specification, including proof that the turbine will not bother your neighbors with noise, flicker or who know what else.

    Instead of this farce, I have challenged the Council to ban all turbines outright if they really and truly believe all the anti-wind fringe propaganda about the dangers of wind.

    Which brings me to trees. First, a pop quiz:
    1. Worldwide, how many neighbors and bystanders have been killed by falling wind turbines, including any debris?
    2. How many people, just in the United States, have been killed by trees knocked over in storms?

    Hail the official start of summer

    Solstice over Stonehenge
    Today is the day of the June or Summer Solstice, the official start of the summer season. This is a day that held significant religious significance in most of Europe, and especially in Ireland, Scandinavia and the British Isles, the places where the majority of Charlestown residents trace their lineage.

    The Druids and pre-Druid people many centuries before them, celebrated the solstice at Stonehenge and other prehistoric sites in Europe. The especially fine alignment of Stonehenge's standing stones marks the summer solstice more clearly than any other calendar event.

    Midsummer bonfire in Finland
    Many European cultures called the day of the solstice Midsummer or Midsummer's Eve and celebrated it with bonfires to ward off evil spirits. The early Christian church tried to discourage, if not ban, midsummer celebrations, but eventually coopted the day as the feast of St. John the Baptist.

    But for us here in Charlestown, if you want to celebrate Midsummer right, you'll have to hop onto Amtrak and make the trip to New York, where the Swedish community puts on an annual celebration the traditional way, with a bonfire, midsummer pole and a Swedish smörgåsbord of herring, new potatoes, and other dishes.

    I'll celebrate the solstice through another tradition - by tending my garden.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Small Bites

    Here are some short topics, many about food, to keep you up to date.

    • I don't know how I missed it but The Bakery (at the corner of Charlestown Beach Road and Matunuck Schoolhouse Road) now has pizzas in addition to their fantastic breakfast treats and breads. They are doing this on Saturdays and Sundays and they're staying open a little later, through lunch. You can eat it there but they tell me it re-heats well if you want to pick it up for dinner. I plan to get by there soon to try it.
    • The Breachway Grill (across the street from The Bakery) is now serving Bar-B-Q. At least they were this weekend and it was fantastic, with large portions with enough for lunch the day.
    • But that won't diminish my enjoyment of Kit Kat BBQ in Shannock. Check it out on a weekend, with a tour of the beautiful village and Horseshoe Falls, when you get a chance. They recently had a great article in the local paper.
    • Many of you may have seen this article comparing fertilizer runoff to the BP oil well disaster. Please read that as signifying the problem of fertilizer runoff rather than diminishing the environmental issues of the BP oil well spill. The fertilizer that you put on your yard does not all get used there, sometimes little of it does. With our porous soils it washes away, on the surface or into the ground water which flows underground into our ponds. There it stimulates the growth of algae which use up the oxygen in the water when they die and kills life in both our salt-water and fresh-water ponds. Save The Bay has a booklet online giving ways to make your backyard Bay(or Pond)-Friendly.
    On a more international note...
    • I roll my eyes at the branding of Socialist Medicine hysterics in the USA. Well in Britain there is a parallel label spelling doom for any politician tagged with it - "American-style medicine". While some of our politicians hold out the British system for medical delivery as some sort of bogeyman it seems that the British themselves are happy with it, thank you very much, at least compared with the prospect of American-style nightmare medicine that best-serves the rich. Details here.
    One last thing, I hope it makes your day if you're the type who drives up to Whole Foods to get some Humboldt Fog cheese.

    Author: Tom Ferrio

    OMG PD

    This morning we continue our entertaining excerpts from the South Kingston series called OMG PD.

    The entire article can be read here. It includes other interesting tidbits, like the story of the woman who left the service station upset, before her car was lowered from the jack.

    If the woman in our excerpt today lived in Charlestown I feel certain she would have voted against the new beach facilities. There is no truth in the rumor that her first name is Ann; Ann would have walked home to use her own facilities.

    When you gotta go …
    A 30-year-old Massachusetts woman was cited for urinating in the bushes near a McDonalds drive-thru in Middletown. The car she was in left McDonalds and continued to Portsmouth before officers tracked it down. When confronted, she admitted to using the bushes rather than the bathroom. She was issued a municipal citation for disorderly conduct-urinating on public property.
    Excerpt republished with permission from South Kingston

    Lisa DiBello: Time to Go?

    Time to choose:

    Serve the town or Sue the town....

    The Charlestown of the Future?

    A Guest Post by Ann Onymous

    I guess I’ve been reading too much about open space lately, because last night I had the strangest dream. It was the year 2024, and the last students from Charlestown were about to graduate from Chariho High. Ruth Platner and Cliff Vanover, having finally achieved their lifelong dream of eliminating the town’s school fees, were the graduation speakers. Their speech extolled the virtues of exploring the world and seeing new places. Following the ceremony, they were on hand with lots of glossy brochures for colleges in Australia to try to ensure that the graduates would be far away from Charlestown if they decided (or didn’t decide but it happened anyway) to breed.
    Rush hour on Route Two (circa 2024)
    After Ruth’s landslide reelection to the Planning Commission in 2012 (which was then renamed the Family Planning Commission), she and Cliff started putting in place their master plan for keeping residents of Charlestown from breeding through a combination of confiscatory taxes on additional children and an ordinance capping the town’s population at 2012 levels, meaning no one could give birth or adopt a child unless someone else in town moved away or died. (New residents had to show medical records indicating surgical sterilization.)

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Keeping track of local birds

    Our stray ptarmigan visitor
    Despite my penchant for political discussion - and the fact that Cathy and I have three companion kitty cats, none of them declawed then then they're indoor cats - I love birds.

    We feed them and worry over them. I regularly chase off a local cat - jet black, sleek and fast, I can't tell whether he's feral or a neighbor's cat. Doesn't matter because he stawks our feeders, and I won't have that. The raptors, on the other hand, are part of the cycle of life and flock in abundance in our trees, hoping for a slow, plump mourning dove.
    When I'm working in my home office, it's hard not to be distracted by the birds, especially in the spring and fall when there's no leave cover. I have counted more than 70 species at our feeders and in the woods. 
    The oddest sighting was that of a stray ptarmigan, an arctic bird, who was clearly very far from home. He stuck around for three days before moving on. I managed to catch a good photo of him and, when I enlarged the snap, I could see several bands attached to his leg.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Clarence Clemons dies at age 69

    Media reports tonight that Clarence Clemons, legendary saxaphonist who helped propel Bruce Springsteen to stardom, has died at his Florida home. He was 69 years old.

    Clemons had suffered a stroke one week ago.

    It's hard to listen to Springsteen's great early music without appreciating how good Clemons was, and how Springsteen's life might have been very different had Clemons not starting playing with him in 1971. His music will live on.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Wanted: spies and surveillance equipment

    Another observation from Wednesday’s Town Council meeting: we really don’t have adequate resources in place to properly track the movements and activities of Town Council members.

    There was hardly an agenda item where Council member Lisa DiBello didn’t cite some anonymous source who reported to her on some other Council member’s suspicious activity. Council member Gregg Avedisian countered that he had his sources, too, who ratted Lisa out to him. And Council President Tom Gentz had a couple of reports he wanted to air out, too.

    Council members Marge Frank and Dan Slattery apparently don't have such resources available to them, or at least they didn’t mention that they did.

    Protecting Charlestown's dark sky

    One of the few non-controversial portions of Wednesday's Town Council meeting was a brief presentation by Francine Jackson, director of the Frosty Drew Observatory, about the value of Charlestown's dark sky to the life and economy of the town.

    Using a small number of slides to illustrate her point, Ms. Jackson noted Charlestown's distinction as having perhaps the darkest patch of sky of anywhere along the eastern seaboard. The Frosty Drew Observatory (of which I am a proud member) in Ninigret Park attracts tourists as well as visitors to festivals in the park. People have relocated to Charlestown because of our dark skies.

    I remember the first weeks after Cathy and I moved here, sitting on our deck and watching the meteors flash by, seeing the arc of the Milky Way and I remember thinking that I could see more stars in the sky than any other place I've been, except maybe Montana.

    Council members duke it out at Wednesday meeting

    The Charlestown Town Council hasn’t been a model of good conduct for a very long time, though Council President Tom Gentz has struggled hard to at least maintain what he describes as “decorum.”

    But the June 15th meeting, from the standpoint of decorum, was a bad meeting where Council members sparred, and sometimes threw some hard shots, almost from the opening bell. It got ugly, but at least there weren’t any assault arrests.

    Council member Lisa DiBello clearly came looking for a fight and started early during “Council Member Comments.” Breaching the usual protocol of keeping executive session matters confidential, DiBello noted the Council had conducted Town Administrator William DiLibero’s annual performance review, and that DiLibero had brought his lawyer with him.

    “Is the town going to be paying for her time?” DiBello demanded to know. She said she asked because she noted he was one of the targets of DiBello’s legal actions against the town and that DiLibero, along with five other present and former town officials, had asked the town to pay for private counsel.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Hints for Successful Composting

    Part 2 of a two-part series. Read part 1 here.

    OK, I’ve persuaded you that you should compost, but how do you start? Well, if you’re anything like me, the more convenient something is to do, the more likely you’ll do it consistently. So spend a few minutes strategizing the simplest way to fit it into your routines. 

    Tomato seedling plants purchased on May 6 from Moonstone Gardens 
    at Earth Care Farm and planted with compost.