December 2009 Archives

New Year's Eve Driving Precautions

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Forwarded by Mark Coutreau, Concord Fire Chief and Emergency Director

Potential Winter Storm Could Make Driving Conditions Difficult

20997379.thb.jpgWith the uncertainty surrounding the timing and types of precipitation we can expect over the long holiday weekend, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) recommends that everyone take extra precautions if they must travel beginning on New Year's Eve. The potential statewide winter storm is expected to have an adverse impact on travel throughout the region.

• Beginning Thursday evening, it is recommended that those traveling to evening holiday festivities take Public Transportation.
• Continue to monitor the weather through the Media, as conditions may change.
• During this time of year you should always travel with at least a half-tank of fuel in your vehicle.
• Avoid driving during the height of the storm, if possible, allowing those treating and plowing the roads to safely do their jobs.
• If you must be on the road, leave plenty of time for your trip, drive slowly, and allow extra room between yourself and others on the road.
20997496.thb.jpg• Even when the snowfall subsides, blowing snow can continue to make visibility difficult.
• As with every New Year's Eve, regardless of the driving conditions, drive defensively and take extra precautions if you must be on the road.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to

Louisa May Alcott on PBS' "American Masters"

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36911946.thb.jpgFilled with all things 19th century Concord, the current episode of Public Television's "American Masters" focuses on Louisa May Alcott.

Starring Elizabeth Marvel and featuring Jane Alexander, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women tells the story of this remarkable woman's quest to rescue her family from poverty and to find wealth, fame, and happiness for herself.

Below is the broadcast schedule as listed on

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

Tuesday  December 29  2:30 PM  WGBH World
Tuesday  December 29  7:30 PM  WGBH World
Wednesday  December 30  12:30 AM  WGBH World
Wednesday  December 30  3:00 AM  WGBH 44
Wednesday  December 30  3:00 AM  WGBX-DT
Saturday  January 2  3:00 PM  WGBH 44
Saturday  January 2  3:00 PM  WGBX-DT
Sunday  January 3  3:00 PM  WGBH 2
Sunday  January 3  3:00 PM  WGBH HD
Sunday  January 3  3:00 PM  WGBH-DT
Sunday  January 3  7:30 PM  WGBH 44
Sunday  January 3  7:30 PM  WGBX-DT

Friday Flicks at Fowler: Around the World Starting January 22

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Friday Flicks at Fowler, the popular winter film series at the West Concord branch library, continues its tradition of presenting local cinema between January and March, starting January 22.
mirren.jpgThis year's films are from six countries on five continents. The films include:
  • January 22, 7 p.m.  Age of Consent (Australia) 1969. Helen Mirren's first feature film.  Rated R. (photo at right)
  • January 29, 7 p.m.  The Red Violin (Canada-Italy) 1998. Music, mystery, passion, plot twists. Rated R.
  • February 19, 7 p.m.  Les Compères (France) 1984. A light-hearted treat. Rated PG .
  • February 26, 7 p.m. Whisky (Uruguay) 2004. Cannes award-winner. Not Rated.
  • March 12, 7 p.m. Together (China-South Korea) 2002. Outstanding musical score. Rated PG.
  • March 26, 7:30 p.m.  After Life (Japan) 1998 "What was the best moment of your life?" Not Rated.
The Loring N. Fowler Branch Library is at 1322 Main Street, Concord. Friday Flicks at Fowler are free and sponsored by the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library,

Mark T. Wendell Tea Company Leaves W. Concord

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By Hartley E. Johnson for the Johnson family and the Mark T. Wendell Tea Company staff

I am sure many of you have heard, but I wanted to pass the word along to those who may not have known.

NavigationBanner_217_75.jpgTo our Concord neighbors and customers: After 32 years in West Concord, The Mark T. Wendell Tea Company has lost its lease at 50 Beharrell Street and has relocated a few miles down the road to Acton.

As one of the oldest continuously operated tea importing firms in the United States, this is another step in our storied history. Founded in 1904 during the era of tea importing Clipper Ships, we moved from the Boston waterfront in 1977 and set up shop in the old warehouse structure at the end of Beharrell Street for the past three decades.

We are saddened to leave the charm and friendly faces of West Concord behind, but our new location has proven to be a significant upgrade to our business operations. Our new address is 14-A Craig Road, Acton. Our new phone number is (978) 635-9200. We are located near Route 2, just off School Street, at the end of Lawsbrook Road. It is only 2 miles down the road from Beharrell Street.

As we have done for many years, customers are welcome to stop by and purchase products directly from us. All of our products can be purchased with a special walk in customer discount at our Acton offices. For further information, please visit our website, We look forward to seeing all local tea lovers at our new location. Thank you for your support.

Photo: Courtesy of Mark T Wendell Tea

This is Our 200th Post!

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This is it!  Almost 11 months have passed since we began, and we've had 200 posts.  Post #100 (which we didn't notice had gone by) was on July 17th.  Not that this one is much of a post...

benerside.jpgDid you catch the news stories yesterday reporting that the now-famous White House veggie garden is utilizing hoop houses to extend the growing/harvesting season? We're way ahead of you Beltway guys!  See a report here:

At right and below is the conduit-bender my husband created to bend the hoops for the low tunnels, which I said yesterday I'd photograph and post (click on either to see an enlarged version launch in a separate window).  There are commercial pipe-benders that electricians use on this type of conduit, but they create angles.  Anything but a rounded shape would cause wear (and eventually tear) on the plastic and floating row cover, so a smooth hoop is desired. 

We found a seedsman offering a bending machine for low tunnels of a 4' width, but it cost around $100, including shipping.  Another for a different width bed for another $100. We constructed this one from used 3/4" plywood and about $50 worth of off-the-shelf hardware store fittings ("tarp rope hooks" and screws from Concord Lumber).  If we wanted to make hoops for a different width bed, the hooks could be re-set and re-used without further cash outlay.

To use: align the bottom of the 10' length of conduit to a line at the bottom left of the bender (not in photo). Insert the right edge of the pipe into the loop of the first hook on the left, bending just a little to the right.  That will allow the next hook to be aligned with, followed by a small bend... next hook, another bend bend.  This actually can be done in just 3-4 smooth movements, covering all 17 hooks in about 30-60 seconds.

benderangle.jpg  Photos: ©2009 Deborah Bier

Greenhouse Update: We had Babies!

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lowtunnelsside.jpgFrom the looks of things, our solar greenhouse whelped a litter of young! Three babies to be exact, and they're having a fine time out on our front lawn as you can see from the photos here (click on any of these images to see a larger version launch in a separate window).

As you may remember back on December 6, I posted an outdoor winter growing update following our first snow -- 4" of somewhat wet stuff (see it here:  It was a real pain to be cleaning up after the snow-crushed wire wickets that we had used to hold up the floating row cover. The plants were damaged by the weight of the snow and at the points of injury became frost-burned.

At that point, I realized clearly it was not acceptable to use such dinky wire supports. But did we do anything about it? NO!  The next snow came and not only was it deeper, but it rained immediately afterwards, and it became veeeery heavy. More injury, more frosted plants.  At the time I cleared the sopping wet snow from one off the three beds in front of the house (never mind the two covered ones behind!) and was so tired and sopping wet that I quit. It wasn't until yesterday that we created the stronger solution that you see pictured here -- often referred to as "low tunnels" (a greenhouse or hoophouse being called a "high tunnel")lowtunnelsfront.jpg

So, if you are thinking of growing vegetables outdoors in winter, please raise your right hand, placing your left on the religious book of your choice.  Repeat after me: "I swear to never use dinky wire supports during snow season." If you can't promise this, don't bother trying winter gardening in a snowy place: you will end up with the same damaged plants we did. 

Here's what we built (and we owe this mainly to Eliot Coleman, author of

The Winter Harvest Handbook

and other amazingly helpful titles). Using a pipe bender my husband constructed just for the occasion (it's dark out now; I will get a photo of that tomorrow), he bent 10' lengths of electrical conduit to fit across our 4' beds.  Inserted about 9-12" in the ground, these formed the hoops you see here. Next came the yellow rope wound around and stretched across the center top of each hoop to prevent in-between sagging. Then the floating row cover, and on top of that the layer of clear plastic sheeting. These were both weighted down by lengths of rebar and rocks when we ran out of rebar. (I'm afraid to admit that tiny festive holiday lights came next, but after the photos here were taken!)

lowtunnelsdiag.jpgBy the way: I used the bed cleared of the second snow and the beds uncleared as an experiment. Would the insulation value of the snow outweigh the crush damage of that same snow? After uncovering all three beds (including digging out the snow-covered ones), I can state that the crushing by the heavy snow was more injurious to the plants. The bed that was covered only by a layer of floating row cover showed less injury, even when comparing the same species of plants that had been sowed at the same time. Perhaps had it not rained immediately following that last snow the story might have  been different.

Now: onward to overnight temperatures in the low teens and single digits! (Photos below are of the plants following our second crushing snow; I fully exposed them only to construct the low tunnels you see here.)

Photos: © 2009 Deborah Bier

firstsnowbothbeds.jpgNow that we've had our first snow (4", and following record high temps around 70 just two days prior!), there's a lot of curiosity about what's growing outside in our gardens.  I pulled off the floating row cover today following last night's snow, and the photos we took during that operation give a great view of the front lawn vegetable beds. 

The reason for removing the row cover comes with an admission of stupidity: I knew better than to use little dinky wire hoops to hold up the row cover. I knew better because the greatest pundit of winter gardening in New England, Eliot Cowen, insists that one should use something like electrical conduit instead for this very reason.  But I allowed myself to be talked into the little dinky wire set-up, and the wires either fell over and partly collapsed in the snow load.  Mea culpa! Let's hope we can get a better alternative together before REAL snow comes -- this was only 4", and it wasn't as wet and heavy as it could have been.

The vegetables were a little worse for wear, both a bit crushed and frosted on their highest points where the majority of the snow weight lay overnight on top of the plants. But the photos show there are still many vigorous, healthy and happy plants.  In addition to the bokchoy and tatsoi marked on the photos here, there are two types of turnips (the Milan having already been picked for dinner tonight), Mibuna, a Napa-type of cabbage, red Russian, Tuscan Chinese and curly kales, parsley, Swiss chard, red mustard, and broccoli raab. We have many more varieties growing in the substantially warmer solar greenhouse, as well as several types of heading cabbage in a more protected outdoor bed not pictured here.

firstsnowbokchoy.jpgfirstsnowtatsoi.jpgfirstsnow3beds.jpgPhotos: ©2009 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images

2009 Concord Business Person of the Year

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From the Concord Chamber of Commerce

debramike.jpgOn Wednesday, October 29th, the Chamber hosted its 56th Annual Dinner and honored Debra Stark (right) of Debra's Natural Gourmet as the 2009 Business Person of the Year.  The evening event was held at Nashawtuc Country Club and featured a silent and live auction.  The Chamber also recognized those who are leaving and joining the Chamber Board of Directors for the coming year. New Board members are Susan Merlino of Concord Bike Tours and Jack Dresser of Emerson Hospital. 

The Business Person of the Year is chosen from nominees who demonstrate contributions to community welfare, participate in community activities, evidence lasting contributions to the community, exhibit leadership through exemplary personal and business progress and contribute to a professional and strong business community.

Debra is the owner of Debra's Natural Gourmet, a natural product store in West Concord, which opened in 1989. The store has been rated one of the top 100 natural food stores in the country and Debra has been featured in numerous national magazines and business journals.  Debra is also the founder and president of Stark Sisters Granola (1992), a company which manufactures award-winning, gourmet granolas.   Debra is the author of two cookbooks and a recognized expert on nutrition and health and has a fanatical devotion to community outreach.  Debra is active with the Chamber of Commerce., the Concord Business Partnership, and contributes to the annual Stone Soup Dinner.

Updated Schedule: Dr. Patch Adams

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The Good Doctor, Patch Adams is Coming to Town: Dec. 5-10

"Patch Adams has put on paper his vision of patient centered health care - a vision that has inspired so many over the years. Patch's 'crazy dream' is, in reality, the root of what good health care should be all about. . . . Any health care professional who reads "Gesundheit" will come away with a renewed sense of mission and joy about what they do." Rick Wade: Senior VP the American Hospital Association.

410px-080515patch.jpgPhysician and Founder of the Gesundheit Institute, leading light in the field of Health CARE, an international folk hero and blessed clown, Patch has brought his commitment to healing to war zones, prisons, hospitals, classrooms, and orphanages around the world, as well to our medical schools and halls of Congress, near and far.

Patch's travels bring him to Concord for a week, where the "Good Doctor" will speak at different locations (see the following) in our town about what we can do together - children, parents, grandparents - to serve the healing of our health CARE system, as glimpsed in the movie, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams: A labor of love.

For further information on Patch's visit, contact Stuart Weeks, Founder, The Center for American Studies at Concord

All events, with the exception of the student assemblies, are open to the public. There is no admission fee; contributions, as your fortunes allow, are gratefully received to support the "Good Doctor's" valiant labors.

  • Saturday, Dec. 5, 7:30 pm, Harvey Wheeler Center, West Concord
  • Sunday, Dec. 6, 9:00-9:45 am, Trinity Episcopal Church Forum
  • Sunday, Dec. 6, neighborhood meetings in Concord. Contact Angela Washburn for; 617-759-7959
  • Monday, Dec. 7, 3-5 pm Trustees' Room, Concord Free Public Library, RSVP
  • Monday, Dec. 7, 7 pm Concord-Carlisle High School Cafeteria
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8, 3:00 - 4:30 Brandeis University, Pearlman Lounge, (Room 110), Pearlman Hall
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9, 9:58 - 11:03 am: Lincoln-Sudbury High School Student Assembly
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9, 7:30 pm Lincoln-Sudbury High School Auditorium
  • Thursday, Dec. 10, 1:30- 3pm: Join Patch Adams for lunch at Nashoba Brook Bakery, W. Concord
Photo Credit: Courtesy WikiMedia Commons

Battle Road Scenic Byway Public Hearing

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battlerdheader.pngByway Resources, Stories, and Boundaries
A Battle Road Scenic Byway Community Forum
~ Highlighting Byway Resources in Concord ~

Monday, December 14, 2009
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 141 Keyes Road
First Floor Conference Room
Concord, Massachusetts 01742

(Click here to download this info as a flyer) Come on December 14 to Concord to discuss the many resources, intriguing stories and themes that the Battle Road Scenic Byway has to offer.

Review and provide input on proposed byway boundaries, learn about the corridor management planning process currently underway and help shape strategies for conserving this important community asset.

For more information on the project, see or contact Christine Wallace at or 617-451-2770 ext. 2060.

c/o Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 60 Temple Place, Boston, Massachusetts 02111 ∙ 617.451.2770 ∙

battleroadcollage.pngProject Partners: Town of Arlington ∙ Town of Lexington ∙ Town of Lincoln ∙ Town of Concord ∙
Minute Man National Historical Park ∙ Massachusetts Department of Transportation ∙ Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Funded By: The Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Program ∙ Massachusetts Department of Transportation

37th Annual Tree Lighting & Holiday Parade

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From the Concord Chamber of Commerce
treelighting.pngSunday, December 6th is the 37th Annual Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting, beginning at 4:45 pm when the parade steps off at Sudbury Road and Thoreau Street.  Bring the family to see the fun parade which includes antique cars, marchers from local organizations, Frosty, and Santa arriving on the fire engine!

Enjoy the Doll House raffle at Barrett and Company, cotton candy at Fairbank and Perry, hot cider and cupcakes at the Corinthian Masonic Lodge at 58 Monument Square, music on Main Street by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, holiday music by students of the Concord Conservatory of Music at the Colonial Inn (4:00pm) and holiday songs under the tree in Monument Square by The Sounds of Concord.  Santa and his helper will light the tree at approximately 5:30pm.

Share the spirit of the holidays.  Bring an unwrapped present for an infant, child or adult and give someone a special holiday.  Gifts are collected by Santa and his helpers for the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest at the conclusion of the tree lighting.  Gifts are also being collected at Middlesex Savings Bank and Concord Hand Designs before the event.

Fantasy/Gaming Expert at the Library Thursday

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Me_blue_sword_1_DSCN3781.jpgThis Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 pm the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks will be at the Concord Free Public Library, 129 Main Street.

Author Ethan Gilsdorf (at right) will speak about his experiences with online and role-playing games. A Geek Trivia contest will test your knowledge of Tolkien, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons and more! Prizes, author Q & A and book signing will follow. Free. Sponsored by Friends of the Concord Free Public Library.

Shop Concord and Welcome Santa Thursday

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From the Concord Chamber of Commerce

shopnite.pngMany Concord Center shops will welcome shoppers on Thursday, December 3rd at the Holiday Shopping Open House from 5:00pm until 8:00 pm.  Strolling carolers from the Tom Ruggles Quartet and the Sounds of Concord will visit shops and add to the festive feel of the evening.  Many shops will have holiday refreshments, entertainment and shopping specials.

The staff of Dean Brady and Haydon will provide free gift wrapping services for gifts purchased Thursday evening.  Visit them in the foyer at 37 Main Street!

Jelly Bean Junction at 130A Baker Avenue Extension is offering childcare services for shoppers from 4:30pm until 8:30pm and will provide special activities and pizza.  Call them at 978-341-0001 for more information.

chambershoplocal.pngThe Concord Visitor Center will be open Thursday evening to sell the Gift of Concord gift certificates which may be used at over 55 Concord shops, restaurants and businesses.  Gaining Ground will be selling their new cookbook, "The Gaining Ground Table" at the center, as well.

Participating shops in the evening event include:  Albright art + craft, Anderson Imaging, Andrews & Andrews, Artinian Jewelers, Barrett & Company, Brine's Sporting Goods, Comina, Concord Hand Design, Concord Lamp & Shade, The Concord Shop, Concord Visitor Center, Cynthia cosmetics & more, Dane Brady & Haydon, Fairbank & Perry, Footstock, Fritz & Gigi, The Gatehouse, Lacoste Gallery, Lyn Evans for Potpourri, Mascio-Ricci, Nicole Marie Fashion, North Bridge Antiques, Perceptions, Spero Home and Thoreauly Antiques.

Do all your holiday shopping in Concord and join us for an evening of fun!

$2 Bill Indie Shopping Sprees, Silent Night Auction

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To help promote local, independent businesses, the "Concord Indies" (Concord Independent Business Alliance) is running two public programs this fall and through the winter holiday season. 

marked2bill.jpgThe $2 Bill Campaign has been underway since October 1, involving specially-marked $2 bills.  October's $100 Shopping Spree winner was Dr. Melinda Lindquist of Carlisle.  "I'm so glad the Indies are educating the pubic about the health of our local economy," said Lindquist. "It really is up to all of us to help by doing business locally."

The Indies are currently circulating $4,000 in these special $2 bills.  After receipt, the bills are being given again to customers rather than deposited in the bank, allowing the program to continue through the holidays.  "The $2 bill campaign is intended to show how money circulates in our local economy," said Marie Foley of Concord Hand Designs, the Indies' president. Studies have shown that locally-owned Indie enterprises keep considerably more money in the community than do formula businesses such as chains, franchises and box stores -- 68% versus 43% of local economic activity. "Business owners and shoppers continue to be excited about the $2 bills, and participation has been strong," said Foley.  

There are two more opportunities to win Concord Indie Shopping Sprees in November ($150) and December ($200). Every time a $2 bills marked with the red "Spend Local -" is spent with a participating Indie, the spender gets a chance to enter the next Shopping Spree drawing.  

Silent Auction from December 1-17
36659942.thb.jpgFrom December 1st through the 17th, the Concord Indies will be holding a "Silent Night" silent auction throughout Concord. Proceeds will benefit Beacon Santa. Participating Indies donate an auction item from their place of business. The item is displayed at their business along with a bidding sheet. Non-retail Indies will display their donated item at one of the retail members' locations. Bidders will enter their bids at the location displaying the item they want.

On the last day of bidding, December 17, the involved Indies will stay open until 8 PM, at which time the bids will close.  The winners will then be contacted, and the funds collected will be donated to Beacon Santa benefiting local individuals and families in need.

Helen Halloran, owner of the Concord Flower Shop, and the Indies board member coordinating the auction says, "This is what Indies are all about: giving back to the community. We appreciate all the support from our loyal customers -- The Silent Night Auction is one way to say thanks." The Indies are hoping to make the auction an annual tradition.

Thumbnail image for CIlogo2009.jpgAmong the items donated to the silent auction are a bohemian silver pendant from Albright Art & Craft, a Concord throw blanket from the Harness Shop, a twin-size quilt from Quilter's Way, a gift basket from the Main Street Market & Cafe, four hours of elder companion care from Caring Companion Connections, a year of flowers from the Concord Flower Shop, and a hot stone manicure from Maximum Image by Sue.

"Economists who study vibrant, local economies agree that indies deliver substantially greater benefit to local charities than do chains," said Kati Winchell, a friend of the Indies and their co-secretary. "By donating to this local charity, we Indies are walking our talk, supporting a long-time community fund."

See for more about the Shopping Spree drawings, a list of the items offered through the Silent Night auction, and a full list of Concord Indies members.

Picnic in the Park 2010 Calendar

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Our staff photographer, Rich Stevenson, has made a beautiful 2010 wall calendar showing an image from Picnic in the Park, our glorious 4th of July community celebration.  Find it offered here:

You'll also find his wonderful images of the North Bridge and the Minute Man Statue at his Cafepress store: on the image below for a larger view in a separate window)


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