Sunday, July 31, 2011


In the blink of an eye, Powdery mildew has struck my tall garden Phlox. This is a sure sign that August is hard upon us. Unlike some of the really icky fungi of the garden, powdery mildew occurs during hot, dry weather. Unfortunately, once a plant has it, cool or wet weather doesn’t cause it to go away.

Three of the most common victims are the old-fashioned Lilacs, Monarda (bee-balm), and the tall Phlox that bloom in mid-summer. As fungi go, powdery mildew isn’t terrible: rarely is a plant killed by Powdery mildew.

But we’ve had enough humid weather that some other, more typical fungi, are showing up, too. Several maples in my yard are showing signs of leaf fungus, pictured here in the “frog-eye” stage. Later on, these spots may darken into the “tar spot” phase, as spores develop.

It’s a little alarming when fungal disease hits the garden – your first thought is always, “Where did that come from?” Some fungi arrive on nursery plants: these are often the soil-borne sorts. But many other fungal spores are in the air much of the time, just floating around, looking for a suitable host.

Without fungi, of course, we would be up to our keisters in undecayed vegetation. We can thank fungi and bacteria when our compost piles turn into something wonderful.

Some fungi rely on the alternate host approach – part of their life cycle occurs on one species of plant, and then the spores are transferred, usually by air currents, to a totally different species. A common one around here is the Cedar-Apple rust, which causes bizarre, tropical-looking fruiting bodies in our native Eastern red cedar in early spring, followed by horrible leaf blisters on apples and crabapples, frequently causing defoliation.

Leaf spots are often preventable, but for some of us, the cure is worse than the disease. Fungicides must be applied, in most cases, before the fungus attacks. So, you need to be aware that the disease is coming – not easy unless you’ve lived with a plant for several years, and know what weather will be conducive.

Multiple sprays are needed, since it’s hard to hit every leaf when you spray – not to mention that new leaves will develop regularly on a growing shrub or tree.

One approach that works for some fungi, especially Powdery mildew, is to spray with a solution of water and baking soda. The recipe is: mix one tablespoon of baking soda in a gallon of water, and then add a half teaspoon of liquid soap to help the solution adhere to the leaves. Note that that word is soap, not detergent. Dish “soap” – really detergent – is pretty nasty stuff from a plant’s point of view. You wouldn’t want to drink it, for sure.

As with any foliar spray, this should be applied early in the day, both to give the leaves time to dry in the sun, but also to prevent scorching when the temperature zooms. The first time you use it on a plant, test the spray on just a couple of leaves – like a patch test before coloring your hair. And I know you don’t color your hair – it’s just an example!

One last, all-too-common leaf fungus: black spot on roses.

These are leaves from the white Meidiland ground cover roses – “virtually” guaranteed to be resistant to fungus! Caveat emptor rosarum…

The Quest for the Golden Nose

The 2011 Oddfellows Children's Circus is in peril and at risk of closing, unless the young circus performers retrieve the "the golden nose." "The Quest for the Golden Nose" is based on the ancient Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The Middletown Children's Circus has adapted the tale to show off their circus talents as they journey to retrieve the nose. In this tale the golden nose has given the circus years of magical success, but this year the gods have decided to test the performers to see if they are worthy to continue to keep the nose. The children have to make it through many challenges including windy boat rides, alligator filled swamps, bullfights, dragons and more.
Oddfellows Playhouse and the Middletown Commission on the Arts present the 23rd Children’s Circus of Middletown: The Quest for the Golden Nose. The one-time-only show will be presented on August 5 at 5 PM at Macdonough School, with a rain date of August 6 at 5 PM.

The Children’s Circus is a 5-week, half-day program for 130 children ages 8-14 that has become not only a huge local event but also a national model for nonprofit municipal partnerships. This year Steve Ginsburg, one of the founders of HartBeat Ensemble, joins the circus in his first year as director. Over the five weeks, participants learn a huge variety of circus skills such as acrobatics, dance, juggling, unicycling, stilt walking, clowning, and visual arts. After deciding on two areas of specialization, the participants train daily and perform for the camp at the end of each week. For the last two weeks of the program, the participants are cast into featured roles in a circus act, and rehearse these acts before performing in front of over 1,000 people. The performance also features the live circus band of local musicians led by Eric Kuhn, costumes by Betsy Spiro, and scenic and prop design by Jason Leinwand.

This year, Oddfellows is asking everyone to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Amazing Grace Food Pantry. Bring a lawn chair and enthusiasm to Macdonough School and enjoy the spectacle.

Adults $5, Students/Seniors $3

The Children’s Circus is made possible by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the Middlesex United Way, Middletown Rotary, and Oddfellows Playhouse’s generous supporters.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday snapshot

Mid-afternoon on the old Indian Trail, Long Hill Estate. To my right was a deer I hadn't yet seen.

Meet Your Middletown Neighbor: Brian Schroth

Introducing a new feature to the Eye: “Meet Your Middletown Neighbor.” This column aims to highlight regular people living, working, or otherwise being in Middletown who spend time on creative, interesting, or noteworthy pursuits. If you'd like to see this continue as a regular feature, we need to hear from you. Tell us about someone you know who is doing interesting things and who you'd like to see featured in “Meet Your Middletown Neighbor.” We can be reached at

Brian Schroth is a soft-spoken, intelligent, and modest guy. A few years ago, in his early twenties, he decided to learn how to play piano. He started lessons at Joe Riff's on Main Street, where he met his teacher of the past three years, Brian Avery of East Hampton. Schroth says he was never very musically inclined, although his two siblings play instruments. In his late teens, he tried to learn to play the harmonica, but didn't get engrossed with it and gave it up quickly. He blames his failure at harmonica on a lack of patience, but he has certainly found some patience within himself when it comes to piano. He plays a range of styles, from rag to classical to modern rock songs. In contrast to his mild mannered demeanor, he has a powerful singing voice, although he uses it somewhat timidly, or maybe in an intentionally controlled way. Some of Brian's music is available on his YouTube channel, as are several piano playing video tutorials that he has uploaded in order to share knowledge freely with other musicians, potentially budding or otherwise. He is a strong believer in free and open sharing of music and information. He explains, “If I've gone to the trouble, or more accurately, if my piano teacher has gone to the trouble to help me learn how to play a song, then I'll take the time and try and share that.“ His dream job is working at a piano bar similar to Keys to the City at Terminal 110 in New Haven, though he recognizes that it would take a lot more work and a decade or two before he may be at the point where he would want to attempt to pursue a career in music. For now, he is exploring the possibility of becoming a high school math teacher, true to his philosophy of transparency and knowledge sharing.

Before living in Middletown, Brian lived in New Britain to be close to his job, but he didn't much like it there. He found himself in Middletown by accident and circumstances more than by conscious decision, though Middletown was an appealing choice. It made sense for him at the time, and he says he likes it here and it has worked out well, in that he is happy to be closer to his family. He's also happy to have found the open mic night at The Buttonwood Tree, where there is a piano available to play, which is likely out of the ordinary for a typical open mic setting. He enjoys the wide range of styles exhibited at The Buttonwood's open mic, and he likes to see people practicing and working on their talents and passions. He says that the Buttonwood is a very supportive atmosphere. “I like to see the different things people are working on there, and it's good to just experience that and hear other people's perspectives and get encouragement from other people.”

In addition to learning and practicing piano, Brian plays three days a week in an ultimate frisbee league, and he volunteers at Epoch Arts in East Hampton. The mission of Epoch Arts is to enrich lives with experiences in the arts, and it is an "arts for youth organization dedicated to helping young people learn to communicate, collaborate, create and celebrate by experiencing, hands-on, the arts.” Epoch has strong ties with the home schooling community, of which Brian Schroth was a part. At Epoch, Brian now teaches an improvisational acting class to kids. He revealed that the main criteria for being able to get involved with improv is a willingness to do so, and says that playing music in front of an audience is a lot more nerve wracking than doing improv, because with improv you can't really make a mistake.

Brian says that a big goal of his is to write his own music. For now, he'll continue to work on becoming proficient at piano playing until he feels ready to start writing his own pieces.

In terms of music happenings and an arts-friendly atmosphere, he says that Middletown is “a good place to be.”

Brian Schroth playing a song by favorite band of his Hey Rosetta! on July 18th at the Monday night Buttonwood Tree open microphone.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Four Walks Tomorrow

Looking for a hike tomorrow? There are four choices thanks to the WalkCT organization and CT Forest and Parks Association.

Connecticut Trails Day

Secrets of a Forest

Where: Bethany

When: Saturday, July 30, 2011;
9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Who: Families with school-aged children

What is the land's story? Was it always covered in trees? What hints is the forest trying to share with us? Join us for this easy walk around the 27-acre parcel conserved by the Bethany Land Trust. Discover the hidden secrets the forest has left behind that tell how the land was once used and how the forest is changing today. If we train our eyes right, we might even find the gnome houses hidden in these woods.

Heavy rain/chance of lighting cancels.

For directions, please visit

young boys in woods

Tales and Trails

Where: Menunkatuck Trail, Guilford

When: Saturday, July 30, 2011;
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Who: Families with children ages 3-6 years of age

Enjoy a shaded trail in mid-summer, with nature stories and fun poems. Little ones and their caregivers can enjoy this walk along a level section of the Menunkatuck Trail north of Route 80. Little feet will set our pace as we explore along the trail, read stories and poems, and discover the beauty of nature.

Rain cancels
. For directions, please visit

Flat Stanley and family

Flat Stanley's CT Outdoor Adventure #5 Where:

Wilcox Woods Conservation Area, Footit Drive, Middletown

Saturday, July 30;

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


Families with school-aged children

Help find Flat Stanley! Flat Stanley has gone missing on the NET and CFPA needs your help to find him. Join us for a fun adventure as we embark on a scavenger hunt and follow clues to the hidden letterbox. Have your picture taken with Flat Stanley to be entered into a random drawing for a Connecticut WalkBook. Bring your own stamp & journal if you have one or borrow one of ours.

Rain postpones to Sunday July 31; same time.

For directions and meeting area, please visit

Highland Park

Where: Highland Park, Manchester

When: Saturday, July 30, 2011;
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Who: Families with school-aged children

Explore the historic Case Brothers District through a 3-mile hike to the summit of Case Mountain in the Highland Park section in Manchester. Enjoy a waterfall, stonewalls, carriage paths and the Case Mansion, as well as the forest and ponds. Wear sturdy shoes and sneakers and expect some steep climbs and bumpy terrain. Release some energy in this moderately strenuous, narrated hike as we learn basic hiking skills and, depending on the weather, view the Hartford skyline from the summit of Case Mountain. Fun summer learning at its best!

There is no rain date so bring umbrella/raincoat if light rain. Heavy rain cancels.

For directions, please visit Please phone family guide Susan Barlow if unsure of the starting point at 860-643-9776.

Consolidation of City Departments Planned

The City announced that Mayor Giuliano plans to eliminate the Department of Consumer Protection and to consolidate its functions into other existing departments in order to save money. The plan must be voted on twice, and the Government Operations and Finance Commission voted last night to move this forward and the first vote on the Department elimination is scheduled to occur in a September Common Council meeting.
More information and contact information is available in the document below. Clicking on the image should enlarge it and make it readable.


Eli Cannon’s spotlights its community spirit with a benefit for Oddfellows Playhouse on Monday evening, August 1st. Eli’s will have breweries offering samples of their famed craft beers, with a full BBQ buffet, with part of the proceeds going to Oddfellows.

“We know the Children's Circus took a big hit when 505 Main St collapsed, destroying costumes and props,” said Carrie Carella, Eli’s general manager. “We can't sew or act, but we can do an event to help Oddfellows out in a financial way. We thought an event the week of the Circus made a lot of sense."

The fest includes unlimited samples from more than 23 craft breweries, as well as a food buffet on its outdoor patio. Eli's will also be open that day with full bar and limited food menu, but the patio will be restricted to benefit patrons only. Doors open at 5 pm.

Tickets are $30 in advance, and $35 at the door, at Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, 695 Main Street.

Middletown Senior Citizens Swim Event!

Removed by author. Awaiting official press release with corrected information and event title from official Event Committee.

Working Families Party Endorses Dan Drew

From the campaign of Dan Drew
The Working Families Party announced today they will be enthusiastically endorsing Democrat Dan Drew to be the next Mayor of Middletown.

Dan Drew has a strong record of standing up for ordinary people and promoting the kinds of policies that can provide economic security and opportunity to working class and middle class families. We’re proud to endorse his candidacy.” Said Jon Green, Director of the Connecticut Working Families Party.

The Working Families Party stands for the middle class and so do I.” Drew said. “I am excited to work with them toward creating good jobs for Middletown’s families, improving public education, increasing transparency in City Hall, and stopping the endless stream of lawsuits that are draining us of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Working Families Party endorsement has become one of the most highly sought and influential endorsements for candidates for public office in Connecticut. Their endorsement of Dan Malloy helped propel him to the Governorship in 2010 and their endorsements come with a major boost to a candidate’s grassroots campaign operation.

This is a major endorsement for Dan Drew. In 2009, Working Families Party stayed out of the Middletown mayoral race, but this time they chose to support Dan Drew. It’s a sign of a major shift in momentum. The middle-class is mobilizing behind Dan Drew because he has a record of standing up and fighting for them,” said Middletown Democratic Party Chair Lisa Santangelo.

The endorsement means Dan Drew’s name will appear on the ballot twice, on the Democratic line and on the Working Families Party line.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Middletown Youth Theater Performs Annie Jr!

Middletown Children’s Theater
is a new community theater for kids in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade! Based in Middletown, CT, MCT is the “little sister” to Middletown Teen Theater and draws its students from the greater Middletown area. The teens recently performed "Chicago" to sold out crowds, and "Annie Jr." will surely also be a stellar event!

If you missed "Chicago" check out a number from the performance on youtube posted here

The show is being directed by Middletown School district Music director Marco Gaylord

Performances are today July 28, 29, and 30th all at 7 pm at Middletown High School auditorium- advanced tickets can be purchased here

Friends of Cody

Submitted by Jane Majewski to be posted:

Cody was a beautiful active little three year old who left us for heaven this past Saturday. Cody belonged to a much loved family in the Bielefield and south end community of town. Many have asked, how can we help them? Friends have set up an account at Liberty Bank, Main st. Middletown to help the family with the unexpected funeral costs. If you are someone who knows this family, or simply just want to reach out, please consider a donation. No donation is too small. It is our heartfelt wishes as their friends to help lessen the pain of their experience in any practical ways that we can. Thank you. ~ Jane Majewski

Local Literary Happenings


The Book Bower

386 Main St. in Main St. Market

Middletown, CT


Store Hours for Summer!

Mon. - Thurs. 10 -6

Fri. + Sat. 10-8

Summer Sale

There are two bookcases of sale books,
mostly mysteries and romance.
All popular, good reads.
Try a new author or read a favorite at a great price.
Paperbacks are $1 and hardcovers are $2.50.

Two new books by local authors

are on display:

"Toward the End of Ordinary Time" by Elizabeth MacKiernan Miel, which documents one person's spiritual journey in the days immediately following Sept. 11th, 2001, touching on issues that are just as relevant today. Miel is a Christian with a Master's degree in Islamic Studies. She examines honestly the impact of 9/11 on her own faith, not only in God but in tolerance and pacifism.

Miel will be reading from her book on Friday Sept 9th, 2011, here at the bookstore at a time to be announced.

"Adventures in Palmistry" by Catherine Kane, who has over 40 years in palmistry. This book makes palmistry accessible and fun for beginners and experienced psychics alike. For more information see her website;

FINAL Free concert tonight!

The Summer Concert Series presented by the Community Health Center comes to a conclusion this evening with a great concert by Nelson Bello and the Latin Jazz Project.

Bring dancing shoes and picnic - and be ready for big fun!

Please call Emily at 860 347 6971 ex. 3653 with any questions.

Nelson Bello and the Latin Jazz Project
Thursday, July 28th 6-8pm
Luis Lopez Herb Garden
(corner of Main and Green Street)

*Free! Family friendly! Open to all!

Those Crazy Teenagers!

I headed over to Oddfellows last night to watch those crazy teenagers - Romeo and Juliet - fall in love and then, after being together only a few hours...well, I don't want to spoil it for you.

Producing a Shakespeare play with teenagers can't be easy, but this production of Romeo and Juliet was a credit to both the performers and their directors, Maryna Harrison and Daniel Nischan.

The students in Oddfellows' Summer Shakespeare Academy have been meeting 7 hours a day all month, and their hard work shows. The Bard's words were clear and comprehensible - not always the case in amateur productions. There were many enjoyable performances, but I especially liked Zack Signore as Romeo, whose brow and carriage reflected every wrenching shift from woe to radiance and back again. Olive Kuhn gave us a Juliet who began as a bland and unformed young girl, and then developed a fire in her belly while commanding the stage. Particularly fluent with Shakespeare's phrases, Jacques Phelps as Mercutio was an audience favorite (before he departed the scene) and I would praise the girl who donned a button-down to swagger as Benvolio, but then you'd be able to accuse me of motherly pride.

On Thursday evening at 7:30 pm, they debut their production of Comedy of Errors, directed by Robert Resnikoff, with Susannah Resnikoff assisting. R&J repeats on Friday night (7:30) and Comedy of Errors again on Saturday (7:30). Wednesday's house was packed, so I'd advise calling the playhouse at (860) 347-6143 to reserve a seat.

Chatting with the Mayor during intermission, we wondered: how many towns can brag the number of cultural opportunities Middletown has enjoyed this month?

Did you go to the Bogie and Bacall film festival at Wesleyan? Perhaps the summer concerts at the South Green, or Wadsworth, or the Green Street Herb Garden? The teen theater production of Chicago? Or the ballet at Wesleyan? How about Shakespeare's Argument in the Grove? Jazz at the Canoe Club? Something at the Buttonwood?

No? You might want to check your pulse!