Ruminations: On the historic rise of the birthday cake

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Photo by Lara Starr

Photo by Lara Starr

copyright the Chronicle March 4, 2015

by Tena Starr

My family isn’t overly fond of cake, which got me to wondering about the history of the ritual. How is it that cake and candles are such an entrenched tradition that people who don’t even really like cake still have it at a birthday celebration?

(To be honest here, Chris at Parker Pie made this year’s birthday cake, and most of us confessed that we did, indeed, like it. So maybe it’s just the cakes we make ourselves that we’re not so fond of.)

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At LR Rocks: Live experience cultures young performers

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April Streeter shows off the electric guitar she played live for the first time.  Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

April Streeter shows off the electric guitar she played live for the first time. Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle February 25, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

COVENTRY — April Streeter, 15, is no stranger to singing in public, but Saturday night’s LR Rocks showcase at Parker Pie Wings did include a first for her — a whirl on the electric guitar in front of a live audience.

“It’s kind of a rush,” she said. “It’s really fun to get up there. The energy is really great, especially in places like this.”

Parker Pie Wings had set up the concert venue on one side of its bar. The smaller space created a packed atmosphere for the 100 people in attendance.

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NEK Ice Fishing Derby draws 720 competitors

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Masyn Harvey of Orleans struggles to hold up this whopper.  He caught it in Lake Memphremagog on Saturday.  Photo by David Dudley

Masyn Harvey of Orleans struggles to hold up this whopper. He caught it in Lake Memphremagog on Saturday. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle February 18, 2015

by David Dudley

DERBY — Hundreds of enthusiastic ice fishermen braved the weekend’s bitter cold to participate in the eleventh annual Northeast Kingdom Ice Fishing Derby.   Sub-zero temperatures didn’t discourage people from setting their shanties up on lakes Willoughby, Memphremagog, Crystal, and Shadow, among others.

What compels people to go outside in such brutal conditions?

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On Seymour Lake: Annual fishing tourney is “a family thing”

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The Falconer family poses on Seymour Lake with Connor's catch, a three-pound, 24-inch lake trout.  Behind him are his father, Chad, and big brother Taylor. The Falconers woke up at 2 a.m. to get ready for the Derby Line Fire Department's benefit tourney Saturday.  By the end of the weekend, big brother Taylor had captured the youth record with a four-pound, four-ounce lake trout.  Photos by Maria C. Young

The Falconer family poses on Seymour Lake with Connor’s catch, a three-pound, 24-inch lake trout. Behind him are his father, Chad, and big brother Taylor. The Falconers woke up at 2 a.m. to get ready for the Derby Line Fire Department’s benefit tourney Saturday. By the end of the weekend, big brother Taylor had captured the youth record with a four-pound, four-ounce lake trout. Photos by Maria C. Young

copyright the Chronicle February 11, 2015

by Maria C. Young

There were more stories than fish coming out of the ice at the start of the Derby Line Fire Department’s Annual Ice Fishing Tournament on Seymour Lake Saturday.

Three feet of snow and 20 inches of ice made a formidable barrier between the fishermen and the landlocked salmon, lake trout and brown trout they were after.

From the center of Seymour Lake, there’s an awesome view. Looking south, Elan Hill forms the backdrop, and beyond is Bald Mountain’s pyramid peak.  To the north is Wildwood Valley, where stories and remnants of a skier’s rope tow and the four-cylinder engine that ran it still linger.

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At the Newport Penguin Plunge: The brave leave luau for freezing waters

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Scott Whitehouse of Newport took the Penguin Plunge Sunday. Though he's new to the area, he raised $300 for Special Olympics Vermont.  Photos by David Dudley

Scott Whitehouse of Newport took the Penguin Plunge Sunday. Though he’s new to the area, he raised $300 for Special Olympics Vermont. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle February 4, 2015

by David Dudley

NEWPORT — Before the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took the Internet by storm, there was the Penguin Plunge. Now in its thirteenth year, the Penguin Plunge drew participants from all over the Northeast Kingdom to raise money and awareness about the Special Olympics by taking a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Memphremagog.

Liza Reed, special events manager at Special Olympics Vermont, has organized the event for the past three years. At Sunday’s Plunge, she said they were hoping to match last year’s mark of $30,000.

“We have teams from all over the Northeast Kingdom,” Ms. Reed said. “We have 130 participants this year, so we’re confident that we will at least match last year’s number. That is, if we don’t surpass it.”

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Cold water swimming draws one back home

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Brynna Kate Tucker makes a snow angel before a swim.  Photos courtesy of the Tuckers

Brynna Kate Tucker makes a snow angel before a swim. Photos courtesy of the Tuckers

copyright the Chronicle January 28, 2015

by David Dudley

NEWPORT — Though Brynna Kate Tucker was born and raised in Sutton, it didn’t occur to her that swimming in cold water might be the thing to do until she moved to Brooklyn, New York.

“In November of 2006, one week before my birthday, I joined the Coney Island Polar Bear Club,” Ms. Tucker said, via phone. “I’ve been swimming every week since.”

Her matter of fact delivery might raise some eyebrows, but there are numerous benefits to cold water swimming and bathing. She says that, among other things, it’s a great conversation starter.

“People never forget you when you say that you’re a cold water swimmer,” Ms. Tucker said. “Of course the first question I always get is, Isn’t that cold? The obvious answer is, Yes!”

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In Troy: 100 North, where the East meets Western comfort food

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Amy Wan (right) and chef Mike Wheeler go over the night's dinner menu at 100 North Restaurant Saturday.

Amy Wan (right) and chef Mike Wheeler go over the night’s dinner menu at 100 North Restaurant Saturday.

copyright the Chronicle January 21, 2015

by David Dudley

TROY — Amy Wan grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents, Emily and Kenny Wan, own and run Wok and Roll in Newport. So when Ms. Wan opened her own restaurant, 100 North in Troy on January 2, it would seem like a natural progression. But, Ms. Wan said, her venture began as more of a joke.

“My Dad bought the building at 100 Route 100 at auction,” Ms. Wan said. “He had this building, but he didn’t want to open another Chinese restaurant. We were talking, and I said I’ll take it! He asked if I was serious. That’s how it became mine.”

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In West Glover: Andersonville Farm has a new champion

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James Coe takes a moment to chat in his office at Andersonville Farm in West Glover.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

James Coe takes a moment to chat in his office at Andersonville Farm in West Glover. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle January 14, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

WEST GLOVER — James Coe traveled by way of Oregon to get to the office at Andersonville Farm where he sat Thursday afternoon. As one of the owners and the managing partner of the farm, Mr. Coe now works a hundred yards or so from his boyhood home.

His office, a small wood-paneled room, is obviously not his main workplace. A wall calendar portraying a champion Holstein is still turned to October. Plaques recognizing the farm for producing quality milk are stacked on a windowsill, although it is hard to know where they would go. The hallway outside the farm’s office is lined with similar awards and there seems to be little room left for more.

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Documentary celebrates orchestra’s rise

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Working with what was two-thirds of his orchestra in April of 2011, Mr. Michelli leads a rehearsal at The First Universalist Parish of Derby Line.  Following his lead, from left to right, are Chris Maginniss, Lisa C. Erwin, Paul Gavin, and Susan Brassett.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Working with what was two-thirds of his orchestra in April of 2011, Mr. Michelli leads a rehearsal at The First Universalist Parish of Derby Line. Following his lead, from left to right, are Chris Maginniss, Lisa C. Erwin, Paul Gavin, and Susan Brassett. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle January 7, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY LINE — About three and a half years ago, the Chronicle published an article about a man who had brought a few local musicians out of retirement and was working to create a local orchestra. In April of 2011, a few months after he started the Newport Area Community Orchestra, Ken Michelli, the orchestra’s founder, conductor, and engine, had found two clarinetists, two flute players, a violinist, and a cellist.

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In Westfield: Building community with recyclable materials

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Collin Mahoney of Butterworks Farm brings a truckload like this each week to the Westfield Recycling Center.  Photos by David Dudley

Collin Mahoney of Butterworks Farm brings a truckload like this each week to the Westfield Recycling Center. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle December 23, 2014

by David Dudley

WESTFIELD — There’s a place in Westfield where people gather every Saturday morning to see friends and family. It’s not a sporting event, or a church, or a bar that opens early. It’s a recycling center, and many of the citizens of Westfield and neighboring towns have been making this trip for seven years now. For the town of Westfield, recycling is a community affair.

Yves Daigle established the Westfield Recycling Center in 2007, and it has been growing ever since.

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