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Are We There Yet?: Remembering Harley
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:14PM / Thursday May 15, 2014
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No one should ever have to suffer the pain of losing a child.

As a parent of a child with two autoimmune diseases, I face that terror perhaps more often than most parents. But I'm sure anyone reading this column, any parent, would feel nothing short of sheer despair should something happen to their child.

That's why I cried when I heard about Harley Ogle.

I heard about the death of this Pittsfield second-grader from my mother, who used to work with Harley's grandmother. She hesitated when telling me, obviously sensitive to my own situation with my daughter. Harley died in his sleep; my daughter has type 1 diabetes, and most type 1 kids who die do so in their sleep. When she told me, my heart ached for this family. She told me how she and Harley's grandmother had become grandmas around the same time: He was born just a few months after my own daughter, and while they worked together they shared pictures and stories of their beautiful grandbabies as they grew into infants and toddlers and little kids. This year, they both entered second grade, my daughter with her health issues and Harley with some of his own.

But my daughter made it to her 8th birthday. Harley died this spring just a couple weeks before his own 8th birthday. My mother went to the wake and cried hard, both for Harley and for the fear she feels as the grandmother of my daughter. In fact, she cried so hard that Harley's grandmother came to check on HER the following week to make sure SHE was all right.

I share this story not to be have a depressing column this week. I share it to urge you to help turn Harley's death into something positive. 

This Sunday, May 18, Harley will be remembered with a benefit at the Back Nine Bar & Grill, 303 Crane Ave., Pittsfield, from 3 to 10 p.m. There will be food, raffles and live music by Rev Tor, Domino Theory, B.A. Dario, Longview Gunslingers, and Chris Merenda. All proceeds will support the Pittsfield Family YMCA licensed elementary school-age programs, which Harley attended at Williams Elementary School. Attendees who provide school supply donations will receive two free raffle tickets; supplies that are needed include board games, arts and crafts, markers, scissors, UNO cards, Jenga, paper, books, sidewalk chalk, glue/glue sticks, pencils and erasers and Legos.

Tickets are $10 and are available at Nichols Package Store, Wheeler's Market in Lanesborough and at the Pittsfield Family YMCA. For more information, contact family friend Lindsay Dambrauskas at 413-212-1479.

If you want to know more about Harley and the lives he touched in his short time on Earth, visit the Facebook page set up in his honor. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, and hug your own kids a little harder tonight.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Gone To The Dogs
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:29PM / Thursday May 01, 2014
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"Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once wrote five very wise words: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” 

This Saturday, May 3, dogs take center stage at both ends of Berkshire County. 

First, in Williamstown, the annual Humane Race to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society starts at 10 a.m. on Water Street. Rain or shine (unfortunately, it's looking like rain, and no one ever said happiness is a wet puppy), this 12th annual 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk - with or without your dog - will offer a day of outdoor entertainment for the entire family.  The race begins at 10 a.m., with check-in and race day registration starting at 8 a.m. Finish line festivities will include music, games, prizes and food booths. Race Day Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children. To learn more about the event, visit www.humanerace.org.

Then, later in the day, people can come to the Mason Library in Great Barrington from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. to meet Jori, the Great Barrington police dog, and his officer, Tim Ullrich. Jori will do a sniffing demonstration, and show his knowledge of signals and commands. Jori, a German shepherd from Slovakia, became the town’s first K-9 officer in 2011. His arrival was truly a community affair: to bring Jori to town, the department raised $30,000 from 26 donors to pay for veterinary bills, retrofitting of one of the police vehicles and setting up a donation account to cover future costs.

If you're looking for something to do with the kids on Sunday, May 4, head to Dalton for the annual Dalton CRA May Day Race & Obstacles and Popsicles for Kids. A 5K and 10K race start at 9:30 a.m., but the fun for kids starts at 10:30 a.m. The race happens behind Nessacus Middle School; the kids do not go on any roads. Those 8 and under will run half a mile and those 9 to 12 will run a mile. The races include fun obstacles and all finishers get a ribbon and freeze pop; awards will be given to the top three boys and girls in each age group. The cost is $6.

And as we are winding down to the end of the school year, I wanted to share a link to a funny blog I read online about how the last few weeks of school feel for parents. Read it here and I hope you laugh as much as I did!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Hoppy Easter
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:56PM / Thursday April 17, 2014
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"I'm feeling hoppy," reads the cheerful poster hanging on the door to my daughter's bedroom. Fifty-one weeks of the year it doesn't make sense, but this week it does, as Easter is this Sunday, April 20.

Which means this weekend's family fun can be found in the form of Easter egg hunts in pretty much every corner of the county — including Pittsfield, despite that they have decided to take the word "Easter" out of their official egg hunt, which will be visited by "The Bunny." (What does THAT animal look like?)

But I don't want to get political in this column.

So for Saturday, April 19, here's what I know about.

Pittsfield's "eggstravaganza" is at 10:30 a.m. at Morningside Community School. In Williamstown there's a hunt from 1 to 3 p.m. at Williamstown Commons. In Great Barrington, Blue Rider Stables is having a hunt and other spring activities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In North Adams, there will be an egg hunt as part of the Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness at 10:30 a.m. And Lenox and Dalton have town hunts at 11 a.m., in Lenox at the Lenox Community Center and Dalton at the CRA. Clarksburg's is at 10 a.m. at the town field.

Want to do some good this weekend instead of wipe away tears when your kid doesn't find the golden egg? Because Easter this year comes near Earth Day, on Saturday, April 19, you can help clean up the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk, Berkshire County’s National Recreation Trail. This year’s work season includes a variety of restoration techniques for River Walk’s severely abused river location, planting thousands of native plants propagated from seed collected locally, while ridding the riverbank of knotweed, bittersweet, garlic mustard, multiflora rose and other exotic-invasives. Volunteers should meet at the W. E. B. Du Bois River Garden Park by the former Searles Middle School parking lot on River Street, near Bridge Street, at 9 a.m. Morning coffee and lunch will be provided. Tours will be given in the afternoon.

In the evening in Williamstown, a half-dozen Williams College performing ensembles are teaming up to present "Raise the Roof!" a benefit for residents of the Spruces Mobile Home Park and others displaced by Tropical Storm Irene. The performers will include the Springstreeters, the Accidentals, Good Question, Ephoria and Far Eph. A bake sale will accompany the event, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Paresky Auditorium. There is no admission charge, but a hat will be passed during the performance.

Hoppy Easter ... and make sure to check out our calendar of events to find some vacation week fun, including a puppet show at the library in Williamstown on Tuesday and Touch A Truck on Wednesday in North Adams.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: What fools these mortals be!
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:57PM / Thursday April 03, 2014
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I've got Shakespeare on my mind.

First, the Bard's birthday is coming up, and I always remember it because it's close to mine. His is April 23, mine is April 26. Of course, his birth was 450 years ago, so he's got a few years on me. (Not that I'm telling how many!)

Second, I just signed my daughter up for a session of the Riotous Youth camp at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. She did a session last summer and loved it, and I have to admit it was pretty funny hearing a monologue from "Twelfth Night" coming out of the mouth of a 7-year-old.

Third, since said daughter has been bitten by the Shakespeare bug, she also is auditioning for the new "Shakespeare in the Park" series at Springside Park in Pittsfield this summer. If she ends up in the play it would be particularly meaningful for me, as I grew up in Pittsfield, across the street from Springside Park, and spent many happy and carefree hours frolicking in the park.

And fourth, Shakespeare is my family fun pick of the weekend. Because yes, Shakespeare and kids can and do go together.

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is kicking off a run of its annual “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” event at 2 p.m. this Saturday, April 5. This is a whirlwind tour through the life, times and work of the Bard that features six actors, a few props, a truck-load of historical information, popular misinformation and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. This hysterical, fast-paced presentation is designed to introduce kids and adults to Shakespeare through his stories, characters and words—with a bit of sword-fighting and clowning thrown in for good measure.

All “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” presentations are followed by a hands-on workshop during which audience members will get their own shot at playing with scenes from "A Midsummer Nights Dream" - which incidentally is the play my daughter will learn at Riotous Youth this summer and the play being performed at Shakespeare & Company.

My husband, daughter and I went to see “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” two years ago when my daughter was 6, and she loved it, though I think older kids get a little more out of it. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults, with a maximum admission fee of $30 per family (up to six people per family discount). Tickets are available the day of the presentation, or in advance from the box office at 413-637-3353 or shakespeare.org.

Shakespeare not your thing? Sorry to hear that - but Saturday morning is the first Saturday of the month, which means its Kids Workshop Day at Home Depot, meaning you can take the kids to the Pittsfield or Bennington, Vt., between 8 a.m. and noon to let them hammer away at a cool project. There are also a couple of high school musicals this weekend that should be lively enough to entertain the kids: "Grease" at Mt. Everett and "Dames at Sea" at Wahconah Regional. 

And maybe, just maybe, this will be the first weekend of real spring weather ... so get out and enjoy it!

“Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;

Four nights will quickly dream away the time.” 

 

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Take Comfort in the Community
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:43PM / Thursday March 27, 2014
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When my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010 and then another rare autoimmune disease last fall, several well-meaning people said to me, "It could be worse. At least it's not cancer."

I know how much it hurts to hear that, because when you're in the middle of a personal crisis, it doesn't really matter if it could actually be worse. It's bad enough in that moment.

So I won't say that to the hundreds of people who have lost their jobs with the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital, and their families, who now face an incredibly uncertain future. I know they are all hurting right now. All I can do is offer some fun ways to encourage community spirit with the family.

So how about some puppets?

MCLA Presents! is offering up the latest event in its inaugural MCLA Puppet Fest this weekend. On Saturday, March 29, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m., puppeteers Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin will perform "Who's Hungry" at the Puppet Lab at Gallery 107 at 107 Main St. in North Adams. "Who's Hungry" features an all-star cast of actors, dancers and puppeteers  following the lives of five hungry residents of Santa Monica, Calif., to weave elements of those five life stories into a 55-minute theatrical spectacle featuring a variety of puppetry styles, high velocity dancing and spirited music. The audience is seated before a 24-foot dinner table, which transforms into a runway-style puppet stage. Admission is $10 and the show is most appropriate for tweens and pre-teens.

Have younger kids? Consider a pajama movie night screening of "Frozen" at the Mason Library on Friday night, March 28, at 6:15 p.m. (My daughter and I just can't get enough of this music, especially the music ... though I wish I could sing with more conviction that "the cold never bothered my anyway.") Or on Saturday, March 29, take kids 5 and up to a bat house-making workshop at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. From 1:30 to 3 p.m., Rene Laubach talk about bats in our area and their natural history before the workshop on building the house. The cost is $20 for adults and free for children; registration is required. Register by calling 413-637-0320. And on Sunday, March 30, Project Native will be showing the movie "Flight of the Butterflies" - in 3D! - at 10 a.m. at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington. Following the year-long annual migration cycle of the butterflies, the award-winning production team filmed hundreds of millions of monarchs in their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and again in 2012 and also along their migratory routes from Canada, across the United States and into Mexico. How cool is that? Even cooler, admission is free.

One more thing to mention, if you're in the mood to help out those people who actually do have cancer: Moments House is hosting its fourth annual Slice of Life Pizza Competition at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. Come sample pizza from all over the county and vote on your favorites. Awards will be given to Best Crust, Best Sauce, Most Unique Pizza and Best Overall Pizza in Berkshire County. Adults are $25 at the door and children are $7 at the door (4 and under are free).

Take strength in the community right now. We're all in this together.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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News Headlines
Guest Column: Keeping Your Pet Safe This Holiday
Thanksgiving Greetings
North Adams Church Welcomes New Pastor & Music Director
Lanesborough Outlines 250th Celebration Calendar
'Dumb and Dumber To': It Sure Is
Williamstown Chamber Executive Director Departing
Selectmen May Seek Peer Review of Dollar General Traffic Study
Oh Be Thankful Pie Auction Raises Funds for Charities
Pittsfield Council Accepts School Budget Law, Denies Hiring Authority Plan
Holiday Hours: Thanksgiving

 




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