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Wed., Sep. 2
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Over Coffee With Ellen


BIRTHDAY WISHES – Two terrific gentlemen celebrate their birthdays today. Courier-Observer Editor Ryne Martin celebrates his birthday today as well as our neighbor Ken Smallman. Editor Ryne and I certainly differ in our sports allegiances – and that is a good thing. It makes life far more interesting when both sides facing off in a sporting event can be cheered on by two friends supporting opposing teams.

I have known Editor Ryne for some time now. When he first came to the Observer, we were assigned to work on a story together. How impressed I was of his reporting skills and his knowledge of what photos should be placed in what position. And I am forever grateful to Editor Ryne for giving me the opportunity to visit with each of you through this column.

My warmest wishes, Ryne, for a wonderful birthday, and only the best in the year ahead.

I have spoken about our neighbors, Carole and Ken Smallman, before. They are the best neighbors anyone could have – they are always there whenever there is a need. I will never forget the touching image of Carole and Kenny and their son Jason on our back deck during the ice storm. We had a fireplace, but little wood to burn. There they were arms loaded with split logs ready to put on the fire to keep us warm. Amazing.

Happy Birthday, Ken – have a great day.


ITALIAN SHOPPING – This week I learned from my sister that when she does her grocery shopping in Italy there are no shopping bags to carry items purchased home in. She explained that after you had picked up your items in the store you pushed your cart to the cash register. The clerk then rang each item up and placed them back into the cart, where the shopper would then take them to their car.

I smiled as I thought about Gene Ackerman and Tammy, too, at Hannaford’s. What would I do without my friendly “baggers” who fill each shopping bag, whether it is one brought from home or a Hannaford bag? There is always such a friendly exchange with each one as the items are placed in bags – how I would miss that. And what on earth would I do with my gallon of milk that everyone knows I would kindly like placed bottle, milk and all, in a bag.

I do prefer taking my purchased items from my cart and seeing them placed in shopping bags, I don’t think I could deal with shopping in Italy with my sister. Isn’t the north country a marvelous place to live and shop? I certainly think so.


INTERNET READING – Recently I shared with you that this column could now be read online. I learned that readers could find Over Coffee online from my friend Sandra. I wanted to share that information with each of you, but hesitated to do so – for me, at least, I would still hope there would be a number of you who prefer to read and visit Over Coffee with a newspaper in hand.

It has been fascinating, though, to have my sister in Italy be able to share in our Over Coffee visit each week. If she had to depend on me to cut out this column and mail it to her, I am afraid days might pass before we could communicate. The internet is much faster.

Now there is a notation in the top left corner of the Courier-Observer that informs the readership that there is a website where this newspaper may be read online at

My California sister found this column this week (my apologies, Ryne, she didn’t look for other news items). She was most impressed with the site. And I was pleased, ready to pass that compliment on.

And then another family member called inquiring where there was an App for the Courier-Observer. He wanted an App for his phone where he could just touch the screen and immediately find the Observer.

I am thrilled to think our newspaper and this column are on online – my sister in Italy is pleased to find it online, telling me early on Wednesday morning, “It is so nice to have it promptly online. Yay!” And my sister in California is pleased, but there is one family member (who does have a Montreal Gazette App on his phone) who is now looking for a Courier-Observer App. Perhaps Editor Ryne could address that this week!


THOUGHTFUL GIFT – Sunday morning I stopped at Dollar Tree for two birthday balloons. As I stood at the cash register, paying for my purchase a young girl dressed in pink handed the cashier a flower. The cashier was so kind and thanked the girl, but suggested she give the flower to her mother. No, the girl responded, she has some. The mother explained they had flowers at home and the little girl was spending her Sunday morning giving flowers to strangers. How thoughtful. The north country is certainly a beautiful place to live.


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – An optimist is the human personification of spring. Susan J. Bissonette

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