Greetings dear readers and gentle friends and welcome back for another mid-December visit here on the Front Porch, where visions of sugar plums are starting to dance in our heads and, in the air, there's a feeling of Christmas!

My goodness, what a different holiday season this is, mid-pandemic, but we do have a glimmer of hope! The vaccine has arrived and the first injections are expected to be given to high-risk health care workers beginning today, "the initial step toward the goal of inoculating enough Americans by spring to finally halt the spread of a virus," according to the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker. Good news, I say!

Let's begin this week with a big shout out to some of our more creative female friends who are unveiling some fascinating projects. First, hats off to artist, advocate, author, marketer, mother, monster and writer Lara Ehrlich, a Stonington High School grad (who also attended Deans Mills and Mystic Middle School) after she announced the debut of her interactive videocast for moms who are writers. With "Writer, Mother, Monster," which airs live on Facebook and YouTube each week, Lara plans to dismantle the "having it all" myth and will be offering writer-moms "solidarity, support, and advice," by interviewing female authors who’ve gone through — or are going through — the same decision-making processes as she has. ("It’s not monstrous to prioritize creative expression over work and home obligations," she writes, "even for moms, and somehow saving enough of themselves to produce creative work worth writing home about.")

The interview series has included guests like poets Katie Peterson and Tzynya Pinchback, as well as fiction writers Liz Harmer, Blair Hurley, and Amy Shearn. Lara and her guests have so far discussed topics such as "Modeling boundaries and encouraging children to pursue their own passions." She said she hopes the videocast will serve "as a casual conversation among women, covering everything from how the scourge of capitalism pigeonholes women to how strong, raging women can raise strong, raging children." Upcoming guests will include writer Ann Hood (a local favorite who has volunteered in years past to be a celebrity book wrapper at Savoy Bookshop) and Daria Polatin, co-executive producer and writer for Stephen King’s Castle Rock. Each episode is streamed live on Facebook and Youtube, then archived as a video, in an audio podcast on all major platforms including Apple Podcasts, and as a transcript hosted on the series website, I'll be tuning in for sure! Lara is the daughter of Brian and Pam Ehrlich, of Mystic, and the sister of author and Rolling Stone editor Brenna Ehrlich.

Hat's off also to our friend, artist J. Susan Stone, who has been working on an unusual. very sophisticated project with her daughter, Erika, who grew up in Westerly and now lives in Juneau, Alaska, where she works as director of marketing and engagement for a "small but mighty regional theatre, Perseverance." Working together with more than 3,000 miles between them, the mother-daughter team launched a feminist, adult coloring book ("naughty but tasteful" with illustrations that are "a little spicy but sweet") earlier this year. Susan says the coloring book, created and owned by two women, is empowering to women, and all about joy, connection, love and intimacy. The pair have three other coloring books in the works, she said, adding that while there have been some awkward conversations as "mother and daughter working with this type of material ... mostly we just laugh." Visit for more information.

Last week, inspired by the global generosity movement called "Giving Tuesday," and another called "Find the Joy, Then Spread It," I put out a call for suggestions to share here on the Front Porch about how best to brighten the lives of others during a pandemic at Christmastime. Warm thanks to my niece, Molly Burns-Hansen, who reminded me of the wonderful "Pay it Forward" movement and also recommended leaving bigger tips than usual to servers. "And send cards," she added, "it really cheers people up!"

Also, last week, I mentioned I'd like to celebrate some of the many amazing cultural organizations we are fortunate to have right here in our midst. So this week I checked in with Tony Nunes, the artistic director at the United Theatre, who reported that things are moving along nicely. "For one, and this is a big, visual piece of news: our marquee (the centerpiece of our identity downtown) is going to be fully installed ... next week," he said. Big news for the theater, and yes, a "great milestone." Tony said the theater is also selling Elf kits for an interactive at home screening of the film like we traditionally do in person." For more, visit

Did you notice that the Westerly Sun has moved back to Westerly? Interestingly, we are at 90 High St., which is now owned by the Ocean Community YMCA but was once owned by Robert Utter, whose family once owned (and founded) The Westerly Sun! Talk about full circles!

Have a safe and healthy week, dear readers, remember to mask up, wash your hands, stay safe, be kind, and ciao bella!

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