Commentary Series

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More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers.  The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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One of the hardest decisions of my life was telling the oncology nurse at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital that I was not submitting my 87 year old mother to the painful daily treatment the blood specialist was recommending. It was clear the treatment was not going to cure her or make her life more comfortable and she had trusted me with her end of life care when she could not decide for herself. Though I knew she did not want extraordinary measures or aggressive treatments to prolong of her life, it was still a gut wrenching decision.

I love October for its crisp air, colorful hillsides blanketed in autumn haze and its almost melancholy sense of endings. But because October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, it’s also a time for new beginnings – a time when shelters across the country unite to educate the public about the joys of pet rescue and encourage us to save a life while enriching our own.

The Newbrook Elementary School serves the towns of Newfane and Brookline, and this Thursday, the voters of both towns will meet for the second time to resolve how to heat the building.
 

The current boilers are weary, and the ventilation inside the school is poor. After years of study, the energy committee is proposing a solar array with air-to-air heat pumps. The old boilers would kick on as the temperatures approach zero.

The Confederates struck before sunrise out of a chill Shenandoah Valley fog, the rebel yell proclaiming their fury. The Eighth Vermont Regiment made a desperate stand, losing two-thirds of its men, but the momentum of Jubal Early’s surprise attack was barely slowed.
 

I was not a student radical in the 1960s, but I saw some radical stuff. I saw demonstrators throwing rocks through windows in downtown Berkeley and police swooping down with tear gas and billy clubs. I didn’t see when police, a year later, shot and killed an innocent bystander, blinded another and wounded even more.

I was there when students occupied the student center at my campus, but when my friend and I wondered whether we ought to get ourselves arrested, we looked at each other and said, “Nah.”

Iran definitely has shared interests with the American led coalition seeking to degrade and eventually destroy the Islamic State militants, know as ISIS. In fact, ISIS is a threat to two of Iran’s key allies- Syria and Iraq. And right now Iraq is reeling. Yet because the Shiite clerics of Iran are seen as the true enemy - by the coalition of Sunni Muslims that the United States has forged to fight ISIS - there will be no cooperation or coordination with Iran, at least nothing that will be publicly acknowledged.

Vermont’s new universal recycling law, the first phase of which went into effect this past summer, says that by the year 2020, anything we throw away that can be composted or recycled must be. It can’t end up in a landfill. That’s a good thing; but it’s gotten me feeling a bit nostalgic because I’m old enough to remember the golden age of the Vermont dump.

For more than twenty five years, I've been gardening at the Tommy Thompson Community Garden in the Intervale in Burlington. During that time, I've taught classes for new gardeners as well as learning as much as I've taught, especially from immigrants from countries like Bosnia and Nicaragua. Aika Sarkosova of the Ukraine has given me heirloom tomato seeds from her country of origin. The Mai family from Vietnam has taught me how to grow and prepare Asian greens.
 

I recently talked to a mother who decided not to vaccinate her child. She said she considered vaccines unnecessary and potentially dangerous. News reports show that this mother is not alone: a growing number of parents have been telling pediatricians not to vaccinate their kids against illnesses like whooping cough and measles.

Vaccines are voluntary, but public schools require them for enrollment. Schools allow kids with compromised immune systems from things like cancer treatment to get medical exemptions.

Molnar: At the Pond

Oct 10, 2014

I once read a book called Watchers at the Pond by Franklin Russell. The author lived alone in a primitive cabin for a whole year observing a New England pond. His book is detailed and fascinating, his discipline admirable.
 

Having not much time and even less discipline, I decided to repeat the experiment in a single day. I would try to spend it silently observing life at the pond - without books, phone (except one stashed away for emergencies), camera, or even a watch to distract.

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