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Young Woman Escapes Bear Attack in Amherst

Carly Hall said she was fortunate to survive her recent bear attack with only a few scrapes.

“I feel so lucky,” she said. “It all could have been so much worse.”

Hall, 17, of Belchertown, and three of her friends were on Tracey Circle in South Amherst to walk her family friend’s dog Saturday night when they came upon a black bear.

“The dog started going crazy,” Hall said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”

Hall was walking the dog as a favor for Janet Lambert of Tracey Circle, who was in New York City visiting family for the night.

After walking the Lambert’s dog, Luna, all the way around the block, Hall and her friends saw a bear in the neighbor’s yard across the street. “It just stood there,” Hall said. “We weren’t sure what to do.”

When the bear started coming toward them, Hall said, she and her friends ran in opposite directions. The bear followed Hall, who was still holding the dog on a leash.

When the bear got close, she let the leash go, and the frightened dog ran off.

The bear jumped behind her, Hall said, and scraped her back twice. “But just barely,” she said.

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The Road to Recovery: A Leverett Family, One Year After Adopting Two Special Needs Bulgarian Orphans

Eyes barely open, 7-year-old Anelia “Nellie” Schildbach stood at the piano the other day, listening intently as her fingers explored the keyboard. She rocked her head back and forth as her hands moved fluidly across the flat white and protruding black keys: middle C, F sharp and B flat, E and A. Notes played together and alone. Chord combinations both minor and major. Her choices appeared random, and yet somehow blended together. Occasionally, she hummed along while her mother, Kimberly Schildbach, watched.

After a while, Kim put her arms around Anelia, who is blind, and gently led her to the toy kitchen a few feet away. But as soon as she let go, Anelia crawled across the floor, back to the piano, stood up at it once more, and continued to pound the keys.

“She would play all day if we let her,” Kim said, smiling. “She’s a piano-crazy girl.”

Anelia, who is also developmentally delayed, came to the six-member Schildbach family a year ago from an orphanage in Sophia, Bulgaria. Non verbal and withdrawn, she was unable to even walk up or down stairs when she joined Kim and Nathanael and their four biological children: Lucas, 19, Gaelan, 16, Jericho, 8, and Olive Ann, 3.

Today, she has become part of the family, and with her love of music and the attention of four siblings, she has begun to emerge from her shell.

Kim noted that her love for her biological children was much stronger than her feelings for her adopted daughter at first, but that has changed. “Now it’s more even,” she said. “It took about a year.”

Rocky start

But it hasn’t been easy, even for a couple who say they love parenting and have wanted to adopt for years.

Anelia arrived in the Schildbach home with another Bulgarian orphan, Marin, now 10.

When people heard of their plans to adopt two special needs children from Bulgaria, according to Kim, they said the couple was nuts.

“We are nuts,” Nate said. “That’s why we did it.”

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It’s Tick Time: Step Up the Body Checks

Spring has sprung, baseball season’s first pitch has been thrown, April’s rains have been falling, and the ticks are back. Even if you can’t see them. Just ask Michael Noonan of Florence.

On a Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, Noonan, 62, noticed a red spot the size of a half dollar on the inside of his elbow, with a small dot in the center. The dot was a deer tick. His wife removed it with a pair of tweezers.

“It looked like a little piece of wood,” Noonan said, “except it was moving.”

His arm had been hurting all week — since cleaning up leaves in his driveway on Sunday — but Noonan figured he had a spider bite and didn’t think much of it until his wife did some online research.

After a trip to the OnCall Urgent Care Center in Northampton, he was told he would be treated for Lyme disease. Noonan was put on the antibiotic doxycycline for 11 days. Later, when he told the OnCall staff that he had probably been bitten while out raking five days before finding the tick, they upped his prescription to 24 days.

Nasty carriers

Just a few minutes in the yard these spring days is all it takes to attract a deer tick which can carry pathogens that cause Lyme or other diseases. While antibiotics cure some who contract Lyme, others suffer from chronic illness for years. Their symptoms can include headaches, heightened allergies, nausea, night sweats, joint pain, distractability and more.

These disease-carrying critters have been on the rise in the Northeast for the past decade.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States have risen by over 10,000 in the past 12 years, from 17,029 to 27,203. The majority of these cases were reported in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions of the country.

The latest CDC figures indicate that more than 300,000 people were infected with Lyme disease in 2014 alone, said Maria Malaguti, founder and executive director of the Northampton-based Lyme Disease Resource Center. “That figure is 10 times more than previously reported in 2013,” she said.

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Fine Art Family Time: Smith College courts the next generation of museumgoers

The exhibit “Mary Bauermeister: The New York Decade” at the Smith College Museum of Art focuses on the “lens boxes” that the German avant garde artist created in the 1960s. “Her work was shaped by experimentation and the use of found art objects,” notes the museum’s brochure. “Critics were fascinated by her glittering lens boxes, although they struggled to place the work of this unique artist within a particular movement. …”

You might expect to encounter a tweed-jacketed art history professor taking them in, or an art critic examining the works through a pair of horn-rimmed glasses.

But on a recent Friday, dozens of children were crowding around the artwork scrutinizing Bauermeister’s puzzling pieces.

Accompanied by parents, grandparents or caregivers, the children — from toddlers to teens — made their way through the first-floor room of the museum. They passed “Palette,” Bauermeister’s assemblage of glass, ink, optical lenses and painted wood created in 1966. They considered “Pictionary,” another looking box Bauermeister made that same year. They peered at “#175 The Great Society,” more glass, ink and optical lenses she made in 1969.

Then they walked out into the museum’s cavernous entryway, picked up their own jewelry-size boxes, glass pebbles and other trinkets and got busy on their own artworks.

Every second Friday of the month, in conjunction with Northampton’s Arts Night Out — an evening of open downtown galleries — the Smith College art museum offers an organized art activity like this one for children and their families. The art project is followed by Open Eyes, an informal, half-hour guided conversation that explores an aspect of one of the museum’s exhibits. The event, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m., is free.

“These nights offer a meaningful but informal experience that helps to demystify the museum a little bit,” said Gina Hall, the museum’s associate educator for school and family programs, who was helping to settle the kids with their projects that recent Friday. “We see this experience as an opportunity to spend relaxed quality time together — as a family — and the museum as a space to explore and build a lifelong love of learning.”

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The Death Cafe: Tea and cake gatherings look at death to enhance life

At a recent gathering in a second-story studio in downtown Northampton, Daniel Lombardo of Westhampton read a story about twin fetuses discussing life after birth. One thinks there will be life after delivery, related Lombardo, while the other isn’t so sure.

“Nonsense,” says the naysayer. “What kind of life would that be?”

“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here,” the other replies. “Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”

“That’s stupid,” the first one says. “Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion.”

“But certainly we will meet Mother,” answers the second, “and she will take care of us.”

The first laughs. “Mother? You actually believe in Mother?”

Some of the dozen people listening chuckled, others nodded.

While Lombardo’s story by Czech psychiatrist Jirina Prekop was about birth, it offered a different perspective to those who had come to the Body-Mind Zen Temple to talk about death.

“None of us are experts on death, because none of us have experienced it and returned to tell the rest of us,” said Ryumon Hilda Baldoquín Sensei, a teacher at the Buddhist center Two Streams Zen in Westhampton.

Those seated in a circle on folding chairs included several Buddhists, a practicing Episcopalian, and a few people who were raised Catholic. While one participant was in her 20s, the majority of those in the group were approaching senior citizenry. Several had worked with hospice.

They were participating in what is called a Death Cafe, based on similar gatherings occurring worldwide, where non-secular groups talk — generally over tea and cake — about the end of life. The meetings started in 2011, and have become increasingly popular both internationally and locally. There have been at least three in Hampshire County in the past year.

“Death Cafes are for those reflecting on personal loss, and for those interested in exploring how being more aware of death impacts how we live,” said Ryumon Sensei.

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The Way To Go: Marietta Pritchard’s book illuminates a gentle end through Hospice of the Fisher Home stories

Recently, on a gloriously sunny, spring-like morning, author Marietta Pritchard, stood in the kitchen of the Hospice of the Fisher Home in Amherst, fixing herself a cup of tea, talking about how she would like to die.

“I’ve become very committed to this place, and what goes on here,” she said, stirring in a dollop of honey. “A nursing home is not a place I would like to be, but this is someplace where I would. Like the title of the book.”

This winter Pritchard, who has been a volunteer at the Fisher Home since 2007, published her second book, “The Way To Go: Portraits of a Residential Hospice” (The Impress Group, 2015) about her experiences at the hospice.

A former editor at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, she once worked as an obituary writer at the newspaper as well and now writes a monthly column for Hampshire Life magazine.

“The Way To Go,” is a series of miniature portraits of several of the patients Pritchard took care of and the various staff members she encountered at the hospice. Woven throughout are excerpts from Pritchard’s journal, which she started when she began volunteering at Fisher Home, and chapters that focus on the history of the place. Each story adds to the mosaic Pritchard paints of this particular residential hospice, which in turn sheds light on the larger hospice movement.

“Hospice seeks to normalize death,” she writes. “But for many people in our culture, death is never seen as normal. It is the unspeakable.”

Pritchard’s book tackles questions most would prefer to avoid: How would we like to die? What do we consider a good death? What does a grieving family need?

The goal, she said, is to provide patients with the best death possible.

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