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Car Guys



Part fluff piece drenched in motor oil, part homage to true customer service and a sense of community that is often lost, this article serves as an offering—a treatise of sincere gratitude to the automotive experts who inspire us, not only to take better care of our cars but to take better care in general.

Growing up, I was taught that there are three types of folks you can’t trust: strangers with candy, flood-insurance salespeople, and car repairmen. Let’s talk cars. Now, living in Litchfield for the past few years, my perception of the auto-repair profession has changed. I have grown to trust the input of a few, sage mechanics in our area who impart not only auto advice but life wisdom. It sounds corny, but these are people who talk me out of bad decisions, teach me how to live with the decisions I’ve made, and always make me laugh.

Walking into Jim’s Garage in Canaan, I am greeted by a team of gregarious, outgoing, and eccentric automobile techs, who don’t just come to work for a paycheck. The team led by Deb Keller and Bill Hower is a strong, enthusiastic group whose workmanship and pride is self-evident. On a recent visit, Laura, one of the techs, firmly scolds me for not changing my oil at 5,000 miles (oops). Surprisingly, her remonstrations are uplifting and leave me with a newfound sense of personal responsibility. Jim’s has a comfy waiting room with Wi-Fi, coffee and tea, a thriving fish tank, and an eccentric mini-Doberman named Elvis, who barks at the paper shredder as if it’s a feral cat.

Hower incorporates what he feels are important aspects of life into his business—community, leadership, sustainability, and humor. His affable style includes playing good music in the office; training his team to be current on the latest, best practices in the field; and recycling and repurposing everything he can. “There are solid channels in the auto industry that are pretty standardized to minimize waste, but we try to go further. We don’t use paper towels. We buy old pajamas to reuse as rags. I think the biggest thing we do, though, is reusing the engine oil. One-hundred percent of the heat in the shop is engine oil. We have been heating the shop this way since 1972.”

Down the road in Salisbury, the Auto Shop, run by Steve Ohlinger, upholds a sense of environmental stewardship and mindfulness. Ohlinger also utilizes leftover engine oil for shop heat and is thrifty with parts. Since he sells vintage Volvos and VWs, reuse is standard practice at his shop. Ohlinger advises customers to steer clear of vehicles that are known for their electrical issues, expensive parts, and generally unreliable mechanics—he’s a proponent of sustainability. He and his team have worked on diesel, greasecar (which uses vegetable oil), electric, and bio-diesel engines and are always willing to experiment. “What I do is a therapy, of sorts,” says Ohlinger. “The attentiveness to something, instead of just disposing of it, drives a sense of personal responsibility. In this disposable culture, we have to use what we can and avoid unnecessary waste.”

No story about Zen mechanics in Litchfield Hills would be complete without mentioning Peter Brittingham. Peter was a legend in the world of vintage Porsches—specifically, for racing and rebuilding them. On any given day in the last 25 years, Brittingham had spent his time racing at Lime Rock. Crotchety, stubborn, and brilliant, he was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. A couple of years ago, when my husband and I were obsessing over VW Weekenders, Peter offered to lend us one. We ate our meals in the cabin with our twin four-year-olds, napped in the pop-top, and cruised around town. We thought seriously about buying the Eurovan, but it was beyond our means. Peter was bug-eyed: “What the hell is the matter with you? You only live once.” He still became a dear friend, and we often visited on Sundays. Peter passed away this past spring, and he will be sorely missed.

 

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November 2018

Just a little over an hour from the northern suburbs of NYC, in the northwest hills of Connecticut lies one of the best kept secrets in trail running around! If you are ready for a new challenge of...

Cost: $50-$60

Where:
Steep Rock Preserve
2 Tunnel Rd.
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Steep Endurance LLC
Contact Name: Brian Vanderheiden
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Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
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Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
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Kiki Michalek will introduce a new series of paintings, celebrating the art of the carousel. “Carousel Dreams” is a collection of original work showing animals with different themes....

Cost: Free

Where:
Whiting Mills
100 Whiting St.
Studio 308, Air Borne Creations
Winsted, CT  06098
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Sponsor: Kiki Michalek
Telephone: 203-913-3883
Contact Name: Kiki Michalek
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Join Art Rodia, an instructor with over 30 years of yoga teaching experience, as he guides this gentle yoga class. Created for people over fifty and beginners who need a gentle and accessible...

Cost: 10 per class

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

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KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
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EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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Holiday Craft Day on Friday, November 23rd from 2 to 4 PM, followed by a 4:30 PM family movie (Disney’s COCO) for all ages. Local artist Katie Ré Scheidt will lead the Holiday Craft...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens
One Green Hill
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens
Contact Name: Laura Neminski
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

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We will celebrate the Full Moon and use its powerful energy for personal growth and spiritual development, focusing on developing intuition and the “heart’s knowing.”  Music, ritual,...

Cost: 15.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

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The New York Times bestselling author, Simon Winchester, traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to...

Cost: 25.00

Where:
Sandisfield Arts Center
5 Hammertown Rd.
Sandisfield, MA  01255
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Sponsor: Sandsifeld Arts Center
Telephone: 413-281-4100
Contact Name: Marcella Smith

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Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm upstairs in the handicapped accessible Community Room. Snacks...

Cost: Free - donations graciously accepted

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

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