Archive for September, 2009

What Would Emma Lazarus Think?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

By Michael Kaufman

What, I wonder, would Emma Lazarus think of our national debate over healthcare reform? Although she has been gone for more than a century, Lazarus is well remembered for the final lines of her uplifting sonnet, “The New Colossus,” engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty. In the poem she refers to the statue as “Mother of Exiles.”

“Give me your tired, your poor,” she wrote.

“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

“The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


Emma Lazarus

Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883, following a wave of immigration by multitudes of destitute eastern European Jews who had been expelled from the Russian Pale of Settlement. I think my grandparents on both sides were among them. Many Americans back then did not share the welcoming sentiments expressed in the poem, as evidenced by the country’s discriminatory immigration policies.

Until the immigration law was changed in 1965, notes Stephen Klineburg, a sociologist at Rice University in Houston, “it was just unbelievable in its clarity of racism. It declared that Northern Europeans are a superior subspecies of the white race. The Nordics were superior to the Alpines, who in turn were superior to the Mediterraneans, and all of them were superior to the Jews and the Asians.” Needless to say, even the lowly Jews and Asians were considered superior to the black and brown peoples of Africa and the Americas.

The blatant discrimination was manifested in signs posted in public places and even in newspaper ads: “No Jews or Dogs Allowed,” “No Chinese,” “No Irish Need Apply,” “Whites Only.” In later years it got more subtle. Hotels in the Poconos that discriminated against Jews included the words “churches nearby” in their ads. On the other hand, Jews were welcome at Catskills hotels that included “dietary laws strictly observed” in their advertisements.

By the early 1960s, Greeks, Poles, Portuguese, and Italians–inspired by the burgeoning civil rights movement among African-Americans–began voicing complaints about the discriminatory immigration quotas. President John F. Kennedy called for reform of the immigration law a few months before he was assassinated. Immigration reform then became a major cause championed by his brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Unfortunately, the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of immigrants are among those now voicing complaints against “illegal aliens,” specifically with regard to the question of healthcare reform. Have they forgotten that their own people were once the victims of immigration quotas? Are they unaware that their parents (or grandparents) were vilified for the burden they would place on healthcare because of the diseases they would allegedly bring into the country? Or that they were condemned for speaking foreign languages instead of English?

How many of us who are descended from immigrants can be sure that our own family members were not among the undocumented?  It was not long ago that so many Italians came “without papers” that an abbreviation of those words became a nasty anti-Italian slur. The anti-Semitic term “kike” is said to be derived from the Yiddish word for “circle”– because  Jewish immigrants unable to write their names would mark a circle on official documents in the place where their non-Jewish counterparts placed an  x.

Today it is the mostly Spanish-speaking “illegal aliens” who are scorned to such an extent that even President Obama is afraid to speak out on behalf of their basic human right to healthcare. This is a tacit acceptance of the lie put forth by opponents of reform that the “illegals,” not the profit-hungry insurance companies, are responsible for the current high cost of healthcare. 

What would  Emma Lazarus think of this debate?  I’d say not very much. 

Michael can be reached at

The Travels of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

zoezest1By Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 15

The story so far: Zoe and Kaja have made their way from the Pike County Humane Society shelter, across a rickety bridge to Barryville, and then south along the Delaware. The two dogs are trying to find Zoe’s owner, who had to abandon her when times got too tough. Zoe is a mostly blind, 12-year-old lhasa apso; Kaja is a big, strong red dog, a chow/German shepherd mix. The two dogs spent a night in the home of Ashton  and Samantha Morrone, but their dad kicked the dogs out in the morning. Later, he relented, but it was too late. Zoe and Kaja had gone. They holed up that night in a little cave at the edge of the Delaware.

When the dogs awake, it’s raining. They leave the cave long enough to find some McDonald’s food that someone has thrown from their car. By the time they’ve eaten, they’re so wet and cold, they go back to the cave.

They sleep for the whole day, curled around each other for warmth.

And while they sleep, the rain keeps falling.

It falls harder and harder. It falls in huge, wind-driven drops. It falls in sheets of rain that blow against the mouth of the cave and drive the dogs to the very back.

The rain falls with a fury, and as Zoe and Kaja sleep, the river rises around them.

The light is going from the sky when Kaja feels the water. She’s curled up with her back to the river. Zoe is nestled between Kaja’s chest and the cave wall. And the water is touching Kaja’s back.

She jumps up, waking Zoe. The water rises. In a moment, it’s covering the floor of the cave. In another moment, it’s covering the dogs’ feet.

The rain is still falling, but it’s slackened enough that Kaja can hear the river, running high and fast. The water is halfway up her legs now, but it’s all the way up to Zoe’s belly, and it’s picking the little blind dog up.

They have to get out of there. They have to get out of the cave.

Kaja grabs Zoe by the back of the neck, and drags her toward the mouth of the cave. The little dog fights. She can hear the river. She can hear the roaring. She can’t see anything, she can only feel the cold water all around her, and she knows the big dog is dragging her toward the current.

She fights and squirms, and at the very mouth of the cave, she wrests herself free of Kaja’s grip.

The water takes her, just like that. It grabs her and shoots her downstream. Her head goes under, and she gulps water, and then her head is above the wave, and she’s floundering, paws and legs churning. She bangs against a rock and goes under again. The world is a swirl of noise and cold and water and speed, and the little dog has never been so scared, never felt her heart beat so fast. She bangs into another rock, and this time, it knocks the wind out of her, and she goes under again and comes up gasping air and water, and she hits another rock, but this time, it holds her fast.

Her feet scrape something. Sand. Slippery rocks. The water beats against her, coming in waves, pounding her face and her nose, but she feels this sand, and it’s going up. It must be the bank of the river, and she lunges up the slope, kicking and scrabbling until she’s out of the water –

And on an island. She’s not on the bank at all, but on a tiny spit of land and rocks and sand five yards from the shore. There are limbs and rocks and branches and driftwood on the island, and above the roaring of the storm and the rain and the river, Zoe can hear Kaja baying, and she barks back, barks as loud as she can, and when she stops, she hears the rain and the river and Kaja – and something else.

A cat.

Carrie can be reached at

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 09/22/09

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

090921o1By Carrie Jacobson

How can you not love a beagle? It’s a huge dog in a tiny dog’s body. This one is baying to the top of the moon. It’s part of a series of 12 dogs I’m painting for a gallery in West Hartford, Conn. Contact me if you’re interested in price information. Contact the Wallkill River School (click on the link, on the right-hand side of the Zest page) if you want to learn to paint dogs and cats. I’ll be teaching workshops there this week and again in November.

Carrie can be reached at

Revamping the School Lunch Program

Monday, September 21st, 2009

By Shawn Dell Joyce

As our children go back to school, many parents grow increasingly more concerned about the school lunch program. Most school lunches cost between $2.50 and $3, with government subsidies through the United States Department of Agriculture, public schools receive $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. This adds up to about $9 billion total to feed 30 billion children each year. Ironically, most of this money pays the janitor, cafeteria expenses and other nonfood costs as well as lunch.

So what do our kids get for $2.57?

“(Meals) distributed by the National School Lunch Program contains some of the same ingredients found in fast food, and the resulting meals routinely fail to meet basic nutritional standards.” Pointed out Alice Waters, chef and local foods activist, and Katrina Heron, director of Chez Panisse Foundation. “Yet this is how the government continues to “help” feed millions of American schoolchildren, a great many of them from low-income households.”

Waters and Heron started the Edible Schoolyard, a program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, on a one-acre organic garden for urban public school students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. This program connects kids with their food by teaching them all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce. This school still uses the high fat U.S.D.A. commodities, but it also cooks food from scratch, and has added organic fruits and vegetables to the menu as well.

Most schools don’t actually have a real kitchen anymore, or a staff who can actually cook. Foods distributed through the school lunch program are already processed and cooked chicken nuggets, pizza that just needs to be thawed or heated. Schools also receive bonus commodities from big food producers of processed cheese and other high-fat, low-nutrition junk foods.

Parent organizations have sprung up across the country to demand more nutritious foods in public schools like Two Angry Moms, and Better School Foods. Other schools across the country are integrating gardens into their curriculum, or partnering with local farms to grow produce specifically for the schools.

So what would it cost to revamp the school lunch program to include fresh organic produce from local farms?

“It could be done for about $5 per child, or roughly $27 billion a year, plus a one-time investment in real kitchens,” notes Waters and Heron in a recent New York Times editorial. While that may sound expensive, it pales in comparison to long term health benefits, lowered juvenile diabetes and obesity rates, and better dietary habits for life. As parents, our choices are pay for the cost though better quality school lunches or higher medical bills later.

A side benefit of linking local farms with school lunches is that it will boost local economies rather than leak money out of the school’s community. Most small farms rely on sound farming practices that don’t significantly damage local ecosystems, unlike large scale food growers.

“Every public school child in America deserves a healthful and delicious lunch that is prepared with fresh ingredients.” Writes Waters and Heron. “Cash-strapped parents should be able to rely on the government to contribute to their children’s physical well-being, not to the continued spread of youth obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other diet-related problems. Let’s prove that there is such a thing as a good, free lunch.”
Want to change the National School Lunch Program? A few suggestions from

—Have Lunch with Your Child in the School Cafeteria -Experience with your eyes, nose, ears and mouth what your kids are eating. Ask to see ingredient lists for all the food on the menu.

—Grow Your Numbers -Invite other parents in the community to join you in the cafeteria who might not have been aware of what the kids are eating.
—Join a Committee or Coalition-Get involved with the nutrition committee in your school or a wellness committee in your district. Create one if none exist. 
Build Your Food IQ -Learn which foods are right for your family – not all foods are good for everyone!  
—Cook with Your Kids-Read books, takes classes, watch cooking shows. Be adventurous and try new foods, test recipes. Make it a family project.

—Grow Some Food in a Garden -Get your kids connected to their food. Create and participate in school gardening and cooking classes that produce real food. Connect the dots between our environmental crisis and our food crisis.
—Call Congress-Let them know you support legislation to get advertising and junk food out of schools, and a Farm Bill that supports small farmers and local markets. Let’s flood our schools with fresh fruits and vegetables.
—Walk Your Talk as a Family-Eat dinner together whenever possible.
Don’t Give Up! Our children’s health and well-being needs to be our top priority. Take a stand and get involved. Don’t assume someone else will.

Shawn’s Painting of the Week – 09/20/09

Monday, September 21st, 2009
Shawangunk Ridge from Gardiner

Shawangunk Ridge from Gardiner

Photo of the Week – Sept. 20, 2009

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Photography by Rich Gigli

It not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts,as for that subtle something, that quality of air that enmanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spitit. - Robert Louis Stevenson

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that enmanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. - Robert Louis Stevenson

Those Wild and Wacky Dutch People

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Beth Quinn

I thought I’d start with a little Dutch humor today as we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson crossing the Delaware.

Or something involving some river in the New World.

There you go. A little Dutch humor.

Or at least it’s my humor, and as I am from Holland on my father’s side, I’ll call it Dutch. (My mother’s people are Italian, another humorous ethnic group, especially after a bottle or two of grappa.)

I’m bringing up the Dutch, though, because we are currently being overrun with Dutch revelers, who have come to New Amsterdam to celebrate their American heritage.

They’re also celebrating the fact that so many of their forebears left Holland in Henry Hudson’s footsteps, thereby decreasing the aggregate weight on the Dutch land and preventing their country from sinking even further below sea level.

While I admit there are very few Dutch stand-up comedians, I’m proud to say my people  are very pragmatic. “Go, go!” the Dutch townspeople told my grandparents and several of their friends. “You weigh too much and we’re sinking! Don’t forget to take those heavy wooden shoes with you, too!”

And so they came by the – I don’t know, tens? Hundreds? There really aren’t all that many of us here – to Governor’s Island and then fanned out across the land to do what the Dutch do best.

Be sensible.

My grandfather somehow acquired a herd of cows while living in Clifton, N.J., which his sensible side told him was no place to keep cows. And so he walked the cows up to Orange County, N.Y, which still had open land and was not over-run with sidewalks, as Clifton was. Then he set the herd loose on some empty land and called it a farm.

See? Sensible.

And my grandmother offered me the following sensible Dutch advice as I was growing up:
Eat kale.
Use a dust pan and whisk broom to clean up small messes.
If you no longer have use for an item, no matter what it is, plant flowers in it. Hence, she had flowers growing in an old iron, in a salt shaker without its mate, and in a cradle.

But to truly understand how sensible the Dutch people are, you have to return to Holland and learn something about their Land and People.

I tell you this because you probably don’t follow news of Holland too closely, which is a shame because the Dutch follow our news really closely. My cousin Henk tells me they laughed and laughed and laughed at what simpel toonloos dummköpfe idioots we were when we elected George Bush not once, but TWICE!

See? The Dutch are very full of humor.

Anyway, since you probably don’t read the Holland Sentinel or the Windmill Herald, they have what’s called socialized medicine in Holland. And they don’t think “socialized” is a bad word. In fact, they LOVE it! Everyone has health care!

Plus, my cousin Henk assures me that there are no death panels in Holland as Sarah Palin says there will be here in America. “That would not be sensible,” my cousin Henk tells me, “because people wouldn’t want this form of health care, then.”

He has a valid point.

Holland health care is even good if you no longer live there. When my grandmother needed a new set of false teeth, she planned a trip back to Holland for them because paying air fare to get free teeth would have cost her far less than buying the teeth here in  America.

Alas, she died before getting the new Dutch dentures, but I think it was a very sensible plan.

Also, those dikes. A few decades ago, the Dutch noticed they were wearing out and the little Dutch boys were no longer willing to plug them with their thumbs to keep the North Sea from killing everyone.

After a bad experience with the sea in 1953, they rebuilt the dikes, making them extra good and strong and very, very expensive. Billions of guilders were spent, but the Dutch considered it money well spent (an ons of preventie against verdrinken and all that).

Now, if they have a disaster like Hurricane Katrina (or Hurricane Beatrix, if you will), they are well protected.

Seems sort of sensible to me.

My cousin Henk tells me that Hollanders didn’t laugh about New Orleans getting wiped out because that would have been unkind. But they did shake their Dutch heads when, not only did the American government fail to prevent that calamity in the first place, but nothing has been done to fix it.

I will leave you now with one last bit of Holland humor. This is a real joke from some Dutch guy with a Web site:

Question: Why are there still so many windmills in Holland?

Answer: Because the Spanish lunatic Don Quichote and his companion Sancho never came so far up North to fight them!

Well, OK, he’s no Seinfeld. But who cares. After all, as they say in Holland, “God created the world, but The Netherlands was created by the Dutch.”

What a very sensible religion they have, wouldn’t you agree?

Beth can be reached at

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 09/15/09

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Oil on canvas, 16x20. For price and shipping information, see

Oil on canvas, 16x20. For price and shipping information, see

By Carrie Jacobson

The storm moved in over the Black Dirt region as Gene Bove and I painted there last Friday. The sky looked marbled with dark and light, and the fields lay mostly empty, harvested and waiting to be planted again.

You can see more of my paintings this month at the Wallkill River School Gallery, Route 17K, in Montgomery. For hours and directions, click on the Wallkill River School link to the right.

The Travels of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 14

zoezestThe story so far: Zoe and Kaja are trying to find Zoe’s owner, who was forced by economic circumstances to leave Zoe, his old, mostly blind lhasa apso, at the Pike County shelter. The dogs have crossed the Delaware on a rickety bridge, and ended up in Barryville. There, they were found by Samantha and Ashton Morrone, children of Pete and Angie Morrone, who run a hotel at the river’s edge. The kids wanted to keep the dogs, but Pete said no, and turned them out, early in the morning. The kids and Angie were so upset that Pete relented and he and the kids set out to find Zoe and Kaja.

Zoe and Kaja turn away from the road almost immediately. It’s just too dangerous. The cars go too fast, and the road is too narrow. Kaja leads Zoe through the woods toward the river.

There, at the edge of the water, animals and fishermen have worn a thin path. The dogs walk along it and make good progress south. In places, it’s easy to walk, and they can trot or lope along. In other spots, it’s rough going, and they pick their way over rocks and driftwood and fallen tree roots and exposed tree roots and an amazing amount of trash.

The morning is cold. The dogs’ breath stands white in the air, and cold seems to be coming off the river itself. Zoe feels especially cold after spending the night in the house. She thinks about her old house, and her old bed, and her humans, but the thoughts make her feel colder, and she loses her footing. She slips, and falls onto rocks. Her head hits one, her ribs hit another, and she falls into the river and goes under.

The water is warmer than the air, and it’s moving, but not so quickly, and little Zoe crashes into another rock, but this one stops her, and she’s able to get her head above the water. She floats downriver for a piece. Kaja races along the bank, parallel, and then she leaps in and swims out to Zoe. She puts her teeth softly on the small dog’s neck and pulls her to the shallow edge. Zoe stands and picks her way up the bank to a sunny, grassy spot.

Zoe shakes the water off, and lies down in the sun, and Kaja licks the little dog’s ears and face, and they rest.

By now, the road is far, far above them. There’s plenty of flat space along the edge of the river, but then the land rises quickly, sharply, so it’s nearly a sheer cliff above their heads.

When the wind isn’t blowing and rustling the tree limbs overhead, they can just hear the sound of the cars passing on the road up there. But they don’t hear the sound of the Morrones’ car, or of Ashton and Samantha calling for them.

Pete drives, and the kids lean out the windows and holler, and whenever he can find a place to pull over, he does, but they are few and far between.

He turns into Dan Foster’s driveway, and pulls in under the pines. Dan’s wife, Anna, is crossing the yard, carrying something, and walks up to the car as it pulls in.

“Hey, Pete, no work today?” she asks.

“Later,” he says. “We’re looking for a couple dogs.”

“I didn’t know you had dogs,” she says. She and Dan have lived here for as long as he can remember.

“They’re not really ours. Not yet at any rate.”

“Is one big and one real little?” Anna asks.

“Yes!” Samantha nearly shouts. “Foxy, the red one, she’s big, and Peanut, the little one, she’s teeny and old and blind.”

“Well,” Anna says, “I saw them go by a while ago. They’d been walking on the road, and then they cut down through the woods there, and that’s about all I saw. They were headed toward the river. I didn’t pay them much mind, really.”

“Can we go see?” Samantha asks.

Anna looks at Pete, a question in her eyes. Pete nods a tiny nod.

“Sure,” Anna says. “Just be careful.”

The kids run off toward the river. The pass the Fosters’ house and run down the path through the woods. But at the river, there’s nothing. Just water and branches and a couple of ducks floating downstream. They walk upstream as far as they can, but they don’t see anything. They call and call, and they walk downstream, but still nothing.

Finally, they walk back to the car. Anna has gone back inside the house, and their dad is waiting. He drives them south on Route 97 for a while longer, but the bank is high over the river, and there’s no way to search. They call, but the wind flings their word away. They are dejected. Pete turns the car around and they head home.

Zoe and Kaja rest for a while, and then get up. Zoe is sore, but not enough to keep her from walking. When they’re thirsty, they drink from the river. They’re getting very hungry, when they find a place where a rafting group has stopped. The trash cans are filled with half-eaten sandwiches, and hot dog buns and apples, and the dogs scavenge and eat until their bellies are full.

By afternoon, Zoe has gone as far as she can. She needs to rest. Her legs are sore, her feet feel bruised, her ribs and her head hurt, and she’s just tired. This is hard work, and especially hard for a little blind dog who tumbled into the river. But Kaja has seen and smelled signs of bears and coyotes here, and so she pushes them to go farther, find some safe hiding place.

Downstream, at the very edge of the river, she sees a tiny cave. Some creature – a fox, she thinks, or a raccoon – has lived here. But today, it’s empty. Inside, there’s just room for the two of them, and they curl up beside the river and go to sleep.

Carrie can be reached at

Photo of the Week – Sept. 13, 2009

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Photography by Rich Gigli

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. - Kahlil Gibran

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. - Kahlil Gibran