Archive for November, 2009

Eat Local for Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Eating local embodies the spirit of the first Thanksgiving, where Puritans and Wampanoags sat down together to share a meal that consisted mainly of shellfish, eels, wild fowl (including swans and eagles) and other local foods that they could gather or grow.

When we get our foods locally, we eat in season and celebrate what’s available. Absent from the first Thanksgiving feast were modern traditional dishes like corn on the cob (all corn was dried by that time), pumpkin pie (they had no sugar), cranberry sauce (no sweetener other than Maple syrup), and stuffing (they served pudding).

We have altered the menu over the years to the point where we rehash and serve the same dishes over and over. This year, why not have a real Thanksgiving by celebrating the local harvest and the hardworking hands that grew it? Buy your dinner ingredients from local farms and prepare what is seasonally available in our area. Your food dollars will stay local, nourishing the farm family, farm hands, and local community. This is an act of gratitude that bolsters the local economy during tight times.

Right now, you can find turkeys that live the way nature intended, chasing bugs, scratching in the grass and frolicking in the fall leaves instead of penned up one-on-top-of another in factory farms. These turkeys will cost a little more than their supermarket counterparts because they are not mass produced, or government subsidized. They also taste more “turkeyish” because they are not force-fed an unnatural diet. As a result, free-range birds are healthier, and better for you as well.

We Americans are used to cheap and plentiful food; we spend less on food than any other developed nation in the world. On average, Americans spend only 2% of their disposable income on meat and poultry, compared to 4.1%  in 1970. This quest for cheap and plentiful has seen the average size of a farm bloat while the number of farms and farmers has decreased. In the 1960s, one farmer supplied food for 25.8 persons in the U.S. and abroad. Today, that same farmer feeds 144 people.

For farming to be an economically viable profession, we must make it more profitable for the farmers by eliminating the middle man. Right now, farmers get around eight cents of every dollar we spend on food in chain grocery stores. When you buy direct from the farm, the farmer gets the whole dollar, and that dollar has the economic impact of two dollars in the local community.

To find local Thanksgiving dinner ingredients:
Sweet Potatoes, potatoes, onions, squash and other vegetables (farm stores):
Blooming Hill Farm, 1251 Route 208, Washingtonville 782-7310
Hoeffner Farms, 405 Goodwill Rd., Montgomery 457-3453
Jones Farm, 190 Angola Rd. Cornwall, 534-4445
Lawrence Farms & Orchards, 39 Colandrea Rd. Newburgh, 562-4268, 

Pies and Cider (many of the stores listed above also carry these):
Soons Orchards, 23 Soons Circle, New Hampton, 374-5471,
Walnut Grove Farms-285 Youngblood Rd. Montgomery, NY, Ned Roebuck,

Shawn’s Painting of the Week 11/17/09

Monday, November 16th, 2009



“Mary/Mary” is a large-scale self portrait in oil on reused wood panels. The painting explores the feminist archetypes of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene or woman as both holy mother and Earth mother. For more info visit

Photo of the week – Nov. 15, 2009

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Photography by Rich Gigli

The doorway of life invites us to open. But, it's in that deceive moment as we pass through that we are nether leaving or entering the space. No matter our age, or gender, we all go through doorways on our way to meet our destiny

The doorway of life invites us to open. But, it's in that deceive moment as we pass through that we are nether leaving or entering the space. No matter our age, or gender, we all go through doorways on our way to meet our destiny. (Gigli 2009)

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 11/07/09

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

By the River

By the River. Oil on canvas, 6x18. Contact for price and delivery information

By Carrie Jacobson

We rise, we sleep, we love, we hope, and on the face of this Earth, we tremble with fear and courage, trepidation and conviction. There is nothing as full as a well-lived life. That’s not to say we leave without regrets – only that regret takes as much heart as anything.

If It Walks Like a Pig …

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Beth Quinn

If you’re confused about what swine flu is, what the symptoms are, how serious it is, whether or not you should get a shot, whether or not a shot is available, whether or not the shot will kill you faster than the flu, well … I’m here to help.

The following is informational information about swine flu of which I’ve been informed.

Regular flu is more dangerous than swine flu.
Swine flu is more dangerous than regular flu.

A sore throat is the first sign of swine flu.
Puking is the first sign of swine flu.
You never puke with swine flu. If you’re puking, you’ve got regular flu.
Or food poisoning.

Only pregnant women die from swine flu.
The unborn preborns are completely protected from swine flu even if their soon-to-be mothers have died.

The elderly and children should get the swine flu shot.
Swine flu is more dangerous for middle-aged people and doesn’t hurt the elderly or children.

The swine flu shot is only available to health-care workers.

Pig, also known as Swine Flu

Pig, also known as Swine Flu

Health-care workers are required to get the swine flu shot.
It would be unconstitutional to require health-care workers to get the swine flu shot.
The swine flu shot isn’t really a shot at all. It’s a squirty thing up the nose.
The squirty thing up the nose is for the regular flu shot.

Swine flu causes autism.
The swine flu shot causes autism.
Kids with autism should definitely get the swine flu shot.
All kids should get the autism shot.

Muscle ache is the first sign of swine flu.
If you have muscle ache, that means you have regular flu.

Swine flu isn’t as contagious as regular flu.
Swine flu is totally contagious and is spread by hand-to-mouth contact.
To avoid swine flu, wash your hands obsessively, until they are raw and bleeding.
Swine flu is an airborne virus, so all that hand washing is senseless if someone just sneezed at you.



Regular flu is an avian flu and is carried by birds.
Chickens, mainly.
Pigs started the swine flu but it swiftly spread to chickens and then to flying birds, who carried it around the globe.
You can catch swine flu if you eat undercooked pork.

Never eat a chicken.

A bad headache is an early sign of swine flu.
Or maybe you have a brain tumor.

The swine flu shot is more likely to kill women.
Men are more likely to act like big babies if they get swine flu.

It takes 14 days to recover from swine flu.
It take 2 days to recover from swine flu.
The cough associated with swine flu lasts 6 weeks.
There is no cough associated with swine flu. If you’re coughing, you have regular flu.

When a case of swine flu is reported in a school, the district will shut down for 5 days.
Schools are rarely open anyway, so what difference does it make.

When pigs fly, we're toast.

When pigs fly, we're toast.

So there you have it. The final word on swine flu.

Beth can be reached a

See Vernon Reinvent Himself

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Bob Gaydos

 A lot of people see no problem with the unrelenting decimation of the traditional news business, with newspapers and news magazines closing or severely reducing their staffs, with people having to rely on rip-and-read radio reports or superficial cable news shows that provide more heat than light or Internet blogs (not this one) that have only a passing acquaintance with the facts.

 I’m not one of those people. I recognize the importance of the bottom line to any business, but I also know the value of the byline in the news business. That is, I still think it’s crucial for readers of the news to be able to trust the source of it, to have confidence they are getting the true depth and breadth of the story they’re reading. Without context in our lives, all we have is a series of unrelated happenings and historians take too long to tie things together for us. When newspapers or news services cut loose their most experienced hands to save money, this context inevitably suffers.

 Which is a too-long, somewhat self-serving way to say, “Did you see what C. Vernon Mason is doing these days?”

 “Who the heck is C. Vernon Mason?” some of you (the younger ones) are asking, and “Why should I care what he’s doing these days?”
 Well, see now, context.
 Let me do this in order. First off, if, like all news organizations, you depend on the Associated Press for the bulk of your news of the world, you wouldn‘t know about Mason’s recent activity because the reporter who wrote a story in which his name came up apparently didn’t know who he was or why it might be significant to include his name in the story. On Nov. 5, the AP New York bureau moved a story on the transition team named by newly elected Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. Vance will succeed the legendary Robert Morgenthau, who is retiring after 35 years in the office. To help him make the transition, Vance has named a 37-person team of advisers, including, the AP tells us, “a noted sex-crimes prosecutor, wrongful-conviction experts, a state ethics official …a former judge … a seminary professor, a diversity consultant, union officials” and so forth.
 That unnamed seminary professor? C. Vernon Mason. Why is that newsworthy in a story about people chosen to help a new DA get off to a solid start? Two words: Tawana Brawley.

 Mason was one of a trio of black community leaders (Al Sharpton and Alton Maddox were the others) who turned justice on its head and ignited a racial firestorm that engulfed New York and much of the country in 1987 and ‘88 by promoting a hoax initiated by a 15-year-old black girl from Wappingers Falls. Tawana Brawley was found in a garbage bag on the grounds of an apartment complex. Her clothes were torn and she was covered in feces. On her chest, “nigger” and “KKK” had been written. She told police who found her that she had been abducted by several white men (one of whom wore a badge) who raped her over a period of days, then smeared the feces on her and chopped off her hair.
 None of it was true. Police and forensic experts found no evidence to support any of her accusations and witnesses contradicted her story. Yet Mason and his cohorts turned the accusations of a teenaged girl afraid of being punished for not coming home into a crusade to attack the police and justice system as racist and corrupt. By their own admission, they never questioned Brawley about the details of the alleged attack, instead holding press conferences and going on TV talk shows to hurl even more inflammatory accusations. The attackers were police officers, they said. One was an assistant DA, they said.

 None of it was true. A grand jury tossed out Brawley’s charges. Her advisers never let her talk to the jury. Ten years later, a civil jury found Brawley and her three advisers guilty of defaming the assistant DA, Stephen Pagones. The jury ordered payment of damages, some $185,000 from Mason. Ten years later, Pagones says most of that has not been paid.

 More context. Seven years after the Brawley hoax, Mason was disbarred by a New York court which cited “a pattern of professional misconduct” of at least six years.
The five-judge panel mentioned “repeated neglect of client matters, many of which concerned criminal cases where a client’s liberty was at stake; misrepresentations to clients; refusal to refund the unearned portion of fees” and the use of non-lawyers.
According to The New York Times, the court also noted that “virtually all the clients were low- or moderate-income persons” who had retained Mr. Mason “because of his reputation in the community as a representative of the disadvantaged.” (Footnote: Maddox, also a lawyer, was also disbarred.)

 Today, Mason is indeed, as the AP told us, a visiting professor of urban youth ministry at New York Theological Seminary. He is also a deacon in a Baptist church in Harlem. And he heads a non-profit agency that helps troubled youth. He is, according to the head of Vance’s transition team, “a well-respected clergy member who cares deeply about his community and the criminal justice issues faced by youth and adults.” We know this only because the New York Daily News apparently still employs some people with institutional memory. The paper ran a story on Mason and Vance the day after the AP story was posted.

 Mason, as usual, had nothing to say about his being named to a team to help a DA when he had spend so many years ruining the life of another DA. A story several years ago in The Times portrayed him as a man who had learned a lesson, that his old trash-and-burn methods of confrontation may not have been the best way to advance the legitimate grievances of the black community he represented — the community he took advantage of in his law practice. Time, he told, The Times, “alters roles and relationships.” He said then, in 2000, that he wished he might have been a more efficient lawyer and maybe he should have done things differently with the Brawley case.

 But he never apologized. Not to Pagones. Not to police in Dutchess County who were labeled racist and rapists. Not to the community at large, which he led into a racial firestorm. Not even to the clients he cheated.
 And try as I did, in countless hours on the Internet, I could not find any instance since then in which the words C. Vernon Mason and apology appear together in the usual manner. And I have a problem with that. I am a big fan of second, even third, chances. Lord knows, life is tough enough to get right the first time. But I am also a believer in making amends and taking responsibility for one’s sins, if you will. As a man of the church, I would have thought Mason would recognize the healing power of coming clean and moving on, rather than just moving on.

 I would apparently be wrong. So I have a problem believing that Mason has totally dropped his con. Maybe I‘m being too cynical and rigid here, but I’m one of those who well remembers what the Brawley case did to the mid-Hudson and how Sharpton, Mason and Maddox built up their street creds in the black community by perpetuating a cruel, dangerous hoax.

 As for Vance (whose father was secretary of state for Jimmy Carter) seeking advice from Mason, well, in 1985 (two years before Brawley) Mason ran for the very same office Vance just won. Mason pulled a shocking 32 percent of the vote against Morgenthau, who, by the way, says the Brawley case is “ancient history.” But some of the same issues Mason ran on against Morgenthua 24 years ago still exist. And Mason, unrepentant though he may be, remains a prominent figure in Harlem. Politics, as always, is about context.

 Bob can reached at

Health Care and the Midnight Vote

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Jeffrey Page

As the Democratic leadership in the House goes about patting itself on the back over the historic passage of national health care legislation, it should be noted that the vote was no mandate. In fact, for a party that won 55 percent of all votes for House members in last year’s election, it was pathetic.

This was the bill put forth by House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A few 2008 election statistics are necessary here. Pelosi was reelected with 72 percent of the vote last year. In the mid-Hudson Valley, John Hall was sent back to the House with 59 percent and Maurice Hinchey won reelection with 66 percent of the vote.

The health measure, meanwhile, squeaked by over the weekend with a scant 50.7 percent of votes cast in the House.  Thirty-nine Democrats voted against it; what do they know that Pelosi does not?

This vote could make matters difficult for the party and for President Obama when voters go to the polls one year from now because, if nothing else, it suggests that the Democrats – wildly triumphant last year – are not invincible.

Obama and Pelosi handled things badly. During the summer just past, Democrats made light of the crowds attending tea parties and town hall meetings against health care reform. It makes no difference that some of the protesters – the civil ones as well as the yahoos shaking their fists and calling their congressional representatives liars to their faces – might have been ill-informed. Who will soon forget the guy who told his congressman that he didn’t want the federal government intruding on his Medicare coverage?

Obnoxious or polite, right or wrong, the important thing is that the protesters were out there when they could have been enjoying a summer evening. They turned out again last week when about 10,000 people showed up for an anti-health bill rally on the Capitol steps. This with just two days notice.

Obama seemed to be on a nice long vacation over the summer. As far as medical care legislation was concerned, he let his friends in the House take the heat. His decision to stay out of the fray was as badly conceived as John Kerry’s allowing six precious weeks to pass during the summer of 2004 before responding to the Swift Boaters and their lies about his military service in Vietnam.

In another example of bizarre leadership, Pelosi, in deciding to hold the House vote late Saturday night, was guilty of Old-Think. It used to be that if a politician scheduled an unpopular announcement for anytime between 5 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday, no one would know about it. But in the age of the Internet and 24-hour cable news, everybody knows everything all the time, or at least has a headline in mind. For politicians, there’s no hiding.

The next time Pelosi put her foot in her mouth was soon after health care passed – by a not especially uplifting vote of 220 to 215 – when she was asked about the nature of bi-partisanship.

“That vote was bipartisan,” she said, referring to the fact that 219 Democrats were joined by one Republican, Anh Cao, a first-term backbencher from New Orleans who is likely in for a spirited primary next year.

Actually it’s the Republicans who can claim the bipartisanship banner. They got 39 Democrats to switch sides and join them in voting No.

Next year, the 258 Democratic members of the House will have to answer for Pelosi’s midnight vote and delusional definition of bipartisanship.

Jeffrey can be reached at

The Adventures of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009



By Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 22

The story so far: James Dunning lost his job, and then, to save his house, had to move in with his wife’s mother. She is allergic to dogs, though, and so James took Zoe, his mostly blind lhasa apso, to the Pike County shelter. He left her there in the middle of the night. But before the shelter opened, Kaja, a big red dog who’s been on her own for a while, found Zoe and freed her. The two set out to find James. On the way, they picked up a cat, Loosey, who’s helped them on part of their journey. Loosey has decided to stay at a farm where they just spent the night, and so Zoe and Kaja have pushed on. But, crossing the road away from the farm, Zoe has darted out and been hit by a car.

It starts to rain. Kaja looks at the woman who was driving the car that hit Zoe. The woman is weeping. It wasn’t her fault, Kaja knows. It was the fault of the big dog, the big white dog behind the fence in that yard, the big white dog that lunged at Zoe and scared her into the road. Kaja leaves her friend’s side and walks to the fence. She growls at the big dog, growls and snarls and barks at the dog, and he stares at her for a moment, and she stares back, stares him down, and he slinks back to the porch, climbs the steps and stands there.

And then she hears gasping from the little crowd of people. And she hears crying, wailing and sobbing, and she trots back over, knowing that her friend is gone. Her sweet, happy little friend. They were close to where she used to live, Kaja knows. They were almost there.

The rain falls harder, and the wind picks up. Kaja pushes in past the legs of the people, knowing what she’s going to see.

But instead of seeing her little friend dead there on the pavement, she sees Zoe sitting up, breathing. Her unseeing eyes are open, and she’s panting and holding her head a little to the side, and then Kaja sees Loosey, sitting beside Zoe, licking the side of the little dog’s face.

“It’s a miracle,” one of the women says. “That cat! Where did that cat come from? How did that cat do that?”

“It’s like she breathed the life back into her,” another woman says, and reaches down to pick up Loosey, but the cat skitters away. She sees Kaja, and comes up to her and rubs against the big dog’s legs. Loosey smells good, like hay and dirt and sun-warmed wood. She smells like the Piersons’ barn, and the horses in it, and she rubs against Kaja and the big dog knows that the cat has found her home.

And then she touches noses with Kaja, and turns and lopes off across a field, and in a moment, she’s gone from sight.

Zoe is up on all fours now, and Kaja pushes through the little crowd to get to her. The big dog licks the little dog’s ear, and licks the side of her face, and Zoe knows how glad Kaja is to see her again, and the two begin to walk off together.

“No! Don’t go, don’t go, dogs, come here! Come here!” a woman’s voice calls.

Kaja wants to go on, wants to push on their way, but the woman’s voice stops Zoe. She remembers being called, and getting cookies for going wherever they wanted her to go. She remembers being called, and being patted and picked up and hugged when she came to them. Being called had everything in it, everything from her old life, and when the woman calls her again, everything in her pulls toward the woman. But then, she looks at Kaja, and though she can’t really see the big red dog, she can feel the big dog’s heart.

Zoe aches where the car hit her. She’s bruised and sore. She’s tired and thirsty. But the big red dog is her friend and her guide, and Zoe realizes right there how much she loves her, how much she trusts her.

“Come here, dogs!” the woman’s voice yells again.

But Kaja and Zoe turn away, and head out through the cold November rain, toward the house where Zoe used to live.

Carrie can be reached at

Turning Our Schools Green

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Our children are growing up in a vastly different world from the one in which we grew up. By the time they graduate, much of what we taught them will be obsolete. Our country is in a period of transition, moving away from dependence on fossil fuels to a greener future. Let’s prepare our children by transitioning them and their school environment.

The Eco-Schools USA program is part of an international program led in the U.S. by the National Wildlife Federation. The program sets up school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers. Schools become certified by achieving a series of goals that must be implemented by students, faculty and administrators.

More than 270,000 schoolchildren in Ireland are taking part in the Green-Schools program, which is in its 13th year. Irish youths are leading initiatives on litter, waste, water and travel. Successful schools are recognized at successive levels, from bronze and silver to the highest award — a green flag. Once a school has received four green flags, it is considered a green school.

“Our Green Schools committee has been led by Transition Year students since 2005, and we received our first Green Flag in 2006,” says Anna Kavanagh, a geography teacher in a green school and author of “Green-Schools Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change.” “We’ve been calculating the ecological footprint of the school, which looks at our impact on all of nature’s resources. We’ve introduced recycling bins into the classrooms, carried out renovations to fit the school with energy-saving light sensors, got a compost bin, and planted over 1,000 spring bulbs.”

“We’re going for our third flag and we’ll be focusing on water conservation and quality,” says Eimear Noonan-Tracey, a 16-year-old student in a green school. “It’s about encouraging people to use water wisely, turn off taps, and be aware of pollution, such as that caused by slurry washing into rivers.”

Eco-school programs are democratic and participatory, engaging our children as active participants and citizens of the world community.
Students and staff can work together to reduce litter and waste and run the schools in environmentally conscious ways. Students take home an increased environmental awareness that affects their families and communities, also helping to transition them.

The process engages our children in actively working toward solutions. Children take control of their own environment, learning and making decisions about how to improve both their home and school environments. This is empowering to children, who often are made to feel powerless and frustrated by big issues, such as climate change.

At a time when school budgets are being cut, this type of program pays for itself and helps the schools save money. Reducing energy and water waste in schools will also reduce utility bills. Being an eco-school means taking responsibility for environmental stewardship and participating in the world community. Students can link up to other eco-schools around the world and share environmental information and culture.

The first flag focuses on litter and waste, implementing various initiatives to reduce waste and combat any litter problems they may face. On average, schools have reduced their waste by more than 60 percent, and some schools are operating at zero waste. Once a school receives the first flag, it moves on to the next theme, energy, before tackling the areas of water and travel. Each theme builds on the previous one, and all themes are worked on continuously until they become integrated into the rhythm of the school day.

“I’m doing this because I worry that the world we leave behind won’t be habitable for our children,” Kavanagh says. “We can’t forget about their future.”

To get your school involved, visit and then enlist help from other parents, students, teachers, administrators, PTA members and school environmental clubs.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 11-10-09

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

091104oBy Carrie Jacobson

As autumn moves toward winter, farmers reap the harvest and the land lies rich and fallow in the thin November sun. The fields warm and cool, and whisper a promise of spring beyond the snow. For information about price and shipping of this painting, contact carriebjacobson@gmail.som