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Family

Dear Teddy,

First I want to tell you how heartsick I am to have put you down. I know that is the final act of love for a responsible pet owner when a beloved animal is suffering and no longer functioning. Nonetheless I ask your forgiveness for this ultimate act that ended our 12-year relationship. Little consolation but just know that I miss you every day.

As I think back on your life with us, there are so many vignettes that come to mind. We selected you from a litter of 11 fuzzy golden puppies because you suddenly stretched your neck and quickly licked the tip of my son’s chin with your tiny tongue. It was the winning gesture.

You started life in our home in the kitchen, where we had a tile floor and a crate for you. In what seemed like record time, you were housebroken and we decided that you were smart. On the advice of a neighboring dog owner, we hired a dog trainer for a short while, and he confirmed our judgment. “This is one of the smartest dogs I have ever trained,” he said to our delight, although it did cross my mind that he was probably telling us what we wanted to hear. As time went by, however, you showed yourself quick at understanding what was expected of you. Or was it you who trained us to do what you needed when you needed it done?

Anyway, we have a lot to thank you for. Thank you for teething on the windowsills, the moldings, the bottoms of the kitchen cabinets and anything else you could fit your little mouth around. Thank you for grabbing the hem of a favorite cashmere sweater in your tiny teeth and giving it a good rip. Thank you for finding a sheepskin glove carelessly left on the chair and digesting the index finger. And throughout that first year and the years thereafter, you always delighted us with your puppy-like curiosity.

You were growing at a prodigious rate, and by the following year, you made clear your preference for the beach. Because you were a retriever, we would throw a tennis ball along the sand and wait expectantly for you to fetch and bring it back. Proving that you were not simply one of the pack but to be appreciated for your individuality, you looked after the ball with a bored expression. “Give me a real challenge,” we read in your eyes. So we picked up a stone about the size of a squash ball and threw it half a block. You were after it like a shot, went directly to it among the thousands of rocks on the beach and carried it back to us. But you didn’t give it up. Instead you preferred to chew it, which eventually ground down your front teeth. That was not so smart, I will concede, but it seemed never to hamper you in any way. You also loved to chew sticks and went clamming for rocks with attached seaweed. These you pulled out and brought to the high-water line then tore off the seaweed.

You had a mind of your own, we realized early on, as you ran into the water and would not come out when we wanted to return home. You would turn to face us, water up to your knees, and dare us to come in after you. That was acceptable in summer, but not so much in the midst of winter. And you certainly had a mischievous streak, being selectively deaf when you disagreed with a command. So much for the trainer.

You were interested in people, even more than you were in other dogs. And you were absolutely democratic, going up to each person in a room or on the road, skipping no one, and greeting him or her. Some were uncertain, since you were rather a large dog. “He just wants to say, ‘Hello!’” I would try to be reassuring, and you would wait patiently until each gave you at least a perfunctory pat. Satisfied, you would move on. You were like the neighborhood mayor.

Our family members, friends and neighbors miss you. At least some of our neighbors do. The rest can probably manage just as well without your tearing across their lawns, looking for a “sweet” spot. Most especially, we miss you in the evenings, when you would wiggle and wag with pleasure at our homecoming. And you would flatten yourself across our knees seeking and giving affection, as we relaxed in the living room after dinner.

Goodbye, my sweet dog. Thank you for filling our home and our lives with your love. The memory will not die.

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On the eve of this year’s Mother’s Day, I have a question to ask you. Do you ever think of your parents as people? Sounds like an odd question, but I mean thinking about them in terms of the times they live through, their private satisfactions, their fears and phobias, the experiences that mold them and so forth. We know the facts they choose to tell us about their lives but not their deepest thoughts and feelings.

We can’t ever really know them, even though we grow up in their home. Most of us consider them as loving to us, making our lives comfortable, caring for us when we are sick, instructing us how to behave, making our favorite birthday dinners. But there is more to their existence than their interactions with us.

I sat down to try and picture myself in their shoes.

I know that my father met my mother when he accompanied his older brother to the home of his brother’s fiancée for the first time. There, coming down the stairs in a red dress, was the sister of the fiancée, my mother. To hear my father tell it, he was struck instantly and forever by Cupid’s arrow. Although he was only 15, the sight of her took his breath away. So we know what my father was feeling, but how about her? Did she catch sight of him and feel the same overpowering love at first sight? Was she coming downstairs merely out of curiosity to meet her older sister’s intended, then to slip away for the afternoon with her friends? Did she have nervous or polite conversation with my father? What did they talk about? By the time she was 15 and he was 17, he had persuaded her to get married during her lunch hour in Manhattan’s City Hall. They prevailed upon two men in a nearby barbershop to be their witnesses and to swear that they were both of age. They then returned to work and to their separate homes that night.

My father was triumphant, I know, because he told us so, for now he had the love of his life as his own. Did he have any idea what that meant? You know, the stuff about making a home, supporting and caring for a wife? And my mother, my always and eminently practical mother? How had he convinced her to do this without telling her parents, her brothers and sisters, especially her older sister with whom she was dearly close? Hard as it is for me to picture, she must have been wildly in love.

Theirs was a youthful marriage that worked. They were seldom apart, only during the workday, and they eagerly reunited in the evenings. I could sense the quickening of her breath as we heard his key in the front door. And they began their nightly nonstop conversations as he entered the apartment. My sister and I fell asleep each night to the hum of their voices coming from the kitchen.

My dad was born in 1904, my mother in 1906, so they had both lived through World War I. My dad was lucky to be too young for the draft, but how did he feel seeing his older brothers marching off to war? And my mother? Was she worried about the fate of her older brother? I never asked them.

My parents decided everything together. My mother was more assertive about her opinions, but if my father didn’t agree she would back off. And while he seldom disagreed with her, when he did he was not reticent to let her know. They lived through the Great Depression, but I don’t know if they worried about money or job security. Were they afraid? There was no unemployment or health insurance then. Did they have nightmares about standing on breadlines? I never asked.

I do know that by 1939 they started their first business with all the life savings they had managed to scrape together. Then came Pearl Harbor and World War II. Once again my father was saved, being just beyond draft age. Did they feel threatened by the attack and the war? What were their thoughts and feelings? How did they cope with the stress? I came along then, but at no time in their lives did I think to ask.

Now, of course, it is too late.

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Extended family has that wonderful yet terrible ring to it. When we gather with family we may not have seen in years, we get the chance to reminisce, to share details about our lives, and to face the horror of seeing someone who insists on reminding us of something we said or did that we’ve spent years working to forget.

Recently, we gathered with a large group of family and got to watch our children, who are now in middle and high schools, face the same treatment I recall all too well from my youth.

“He’s so grown up and handsome,” is one of the more innocuous statements about my son.

“He has your dimples,” another offered, which would be flattering except that I don’t have dimples. That lady insisted, however, that the laugh lines on the sides of my face were like dimples, to which my son and I blinked our long eyelashes, which he did get from me, and moved on.

“The last time I saw you,” one friend started, “you must have been no more than this high,” she suggested, holding her hand around mid-knee level. “Do you remember?”

No, how could he remember? When you’re that small, you barely remember your own name.

Back when I was a kid, older relatives used to approach my cheeks as if they were fruit they had to squeeze to make themselves prune juice. Between thumb and index finger, they’d grip tightly while spitting into my face something about how cute I’d become. I’d focus on not letting the tears spill down my sore cheeks as these distant relatives couldn’t keep their distance.

Other people’s kids grow up incredibly quickly because we don’t have to take care of them when they get sick at night, drive them to sports or music practices, or push them to do their homework. We don’t have to battle with them when they decide that everything anyone who is more than 20 years old says is absolute nonsense and that they don’t want to live by anyone else’s rules.

We can look at other people’s children as if they are a part of some longitudinal study or as if we are flipping through the pages of a picture book that spans several years.

When I see some of these children who drift in and out of my life every few years, I’m tempted to tell them stories that wouldn’t interest them, about how incredibly shy they were 10 years earlier, or how their laugh used to be like a bubble machine, filling the room with happy suds. For the giggling girl who became the taciturn teenager, those stories are as welcome as persistent questions about the boys in her grade or events that occurred during the day in school.

I can’t stop myself from commenting on how much taller the kids are getting, in large part because many of these teenagers, who I used to get on one knee to see eye to eye, are now towering over me. I even made one of them smile when I asked if he wouldn’t mind bending down to hug me.

At this recent gathering, I asked my son to go around the table and name as many of the relatives as he could. The relatives were aghast at my putting him on the spot but, thoroughly enjoying the day, he recognized the request was a playful prank.

No matter what I say to other people’s kids, I make sure I don’t pinch anyone’s cheeks. Even all these years later, I can still see those feral fingers and thumbs coming at me like talons.

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Mom first met her great-great-grandson Aiman on July 13, 2016. Photo by Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Growing up in Setauket, I learned a great deal from my father by his example, but encouragement and support came from Mom. My sister Ann, my brother Guy and I were taught that we were not only a family but a part of a community that extended from our relatives and neighbors across the street to our relatives and friends everywhere.

We lived with my Grandma Edith Tyler until I was 12 and then we moved into the house down the street where my father’s half sister Carrie had lived with her two aunts, Annie and Corinne, until their deaths. Soon after we moved, my Grandma Tyler moved in and lived with us until her death in 1963. A few years later my grandmother Margaret Carlton (Nana) moved from her home in Port Jefferson to our home and lived with us until her death in 1980.

During all this time, these transitions seemed very normal to me. Mom never said a cross word that I was ever aware of, nor any indication that it was the least bit difficult for her sharing a kitchen and dealing with a strong-willed mother-in-law and an equally strong-willed mother. I always loved and appreciated my grandmothers. They were, like Mom, independent women who had run households of their own.

Grandma and my grandfather Tyler owned and ran a boarding house (now Setauket Neighborhood House) until they sold it in 1918 to Eversley Childs. After my grandfather died in 1926, Grandma took the job of Setauket’s postmaster, and then as librarian at Emma Clark Memorial Library.

Grandma Carlton, Nana to us kids, had married Guy Carlton in 1909 in Alna, Maine, and the couple immediately moved to Port Jefferson where my grandfather Carlton, Pup-Pup to us kids, worked building the original Belle Terre Club. A master carpenter and cabinet maker, Pup-Pup built his house in Port Jefferson, overlooking the harbor, and my grandmother insisted that they have indoor plumbing. This was in 1909, when outhouses were the norm.

One summer (1948) I went to work with my grandfather in Crystal Brook. He was building a full bar in the basement of one of the houses. It was a beautiful piece of furniture with cabinets behind the bar in the game room of the summer cottages, and he told me, “Don’t tell your grandmother, she wouldn’t approve.” My grandfather was a tough man, but my grandmother was the strength of the family.

Mom took all of this in stride. She also believed in letting go and letting her kids explore and discover the world. When I was about 8, I was allowed to cross Main Street in Setauket on my own and take my 4-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother with me to Mrs. Celia Hawkins’ farm. We loved going across to the farm with cows, pigs, geese and a few chickens running through the house. We grew up on the buttermilk and candy corn Celia provided for us every day.

On a number of occasions, I unsuccessfully tried to milk the cows. I could never get the hang of it, but Celia let us churn the butter until our arms gave out and we collapsed on the porch. We also enjoyed mornings when we could help collect the eggs, learning quickly how to avoid having our hands pecked by the chickens.

Mom and Dad also took us on vacations to historic and natural sites from Williamsburg, Virginia, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Niagara Falls and the Reversing Falls Rapids in St. John, New Brunswick.

Dad drove and Mom made up games for us to play in the car, usually looking for things outside as we drove. I didn’t realize it at the time, but although Dad was the tour guide and historian, it was Mom who put the fun into the trips with details about interesting signs, structures and people along the route.

“One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.”

— Beverly Tyler

As adults, we took Mom on a few trips, including one to Maine for the burial service of my Aunt Etta, who died when she was 105. Going through one town, Mom suddenly burst out laughing. She pointed out a Chinese restaurant named Mi Sen Gui, and exclaimed, “That’s my son, guy.”

Mom sang a number of years with the Greg Smith singers, even traveling with them to Europe. She played bridge with a group of friends and enjoyed the Setauket Library book study group, even traveling with members of the club to London.

Mom and Dad were members of the Old Field Point Power Squadron and Mom completed every advanced grade course, including celestial navigation. I remember that after completing that last tough course, her warm, aromatic chocolate chip cookies reappeared after a few years absence. Mom was also an excellent cook whose pie crusts have no equal and my wife will attest to that.

Mom enjoyed golf, bowling, boating, car trips and other outdoor activities with my father until his death in a terrible auto accident in 1975. Mom married her second husband Lewis Davis in 1978 and together they enjoyed golf, bowling, trips to Florida and trips all over the world, making a few lasting friends in Australia and other countries as well as closer to home. I especially got to know and appreciate Mom as a friend as well as a mom after Lew died in 2008, in his 94th year.

By the time Lew died, Mom had developed paralysis due to an inherited condition that strikes different people in our family at all different ages and with varied intensities. By the last few years of her life, Mom struggled with special shoes and braces on both legs. I hardly ever heard her complain or let her paralysis slow her down. By this year she was almost completely wheelchair-bound but was still able, with assistance, to move short distances, including in and out of vehicles.

Mom has always been able to take a problem, evaluate it, and after a day, make a decision that is best for everyone around her as well as for herself. Mom always wanted her colonial era home and property to be preserved. Working through state legislator Steven Englebright, this has been accomplished and the property will now go to the Three Village Community Trust.

Mom never lost her sense of humor. Recently, her companion Elizabeth was rubbing some lotion, with a pleasing but distinctive aroma, on her feet. Mom turned and looked very seriously at Elizabeth and said, “Will this clash with my perfume?”

Mom was always able to set herself a goal and stick to it. Elizabeth said that Mom is the only person she knows who could eat one dark chocolate candy kiss and put the bag of candy back in the refrigerator.

Mom’s concern even extended to our parish priest. A week ago we all feared the end of her life was near, but we didn’t know she knew. I told her that our rector, Canon Visconti, was on the way to see her and she whispered to me, “Does he know the situation?” That’s Mom, always one step ahead of the rest of us.

Mom died Thursday, Aug. 25, in her 102nd year, just a few hours after her fourth great-great-grandchild was born in Tennessee. Mom is survived by sons Beverly (Barbara) and Guy, daughter Ann Taylor (Frank), two stepdaughters Sukie Crandall (Steve) and Nancy Rosenberg, seven grandchildren, one step-granddaughter, 21 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.

The funeral will be Friday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Caroline Church, 1 Dyke Rd., Setauket. There will be a wake at Bryant Funeral Home, 411 Old Town Rd. in Setauket Sept. 8 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.

Beverly Tyler is a lifelong resident of Setauket, Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from Three Village Historical Society.

Mollie Adler bakes her brownies at her home in Shoreham. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Don’t look back. Keep going forward.

That’s what Mollie Adler’s father said to her before he died several decades ago. And she hasn’t looked back since — even as she is fighting to save her home with her new business “Miss Mollie’s Brownies.”

Around two years ago, this single mother of two hit hard times when her divorce not only left her struggling to put food on the table but also resulted in her Shoreham home going into foreclosure. Adler suffered another huge blow last September when she was laid off from her part-time job. With kids to feed and a home to worry about, baking brownies became Adler’s best bet.

Adler established her business after applying to New York’s Self-Employment Assistance Program last year. She was accepted into the program in October and started recycling water bottles to help pay for brownie ingredients. She’s currently selling her brownies at the Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market.

“She’s always wanted to pursue a career in baking,” Denise Rohde said. “Her brownies honestly are her claim to fame. It’s almost like getting laid off was a blessing in disguise because it gave her time to actually pursue her dream.”

Rohde, of Baiting Hollow, met Adler nearly 17 years ago and has seen her through the many obstacles in her life — including the first time Adler was laid-off several years ago. After losing her second job, Adler decided to pursue her dream.

“I just had to reach and say this is what I’m going to do,” Adler said about creating Miss Mollie’s Brownies. “I’m going to do it for me. I’m going to have hours that make sense for me and I want to empower myself.”

“Miss Mollie’s Brownies” are packaged and arranged at her home. Photo by Giselle Barkley
“Miss Mollie’s Brownies” are packaged and arranged at her home. Photo by Giselle Barkley

But a chronic health condition further complicated Adler’s life when she started losing her sense of smell and taste. While she can taste salty or sweet foods, she can’t taste flavors, and has no sense of smell. Regardless, her fudgy brownies have friends, family members and clients coming back for more.

While her business is only a few weeks old, Adler has a wide range of brownie flavors including classic, espresso and nutty. Some seasonal flavors include apple pie, s’mores, mint and lavender, which she’s perfected with the help of her children who taste-test the brownies. But their help doesn’t stop there.

Adler’s daughter Melanie, who doesn’t share her mother’s last name, was the first to tell her mom’s story. Now, with the help of Adler’s graphic designer Gary Goldstein, Adler’s clients can read her story on the tag tied to each of her brownies. Goldstein met Adler more than a year ago. Goldstein, an art teacher who is designing Adler’s labels for free, started working with her last November. In that time, he’s seen her tenacity as she works to save her home.

“She deserves this,” he said. “She deserves not only things going well for her, but to be successful because she’s a dedicated mom and she’s hard-working. Like everyone else in life, you have your ups and downs, but this is a woman I envision being successful.”

In 2014, according to www.singlemotherguide.com, nearly 12 million families in America were single-parent families. According to Port Jefferson resident Pat Darling, a friend of Adler, some single parents don’t always pick themselves up when they hit hard times.

“I think when a person is down, instead of staying there they should reach, and they should dream — and she’s reaching for her dreams,’ Darling said. “I hope they all come true.”

Adler doesn’t just want her dreams to come true. She also wants to show her kids and single parents alike what dedication and perseverance can achieve. She said she hopes to create a place for single parents to help them through their hardships once her business takes off.

“Everyday I get up and do whatever it takes to get this done,” Adler said about building her business. “I’m not going to stop until “Miss Mollie’s Brownies” is a household name.”

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By Emma Kobolakis

Winter dinners are inherently cozy. The air is colder, so the food is heartier. Some of us close our eyes and imagine a beautifully browned bird with bountiful sides of stuffing and sauce, a la Thanksgiving dinner. Others salivate at the thought of glazed ham or roast vegetables. That’s the grand thing: Our preferences are unique to each of us, and those preferences are built on shared experiences. The nostalgia felt when revisiting those experiences builds our anticipation to indulge, year after year, with friends and family.

That’s the grand thing: Our preferences are unique to each of us, and those preferences are built on shared experiences.

What’s your fondest holiday memory? Perhaps it was the time that you snuck handfuls of marshmallows and ate them in front of the TV while mom was making sweet potato casserole. Or the time that you and your friends decided to buck tradition and host a potluck, where you had a bite of everything and collapsed, moaning, on the couch. Or that one year when you decided you were the second coming of Martha Stewart and resolved to cook the entire feast, yourself — only to be saved from certain disaster when guests arrived to help. Or perhaps you carried it all off with a flourish.

If you’re a nervous home cook, it isn’t easy to devise a winter-worthy side or main course, which is why many of us do tend to play it safe and stick with the tried and true. However, there’s much to be said about taking something basic and adding some new flavor to it. The idea is to cook seasonally, with an eye on what’s readily available, as that usually has the best flavor. And it’s just as important to highlight those flavors in a harmonious way. Try to think outside the box of root veg and roasted meat; you might be pleasantly surprised.

In order to riff successfully on a classic, start with the basics and change one or two elements. Stuffing is fine and dandy, but what about stuffing a squash with a heady mixture of pork, sage and bread crumbs? And it wouldn’t be right to disregard those of us who don’t eat meat at all. Try a steak — a cauliflower steak, caramelized and served with a hearty relish. Or if you’re tired of the typical protein-heavy main courses, how about pastitsio, a Greek meat and pasta pie that will induce the same itis in your guests. They’re designed to serve at least four and are easily doubled (or tripled) to feed a crowd.

—Holiday dinner recipes—

Butternut squash stuffed with pork, sage and bread crumbs — Serves 4
Active Time: 30 minutes — Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 2 tablespoons butter; 1 teaspon olive oil; 2 stalks celery, diced; 2 shallots, sliced; 2 cloves garlic, sliced; 1 pound sweet pork sausage, casings removed; 1 small bunch sage (chiffonade); 1/2 cup bread crumbs; 2 medium-sized butternut squash, sliced in half lengthwise and seeded; 1/2 stick butter, melted; salt

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and a glug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sauté the celery, shallots and garlic until translucent.
3. Add the sausage, breaking up with a spatula into small pieces.
4. Once browned, add sage. Salt to taste.
5. Remove from saucepan, place in bowl. Add bread crumbs until desired consistency is reached.
6. Brush butternut squash with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
7. Mound stuffing into squash hollows and sprinkle with more bread crumbs and melted butter.
8. Roast until the squash is soft when poked with a knife, about 45 minutes.

Pastitsio  Serves 8
Active Time: 1 hour — Total Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS: olive oil for frying; 1 large onion, chopped; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 2 pounds ground beef; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon oregano; 1 teaspoon thyme; 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes; salt; bread crumbs, for garnish; 1 pound ziti; 1/2 stick butter, unsalted; 1/4 cup flour; 2-1/2 cups whole milk; 1 cup Parmesan (+ 1/2 cup for topping); nutmeg

In order to riff successfully on a classic, start with the basics and change one or two elements.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Prepare meat sauce: heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add cinnamon, oregano and thyme. Add crushed tomatoes. Salt to taste, and let simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Prepare béchamel: Melt butter. Add flour and cook until golden-brown and nutty. Stream milk in slowly while whisking. Whisk every so often until béchamel is thick. Salt to taste. Grate nutmeg into it, about 1 teaspoon’s worth.
4. Prepare pasta: Boil pasta until al dente; it’ll be baked again. Combine pasta with meat sauce.
5. Pour pasta and sauce mixture in 13- by 9-inch buttered baking dish, topping with béchamel. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and extra 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve hot.

Curry cauliflower steak with roasted red pepper relish — Serves 4
Active Time: 30 minutes — Total Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS: 1 head cauliflower; olive oil; 2 tablespoons curry powder; 2 roasted red peppers; 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped; red wine vinegar; honey; salt; 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Slice cauliflower head into 1/2-inch thick “steaks.” Rub with oil and dust with curry powder.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in cast iron (or ovenproof) skillet. Fry on both sides until browned, then move to the oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the relish. Chop red peppers and parsley.
5. Whisk red wine vinegar, honey and salt in a bowl. Stream in olive oil until emulsified.
6. Add peanuts and salt to taste.
7. Serve steaks with relish on top.

Emma Kobolakis is a professional cook, food writer and recipe developer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Serious Eats and on the tables of diners in Brooklyn.

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The Long Island Maker Festival debuts in Port Jeff

Spectators view demo of the Voxiebox which will be on display at the Long Island Maker Festival Sunday. Photo by Sean Kane

Opening my web browser the other day, I was dropped into the middle of an Apple “special event” product unveiling where an executive enthused about some app or service or the other. It was something to customize my newsfeed. Since I’m good with the way I currently get my news, I didn’t pay too much attention and moved on.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming — keeping up with apps, worrying about issues of privacy and multi-tasking — all of which can erode productivity and promise access to more content than we could ever properly consume. And yet, we can either be intimidated by technology or energized by it.

People who turn that energy into creativity — makers, doers — can be an inspiration to us all. That’s why this Sunday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson Village and KidOYO are hosting the Long Island Maker Festival.

The largest maker festival in Suffolk County, it will showcase the work of people who have seized technological innovations and turned them into opportunities to become innovators, says Cindy Morris, the event’s organizer.

As Cindy describes it, the maker movement stems from accessible innovation.

“Technology has changed so much, you can do almost everything from your own home,” she says.”

You don’t need millions of dollars or fancy hi-tech facilities to realize your ideas.

I have to admit that I love the word “maker.” People who create, contribute and value utility. It’s the opposite of consumption and requires grit and ingenuity. How could anyone not be excited by that?

Sunday’s family event will bring together 50 volunteers from ages 11 on up to the Port Jefferson Harborfront Park. There will be scientists from across the island wearing shirts saying, “I’m a scientist. Ask me a question.” They want to encourage those who attend to learn more about the science behind what they will be seeing.  And Cindy assures there will be lots of science — professional robotics, a children’s science exhibition, a demonstration of green screen technology and a hologram machine built in a garage — to name just a few offerings.

Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane
Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane

The maker movement encompasses more than just science and technology, Cindy says. There’s art, performing art and crafting, much of which will also be seen Sunday.

Stony Brook University’s theater department will demo theatrical make-up, while attendees can take sewing lessons, observe an African drumming circle, or take in other musical performances. Workshops from computer coding to organic gardening will also be offered.

“We always talk to our children about being imaginative, but as we get older, we stop doing it ourselves,” Cindy observes.

This event, this gathering of creators and entrepreneurs, is to show that “anybody can do this,” she says. “We want our children to know that they don’t have to be adults to be creative, and for adults to realize that they don’t have to be children to be creative.”

All of this came together in four months, which Cindy sees as a show of the community’s interest and desire for such an event.  There are close to 100 makers participating, and organizers expect the festival to draw some 3,000 attendees.

Cindy’s background as a strategic planner for non-profits — she owns The Benson Agency — definitely came in handy when gathering sponsors. Without them, the undertaking would have cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, she estimates.

Port Jefferson Village is allowing the organizers to use the Harborfront Park rent free, while The Rinx, the roller rink at the Village Center, is offering all attendees free roller skating for the day. Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences and its department of technology and society, Stony Brook Medicine, Hofstra, The Science Academy Camp at Park Shore, Long Island Parent and PSEG are among the other sponsors.

If you are a mover and a maker, or you want to be one, head “down Port” this Sunday. Maybe something you see will spark your sense of invention!

Tickets: Purchased in advance $10/person or $40/family. Day of $15/person or $60 family. www.limakerfest.com

Stephen Fricker and Patricia Shih. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Patricia Shih, an award-winning singer-songwriter, and her rollicking sidekick, Stephen Fricker, return to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, on Sunday, June 14, for another multimedia, audience participation family concert at 4:30 p.m. Their show, Songs in the Key of Earth, with images and video projected onto the planetarium dome, is an hour-long family concert for all ages.

The duo will use the wonder and magic of the planetarium to take the audience on a rocket ship ride through space and back to Earth. Along the way, the audience will appreciate the planet’s beauty and fragility, get to make wishes upon the first star, snuggle up with a lullaby, help to make a thunderstorm, and dance under a huge rainbow. Music, projected images and video all create an enchanting journey under the planetarium’s starry dome. Shih said the evening will celebrate the Earth and “the greatest idea in the universe — love — found only on this planet.”

Shih and Fricker are renowned for including the audience as guest stars, inspiring them to sing and clap along, help write a song, dance and move, and learn sign language. Concertgoers will use the power of their imaginations — with help from the planetarium — to go on a universal adventure.

Shih wrote her first song at age 12 and hasn’t stopped since. Her professional career began when she was 15 and signed a recording and management contract with Unicorn Records of Washington, D.C., as half of a duo. She released a 45-rpm record a year later, and numerous television, radio, concert and club performances followed. Those included an international radio broadcast on the Voice of America and appearances at the legendary Cellar Door. Several years later, she began her solo career in California, notably on her own PBS special “Patty Shih — Music from the Gallery.” Soon after, she returned to the East Coast and settled in Huntington.

Shih has recorded three albums for adults and five for families and children. Her albums have brought her honors including the Gold Award from the National Association of Parenting Publications, two Parents’ Choice Awards and Creative Child Magazine’s Seal of Excellence.

Admission is $8 per person. Seating is limited, and advance purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets can be purchased at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, call 631-854-5579.

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Dad with his three daughters on a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Photo from the Glowatz family collection

A dad is a funny thing.

But not as funny as he thinks he is.

Especially, it seems, when he is in a house full of females, as my father was when I was growing up and usually still is. Perhaps he is just misunderstood, because between his wife and three daughters — four, if you count the dog — Dad can get lost in the shuffle.

He has to contend with a gaggle of cackling women, a sometimes-boisterous group that frequently discusses matters or cracks jokes that aren’t for male ears or are just plain lost on him. Usually he smiles and watches patiently through it all — or stays away entirely. There is great satisfaction on his face when we talk about a subject he can easily contribute to, like business, politics or baseball. Or AC/DC. On those topics, he is the expert and everybody knows it.

But this isn’t to say that he feels uncomfortable without any other guys around — my dad is all about his ladies. He has worked from a home office my entire life, so he was there just about every day, fixing boo-boos, making home videos about the trials and tribulations of a doll’s life and breaking up some pretty bad sisterly fights, too.

Dad gets friendly with a cardboard President Ronald Reagan on the streets of New York City. Photo from the Glowatz family collection
Dad gets friendly with a cardboard President Ronald Reagan on the streets of New York City. Photo from the Glowatz family collection

While many women would say they don’t want to marry someone like their father, my dad is a model for whom I should be with. He can be rough around the edges but when it counts, he is a true gentleman. He can be a real tough guy, but he’ll cry if he feels like it (in recent history, he got choked up at my older sister’s wedding). He often reminds us, whether we roll our eyes at the repetition or not, the importance of holding on to our traditions and values. His family is his top priority and always has been, and he would defend any one of us to the death — he once threw himself between me and a snarling dog that had escaped its yard and lunged toward us while we went for a walk (in case you’re wondering how we got out of that, my dad ferociously barked at it and it cowered away).

And as much as we hate to admit, although we women sometimes tease him, my dad is beyond cool, partly because he is himself, no matter what other people say.

My mother told me many times when I was growing up that apart from her own father, my dad is the finest man she has ever known. While I understood what she was saying, I never fully grasped it until I had grown.

I once asked my dad whether he was disappointed that he never had any sons. He reminded me that he loves his three girls, tutus and all, and that he still did all the great stuff with us he would have done with boys, like teaching us how to ride bikes, taking us to baseball games and hugging us when we cried.

I guess the only real disappointment in my dad not having any sons is that he can’t teach any young men to be just like him.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the great ones like him.

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