Authors Posts by Melissa Arnold

Melissa Arnold

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By Melissa Arnold

As most businesses come to a standstill to aid in social distancing, many people are looking for ways to help their neighbors and community. While there’s plenty to do for one another, local wildlife organizations have their own plea: Don’t forget the animals.

It’s a tough time for places like the Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation in Middle Island, a non-profit which rescues and rehabilitates a wide variety of injured wildlife. They also provide a place of sanctuary for those animals not well enough to return to their natural habitats.

Photo courtesy of STAR Foundation

“We rescue those unusual pets that people have abandoned, birds and reptiles, guinea pigs, rabbits, and we’ve been doing this for 25 years,” said STAR Foundation co-director Lori Ketcham. “We are 100 percent reliant on volunteers, and have no paid staff or municipal support. [Normally] about 30 hands-on volunteers assist with rescues, provide animal care, clean cages, help with transport and do whatever else we need help with.”

The STAR Foundation has a long-standing relationship with the Animal Emergency Service clinic in Selden. Temporary limits on staffing and social distancing measures have added additional pressure to the clinic, and for now, STAR is no longer able to send animals to them for immediate care.

“They’re short on equipment and supplies, and what can they do? We [in the animal care field] need gloves and masks just like every other profession, and when those things are gone, they’re gone,” Ketcham said. “And while we’d happily welcome vets who are willing to provide care, not every vet is certified to work with wild animals, so we can’t turn to just anyone.”

The warmest months of the year are also the busiest times for animal rescue organizations, between the arrival of new baby animals and those that sustain injuries while out and about. STAR cares for about 150 animals at a time — currently they’re bottle-feeding baby squirrels and rabbits, caring for woodchucks and all kinds of birds, from quail to great horned owls, and small exotic pets with nowhere to go thanks to suspended adoptions.

While the foundation is keeping a skeleton crew of two to three people on-site, sanitizing regularly and staying separated as much as possible, each new person that enters the building resets that process and introduces new risks, Ketcham explained.

At Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown, they have the same concerns. 

“It’s certainly a big challenge for us — since we’ve been closed to the public, we have only one or two people coming in to work,” said Sweetbriar’s education director Eric Young. “Volunteers have taken some of the animals home for care, but that’s only temporary.”

Photo courtesy of Sweetbriar Nature Center

The center is home to countless animals of all kinds, from bustling ant colonies and hissing cockroaches to box turtles and groundhogs, the occasional goats and foxes, to name a few. Young estimates there are around 50 different kinds of animals on site. At the moment, its on-site Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is caring for several owls and rabbits, a hawk that suffered a gunshot wound, gulls and Canada geese, among others. 

As education director, Young said he’s feeling the loss of the many students who visit the center at this time of year. Sweetbriar interacts with thousands of students annually, including in-school presentations and class field trips.

Now, with schools closed and students adjusting to digital learning in varied forms, Young is trying to find creative ways to bring the animals online.

“We’re thinking about sharing our animal presentations on YouTube, and I’m in the process of putting together resources to share with teachers,” he said. 

At this point, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Janine Bendicksen is simply hoping for a quick end to the pandemic so that they can ensure the wellbeing of the staff.

“The Town of Smithtown covers our utilities and major repairs, but we still depend on financial support to pay the salaries of our staff, care for the animals and purchase formula, medicine and food,” Bendicksen said. “Our greatest need right now is to continue to support our staff.”

Ketcham echoed the need for continued donations in these difficult times. 

“We plan our fundraisers well in advance, and without doing five or six fundraisers a year, we’re not going to make it,” she said. “We don’t know what events we will be able to hold. Everything is up in the air right now. It costs about $8,000 a month to keep the center going, and donations have slowed to a trickle.  We have utility bills and insurances, cleaning, food and medical supply bills, no matter what else is going on. Without programs or fundraisers, it will become critical in no time.”

Both the STAR Foundation and Sweetbriar Nature Center are encouraging those who wish to support them with donations to send money only at this time — please protect the staff and do not bring supplies to their physical locations.

To donate to the Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation, visit www.savetheanimalsrescue.org. Call 631-736-8207 for urgent assistance with wildlife.

To donate to Sweetbriar Nature Center, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org. For those who find an injured wild animal, call 631-979-6344 and leave a message.” All our phone calls go directly to an answering machine that we check each day, we will call them back and give advice. We will accept wildlife if possible,” said Bendicksen.

You can also visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website at www.dec.ny.gov and search for “wildlife rehabilitator near me” to connect with other rescue organizations in your area.

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Ketogenic Diet
Making sense of the latest health trends

By Melissa Arnold

Low fat or full fat? Splenda, stevia or cane sugar? Three large meals or six small ones? New schools of thought and trends surrounding healthy eating are cropping up all the time, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused, especially when the advice is conflicting. 

Whether you’ve been using a particular weight loss plan with accurate information is key. Dr. Konstantinos Spaniolas, Associate Director of the Stony Brook Medicine Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, has given us his take on three of the most popular diet trends, the Ketogenic Diet, Clean Eating and Intermittent Fasting.

The Ketogenic Diet 

(also known as keto)

The basics: The keto diet uses the body’s metabolic processes to its advantage. In keto, carbs are drastically limited, which lowers glucose and insulin levels. Without glucose to use as its typical fuel, the body enters a state called ketosis, where fat is burned almost exclusively. Lots of unsaturated (healthy) fats, dairy products and moderate amounts of protein are central to going keto. Say goodbye to carbs and sugar, not only in forms like bread and pasta, but also in most fruits and some vegetables.

What it’s like: Tom Walheim, Sr., a 56-year-old engineer from Mullica Hill, N.J., started to search for a diet plan in 2018 when he acknowledged he wasn’t feeling as good as he did when he was younger. After trying other diets, he chose keto because it was easy to implement and would fit in well with his lifestyle. All three of Walheim’s children have celiac disease, so their home was already gluten free.

“Having already eliminated carbs, I had already separated myself from the things that would be tough for a lot of people to give up,” Walheim said. The first 15 pounds came off quickly, and within about six months he’d lost 40 pounds. Ultimately, Walheim has maintained a ketogenic diet for more than two years and plans to continue. 

“I love to grill, and I’ve rediscovered cooking through learning different keto recipes, like Instant Pot chili. And I’ve never felt deprived — I will occasionally have a cheat day when celebrating a special occasion with my family. For example, I enjoyed the cake at my daughter’s wedding this fall.”

Pros: Weight loss can be significant and quick, especially early on. Lovers of fatty foods can enjoy plenty of their favorites — keto is sometimes nicknamed the “butter and bacon diet.”

Cons: It takes time for the body to adjust to going keto, and you may feel moody, groggy, constipated or just unwell. The body can rebel when you begin to transition off of keto as well, causing gastrointestinal issues and even weight gain.

Dr. Spaniolas’ take: “In the keto diet, there’s an introductory week that is very low calorie, and that can be a problem for some people. With any diet that restricts certain foods, you can expect a period of adjustment, but most people tolerate it well. It’s important to stay well-hydrated to minimize risk of constipation and boost your overall wellbeing.

Clean Eating 
Paleo Diet

(also known as the Paleo Diet or Whole30, among others)

The basics: Generally speaking, eating clean is about sticking to foods that are in their natural, whole or unprocessed form. According to the Paleo Diet’s official website, this healthy eating strategy emphasizes foods eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. That means lots of veggies, fruits, meat, eggs and some fats and oils are in, whole grains, dairy, processed foods and refined sugars are out. Different plans will vary their lists of acceptable foods.

What it’s like: As a captain in the U.S. Air Force, Gemma Fiduk works hard to ensure she remains healthy and fit. When it comes to dieting, she takes a balanced approach of eating well-rounded, nutritious meals along with occasional treats.

“In 2015, I was stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was a physical training officer at the time, so I was trying to take a lot of courses on fitness and nutrition to better support my airmen,” said Fiduk, who’s now stationed in Fairborn, Ohio. “The gym on base offered a lot of different seminars and workshops, and one of them was about Whole30.”

Armed with information from the seminar and the official Whole30 book by Melissa Hartwig Urban, Fiduk said she was excited to give the program a try. 

“The program doesn’t hide that it takes discipline, but they prepare you well for the experience and I love a good challenge. Besides, it’s only 30 days,” she said. “I came away with a better understanding of my own body and the foods that were and weren’t best for me.”

While she didn’t weigh herself after completing Whole30, Fiduk noted a definite reduction in bloating and positive changes in her figure. After the initial cravings passed, she loved the sense of physical wellbeing and accomplishment that came along with cooking at home.

She admits that it can be easy to fall into eating the same meals repetitively or feeling bored with the menu, but said it’s easy to find a wealth of clean recipes online for those willing to look. The Whole30 website offers meal planning and grocery delivery services for a fee.

Pros: In the case of Whole30, the diet has a defined start and end date.

Cons: Lots of advance planning and shopping is required, and finding compliant ingredients or condiments can be tricky in regular grocery stores.

Dr. Spaniolas’ take: “The idea with clean eating is to take yourself back to the most basic nutrients. It’s less about weight loss than it is about overall wellbeing, and in the case of Whole30, it’s not meant to be a forever plan — you take it on for a set period of time and then return to eating normally.

Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting

(Also known as intermittent energy restriction)

The basics: Fasting is as simple as it sounds — not eating anything for a set period of time. By restricting the time spent eating, the body is said to better regulate blood sugar and increase the ability to burn fat. Options abound with fasting, including daily fasts of 12 to 20 hours, restricting eating hours only on certain days, or not eating at all for one or two days each week. During eating periods, a normal diet is consumed — calories are not restricted.

Pros: You can eat whatever you want — there are no forbidden foods. Fasting requires little preparation and can be started and stopped as your lifestyle requires.

Cons: Getting used to hunger pangs can be tough, and social situations might be hard to deal with if you’re the only one not eating.

What it’s like: Jeena Rudy, 26, of Setauket, was a college athlete and swim coach in her native California before becoming a missionary three years ago. She admitted her work with college students can make it too easy to make unhealthy food choices or overeat.

“One of my brothers is two years older than I am, and a few years ago he mentioned that his cholesterol was too high,” Rudy said. “I started to gain a little weight once I wasn’t swimming 40 hours a week, and I didn’t want to end up developing health issues. That conversation really motivated me to try intermittent fasting.”

Rudy fasted daily for 16 to 20 hours over a period of several months. She ultimately lost some weight and said she became more mindful about what she was eating.

“Fasting changed the way I think about food. I learned more about what foods help me to feel my best, too. Like right now I need to eat breakfast and could just grab a bagel, but making eggs would be a better, healthier option for me. I’m planning to take up fasting again in the future.”

Dr. Spaniolas’ take: “Again, staying hydrated will help you in fasting because it can quell hunger pains by keeping something in your stomach. I tell people to aim for at least 64 ounces a day, and if they can get closer to 100 ounces, that’s even better. Very low caloric plans, where people consume 600 calories a day for extended periods of time, should only be done under medical supervision, especially if you have health issues.

The best dietary plan is the one that works well for you. But just because a particular plan works well for one person doesn’t mean it will be the right one for someone else. For some people, giving up carbohydrates is easy, while others can’t give up fruits or go longer periods without eating. It’s about finding what fits best with your preferences, habits and lifestyle, and ultimately whether or not you can stick with it. 

Try something out for a week or two and see how you like it, but don’t combine diets. For some, dieting isn’t the best way to lose weight. If you’re having difficulty losing weight on your own, checking in with a physician to consider more targeted options can help. Remember to stay active as well, aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day or 30 minutes of exercise several times a week.” 

Remember to talk with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine.

 

Retired police officer encourages empathy for refugees in powerful first book

Reviewed by Melissa Arnold

Author Bill Kiley

Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the world flee their homes. They have any number of motivations, among them political turmoil, threat of violence, discrimination and climate change, to name a few. 

Retired police officer Bill Kiley has deep compassion for asylum seekers of all kinds, and recently felt a strong desire to help them in some way. Kiley, 71, of East Northport, hopes that educating children about the plight of refugees can bring about a more supportive, empathetic culture in the next generation. 

His new book, “Hope and Freckles: Fleeing to a New Forest” tells the story of a white-tailed deer named Hope and her spotted fawn, Freckles, as they attempt to escape the growing number of hunters in their forest and go in search of a place where they will be safe. The sharply written story and whimsical, beautifully-illustrated characters will stir the hearts of children and adults alike.

What was your childhood like? 

I was raised in Brooklyn, lived in Queens after I got married, and came to this area when I started working for the Suffolk County Police Department years ago.

Were you creative from an early age?

I wasn’t creative at all. I’m one of nine children, and we lived in an apartment with one bathroom, so you can imagine what that was like! We played a lot of sports with our friends, and I started working during the summers when I was 11 to help contribute to the family.

What did you end up doing for a career?

After high school, I spent a couple of years working at the FBI as a clerk while I went to college at what is now John Jay College at night. My initial plan was to become an agent. Simultaneously, when I was 17 I joined the Army National Guard. I went away for six months of training right after my 18th birthday, and continued to go for additional training at other points which meant some breaks from school. I ultimately began working for the Suffolk County Police Department in 1972.

You must have met a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, then.

Of course. That was part of my motivation for writing this book. I wanted to shine a light on the struggles of refugees and asylum seekers all over the world. After 30 years in law enforcement and serving as an Army reservist, I recognize that this crisis threatens free democracy if it’s not dealt with. If we don’t step up, then our children and grandchildren will be left to deal with the global implications of people being pushed out of their countries and living in tent cities. Something needs to change.

When did you first start writing? 

In retirement, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of babysitting for my granddaughters. We’re a few blocks away from a local library, and so when the kids were with me we’d sometimes go down to the library and head to the children’s section. I began reading to them, and then as they grew I’d read along with them. At that point I began to see the incredible power that children’s books have on young minds. All the while, I’d been looking for a way to help with the refugee crisis, and I began to think that maybe I could help young children understand what’s happening and have some positive influence on the future. I never had any ambitions to become an author.

How did you learn about publishing and sharpen your writing skills?

I read a lot with my grandkids. But in the spring of 2019, I found out about an annual convention in New York City called Book Expo at the Javits Center. I spent three days there. For me, it was a three-day immersive educational experience. I had the opportunity to meet lots of people from every aspect of the writing and publishing world, including some very generous folks who were authors of children’s books. They spent a lot of time sharing their experiences and advice with me, and then I went home and continued to read and learn as much as I could. 

How did your family react when you told them you wanted to write a book?

Well, my wife, Kathy, and I were in school together since the first grade. We go back that far. And no one in my life has been as supportive of their spouse in life as my wife has been for me. In everything I’ve ever tried, she’s been there, and this was just another one of those things.

My granddaughters have been involved in this project from the get-go. They gave great feedback and I’ve had the chance to share the book with their classmates, too.

Is there a reason why you chose to make the characters animals instead of people?

I thought that since this is such a sensitive subject to explain to children, it would be less upsetting to use animals. The national animal of Honduras is the white-tailed deer, and as many refugees come from that area, I thought it was an appropriate choice.

How did you go about getting published?

I met a number of people from traditional publishing companies, independent publishers and hybrids. One of them was a man who recommended his publisher, Mascot Books in Herndon, Virginia. I submitted my manuscript and was happy to learn that they were going to accept it.

What about the illustrations?

I contacted freelancers all over the world, and Mary Manning’s work is so unique and beautiful. I’m so happy with what she’s done for the book. Once the manuscript was finalized, Mary broke the manuscript into logical scene breaks, then made pencil sketches for me to approve. She took it from there. To see the final copy was like holding my children and grandchildren for the first time. There was a feeling of, “Oh my gosh, we just gave birth to a book!”

This book also includes vocabulary words and questions for discussion. Why did you choose to add those?

As I was researching and reading different children’s books, I found a couple that had some variation of continuing discussion. My hope is that this book isn’t just read by 7 to 10 year olds, but that their families will read along with them and share in the experience and conversations that can happen afterward. A parent or other adult might feel ill-equipped to start a discussion on their own, so I thought having some starter questions might be helpful.

What do you want children to take away from reading this book?

The response from the classes I’ve read to so far has been wonderful. Kids have shared that they never thought about what it would be like to leave your home because of danger; to not have a school to go to or books to read; that they are grateful for what they have. That has been like gold to me. 

It’s easy for people in our country to automatically look at the U.S,-Mexican border as the only place of crisis. But this is a global issue. The U.N. estimates that around 26 million people around the world have had to flee their homes, often to places where they are unwanted. Half of those refugees are children. I hope kids who read this book come to understand that there are people their age that are in that situation, and empathize with the plight of refugees all over the world.

What’s next for you?  

My hope is to do a series of four books, all with these same characters, following their journey as it continues on. I’ll be reading from the book at Barnes and Noble stores around Long Island and New York City in the future. I am also available to speak about the book at schools, religious congregations and events.

“Hope and Freckles: Fleeing to a New Forest” is available online at www.mascotbooks.com, www.Amazon.com or www.BN.com. To learn more about Bill Kiley, this book and future projects, visit www.hopeandfreckles.com.

The cover jacket of Cucinello’s latest book

By Melissa Arnold

The author with her grandaughter Lia Paris when she was 5 years old.

Regardless of gender, age or hobbies, just about all kids are surrounded by “stuff” — games, toys, dolls and LEGOs are perennial favorites. Joanne Cucinello’s granddaughter, Lia Paris, was no exception in her younger years, her childhood bed literally overflowing with stuffed animals. It’s a cherished memory for Cucinello, a longtime poet, storyteller and resident of Port Jefferson. In late January, she published “Lia Paris Sleeps in a Zoo,” an adorable book for children that explores little Lia’s vivid imagination and those of her stuffed friends.

Tell me a bit about your upbringing. Were you creative as a child?

I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens, and came from a family of five children. I wound up being the caretaker of my younger brothers and sisters, whom I love very much. I ended up having five children myself!

When I was younger, we didn’t have much money, and we learned how to create things out of nothing. All of us were very resourceful and creative. I loved reading and writing, and I always had a pencil in my hand.  

When did you first start writing? Was it a part of your career?

I have probably 10 children’s stories that I’ve written so far, though this is the second one that I’ve published. I’m also a poet at heart — I’ve published a book of poems, and have a blog called “I See the Bridge” that I’ve been writing on since 2007. 

My husband and I had a few hair salons, first in Queens and then out here in Suffolk County. I also grew up cooking beside my mother, and ended up starting my own small catering business. When my children were grown, I partnered with my daughter Lisa to open up Tiger Lily Cafe in Port Jefferson. We’ve been in business for more than 20 years. 

What made you want to write for children?

I love all stories, but I especially enjoy fairy tales. I think they’re very important for children to listen to. Fairy tales can connect with a child on a very deep level. My first book, “Wanda the Wilopent,” is a fairy tale.

The cover jacket of Cucinello’s latest book.

What inspired you to write this book? Is it based on a true story?

It seems like today children never have just one favorite toy. There’s always more being added. That was the case with my first granddaughter, Lia. She and her parents lived with us for the first year of her life, and so I was able to be closely involved with her as a baby. She was a very sensitive child and very imaginative. She refused to put her stuffed animals in the closet, saying that they would start to miss her and cry. 

For a while, Lia and her younger sister, Simone, shared a bedroom. Eventually, her parents turned an office into a bedroom, allowing both girls to have their own room. It seemed that initially she was feeling lonely being the big sister in her own room. Relatives saw how much she enjoyed animals and her stuffed pig, so they began to bring her additional stuffed animals for her collection. Over time, she kept putting more and more of them on her bed, until there was no more room and she ultimately fell out of bed.

How does Lia Paris feel about having a book written about her? 

Lia is 16 years old now, a wonderful human being. She’s been thrilled about the whole process from the beginning. Her little cousins, my grandchildren, are always asking if I’m going to be writing a story about them, too. I do have plans to bring them into stories in the future.

How did you go about getting published?

My first book was self-published, but this time I was published through Austin Macauley Publishers. They were accepting submissions, and I looked at the kind of books they were printing. While they didn’t have any fairy tales, they did have funny, touching stories about children and their life experiences. I had written “Lia Paris” years ago, when she was around 5 years old, and it was dear to my heart. 

What about the illustrations?

Austin Macauley has its own illustration department. I sent them pictures from when Lia was young, along with sketches my niece helped me with. Lia actually has many of the stuffed animals from the story still in her closet, so she got them all out for us to photograph. It was a lot of work, but they did a great job.

Is there a particular lesson you’re trying to teach with this book?

I think there is a lesson in it for both parents and children, that more isn’t always better. Today, we always have to have the latest, greatest thing. And so much gets thrown out. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Who is the book’s target audience?

I think that it would be best for children ages 4 to 7, though younger children can certainly have their families read it to them.

Any more books on the horizon?

Yes, I have plenty of stories that I hope to publish in the future if this book does well. One story is called “My Name is Rainbow,” about a little girl who has a condition called heterochromia — her eyes are two different colors, and she often gets picked on by other children for it. It’s about learning to love yourself and celebrating the things that make you different.

Meet the author at a Spring Local Author event at BookHampton in East Hampton on April 19 at 10:30 a.m. and at a special Storytime event at Barnes and Noble in Lake Grove on April 25 at noon. “Lia Paris Sleeps in a Zoo” is available for purchase online at www.austinmacauley.com, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

The Stony Brook University Orchestra

By Melissa Arnold

Long Island’s own Billy Joel was once quoted as saying, “Music is an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by, no matter what culture we’re from.”

The Stony Brook University Orchestra has spent decades working to broaden musical appreciation and exposure not just on campus, but in the community as well. Each year, their Family Orchestra Concert invites people of all ages, including young children, to join them for an hour-long performance full of interesting compositions and audience engagement.

This year’s featured soloist, violinist Sophie Bowden

Dr. Susan Deaver is celebrating her 20th year as the orchestra’s conductor and an artist-in-residence at Stony Brook. With careful planning, Deaver programs each concert around a unique theme. “Brainstorming new themes is certainly a creative process. A particular piece might give me an idea, or some aspect of the music can inspire me,” she explained. 

This year’s theme, titled Orchestral Contrasts, will showcase differences in orchestral sounds and musical styles.”There are so many contrasts in music to explore — tempo, instruments, dynamics, moods, character, even different types of composers,” said Deaver, adding that the audience will get to experience this with the strings, woodwind, brass and percussion sections.

The orchestra is comprised of 79 undergraduates, 1 graduate student, four teaching assistants and four high school students from the University Orchestra’s Young Artist Orchestral Program who were invited to participate for college credit. While the group does contain music majors and minors, most members are pursuing other fields. To accommodate everyone, the members rehearses just one evening a week for three hours. 

“I have students that are studying biomedical engineering, computer science, astronomy, psychology, and many other subjects — the common thread among them is that they all love music and want to continue to be involved in it,” Deaver said.

An annual highlight of the orchestra concert is a performance from a special young guest — the winner of the Young Artist Program’s Concerto Competition. Since 1996, Stony Brook’s Young Artists Program has allowed students in grades 3 through 12 the chance to hone their musical skills and meet other young musicians, all under the guidance of Stony Brook staff. Most students participate on the weekends, while a separate program is available during the summer.

“The concerto competition began years ago as a way of giving our students the opportunity to play with the university,” said Michael Hershkowitz, Stony Brook’s director of concerts and executive director of community programs, including the Young Artists Program.

The concerto winner can be a student of any age and instrument type. Each hopeful soloist performs for a panel of three judges, which includes Deaver and two impartial judges. Past performers have been violinists, cellists, pianists, winds players, and even vocalists.

This year’s winner is 16-year-old violinist Sophie Bowden, a junior at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington. She will perform the first movement of Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61 by French Romantic composer Charles-Camille Saint-Saens.

“I like to express myself through my violin, and I like how it puts a smile on the faces of others. I perform a lot at nursing homes, especially during the holidays, where residents aren’t able to go out and see concerts. Bringing live, upbeat music to them does a lot to ease their depression; the vibe changes immediately,” said Bowden, who has played the violin since she was just 4 years old. 

Bowden, who said she is thrilled to have been chosen, admitted the audition process for the concerto competition was nerve-racking.  While she’s had smaller solos in the past, this will be her first time performing as a soloist with an orchestra. 

“Working with the university orchestra has really been a fun, challenging, and rewarding experience. I found that playing this particular concerto with a full orchestra was much more difficult than playing it with a single piano accompanist. The Saint-Saens concerto is a romantic period composition, so it’s less structured and restrained than metered works of the Baroque era,” Bowden explained. “For everyone to stay together, we must listen closely and watch the conductor more than usual. Fortunately for me, the university orchestra has many extremely competent players, and Ms. Deaver has been very supportive.” 

Hershkowitz said that the concert provides a fun and accessible opportunity to learn more about orchestral music and what it’s like to be part of an orchestra.

“There aren’t a lot of concerts out there that are meant for families, and that’s what makes this event so special — it’s not too long, you don’t have to worry about whether or not the kids are going to ‘make it’ through the experience. We don’t concern ourselves with concert etiquette, so it’s OK if a child wants to ask a question, gets up from their seat or makes noise,” he explained. “It’s about giving everyone a chance to have an experience with a full orchestra, to watch a conductor in action, to learn a little about different instruments and to hear the music change.”

The 2020 Family Orchestra Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 on the Staller Center’s Main Stage at Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. Tickets are $5. To purchase or learn more, call the box office at 631-632-ARTS or visit www.stonybrook.edu/music.

Photos courtesy of Sophie Bowden

Chloe Bucher

By Melissa Arnold

Like most high schoolers, 16-year-old Chloe Bucher has a lot going on. The Ward Melville High School junior is balancing schoolwork, two jobs, a social life and extracurriculars while also pondering big questions about her future.

In the midst of all that, Bucher has never stopped thinking about others, particularly people with disabilities and special needs. Since she was an eighth grader at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School in E. Setauket, Bucher has been a part of a Buddies Program that builds friendships and support for special needs students through games, crafts, parties and other activities. 

When she arrived at Ward Melville in 9th grade, Bucher was one of several students who petitioned to launch a similar program for the high school.

“People assume a lot of things when you have special needs — they might think ‘oh, they’re just dumb.’ But it’s not like that at all,” Bucher said in a recent interview. “The Buddies Program in middle school was amazing, and we wanted to keep the inclusivity going. It’s a lot of work to accommodate each person’s individual needs and skills, but it’s so worth it.”

Last week, as local students had a week-long recess, Bucher was hard at work on her latest project — Come Support and Change Lives — a fundraiser to benefit the special needs community on Long Island.

On Saturday, March 7 beginning at 7 p.m., Bucher is hosting an evening of appetizers, drinks, raffle baskets and entertainment at the charming Bates House, nestled in Setauket’s Frank Melville Memorial Park.

Proceeds from the event will support the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), Long Island’s leading provider of educational, vocational, day program and residential services for more than 1500 children and adults living with autism and other developmental disabilities. The organization was founded in 1961 and has since grown into an energetic, multi-site nonprofit agency.

“I really wanted to broaden the spectrum of who I was helping,” Bucher said. “A family friend has a son with autism who benefited from DDI, and I know they do so much for the community. They’re a great team.”

Jean Smith, director of development at DDI, said that the organization is thrilled to partner with Bucher.

“It is wonderful to see that there are young people in our local community like Chloe, who are passionate about enhancing the lives of individuals with autism and go above and beyond to show their support,” said Smith. “On behalf of the individuals DDI serves, I would like to thank and commend Chloe for her kindness and generosity.”

Bucher is still unsure about what she wants to do after graduation, but is leaning toward becoming an educator. 

“The kids that I work with make me want to do this for a lifetime,” she said.

The Bates House is located at 1 Bates Road in Setauket. Tickets to the event are $50 per person. To purchase, contact Chloe Bucher at 631-521-1478 or by email at ChloeBucher1@yahoo.com. To learn more about DDI, visit www.DDINY.org. 

'Black Opal,' acrylic on canvas, by Bill Durham

By Melissa Arnold

Running a museum is far from simple. Consider this: The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook is home to more than 2,500 pieces of artwork done on paper, 500 paintings and 100 pieces of three-dimensional art. Each piece must be catalogued, maintained, protected and stored. It’s a delicate and meticulous process that takes a lot of work.

Recently, the LIM received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts to expand and upgrade its storage facilities. They’ll need to clear out some of their existing storage space to prepare for renovation, and fortunately its visitors will reap the rewards of the process.

From Feb. 22 to June 26, the museum will present Off the Rack: Building and Preserving LIM’s Art Treasures, an exhibit of approximately 90 works of art from its permanent collection, in the main gallery of its Art Museum. Many pieces in the exhibit are only put on view rarely, if at all.

‘Dance of the Haymakers,’ 1845, oil on canvas mounted on wood, by William Sidney Mount

“We could have taken the artwork to off-site storage, but we thought, ‘Why not put it on display?’ In order to make more space, we thought this would be a great time to assess the state of the collection and share its history and highlights with our visitors,” said LIM Deputy Director and Curator Joshua Ruff. “This is an opportunity for people to see things they may not have seen before.”

Ruff said that choosing pieces for Off the Rack was a team effort by the museum staff, who sought to put together a cohesive story of how the museum’s collection has grown and evolved over the years.

Visitors will be able to explore a time line of the LIM’s conservation efforts. In addition, each work in the exhibit will include its accession number, which will help teach visitors how the museum keeps track of each piece.

Off the Rack is divided into loose sections celebrating particular themes and standout artists. Not to be missed is a section dedicated to one of the museum’s “anchor” artists, William Sidney Mount. Among Mount’s included works are an 1841 painting of Crane Neck Marsh, which Ruff says is “an example of his extremely detailed craftsmanship while creating a natural setting,” and “Dance of the Haymakers,” a painting of a fiddler playing music for dancing farmhands, which made Mount a household name in 1845. 

Other high-profile artists with dedicated spaces in the exhibit include Arnold Hoffman, Samuel Rothport, Winslow Homer, Joe Reboli and Helen Torr, among others.

There are also sections of artwork focused on coastal and marine environments, abstract work and contemporary artists, including some local Long Islanders like Janet Culbertson, Bruce Lieberman and Dan Pollera.

Ty Stroudsburg of Southold also has artwork at the LIM — her 2000 oil painting on linen “Pumpkin Field at Sunset” is one of many views that have caught her eye on the North Fork.

“I love color. I used to drive around with a sketch pad in my car, and it was always color that would lead me to pull over and either do quick sketches with pastels or take a photograph to use for later,” said Stroudsburg, whose work has hung in exhibits and museums throughout New York and New Jersey for more than 60 years. 

“I didn’t strive for notoriety, I just painted because I love to paint and it keeps me going. I feel extremely fortunate that curators believe my art is worth being a part of their museums,” she added.

For LIM Executive Director Neil Watson, Off the Rack provides the chance to see their continuously evolving collection in a new light.

“As we began to do the work required for the renovations and take pieces out of storage, there were things in the collection I hadn’t seen in several years, and even some pieces I didn’t even know we had,” he recalled. 

“That’s the beauty of this exhibit -— we get to share parts of our collection that people may have never even seen before. Of course, there will be plenty of ‘old friends,’ like the work from William Sidney Mount, but there is so much more to see. Ours is a living collection — it’s not sealed or stagnant, and it continues to grow.”

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook presents Off the Rack: Building and Preserving LIM’s Art Treasures, from Feb. 22 through June 26. The museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $10; discounts are available for children, college students, seniors and the disabled. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org or call 631-751-0066.

Roberta Fabiano
Food, fashion and fun to support a wonderful cause

By Melissa Arnold

Sometimes, you just need to go out and have a good time. Why not do it for a good cause?

On Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will host its second annual A ‘Taste’ of Stony Brook Village … Ladies Night Out! fundraiser. The special event was created to boost WMHO’s long-standing support of breast cancer research at Stony Brook Medicine.

This year, the evening will be moved to the Three Village Inn, 150 Main St., Stony Brook to better accommodate the expected crowd, said WMHO president Gloria Rocchio. “The response was tremendous and enthusiastic last year when we had our first event at the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center. There were almost too many people,” Rocchio joked. “The Three Village Inn will allow us to provide an even better experience.”

Mark Daniels

Nearly 25 shops and restaurants situated around the picturesque Stony Brook Village Center have signed up to participate in the event, which will include plenty of food and wine tastings, giveaways, basket raffles, a fashion show, live entertainment and much more.

The evening will also feature appearances from special guests. 

Radio personality Mark Daniels, most recently heard on the air at WALK 97.5, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. “WMHO has always done such a wonderful job working for their community,” said the East Setauket resident, who has worked many of their past fundraising events. “It’s an honor for me to be a part of this event, and it’s personally fulfilling to see everyone come together for a great cause.”

Renowned singer and guitarist Roberta Fabiano will also make an appearance. An alumna of Berklee College of Music and self-proclaimed child of rock and roll, Fabiano has appeared on numerous television shows and performed for high-profile audiences, among them five U.S. presidents and the queen of England. 

“I really enjoy doing performances for charity — in the past I’ve played for the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, and I play regularly now at the Long Island State Veterans Home,” said Fabiano, who lives in Stony Brook. “I was there last year when Gloria Rocchio presented the check to Stony Brook for breast cancer research, and I’m so proud to call this community my home.” 

Fabiano can’t say yet what she’ll be playing for the event because she plans her sets intuitively, relying on a crowd’s energy and feedback, but she’s known for playing everything from Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and even Lady Gaga.

WMHO’s commitment to supporting the search for a cure began with Long Island native and mother of seven Carol Martineau Baldwin, whose sons include actors Alec, Stephen, Billy and Daniel Baldwin.

According to Stony Brook Medicine, Carol lost her husband to lung cancer in 1983. A few years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she now lives in Syracuse, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook Medicine is named in her honor.

“Carol approached us 26 years ago with the hope of starting a charity run to benefit breast cancer research,” Rocchio said. “We’ve had one every year since, and have raised $1.5 million for the cause.”

By using these funds as seed money, Stony Brook has received more than $8 million in additional grant money, Rocchio added.

“Each year we get together with the head of the cancer center and meet the researchers who have benefited from our work to hear what they’ve been able to do,” she said. “We are truly making strides and it’s gratifying to be a part of that effort. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a cure for breast cancer came from Stony Brook?”

Participating shops and restaurants include Chico’s, Madison’s Niche, Mint, Blue Salon and Spa, Wiggs Opticians, Village Florist & Events, Roseland School of Dance, The Crushed Olive, Chocolate Works, Village Coffee Market, Premiere Pastry, The Country House, Crazy Beans, Mirabelle at Three Village Inn, Pentimento, Sweet Mamas, Ariti Kaziris Designs, Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, Watersedge Dental, Stony Brook Harbor Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals and the WMHO Heritage Gift Shop. 

Admission for the evening is $35 per person. Reservations are required and can be made via PayPal at www.stonybrookvillage.com/tsbv/ or by calling 631-689-5888. 

Music and Art by Naomi Diracles

By Melissa Arnold

Looking at a beautiful painting, photo or sculpture can sometimes evoke strong memories or emotions. For many people, the same is true when listening to music. It’s even possible to have a piece of music conjure up an image in the mind’s eye, or for artwork to seem musical.

The Huntington Arts Council is exploring the intersection of visual arts and music in its newest exhibit, Sights and Sounds: Rhythms and Scales, on view at its Main Street Gallery from Feb. 7 through March 14.

The unique subject has been on business manager Kieran Johnson’s mind for some time.

“The overlap of music and visual art has always been a fascination of mine with my favorite visual artists, both contemporary and historical, having their background in music,” Johnson said. “I was reviewing video and listening to tracks from our monthly Singer-Songwriter Night and decided I wanted to do [an exhibit] about auditory and visual art.”

Artists were asked to consider a series of questions as inspiration for their submissions: Does your work exude rhythm, melody, lyrics, harmony or dissonance from a social, political or musical perspective? Does it elicit a reaction in sounds, words or movement? Does it dance or sway? Does it move or move the viewer? Does it sing? 

Johnson called on friend of the Huntington Arts Council Kevin McEvoy to jury the exhibit. McEvoy has worked with the council in a number of capacities, from a member and past juror to panelist and educator.

“Kevin has been a supportive partner in the work we do for over a decade. He is an incredibly skilled artist and arts educator, and his professional and personal background make him an interesting person to know and work with,” Johnson said.

A Long Island native, McEvoy studied fine arts at Stony Brook University and refined his painting skills while in Chile and Italy. He is also the founder of The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James.

“I’ve always appreciated the relationship of mutual respect and support I’ve had with the Huntington Arts Council. They are so warm and encouraging not just with me, but with all of the artists who approach them,” McEvoy said. “I’ve painted a lot of musicians, musical instruments and music inspired pieces, and I’m excited to jury an exhibit on a subject I feel passionately about.”

In total, 60 artists from across the country submitted 156 pieces for consideration. McEvoy narrowed the field to 44 pieces by 40 artists. The final exhibit includes oil paintings, pastels, graphite drawings, photography and more.

Participating artists include Rose Ann Albanese, Sheri Berman, Zintis Buzermanis, Lisa L. Cangemi, Linda Ann Catucci, Kenneth Cerreta, Kaylynn Chenn, Jody Cukier, Doris Diamond, Naomi Diracles, Vicki Field, Jim Finlayson, Cori Forster, Andrea Fortunoff, Kathleen Gerlach, Roxana Gheorghe, Bill Grabowski, Jan Guarino, Margaret Henning, Nayyar Iqbal, David Jaycox Jr., Wendy June Jensen, Marc Josloff, Julianna Kirk, Beth Laxer-Limmer, Jacques LeBlanc, Stephanie L. Marcus, Kristen Memoli, Margaret Minardi, Mary Nagin, Thais Osorio, Luda Pahl, Eli Rabe, Andrea Rhude, Olivia Rodson, Saul Rosenstreich, Barbara Stein, Victor Vaccaro, Pamela Waldroup and Ella Yang.

“Long Island is a musical place. Our identity is rooted in music and it’s a big part of the culture here, so it’s a natural fit for artists to explore,” McEvoy said. “I tried not to bring any preconceptions of what a piece should look like. Whether it is a lilting line of a kinetic wire sculpture, an atmospheric photo of a violin that almost reads as a mountainscape, or the joyful pluck of an instrument in beautiful pastel colors, indeed, across Long Island, painters, sculptors and musicians are still singing.”

Andrea Fortunoff of Syosset created a digital collage entitled “Dance the Floor: Generations in Rhythm,” depicting dancing people of African heritage in various styles of dress.

“The Huntington Arts Council artist call for Sights and Sounds: Rhythm and Scales spurred me to reflect on the historical synergy between music and dance,” Fortunoff stated in an email. “As an ancient and ephemeral art, dance relies on passing cadence from body to body. My collage is a visual representation of how rhythm and pattern intertwine and are inscribed in a dancer’s memory; reverberating from dancer to dancer through time.”

The exhibit’s opening reception on Friday, Feb. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. will allow artists and visitors the chance to get to know each other while appreciating the variety of media on display. McEvoy will select a best in show and honorable mention before the reception begins.

“We are thrilled to feature this exhibit and have Kevin McEvoy as the juror. This show is a wonderful depiction of the intertwined nature of art. The work is beautiful and highlights a wide array of artists,” said HAC Executive Director Marc Courtade. “Kevin has been a longtime friend of HAC. His talent, knowledge and contribution to the arts have meant so much to us and the Long Island community. We are looking forward to seeing him at the reception.”

The Huntington Arts Council will present Sights and Sounds: Rhythms and Scales at its Main Street Gallery, 213 Main St., Huntington through March 14. For further information, call 631-271-8423 or visit www.huntingtonarts.org.

Master ice carver Rich Daly will create ice sculptures like the one above throughout Port Jefferson Village. Photo courtesy of Rich Daly

By Melissa Arnold

Now that the holidays are over and the excitement of the new year is beginning to fade, it can seem like the dull gray of winter will last forever. But there’s still plenty to enjoy in the colder months on Long Island, and Port Jefferson is pulling out all the stops to celebrate wintertime at its first Ice Festival next weekend.

Sponsored by the village’s Business Improvement District, the Ice Festival was inspired by a similar event held about nine years ago, said Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant.

“We’ve been looking at new ways to advertise the village beyond the holiday season, and one of our members, Marianna Ketcham, approached the board with the suggestion that we revisit the ice festival idea,” Garant said. “People come to Port Jeff because of its close proximity to the water — they want to visit the harbor and take a stroll. We wanted to create an upbeat, active event that would encourage people to come out in the winter as well.”

The village’s merchants were eager to jump on board, Garant said, with special event sales. The highly anticipated Mac and Cheese Crawl sold out weeks ago, but those lucky enough to get tickets will enjoy hot and cheesy pasta samples from 18 different eateries. Some will also offer mac and cheese for purchase throughout the weekend.

“I hope all those who come to visit and shop, realize how much we appreciate their support toward small businesses on Main Street USA,” said Port Jeff BID interim president, Roger Rutherford. “Make sure you find time to come down Port for the Ice Festival to take part in the many different festivities.”

Hop on a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy the village’s icy blue lights. Take part in some marshmallow toasting at the corner of Main and E. Broadway and meet costumed characters including your favorite ice princesses and snow friends. Then warm up with some ice skating at the RINX at Harborfront Park. Periodically throughout each day, professional skaters will entertain and share their expertise with live demonstrations. 

Of course, no ice festival would be complete without an ice sculpture or two, but Port Jefferson isn’t stopping there. They’ve invited New York’s only certified master ice carver, Richard Daly of Ice Memories Inc., to create dozens of brilliant, backlit works of art for the festival.

Each participating business will have an ice sculpture on their property with a theme they’ve chosen themselves. Keep an eye out for Baby Yoda, ice skates, a giant slice of toast and more.

Visitors will also have the chance to watch Daly work. He’ll do multiple live carvings throughout the weekend, including a four-person sleigh and a 3,000-pound throne that you can actually climb on (carefully!) for pictures. Don’t be surprised if he makes it look easy — the Mastic Beach resident earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 as the world’s fastest ice carver. To break the record, he created 60 sculptures in just two hours, 52 minutes and 12 seconds using 18,000 pounds of ice.

“The work that Rich does is just beautiful, and the sculptures will be incredible all lit up,” said Port Jefferson trustee Kathianne Snaden. “It’s unbelievable how he can create these complex works of art from a block of ice.”

Daly carved his first ice sculpture while in culinary school at Johnson and Wales University. He developed an immediate passion for the craft and was competing on a national level just six months later. “What’s not to like about getting to play with a chainsaw and a blowtorch?” joked Daly. “I can’t even tell you how many sculptures I’ve done in a year. I’ve lost count.”

Each sculpture for the Ice Festival will begin with a sketch. They’ll be carved from 300-pound blocks of crystal clear ice that are fused together by adding a little water. Daly is bringing 25,000 pounds of ice with him for the weekend, he said. 

“I’m looking forward to doing the live carving demonstrations,” he added. “It’s fun to be able to talk with people and answer questions while I work.” 

Ideally, the village is hoping for seasonally chilly weather and even some snow for the festival. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until the weekend of Feb. 22.

“It can be challenging to be innovative with our events, especially in colder weather, but the Ice Festival really captures the season,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great opportunity to increase foot traffic in the area and show everyone that Port Jeff is a great place to be regardless of the time of year.”

Port Jefferson’s Ice Festival will be held throughout the village on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join them for a weekend of winter fun! For further information, call 631-476-2363 or visit www.portjeffbid.com/ice-festival.