Arts & Entertainment

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. Sponsored by The Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy, Samuel R. Taube, Sharon Doyle, J. Robert Quilty and Roseland School of Dance, this will be the 27th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.

As in the past, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all scarecrows decorated with a majority of pink will receive 50 bonus points toward the competition. Official entry forms are available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main Street, second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Categories are divided into Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 29 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will receive cash prizes awarded at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival, beginning at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31. Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

The historic Terryville Union Hall is the latest recipient of a Little Free Library, thanks to Comsewogue Public Library Director Debra Engelhardt and the library, which stocked and funded the installation.

Pictured with Engelhardt are library staff members and local resident Angela DeRosalia, who hand-painted the kiosk, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Northern Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Dzvonar and member Lisa Molinelli, who brought their children to ‘leave a book, take a book.’

Joining them is Terryville Road Elementary School Principal April Victor with supportive parents and students and Cumsewogue Historical Society President Jack Smith, Vice President Joan Nickeson, Treasurer Lou Antoniello and member Jackie Kirsch, who donated a collection of popular tween books.

Bread and Butter Pickles

By Barbara Beltrami

If you’re not picky about your pickles, you should be because there’s no comparison between homemade and commercially prepared ones. Although you need an uninterrupted couple of hours and a few special pieces of equipment to “put up” a batch of pickles, once you’ve made the investment of time and supplies, you’ll be hooked and do it every year.

Two great moments of culinary satisfaction happen first when you hear the sound of the jar lids popping to release the air and vacuum seal the jar and later when you stand back and regard the row of pickle jars sitting like so many green soldiers on your pantry shelf.

Here is a list of canning supplies available in most local hardware and agricultural supply stores. You most likely already have many of these things in your kitchen.

Large enamel pot with canning rack

Large pot for boiling pickles

Glass jars with ring and dome lids

Large spoons and ladles

Sharp knives and vegetable peelers

Large colander

Kitchen scale

Measuring cups and spoons

Wide-mouth funnel to fit circumference of jar tops

Cheesecloth

Timer

Tongs

Pot holders

A few precautionary tips: Jars should be unchipped; veggies should be fresh and unspoiled; after processing, jars should be closed tight with a small dent in the middle of the lid; jars, domes and rings and implements must first be sterilized in a hot water bath or the dishwasher for at least 15 minutes. Now that you’ve got it all together, you’re ready to start making your own pickles!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

YIELD: Makes 7 to 8 pints

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds medium or Kirby cucumbers, washed and cut into ¹/₄-inch slices

1 pound small white pearl onions (frozen are OK)

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

½ cup kosher salt

3 quarts ice water

5 cups sugar

5 cups cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon peppercorns

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions and peppers. Add salt, mix well and add three quarts ice water. Cover and let sit for 4 hours. Fill canning pot to indicated water level, cover and bring to a boil. In a large pot, mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; let boil 3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the vegetables, rinse thoroughly and drain again. Add veggies to liquid and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and pack into hot one-pint sterile jars; leave ¼ inch headroom.

With a damp paper towel, wipe the top and side rims of the jars; with tongs place domes on jars, then screw on rings just to the point of stopping; do not tighten. Using tongs or pot holders, carefully set jars on raised rack of canning pot, then gently, being careful not to topple any jars, lower the rack into the hot water, cover and return to boil. Process (boil) for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat.

With tongs or pot holders, raise rack and remove jars onto heat-proof surface. As you lift them out, you will probably hear them popping, which means they’re sealed. With your finger, poke any that do not have a slight indentation in the middle. If they still have a slightly raised surface in the middle after several attempts to depress them, put them aside, and when cooled, refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

 

YIELD: Makes about 7 pints

INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup sugar

½ cup kosher salt

1 quart white vinegar

1 quart water

3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

2 cloves garlic

35 medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise or cut into spears

7 to 8 heads fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: Have canning pot and rack ready with boiling water reduced to simmer. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in medium pot. Tie pickling spices and garlic cloves in a cheesecloth bag and add to mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes; remove and discard bag. Meanwhile, pack cucumbers into hot sterilized pint jars and add one head dill to each jar; leave half an inch headroom. Bring vinegar mixture to a vigorous boil and ladle hot brine over cucumbers; leave ¼ inch headroom. Proceed as in italicized part of previous recipe.

From left, Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport), Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Ken Kashansky, Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Fred S. Sganga, Tom DiNapoli (D) and Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) look on as U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and resident of Unit 3C Joe Rohan cuts the ribbon. Photo by Doreen Guma
Ribbon cutting ceremony officially opens first renovated residential unit

The Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook recently celebrated a milestone in Operation Rejuvenation, a project that will help renovate the interior of the existing facility, with the opening of its first renovated residential unit, 3C. The event was celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Aug. 25.

The project was made possible by a $12.5 million VA Construction Grant, one of the oldest partnerships between the federal government and the states. Each year, through the support of Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the federal government allocates approximately $85 million to fund the State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program. Through this initiative, individual states compete for funding that must be used to either construct or renovate designated state veterans facilities that provide skilled nursing or domiciliary care.

The federal government appropriates 65 percent of the construction costs provided that each state makes a commitment of 35 percent in state matching funds, for which New York State Senator John Flanagan has been instrumental in helping the LISVH secure.

The newly renovated nursing units include a modernized and open dining space, an accessible nourishment station, a complete nursing station redesign and fully renovated living spaces for residents. This project included the installation of energy-efficient LED lighting, LED televisions and new personal furnishings that our nation’s heroes will be proud to call home.

“The Long Island State Veterans Home has always made a commitment to be the premiere provider for long-term care services to our nation’s heroes,” said Fred S. Sganga, executive director of the Long Island State Veterans Home. “Operation Rejuvenation will assure that our frail, elderly veterans are living in the finest facility in the country. We are really excited about this project because it represents the recommitment of Stony Brook University to Long Island’s veterans and their families.”

“Our veterans were willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect our freedom and way of life,” said Zeldin. “We owe it to them to make sure the facilities that care for our veterans are in the best condition possible to meet their needs. The work being done at the Long Island State Veterans Home will help accomplish that goal, and I commend the leadership and staff for undertaking this project.”

“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to those who have protected our way of life and cherished freedoms,” said Flanagan. “One way we can say ‘thank you’ to them is by making sure these brave men and women have a comfortable living environment. The Long Island State Veterans Home has been a great resource for our veterans and their families and this project will help ensure that it continues to be a place that our heroes are proud to call home,” he said.

A credit shelter trust is a marital trust that allows you to a voice having the same property taxed twice.

By Linda Toga

Linda Toga

THE FACTS: I had my will prepared years ago. The estate tax exclusion amount at the time was considerably less than it is now, so my will contains a provision that directs my executor to create a credit shelter trust to avoid estate taxes. The trust provision mandates that the credit shelter trust be funded with assets equal in value to the estate tax exemption amount in effect at the time of my death.

THE QUESTION: A friend told me the credit shelter trust language that is currently included in my will could result in only a small part of my estate, if any, passing directly to my wife. Is he correct?

THE ANSWER: Without knowing the size of your estate, it is impossible to say how much of your estate might pass directly to your spouse upon your death. That being said, your friend is correct.

Credit shelter trusts are designed to avoid estate tax, but tax avoidance is generally not an issue when the first spouse dies because the surviving spouse is most often the beneficiary of the deceased spouse’s estate.

Regardless of the value of the assets that pass to a surviving spouse as sole beneficiary, there will be no estate tax liability on the first death because both the federal and New York State tax codes include an unlimited marital deduction. That means the assets passing to the surviving spouse pass estate tax free.

In contrast, the value of assets passing to a nonspouse may trigger estate tax. That is why estate tax can become a problem when the surviving spouse dies. If the value of the surviving spouse’s estate exceeds the applicable estate tax exemption amount then in effect, estate tax will be due. This year the federal estate tax exemption is currently at $5.49 million and the New York State exclusion amount is currently at $5.25 million.

If your will directs that assets equal in value to the current estate tax exemption amount go into the credit shelter trust, over $5.2 million of your probate estate must be used to fund the trust. The actual dollar amount will depend on whether your will references the federal or the New York State exemption/exclusion amount. If the value of your assets does not exceed the exemption amount, the only assets passing directly to your spouse will be jointly held assets and assets on which she is a named beneficiary. Assets that are used to fund the trust will be available to your spouse under certain conditions. She will not have unfettered access to those funds.

Credit shelter trusts were very popular with my clients when the estate tax exclusion amounts were significantly smaller. In 2008, for example, when the federal estate tax exemption was $2 million, clients with estates valued at $3 to $4 million felt comfortable funding a credit shelter trust since the surviving spouse would still receive $1 to $2 million outright. However, since the exclusion amount has increased at a much faster rate than the value of most people’s estates, the language in many credit shelter trusts has become a problem.

One way to address the problem is to have a new will prepared that does not direct your executor to create a credit shelter trust. However, if you are concerned about estate tax liability, another option is to have a new will prepared that includes language limiting the value of the assets that must be used to fund a credit shelter trust. That way you can be sure that there are sufficient assets passing to your spouse outright.

A third option is to include a discretionary marital trust in your will, rather than a credit shelter trust. A disclaimer trust, for example, can be used by married couples to avoid estate taxes and has the advantage of allowing the surviving spouse to decide how much money will go into the trust. If the surviving spouse feels comfortable doing so, she can have the trust funded with assets equal in value to the applicable exclusion amount. However, she can also decide to fund the trust with a lesser amount or to not to fund the trust at all.

The surviving spouse has nine months to decide whether it makes sense taxwise to fund the trust. Because of the flexibility offered by disclaimer trusts, and the ability to essentially do post-mortem planning, many people whose estates are valued at over the exclusion amount find disclaimer trusts a good option. To figure out what would be best for you, you should discuss your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Linda M. Toga, Esq. provides legal services in the areas of estate planning, probate, estate administration, litigation, wills, trusts, small business services and real estate from her East Setauket office.

Denise Dragiewicz and her husband Marc during a recent visit to Indonesia. Photo from Denise Dragiewicz

By Kevin Redding

“There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’ … for the times they are a-changin.’’

The words and music of Bob Dylan will serve as a fitting soundtrack at Madison Steak House in Hauppauge Sunday, Sept. 24, during a special fundraiser to highlight and benefit the work of Eyes of the World Films — a New Jersey-based documentary company that focuses on the environment and socially relevant issues.

The Complete Unknowns, a Dylan cover band that spans the singer/songwriter’s six-decade catalog, take the stage at 5 p.m. and will rock the house with a mix of Dylan’s popular tunes and deep tracks until the end of the event at 8 p.m. Guests will enjoy a four-course dinner menu, have the opportunity to win raffle prizes that include a variety of Dylan memorabilia, and learn about Eyes of the World’s upcoming projects during the company’s quarterly fundraiser.

“Bob Dylan’s music really speaks to my heart and really opened my eyes as to what’s going on in the world when I was younger,” said Denise Dragiewicz, former Smithtown resident and the president of Eyes of the World Films. She directs and edits the company’s documentaries while her husband, Marc, a biologist, serves as environmental consultant and chooses each film’s subject and locations. “And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do — open people’s eyes to what’s going on with the environment and get people engaged.”

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the production and completion of two new films being developed by the husband-and-wife duo.

“The Burning of Borneo’s Peat Swamp Forest,” which has begun filming in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, and will be the company’s fifth documentary, explores the degradation of Indonesian forestland in recent decades by way of out-of-control fires brought on by the region’s dry season.

The decimation has also hit the areas surrounding Sabangau National Forest, home to the largest breeding population of orangutans, and, as of now, 80 percent of orangutan habitat has been wiped out — a major focus of the film.

A short version of that documentary, made up of footage shot in Palangka Raya last winter, recently won the YALE e360 Environmental Video Contest, and the duo hopes to use any funds they raise to return to the location and finish production on a feature-length film on the subject. For the larger film, Denise Dragiewicz said, they are concentrating on a young Dayak activist named Emmanuela Shinta, who is attempting to convince the Indonesian government to protect the remaining forest.

“Indonesia has been on the path of environment destruction for many decades,” Dragiewicz said. “Many areas, including Palangka Raya, where we are filming, have had to deal with horrendous fire seasons that last months at a time [and] not only do these fires damage remaining forestland and what is left of the orangutan habit, but the smoke and murky, yellow haze that is the offspring of these blazes have been causing serious health problems.”

“The environmental films produced and put out are generally about the bigger picture of global warming and the storms,” she continued, “but you don’t really see these little community stories and how global warming is hitting people on a smaller level and that’s what we’re trying to show.”

Marc Dragiewicz, who regularly works in environmental conservation with specific expertise and experience in rainforests, said of the film, “This is the largest project we’ve worked on yet and it’s important. It’s a subject that’s really happening right now and affecting a lot of people. It’s kind of a cautionary tale that if we’re not careful, we’re going to lose our wildlife and we’re going to have some really bad air coming up in the future.”

The other film, titled “In the Dark,” is still in preproduction and will be the duo’s first feature narrative, revolving around the sexual violence against women and children in South Africa.

The filmmakers’ documentaries have played at a variety of film festivals around the world and appear on several environmentally friendly websites like Life of Terra and Sustainability TV.

They said an ideal goal from this fundraiser would be $5,000. Of course the films will cost more than that but every little bit helps, Denise Dragiewicz said.

“The more we’re able to raise, the more we’re able to produce these types of documentaries and that’s really important to me,” she said. “The fundraisers are a real celebration of art and passion, and we hope we can not only raise funding but also draw more people into being aware of the importance of preserving our natural habitats.”

Michael Weiskopf, lead singer of The Complete Unknowns — a six-piece band that formed 10 years ago out of a love for Dylan’s music — said when Dragiewicz contacted him to play the fundraiser, he was drawn in by her passion.

“I thought, ‘this is a serious filmmaker and this is a serious subject,’” Weiskopf said of orangutan conservation. “I’m interested in helping living things that can’t speak for themselves … so it’s a good cause to get involved in.”

As a self-professed “unapologetic Bob Dylan devotee,” Weiskopf said he looked forward to the event and attendees should expect to hear a wide variety of Dylan songs, old and new.“When you have 600 plus songs to choose from, it’s always interesting,” he said.

The fundraiser starts at 4 p.m. at Madison Steak House, 670 Motor Parkway in Hauppauge on Sunday, Sept. 24, and will cost $25 for the bar and $50 for dinner and the show. You can buy tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3047480.

Visit www.eyesoftheworldfilms.com and www.michaelweiskopf.com for more information.

Stress may increase cold virus severity

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

September marks the beginning of the academic calendar and noticeably shorter daylight hours. The pace of life tends to become more hectic. Although some stress is valuable to help motivate us and keep our minds sharp, high levels of constant stress can have detrimental effects on the body.

It is very likely that there is a mind-body connection when it comes to stress. In other words, it may start in the mind, but it can lead to acute or chronic disease promotion. Stress can also play a role with your emotions, causing irritability and outbursts of anger and possibly leading to depression and anxiety.

Stress symptoms are hard to distinguish from other disorders, but they can include stiff neck, headaches, stomach upset and difficulty sleeping. Stress may also be associated with cardiovascular disease, with an increased susceptibility to infection from viruses causing the common cold and with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s (1).

A stress steroid hormone called cortisol is released from the adrenal glands and can have beneficial effects in small bursts. We need cortisol in order to survive. Some of cortisol’s functions include raising glucose (sugar) levels when they are low and helping reduce inflammation and stress levels (2). However, when cortisol gets out of hand, higher chronic levels may cause inflammation, leading to disorders such as cardiovascular disease, as research suggests. Let’s look at the evidence.

Inflammation 

Inflammation may be a significant contributor to more than 80 percent of chronic diseases, so it should be no surprise that it is an important factor with stress. In a meta-analysis (a group of two observational studies), high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for inflammation, were associated with increased psychological stress (3).

What is the importance of CRP? It may be related to heart disease and heart attacks. This study involved over 73,000 adults who had their CRP levels tested. The research went further to suggest that increased levels of CRP may result in more stress and also depression. With CRP higher than 3.0 there was a greater than twofold increase in depression risk. The researchers suggest that CRP may heighten stress and depression risk by increasing levels of different proinflammatory cytokines, inflammatory communicators among cells (4).

In another study, results suggested that stress may influence and increase the number of hematopoietic stem cells (those that develop all forms of blood cells), resulting specifically in an increase in inflammatory white blood cells (5). The researchers suggest that this may lead to these white blood cells accumulating in atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which ultimately could potentially increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Chronic stress overactivates the sympathetic nervous system — our “fight or flight” response — which may alter the bone marrow where the stem cells are found. This research is preliminary and needs well-controlled trials to confirm these results.

Infection

Stress may increase the risk of colds and infection. Cortisol over the short term is important to help suppress the symptoms of colds, such as sneezing, cough and fever. These are visible signs of the immune system’s infection-fighting response.

However, the body may become resistant to the effects of cortisol, similar to how a type 2 diabetes patient becomes resistant to insulin. In one study of 296 healthy individuals, participants who had stressful events and were then exposed to viruses had a higher probability of catching a cold. It turns out that these individuals also had resistance to the effects of cortisol. This is important because those who were resistant to cortisol had more cold symptoms and more proinflammatory cytokines (6).

Diabetes and heart disease

When we measure cortisol levels, we tend to test the saliva or the blood. However, these laboratory findings only give one point in time. Thus, when trying to determine if raised cortisol may increase cardiovascular risk, the results are mixed. However, in a study measuring cortisol levels from scalp hair was far more effective (7). The reason for this is that scalp hair grows slowly, and therefore it may contain three months’ worth of cortisol levels. The study showed that those in the highest quartile of cortisol levels were at a three times increased risk of developing diabetes and/or heart disease compared to those in the lowest quartile. This study involved older patients between the ages of 65 and 85.

Lifestyle changes can reduce effects of stress

Lifestyle plays an important role in stress at the cellular level, specifically at the level of the telomere, which determines cell survival. The telomeres are to cells what the plastic tips are to shoelaces; they prevent them from falling apart. The longer the telomere, the slower the cell ages and the longer it survives. In a study, those women who followed a healthy lifestyle — one standard deviation over the average lifestyle — were able to withstand life stressors better since they had longer telomeres (8).

This healthy lifestyle included regular exercise, a healthy diet and a sufficient amount of sleep. On the other hand, the researchers indicated that those who had poor lifestyle habits lost substantially more telomere length than the healthy lifestyle group. The study followed women 50 to 65 years old over a one-year period.

In another study, chronic stress and poor diet (high sugar and high fat) together increased metabolic risks, such as insulin resistance, oxidative stress and central obesity, more than a low-stress group eating a similar diet (9). The high-stress group members were caregivers, specifically those caring for a spouse or parent with dementia. Thus, it is especially important to eat a healthy diet when under stress.

Interestingly, in terms of sleep, the Evolution of Pathways to Insomnia Cohort (EPIC) study shows that those who deal with stressful events directly are more likely to have good sleep quality. Using medication, alcohol or, most surprisingly, distractors to deal with stress all resulted in insomnia after being followed for one year (10). Cognitive intrusions or repeat thoughts about the stressor also resulted in insomnia.

Psychologists and other health care providers sometimes suggest distraction from a stressful event, such as television watching or other activities, according to the researchers. However, this study suggests that this may not help avert chronic insomnia induced by a stressful event. The most important message from this study is that how a person reacts to and deals with stressors may determine whether they suffer from insomnia.

Constant stress is something that needs to be recognized. If it’s not addressed, it can lead to suppressed immune response or increased levels of inflammation. CRP is an example of an inflammatory biomarker that may actually increase stress. In order to address chronic stress and lower CRP, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes sleep, exercise and diet modifications. Good lifestyle habits may also be protective against the effects of stress on cell aging.

References: (1) Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2014 Aug. 29. (2) Am J Physiol. 1991;260(6 Part 1):E927-E932. (3) JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;70:176-184. (4) Chest. 2000;118:503-508. (5) Nat Med. 2014;20:754-758. (6) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109:5995-5999. (7) J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98:2078-2083. (8) Mol Psychiatry Online. 2014 July 29. (9) Psychoneuroendocrinol Online. 2014 April 12. (10) Sleep. 2014;37:1199-1208.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

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'Johnston Canyon' by Ross Barbera

By Irene Ruddock

Ross Barbera, a graduate of Pratt Institute, is known for his representational acrylic paintings on canvas, watercolors on paper, original jewelry and digital and abstract art. Presently teaching at St. John’s University in the Art and Design Department in Queens where he was chairman for three years, Ross continues to win many juried awards and prestigious grants to pursue his prolific art career.

You were born and raised in Brooklyn, yet all of your paintings, and even much of your jewelry, are depictions of some aspect of the rural landscape. How did that come about?

I spent my summers at my family’s homes in Smithtown and Peakville, New York, and it was during these summers away from the city that I discovered the world of the natural landscape. They were welcome retreats from the city where everything was different: night times were cool, the air smelled clean. I was surrounded by deep forests, ponds and running streams. I was particularly attracted to the interplay of sunlight on flowing water. Nature became the primary inspiration for my paintings ever since then.

Much of your work is representational, yet you also paint in the abstract. What is your inspiration for your abstract work?

Although representational landscape painting has dominated my artistic direction, I discovered abstract, luminous worlds by observing pond surfaces and ice formations “close-up.” For me, this was the hidden world beyond the visible world that has provided the inspiration for my abstract paintings.

Water Lily Watercolor Pendant by Ross Barbera

You have an interesting process in watercolor painting that you teach in your classes and workshops. Can you tell us about this?

I have been experimenting with methods that enable me to retain the look of watercolor painting while achieving painted surfaces comparable in strength to acrylic on canvas; this eliminates the need to protect the painting by framing it behind glass. The first step in this process is to bind the watercolor paper to stretched canvas with a thick polymer gel medium. The finished watercolor painting is then protected with multiple layers of acrylic varnish, and for the top layer I apply a few coats of a removable UV protecting varnish.

Some of the background of your paintings have a stained glass effect — clean, clear, translucent and filled with saturated color. How do you achieve that?

I’ve always worked hard to give my paintings a quality of light, in the belief that good landscape painting needs to communicate a feeling of atmosphere; I never complete a painting until I feel it projects a strong quality of sunlight. Regarding my watercolor paintings, I believe the natural transparency of the watercolor medium contributes to a clean, translucent image. I do not apply watercolor paint with sable paint brushes. I predampen the color shape to be painted with a paint brush and clean water. Next, using needle dispenser bottles that have been filled with premixed watercolor to the consistency that I require for painting, I apply multiple colors into the predampened area, and I permit the colors to freely intermix and blend without working into them with a brush. This method of paint application results in clean, clear and beautifully translucent color shapes, and I believe the effect is further enhanced by the application of the final, protective layers of varnish.

‘Glacier’ by Ross Barbera

How does your digital work influence your art?

My wife Bonnie bought me my first tablet where I downloaded a drawing app. I was instantly addicted! I eventually downloaded a painting app and loved the convenience of digital plein air painting. Next, I began to export my digital paintings to my computer so I could continue to develop them in Photoshop. I restrict myself to basic brushes that come close to what I use in my acrylic on canvas paintings, and I do not use any effects or filters. I intend my digital paintings to be characterized by the same painterly quality that you would see in my paintings on canvas.

How did you become interested in creating jewelry? Can you describe how you incorporate your watercolors into your jewelry?

I started making jewelry when I was a graduate student at Pratt Institute. My early jewelry was created mostly in sterling, and I often incorporated enamels to add color. I am now using a wide range of different types of paper and wood and eventually discovered the limitless possibilities of building pendants, earrings, bracelets and hair pieces with layers of watercolor paper. I like building up layers on 140-pound Arches watercolor paper, and painting directly onto the surface with watercolor and acrylic paints. I coat the jewelry with multiple layers of acrylic varnish, and the final process involves heating the finished piece in an oven at 150°F, which hardens the varnish process.

What is the focus of your recent work?

I visited the Canadian Rockies with the intent of photographing the mountain glaciers and rivers for a new series of acrylic paintings that would be dedicated to the disappearing glaciers. I plan to continue in my effort to capture the diversity of the North American landscape in painting and will visit national parks throughout the United States and Canada for this purpose.

Where can we see your artwork?

I currently have an exhibit featuring my paintings and jewelry at the Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station through the month of September. I also currently have a painting on exhibit in the juried show Colors of the Night at the Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James until Sept. 30. My paintings and jewelry can be viewed at any time by visiting www.rossbarbera.com, and my instructional videos can be found on my YouTube channel Realisticart. My jewelry can be purchased directly from my website, www.paperpendants.com.

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By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Dr. Matthew Kearns

Harvey, Irma, and now Jose still pose a threat. I recently read an article that referred to a study that documented 16 percent (mostly low income and elderly) of people interviewed would not evacuate without their pets, and 44 percent of those who refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina did so in part because they did not want to leave their pets behind.

I started thinking of what I would do with my own animals should there be a disaster or simple emergency at home. Although we haven’t had devastation on Long Island since Hurricane Irene or Hurricane Sandy, I think a checklist to be adequately prepared for emergencies or evacuations (especially on short notice) for our pets should be a priority.

Have an evacuation plan. This includes a “safe haven.” Find out ahead of time if there are any shelters that take animals during a disaster, pet-friendly hotels to go to or an out-of -own relative or friend that will take both you and your pet during a disaster.

Find out ahead of time if there are any shelters that take animals during a disaster.

Put together a first aid kit. A basic first aid kit for your pet should include: blanket, thermometer, penlight, sterile 4×4 gauze pads, sterile dressing (small, medium, large), roll gauze, 1- and 2-inch white tape, nonstick (Telfa) bandages, triangular bandage and safety pin, cloth strips, Betadine or triple antibiotics, scissors, tweezers, instant cold pack, hydrogen peroxide, splint, veterinarian’s phone number, local emergency clinic’s number, poison control telephone number, glucose concentrate (e.g., Karo Syrup or other syrup), canned dog or cat food and bottled water.

Once you have your first aid kit prepared, you will be ready for most emergencies. Here are some tips on handling most general emergencies:

• If an animal is frightened or in pain, it may bite (even friendly dogs or cats). If you find an injured animal, consider using something to muzzle (small piece of rope, a tie, etc.) or throw a large thick blanket over the pet to pick it up. Please do not get yourself hurt trying to help a scared, injured, potentially dangerous animal.

• Anything makes a good stretcher (flat piece of board, old door, etc.). If your pet has a bite wound or penetrating wound, try to keep the wound clean and moist until your pet can be transported to your regular veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital. Moistened clean cloths, gauze, etc. can be used. If there is excessive bleeding, direct pressure should be applied (consider an ACE bandage, other). Do not try to remove anything that is impaled into the pet.

• Bone fractures can be immobilized with a splint. A splint can be made up of rolled up magazines or newspapers, cardboard, a metal hanger or wood. If it is an open/compound fracture, cover it with a clean moistened dressing. If the animal cannot or will not allow a splint, just try to keep it confined until you can transport it to either your regular veterinarian’s office or an emergency veterinary hospital. Hopefully none of this will be necessary. However, in order to reduce stress and trauma to both you and your pet both during and after a disaster, it is important to plan ahead.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. 

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Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in the latest version of ‘IT’

By Kevin Redding

Real-life clowns out there will no doubt have trouble booking gigs after this past weekend. But no matter what permanent damage Pennywise the Dancing Clown, as sinisterly portrayed by Swedish actor/chameleon Bill Skarsgard in the new “IT,” does to the facepaint-and-red nose industry, I believe it will ultimately be this generation of kids who are most struck by the modern horror masterpiece.

Just as the 1990 TV miniseries of “IT,” featuring Tim Curry as the evil child-eating clown, served as a gateway into the genre for many modern horror fans — I vividly recall being a kid transfixed just by the disturbing VHS cover in the forbidden-yet-intoxicating horror section at Blockbuster — this new, and far better, take on Stephen King’s 1,138-page source material might just be the key to that scarier side of storytelling for millennials.

Even during a sold-out showing on Sept. 8, young kids were peppered throughout the theater, many of them with sweatshirts on their laps and at the ready to be used as protective shields against the screen whenever the music turned sour and Pennywise reared its bulbous head. But as the movie went on, more and more of these kids got brave and began to face their fears, just like the film’s protagonists.

And it’s not hard to understand why. This movie, in a word, rules.

Director Andy Muschietti’s first of a two-part adaptation of King’s colossal 1986 novel about a pack of kids who battle various forms of evil floating out of the sewers in their hometown feels like the big-screen equivalent of navigating through a haunted house attraction at a carnival, where clowns with razor sharp teeth serve peanuts and popcorn.

“IT” — an intense and atmospheric barrage of pop-up frights and unsettling images balanced out with some big laughs (especially the big payoff to a running New Kids on the Block joke) and feel-good camaraderie — is a perfect mashing of coming-of-age adventure and ghastly freak show. And that’s what separates this beast from most horror movies these days.

In the hands of a lesser filmmaker and lesser cast, this “IT” would’ve been all about the eponymous monster, and the kid heroes would’ve been an afterthought — or worse, rooted against. But it’s the Losers Club (made up of young teenagers Bill, Ben, Bev, Richie, Eddie, Mike and Stanley), and what I consider the best ensemble of kid actors I’ve ever seen, that ride away with the movie and our hearts.

The book bounces back and forth between kid Losers and adult Losers, but this movie wisely focuses solely on the kids, while an already greenlit-and-ready-to-go Part II will pick up in adulthood.

Set in Derry, Maine, in the summer of 1989, a time of nostalgia for 2017 audiences as the book’s early 1958 setting was for its ’80s readers, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) is still shaken by the gruesome death of his little brother Georgie a year prior.

In a magnificent opener, little Georgie following a paper boat made by Bill is introduced to Pennywise, (the best and most quiet of Skarsgard’s chilling performances) who lurks in the darkness of a sewer. After brief niceties, Georgie becomes the first of many Pennywise victims when his arm is bitten off and he’s dragged down the storm drain.

Members of the Losers Club band together to fight ‘IT.’

From there, Bill, who believes his brother is still out there somewhere, is joined by his ragtag group of outcast friends to find out just what’s going on in their unsettling town, where the adults turn their backs while kids are bullied, go missing and frequently come face to face with terrifying creatures — such as a Leper, an embodiment of Eddie’s paralyzing fear of disease and a bone-chilling painting of a malformed, flute-wielding woman that comes to life to haunt Stanley.

The young cast give phenomenal performances, with the standouts being “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard as foul-mouthed Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as portly-and-sweet new kid Ben Hanscom and Sophia Lillis, who will surely go on to become a huge star, as Beverly Marsh.

I have no doubt that this Halloween there will be a Losers Club in every neighborhood, riding around on bikes bonded together in search of candy and the inevitable dozens of Pennywises prowling the streets.

Speaking of Pennywise, it cannot be stated enough just how menacing, powerful and stress-inducing Skarsgard is in the role, somehow making the iconic character all his own and turning Curry’s clown into something cute and harmless in comparison (similar to what Heath Ledger did with the Joker in “The Dark Knight”). The Pennywise moment that will forever be burned in my head as long as I live involves a fridge. All I’m sayin’.

Muschietti, who previously directed “Mama,” pulled no punches here, offering up a relentless fun house of fear with an unexpected layering of heart and soul that will certainly connect with nonhorror audiences. While there may have been a bit too much reliance on computer-generated imagery and the all-too-familiar jump scares that make for startling movie trailer moments but come off a bit flat in the context of the film, “IT” is scary, thoughtful, funny and everything a horror nut like me wanted.

And it just might lure this new generation into the sewers of horror appreciation.

Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language, “IT” is now playing in local theaters.

Photos courtesy of Warner Brothers