Music of the moment —Stone, McCarthy, and Sullivan

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It’s the blustery evening that hurricane Joaquin threatened to come and blow all our houses down. The poets decided, as poets will, to keep on with their plans whatever storm may come. The night, perhaps in deference, has turned fair. Alison Stone, Gerald McCarthy, and Christopher Dean Sullivan will whip up a tempest of their own.

“I’ll Start You with an Image,” Alison Stone reads from her book of poems, They Sing at Midnight. “One wet elm leaf, /two smashed cars, a bony dog /on a Mexican street. Breathe into these things.”

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Rocket ships, robots, and whirling lights—an interview with Duncan Bell

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JACKSON: I’ve heard you describe yourself as a lifelong tinkerer. Were there any projects or machines that you tinkered with as a young person that especially captivated your interest? If so, why did they?

BELL: My tinkering skills were acquired at an early age. I have my father to thank for that. He grew up on a farm during the Depression and needed to make by hand many of the things that were used every day around the house. He was especially proud of a croquet set he made as a teenager— even turned the balls on a homemade lathe. At the age of 6 or 7 I knew the names of  most of the tools because my job was to fetch them for my father. One special memory I have is of my twin brother and me “helping” my father work under the car. He would ask for tools and we would pass them to him. If there was an especially reluctant nut to loosen or something heavy to lift our task was to grunt loudly to give him more strength. I wish I had a video of our efforts.
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Courting writing —an interview with Douglas Goetsch

In the following conversation, conducted via email over a few weeks, Douglas Goetsch addresses the writing relationship. Douglas will be teaching Part 2 of the Free-Writing Intensive on September 12th at CILK119.

Q: Do you have any advice on developing a writing practice (i.e. a consistent relationship with your work)?

A: I like that you say “consistent relationship,” because our practice should be like a relationship. At first we need to fall in love, which on the writing path translates to a moment of early success: some ray of natural talent momentarily shines through. We may sense an inner excitement, or others might point it out to us, perhaps with applause—and we’re in love!

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Hot poetry—made to order

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Have you ever sampled a really fresh poem?
Dreamed up and pounded out on the typewriter while you watched?

Well, the strapping, young organic farmers and the efficient, multitasking mothers and even the Orangetown supervisor got their own, just-picked poems a couple of weeks ago, on market day in Nyack. People handed 3 words over to the genius crew of River River, a new literary association, and the poets handed back some tasty bits of verse.

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The Alchemy of Memoir

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They opened the space with a deep reverence for the blessing of creativity. They snacked on fresh berries, pineapples, and bananas dipped in chocolate. They luxuriated while their feet were anointed with healing herbal salves and massaged by skilled reflexologist, Elle Levenson. Oh, and they managed to get some writing done too—mining lives that might seem messy and labyrinthine to illuminate significant stories.

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Braincore Therapy – Hayley and Ron Nathanson

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Hayley and Ron Nathanson are the cutting-edge chiropractors who moved in across the hall from CILK119 a few months ago. Their specialty is helping your brain to shift. Neurofeedback, a modality introduced in the 60’s, is their main tool.

The Nathansons have both been chiropractors for many years, and Braincore, an application of neurofeedback developed by a chiropractor, allows them a powerful asset in addressing many of today’s most pervasive physical and psychological conditions.

Braincore diagnostics use electrodes on the surface of the head to measure the frequency of the brainwaves and see where a client might be stuck. Then patients are given a recommended course of sessions (at least 20 to see real improvement) that encourage the brain to move into frequencies that allow it to rest or be stimulated, bringing balance and regulation. Fibromyalgia, depression, autism, ADD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and insomnia all can be treated with neurofeedback. Professional sports teams like the Giants also use it to stimulate peak performance.

Hayley and Ron love Braincore because of the results they’ve seen. Kids who were alienated and reclusive become socially comfortable and participative, formerly depressed clients grin ear to ear, and people who were all over the place can focus. The Nathansons stress that the changes are permanent and none of their clients become reliant on something outside of themselves as can happen with medications.

“We want to help people move through life, expressing who they are, well from the inside out,” Ron says. At CILK119, we think that sounds awesome. Rockland-Bergen Braincore is an inspiring addition to our building and community. Hayley and Ron, welcome to the ‘hood!

Check out the Rockland-Bergen Braincore facebook page too!

Estrella’s — the diner downstairs

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Justa, a petit woman, sits in the booth next to her daughter Estrella, for whom this cool joint is named. “My mother is really brave,” Estrella says when asked how her mom became a restaurant owner. “It’s admirable, she just threw herself into it.”

Justa had worked in restaurants before, but says she is “not really a cook lady.” Opening Estrella’s was a big risk and a great challenge. “When I started, I cried all the time,” Justa says. “It’s hard when you first open and there are no customers and the bills are coming in.” Now, Estrella’s is gaining popularity and has a regular breakfast and weekend crowd.

Justa offers an eclectic diner menu with Mexican specialties and ingredients from the village where she grew up. “The Oaxacan cheese comes from my hometown and we use it for the quesadillas, Steak Tapatio, and Steak Azteca,” Justa tells me. The mole also comes from Mexico and has a long and complicated list of ingredients. “That is a lot of work to make, I can tell you,” Justa says. Oaxaca is famous for it’s cuisine, especially the rich complex mole sauce. Justa makes the green sauce, a mix of tomatillos, jalapeños, and garlic in house.

As I speak to Estrella and Justa they slip away to pour a cup of coffee or take an order and chat with patrons about what is going in their lives. “The thing that surprises me so much is the customers,” Estrella says. “You talk to them. They give you advice. There is something special in being with them. You gain another family.” Estrella and her younger brother Axel both work in the restaurant on the weekends. Justa works every day from 7am to 4pm. The business is a big commitment but Justa is happy to be working for herself.

“An old friend offered to sell me this place. I saw the opportunity and I took it,” Justa says. “I got tired of working for other people—you never end up with anything for yourself.”

Justa grew up quite poor in a village in Oaxaca. Her father worked tirelessly, raising farm animals. When Justa was 2 years old, her father became ill. One day, the animals walked home by themselves from the pasture and her father was found dead. Her mother died two years later, from illness as well. In their village, medical care was nonexistent and sickness could be deadly. Justa and her brother were raised by an aunt and uncle who had 12 other children.

“Was a hard life,” Justa says. But she attributes her strength and confidence to her upbringing. “I always like to do hard things. I’m not scared to do anything.” When she was 20, Justa had the chance to come to America. She worked in cleaning and food service and saved enough money to start her own business.

“My mom and I are opposites,” Estrella says. “She was always so independent, strong, and confident. I get shy sometimes.” Still, Estrella takes risks too. She is making what she calls her “first leap,” entering the field of art even though being a lawyer or nurse might be more practical. “My mom always tells me ‘Do what you want and be happy and healthy.'”

Estrella’s, with it’s tasty food and warm welcoming atmosphere, nurtures that happy and healthy vibe. Local artist Juan Molina’s vibrant paintings adorn the walls. Writing students and new authors stop in on lunch breaks from workshops at the co-working center upstairs. People from nearby businesses meet for breakfast and lunch dates. And more new customers are finding the cafe every day.

Estrella’s was established in December of 2013 and Justa promises that it will be “open for as long as people want to eat here.”

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Eating Spring! a wine and food tasting with Anthony Lo Pinto

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An impressive stand of bold wines at Anthony’s wine and food pairing in May.

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The Maestro explains the methodology of a full gustatory experience of wine.

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Anthony whips up the delicious, wild, and weedy delicacies that he has prepared.

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And voila! Yummy food perfectly matched with wine.

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The sumptuous spring savories and inspiring intoxicants enchant attenders one and all.

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Spring is in the air…

No really.

I mean, granted, it’s a little chilly now but things are supposed to warm up. And then get cold again on Saturday. Still, I am convinced that we are inexorably moving towards summer.

And even though life seems bedraggled and wasted from the tons of snow that we’ve received, the bent heads of the Galanthus thrusting vigorously through the slush and mud tell a different story. They have been busy; the cold is just a catalyst for the resurgence of their energies.

Here at CILK119 we have been working under the snow too, and are revving up for the vernal season. Writopia courses, attended by an inspired pod of teenagers, are underway. Arduino classes, offered by the newly minted Rockland County Makerspace, will begin a second round in April with weekend times that make it easier for adults to attend. River River, a new literary journal, will launch a six-week series on revision April 11th. Anthony will be bringing weeds and wine for us to savor. And Lorraine Ash comes in June to help us make sense and art from our lives.

And yes, in June, basking in the rays of the golden sun, with tender bits of dandelion on our tongues, we’ll think back on this cold day and revel in the incredible variety of experience availed to us by life on earth.

Lots of good stuff going on here.

Launching Unlocked

Autism is becoming more and more prevalent especially in the United States. “In the 1970s, only 1 in 10,000 children had an autism diagnosis… As of February 2007, the CDC put the incidence of autism at 1 in 150 children and 1 out of 90 boys.” (p. xi, Levin, Unlocked). Many of us know and love some one who is on the spectrum of autism.

What’s special about Susan Levin and her book Unlocked, is the experience she shares about healing autism. “The collective national belief is that autism cannot be cured,” (p. xi, Levin, Unlocked). Her son Ben’s progress proves otherwise.

In Unlocked, Levin details the journey of Ben’s struggle with, and emergence from autism, from Ben’s birth to the present. Originally seemingly totally unaware of others, Ben is now a happily adjusted child who is interested and engaged in the life of his family and friends. Levin reveals key ideas and approaches that worked for her family and offers hope for parents who face similar difficulties.  In chapter 7 she shares some core lessons learned:

The most important lesson that we learned, and continue to learn, is to believe in Ben’s potential for recovery. Regardless of what doctors, family members, and well-meaning friends may tell you, your child has the potential for connection—with you, your family members, peers, and the world around him. Believe in his potential. Believe he can heal.

Join us Saturday at CILK119 at 6pm for the launch of Susan Levin’s groundbreaking and inspiring book.