Kids’ Almanac: Sept. 7-14

“If we learn nothing else from this [9/11] tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
– Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl


Erica’s cancer journey:

ABC: Awesome Basement Cleanout

One of my doctors asked if I have a list of things I’d like to do or see before I pass. To her surprise, I responded immediately: “Yes! I want to clean out my basement!”

I have lived a full life, and I continue to do so now. Every week seems infused with something new and unexpected and interesting that crosses my path, like meeting my long-term voice crush Rick Zolzer, announcer and vice president of the Hudson Valley Renegades! But as I look ahead to my eventual death and work on Project Basement, I find it surreal to survey these decades, one busted-up cardboard box or overstuffed plastic storage bin at a time.


These portals offer gifts of memory: my first job résumé, created on a typewriter; loving, shaky handwritten letters from now-deceased grandparents; three copies of What Color Is Your Parachute?; countless articles to “read later,” such as “How to Prevent Cancer” or “Declutter Your Basement in 10 Easy Steps”; a broken Dora the Explorer indoor bowling game; and a zillion photos spanning my entire life, from seven-year-old me at Fort Ticonderoga with my family, to shots of my own children since pregnancy.

This is not my first basement rodeo. I have hired countless SUNY-New Paltz students for a number of jobs over the years, especially for childcare and house organizing (here’s the hiring link: But that was then, when I thought I had practically forever to complete Project Basement. Now, I’m racing against the clock, and I am finally making hard choices to get past, “Hmm, not sure, I’d better keep it here under Miscellaneous.”

But I find it impossible to clear out and organize the basement by myself. I am incredibly fortunate to have a team of amazing people who are coming over to sort, schlep and most importantly, help me stay on-task. My husband is involved in this cleanout, too – mostly boring things with countless cables that all look exactly the same, along with disposing of bag after bag at the transfer and recycling station. One friend not only digitized my kids’ artwork, but she also created photobooks of them, which she loves making, and I find overwhelming. I also play copious amounts of the Hamilton Mixtape to keep my groove while refueling with plenty of snacks. The more I accomplish in each three-hour session, the more fired up I am to do more.

The keys for me to see Project Basement through to totality are: getting advice from creative friends when I get stuck about how to handle categories such as the boxes of kid art or the sea of photos; getting consistent help to keep going; and accepting what’s true now, not what was. I kept our craft closet stocked for years, despite my kids’ not having made anything at home for the past few years. Now I have room for office supplies that always used to be hard to find (also snacks).

I feel freer, I breathe easier, and my family expresses real relief knowing that this task is not left for them to do after I go. It’s as easy as ABC!

Two local cancer resources

My two local favorite cancer resources are the Sparrow’s Nest and Breast Cancer Options, and I’m excited to share them here with you.

Sparrow’s Nest feeds families. Here is its mission statement: “Sparrow’s Nest of the Hudson Valley provides two meals, once a week, to the families of caregivers and children diagnosed with any type of cancer. Caregivers are defined as legal guardians of children, under the age of 18, living in the home. Caregivers and/or children diagnosed with any cancer that requires chemotherapy, radiation or surgery qualify. All recipients must live within a 20-mile radius of the charity’s Health Department-approved kitchen in Hopewell Junction.”

Our family has been a grateful recipient of Sparrow’s Nest meal deliveries. It’s one less thing to think about; the food helps us save some money because it’s all free; and I feel more connected to community, between the homestyle meals and the personable drivers who deliver them to our home each week.

Here’s a fun, family-friendly way to support this charity: The Sparrow’s Nest Super Hero 5K & Family Fun Day takes place on Sunday, September 10 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at James Baird State Park, located at 14 Maintenance Lane in Pleasant Valley. The cost is $20 for children 12 and under; $35 for runners 13 and older; and a $30 “hero discount” for military, first responders, medical personnel and Team Sparrow 2017 runners. For more information, to register, to donate or to sponsor, call (845) 204-9421 or visit

Breast Cancer Options supports people with breast cancer and their families. Through conferences, support groups, the annual breast cancer retreat at Omega, Camp Lightheart for children with a parent with breast cancer at Omega, advocacy, and more and more and more, this organization has helped our family from the very beginning. When you’re wondering where to turn for ideas or information, or you need a hand understanding or communicating with your doctor, Breast Cancer Options (BCO) is with you.

If you know anyone with breast cancer, BCO is a terrific resource to share, and there happens to be a family-friendly fundraiser to support them this week! Come to BRAWL (Broads’ Regional Arm-Wrestling League) on Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m. at the Water Street Market in New Paltz. Bring your family, friends, lots of $1 and $5 bills for “bets” and your penchant for fun!

Here’s how it works: Volunteers who identify as female create a character name and coordinating costume; they recruit women, men, children and youth for a “posse,” where they dress according to that character’s theme, and they get the crowd hyped to support their arm-wrestler with as many dollars as they can collect, in the form of “bets” against the opponent. But all the money goes into the same pot to support the cause of the night, which in this case is Breast Cancer Options!

For more information, to register as a character, to donate or to sponsor, e-mail or visit or



Brigantine St. Lawrence puts in at the Rondout

So, in case anyone else was wondering, Brigantine is totally not Brigadoon. A brigantine is a two-masted ship; Brigadoon is a story set in Scotland. Have you ever heard of a brigantine before? Well, you can feast your eyes on one right now in Kingston! The Hudson River Maritime Museum hosts the Canadian brigantine St. Lawrence this Thursday through Sunday, September 7 to 10, and you can see all 60 feet of it right from the dock. Want an even-closer look? Deck tours are available only on Thursday, September 7 from 10 a.m. to noon for the public of all ages, free and first-come, first-served. After Thursday, the crew will downrig the mast to fit through the Erie and Oswego Canals, and the deck will be closed to visitors for their safety.

This ship was built and is used for educational programs teaching sailing to teens in the Canadian Maritimes and New England. The Hudson River Maritime Museum is located at 50 Rondout Landing in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 338-0071 or visit



Mushroom walks in Saugerties, Canaan

I am so taken by Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms,” which includes the lines:

“Diet on water/On crumbs of shadow/Bland-mannered, asking/Little or nothing./So many of us!/So many of us!”

Do you diet on mushrooms? Curious to look for some, to learn more about them? I’m always envious of people who confidently forage mushrooms. Mine mostly come in the form of chicken marsala or a pizza topping. Here are two opportunities to join others in a little bit of hands-on mycology:

On Saturday, September 9 at 9 a.m., the Esopus Creek Conservancy leads a Mushroom Ramble as part of the Hudson River Valley Ramble. Bring your journals, identification books and cameras, but leave your forks at home, because there’s no mushroom-picking on this trek. This free walk is family-friendly and open to all ages, but preregistration is required, with a maximum of 20 people. The meet-up spot is the northeast corner of the Saugerties Plaza (near the Credit Union) on Route 9W, just south of the Village of Saugerties, and participants will carpool to the location. For more information or to register, e-mail or visit


Looking for something fun-gi to do this weekend? On Saturday, September 9 at 10 a.m., join the Columbia Land Conservancy for a Mushroom Ecology Walk at the Schor Conservation Area. Participants of all ages will learn about mushrooms and how to identify them, including perhaps that adorable red one with white dots that local artist Cindy Hoose makes out of felt. This walk is free and open to the public, and registration is required. The Schor Conservation Area is located at 58 Shoreview Drive in Canaan. For more information or to register, call (518) 392-5252, extension 210, or visit


Puppet Workshop at Unison for Labor & Sanctuary Parade

There are two types of people in the world: crafters and non-crafters. But here’s some surprising common ground: puppets! Puppets can be as detailed or as simple as we would like. For the craft-averse, like me, anything becomes a puppet if you put googly eyes on it! Do you have fond memories of puppets in your own life? How about Lamb Chop in 1957? From Punch & Judy to Alf to Kermit the Frog, these icons of childhood carry lasting impressions.

How would you and your family like to venture into the world of puppets? You can even march with the puppets in the Labor & Sanctuary Parade and Festival the very next day! Come to the Unison Art Center’s Kids’ Puppet Workshop on Saturday, September 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. The cost is $20 per child/adult pair, and $10 per additional child. Unison is located at 68 Mountain Rest Road in New Paltz. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-1559 or visit

Then, come back the next day with your puppet creations and be a part of the Labor & Sanctuary Parade and Festival on Sunday, September 10, dedicated to invoking equality and compassion! At 1 p.m., meet up at the corner of Manheim Boulevard and Main Street in New Paltz, then march down Main Street to Plattekill Avenue to Hasbrouck Park. From 2 to 4 p.m., catch performances from the Redwing Blackbird Puppet Theater, the Center for Creative Education, POOK and others, along with appearances by Brian Obach and Dan Torres, food, kids’ activities and a community information table. To learn more about the parade and festival, visit


Woodstock hosts Happy Traum, Shanghai Quartet & Drum Boogie Festival

Music and Woodstock: They’re practically synonyms! And this weekend is no exception. Read on for two wonderful musical events taking place right here – but is it completing the summer, or kicking off fall?

Maverick Concerts is America’s oldest, continuous summer music festival in the US, and this final weekend of the season is a perfect example of why. On Saturday, September 9 at 8 p.m., local perennial favorite Happy Traum and Friends perform at the Maverick Concert Hall. Tickets cost $45 for reserved seating; general admission is $25 and students pay $5. Then, get your applause-hands on for the Shanghai Quartet, performing on Sunday, September 10 at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $55 for reserved seating; general admission costs $30 and students pay $5. The Maverick Concert Hall is located at 120 Maverick Road in Woodstock. For tickets or more information, call (845) 679-8217, e-mail or visit

Looking for beats? Live percussion and drumming? Woodstock has got you covered, because this weekend features the Drum Boogie Festival, taking place on Saturday, September 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Andy Lee Field in Woodstock. All ages are welcomed at this free musical event with legends such as Jack DeJohnette, the North/South Indian Music Project, POOK and so much more. Plus, food trucks and family activities round out the day. Bring a blanket and lawn chair, and stay all afternoon!

Andy Lee Field is located along Rock City Road in Woodstock. For more information about this year’s schedule and lineup, visit


Walk & Wade at Esopus Meadows

Is your family in chaos adjusting to the September school schedule scramble? Wishing that you and your crew could reboot, release parent/kid tension and relax a little? Then it sounds like Scenic Hudson’s Esopus Meadows Walk & Wade event is just what you need! This Saturday, September 9 from 2 to 4 p.m., join other families for learning about plants and animals in relation to climate and season change while walking along the new phenology nature trail; and collect (then release) river critters captured in large seine nets as part of the citizen science movement.

Walk & Wade is a free, family-friendly event for all ages and is part of the Hudson Valley Ramble. Esopus Meadows is located at 257 River Road in Ulster Park. For more information, call (845) 473-4440 or visit



Mt. Gulian, Historic Huguenot Street mark NYS women’s suffrage centennial

1920: the year that Q-Tips, the hairdryer and Band-Aids were invented. And on August 26, 1920, US women were finally granted the right to vote. But New York State was ahead of the curve, legally granting women’s voting rights in 1917! This weekend, two of our area historic sites are celebrating this 100-year anniversary with special events.

On Sunday, September 10 from 1 to 4 p.m., the Mount Gulian historic site presents the family-friendly program, “Women: Their Rights and Nothing Less.” This potent time in our history is told “directly” by famous suffragettes Lucretia Mott and Alice Paul, and guests can even converse with them during intermission. The cost is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for ages 12 to 18, $4 for ages 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and under. Preregistration is strongly recommended.

Mount Gulian is located at 145 Sterling Street in Beacon. To register or for more information, call (845) 831-8172, e-mail or visit

Have you heard about Historic Huguenot Street’s monthly event, “In Her Words: A Women’s History Tour”? You can catch the next one this Sunday, September 10 from 2 to 3 p.m., departing from the DuBois Fort Visitor Center. (Pro tip: Get there a little early and challenge your kids to discover the year the fort was built, visible along the windows of the street side of the building.) Guests visit four of the Huguenot houses while learning about a host of women who made a difference in our local history, such as Eliza Varick Silvernail Ackert (1830-1916), the first female editor of the original New Paltz Times!

General admission costs $15, and $13.50 for seniors, children under 12, military families and donors of $50 or more during 2017. Historic Huguenot Street is located at 81 Huguenot Street itself, and parking is available on Broadhead Avenue in New Paltz. Can’t make it this Sunday? Register for the October 8, 11 a.m. tour! For more information or to register, call (845) 255-1660, e-mail or visit


Apply now for Assembly Session Internship Program

Inspired by these impressive stories from our past? Your college student can get a jump on an internship learning all about New York State politics, so let’s get going on those applications! The Assembly Session Internship Program is gearing up for a new round of participants who are full-time college juniors or seniors or graduate students. And in addition to the hands-on experience of working in government, there are stipends to go with it! The application deadline is November 1, 2017 (earlier for SUNY-Albany students). For more information, visit



Dignity for All Students Act training in Kingston

Bullying and cyberbullying reporting spikes around 11 a.m., and again between 9 and 10 p.m. Reaching out for support against bullying increases on Wednesdays and Thursdays, while cyberbullying surges on Sundays. Is any of it new to you like it is to me?

We’re seeing youth suicide caused or impacted by bullying. But what can we do to help quell bullying in all forms, and help to keep our youth alive and continuing to thrive? Here is a training for teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, families and anyone else who is interested to consider adding to the toolbox. Two opportunities are upcoming for the six-hour Dignity for All Students Act training and certification: Tuesday and Wednesday, September 12 and 13 at the Kingston Center for Spectrum Services; and Tuesday and Wednesday, October 3 and 4 at the Ellenville Center for Spectrum Services, both from 4 to 7 p.m. The cost is $75, and topics include bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and discrimination, along with indicators, early warning signs, prevention and reporting procedures.

The Kingston Center for Spectrum Services is located at 70 Kukuk Lane in Kingston; Dr. Cheryl Engel will lead the workshop. The Ellenville Center for Spectrum Services is at 4 Yankee Place in Ellenville; Sandra Brownsey is the presenter. For more information or to register, visit or call (845) 336-2616, extension 116. For individuals of any age facing bullying, the free national 24/7 Crisis Text Line is 741741.

Erica Chase-Salerno is still gorging on heirloom tomato sandwiches. She can be reached at