Kids’ Almanac: Sept. 14-21

Dad: First day of school!
Are you excited to see your friends?

Six-year-old:  Yeah, but I saw them
in kindergarten – why do I need
to see them in first grade?
– Cooper, Hurley

Erica’s Cancer journey

Let’s talk!

“I don’t want to say the wrong thing,” people confess when I run into them in town. Or, “Don’t focus on… that [dying]…stay positive and you’ll get through!” I get it. The longer I travel along this path of Stage IV breast cancer, the more discomfort I witness during end-of-life conversations. Interestingly, my support group friends with advanced terminal cancer like mine aren’t usually interested in talking about death either.


Here’s one way to get started. Instead of focusing on what to say, ask. Create a question: “How are you doing?” And you simply let the person answer. You could then say, “Would you like to share more about that?” And from there, you can be ready to talk about your life. I love hearing what my friends and their families and pets are up to, or chatting about hilarious pumpkin spice Internet memes, or that they’re having a terrible day and need to vent. Just because I have cancer doesn’t mean I want to stop hearing about your life. My social life has shifted with the driving restriction, so I’m already seeing less of you. When we catch up, I really want to know How You’re Doing: the good, the bad, the ugly. All of it. If you hold back from venting about your kids, or a health scare that you’re navigating, or grief over a loved one who is nearing the end of life, you are excluding me from your life in the name of not burdening me. It’s like I’m already gone.

My husband occasionally tells me (fine, it’s often; he tells me often) that there are many ways to “speak.” I did read the book The Five Love Languages, but all I want to do is talk about it. Anyway, it turns out that “talking” doesn’t have to be limited to words. Gestures such as weeding a garden, dropping off an heirloom tomato sandwich, seeing a movie, sending a card, sharing photos of your summer travels, simply sitting and drinking tea together – those are examples of caring gestures that convey sentiments that may be difficult to put into words.

I need to speak openly about my end-of-life journey, and it helps me to stay in relationship with you when you are open to hearing it, and willing to share about your life. Head On and Heart Strong!

Bard College’s Clemente Course

As eager freshmen navigate their first college semester this fall, what are your thoughts about higher education in your own life? Is college something you couldn’t pursue after high school, but wish you were in now? You are not alone. Bard College’s Clemente Course in the Humanities is currently accepting applications to its free program for studying Philosophy, Literature, US History, Art History, Critical Thinking and Writing.

Now, how about the obstacles that make it hard to take classes in the first place? Check this out: The program is free! Free tuition, free books, free childcare. I know, right?

Classes take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kingston Library starting September 28 and finishing in May. Successful completion of the program grants six college credits. Applicants must be 17 years or older, living in a low-income household, able to read a newspaper in English, be highly motivated and committed, have time and desire to attend classes and complete assigned work outside of class and participate fully throughout the nine months of the program.

Interested? Great! You’ve got to hustle, though, because applications are due September 20. Applications may be e-mailed or dropped off at the Kingston Library, located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information, to apply or to learn about other areas participating in the Clemente Course in the Humanities, visit


For 70 years, children and adults have written to Smokey Bear, the US Forest Service symbol for wildfire prevention. So many letters were sent in the 1960s that the US Postal Service authorized a ZIP code, 20252, just for Smokey.

Meet Smokey Bear at Museum of Firefighting in Hudson

Do you remember this Mr. Rogers quote? “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Our kids are seeing all kind of images from the recent wildfires out West and hurricanes down South, but the part that seems to touch many people’s hearts is the footage showing wild and domestic animal rescues. Here’s an event that can bring that piece close to home for all ages!

On Saturday, September 16 at 10:30 a.m. at the FASNY Museum of Firefighting, make a plan to bring your crew to “Smokey Bear and his Forest Friends.” Your kiddos will have a chance to meet Smokey, along with some of his real wildlife animal buddies, and learn how to help keep them safe during fires! Activities include a demonstration by a forest ranger on firefighting equipment, making a Smokey Bear craft and taking a photo with Smokey himself! This event is open to the public of all ages. Be sure to spend some time in the museum afterwards, which features a number of children’s emergency-prevention stations. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 and older, $25 for the family rate of two adults and two kids, and free for children under 3, FASNY members and on this Super Saturday, residents of Columbia County.

The FASNY Museum of Firefighting is located at 117 Harry Howard Avenue in Hudson. For more information, call (518) 822-1875 or visit

“Marvels of Motion” at Kingston Library

Yes, life can be a blur – juggling kids, pets, work, relationships, trying to remember why you went into that room – so why not use all of that activity as a launching pad to a learning opportunity? This Saturday, September 16 at 10:30 a.m., head over to the Kingston Library for “Marvels of Motion,” where Mad Science captivates and educates on Newton’s Law of Motion. Engaging demonstrations include somehow punching a hole in some wood using a thin stick and experimenting with rockets. This program is free, open to the public, involves lots of audience participation and is geared toward schoolaged children.

The Kingston Library is located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-0507, extension 7, or visit

TMI Project on slave dwellings at New Paltz Reformed Church

Here’s one way in for young people and adults alike to understand some painful local history. This Saturday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m., Historic Huguenot Street hosts Reclaiming Our Time: A Live Performance by TMI Project at the New Paltz Reformed Church. Three months ago, TMI writers and Terry James, a living-historian and board member of the Slave Dwelling Project, slept overnight in a cellar kitchen that was used as slaves’ quarters in the Bevier House, one of Huguenot Street’s museum sites. Inspired by this experience, their true stories and impressions will be read aloud at this event.

In the words of participant Victory Reese, “We have adopted this attitude, ‘If it doesn’t directly have anything to do with our lives, it doesn’t exist.’ Then we wonder why we never make any progress, why slavery continues to morph instead of heal. Isn’t permanent resolution better than ignoring the problem until it’s blowing up in our faces, our homes and our communities?”

Admission costs $10. The New Paltz Reformed Church is located at 92 Huguenot Street in New Paltz. For tickets or more information, call (845) 699-4449 or visit or

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Dissect owl pellets at Mohonk Preserve

Why would your kids suddenly freak out with excitement over a local nature-based workshop? Because this one has poop in it! Yes, that’s right: I said poop! On Saturday, September 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the Mohonk Preserve presents “Night Raptors and Owl Pellets.” Your kids from ages 5 to 12 will hear all about owls while dissecting real poop!

The cost is $5 per child, free for parents. And what’s better than a free program? Free Mohonk Preserve day passes, which are provided to all attendees. Registration is required.

Then, come back on Sunday, September 17 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for “Open Studio: Hawk Week with the Youth Nature Ambassadors.” Listen to teen volunteers share about raptors, and perhaps inspire your own child to become a Nature Ambassador someday! Open Studio is free and open to the public of all ages.


The Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center is located at 3197 Route 44 in Gardiner. To register or for more information, call (845) 255-0919 or visit and


Tanglewood Marionettes’ The Fairy Circus at Columbia-Greene CC

Calling all kids who love puppets! Here’s a show sure to delight your youngest family members. On Sunday, September 17 from 2 to 3 p.m., come to the Columbia-Greene Community College performing arts center for The Fairy Circus. Presented by the Tanglewood Marionettes, the show includes more than 20 puppets, all operated by a single person! They can dance, fly and even juggle! General admission costs $5, and seniors and students pay $4.

Columbia-Greene Community College is located at 4400 State Route 23 in Hudson. For tickets or more information, call (518) 828-4181, extension 0, at the C-GCC campus, or at Greene County Council on the Arts in Catskill. To learn more about the event and the puppets, visit and


Shopkins Live! at Albany’s Palace Theatre

Are your empty egg cartons scarfed up for tiny toy storage? Do your kids use names like Gram Jam, Kooky Cookie, Apple Blossom, Candi Cotton or Pa’ Pizza when they play? If so, then you must be firmly entrenched in the world of Shopkins: one-inch plastic characters ranging from foods to dolls to cars and so much more. (I think that the cutest one is Miss Mushy-Moo.)

What could be better than imaginative play with these little characters? Seeing them perform in real life! You can treat your own littles to Shopkins Live! Shop It Up! this Tuesday, September 19 at 6 p.m. at the Palace Theatre. Your crew is needed to help save Shopville’s Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair! The show features Shoppies dolls such as Jessicake, Peppa-Mint and Polli Polish, along with an ensemble whose members perform urban-style dancing and music. And of course Shopkins besties like Lippy Lips will be there, too!

Tickets cost $28.50, $45.50 or $68, depending on the section, and since “Once You Shop, You Can’t Stop,” there’s even a VIP Party Package available for $103. The Palace Theatre is located at 19 Clinton Avenue in Albany. For tickets or more information, call (518) 465-4663 or visit To learn more about these popular toys, visit

Erica Chase-Salerno wishes for you a week filled with enchantment, study and abundance. She can be reached at