Kids’ Almanac (1/25-31)

Get tickets now if you want to see author and Bard professor Neil Gaiman interview Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) in Annandale on March 16. (photo by Kyle Cassidy)

“Fairy tales are more than true:
not because they tell us that dragons exist,
but because they tell us
that dragons can be beaten.”
–  Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Neil Gaiman to talk with Lemony Snicket at Bard

Great minds meet in casual dialogue when Bard’s Fisher Center presents authors Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) in conversation at the Sosnoff Theater on Friday, March 16 at 8 p.m. Hosted by Bard’s Professor Gaiman, the conversation will focus on adaptation, collaboration and the role of the writer as giver of advice. “My parents claim that when I was six years old I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my answer was that I wanted to be an old man who lived at the top of a mountain giving advice,” says Handler, the best-selling author of the A Series of Unfortunate Events series.


Tickets for this special evening cost $25. Bard students and faculty are admitted free. For more information, visit The Fisher Center is located on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.

Introductory vet program for teens at SUNY-Ulster

Registration for a veterinary program for teens is open now for ages 13 to 19. The program is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s 4-H Youth Development program, led by Dr. Beth Alden, professor of Biology and director of the SUNY-Ulster Vet Tech Program. The nine-week program will be held on the campus of SUNY-Ulster at 491 Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge every Thursday from February 1 to March 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Area veterinarians and SUNY-Ulster professors will provide hands-on teaching in a clinical setting. The final class will include a graduation ceremony and potluck. In the first unit, youth will explore the normal animal, including attitude and behavior, maintaining animal health and the organs and systems of the animal body. In the second unit, animal diseases will be discussed, including viruses, bacteria and parasites that affect animal health. The instructors will also discuss the profession of veterinary science and possible career paths.

The cost is $80 for 4-H members enrolled in Ulster County or $100 for non-4-H members or those outside of Ulster County. Registration fees include course books and materials. Participation is limited to 24 students. Preregistration is required by January 29.

Registration and payment must be completed online at, processed on a paid, first-come, first-served basis. In the event of bad weather, lessons may be canceled, in which case an extended period will be offered the following Thursday.

For more information or help with registration, call Matt Helffrich of the CCEUC 4-H program at (845) 340-3990, extension 340, or e-mail

Special Olympics New York State Games call for volunteers

As the saying goes, “Changing the world needs volunteers,” and helping out at the 2018 Special Olympics New York State Games from February 23 to 28. With volunteer tasks such as “hands-on doers” for ages 13 and up (13 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult), social ambassadors and cheerers (no age requirement), athletes and venues around the state need you! Take a look through the calendar and find your best fit for you and your family to make a difference. Sign up early for your preferred spots. For more information, visit and

Underground Railroad talk on Saturday at Maritime Museum

The Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Rondout Landing in Kingston will host “When Freedom Calls: The Alsdorf Family and the Underground Railroad” on Saturday, January 27 at 2 p.m. in the Riverport Wooden Boat School classroom. Education coordinator Tashae Smith will explore the Alsdorf family’s musical lineage and their secret participation in the Underground Railroad. Smith will also highlight key individuals in Newburgh who in some way were involved in the Underground Railroad or with the abolition of slavery. The lecture will include aspects of Smith’s self-guided walking tour, “In Washington’s Shadow,” which focuses on important aspects of African-American history in the City of Newburgh.

Smith is a recent graduate of Manhattanville College in Purchase, where she majored in History and minored in Museum Studies. She was the Open Space Institute’s 2015 Barnabas McHenry Fellow for Historic Preservation. The fellowship supported her work with Sound & Story of the Hudson Valley to create “In Washington’s Shadow.”

Preregistration for “When Freedom Calls” is strongly encouraged. For more information or to register, visit

Upstate Films to screen Matilda for adult-child book group

Oblong Books and Upstate Films in Rhinebeck are collaborating to present a screening of the 1996 film Matilda on Sunday, February 4 at 1 p.m. Attendees are invited to read the book before the screening, then stay afterward for a post-film book group discussion led by Oblong Books. All ages are welcome to attend the screening, with the book discussion optional.

The film was directed by Danny DeVito and based on the book by Roald Dahl. Matilda contains the stuff of traditional children’s stories – a wicked step-aunt, a true friend with a pure heart and more than a little magic – but “traditional” isn’t a word that comes to mind when describing this film. DeVito’s quirky direction of the exaggerated characters and extraordinary situations matches Dahl’s novel about neglectful parents, cruel teachers and the revenge of a brave little girl.

The plot centers on the young daughter (Mara Wilson) of Harry and Zinia Wormwood (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman). Though her parents may live “in a very nice neighborhood in a very nice house,” they are not very nice people. Mr. Wormwood is a used-car salesman whose movements are being tracked by the police, and Mrs. Wormwood is obsessed with bingo parlors and television game shows. Though Matilda shows signs of amazing intelligence and remarkable powers, her parents are neglectful. Eventually, they send her off to an elementary school lorded over by the horrifying Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), whose personal motto is “Use the rod, beat the child.” Practicing what she preaches, Miss Trunchbull takes delight in informing her charges that her idea of a perfect school is one where there are no children. Fortunately for Matilda, her first-grade teacher, the kind and good-hearted Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), immediately recognizes her new student’s amazing gifts.

The running time is one hour, 38 minutes. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors or students and $6 for children under age 16. To purchase tickets in advance, visit A small service fee will be added. To purchase the book from Oblong Books before the screening, visit

Rhinecliff Winter Bonfire on Saturday

Rhinebeck Grange 896, in partnership with the Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company, will host the Rhinecliff Winter Bonfire at the Rhinecliff Firemen’s Field on Saturday, January 27 from 4 to 8 p.m. (The snow date is February 3.) Dress warm and celebrate winter around a bonfire made from local holiday trees.

The Rhinecliff Protective Fire District will pick up holiday trees from resident homes earlier that day, from 8 a.m. to noon. To arrange for a pickup, call Joe at (845) 876-6488 and place the tree at the end of your driveway. Trees must be cleared of decorations.

Bring a veggie to add to Sandy’s Stone Soup and enjoy soup and hot cocoa on-site. Musicians are encouraged to take part in the festivities. Firemen’s Field is located on Valley Road, next to the Old Schoolhouse Condos.


Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Hills Museum

Forget about Wayback Wednesdays or Throwback Thursdays: I want to know if you say Yes to Yesteryear! Coming up on Saturday, February 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., you and your crew can experience the customs and traditions of the season at the Hanford Hills Museum’s annual Ice Harvest Festival. Fun for all ages includes actually harvesting ice like Kristoff, horse-drawn sleighrides, ice-fishing demos, ice-carving, bonfires and delicious fare. Go beyond sledding, skiing and snowboarding this year and get outside for some hands-on history.

Admission costs $9 for adults and teens, $7 for seniors and AAA members and is free for youth 12 and under and museum members. The Hanford Hills Museum is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith. For more information, call (607) 278-5744 or visit

West’s Ceramics in Highland offers classes, supplies & parties

If you’re considering taking up the art of ceramics, or if you’re already immersed in it, you need to know about a local resource called West’s Ceramics. Located in Highland, it’s a one-stop shop for all your potterymaking needs.

To get started, of course, you need tools, material and guidance. West’s facility is equipped with its own state-of-the-art kilns, so you can bring your greenware or bisque here for firing and glazing if you wish. You can also buy a kiln for home use or a potter’s wheel: kick-operated for the hobbyist, or electric for those who need to keep production going continuously. Hand tools for clay-sculpting, manufactured by Kemper, are also essential.

Once your home operation is established, you’ll need to resupply regularly. West’s Ceramics is a distributor for Laguna Clays and Mayco Colors. You can choose smooth clays for throwing, grog/sand for hand-building. Different types are more suitable for low-, mid- and high-fire tempering and glazing. There’s even a type of clay available that’s self-hardening. West’s also carries a broad range of materials for painting and glazing your pottery.

New to ceramics? Take a class! Certified instructors are on hand at West’s to offer seminars on a regular basis, and you can even book them for a decidedly unusual and creative birthday party. If you’re an old hand, and your kiln or wheel breaks down, you can call West’s for a repair as well; they do house calls.

West’s Ceramics is located at 4 Lumen Lane in Highland. Shop hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. To schedule a class or find out more, call (845) 691-6060, e-mail or call

Erica Chase-Salerno can be reached at