October 28, 2012

Hallowe'en Goes To the Dogs

Yesterday, with the news reports of Hurricane Sandy (AKA Frankenstorm) working its way up the east coast and threatening to wash out the remainder of the weekend, I decided to take advantage of a slightly overcast Saturday morning and go to the tiny town of Cold Spring Harbor. The community was hosting their Annual Howl-O-Ween Parade. Around noontime, people started to line both sides of Main Street for the event. Soon, the police had blocked off all traffic in both directions and the only vehicle on the road was a classic car that drove by blasting the Baha Men's hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

With the stage set, an entire procession of costumed canines, haunted hounds, and masked mutts came marching down the street pulling their owners behind them. The outfits were creative and fun and I was very surprised at how this huge crowd of dogs was so well-behaved. I didn't even hear a bark. The parade worked its way through town and into Cold Spring Harbor Park where a classic car show and a stage with live bands waited. Here, the pooches gathered for the costume contest. This Hallowe'en really went to the dogs!

After the parade, I headed over to Panera Bread for lunch. I got a Pink Ribbon Bagel with maple walnut cream cheese. These bagels are only available through October with a portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer charities. With cherries, cranberries, and brown sugar in every bite, they're delicious for a good cause. A tasty combination...

Well, at the writing of this post, Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the New York area sometime tomorrow. Forecasts are saying that it may be very heavy and electricity could be lost for up to 10 days. If that happens, I'm not too sure when I'll be able to get back here to post again. Hopefully, the damage will be at a minimum. Right now, the wind is really whipping up; I've battened down the hatches and gotten my candles at the ready. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, have a Happy Hallowe'en and stay safe! Cheers!

"In the fear of the Lord 
is strong confidence: and his children
shall have a place of refuge."

~Proverbs 14:26


October 27, 2012

Doug & Maria's Big Fat Poetic Wedding

Saturday, October 20, 2012: At 3:00 on this sunny afternoon, I got dressed up in my best suit and headed to the St. Anthony of Padua Church in East Northport to witness the marriage of my friends Doug and Maria. I had a really good feeling inside when I stepped into the church vestibule and saw the bridal party getting lined up to make their entrance. The bride looked stunning and the groom very happy. I said a quick "Hello" to everyone and continued into the nave where I saw many of the faces that I'm used to seeing at poetry events sitting among the pews. It was really nice to see the poets in a different setting and all dressed up in their finest.

It was a very lovely ceremony. I got choked up as I watched Doug and Maria make their vows before God and exchange their rings. Another beautiful moment came when a marvelous rendition of "Ave Maria" was sung by Tara Kavanagh. It gave me goosebumps. I also really liked seeing the bride and groom showered with rose petals as they exited the narthex. The pink petals against the bricks in front of the church made for a beautiful photograph. I also took some pictures of the stained glass windows after everyone had gone.

At 6:00, everyone drove over to the Smithtown Landing Country Club for the reception. The cocktail hour featured some very delicious finger foods, fruits, and cheeses. Soon, a string quartet entered the room and launched into Mozart's "Eine Kline Nachtmusik." That bubbly melody really set a wonderful tone for the evening. Next, the guests walked over to the main hall. With ornate chandeliers and a beautiful topiary on each table, I was taken by the opulence of this ballroom the moment that I stepped through the door. Then, it was dinner, a rich Viennese hour, and lots and lots and lots of dancing! So much fun!

Both the groom and his mother gave the gathering touching moments when they recited poems that they had written for the occasion. I was so inspired that I composed a short wedding poem of my own and jotted down on the front of my gift envelope. I do hope that Doug and Maria liked it. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and blessings! Love & light...

"Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices
with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres. Love never fails."

~1 Corinthians 13:4-8


October 22, 2012

Artmosphere Returns!

Back in September of 2008, I was involved in a theatrical piece called "Artmosphere" that had a 4-night stand at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at C. W. Post College. The impetus for the show was to blend different disciplines of art together into one cohesive performance (dance, music, poetry, theater, visual arts, lighting, sound, etc.). The show quickly became somewhat of a phenomenon and people were genuinely moved by it. The performances every night took on a rare, magical quality that was very apparent to the audience. We had the most amazing cast and crew. It was definitely one of the funnest times that I've ever had on a stage and I was quite crestfallen when the show's run was over and I had to walk away from it all. Toward the end, I pitched to the group a plot line for an "Artmosphere II" and everyone was receptive, though, sadly, it never materialized. Aside from composing some of the music and all of the spoken parts, my role in the show was to play the poetic host and guide -- Cicerone. He was a great character and he had the coolest wardrobe.

One evening, we were running through a full dress rehearsal of the show. At one point, I was on the stage doing a scene and I knew that the dancers were off on the sides in the middle of a costume change. I finished my part and exited stage left. As I pushed my way through the plush curtains, I discovered one of the female dancers out of costume, mostly nude. Although she neither raised her eyes to look at me nor darted to cover herself, I knew that she was aware of my presence; I, out of respect, didn’t allow my vision to linger on her. I was tempted to utter something apologetic, but I didn't want to embarrass her by forcing her to acknowledge the fact that I had witnessed her indisposed. Instead, I opted for a hopefully more empathetic approach and stripped off my own outfit to change in front of her. I undressed slowly and deliberately, trying to showcase my comfort level in this unusual situation. I felt a sigh of relief pervading the air around us. As we stood there in silence, my inner monologue was saying something like:

As long as there is trust between us and we are walking the same path toward a common goal, we need never conceal our vulnerability.

After the rehearsal, this same dancer and I were joking and smiling together comfortably and I felt like I had done the right thing by putting myself in her shoes. We didn't speak about those backstage moments and, as far as I was concerned, it was something that never needed to be addressed.

Anyway, on the night of Sunday, October 14 of this year, I once again went out to the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts to take part in the closing ceremony of the Long Island Fringe Festival 2012. The evening was booked as "Artmosphere Returns." It was to feature individual performances by some of the original members of the production and then a showing of the Artmosphere movie that was made 4 years ago. On hand for the festivities were the lovely ladies of Immersion Dance Company, classical pianist and composer Jane Leslie, the guys from the Artmosphere Band (Chris Benvegna, Charlie Held, and Matt Flood, and directors Debby Kasimakis and Bob Goida. There was a lot of reminiscing going on and even some talk of bringing the show back to the stage someday. That is something I would love to see.

Mostly, It felt really good to be on the stage at Tilles Center again. It is one of my favorite places to perform and I have many fond memories of it. It was a very inspiring evening. Love & light...

"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."

~Numbers 6:24-26


October 16, 2012

Bird Pumpkins & Farmer's Markets

One of my favorites things about the autumn season is getting to see all of the farmer's markets that pop up in almost every town on Long Island. Early on Saturday mornings, I love to browse around the stalls and look at all of the freshly-picked produce. I can definitely appreciate all of the hard labor that the farmers put into the land and the bounty that they harvest is always spectacular. This past weekend, I went to the market at Tanger Outlets in Deer Park. I bought some yams, green beans, butternut squash, eggplant, peppers, and apple cider. Along with all of the fruits and vegetables, this one also had a booth of homemade breads and pretzels. I got a provolone roll that would prove to be delicious. The market always makes me feel very inspired to do some country cooking. Soon, I'll do my pre-Thanksgiving gravy test run with a roaster chicken. I'll probably bake the yams and whip up a recipe for brown-sugared butter that one of my co-workers gave me. That will be so good...

After I was finished shopping at the farmer's market, I made a dash to a "pick-your-own" pumpkin patch at a local church. There were a lot of kids out with their parents selecting the family pumpkins. I really loved the beautiful energy that was in the air. Very happy. I got a few pumpkins in different sizes, some colorful gourds, and three pots of chrysanthemums to adorn my front steps.

Back at home, I broke out my painting supplies and started on the pumpkin crafts. Last year, I turned my pumpkin into a frog and it ended up being a hit on Halloween. This time around, I decided that an Angry Bird pumpkin was in order. It came out looking really good. I can't wait to put it on the front porch for the trick or treaters! So much fun! Cheers!

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. 
For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out of it."

~1 Timothy 6:6-7