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December 05, 2016
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Blowin’ in the wind

Barbara Strong, left, pictured here with family friend Angela Rein, was on hand at the Dancing Cat, representing the Allyson Whitney Foundation.

The lyrics to Bob Dylan’s anthem ring in my head as I sit down to muse on what’s coming down the pike. “How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?” As a general rule, I don’t think of myself as an alarmist, but Hurricane Sandy is presently working my nerves. By the time this hits the newsstands, she will be a thing of the past, but the aftermath... who knows? Meanwhile, the reports are dire as I write this and I’m keeping one eye on the news and one on the eye on the hurricane. I’m walking a tightrope here in my trailer (yes... I live in a trailer!) of attempting to stay calm, keep my wits about me and above all, my sense of humor intact, as the winds begin to pick up.

Multi-tasking my fool head off, I’ve combined emergency preparedness and attending events over the past few days, happy to have galleries and pumpkin carving contests to keep me occupied. “How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?” Walking the dog this morning, I observed darkening skies and wind gusts, feeling fairly manly. Thinking back on my visit to the BrookHouse Gallery (www.brookhouse
gallery.com), I’m even more impressed with sculptor Janet Rutkowski (www.bfdfirehousestudios.com) and her new work currently showing there in conjunction with painter Lena Viddo’s (www.lenaviddo.com) “earthly delights and rapturous imaginings” inspired by the duo’s study of martial arts.

While Viddo was not able to be at the opening reception, Rutkowski (who has been studying martial arts for 15 years) was on hand to discuss her process and give the crowd a demonstration of the age-old Hapkido techniques that she practices. “This show is an expression of women’s empowerment and the Yin Yang forms of martial arts,” she informed the crowd. Strength, control and attention to detail are evident in both the art and practice as one peruses the two women’s work and both (IMHO) are striking visualizations on a common theme.

With Dylan droning on in an endless loop (“How many years can a mountain exist, before it’s washed to the sea?”) I buckled up and headed down the mountain to Bethel, NY and the “great pumpkin peace party” to observe a different form of artistic expression. Wood carver extraordinaire Paul Stark, (www.oregonstudios.com), who is usually working with trees, was busily creating fantastic Jack O’ Lanterns for a pumpkin luminary display alongside Rt. 17B. Serving as a backdrop and fundraiser for Sullivan County Cancer Services Program (www.crmcny.org/services/cancer-screening) the event combined charity, hope and inspiration with a good dose of fun mixed in.

With booths set up inside the Dancing Cat Saloon (www.dancingcatsaloon.com) representatives of a variety of organizations were on hand to shed light on the cause, before the candles were lit inside the gourds. I chatted with state assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, outreach coordinator Fran Cassidy-Gavin and Allyson Whitney’s (www.allysonwhitney.org) mom, Barbara Strong. “She was very giving” Strong said, while discussing daughter Allyson’s devotion to others “even when she was extremely ill. Her memory lives on through the various works of the foundation named for her.” Once again, I was reminded of Dylan’s lyrics—“How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” and made a mental note to carve out more time for this worthy organization.

Glancing at my list, I checked off batteries, dry goods and Entenmann’s chocolate cake as I headed home to board up the windows and fold up lawn chairs, making sure that there was plenty of dog food and flashlights on hand.

Continually checking in with our Internet presence (www.riverreporter.com), I see that the news team is busily keeping residents of the Upper Delaware valley informed with updates and reports, tracking Sandy and her wide swath expected to make its way through our region.

Fear of the unknown is stressful, but unavoidable in a situation like this, and I’m grateful to be a small part of an organization dedicated to keeping the public safe. Not powerless (yet!), I’m heeding the advice of our own sources and battening the hatches, making sure the storm windows are in place and hunkering down for the duration. One thing appears certain—it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Will my trailer be a rockin’? The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.