Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jon Katz : Musings #1 Jon Katz : Musings #1

Breed: Border Collie

Jon is a well respected an much read author, he is also a local and often does readings at the Battenkill Bookstore in Cambridge, NY. He has agreed to be a contributor to our blog. Look for the upcoming film based on his book "A Dog Year" staring Jeff Bridges.

Though this is a bit after the fact, Jon's advise is always sound.....

Why is a Christmas dog a mistake?

First, because no animal should be a surprise. The arrival of a dog changes a household considerably—for years. Someone has to take responsibility for their daily needs—feeding, exercise, health care, grooming. The decision should be thought about, talked about, negotiated. A new dog, not necessarily a puppy, either, should be the result of a process, not an impulse.

Kids can be unreliable; kids change. The puppy melts their hearts for a few days or weeks. But then it needs to be walked every day (in the rain). It needs careful attention to its feeding and eliminating if it's going to be housebroken effectively. It needs to be taught not to jump on Grandma. The kids oohing and aahing under the tree will soon move on to IMing and texting their friends. Few children outside of 4-H programs and Future Farmers of America want to be tied down to conscientious animal care, and their parents are often no more enthusiastic. Reality will soon supersede the Christmas morning fantasy.

The bigger problem with the Christmas pup is that good dogs are usually unavailable for holiday giving. Hardly any ethical dog provider will support the idea of a dog as a surprise present. Good breeders have carefully constructed breeding programs that are rarely tied to the idea of seasonal gifts, unless arrangements have been made with people they know well far in advance. Breeders don't want their dogs to end up in households where nobody understands the work involved in raising them. Experienced rescue group volunteers and shelter workers hate the whole idea of the Christmas dog because they know many of those dogs will be coming back to them.

The dogs that are readily available at Christmas are the kind you probably don't want. Puppy mills grind out thousands of puppies to meet holiday demand. They're the dogs you find in pet stores and malls—cute as puppies but often inbred, poorly socialized, and more prone to genetic health problems like allergies or bad hips or to behavioral difficulties like compulsive barking or chewing.

For Christmas, get the kid an Xbox 360, or an iPod. They'll love it and use it. You don't have to clean up after it, and if they lose interest, you won't have to walk it in the middle of a snowstorm.

If you and your family really want a dog, choose it carefully, and take your time. Get one from a reputable breeder, an experienced rescue group, or an established animal shelter. Ask lots of questions about the dog; expect the breeder or staff to ask you a lot, too. If they don't, be wary. A store clerk or amateur breeder who simply hands you a dog in exchange for your credit card is not your friend. Experienced dog people know the dogs they sell and the people they are selling them to. And don't worry if the dog comes to you in April instead of on Christmas morning. It will be just as adorable without the tree and the bow.

Used with the permission of the author.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Windows on our Worlds Windows on our Worlds

What is the view out of your window? Email your jpg to with date, time and general location that you took the picture and I will post it ASAP.

Cambridge, NY 1-25-07 11:47pm

Monday, January 22, 2007

Photographer's Log Photographer's Log

Double Rainbow with Friends
This is the double rainbow I photographed outside the Greenwich House of Pizza in the K-Mart mall in Greenwich, New York in August of 2006. My friends, Cheryl and Ruth, and I had spent our whole meal watching an awesome storm teem all round the mall at the pizzeria. We left to go home when it seemed the storm had passed. When I noticed the rainbows over and behind the mall I called Cheryl’s attention to them and we both began shooting.

The colors are just as we saw them that evening. I did use a polarizing filter to shoot and it did darken the shot a bit, but the depth and sharpness of the colors are as close to the originals as possible. Right after this shot Cheryl and I went rainbow chasing trying to find its other end. What we did find was a glorious after-the-storm sunset, which will be posted as next weeks, Photographer’s Log. -June Mohan
Photos: (Copyright Mohan 2006) To contact the artist, please send email to:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cambridge Cooking #2 Cambridge Cooking #2

When not on location filming, my friend Jill creates some of the most scrumptious vegetarian food you can eat. Thanks for sharing this week's recipe with our readers.

I like this dish because it's quick and uses pantry ingredients. Lots of protein, fiber and good carbs. Tastes especially fine with a good red wine, like Rioja or Red Zinfandel.

Red Lentil Sauce with Pasta

1/2-3/4 lb of spinach fettucine, linguini, cappelini, tagliatelle, or other long spinach pasta

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots or 2 small onions, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 C dried red lentils (usually at health food stores, carried by some major grocery chains)
1 15 oz can whole or chopped tomatoes (I use Muir Glen or some other organic brand)
2 C water
2-3 t of fresh chopped cilantro
black pepper to taste
grated pecorino or parmesan cheese - whatever your preference
1. Wash the lentils in a colander and let drain

2. Heat olive oil in large pan and saute shallot or onion for 10 minutes or so until slightly browned.

3. Add garlic, cinnamon, lentils, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and let simmer gently for 20 minutes until lentils are tender.

5. Season w/ cilantro and black pepper, if desired.

6. Cook pasta as described on box (don't overcook!!)

7. Drain cooked pasta, turn into individual bowls, pour a ladle full of sauce into the center.

8. Garnish with grated cheese, maybe a little extra cilantro if desired.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Photographer's Log Photographer's Log


My friend Cheryl and I drove slowly down Belle Road when I saw a small movement on the hill to my left, in a snow-covered cornfield. Stopping the car I drew Cheryl’s attention to the creature and we realized we were on eye level with a young hawk.

He just stood in that field watching us curiously as we began taking photographs of him in the dim light. We were amazed at how unafraid he seemed to be, but became further astounded, and then, worried as he began walking through the field of snow towards us! After getting another 20 or so feet closer he stopped and observed us from this closer vantage point. I thought he was injured and unable to fly, and wondered who we should call to come rescue this bird before the advancing night swallowed him, leaving him vulnerable to predators.

Cheryl thought she might leave the car and be able to either see what his injury was if she got closer, (if indeed he was injured) or provoke him into flight and get some interesting shots as he flew. Well, surprise on us. He saw Cheryl come across the road towards him as she was shooting and he took a few more steps towards her then stayed right there, almost posing, but actually seeming to be profoundly curious as to exactly what on earth we two creatures were doing. You could almost see the little wheels of wonder turning in his head.

I kept thinking, "Now, now he is going to fly away surely," alternating with the troubling thought, "or is he badly injured and asking for our help?"

The hawk and Cheryl must have spent nearly five minutes observing one another (as I observed the two of them!) until a car turned up the road. As soon as the hawk heard the advancing engine he gave a mighty lift and took off, leaving me with two blurry shots of his healthy, beautiful body in flight. He did not go far but just to the corner, from whence that car had come, where he alighted in a tree.

Cheryl returned to the car all smiles, exuberant from her little hawk accord and we decided to drive on down the road to the tree to see if the hawk was still there.
In the growing dusk he was sitting outlined on the tree branch with all of the other branches surrounding him like delicate lace. He was perfectly camouflaged. He and the tree were so perfectly matched in color and markings they were as one. As we came abreast of him we realized had been waiting for us! And there he sat, alternately keeping his eye on us as he scanning around the area, perhaps looking for his dinner. We took more shots of him.

We stayed there at least another three or four minutes until we realized he was out-waiting us and would probably stay there, unafraid, for as long as there was light by which we could all see one another! Cheryl and I decided we should drive on, worried his concentration on us might cost him his dinner, or his safety.

Over the years in this Valley I have been watched by all variety of wild critters, I have also been attentively ignored by many other wild critters, but I have never had a wild critter so willingly, so comfortably just invite me into his existence for a great length of time and seem to mutually enjoy the encounter along with me. I continually marvel at the lovely, unique events I experience in my travels throughout our beautiful part of the country. They are all just amazing gifts and I am so blessed.

These gifts are made all the more wonderful when I have a friend along to share them. Barring that, the next best thing is being able to share all of this with you who read our blog. Thank you for seeking us out. Thank you for all of your kind comments. Thank you for letting me share my world with you. It is a beautiful place.-June Mohan
Photos: (Copyright Mohan 2006) To contact the artist, please send email to:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Windows on our Worlds Windows on our Worlds

I know there are many people out there who have great and interesting views of their worlds out their windows. Why not share one with the rest of us! Email your jpg to with date, time and general location that you took the picture and I will post it ASAP.

Salem, NY, Early Fall '06

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jack's Outback Rendezvous #33 Jack's Outback Rendezvous #33

Push Cultivator / Seeder
With the warm weather we have been having so far this winter, I am inspired to do a piece about this unique antique gardening tool.

This person powered cultivator / seeder called, “Iron Age” and has a copyright of December 9, 1902. The user pushes the unit through the soil to cut a row and plant the various seed types that are placed in the large hopper. There is a special seed size selector dial with click stops for celery, turnips, onions, parsnip, spinach and beets. Jack says, "this well made tool probably has more metal in it than four modern cars put together!"

It is in pristine, workable condition, down to its original decal and paint. Almost makes me want to get out there right now and plant my garden… well, almost!

Jack’s: Tools from yesteryear, inspiring projects today!
Go there. Visit Jack’s Outback, 30 West Main Street, Cambridge, NY 518-677-2929.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Photographer's Log Photographer's Log

Generations Past
Belle Road, early Autumn 2006. This massive old barn always seems to be either somber in its duties or falling to sleep in its contemplations of days gone by. On this day, as I drove past, one unusual spark of brightness caught my eye, drawing me into the story of this still working but very old farm building. The sunlight glowing into the room behind that one solitary window seemed to beckon me into its consciousness, as though for a few minutes the building needed to show me it still lived, still quietly breathed, remembered the sounds, the smells, the touch of all the generations of people and animals who have used it through it’s lifetime. For a few minutes it seemed to expose itself not as a cold sleeping building but as a structure with a responsive glowing heart filled with the warmth of ages of memories.

Gazing through that golden window I found myself imagining the goings-on that might have taken place in that barn. All of a sudden I could feel myself as though a youngster on a warm Autumn afternoon working inside, doing chores, pausing a while to sit on a hay bale or stool in the radiant caress of that sunlight which was brightly shining into my eyes, listening to flies buzzing, smelling the sweet muskiness of hay, hearing the loud clopping of an animal’s hoof upon the wooden floor, the creak of the door gently moving loosely on it’s hinge, barely feeling a stray warm breath of a breeze moving through the building. I can feel the sunbeams dancing over the tips of my eyelashes and brushing my face like a brusquely loving mother’s hands that leave me knowing my world is safe and day-to-day, and filled with loving kindness.

And then the sunlight is gone and I am an old woman in a car outside that barn, beyond the world of conjured memories within the great fading red giant. He has closed the door to his heart and our moment of shared reverie is extinguished with the sun. Old memories. It’s. Mine. Mingled briefly, yet permanently.-June Mohan
Photos: (Copyright Mohan 2006) To contact the artist, please send email to:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


New Beginnings Start With An End.

A few weeks ago I related the story of my Dad’s passing to Elizabeth Ross, of the Ackley and Ross Funeral Home, 73 W Main St., Cambridge, NY, (518) 677-3234.

The depth of her understanding of the process of grieving, and the compassion and care, both she and her partner, Beaver, bring to their work, is exceptional and comforting. It has inspired me to share with you this important moment in my life.

John Denton Carlson 9-11-21 / 11-26-06

I am reminded today of my father’s passing. I continue to feel the total heartbreak and sting of the loss of someone who can never be replaced, my Daddy. With the new year stimulating resolution for positive movement forward; a focus on peace, prosperity and improved health for myself, my loved ones, and us all, I reflect on this most unusual of planets. One that supports living and then takes it away- sometimes quickly and violently, sometimes softly like a gentle wave, into eternal sleep.

My father was 85 years old when his medical history of heart disease, adult onset diabetes, vascular blockages, prostate cancer, a plethora of pharmaceutica and a touch of hospital human error, came together to create a couple of small heart attacks that lead to intubations, which lead to pneumonia which caused his ultimate demise after a week of struggle in a New York City hospital Intensive Care Unit.

For Dad, my family, and me, it was a roller coaster ride of a week-- from his condition “improving,” to it “slipping,” to removing his breathing tube, to having to put it back in. We went from, “the heart attacks are only a minor setback,” to his “kidneys are failing, we do not expect him to live through the day.” Two and a half days after this last prognosis, watching his condition deteriorate more and more, our family made the difficult and merciful decision to have his breathing tube removed and let him go.

I am deeply blessed to have had the experience of being there with Dad and my Mom the last four hours of his life. I don’t suppose I will ever again experience anything as terribly beautiful as witnessing my mother loving her husband of over fifty-six years to death; holding him so sweetly, talking to him in a voice reserved only for one’s mate, a voice defined and held sacred by so many years of ultimate intimacy.

Her strength and honesty helped us all ride those last moments together; “Sweetie, you are going to meet your maker now. We are here, holding you with all our love. You can let go, let go of your pain, anguish and fear. You are safe.” Thanks to a compassionate administering of morphine, he was beyond speaking and discomfort, but he did nod affirmatively when Mom asked if he wanted us to pray for him.

And so we prayed, sang songs and spoke softly to him while we held his broken body in our arms. His breath getting short like a gentle whisper, I watched the carotid artery in his neck still pumping with lifeblood. We recited together the “Hail Mary”… full of grace, a prayer I learned as a young boy and really never understood to this moment; it ends, “…now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” Just then I placed my hand on his heart and he died. With a great force, akin to sticking ones finger in an electric outlet, I felt his spirit leave his body and shoot up my arm. All the love, all the fatherly lessons he had ever bestowed upon me, flowed through me in that instant.

I never felt my own being alive so completely.

In memory of all those lost in 2006. May we heal from our sadness and grief and live out our own days with hearts full of compassion and forgiveness.

Have a great 2007, no matter what our human condition and fate shares with you.

Treasures of Cambridge Treasures of Cambridge

What's Your Story?

Everyone is a treasure!

We each have an important story to tell... our own.

So, drop me an email to schedule a time to be a part of "Treasures of Cambridge". This is an ongoing project to document the stories of as many area residents as possible. The Cambridge area is a great place, made that way by the wonderful people who inhabit it. Life is short, and we are all to soon forgotten. So take a moment to honor yourself and your place in the history of our area. It is easy, fun and costs your nothing but about 20 minutes of your time.

Make an appointment by contacting me, John Carlson at