Friday, March 20, 2015


How do you get energetic middle-schoolers thinking about careers? Take them on a fieldtrip. This week was the Y2Kids event at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh. Organized by Orange-Ulster BOCES, it's similar to a job fair, but for kids along with their teachers and parents. Area employers introduce their field of work to young minds through demonstrations, creative displays, and hands-on activities. A variety of fields were represented including culinary, automotive, medical, product design, and agriculture.

Upon entering, each student receives a card that is to be stamped by employers, and in order to get stamps they must approach tables and ask questions about the field.

One company let students handle a brain. One had a display of sugar amounts in common drinks. Kids had the opportunity to frost cupcakes, sit in an ambulance and a helicopter, prepare vegetables, practice martial arts, and hammer metal panels. I never had an opportunity like this when I was young and I thought it was a great idea. Many kids aren't exposed to careers other than those of their families and teachers, and I found there to be a wide range of employers with youth-centered activities.

Also open for the public to tour was a cargo plane next to the building. When the students' cards were filled with stamps, they entered a drawing for prizes. I'm sure even those who went home empty-handed still had lots to talk about at dinner that night.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Curated spaces

Sometimes we forget that places, just as people, can have strong personalities. Upriver Home is one of those places. Located on Broad Street in Milford, Pennsylvania, this home design store houses a carefully curated collection focusing on quality, simplicity, art, and natural elements. Their website states the store was "launched in 2004 with the idea that the home, be it primary, secondary or even temporary, is not only a respite from the everyday but a haven for inspiration."

Upriver offers furniture, lighting, books, glassware, bar accessories, candles, kids toys, and more. Their mix of new and vintage, bright and understated, give fine examples of the idea that things don't have to match, but can instead complement. High ceilings top the store's two rooms which fill with scents like balsam fir or basil blue sage from burning candles. Come in the rear entrance and you're greeted by a dozen or so plants soaking up the sun in their mismatched pots. Upriver's wares are fashioned from almost every material including metal, wood, ceramic, marble, and woven grass.  

Upriver also carries Kinfolk, the Portland, Oregon-based lifestyle magazine for seekers of a slower and simpler life. This is where I first came across the magazine and I haven't seen it anywhere else locally. It's published quarterly and each issue has a theme like aging, Japan, Autumn, or the weekend, and even one on incorporating more of the things we love into our daily routines instead of saving them for the weekend or our next vacation. The content, including photo essays, stories, interviews, recipes, and more, all stick to the topic. The New York Times called Kinfolk "the Martha Stewart Living of the Portland set."

On my recent trip to the store I found honey and teas, as well as some bulbs emerging in time for spring.

Upriver has a very cool jewelry collection. It leaves nothing to desire, especially if you're like myself-- a fan of brass and semiprecious stone. The store is truly one of a kind and a complement to its home in the heart of the Delaware River Valley region.

Upriver Home:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Temple in winter

The Kadampa Meditation Center is situated on 82 acres in Glen Spey in rural Sullivan County. It features the World Peace Temple, walking trails, a  pond, cafeteria, and a more casual café. Construction took five years and the temple opened in 2006. It was founded in the Kadampa tradition of Buddhism and followers use the teachings to transform daily activities into the path to enlightenment.

Visit Kadampa's user-friendly website and it's packed with information about the center, Buddhism, publications, and upcoming events. They offer day-long, weekend, and weeklong retreats. Sundays at 11:30-1:00 is the weekly Prayers for World Peace service, which according to the website includes a guided meditation, short teaching, and prayers, all with a focus on solutions to problems in daily life, inducing genuine optimism, and increased happiness. If you call ahead and rsvp, you can stay for the $5 vegetarian lunch that follows. The center also facilitates drop-in meditation classes, in locations near and far: Goshen, Saratoga Springs, Scranton, Sparta, and Stroudsburg.

The temple is a spectacular photography subject for all seasons. There's a photo gallery on the website where you'll find images of it surrounded by snow, fog, sunset, flowers and tall grasses. For the taking are beautiful glossy publications. The temple is on top of a hill and is surrounded by a path for a view of 360 degrees. The walking path leads down a hill and comes to an interesting dry stone bridge. Dry stone is a building method in which stones are pieced together without using mortar. Stone walls are the most common dry stone creations, but bridges can be made by strategically wedging stones in a curved arch. The bridge at the Kadampa Center crosses a stream and continues around the ground's pond. 

Enter the temple and the main room is straight ahead. The round space is vast and bright. There are guided tours and you can also purchase a 24-page booklet about the temple including its shrines and ceiling adornments.

 To your left is the café with hot tea, cold drinks, water, chips, baked goods, and more.

The gift shop offers Buddhist art and books, CDs, meditation supplies, postcards, candles, scarves, jewelry, and other gifts. There's even a designated shelf in the corner where people can donate items whose proceeds benefit the temple as well. During this visit I saw it offered jewelry and handmade pottery for tea.

Everyone is welcome at the temple and the staff and volunteers are very welcoming. I've been here a few times and it's a place I like to show out-of-towners, along with the Hawk's Nest overlook. There's lots of history and meaning, so many deities and symbols. I recommend perusing the center's website before you go as a primer, and make sure to plan your trip when the temple, café, and gift shop are open and rsvp for the $5 lunch. Even if you're not a Buddhist I think you'll enjoy a visit which is a feast for the senses.

"Buddhist Temples are representations of a Pure Land of an enlightened being--an enlightened heaven. Whoever sees them immediately experiences peace of mind, or inner peace. When we experience inner peace we are happy, so Temples function to give happiness to everyone, whether Buddhist or not." -Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Kadampa Meditation Center New York:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sky view

If you follow Route 97 a few miles out of Port Jervis, you'll soon come to the Hawk's Nest portion of the road. It's a scenic drive along cliffs overlooking a stretch of the Delaware River which divides New York and Pennsylvania. The road is a popular local attraction, especially for motorists, and has been featured in commercials. You can find it on numerous motorcycle enthusiast forums as a trip not to be missed.

There are several small sections along the winding route to and park in. The stone walls that line the road are only a few feet tall, making for a spectacular, though relatively unrestricted view. In July 2012 a woman died after falling from the edge. In October of that same year a fisherman discovered a body about a mile from the overlook, followed by an investigation that turned into a murder charge for a Brooklyn man.

In 1939 the entirety of Route 97 opened to the public. According to the New York Times, this winding overlook section came with a price tag of $2 million, which translates to $33.9 million in 2015. A bit further up Route 97 you'll find Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct, the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the U.S.

Keep driving and you'll come to Narrowsburg which is also a pretty cool place, but that's for another post.