Monday, January 11, 2016

The Julia Boyer Reinstein Library [Documenting Libraries]

Published in Mogul

As avid readers, writers and advocates for literacy, my son and I decided to begin documenting the libraries we visit, and to start where it matters first, where we were born, Erie County, New York. We have already been to numerous libraries in this region but this is the start of presenting the background and what we discover in each library with photographs. As we visit each location, we bring books to donate to further support education, community and reading.

Historian and philanthropist, dedicated to history and libraries, Julia Boyer Reinstein was the first and only historian from 1953 to 1992 for the Town of Cheektowaga, New York.

She was the widow of Dr. Victor Reinstein, physician, landowner and developer who became the town's largest single benefactor of Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve.  

Julia was singlehandedly responsible for the final donation and specific legal management of 292 acres of land to New York State [Department of Environmental Conservation, DEC] following her husband, Victor's, explicit wishes. Julia made sure the DEC was to comply to the preservation and education of wildlife and nature that Victor had envisioned and started.


Julia was extremely active in the creation of numerous town historical societies across Western New York as an advocate and promoter of regional and local history. 

Mrs. Reinstein was the first president of Municipal Historians of New York state and co-founder, with the late George G. Sipprell, of the Erie County Historical Federation, the moving force behind the creation of 28 historical societies in Erie County, one of them being the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, now the Buffalo History Museum.

With the help of Julia Reinstein, the Historical Society was able to purchase a house, The Reinstein Center, in 1989 as part of the ‘History Lives Here’ capital campaign. 

In 1992, the house was restored to befit its National Register of Historic Places honor. The building was then named after Julia Boyer Reinstein. 

With a generous grant from alumna Julia Boyer Reinstein, the
Women's and Gender Studies Program at Elmira College hosts annually, The Julia Reinstein Symposium, based on women's studies and gender rights. 

Buffalo Women's Oral History Project interviewed Julia Boyer Reinstein who reflects on lesbianism and her life as a lesbian.

The library itself is beautiful. The used book section has brand new, hardly used paperback, trade and hard cover books for fifty cents and one dollar. They also sell DVDS, albums, CDS and children's books.

The library DVD selection is endless, as well as audio books. There is a specific large section for children only, along with a student section for research and studying set apart from the rest of the library. 

Each section is an endless corrider of books. Turn a corner and there are computer workstations, study centers, technology, courses to sign up to, raffles, community related events, small nooks, corners, and nature. 

Architecturally pleasing, the library is peaceful and quiet, even when full. The atmosphere is one of rest and relaxation. The back of the library borders nature and the front borders Losson Road in Cheektowaga. 

This library is more than happy to answer questions, assist, take monetary donations and/or used books to support the libraries in Cheektowaga and Erie County. Of course, as we donate books, we buy more books. The choices are excellent. 

I understand why this library was named after such a successful woman as Julia. It embodies her work, her journey, and her love for history and literacy.

  • 1030 Losson Rd.
  • Cheektowaga , NY 14227
  • Phone: 716-668-4991
  • Fax: 716-668-4806
  • Glenn Luba, Library Director II 
  • Wi-Fi Ready 
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Parking lot available
  • Public Access Computers: 32 computers
  • Microsoft Office Applications
  • Children's Homework Center  
  • Children's Area 
  • Meeting Room, [for non-profits only] capacity 100
  • Conference Room, capacity 12
  • Study Rooms
  • Copy machine
  • Radio receiver for the visually impaired
  • Book Club 
  • Computer Classes 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Penguin Random House Book Review: Soul Food Love


Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams, a mother-daughter team, published, through Clarkson Potter, a 224 page “cookbook” that is truly a tale of five kitchens. This volume is a history of three generations and one hundred years of cooking and eating in one African American family. 

Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family is an extensively well-researched historical account of struggles and successes. 

The kitchens include:

  •         Dear’s Kitchen
  •         Grandma’s Kitchen
  •         Nana’s Kitchen
  •         Mama’s [Alice’s] Kitchen
  •         Baby Girl’s [Caroline’s] Kitchen

The kitchens celebrate forgotten food staples such as sweet potatoes, peanuts and sardines. The volume is separated in two parts. The first half is the history of the family and how the recipes came to be and the second, recipes and dishes, drinks and desserts. 

Alice and Caroline have taken the same admired Southern soul food delicacies and managed to replicate the same dishes to be healthier for the body. A few recipes include Peanut Chicken Stew, Red Bean and Brown Rice Creole Salad, Fiery Green Beans and Sinless Sweet Potato Pie. 

This book focuses on how a kitchen has been a myriad of places for black Americans, places of servitude and hunger, places of violence, of shelter, and places of peace, artistry and sacredness. 

The stories and food shared within these pages are direct from those enslaved from generation to generation handed down. Their children and grandchildren recognized that their family learned and relearned how to feed themselves during times of great prosperity and in times of extreme poverty. 

The admiring and heartfelt aspects of Soul Food Love are discovered when opening a random page. While reading about a recipe or dish, one is reading about history from Selma, Alabama and horrific lynching’s onto first marriages and the happiness of buying a new home. There are photos throughout the book to show the reader how much dedication has gone into the research behind the dishes, from the lives of the people who created them, cooked them and lived in times extremely different from present day. 

Even in the early twentieth century, there were concerns about health and diet, especially fat and sugar. When times changed, so did diet. Carry in, TV dinners, and processed foods became popular and mainstream. 

My favorite part is Grandma's Kitchen, perhaps due to the strength, perseverance, the self-respect and courage. 

During WWII, in Nashville, Tennessee, in a Jim Crow society where black people were consistently reminded that they were not worthy, when there were separate drinking fountains for black and white, when whites only were allowed to sit at the front of the bus or at lunch counters, this is where Grandma excelled. Cooking as protest and mingling with various clubs, respected, and often the muse of renowned poet, Langston Hughes. 

Below is a photo of Grandma [Alberta Johnson Bontemps] with Caroline Randall. 

Fast forward to page 158 and you will find, simply, Sweet Potato Skewers. This is my favorite recipe. 

The only things required for this dish are skewers, sweet potatoes, onions and olive oil. 

On page 160, is my second favorite recipe, Defords Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate. Again, this only calls for sweet potatoes, red chilies, clove, red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil and pomegranate seeds. Simple, cheap, healthy, tasteful, elegant. 

There are recipes ranging from desserts to fish to meat, simple to complex. Easy to follow, ingredients one can find in their own cupboards or locally, at any store and do not require a long time to prepare. 

The last kitchen, Baby Girl [Caroline Randall Williams] is where one finds a 1,500-page collection of cookbooks, love of cooking and hosting handed down from Grandma to Caroline. Caroline learned early on that health was of utmost importance and she kept this lifestyle abroad as a student, later, teaching her students as an educator and in her personal life. 

From Caroline’s own words: 

“For now, standing on the shoulders of these brilliant, big, black women, I go ahead and feed my friends from my small kitchen. I feed them from my history, from our history, our past, our present, and from the fresh start of what I hope our future looks like.” 

This is a not just a cookbook. This is historical biography, of times still silenced, times people have yet to study. This is a volume of precious stories of five generations chock full of delicious homemade food beginning in 1897. 

This is a story of struggle and success, of quality and inequality, and most of all, this, is a story of love. 

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, January 4, 2016

The End. Of The Beginning.

Published on Rebelle Society

“… and then I stumbled into this strange hour. Winter’s fierce breath blushing my cheeks with drifts of waterfalls, white.

The sky, she cried thunder, birthing a new world. With each screech of wind, I witnessed flurries of souls escaping this plane, one by one. Thrown backwards, deafened by the sound, my sternum caved inwards, an acute gunshot swift to my cardiac plexus, Mercury falling…”

Today, I awake with immense recognition of self and everything around, above, beneath, beside, and within me. Angelic artists kindly lifted their wings, slight, brushes delicate, dipping fine threads of horse-hairs into oils and acrylics.

Colors I have never viewed with these eyes, human, and painted each lobe of my brain with alchemy.

Today, I am more aware than I have ever been. I awake with a renewed sense of existence, yet there is heaviness in my heart, for in this slightly inhuman recognition there comes a leaden sort of responsibility.

It does not sweep upon me as loneliness of spirit, or self, but a general comprehension of how absolutely integral every single soul is here, on Earth.

I choose my words carefully out of respect for the seed planted within me before birth. My actions are intense and directed, yet intuitive. I am a Great Spotted Owl perched upon a new dawn, pregnant, dragging herself across the skyline. The scent of prey nearby, I sit and wait.

When the darkness of sweet eve lifts her velvet veil, I feed on the delicate intricacy of this utterly indescribable role as a spiritual being, wide-awake and listening. Every sound, an explosion. Every sight, paradise. Every thought, an equation, and every beat of my heart, fully, oh-so-purely and effortlessly, human.

I wish to be among the clouds, the wind upon my face, I am a conduit, my palms raised in supplication and gratefulness, simultaneous. I understand, and in understanding there is weight. A most divine weight.

Understanding is not difficult, being human is hard.

In my solitude, I am not alone. My thoughts are spectrums, no words but images at the speed of light zinging through galaxies of neurotransmitters like raindrops that fall from the eye of heaven. Each drop stampedes through my head like thoroughbreds.

I hear their hooves clamping down upon my nerve endings, causing pain in my right lobe and cervical spine.

I meditate here, now, and ask the Universe to give to me what is truly in my heart. Those who understand gift me, and I, myself, am gifted in knowing. Yet I wish to concede and sleep. A slumber of all slumbers. One of princesses and kings.

The drone of an airplane overhead yanks me, disturbingly, out of my reverie. The utter peace of simply being. A place where my diaphragm is fully relaxed, each chakra apparent in my line of sight, and the gardens blooming within me are majestic centers of energy, flowing and giving, receiving and attuning, constantly.

I stand naked, bearing nothing but self, and offer my feeble human soul to the season. Faced against the harsh wind, I am so utterly alive. Nature soothes me within her embraces, ever changing, ever growing. This is home, here with her, and I look behind me and am trapped between two worlds.

The one before me, brazen natural landscapes, and the one behind me, the shelter from whence I came.

I hesitate, one foot outside and one indoors, and drop to the ground in solemn gratitude writhing in agony. My legs, splayed to the heavens, a midwife at my feet. Oh, it was time, and I secretly swore to Eve for the curse of the pain I now felt. With each rush of fire beneath, my back arched and I screeched.

Tears ran down each side of my face, melting the snow, pristine, beneath me.

I swore to the sky with each gasp of breath and wave of anguish, and pushed forth from me everything that lies beneath the ground and flies within the sky. I pushed forth the stars and with it, the moon. When I screamed, I was heard on high and angels joined me in choir.

A Song of Life

And when I had expelled all of my prejudices, my disdain and my failures, I then sat up and heaved forth every needle pinch to skin and each bleed of my heart. When I opened my mouth, with head held back, as that of a woman, crazed, I wailed and then let out my breath and fell back, destroyed.

My heart sang as a lute, carried upon the breeze and I slept, as that of a woman, content.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Be Peace. Love One Another.

Be Peace. Love One Another. 

From me to you from Buffalo, New York, USA. 

Video Link HERE 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Beauty Of The Darkness Of Light

Published on Rebelle Society 
Published on Mogul

I lay my hands folded across my breast and close my lids to humanity, yet it claws at my calves as waves rushing to slate rock.

Pulled to duty, I hesitate. I shed skin per second, and parts of me embed within the dirt and sedimentary layers of this Earth. It is tiring. I am able to look into one’s eyes and see fathoms they do not. I bow my head in grace, not quite knowing how to proceed…

So, that was pretty much how I spent the last year.

Real light-minded things, like facing the horror and the beauty of the darkness of light while single-handedly cracking my sternum into pieces, and putting my splintered ribs back together like some Freudian jigsaw puzzle while enjoying afternoon tea with Kierkegaard and Jung.

I am, obviously, me, just a bit… lighter.

Kafka stated:
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?… we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

 - The axe for the frozen sea within us -

Well, I took that axe just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, possessed and crazed, but much more calm than he was, and definitely not dangerous, and hammered that baby right through my skullbone.

My blow to the head was facing myself in order to align with right now, not yesterday or tomorrow, right now. My disasters were not awful, they were lessons that involved letting people, situations, attitudes and behaviors go that no longer serve my placement.

To be perfectly honest, ‘banished to the forest far from everyone’ is not as bad as good ol’ Franz makes it sound up there.

The universe exists, there are stars, planets, and worlds we have yet to discover, endless void, and we only know of one galaxy.

We survive on one planet out of many, that happens to possess perfect conditions for our functioning human bodies which require no electricity, batteries, or gas in order to run.
Existence is a sort of dream, another state of being, a perceptive state and we all perceive life differently.

My lamplight is dim. The desert winds are cool. My forehead grows hot, then cold. I am not feverish. It is Earth calling my name, my real name, the one given to me in incarnations long past. I wrap myself in lambswool, protected. I seek solace from the harsh winds…

We are here to learn and experience everything, and a massive energetic force composed of elements we have yet to understand is our lighthouse.

This energy is everywhere: sun, moon, seasons, grass, trees, sea, sky, breath, movement, the beating heart, the speaking voice, the kind words of a good heart, a friend, a lover, a love.

We experience this — humanity — in order to grow, and when we pass, are accountable in a lovely fashion, not a condemning one. There are no magic rewards or gifts, yet further exploration.

We choose our existence, our life, our love, our struggle, our beauty and our pain. If we do not accomplish what we are set here to do, we repeat it now and/or later.

My lamplight may dim from time to time, yet is never out, and you must be wondering by now what the actual point of this article is.

I must admit, I truly have no idea, seriously, but you are still reading, and my duty as a writer is to come up with something intelligent-sounding.

So this is all I got (so far):
  • Trust the process; trust what is correct for you and only you.
  • Trust that your own actions, words, and existence carry the ability to hurt and heal.
  • Trust that you have the power to create sacred spaces for others to enter safely in order to experience and learn of love on giving and receiving ends.
  • Trust that being human (is the craziest thing to ever agree to) is about observation, perception, experience, and growth.
  • Trust that you are important, and were born for reasons yet to be discovered.
  • Trust that your placement on this globe transcends what the human mind is capable of fully comprehending.
  • Trust that you have work to do, and if you are not doing this work, then you had better get busy finding your work.
  • Trust that if your actions are consistently cruel and unkind, and you are fully conscious of this, then you have the chance to create change in your life before life chooses to create change for you.
  • Trust that something negative can be positive, provided you pay attention.
  • Trust that if you are being the best version possible of yourself right now, then that is enough.
  • Trust your happiness, your passions, and trust your absolute divine self in recognizing that right now is the answer.
All of this — being human — is a battle within self.

The purpose?

Enjoy this experience for what it is. Break open the human shell, and discover what is inside.

The rest is beyond me, for I am only human. When I pass from this plane, then and only then will I know, without need to study, debate or experiment, if I have truly succeeded.

Calm, my heart. Calm your fears and attributes. You are good and needed in this world, so calm, my heart. Calm the aching memories of past, calm the thought that pools like tears in ventricles and atria. Calm the future.

Calm, my heart, for the angels watch over you. Do not close your pathways, keep your senses acute and open. I understand it is difficult for you, my heart; take this world in all embraces, in all cultures, in all aspects. You, my heart, you are too giving, and that is a beautiful thing.

Yet calm yourself, my heart. You have nothing to fear.

If I extend my arm outwards a few feet beside me, what is there that I cannot see?

I have absolutely no idea, but I have so much fun trying to find the answers…

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
             ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Somehow, I am elsewhere -
my spirit is screeching -
every moment
of breath,

1977 JC Penney Catalog OR "How To Get Your @$$ Kicked" - Haha!

The world is a bit too serious so please, check this out, share it, re-post it and laugh! 

Life is meant to be enjoyed. This catalog is real & hysterical and the captions are priceless! 

Welcome to my childhood. 

Original post is HERE 

* * *

Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my wife's grandfather. While my wife's brother and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. 

What we found was this:

A JC Penney catalog from 1977. Holy hell, this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking. 

I thumbed through it quickly and found my next dining room set, which is apparently made by adding upholstery to old barrels: 

Also, I am totally getting this for my bathroom:


There's plenty more home furnishings where those came from, however I'm not going to bore you with that. Instead, I'm going to bore you with something else. The clothes.


The clothes are fantastic.

Here's how to get your ass kicked in elementary school:

Just look at that belt. He probably needed help just to lift it into place. 

                                    How to get your ass kicked in high school:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop, who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15. 

Here's how to get your ass kicked on the golf course:


This "all purpose jumpsuit" is, according to the description, equally appropriate for playing golf or simply relaxing around the house. 

Personally, I can't see wearing this unless you happen to be relaxing around your cell in D-block.

Here's how to get your ass kicked pretty much anywhere: 

If you look at that picture quickly, it looks like "No-pants" has his hand in the other guy's pocket. In this case, he doesn't, although you can tell just by looking at them that it's happened - or if it hasn't happened it will. Oh yes. It will. As soon as he puts down his matching coffee cup. 

Here's how to get your ass kicked at the beach:

Is he reaching for a gun? Naw, probably just a bottle of suntan lotion in a holster. 

How to get your ass kicked in a meeting:

If you wear this suit and don't sell used cars for a living, I believe you can be fined and face serious repercussions, up to and including termination. Or imprisonment, in which case you'd be forced to wear that orange jumpsuit up there.

        How to get your ass kicked every day up to & including St. Patrick's Day:

Dear God in heaven, I don't believe that color exists in nature. There is NO excuse for wearing either of these ensembles unless you're working as a body guard for the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

                                  In this next one, Your Search For VALUE ends at Penney's.  

As does your search for chest hair: 

And this -- seriously.  No words.

Oh wait, it turns out that there are words after all. 

Those words are What. The.****.   

I'm guessing the snap front gives quick access to chest hair. The little tie must be the pull tab.

Also, judging by the sheer amount of matching his/hers outfits, I'm guessing that in 1977 it was considered pretty stylish for couples to dress alike. 

These couples look happy, don't they?

                I am especially fond of this one, which I have titled, "Cowboy Chachi Loves You Best."  

Nothing showcases everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits:

After the lovin', relax in one-piece matching terry cloth jumpsuits: 

I could go on, but I'm tired, and my eyes hurt from this trip back in time. I think it's the colors. 

That said, I will leave you with these tasteful little numbers:

                                                                           Man, that's sexy.