Sunday, December 7, 2014

Soda Can Door Wreath

There’s normally a large, aluminum can flower on our side door but I thought we should switch to red and green for December’s many holidays.
     The backing is sign board. We purchase scraps from a local sign company.
     I traced one of my 14 inch bats (I’m a potter and that’s one of the things I use to throw on the wheel.) I found the center of the circle and traced a jar there. The outside of the circle is cut with the band saw. Easy peasy if one remembers to apply and release the tension bar which I did.
     Cutting out the center requires the use of the drill press and the scroll saw and multiple occasions of clamping, cutting, unclamping, moving, clamping, cutting. No, I did not cut into the workbench. 0
      Lucky for me, my husband is a cabinet maker so there are tools of all kinds including an oscillating sander to finish off the inside and outside edges.
      I painted the back and edges and drilled and used pop rivets to attach a hanger so after all that the stuff that doesn’t show was ready.
      This project required 28 standard 12 ounce cans - so that’s finding and cleaning and cutting apart 28 cans of appropriate color, then cutting the shapes after I fiddled with newspaper ideas to see where and how to hide the staples.
      The actual stapling was the fastest and most fun part. Now I want a white and red wreath for February and a pastel wreath for spring. Then we can use the big green flower all summer again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Simple Gifts Part 2

WELLSVILLE: This series started because my mind is often on gifts and my hands are often making them or admiring things made by others. The goal is to encourage people to make gifts of objects or time during these overlapping family seasons.
Making things is a valuable use of time. A gift seems a double gift when given with the words, “I made this for you.”         
Have you made a gift for someone lately? If not, there is still time and here are other ideas to infuse holidays with simple gifts, simple times, social interactions.
Simple Gifts Series, Part 2 of 4
This proposal is about promises and coupons, kits and ideas.
          Our children always made coupons for us. Computer programs and websites make coupon design easy, or at the least possible. You might print your own holiday cards and send them to people with a coupon good for one dinner out together or for a New Year’s Eve hike in the woods with wine, cheese and a glorious sky.
            You might give a coupon for a lesson in making jelly, in canning tomatoes, in baking a pie with a fluffy crust, in wiring a lamp, in using a smart phone or in the fine art of drywall. Is there someone you could teach to knit or to even just to join for a day of baking things your mother baked?
          If coupons don't appeal to you, consider a kit. In searching the internet for kit gift ideas, it’s easy to be buried or at the least distracted, by the tens of thousands of ideas out there. Here are some websites that offer craft ideas – nestled among hundreds of advertisements are ideas – general crafts, foods, some special projects that would be one of a kind items - simple kid projects with instructions
          This website has many craft instructions. Print the instructions and gather the materials into a box or plastic bag and there’s a gift to go. has all kinds of instructions including a page of gifts-in-a-jar.
          If you aren’t interested in coupons or kits, make something with a friend.
          You might get a group of people together for a workshop at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. Have you ever gone there? You can schedule a group party to make a project, pay the fee and go for the fun of it. One all-ages workshop involves making a picture frame. Another is about 
sandblasting designs on a glass. See for more or call (800) 732-6845.

 (Here are some of the projects that one can make at The Studio, Corning Museum of Glass.)

          Did you know that Sarah Phillips is a marvelous teacher with a studio full of stuff and the grace and patience of a seraph? She has an open workshop on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10-3:30. Bring your lunch and ideas and pay $5 plus some additional fees if you choose to use some more expensive materials. Sarah can give you more information if you call her at (585) 437-5225.

       Having said all that, if there is snow, forget it all, grab a carrot nose and get to work on Frosty. Use your own lawn or go to a nursing home and work in view of their largest windows or find the home of a fragile person and work there. You’ll get an audience and sometimes a cup of coca afterwards. Call ahead first.
          If you want handmade and some connection without doing the making yourself, find marvelous craftspeople and artists at Many of us have hours by appointment. Shop slowly and hear the story behind the work to get inspired to work yourself or to buy handmade.

            There will also be a show at the Community Hall behind St. Philip's Church in Belmont on December 12 &13. There will be things hand stitched, hand formed, hand carved, hand drawn, hand strung, hand hammered, hand woven, hand built, hand thrown and otherwise carefully hand made. Find makers, their stories and some great cookies. Call (585) 808-0385 for information on this Friday/Saturday show. Maybe you can talk a one of the people there into giving private lessons.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Simple Gifts Series - Part 1

WELLSVILLE: My mind is on gifts for the many celebrations of the winter season. Of course it is. My days are spent designing and making things and hoping that what comes from my hands will make people smile and be used for decades.
          Because so much of my time is spent making things, I feel the value of objects made by hands. I hold them, turn them, look at the seams and the colors and appreciate the care that went into the creation of handmade work.
          My mind holds strongly to the goal that gifts will be handmade, not necessarily by me, but by a real person working with hands turned graceful and strong by experience. It seems a worthy goal to encourage more people to make things so with that goal in mind, here are some ideas to reclaim the holidays with simple gifts, simple times, social interactions.
Simple Gifts Series, Part 1 of 4
          These handmade plans were sparked by the Allegany Arts Association when the winter newsletter started marching from blank paper to printed issue at Dave’s Printing. I’d asked Editor, Joanne Allen, to feature an article offering a gift workshop. We’d have a workshop in November and try to steer people toward handmade.   
          The Allegany Arts Association* is a conduit for learning to craft an object as well as for appreciating what has been crafted from objects, sound and movement. Most of their programs are for children in the summer and in February but they are flexible in their programs so are sponsoring a pair of workshops for adults.
            On Wednesday, November 19 at 6 pm put your heart into a handmade gift. These workshops are open to adults ages 18+ and generously hosted by the Town of Wellsville at the old Wellsville Community Center building on Main Street in Wellsville.
            Choose to make a clay bowl with Elaine Hardman, StoneFlowerPottery. Please bring as many of these things as you can: a rolling pin, one section of newspaper, a paper grocery bag, a pencil, a pair of scissors, 6 absorbent paper towels.
          If you can’t bring everything, that’s okay. Hopefully there will be enough of these things to share. There is room for 15 people and at the time of this issue, 6 are registered.
            During the 2 hours, you will make a stoneware bowl, safe for food, the dishwasher and your microwave. Call 585-808-0385 to register, bring your payment with you and be sure to be around a week later to pick up your finished bowl.
            Or you may work with Betsy Orlando, well-known fiber artist, doll maker and paper artist, to make a mini Christmas album during this 2 ½ hour workshop.
            Betsy asks that you bring these things to use yourself and extras if you can to share: 3 or 4 empty toilet paper tubes, holiday paper such as scrapbook paper or heavy gift wrap and trims such as ribbon, beads, buttons and stickers. (NOTE: THIS CLASS IS FULL.) 
            For either project, you must pre-register and make a donation of $15 or more to the Allegany Arts Association. This will cover materials with the remainder going to support the Allegany Arts Association. Betsy and Elaine are volunteering their time.
          Another option is to go to Alfred Knitting Studio for Knitting Nights. This is an open invitation to sit and knit or ask someone for lessons from 6-8 pm at the Alfred Knitting Studio. They offer a warm knitting area, cookies, tea, friendship and conversation in any of Frank and Lynn Bunke’s cozy chairs.

*The Allegany Arts Association is NOT part of the Allegany Artisans or the Wellsville Art Association or the Wellsville Creative Arts Center. It has existed since 1980 to offer free art workshops to children and to encourage exposure to performing arts in Allegany County.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Charles Clough Arena Painting: Hamburg

HAMBURG: There are as many definitions for art as there are shapes to form. For some it’s about interpreting society while others focus on color and texture. It might be a tool to define place or a means of recording history. For Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery this past weekend it was about 48 gallons of paint mixed, stirred, splashed and enjoyed by friends at the latest landscape project with artist Charles Clough and his “big fingers.”
                A few months ago the Albright-Knox put out a call for volunteers willing to employ puddles of paint under the guidance of Clough using his trademark abstract method. It would be, they said, performance and interaction on a work destined to be installed in the Hamburg Library.
                Potters like me are familiar with “messy” but clay messes are gray and dusty while paint makes a mess with colors. The project accepted me so garbed in mucky shoes, ruined jeans and a splattered sweat shirt, we rambled our way to Hilbert College on Saturday morning.
                There wasn’t much guidance from Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art for the museum. He said not to wear precious clothing and to arrive at 11. The unbendable rule was to keep paint the carpet.
                Hilbert College offered the Swan Auditorium stage as a painting venue, though some might see that as an act of enormous faith in strangers. The majority of the stage was covered in plastic and duct tape while “Messy Shoe Police” guarding the stairs. 
                The Shoe Police assiduously checked feet as people aged 2 through 90 s they flung, dripped, poured, splashed splattered and dumped cups of latex paint over a 6 by 17 foot canvas with various levels of accuracy. The canvas was surrounded by a drip pan that looked inadequate to the task of containing 48 gallons.
                Each participant was allotted 3 plastic cups of color from the rainbow array chosen by Clough and each color danced with pride on the canvass for brief moments before another splat arrived.
                Little ones poured and smeared. Tidy folk approached with a plan and then bumped into wildly messy painters who flung with abandon. Others timidly dripped.
                Each participant chose an area, played the paint game and recorded their efforts by pressing a cardboard over their area and pulling it away with a gooey mono print that the Albright Knox would mail to them later.
                As the hours passed, cameras took still shots, time lapse and videos because the project includes a film and book. Periodically Clough came out to make mono prints that he would add to later and then present as gifts to the Erie County Library System to display as they wished with the primary canvass going for permanent installation at the Hamburg Library.
                Clough interacted with many talking about their areas of work and posing for photos, particularly with family groups who came to get messy together.

                In a sense this project started in 1985 when Clough was invited to paint a 20 x 60 foot wall at the Brooklyn Museum. He’d been finger painting small pieces and having them photographed and printed in larger formats but there were 2 problems. Large photos at the time were expensive and disappointing.
                “What I needed,” said Clough, “were bigger fingers.”
                So, he made big fingers. Wooden circles and ovals were affixed to long poles and covered with padding and leather. Some were used as single units and others were banded together in a series of 4 fingers.
                When people told him that their ___________ (fill in the space) could paint like that, he decided to let people in, show them the process and let them try. People, he thought, didn’t often enough experience art as uncertainty, choice and community.
                At this project, one enthusiastic painter was 9 year old Maggie Ggiehart. Maggie worked carefully with greens and black and pulled an intricate swirl of color on her mono print. She said that her dad gave her an easel and canvas to work on at home. Her dad said they might buy a tarp to protect the floor since Maggie was vibrating with enthusiasm after her experience.
                While Maggie and 199 others had their hands in the work, the finished canvas will likely not show her touch. At 5 pm, Clough was set to take on the remainder of the paints with some big fingers and make the surface his own. The other 200 participants will be present in the resulting book and film as well as their personal mono prints.

                The Albright Knox Art Gallery is on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo and offers tours, classes, exhibits, lectures, yoga, community outreach and hundreds of definitions of art. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Missing the Gentle Hands of Bruce Greene

Bruce’s Hands

ALFRED STATION: The leaves are gold and red among pumpkins turning orange but inside some hearts the world is blue. As Allegany Artisans dust off their signs and clean their studios, many will pause to think of two long time members, Charley Orlando and Bruce Green, who will not be adding their warmth and welcome to the 27th Annual Studio Tour on October 18 & 19.
                Much has been written about both of these generous men. Both were treasured in their families. Both were teachers whose voices wove permanently into the lives of hundreds of students. Both created objects now found comfortably within thousands of homes across the country, working into family traditions as well as everyday life. Both helped to build their communities with a generosity that is less and less common.
                Susan Greene spent some time with me in the home that she and Bruce filled with memories and history as she described to me the hero of her life, her husband, Bruce Greene.
                Bruce Robert Green was born in 1939 and worked pretty much ceaselessly until September this year.  FDuring
During 40 of those years his were the hands that created Hillbottom Pottery in Alfred Station.
                For 24 years he guided Alfred Almond’s high school students as they gained critical thinking proficiency, planning skills, social behaviors, self expression methods and the myriad lessons of math and science needed to employ various mediums of art in their coursework.
                Susan said that she and Bruce were in concert in their beliefs and attitudes. Both felt that much of the work they did was an act of worship. Bruce valued creating things with his hands and worked with gratitude and respect.  This generous, gentle man and his wife found objects created by long-gone hands and brought them into their home to honor the lines, the designs, the craftsmanship, the color, the utility and the labor of their involved.
                “These look like things but they’re not. These are memories. They represent a place we saw or they stand for a conversation Bruce and I shared.” Susan said while showing the collection that she and Bruce gathered over decades.
                How does she most remember Bruce?  As many others, Susan remembers her husband as a teacher. Teaching was important to him. Students were important people and they knew it. It’s why so many came to celebrate his life at the memorial service at the Alfred Station Seventh Day Baptist Church. It’s why several of them created a “Teacher Quilt” to warm him in his last days at the Hart Comfort House.
                It’s why his voice still guides them in their lives and careers. Though their careers are not art-centered, they are always Mr. Greene-assisted. One past student became a ceramic engineer who feels that Mr. Greene put art into his personal and high tech life. Another said that art is communication and so is useful in all fields.
                Bruce and Susan both saw making art as a vulnerable act. She worked with elementary students giving them background information and confidence to move toward creative works. When they met Bruce in junior and senior high school, they felt secure in making creative leaps. Art was part of life for students of all grade levels at Alfred Almond Central.
                As a teacher, he was a gentle man but he had expectations and presented structure with lots of room for exploration. His interactions with students gave them room to find happiness and made them aware of their environment.
                As a potter he was pragmatic. He spoke, at times,of his love/hate thing with clay. He’d get tired of a design or a process but he always pressed forward because of the pride he knew with the making of  attractive, appealing, appreciated objects. 
                He felt that he was given the role to bring beautiful, satisfying things into people’s lives. He didn’t want a lot of “ballyhoo” about it but he enjoyed that sense that so many potters have of being written into someone’s life by virtue of the favorite mug or the morning cereal bowl.
                In this way, Bruce Greene continues in many lives. A mug handle connects him with a person, a place, a time and his memory is honored by this.
                Bruce felt that there is good and God in handmade things. Artisans know that there is beauty in a piece of wood, a silver wire, a ball of clay or an old can and as they pass that material through their hands they bring out this beauty. This creative act, the Greenes know, connects with the idea of creative people having been themselves created.
                During his last months, Bruce’s brain was under assault and his body suffered from it but he pushed himself to do things so that there would be greater room in Susan’s life to finish the book she published in January. She didn’t know how hard the struggle was for him until the spring because he didn’t complain. He just helped. This she sees as heroic and typical. He was always ready to help anyone.   
                His studio still holds his clay tools and some of his last pots. The Allegany Artisans have agreed to an exception in their policy to allow Susan Green to sell this pottery during the hours of the 2014 Studio Tour on October 18 & 19, from 10 am to 5 pm.       
                There will be 39 other studios open and hosted by 46 members of the Allegany Artisans ready to show what their hands have created. You may want to establish a connection in your life with something handmade and humbly presented.
                Call the Allegany County Office of Tourism at 1-800-836-1869 or write to to request a brochure listing all participants.

Wearable Prints, 1760-1860, History, Materials, and Mechanics was published by Susan W. Greene in January, 2014.  It is available on Amazon.

When I suffered a hip injury years ago, Bruce Green taught me to throw standing up. Bruce stacked things on the floor to stand on and made measurements and sketches. Thus armed, Rick Hardman did a bit of welding and carpentry to change a foot operated wheel into a hand operated model. The modified machine has what Bruce called a “belly bar”. His invention makes it possible to lean into the clay with steady pressure easing the stress on back and hip. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Is there leachate on tap?

BATH, NY:  Leachate. Influent. Effluent. Flocculent. Biochemical Oxygen Demand. Some of those words sound uninviting which is fine because what they name isn’t always pleasant. They are all parts of the business of the Leachate Pre-Treatment Plant operated by Steuben County.
           The folks in charge of that facility seem proud of what they have and how they run it. They welcome busloads of high school students and car loads of adults interested in taking a look at what runs through those pipes. I was able to attend as a guest of the New York Water Sentinels, a citizen science stream water monitoring program affiliated with the Sierra Club.
          The tour was hosted by Vincent Spagnoletti, Commissioner of Public Works and Steve Orcutt, Assistant Commissioner and conducted by Bob Kingsbury, Chief Waste Water Plant Operator.
         To digress a moment, people in Allegany County know that Wellsville has a wastewater treatment facility. It is designed to take in what homes flush out; to remove daily domestic muck from sewer water and send their product into the Genesee River.
           The Bath pre-treatment facility we visited is different because it was designed to remove heavy metals and other nasty materials found in leachate from landfills.  The effluent or end product is then piped several miles to the Village of Bath’s sewer system, with final processing by Bath’s wastewater treatment plant before being discharged into the Cohocton River. 
          Entry to the facility in Bath requires a drive past the landfill where sheep and goats graze over the seemingly inactive land. Looks aren’t the whole picture though because under the grass, garbage decays for decades giving off methane gas. In the past, this collected gas was a burdensome waste stream, burned off in a flare.
          Steuben County changed waste into revenue in November 2010. That’s when the Gas to Energy Facility came online. Owned by Steuben Rural Electric Cooperative, this facility captures the methane and uses it to power generators which create electricity to sell to the grid. What was once waste is now the source of power to about 2,000 homes each year.
          The hill side in Steuben County holds the old landfill that, one might say, was not so much built, but dumped on - as was the practice of the day.
          There’s also new landfill, a modern entity with cells and layers of liners following current rules and regulations. It seems wise to locate everything nearby because new or old and regardless of name or structure, every landfill gurgles out some leachate.
            Weather in the form of rain or melting snow sends water to percolate through the soil and garbage where it dissolves some things and picks up organic material, heavy metals and any water soluble material.
          After water has soaked through a landfill it is designated as leachate, a mix of gray or black particles suspended in a liquid delicately giving off a scant scent of rot and chemicals. In Bath, pipes take the leachate from both the old and the new landfills to a storage tank to await pre-treatment.
          In 1995 Steuben County was forced to examine their leachate issue. At the time Spagnoletti considered shipping the leachate to other facilities and paying the asking price to have it processed.  However, while he heard proposals of a penny a gallon fees, he couldn’t get that in writing with a long-term promise.
          Long-term is a certainty with landfills so Steuben County accepted the DEC’s offer of financing 2/3 of the cost of a pretreatment plant.  While they were at it, they overbuilt in order to serve as a regional leachate center processing not only what gravity brings from their landfill to the storage tanks but also truckloads of the stuff from other facilities.
          Kingsbury started this tour near the computer that controls the works but Spagnoletti spent a great deal of time in that room answering questions about how things are tested and what would happen if this or that. He told the history of the project and the tangential projects such as the Gas to Energy.
          In the way that they found a use for the methane gas by-product, Spagnoletti said, they hope to find a company that would use the heat produced in the pre-treatment facility.  They almost sold the idea to a handler of waste material from cheese facilities yogurt manufacturer but the deal didn’t happen.
          Kingsbury spoke of his background and talked about his need to attend continuing education programs and pass exams every 5 years. “The job is challenging, at times,” he said, “but the county government is supportive and we get what we need.”
          As he has gotten to know the facility, he has been able to cut back on chemicals and even eliminate several. Just giving liquids more time to settle can reduce the metals content of the liquid (known as mixed liquor) has been very effective.
          Put into simple steps, this is what happens: fill a tank with leachate and add some lime; shake and mix the stuff; settle it; draw sludge off the bottom; send the liquids another tank loaded with bacteria which further clean the water; then send the water to the local waste water treatment plant.
          They add liquid lime to get the metals (iron, copper, zinc, lead and some mercury) to settle.  After particulates settle and microorganisms finish their work, the stuff on bottom of the tanks (sludge) is pumped off and compacted for return to the landfill.

          It’s easy to share complaints about government agencies but it’s only fair to make clear compliments and kudos when such agencies work well. It seems that the staff at Steuben County’s Pretreatment facility thinks and works for long-term benefits, searches for efficiency, gathers and applies new information, conserves resources and respects staff members as well as taxpayers. 

Clean Water?

WELLSVILLE:  Flush a toilet, wash a dish, enjoy your shower and forget what goes down the drain. That’s what many do every day while a crew of 3 waits “downhill” ready to turn our nasty sewage into river-ready water.
            This past week I stood on some sturdy grates looking down on Wellsville’s daily 1.4 million gallons of sewage as it rushed into the Wellsville Sewer Department
             I toured the facility with Joanne Allen and Barry Miller of Concerned Citizens of Allegany County while Michael Smith and Brad Mattison explained the sewage treatment processes that relieves Wellsville’s sewage of some of our daily muck.

            We started at the headworks, the unit where water from about 2400 users enters the system. This is the place plagued by baby wipes and the occasional diaper. The water passes through a grinder and a screen but things like baby wipes don’t grind well and can block the screen so sometimes someone has to pull out what looks like stiff, white fiber.

            The water that rushed under our feet was raw sewage at its worst but it didn’t smell much. Smith said that’s because there is a lot of water in the system just now. He said that waste water comes from homes, stores and businesses but there is also water that seeps into the system through broken pipes. Pipes, he said, always leak somewhere.
            This water is only domestic sewage. Storm water doesn’t mix in. The Village worked aggressively in the 70s, in response to Nixon’s Clean Water Act, to separate sewage and storm water. At the time there was grant money to upgrade systems and Wellsville took advantage of that money to separate the two water streams.
            After the sewer water passes through the grinder and the screen it goes into an aerated grit chamber where air helps to suspend organics (that’s the polite word) and let grit like sand, coffee grounds, egg shells to settle. There’s a device over the chamber to scoop out the particulate matter that settles. These solids are eventually sent to the county landfill.
            The sewage flows through underground pipes, across the driveway, to the primary settling tanks. Two of these tanks were built in 1937 and the third in 1997. They are all rectangular, concrete ponds with gooey, yellow grease floating in the corners and, while the water is 10 feet deep, there is almost no visibility.  
            The tanks have metal bars across at regular intervals. The bars are mechanical scrapers that travel along the bottom of the tank pushing sludge (another polite term representing various components) toward a hopper. The bars move a circular route up the side, across the top and then down again to scrape the bottom.  Pretty much as soon as they enter the dense water, they disappear.
            These tanks are nearly 80 years old and they look solid. Several parts of the system are that old but it all seems well cared for.
            At the settling tanks, another waste stream is introduced and that’s the leachate from the Hyland Landfill.
            Leachate is water that has dissolved and carried away a substance. Rain that passes over orange peels and manure in a compost bin is leachate as is water than passes over used batteries, gunk from a dirty garage floor, home cleaning or garden chemicals and rotting food or whatever else might end up in a landfill.
            The leachate from the Hyland Landfill matters to members of CCAC because of drill cuttings and waste from hydrofracking wells. The wells are fracked with processed water which can have any of 500 chemicals and the shale formations are known repositories of water-soluble radon.
            30,000 to 40,000 gallons of leachate enters the settling tanks every day but Smith says it’s watered down by all the domestic waste. The staff at the Sewer Department does not measure radiation (alpha waves) and is unconcerned about any levels of radioactivity that workers are exposed to.
            Likewise they do not measure or remove any medications, hormones or other drugs that the people living in those 2400 houses might be pouring down the drain or passing through their bodies. Smith said that some people see those substances as “forever” in water.
            So, at the tanks, the sludge moves off to anaerobic digesters and the water goes to a recirculating building where pumps send it to a trickling filter. This 120 foot diameter tub has a 6 foot deep bed of chunks of limestone. There are 4 perforated arms attached at the center. As the arms turn, water sprays over the limestone and trickles through the stone to eventual aeration and release into the Genesee.
            There is a second 120 foot wide tank with smaller stones that water passes through in the summer. Called a polishing filter, this tank freezes in the winter hence the summer-only use.
            The sludge in digesters continues to break down via anaerobic bacteria. Sludge is added and removed daily but what we saw go in will stay there about 25-30 days. Bacteria are free, but they can’t be rushed.
            Bacteria give off methane as they break down organics and while the methane and volatile chemicals escape into the air freely over the settling tanks, the sludge in the digesters gives off enough methane to make capturing the gas worthwhile. That methane is used to heat the digesters to keep them at a temperature that keeps bacteria working.
            When the sludge is removed it is either put in sheds to air dry or it is squeezed dry in a dewatering press, a machine that looks rather like a printing press. The sludge is pressed between powerful rollers to force out the water leaving behind solids that can be sent to the Allegany County Landfill while the water runs through treatment system again. 
            Every step of the way bacteria works to break down contaminants. Before the water is released into the Genesee, ferric chloride is added so it will bind to phosphorus which is not wanted in rivers. In the 70s water was treated with chlorine but that practice is now seen as harmful.      
             There are some daily, weekly and monthly chemical tests performed on the water to be certain that the facility is cleaning the sewage properly.
            There was a lot of information covered by Smith and Mattison who were generous with their time.  Joanne Allen said that when she saw the amount of equipment and the processes involved, it made her feel better about paying her sewer bill.
            Smith said that people who want to help the Sewer Department run smoothly, should stop flushing baby wipes and dumping grease down their drains. Both create problems, one by jamming up the shredders and the screens and the other by gumming things up.
            The other practice he strongly suggested was to compost food waste. It’s better for each of us to create usable compost than it is to send more sludge to the landfill.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Charles Phillip Orlando

BELMONT: Charley and Betsy. Betsy and Charley. So many thought of them together, a partnership brimming with energy, knowledge and creativity, always ready to teach or to learn. On January 23rd, Charley (Dr. Charles Phillip Orlando) died while Betsy held his hand and silence wrapped around them.

            I’d met Charley as Dr. Orlando in 1974 during my job interview for a position as special education teacher at the Allegany County BOCES. I walked into the Learning Center a bit nervous but dressed, I thought, presentably in my new coat-dress. Charley suggested I hang my coat in the closet.

            “This is my dress,” I said.

            His eyebrows strained upward, struggling with disbelief. “That’s a dress?”

            Luckily style wasn’t part of the job so we talked about behavior management, lesson plans, educational philosophy. Hours later I had a new job and had begun learning from one of my greatest teachers.

            My arrival at the Belmont Learning Center came about after my husband joined the faculty at Alfred State College but what brought Orlandos to Belmont? A job, of course.

            Charley was teaching at Penn State in 1972 when he was asked to inform his students that the Learning Center in Belmont needed a director. Instead, he sent his own application and landed an interview. He spent the night at the motel (now the ACCORD building) near the waterfalls in Belmont.

            Arriving late, he found a key under the mat. The room was cold but he showered, dressed (even donning his coat) and burrowed under frigid blankets. In the night, he woke up sweltering. The heating system had turned the icy room steaming-hot.         

            At his interview he discussed not only education but fly and trout fishing. Job in hand, he and Betsy went house hunting. At the time there were only 2 homes for sale in Belmont and neither suited. 

            Still Belmont was the best choice for anyone working work half time at The Learning Center in Belmont and halftime teaching at Alfred University. Locals know that hills dictate road placement so other towns were just not as reasonable for someone splitting time between those towns.

            Luckily a home on Ackerman Hill was listed. It was a mobile home which wasn’t to their liking but the land was wonderful. The previous owner had a runway for his plane, his way to cover a huge service area. Orlandos added another 30 acres to the property and they, their 3 girls (miracles Charley called them) and a parade of dogs, cats, horses and goats moved in.

            Betsy had several years at home and in service groups. She was president of the 4H Committee and Charley took charge of the 4-H horse club. The girls presented horses, goats, dogs, sewing and crafts at the county fair. Over time, Betsy served on the Belmont Library Board, and performed with the Genesee Valley Chorus and the Allegany County Players. They both served as board members for the Allegany Artisans where Betsy is currently secretary.

            Charley was a member of the Amity Town Board and worked as the town assessor. He was on the Alfred State College Council for 17 years and, a person full of ideas, insights and inventions, he was always learning, teaching and supporting his family and friends.

            During those early years in Belmont, the family took 3 westward road trips in a pop top camper. They went to Yellowstone, to Albuquerque, and then back to Yellowstone with a side trip to Glacier Park.

            During the first trip, the family trained in behavior management. Charley and Betsy wore golf counters. They set a timer and if, when the bell rang, all the behavior during that period had been acceptable each girl got a click or 2. If there was a behavioral disruption, they tuned the timer back. Now and then they caught someone being good and gave an extra click. Two clicks were worth 1 cent so that clicks converted to spending money for ice-cream or trinkets.

            Everyone had click-earning jobs at meal time and during camp set up. Betsy said she wasn’t sure she wanted this program, especially for 4-year old Jessica, she but clicked into position as a believer. Consistency teaches and all of them modified their behaviors.

            “We had such good times just being together on those trips,” Betsy said. “We went to ranger talks, read stories around the campfire, worked together and just enjoyed each other.”

             After Jessica started Kindergarten, Belmont Schools asked Betsy to apply for a job. She didn’t think she wanted to teach where the girls attended but she went to the interview. It was her first. She’d never had to have a job interview before.

            Here’s some recent history. There was a time when teachers were hard to find and schools begged for applicants. Interviews included asking women if their husbands approved of their working.

            Betsy was also asked if she would ignore her years of experience and accept beginning pay. No, said Betsy, she would not. After a different job interview, Betsy began teaching Kindergarten in Rushford to the great benefit of many children and several adults.

            Betsy provided experiences in her classroom. Many children arrived for Kindergarten never having used crayons or scissors, never having heard a story read to them. Betsy’s classroom was about practicing, learning and growing and not about any product to take home.

            The best part of teaching, she said, was the kids. Kindergarteners have no filters. Their thoughts and ideas pop into their heads and fly out of their mouths. No filters needed.

            Both Orlandos earned reputations as skilled, energetic, creative artisans, in part through the Allegany Artisans. One might wonder how they started their creative lives.  Charley started knitting in 4th grade. During WWII, every child knitted weekly for the war effort. Younger kids made squares for lap robes while older kids and teachers made socks and sweaters for the military.

            For his 80+ years, Charley learned things. He’d start with an idea, get stack of books on the topic and the girls would say, “Great, we’ve got another hobby.”

            When Charley mastered one thing, he moved to another but when he discovered artistic blacksmithing, he said it was a medium so complex and versatile he’d never master it. 

            He started as a farrier, in part to save money on shoeing all their horses.  He had a portable forge mounted on his pickup and shoed horses on site. After a while, he made hooks, spatulas, pot hangers, glass table bases. Whatever entered his mind, heat and hammers helped him forge.

            Then there were his musical accomplishments.  As a child, Charley was told that he was a listener, decidedly not a singer.  When school groups performed, he was told to silently mimic until in 8th grade when teachers decided that each student would sing a solo. “No way,” Charley said, “I’m a listener.”

            The listener turned singer when he and Betsy had summer jobs at Camp Snipatuit. They learned the rudiments of guitar so they could lead camp fire songs. Betsy still thinks of it this way: “Down in the valley, valley so (change-the-cord-now) low.”

            Likely 8th-grade-Charley didn’t expect to build and master several instruments but over time, after Bobby Hansen introduced him to tin can folk art, that’s what he did. He built and played banjo (his favorite), mandolin and violin. He also sang, solos if you please, and he was pretty good.

            Betsy’s mother and grandmother knitted, sewed, embroidered and made many things so Betsy grew up thinking that she could make anything with a pattern. About 25 years ago she tossed out patterns and came to know her inventive mind through art dolls.  She knits and felts and creates with paper and intends to build the studio that she and Charley planned.

            At heart, Orlandos are teachers and in the past many years they’ve taught or learned basket weaving, knitting, paper arts, tin can folk art, blacksmithing and more at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Betsy recently joined people there to celebrate Charley’s life and was touched by their regard for her husband.

            The Orlando family would like you to join them on Saturday, May 31 at the Amity Rescue Squad from 2 to 4 to share food, lemonade and memories in honor of Charles Phillip Orlando, 1932-2014.



As his 80th birthday project, Charley Orlando wrote an autobiography so that his children and grandchildren could know him as a person. Life Has Been Good by Charles Orlando is available on in kindle edition or as a paperback. It can be borrowed free for one month with Amazon Prime and there’s a copy at the Belmont Free Library.


Should you wish to make a memorial donation in his name, the family thanks you and proposes the Amity Rescue Squad, the Belmont Free Library or a charity of your choice.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Friends of Edwin Drood

ALFRED: Were you one of the crowd who traveled to 1892 with the cast of T he Mystery of Edwin Drood last week? 
                Hundreds of people booed and hissed, laughed and chortled, clapped and whistled over the song, dance and antics on the stage. As part of the event, a small group played the background music to support all the Drood-tivity. May I introduce the members of the “fully trained orchestra?”
                Kyle Merrifield, percussion, said that his favorite part of high school was playing in pit orchestras for the annual musical. He didn’t expect that he’d be in a musical at AU so when Dr. Foster asked him to be part of Drood’s pit, he eagerly accepted.
                Kyle said that he’s not a singer or dancer so the pit suits him well. Drood, he said, is a particularly fun musical for a pit member because of the interaction between pit and actors.
                Kyle played several instruments but his grin widened when hammering away on the tympani for the thunder storm. (I can attest to his enthusiasm because my ears were inches away from the explosive barrage.)
                Pit members are often hidden but this pit was in front -able to see actors and audience. Kyle enjoyed the boisterous enthusiasm of Drood’s audience and felt more a part of this show than others.
                The most pit-experienced member was Eric Prentice, piano.  He’s not certain how many pit orchestras he’s played in - 50 to 60. Eric started playing piano in pits in Hornell while he was still in school and is employed as an accompanist by Hornell Schools. He has also played for every Hornell Rotary musical for the last 20 years and plays for the Hornell Community Theater too.
                In his opinion, Drood’s musical score was challenging and was made more so by being handwritten. Handwritten scores are onerous to read especially when pages are sprinkled with notes, lyrics and numerous key and time changes all to be mastered while following the conductor who follows vocalists. 
                The drum set work was done by Hunter Haddad, a skilled saxophonist who took brief instruction from Kyle about reading some specific percussion notation.  “I just looked at the music and it made sense,” he said.
                Hunter felt that the music was entertaining and that Drood was singular experience. He particularly liked how the actors went into the audience before each act. He felt satisfied with the performance of the pit saying, “I think we did well and I’m glad of it.”
                Similarly, Scott DeFranco Norton never before played the upright double bass. He was supposed to play electric bass but his instrument needed repair so thought he might substitute his main instrument, tuba. Instead, Dr. Foster suggested that he work out how to play the upright double bass.
                The double bass has no frets and is played with a bow which is to say, it’s not much like an electric bass but undeterred by what might be a stressful situation for some (most), Scott figured it out, often played by ear and just plain made it work.
                This was also Scott’s first experience in a pit orchestra. In high school, Scott performed on stage. Drood, he said, was the most interesting musical he’d been in or seen. “It was exciting to be a part of it.”
                Some other first time experiences belonged to Jay Horwath (trumpet, piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn).  Jay has never before been in a pit or played piccolo trumpet.
                The piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn have 4 values but Jay said those are for alternate fingerings. They can all be played with trumpet fingerings.
                “The piccolo trumpet,” he said, “looks small and seems like it should be easy but it’s not. It takes a different amount of air and has a different feel.”
                Jay found the audience participation in Drood exciting and enjoyed this first experience working with vocalists. He especially enjoyed the facial expressions that Darren Palmer put into the character of Bazzard.
                “Bazzard brings a lot of comic relief. While at times he seems not to fit, he gives the show fullness.”
                Peter Metz took time from research to play trombone for Drood. This was his second musical after doing Crazy for You in high school.  “The best way to sum up Drood is to call it a fun show.”
                While much of the show is amusing, a few of the scenes are dramatic and serious. One such is in the duet between the characters of Rosa and John Jasper. This was a highlight in the production for Peter.
                Brooke Tillotson speeds through her days with band, orchestra, dance, classes and work soshoe-horning in pit orchestra rehearsals wasn’t easy but she had a good time. She named Moonfall/The Name of Love as a favorite with Both Sides of the Coin as a close second.
                Chris Foster, conductor, said that he’d never heard of The Mystery of Edwin Drood until it was proposed for this semester. He was aware of the composer, Rupert Holmes, as author of Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and he came to appreciate the songs in Drood, a rollicking farce. The audience participation made it particularly fun.
                Drood was the first musical pit experience for Jasper Wright, bassoon. Jasper hadn’t realized how different it is to play for a musical. The score is handed out, there are a few rehearsals and then one works with the vocalists. In almost no time, the pit is in the production. For Jasper, Reverend Chrisparkle’s confession was always amusing.  
                Make note of these other performances at Alfred University. The Symphonic Orchestra –Friday, April 25, 7 pm; Jazz Band -Monday, April 28. 7:30; Symphonic Band - Friday, May 2, 7:30. All are scheduled for the Miller Performing Arts Center and are free and open to the public.

(Elaine Hardman played flute/piccolo in the pit.)

Photo Dr. Chris Foster, Kyle Merrifield (living dangerously), Jasper Wright, Eric Prentice, Peter Metz, Jay Horwath , Hunter Haddad, Brooke Tillotson, Scott DeFranco-Norton