in my humble opinion

C’mon, have a heart!

Posted 2/11/21

These days, opening email is something I approach with caution. There are, of course, bills to pay and a never-ending assortment of online events to consider joining in on. Ranging from book clubs …

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in my humble opinion

C’mon, have a heart!


These days, opening email is something I approach with caution. There are, of course, bills to pay and a never-ending assortment of online events to consider joining in on. Ranging from book clubs and dog shows to DIY tutorials (can you say “snow volcano?”), there’s a vast array of live-streamed entertainment possibilities, all just waiting to spring to life in my living room with a click of a mouse.

“Hey there, what are you up to this week?” gal-pal Joanna M. Gass asked in the subject line of her message. “Call me,” she suggested. “I have a favor I’d like to ask of you.”

“Oh, great,” I said to the dog. “Somebody wants something—that’s different. But boy, that girl can sing.” Dharma ignored me completely, choosing instead to concentrate on an old toy she had dragged out from under the bed. As it turned out, Joanna’s request was something I was happy to hear about.

“I’m co-producing an entertainment program called ‘From the Heart’ to benefit the 43rd Annual 98.3 WSUL Heart-A-Thon,” she said in her always-chipper approach to life. “And there’s going to be a ‘family-style’ take-out dinner created by the chef at Piccolo Paese to go with the show—sponsored, of course,” she added, “by Foster Supply Hospitality. And the amazing folks at Liberty, NY Rotary are, as usual, ‘People of Action,’” she said, quoting the club’s motto. “You know how important the Heart-A-Thon is,” Joanna continued, as if I needed convincing. “It’s all to benefit Garnet Health Medical Center, and the funds raised are used to purchase life-saving equipment. Every dollar raised in the county stays in the county. You know the drill.”

Indeed, I do. Having worked with my friends at Bold Gold Media (Thunder 102, WVOS and WSUL) for more than a decade, Dharma and I have been involved with many fundraisers over the years, and she is always happy to lend a paw in whatever way they see fit. This time, Joanna was asking me to prepare some sort of video monologue to be included in the show scheduled for Friday, February 12 at 8 p.m. “The restaurant has come up with a sumptuous menu,” she said, “and people can pick up their meals between 5:30 and 7:30 at Piccolo Paese in Liberty, NY. Then they can take it home, sit back and watch the show [on a variety of platforms] from the comfort of their own dining room table.”

“Well, that sounds swell,” I said in response, “but I don’t know what I’d do. Oh, wait a minute... I just got an email about yet another snow/ice/winter art project from Rotary member Barbi Neuman Marty. What are the odds?” I asked, laughing. “And this time, there’s a heart involved, a stone-cold icy heart,” I added. “Sounds like an apt description of me.”

By now, many of you know what an epic failure my frozen water balloon project became, and as for the “snow volcano?” Fizzled and never erupted. I created a short video for your viewing pleasure of the “explosion” and you can watch it below at your leisure from the warm comfort of your easy chair.

So. the winter ice art project that Barbi forwarded to me involved a heart-shaped baking pan, water (duh) and an assortment of objects to freeze inside the pan, ultimately producing a “frozen sun catcher” one can hang from a tree branch outside or on a hook by the front door, or... I don’t know. Being an idiot, I once again didn’t really read the instructions thoroughly. I made a somewhat feeble attempt to locate a heart-shaped pan and, even though my neighbor (she of the cat-sitting infamy) has at least fifty baking pans, not one is anything other than round, square or rectangular. I know, because I searched through her cupboards with a fine-toothed comb.

I called my friend Laura, desperate for assistance, and she said she was “on it” and on her way over with her little friend, Mehki, who wanted to help shovel my car out. “He’s nine!” I exclaimed. “How is he gonna help?”

“I don’t call him Bam-Bam for nothin,’” she laughed in response, referring to the cartoon baby boy from the “Flintstones.” “We got this. And I don’t have a heart-shaped baking pan, but I think we can make one,” she said. “No worries, dude.” Laura showed up soon after with Bam-Bam, who is taller than me and “strong like bull,” so he had my car dug out in no time at all. He played with Dharma while Laura valiantly attempted to instruct me in the fine art of twisting a heart shape out of a circular tin foil pie tin. 

“Yet another recipe for disaster,” I mumbled while photographing Mehki adorably frolicking with the dog. Had I read the ice-heart suncatcher instructions (and there were fewer than thirty words to look at!), I would have gleaned that the project was a Mother Nature-esque woodland thingamabob to be filled with twigs, leaves and sprigs of natural stuff one finds outdoors. Instead, I informed Laura that we were supposed to fill the pie pan with sparkly “doo-dads and gee-gaws” culled from the bottom of our dresser drawers.

“Don’t forget to add some sort of string, or rope, or—I don’t know what to hang this disaster from,” I added as I waved goodbye. “Oh!” I shouted, “I think I have Mardis Gras beads somewhere. And I’ll throw in some glitter and loose change and other assorted junk. That should work, right?” I decided then and there that I could kill two birds with one stone and make another video, this time for Joanna M. Gass, her Heart-A-Thon show and the viewing pleasure of River Reporter readers the world over. And as it turns out, it’s somewhat entertaining, IMHO.

For reservations and information on the Piccolo Paese Dinner and a show, call 845/292-7211, email or check out their Facebook page. To learn more about the WSUL 43rd Annual Heart-a-Thon, visit them on Facebook or

Fun Fact: President Lyndon B. Johnson, among the millions of people in the country who’d had heart attacks, issued the first Heart Month proclamation in 1964. Since then, U.S. presidents have annually declared February American Heart Month. For more, visit .

American Heart Month, Liberty Rotary Club, WSUL Heart-A-Thon, outdoor art, ice, snow volcano, dinner and a show


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