The Pulse

A Millbrook couple celebrates 78 years of matrimony, and a local photographer captures the spirit of the people of Po-Town.

The Pulse


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Healing waters

A unique support program for breast cancer survivors teaches the art of fly-fishing


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 River rendezvous: Casting for Recovery participants and guides explore the Neversick during a previous year’s retreat


The diagnosis is terrifying, and treatment can be exhausting, if not debilitating. While medical advances are greatly increasing the odds for survival, the physical and emotional scars of breast cancer can last long after the treatment ends.

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But an exciting program for survivors uses an unlikely activity — fly fishing — to promote both the mental and physical aspects of healing. Casting for Recovery (CFR), a nonprofit organization, runs weekend retreats across the U.S. for women who have been afflicted with breast cancer. “You stop thinking about tomorrow when you fish,” says Cuddebackville resident and longtime CFR volunteer Demetre Bove. “It gives you a new skill to work on, gives you a new future, and you’re not so lonely. In addition, the art of casting is often an exercise that helps survivors. It stretches areas that may be damaged or scarred by treatments.”


Locally, CFR runs free retreats in May and August at the Frost Valley YMCA’s Straus Center in Claryville (Sullivan County). There, on the East Branch of the Neversink River, a group of between 11 and 14 women will spend a weekend on the water. Four fly-fishing instructors and a team of river guides teach the ladies the basics of fly fishing — including how to tie flies and cast. “Everybody got assigned their equipment on Friday, first thing, and that kind of broke the ice. They provided everything,” says Sharon Fleury of Poughkeepsie, who attended a CFR retreat last summer. “On Saturday, they had a fire on the deck and there was also a counseling session. It was a nice opportunity for women to get together without the cancer.”


The weekend culminates on Sunday as participants head off with their own personal guides to spend the day enjoying the outdoors and trolling for trout. “Oh my God, I loved it! The scenery was gorgeous. My guide was with me all day to answer any of my questions,” says 2006 participant Dana Banker. “She was very laid-back, and the whole focus was on fishing.”


A primary goal of the program is ensuring that cancer — at least for one weekend — is the farthest thing from the minds of the participants. “I thought this was going to be a group of women all depressed,” Banker reflects. “But it wasn’t that way at all.”


For CFR, helping survivors to connect with each other is just as important as teaching them how to fish. “You watch people turn into a real group,” Bove says. “They bond as sisters in sadness, and they bond as sisters in new skills. I believe a lot of them keep those bonds for life.”


“The program amazed me,” says Banker. “I’m not a support-group type of person, but this was different. There was healthy food and exercise. It teaches you to take time for you, to live every day to the fullest, and to take care of yourself mentally and physically. After the retreat, I was so pampered I felt like a queen.”

    Morgan Curry


Poughkeepsie Portraits

A local photographer focuses his lens on those who live and work in the once-thriving downtown area


This June, photographer and Poughkeepsie native Michael Polito debuts “The Market Street Project” — an undertaking near and dear to our Valley hearts. Polito — whose work often appears in the pages of Hudson Valley — set out to produce a photographic documentation of the everyday people who work and live in Poughkeepsie. Working as a “street photographer,” he set up shop outside the Bardavon Theater on Market Street. Using a simple background, camera, and tripod, he tried to capture the spirit of the area that held an important place in his childhood, and in Poughkeepsie’s history.


“Market Street was part of my upbringing,” Polito explains of his inspiration. “I grew up in Poughkeepsie, and never left. The downtown area where I took my photos was the part of Poughkeepsie I remember most from my childhood — it was the main shopping and business district, it had everything.” And how did his subjects respond to Polito’s attempt to reconnect with such a significant part of his youth? He certainly had no trouble finding volunteers. People were “curious and thrilled to be a part of it,” Polito says of his models, who ranged in profession from city workers to lawyers and doctors. The one thing they all had in common: they either grew up and/or worked in Poughkeepsie.  — Maya Kriet

The Market Street Project features 15-18 of Polito’s large-scale photographs. The exhibit is on view from June 13-30 at the Forchetta Trattoria Café, 14 Mount Carmel Place, Poughkeepsie.


Man with a message

A local dentist and oral cancer survivor, Larry Hamburg wants you to get tested for this all-too-common disease


Poughkeepsie dentist Larry Hamburg never imagined that the lump on the side of his neck was anything to worry about. Busy and involved with two children, a wife, and his practice, Dr. Hamburg wrote off the abnormality as a simple swollen gland, and chose not to rush to the doctor for an opinion. “What is sad,” Dr. Hamburg explains, “is that I have a dozen doctor friends, and all I had to do was ask one of them to put their hand on the swelling to see if it was something to get checked out.” Six long months passed before a physician finally felt the lump, gave Hamburg “the look,” and advised him to get a CAT scan immediately. The tests revealed that the lump was not only cancerous, but it was stage IV, squamous cell carcinoma — the worst kind of oral cancer.


Today, having undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments and many radiation sessions, Dr. Hamburg insists that God saved his vocal cords for one reason: in order to spread the message about the importance of early detection for oral cancer. The dentist plans to use his personal struggle as a way to inspire his colleagues and patients to give (and get) regular oral-cancer screenings. Hamburg explains, “You look at your skin all the time and say to yourself, ‘Oh, that’s something I should have checked.’ But people rarely ask their dentist to check for cancer.” Precancerous lesions can be spotted during routine dental exams; and if these lesions are detected early enough, simple screenings can actually save lives. That’s important since oral cancer cases have increased by 11 percent in just the past year — and have now caused thousands of deaths.


According to the president of the Oral Cancer Foundation, the best tool for early detection is a machine called the VELscope. A relatively small device that works by fluorescence, the VELscope can help identify precancerous lesions that are not visible to the naked eye. If discovered at stage III, patient mortality is 50 percent. “But,” says Hamburg, “if we can find a lesion in a precancerous condition and cut it out, you have a 100 percent chance of surviving.” As far as Dr. Hamburg knows, there are two VELscope machines located in Dutchess County (one of which belongs to him). Hamburg insists that “patients should be asking for an oral cancer screening at the very minimum,” and they should find out if their doctor has a recommended device for detecting problematic lesions in the mouth.


Dr. Hamburg is now involved in a variety of projects to raise awareness about oral cancer. He is starting the Oral Cancer Awareness Foundation, and has purchased the domain, which he hopes to have up and running in the near future. He is also spearheading a September fund-raising event with the Poughkeepsie-based Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation. Additionally, Dr. Hamburg held an open house oral cancer screening at his office in Poughkeepsie last February. Thanks to the enthusiastic response, and the need for more detection opportunities, Hamburg will “certainly be holding one again in the future.”


As more people become aware of the prevalence and severity of oral cancer, more detection measures are likely to emerge. “If my story can help save the life of one person,” Dr. Hamburg says, “then it is worth telling over and over again. Let’s save a life.” — M.K.

For more information on oral cancer, visit


Love Everlasting

A Millbrook couple withstands the test of time and unveils
the secret to a successful marriage


A long marriage is a lot like a cup of coffee; you might have it every day, but you can still enjoy it. A testament to this mantra, 100-year-old Louis Serenate and his wife Vera (who turns 94 later this year) were among the honorees recognized in Dutchess County’s annual “Celebration of Aging” luncheon on May 19. The Millbrook couple marked their 78th wedding anniversary on April 24 — a milestone which is just five years short of the world record. Their marital longevity has been feted at the “Celebration of Aging” event every year since 2000, when they renewed their vows for their 70th year together. Their secret to a long marriage? It’s nothing out of the ordinary. The Serenates explain that they “fought all the time, and had their ups and downs like every other marriage,” but they are certainly well on their way to becoming the world’s longest married couple. The Serenates, pictured here with their daughter Carol Neves and Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus, hail originally from Rochester, moving to Poughkeepsie in 1944 to work at IBM. They have been residing at the Fountains at Millbrook for the past two years. — M.K.


Reading Room

New titles to help you in the kitchen, on the road, and in the bedroom


What could be more satisfying or irresistible than a toasty, flavorful panini? Going beyond grilled cheese, Bread Alone bakery owner Daniel Leader joins forces with seasoned cookbook writer Lauren Chattman to create Panini Express: 70 Delicious Recipes, Hot Off the Press (Taunton Press, $18.95). Leader shares tips on buying or baking the best breads for grilling; using mayonnaises, pestos, and chutneys to intensify sandwich flavors; and choosing fresh seasonal ingredients to create the uniquely delicious paninis that can be enjoyed at his three bakeries in the Valley. He draws inspiration from around the globe: there’s the traditional Italian panini (prosciutto, wilted spinach and crimini mushroom pureé), or the brainchild of a baker’s breakfast shared in Munich (knockwurst with coarse mustard and pear-apple compote). A mouthwatering photograph accompanies each recipe, along with a brief description of how flavor combinations work. With tastes ranging from Americana (barbecued chicken with blue cheese and celery, a tribute to Leader’s Buffalo hometown), to dessert (open-faced blueberry and crème fraîche brioche sandwiches), Leader’s recipes offer something for everyone.

High in fiber, low in fat, cholesterol-free. The words that everyone wants to describe their diet apply to just about every recipe in Nava Atlas’s Vegan Express (Broadway Books, $18.95). Though Atlas has previously published nine other vegetarian cookbooks, Vegan Express marks the Hudson Valley author’s first foray into writing a cookbook with all new recipes that do not include any animal products. The book has 160 recipes (all can be prepared in 45 minutes or less), and Atlas guides her readers easily through chapters divided by food type — soups, grains, proteins, pasta, wraps, salads, and even homemade sauces and dressings. In fact, Atlas offers up everything from breakfast (scrambled tofu burritos) to dessert (butterscotch mousse pie). Vegans will be thankful for the variety of choices offered, and even meat-lovers will be tempted to try the book’s healthy but tasty-sounding offerings. (Szechuan-style tofu with eggplant, anyone?) Atlas also offers tips on where to shop for ingredients and how to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as menu suggestions to supplement each dish. — Jackie Colognesi




Before Judaism, Christianity, or Islam existed, before people could write, and before they founded cities, they sacrificed. In an exploration of religious violence dating back to the story of Abraham and Isaac, author Bruce Chilton brings us Abraham’s Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Doubleday, $24.95). Chilton calls upon the story of Abraham’s acceptance of God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac — a fundamental and identifiable tale in all three religions — to trace the paths it has forged in shaping our culture, and how the story plays itself out today in a manner that has yet to be fully appreciated or understood. According to the author, a Bard College professor, the act of human sacrifice remains a fundamental part of our lives and culture, from Islamist suicide bombings to militant Zionism and graphic glorifications of the crucifixion of Christ. Citing specific, recent tragedies like September 11, Chilton deciphers incidents which he invites us to see as not mere irony or coincidence, but as part of a deep affliction within modern culture whose roots are biblical, and even prebiblical. Chilton’s engaging prose and provocative take on the roots of religious violence brings new life to a universal story so central, yet so different, to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.





Various Psalms, including Psalm 23 which opens “The Lord is my shepherd,” are among the most-often memorized portions of the Bible, exuding a visceral familiarity for many people that often remains unarticulated. Poets on the Psalms (Trinity University Press, $19.95) is an anthology of essays which engages and interprets the Psalms as a collection of poetry. Edited by Valley resident Lynn Domina, the book is meant to reveal how pertinent the Psalms remain to men and women alive in the 21st century. Fourteen poets — from a former nun, to a self-described left-wing Jew, and a Texas rancher — demonstrate just how relevant the poems of the Bible remain for contemporary readers. In her own contribution, Domina revels in the pastoral life as she connects her everyday experiences, like walking her dog around the Catskills, with phrases from the Psalms. Domina’s affection for the poems of the Bible and her unique compilation of essays illustrates the power of the Psalms and their ability to reach out to us down through the centuries.






When was the last time you took a moment to appreciate the vast splendor of the landscape in which you live? Frederic Edwin Church: Romantic Landscapes and Seascapes (University Press of New England, $50) offers the opportunity to reflect on our beautiful Valley as rendered in the paintings of the Hudson River School artist generally regarded as the 19th century’s finest American landscape painter. In true celebration of Church’s signature panoramic views and careful attention to the effects of light and weather, this catalogue offers a rich sampling of the artist’s five decades of creative production. Reproduced in full color, the works constitute a travelogue of the places Church visited over the course of his career, including much of New York State and New England, Central and South America, Greece, Turkey, and the Holy Land. Among the paintings presented are some from private collections that have rarely been on public view. Complementing the art is a biographical sketch of the artist, as well as essays from editor Gerald L. Carr (an art historian and head of the Frederic Edwin Church Catalogue Raisonné Project) which detail Church’s inspirations, and a fascinating history of the artist’s Olana residence in Hudson. A perfect addition to brighten your coffee table, this catalogue is a beautiful testament to romantic landscapes and seascapes from one of the Valley’s most famous historic figures.






Love is the universal language — and, it seems, the universal headache. A dose of humor is in order and a prescription for the pain can be found in Sex and Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love… in 200 Cartoons (Twelve, $22.99). Edited by Vassar College Professor Liza Donnelly, this compilation of 200 previously unpublished cartoons breaks new ground in the proverbial battle of the sexes, capturing the nuances of love (or lack thereof) and sex in the 21st century. Eight of the 10 contributing artists (all of whom are women, and include Donnelly herself) are regular contributors to The New Yorker, and two are Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists. Accompanied by bios and personal essays from each humorist, these sassy and witty drawings use humor to shed light on cultural trends and our most basic human behaviors.





For nearly four centuries, travelers have ventured up the Hudson River in search of

opportunity, inspiration, and a breath of fresh air. Today, America’s first vacation destination continues to attract both New York City day-trippers and tourists from around the globe. In Moon Handbooks Hudson River Valley (Avalon Travel, $16.95), author Nikki Goth Itoi, a Hudson Valley native, provides an insider’s expertise on where to stay, what to do — and even where to eat. Acknowledging that the Valley — home to the Culinary Institute of America — is a culinary mecca of sorts, Goth Itoi includes a section on “fun for foodies” and makes an effort to point out listings of restaurants owned and operated by CIA alumni. Also written with the active traveler in mind, this guide covers the best places for outdoor recreation so that climbers, hikers, and campers alike will know the best ways to enjoy and partake in the region’s natural beauty. Of course, the area’s many historic and cultural sites are covered too, with intersting suggestions and sidebars, including a four-day Revolutionary War Route for history buffs. Packed with sidebars and 38 detailed and easy-to-use maps, the book can guide you to all of the Valley’s rich array of activities, from scenic wine trails to snowboard terrain parks. — Maya Kriet





Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade


In a work rut? Two entrepreneurs from Nyack can help
unlock your creative side  


By Jackie Colognesi


In the corporate world, increased competition is forcing companies — and their workers — to be as innovative and forward-thinking as possible. But the daily grind of the modern workplace can leave employees in a creative rut, feeling stuck, stressed out, and stale.


Stimulated! Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work (Greenleaf Book Group Press, $21.95), a new book by Nyack-based authors and entrepreneurs Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade, explains what you can do to keep those creative juices flowing. Cofounders of novës, inc., a consulting company that helps firms develop breakthrough ideas, the pair offers suggestions aimed at helping individuals get… well, stimulated.



What inspired you to write this book?

In our work, we noticed two types of people. One type was always disengaged, constantly feeling stuck or stressed out. The other type was passionate, invigorated, always coming up with fresh ideas. So we wanted to find out what made these individuals so engaging, what underlying techniques they employed. We interviewed many of them in order to understand those characteristics.


In the book you list five habits that help people think creatively. What are they?

The first is scouting. Instead of just unconsciously going through your everyday routine, have your eyes open, look around, make observations, and absorb the experience. By doing this, you’re opening yourself up to more potential stimuli that will help you become inspired.


Next is cultivating, or putting yourself in the right place to create and exercise your creative mind. We use the phrase, “Change the way you look at things, and things you look at change.” If you have a positive approach, you will be more receptive to new ideas.


The third habit is playing. It’s really just being light and free from worrying about being so serious all the time. We do this great thing during meetings called “Pop Rocks.” We take bubble wrap, lay it on the floor, and turn up some dance music. Everybody jumps on the bubbles and pops as man

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