Ride On, My Brother, Ride On


My brother Robert Bisesto, 53 passed away peacefully on September 3, 2013 after battling cancer for over two years.

Robert was born in the Bronx on 5/16/1960 and later moved to Yonkers where he went to school and then settled in Lake Carmel, New York. He married Cathy in October of 1988 and would have been married 25 years.

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Those who knew Robert understood his extreme work ethic, love of The Jets and motorcycles and always a good steak on the grill. He was a warrior, one that would jump through flames for his family and for his friends who called him “Bubba”.

Robert is survived by his wife Catherine, mother Carol and step father Frank Lettera of Cortlandt Manor, father Raymond Bisesto of Port St Lucie, Florida, sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Robert Schmidt of New City and brother, Rick Bisesto of Norwalk, CT., also his nephew Jesse and niece Rebecca Schmidt.

We will miss Robert terribly here on earth, but know to our core, that he is now healthy, happy and for sure teasing some other spirit and telling awesome jokes in the forever place where his soul landed—with a beer in one hand and a sausage and pepper hero in the other.

Donations should go to Gilda’s Club of Westchester, an organization who offers free support for anyone living with Cancer and their families. Contact Chris Osborn at 914-644-8844 x114 or online at http://www.gildasclubofwestchester.org.

A “Celebration of Robert’s Life” will be held on Sunday, September 29th from 1pm to 5pm at his sister’s home in New City. For directions please contact her at dschmidt101@hotmail.com.

Ahhh the Days of Blanket Forts

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Interior Designer Claudia Judelman thinking about the days when her children transformed her home into a safe haven of sheets, pillows and blankets.

I was thinking about when my children were younger and loved to build forts. What is it about hiding under layers of fabric– between pillows and cushions–hiding out, that make kids squeal with joy?

Almost a day didn’t go by when my family room was transformed into a land of little forts. Filled with naked couches, dozens of cushions on the floor placed with reckless abandon.

Little heads were hidden under blankets and pillows and every sheet from the linen closet hung in precarious ways over their heads. My son then loved to then place string from one corner to another like giant spider webs.

I found these great pictures of some forts in Real Simple Magazine.


I think I will make a fort with my granddaughters very soon. There is a magic in its simplicity.

Claudia is an Interior Designer who specializes in redesigning space. Claudia.judelman@gmail.com

A Suffern Resident Reflects on the Fabric of Her Life

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Claudia Judelman

Claudia Judelman

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I recently sat down with Claudia Judelman of Montebello, NY over a very strong Caffe Mistro at Starbucks in Nanuet, NY. She is owner of Claudia Judelman Interior Design Services.

Rebelious Years

In 1974 there were two things that Claudia Judelman’s Mom asked of her when she left for Israel at 18 years of age.

“Please come back home and don’t get married.” she pleaded.

Judelman married the first man she met in Israel when she landed and although she returned home after her one year commitment of six months study in Jerusalem and six months in a kibbutz, she shortly thereafter left home honoring neither of her Mother’s wishes.

While in Israel, Judelman cooked from 4:00 am to Noon followed by field work picking tomatoes. “I made the curtains, the bedding, and the garden. Every meal from scratch–I even plucked chickens.” she laughs.

Art and Social Change

Judelman grew up in Yonkers, New York, on the border of Hastings-on-Hudson. She remembers her maternal Grandmother with much love and adoration. “She wore Chanel Number 5, called bras “brassieres”, had gorgeous hands…the smoothest skin you ever felt and was round and yummy,” she remembers. From her grandmother she learned to knit, a skill that she embellished through the years.

In high school she fell deeply in love. Not with a boy but with art. “I thought my teacher Mr. Kanashiro was a major grown-up. He was completing his Masters at Parsons and seemed so accomplished. He was my muse. He really changed my life. I knew then that I wanted to study art and at the same time change the world.”

That same summer, full of enthusiasm of a 17 year old and with a somewhat disinterested teacher, changing the world began while assisting at an urban Head start school. Judelman became deeply distressed when the school children drew pictures of their families without a Dad. “I suddenly grew a heightened awareness and became outraged at the difference between rich and poor.”

Judelman moved all the desks out of the way and let the kids paint on the floor. There she realized, the disappearance of the Dads was not due to parental absence at home, but due to tiny pallets. “The paper was too small,” the children explained. “Here on the floor, we can fit everyone in our family.”

Canada and Israel

Judelman was one of 30 students chosen to attend a dual program of Environmental Planning and Art at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia College of Art in Canada. “I only wanted to walk around with the graphic arts kids, they smelled different. They had gorgeous brushes and paints.” she remembers.

When she jumped at the opportunity to study and live in Israel, both in the city while studying, and later as a kibbutz member, the colors enchanted her. The summer sky, the water, the fields, the desert landscapes all kept her busy sketching and taking mental “pictures”. She thrived in this colorful land. “Even the color of air was different,” she says.

Back in the States

Back in North America, she continued her studies in Art, Design and later, Interior Design.

In 1988 Judelman took a job with Laura Ashley to launch the first home stylist program in North America. “I handled all the room sets for all stores, trained all personnel and developed an interior design business for Laura Ashley in the US.”

Laura Ashley herself at just twenty eight in 1953 started with intricate patchworks made into scarves and aprons, popular in those days. She shortly thereafter moved to Wales and started Victorian and very feminine fabrics—still the look of Laura Ashley present day.

Judelman traveled to London and Wales to experience what had inspired Laura Ashley herself, by visiting her Manors, meeting her Design team and the staff who worked to produce the custom products for shops all over the globe. She was in awe of the European craftspeople, and the personalized attention and pride in their finished work. She still loves classic design, but with her own twist and whimsy. She only uses workrooms in New York that can produce projects with European techniques and hand finishing.

For over a decade she worked with the London team to build the Laura Ashley brand. She remembers the style to be captivating. She worked at grand estates in Westchester, Connecticut, Manhattan and later Bergen County. Always bringing her own interpretation, and adding her own techniques to fuse the UK with the more modern and simplified American style. She worked for Tommy Hilfiger and Katie Couric among dozens of clients.

“As a Professional, I know the right questions to ask a client, before going ahead with any room renovation,” said Judelman. “I remember one time a kitchen designer created a gorgeous floorplan and chose very expensive cabinetry and fixtures with every new gadget imaginable only to find out, after orders were in place, that the client was only 4 foot 9 and could reach none of the cabinetry!”

In 2001 Laura Ashley left the United States and Judelman continued her passion for color, fabric and design on her own. “My first consultation, particularly with a new client, is an in depth discussion of their needs and wants. I am a very good listener.” she smiles. “I don’t have a fragile ego…my role is to have my client achieve their goal with whatever styles, fabrics, furniture, paintings, feelings, expressions they love and want.”

“Always close to my heritage, I recently began pursuing what my grandmother taught me long ago—knitting. I buy small batch, kettle -dyed yarn; pure organic merino wools and cashmere. I adore Madelinetosh, Blue Sky’s Alpaca, Malabrigo and many organic yarns. My favorite non-work pastime is browsing Ravelry and Purl Soho, and Jimmy Beans Wool websites for inspiration and ideas. I contribute to knitting publications and was noted in Jimmy Bean’s for a hat I made for my husband Barry. The Zapata pattern from Jenny Watson’s book Mirasol Designer Mini Knits was 9,072 stitches!” she explains.

To Judelman, knitting is the act of literally creating fabric with her hands! It’s a very meditative process. She loves making knitted gifts, wrapping each gift painstakingly in white tissue with vintage buttons from her Mother’s button box, then neatly tying them with yarn. She works on several projects at one time. It requires calculation, experimentation, patience and skill. Solving the problems that arise and making something with her hands is tremendously gratifying. Sometimes she uses hand-painted yarns, and lets them “do all the work”! Although she has always been a self described “tool snob” with art supplies and knitting needles, she still uses many needles that belonged to her Grandmother and Mother. Sometimes using vintage patterns from them, sourcing yarns to substitute for the ones they used so long ago, she attempts to re-create the heirloom pieces they made. When not concentrating on stitch calculations her mind wonders what may have filled their minds while their hands made these very same hats, sweaters or garments. She knows they had no tolerance for mistakes so she has done her own fair share of ripping out!

Her grandmother would have accepted nothing less.

You can find Claudia Judelman Interior Design Services on her business Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaJudelmanInteriorDesignServices where she will be discussing easy design ideas, use of color, affordable finds and how to love the space you live in everyday.

Can “New” Farming Survive in the Burbs?

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This article was originally printed in www.nyacknewsandviews.com.
by Donna Schmidt

“New” farms are cropping up in Rockland County. There is a resurgence of farming, but not necessarily the large family farms that were historically plowed and planted in the early history of the county. The “new” farmers are interested in growing fresh, organic produce on smaller pieces of land. They are working hard to establish sustainable farms that can take care of themselves and the community which will feed the land for years to come.

The future of these new farms is still uncertain. Can farming truly survive in the suburbs? Can farmers afford to acquire land and pay suburban taxes? Should the needs of farmers get special consideration in local regulations when housing developments encroach?

Food systems are responsible for feeding a majority of people in the world. These systems are becoming increasingly industrialized, globalized and do not necessarily address climate change, resource depletion and water issues. The “new” farmer is trying to create a model of creating and making a living supplying local, fresh food, the antithesis of the current food system.

The new “suburban farming” trend is difficult to describe because it embraces both conventional and organic farmers. “It’s fairly new — and we believe that the small farms in and around suburbs and periurban areas are the way of the future,” says Rockland Farm Alliance President John McDowell. “The idea that small 2-10 acre farms can exist amongst suburban areas is what gave birth to Rockland Farm Alliance.” McDowell says that smaller farms are more than good ideas, they are essential parts of each community. “Small farms can provide local food, open space and education for the community and people of all ages. Today’s farms in periurban areas don’t necessarily need to have a Community Supported Agriculture component, but it does give a community a boost and the farm gets volunteer labor to work the land.” McDowell says these smaller farms are likely to use less machinery and more likely to also be organic. But he’s also a fan of the remaining conventional farms, stressing the importance of farms that were founded long before there were suburbs.

CSA: Community Supported Agriculture Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a farm model whereby members buy shares of a portion of the farm’s harvest and pledge in advance so that some of the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary are covered. In return, members receive weekly shares of the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season. CSA members are expected to take an active role in farm operations, contributing to field work and helping to arrange produce pick ups.

The NYS Assembly decided to study these issues last year when it formed the New York State Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy Task Force chaired by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D- Suffern). Promoting food and farm products, growing farmer’s markets, increasing farm to school programs, fresh food programs for the elderly and food based economic development are among the subject’s that Jaffee’s committee will be exploring. In addition, the Task Force is looking at the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Programs (HPNAP) which supply food pantries. They are also reviewing pressure from developers to turn current farmland into residential and commercial developments.

Earlier this month, the task force met with farmers in Rockland, Putnum and Dutchess to discuss the effectiveness of current agricultural districts in suburban communities. An agricultural district’s laws attempt to improve farmers’ ability to operate a successful business. The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets protects farmers against local governments by discouraging municipalities from passing regulations that unreasonably restrict farming operations. Agricultural districts have been created in 53 of New York’s 62 counties. The average district size in New York State is approximately 37,000 acres. Currently, Rockland County does not have such a district.

Jaffee says part of the task force’s charter is to fight hunger and improve nutrition in New York State by bringing food to the people. “We need to discuss how to maintain existing farms and to build new farms,” says Jaffee.

McDowell rallied for years to bring farming back to Rockland. “I am originally from Illinois and worked on farms during many summers growing up,” he says. “I felt for many years that there had to be a way to farm that was an easier model.” McDowell says he would often drive by Cropsey Farm and marvel at its beauty. He eventually started the first Rockland CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Farm) on the acreage of the old Cropsey Farm.

Rockland resident Joan Gussow, a zealous defender of all things unprocessed, is an author who has written about her self-sustaining lifestyle and her gardens in Piermont. “I am so happy we are talking about farming in Rockland County. It’s about time!” Gussow, an RFA board member and former chairperson of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College at Columbia University, is author of many books on our food supply including the ground breaking “The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology,” a 1978 analysis that predicted future environmental hazards of a globalized food system.

Attendees at the May 2013 New York State Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy Task Force included NYS Assemblywoman Jaffee (Task Force Chairwoman); Bob Stern; Cathy Calzada Mural (Sr. Associate Director Public Policy New York Farm Bureau); Sandra R. Galef (Member of Assembly 95th District); Lauri Taylor, (Putnum County Department of Planning); John McDowell (President Rockland Farm Alliance); Laura Sager (Columbia County); Allan Beers (Executive Director Rockland Environmental Resources); Mary Hegarty (District Mgr Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation); Susan Jaffee (Executive Director Cornell Cooperative Extension); Christopher Crane (Westchester County Board of Legislators); Linda Concklin Hill (Farm Bureau, President Farmland Preservation Board); Michelle S. Kleinman (Rockland Public Health Nutritionist); Joan Gussow (Food Policy Expert, Professor and Author) and other local food advocates and government representatives.

Delirious in the Dairy Aisle

I sat down with my Spin Instructor recently for a lunch of chicken wings with salad (on the side).

Tracy Sullivan-Garrison is an explosion of energy on and off the spin bike. She can easily tell you a full no- holes barred story in two minutes flat followed by a full hour of kick-your-butt spin.

Tracy has built a sub-culture in her class. From 16 years to 85, her class is a community of spinners who come to listen to her fast talk and carefully thought out song list. Her timing is flawless. Good thing because timing and music are everything in spin. It’s the difference between wanting to run out of the room kicking and screaming to enjoying the ride. She plays 17 songs in every class with music ranging from 1957 Doo-wop rock to current day hip-hop. If it’s a spinners birthday, Tracy offers to play a personal playlist, 17 songs of their choosing. “My Mom was very into music and I guess it rubbed off on me.” she explains. “I also have a neighbor who is the Vice President of the Beach Boys fan club and has so much music at home that it’s ridiculous, she gives me music all the time.”

There is also a gentleman in her class who has a son-in-law who works at Capital Records and provides her with a multitude of music. “The people in my class are so good to me,” she says.

Tracy grew up in Valley Cottage but spent a great deal of time at Daytona Beach where her parents moved in 1987 when she was 23. She worked at Bloomingdales on 59th and Lexington and is proud of her sales accomplishments. “I was always one of the highest achievers, winning two trips to Hawaii.” Tracy’s work did not end with her day job back then. After a full day at Bloomies, she raced to her position as a “runner” at Giulios in Tappan. “What a crazy time, it was ridiculous, I would race to get there every night, and barely make it in time.”

In 1993 Tracy met her husband Wayne and started a family. “With each baby I would gain more weight,” Tracy admitted. “My third son weighed 10 pounds and 11 ounces! This caused a major situation!” Tracy, not someone who ever went to a gym before, started walking Rockland Lake. When that wasn’t quite enough, she joined Premier in Nanuet, NY. There she fell in love with spin and was noticed by the fitness manager who told her she should be on the stage teaching not in the audience participating. After a few years and in between babies, Tracy got her certification and began to teach. “I was teaching so many classes at Premier and then the JCC in Tenafly that by the time I got to the supermarket I was delirious in the dairy aisle!”

With three young boys at home Tracy realized that teaching too many classes was just not possible. “I met Teresa at the JCC in Rockland when they first opened about six years ago and I literally badgered her until she just couldn’t say no to me.” Tracy explained. Tracy now teaches five days a week at JCC Rockland and her spinners are so committed to her that she recently planned a “spin lunch” during Restaurant Week that many attended.

“I have had clients come up to me with so many health stories,” Tracy continued. “One man had a heart attack at 67 and the doctor told him he was very lucky. The doctor said whatever your doing for exercise, keep it up!”

Some of Tracy’s clients are true athletes trying to compete with themselves for the most ski runs in one day and others just want to wear pants with a belt. “I love my “belt ladies” as they call themselves,” said Tracy. “They lost enough weight that they all went to Woodbury Commons and bought new belts!”

Tracy’s class certainly is a work out and burns up to 1,200 calories. A great way to get cardio with a great lady in a community of like minded people. It’s a good thing—enjoy the ride.

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Can You See Me Now?

Yes, we all come to that point in life.

Can’t read a book.

Can’t see the computer.

Cannot find your keys.

Can’t see the menu.

Can’t tell your kids apart.

Can’t see a darn thing without your reading glasses.

Well, my good friend Renee designed her own line of beautiful frames and she is so proud!  As she should be.  So last night her “Readers” threw a little party.

Can you see me now?

Go to: reneesreaders.com

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Yes, Spring Has Finally Arrived

Yes, Spring has finally arrived and the seedlings are vibrant at Cropsey Farm’s CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you become a member of the Cropsey Community Farm CSA in New City, New York, you receive a weekly share of the CSA harvest throughout the growing season. CSA members reap the benefits of sustainable and locally produced food, and in turn agree to share with the farm some of the risks inherent in food production. The Cropsey Community Farm CSA is the first farm project of Rockland Farm Alliance, made possible with the cooperation of the Town of Clarkstown, Rockland County, and local supporters. Check out http://www.rocklandfarm.org.

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What the Hell-ebore?

It all started a few years back when I saw a chip of Martha Stewart’s Hellebore paint.  A green tint like I had never seen while I was choosing colors for our new home. I was in love. It was natural, far from garish like some greens can be and it was sweet. I heard that Martha who, whether you like her or not, does have some darn good taste had the color made to match the petal of a Hellebore flower.  Sometimes known as the Lenten Rose, a rose like I have never seen and frankly doesn’t look like a rose at all, is one of the first plants to bloom in late February. I planted them years ago.  Mine are now a hardy plant that I look forward to seeing every year.Rose

The early bloom was a very good thing especially this year.  Once a year, I invite my old neighbors to a special “ladies” lunch at my home. You see eight years ago I moved (one mile away) and my neighbors were very angry at me.  “We will never see you!” they hollered.  “You are moving so far. Our kids grew up on this block, how can you move?” they complained. “We used to hang out all the time, you are a traitor, our relationship will never be the same again!” they threatened. I assured them that once a year I would have them to my new house.  They walked away in disbelief that this rhetoric of good faith would never happen.  Well it did. Hell it did.  For eight years these ten or so ladies have come to my house at the first sign of Spring for a lunch lovingly prepared, for the most part by their Benedict Arnold.  They arrived last weekend with snow still on the ground and no outdoor furniture to sit on and sneak a little sun with our coats still on. We eat, we partake in some wine and we have a great time catching up on our lives. This year while I was setting the table, the tiny Hellebores came to my mind.  I bought some small glass Ball Jars and went out and cut the new growth and centered them on the table with some pine I also cut in the yard. rose 4It worked.  I spent not a dime on flowers and yet these little ones gave just a little special nod to my friends. rose two