Just Do It

And, we’re back. It would beggar the meaning of the word understatement to say that a lot has happened since this column was last published a month ago on September 24. Curiously, though, a case could be made that in these surreal and continuously challenging days of the novel coronavirus, little has changed. 

Casting for clouds. —A. Botsford Photo

Some 32 weeks in, the virus continues to surge, now in even greater numbers, across the country and around the world, at latest count closing in on claiming a quarter of a million lives in the U.S. alone. Yes, a quarter of a million lives. The terrible health costs, withering economic travails, and brutal education challenges associated with the pandemic for everyone still continue to be borne disproportionately by Black, Latinx, and low income Americans. 

With a presidential election ramping up the stakes—and emotions and anxieties—and both sides working tirelessly to control the narrative, social media and also major media outlets continue to turn massive profits by mining rich veins of disinformation and inflammatory rhetoric, with their artificially intelligent algorithms continuing to drive the wedge of division ever deeper into the country’s political and social consciousness. (See: “The Social Dilemma.”) The once-bright, illuminating candle of civil discourse based on agreed upon facts continues to gutter and seems in constant danger of being permanently extinguished. 

So, what to do? When the only change that seems to be occurring is that things are getting incrementally worse, how can we as individuals help to effect the change we’d like to see in the world? How can we, as the U.S. Constitution intended, strive to put aside self interest for a clear-eyed moment and advocate for the greater good for all Americans? You probably know what comes next: We can vote. We can honor the gift, the blessing, the privilege, the honor, and the right that by dint of much struggle over many years is granted to all citizens: We can vote. 

October monochrome. —Ginny Rosenblatt Photo

While casting a vote is in itself the most important thing and first priority, it is hoped that no vote is ever cast thoughtlessly or solely as a reflexive act of party affiliation. Like marriage, the act of voting should not be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, and soberly. Don’t rely on what the candidates and their supporters say about themselves, nor on what their opponents and their supporters say about them. Look at the facts, and not the spin, of their records. 

Never rely on a single news source; few—beyond PBS perhaps—still seem as strongly committed to providing what used to be called “fair and balanced” coverage, or offering equal time to different viewpoints so that voters can decide for themselves whose values most closely align with their own. Everyone needs to do their best to drill down through all the layers of spin, disinformation, opinions, and misinformation to the actual facts about all the issues, including perhaps most especially the Covid-complicated process of voting this year. 

In the end though, it bears repeating that the act of casting a vote is the most important thing. With all the clamor and confusion about mail-in and drop box voting this year, in person voting, whether early or on Election Day November 3, seems like the choice inspiring the most confidence that your vote will be counted without being subject to any potential controversy or litigation. And while coronavirus fears are understandable, Quogue seems a reasonably safe polling site (at the firehouse on Jessup Avenue from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on November 3) if voters continue to observe social distance protocols and wear a mask.

For those who would still prefer to vote by mail or drop box, complete information is available by clicking on or visiting www.ny.gov/early-voting-and-absentee-voting-mail-or-dropbox

For registered Quogue voters who wish to vote early in person, the nearest locations are at the Riverhead Senior Center, 60 Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue, and the Stony Brook Southampton campus, 70 Tuckahoe Road in Southampton. Early voting begins on Saturday, October 24; the hours are the same at both locations, shown below. 

The hours for early voting in person at the Riverhead Senior Center in Aquebogue and at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

Southampton Press to Videotape Goroff-Zeldin Debate
The 100 free “tickets” for the October 26 Express News Group Congressional Debate on Zoom were all snatched up just moments after they were made available on Wednesday, but do not despair. Video footage of the event will be posted at 27east.com afterward and will be available for viewing right up to Election Day. 

Nancy Goroff

That means that even those who intend to vote early will still have a chance to see the debate as soon as October 27 before heading off to one of the two nearby early voting locations. 

The debate will feature 1st Congressional District challenger Nancy Goroff (D) squaring off against the incumbent U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin (R), who is seeking reelection. Executive Editor Joseph Shaw will moderate the “roundtable” conversation, which will dispense with time limits and other restrictions to allow a more freeform conversation about the issues. 

Lee Zeldin

There is evidence indicating that political debates at the presidential level have historically had little effect on voters changing or making up their minds. Even so, At Quaquanantuck believes that when it comes to candidates vying to represent our district in Congress, it is immensely helpful to hear what they have to say and to see how they comport themselves. And there is benefit, too, in hearing how they defend themselves against the attacks previously levelled at them from a safe distance by their opponents prior to the debate. 

Be a better informed voter. Check out the video of the debate at 27east.com, which should be posted by Tuesday, October 27,  before you vote.

Septober sunset. —A. Botsford Photo

At Quaquanantuck Grateful for Your Support
This seems like a good place to offer my sincere thanks to all those who responded so generously to my request in the September 24 column for donations in the form of voluntary subscriptions to help me defray expenses and keep At Quaquanantuck always free for all who care to read it. 

Taking me at my word that no amount was too small or too large, almost two dozen readers have already sent in donations ranging from $30 to $300 (the equivalent of five voluntary annual “subscriptions” at the suggested “price” of $60) to support this free online publication, now being posted monthly. 

Meanwhile, I am continuing the appeal through the end of 2020, although it will be printed less obtrusively going forward at the bottom of the November and December columns. 

So, if you have the wherewithal, the column continues to have value for you in the monthly format, and you’d like to support keeping it a free resource for the community, please consider taking out or renewing a voluntary subscription (i.e. contribution) of $60 … or more … or less. 

Contributions may be made using PayPal by clicking here; with Venmo to user name Andrew-Botsford-1; or by check mailed to PO Box 1524, Quogue, NY 11959. 

And now, back to the news. 

Coming into their own. —Judith McDermott Photo

Albany Guidance Nixes Halloween Ghost Parade
This week’s e-missive from Quogue Village Mayor Peter Sartorius (now available on the Announcements page of the village website at www.villageofquogueny.gov ) is chockablock with New York State Covid-19 updates and advisories as well as helpful resources and information about voting. But perhaps the most significant information for Quogue’s youngest residents (and their parents) was the guidance on trick-or-treating and the fate of the annual Quogue Fire Department sponsored Halloween Ghost Parade down Jessup Avenue to the firehouse. To wit: 

“Halloween guidance arrived from the Governor’s office earlier this morning:  coronavirus.health.ny.gov/seasonal-celebrations. Traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged but not prohibited. Quogue will allow it, but people should follow the guidelines. Kids over age 2 must wear a cloth or surgical mask but not in combination with a Halloween-type mask. Stick with members of your own household only, but if you do run into others maintain a social distance. 

Double, double toil and trouble. —Elizabeth Caputo Photo

“Homeowners should bag individual packages of their commercially-wrapped treats and leave them outside in a row where they can be picked up singly, not in a bowl. Families should bring hand sanitizer and use it and wash hands immediately when arriving home.  

“The usual Fire Department-sponsored parade for kids will not be held this year, unfortunately, because of the mass gathering restrictions limiting them to 50 people.”

Hizzoner concluded his discussion of Halloween with a scary thought, writing: “The Governor increased the fine for violating these restrictions to $15,000, by the way.”

The Ghost Parade and gathering of costumed revelers at the firehouse may be two more casualties of the coronavirus, but it is hoped that parents and children will find ways to keep the Halloween spirit alive, fueled as ever by the consumption of delicious, sugar filled treats.  

“Halloween Ha Ha” at Quogue Shop October 31
Always in step with the spirit of each successive season, the Quogue Shop on Jessup Avenue is holding a safe, social distance “Halloween Ha Ha” on Saturday, October 31, at noon.

Bare bones. —Elizabeth Caputo Photo

Plenty of tricks and plenty of treats are promised, and there will be snacks and prizes for all. All ages are encouraged to dress in their Halloween best and meet up at The Quogue Shop at 144 Jessup Avenue.

The renovation and expansion project at the Quogue Library is closing in on completion. —A. Botsford Photo

Library Director Offers Update on Renovation and Expansion Project
Quogue Library Director Jenny Bloom was kind enough to share with At Quaquanantuck this week a brief progress report on the extensive renovation and major updating of the historic library building on Quogue Street. 

“The renovation work on our Library is moving along beautifully; progress happens daily,” Ms. Bloom wrote in an email. “We do not yet have an opening date as many elements need to fall into place in order to open the library doors to [the public]. The homestretch includes installation of finishes, furnishings, technology and the book collections.” 

“Covid has complicated our renovations, and will continue to complicate our service, but we are monitoring the state guidelines and anticipate being able to open for in-person service in some capacity this Winter.

“The next few weeks’ efforts will include lots of exterior work,” she wrote, “including seeding and landscaping. We can’t wait to welcome the community back to the library.”

And the community can’t wait to be welcomed, to be sure. 

Members of the Westhampton Garden Club masked up to gather at the Lily Pond Native Plants Garden on Friday, October 16. Second from the right, kneeling, is Sue Avery. —Lynda Confessore Photo

Garden Club Tends Native Plants Plot by the Pond
Courtesy of faithful correspondent Lynda Confessore, At Quaquanantuck has the following report:

“Members of the Westhampton Garden Club gathered at the Native Plants Garden, established by the club on the Lily Pond in Quogue, for a fall cleanup and winterization on Friday, October 16.  Sue Avery, the environmental chair of the Federated Garden Club of New York and head of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, had helped with the initial design and was on hand again on Friday to discuss potential additions and the educational value of the garden. 

“WGC president Melissa Morgan Nelson noted that the garden is part of the club’s mandate to conserve native plants, woodlands and open spaces in our region.  The cleanup was followed by a plant and seed exchange for members to share and then try new plants and seeds in their respective gardens. WGC will also contribute to a propagation project exchange at the Garden Club of America’s annual meeting.”

Refuge Seed Sale Order Deadline October 22
Speaking of seeds, today, October 22, is the last day to get orders in for the annual bird seed sale fundraiser for the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society and the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, made possible through the generosity of Eastport Feed. 

The idea is to start the season off with plenty of seed so you can enjoy observing the birds at your feeders all winter long. Drive-through curbside pickup will be on Saturday, November 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.

Click here to download the mail-in (or drop-off) order form, or complete the order form online by clicking on or visiting quoguewildliferefuge.org/event/annual-seed-sale-fundraiser-6.

And remember to check in frequently at quoguewildliferefuge.org/events/ for more information and details on such programs as the Earth Yoga Outside (social distance program) on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.; the “Creatures of the Night” (virtual program) at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28; and the Full Moon Night Hike at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 30, to name only a few.

Turn, turn, turn. —A. Botsford Photo

Scarecrows and Virtual Programs Keep Quogue Library Lively
The second annual Quogue Library Scarecrow Stroll was installed on Jessup Avenue this week, to impressive effect. The creative figures will be hanging around until November 9 so be sure to go downtown to look them over. Maybe ask one to dance at the Quogue Shop’s Halloween Ha Ha on October 31. 

Librarian scarecrow designed by Quogue Library Director Jenny Bloom. —MaryAnn Scuderi Photo

Meanwhile, the library’s virtual calendar is still jam-packed with stimulating and engaging programs. In addition to yoga classes with Jillian and exercise programs with Leisa DeCarlo, consider: “The Grand Masters of American Comedy” on Friday, October 23, at 7 p.m.; a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” dinner and cooking workshop led by chef Robert Dell’Amore on Friday, October 30, at 6:30 p.m.; “How the Internet Changed Media” on Friday, November 6, at 7 p.m.; and the Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Discussion Series on “Artificial Intelligence and Data” on Saturday, November 7, at 5 p.m.

The background for the FPA discussion involves the fact that policymakers in many countries are developing plans and funding research in artificial intelligence (AI). As global growth started to slow, even before the pandemic, many policymakers turned to AI, hoping it might provide a magic solution. To protect users, the EU, Brazil, and other Western countries have adopted regulations that grant them greater control over their data and require that firms using AI be transparent about how they use it. Will, or should, the U.S. follow suit?

For complete details on the library’s virtual programs, and to register, check the library website, www.quoguelibrary.org. Remember that new programs are added regularly, so check the website often to make sure you don’t miss out. 

Helen Frankenthaler, “Mary, Mary,” 1987, Color screenprint and offset lithograph, 41 x 31. —Image courtesy of Quogue Gallery

“Meeting of Masters” on View at Quogue Gallery
“Figurative and Abstract Expressionism: A Meeting of Masters” is the title of the current exhibition on view at the Quogue Gallery at 44 Quogue Street. 

On view through November 23, the exhibition brings together such historically recognized masters as Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Joan Miró, Ray Parker, and Emerson Woelffer with some of their peers whose significance has been reassessed and brought to light in recent years. These include Harry Bertschmann, Fay Lansner, Norman Carton, Sam Glankoff, Raymond Hendler, Vincent Pepi, Ben Wilson, and others. 

This show pairs household names with rediscoveries in order to help collectors better understand the notion of artistic excellence during the second half of the 20th century, a period characterized in a release from the gallery as “a tumultuous era in which both figurative and abstract painters pushed the limits of expression.” 

Adolph Gottlieb, “Orange Oval,” 1972, Original Serigraph on paper, 28 x 36.5. —Image courtesy of Quogue Gallery

The exhibition is in line with the avowed mission of the Quogue Gallery, which is “to present a program of artistic excellence by showcasing the work of prominent, mid-career and emerging artists in the modernist tradition. Its core focus is on discovering and exhibiting figurative and abstract expressionist painters who are recognized historically as well as those of great promise whose work has not received the attention and critical response it so richly deserves.” 

For details on the exhibition or more information about the Quogue Gallery, click on or visit quoguegallery.com.

Aids to navigation. —Paula Prentis Photo

Your Comments Welcome
At Quaquanantuck is happy to provide a forum for civil discussion of village issues and initiatives and welcomes all comments. All are encouraged to share observations, ideas and opinions by writing to AtQuaq@gmail.com.  

News Items and Photos
At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country—or the world. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.

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