Monday, December 28, 2009

Mimi Novak's White House Christmas Story

Mimi Novak's 1996 White House Christmas StockingEvery year in early December, Mimi Novak shares with her Kinnelon first graders her White House Christmas story. It's a marvelous tale. Have you heard it?

She sets the stage for the Kiel School students by reading them A Christmas Tree in the White House about Teddy Roosevelt.

From there, she takes them to 1996.

In August 1996, Mimi received a letter from the White House Christmas confirming that she was one of 150 needlepointers selected out of a membership of 29,000 from The Embroiderers Guild of America to represent New Jersey and create a Christmas stocking for the official 2006 White House Christmas Tree - an 18' 6" Colorado Blue Spruce from the Scheetz Tree Farm in Coshocton, Ohio - which resides in the Blue Room. This in addition to the 200 American Needlepoint Guild members, 100 wood craft artisans, and 300 ballet companies. [See Holidays at the White House 1996.] Can you imagine?

There were constraints.

The stocking had to depict characters or scenes from The Nutcracker.
Emma & Mimi Novak, Fall 2008
It had to match the size of a blank pattern that each embroiderer received along with backing fabric.

The work had to be done using 13-24 needlepoint canvas.

The pattern needed to contrast well against a dark green tree with small white lights.

Each stocking needed to be edged with gold trim with a hanger of gold cord.

And, the entry had to arrive at the White House no later than October 31st!

In other words, Mimi had 45 days in which to conceive, design, create, finish and then deliver a finished Nutcracker themed Christmas stocking to the White House. Yikes!

Her sister, Susan A. Barnett, an artist and photographer, advised on the composition. Over 200+ hours later [i.e., 5 weeks working 40 hours per week], Mimi completed her Christmas stocking which you see in the photo above: three toy soldiers and a drum - on which you notice Mimi's initials "MN" - created using a range of threads that she shows to her students: patent leather, suede, faux fur, metallics, nylon tubular threads in brilliant greens and reds, and satins in a multitude of needlepoint stitches with preposterous names like 'turkey feather.'

I am in awe at the intensity of effort and the brilliance of creation!

In recognition for her contribution, Mimi and her husband were invited to attend the 1996 White House Holiday Open House celebration.

As Mimi ends the card that she sends home to her students for the Holidays: "the White House, as you know, is just the most glorious and historic house - truly the "People's House." I hope that one day you, too, will be able to visit and walk through the White House."

Thank you, Mimi, for sharing your Christmas Story with your students and us.

From the White House Blog, here is the link to a post about Decking the Halls of the White House in 2009 with a wonderful video narrated by Michelle Obama about the People's House this Christmas 2009.

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays From The Whittemores!

Whittemore Elves 2007
Happy Holidays!

Happy 2010!

From the Whittemore family to yours, we thank you for being part of the Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog.

We look forward to sharing more stories with you in the New Year!

Ted, Christine & Emma

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kinnelon Neighbors In The News

Jen Singer and Kinnelon Neighbors About the Recession

Kinnelon Neighbors on CBS News

Discuss How the Recession Has Affected Their Lives

I missed the CBS News last night, but luckily the piece that matters is available online at CBSNewsVideo online. More specifically, Neighborhood Feels Recession features Jen Singer and three Kinnelon neighbors, the Davins, Shrots and Locascios, all discussing the effects of this recession on their lives.

And what an awesome job each does discussing a sensitive yet hugely relevant subject. I, for one, really appreciate their talking about their lives and how they are adapting to new circumstances. I applaud their decisions and feel encouragement for the decisions I've made.

I love that the Davins are doing more at home and encouraging their children to be personally involved in decisions. I'm impressed that the Schrots have acquired The Teaching Room in Morristown, NJ. I appreciate that the Locascios are focusing on what's important and keeping sight on the bigger picture.

And Jen reminds me of my French grandmother and her 'old Europe' habits of recycling everything, including tissue paper...

2009 has been one of the most tumultuous years in my life.

It has also been one of the most exciting - once I adjusted. I lost my job of almost 16 years in March and have since been establishing my own marketing consultancy, Simple Marketing Now. The process has been intense, filled with soul-searching and rethinking priorities.

It has led to discussions with my daughter about what matters and what doesn't and what we can afford and can't. It's forcing her to think about priorities and place greater value on what she already has.

In many ways this has been a good thing. The past 6 years of my corporate America job were a time in which it became increasingly clear that I wanted and needed to have my own business and be my own boss, but I was too risk-averse to make that leap. So I got pushed off the cliff by circumstances beyond my control! The new venture is just as hard as I thought it would be, maybe harder, but it is what I should be doing and it has put our whole family in touch with our priorities and what is important to us. Reduced circumstances will do that to you!

As Jen says in her comments at the end the segment, the recession may make parenting less competitive. We all get to focus on what's truly important and less on trying to keep up with others.

Watch the video for yourselves [note that you will be forced through an ad]:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

What do you think?

How has the recession affected your life?

Have your circumstances changed?

What steps have you taken to accommodate the new reality?

We invite you to share with us your comments and tell us what you think about this very important and current subject.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Francis S. Kinney's Kinnelon: The End of An Era

Cornie Hubner's Didja Know?Continuing on with the tale of Francis S. Kinney's Kinnelon from Cornie Hubner's Didja Know??? Series comes...

The End of An Era

Mr. Kinney's dream of a self sustaining Manor, unique in the Country, was realized when World War I started. The Swiss Brown Cows, now an extensive herd, were winning top prizes nationally and at state and county fairs while the pure bred bulls were in demand at increasingly higher prices as the English Sheep Dogs, still comparatively rare, were becoming popular. The Stables, never in Madison Square competition, were welcomed at State and County shows and the piggery provided aspirants for prizes at the same exhibitions with an active staff and field organization of almost one hundred, the farm, pastures, orchards and greenhouses were producing in over abundance as the woodlands natural inhabitants thrived undisturbed under the care of the "environmental protection" of dedicated wardens.

For sometime after the start of the War, three years before our entry, it was rumored that like many other Americans of German descent, Mr. Kinney shared some sympathy with the German cause, deriding newspaper reports of "Hun" atrocities and outrages. This story soon lost its credibility when he opened his coach house to what was probably the largest personally supported Red Cross station in the state. The entire household staff, female members of the residence, and outside employees' households and local volunteers, tackled the unlimited stock of wool that he furnished, with their knitting needles. Supervised by Mrs. Warren Kinney with a competent teacher, an endless stream of sweaters, socks, scarves and gloves reached the Allied defenders and in increasing quantities when "our boys" arrived to turn the tide in 1917.

Warren and Morris were now in their mid-twenties. Actively participating in the family business and the management of the Estate, Warren was happily married and the father of two children. Business seemed to have little attraction for Morris who devoted his time to nature, hunting, fishing and fostering area athletics. As the "Gibson Girls" influenced fashion at the time of the Century, the "Arrow Collar Men" were the idols of every male over fourteen, for more than a generation.

Both the Kinneys could have modeled for the colorful ads appearing in every magazine, on billboards and in streets and subway cars. Recent and current cigarette ads have copied the allure, but failed (fortunately) to exert the influence on habit, that the collar ads had on attire. Making one of his first appearances, with his baseball team, the six foot, patent leather black hair Morris caused the Butler fans to gasp at the mature man garbed in what was the first pair of khaki shorts that displayed long coffee brown legs in public. Warren, slightly shorter, was lighter with a blond mustache, "the height of fashion" and was occasionally seen in stores on Main Street and regularly throughout Kinnelon on political and compassionate missions.

When War started, Morris enlisted and was a commissioned pilot when we declared war. He saw active service in France, until attached to the staff of Gen. R. Sherbourne, as what was probably the first Air Force Aide attached to a Field General's staff. The Unit was being transformed from Cavalry to Tanks with the assistance of J. Alden Talbot, a close friend of the Kinneys since boyhood. At the same time the failing health of Mr. Kinney caused an increasing burden of responsibility for Warren in the management of the business and Estate. The War and labor needs of Munition Factories attracted most of the irreplaceable young help reducing farming production and seriously affecting maintenance. He spent most of his time participating in National or State Fund Drives, directing County and Local Benefits, opening the Estate for fund raising, Carnivals, Picnics and Athletic Contests. His personal interest in the families of the Military, the poor and sick and his political efforts this end of Pequannock Township, brought him prominence which would be of local benefit a few years later.

Morris returned immediately after the War to throw himself whole heartedly into restoration of the fields and woodlands. He planted several acres of daffodils in the area surrounding the Inn and on both sides of the road leading to Cotswold. (These covered the area with a solid mass of yellow blooms well into the '50s - some still growing on the side of the private Talbot road.) Resuming his interest in the local baseball team, he recruited outstanding players from Butler and Bloomingdale, to field a team regularly playing local teams and occasionally semi-pro teams from as far away as Paterson for the appreciative fans.

Not to be undone, early "Equal Rights" advocate, Mrs. Warren Kinney, formed a girls' baseball team. She provided the equipment and the girls bought their uniforms. The "Bloomer Girls" played with the same hard ball as the men and frequently drew larger crowds.

Warren, recognizing the limited clout of this remote section of Pequannock Township, canvassed the area to obtain signatures on a petition to form a separate Boro. His efforts were successful in February 1922 when the governor approved "an Act to incorporate the Boro of Kinnelon." Mr. Kinney had graciously transferred the name he had given the Estate, to the town and renamed his 5,000 acres "Smoke Rise," a name that appears on documents of the area in the early 1800s.

Personally know to few, but kindly remembered by all, the "Lord of the Manor," Francis Sherwood Kinney, died in 1923 leaving the Estate to Morris.

With his passing, a forty year dream ended. The staff was disbanded and a unique, rare way of life ceased to exist. Much of the history of the new Boro has been covered in books and articles. Recollections of those who witnessed the waning years of the Estate, hardly of historic significance, might appear, entitled "The Fall and Rise of Smoke Rise," soon.

P.S. The auto in the September 1st column would never be recognized as a "Simple." Some old timers might (?) as the "Simplex."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kinnelon Critter File: Beavers

Beaver at the Frank R. Lautenberg Visitor Center

Kinnelon Beavers

Were you aware that beavers are plentiful in Kinnelon? Particularly around our lakes and ponds.

We had our first live beaver encounter a few weeks ago traveling west on Fayson Lakes Road across the Kakeout Reservoir causeway.

It was 9:30 at night. I was driving and I noticed a large dark critter to my left. It was raccoon-like but larger. It was groundhog-like, too, but larger. Neither made sense given the water on both sides of the road. Furthermore, the critter was wet.

Then we noticed another large shape on the right side of the road, unfortunately dead, and realized that we had encountered our first live beaver, concerned about its mate. You see, beavers mate for life.

National Geographic has a fascinating site on beavers. It includes a 30 second audio clip on how beavers sound and a video [caution: the video forces you through an ad at the beginning and end]. Beavers are large rodents weighing approximately 60 pounds.

beaver activity at beaver dam pond in Kinnelon, NJThe Wikipedia entry on beavers includes a cross-section of beaver lodges and a terrific photo of a beaver tail. Check out the webbed feet, too.

We noticed our first sign of beaver activity on the Beaver Dam And Charlotteburg Road Hike. Not only a dam in the middle of the pond, but also plenty of trees chopped down by the critters as you can see from the photo above.

Lake Kinnelon has seen more beaver activity lately as has Hoot Owl Pond, and trees around both are now protected by mesh.

As plentiful as they may be in our midst, beavers are also elusive. I'm my dreams I can imagine hiking down to the Beaver Dam to catch a glimpse of them before dawn. Reality has me ensconced comfortably in bed instead.

Seeing this beaver was a treat. I now find myself slowing down along the Fayson Lakes causeway, not just to absorb the view, but also in case a beaver is swimming within view.

Do you have beaver stories to share?

PS: If you travel that route at night, I urge caution in case you encounter a beaver in the road.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Sword, The Stone & The Kinnelon Library

The Sword In The Stone stageset

The Sword In The Stone At The Kinnelon Library

This past Friday, Emma and I attended the Traveling Lantern Theater Company production of The Sword In The Stone at the Kinnelon Library.

If you remember, last December Traveling Lantern performed The Christmas Carol which we enjoyed very much.

Galina Adair, Kinnelon LibraryFor those of you not familiar with The Sword In The Stone, it was written in 1938 by T.H. White and tells the tale of Wart, Merlin and a sword that only one person can pull out of a stone.

"Who so Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of England."

By the end of the production, we learn that Wart is Arthur, King of England.

[Before we got started, Galina Adair from the Kinnelon Children's Library welcomed us and treated us to a few jokes... One was about an egg and an egg beater. I can't exactly remember it, but did find this site filled with egg jokes!]

As with my first Traveling Lantern production, I enjoyed the compact but compelling stage set. Two actors play a multitude of roles which I think really encourages the children to imagine possibilities. Furthermore, the actors involve the children, and then respond to questions about the production, the story, the costumes, the sets.

Here are a few of the photos I took. Above, you'll note the stage set.

The Sword In the Stone production
Here the actors introduced themselves and described the story. The tall actor - Todd - played the roles of Merlin, Kay [Wart's adoptive brother], and a Knight. The other actor - Jenny - played Wart, a Knight, and eventually became King Arthur.

The Sword In the Stone, Traveling Lantern
Here, both actors play old Knights...

The children in The Sword In The Stone
who required the services of young squires played by the children. [Emma really got into the part!]

Again, the children assist in The Sword In The Stone

A favorite was Archimedes, Merlin's owl familiar. You can see him perched atop the screen set [note the white fluff ball]. This prop came from England, especially created for theatrical productions.

We had a blast! I'm partial to Arthurian tales and hope that Emma gets into the story of The Sword In The Stone. She likes that [this from the Wikipedia entry] during his training with Merlin, Wart meets up with Robin Hood whom we've become familiar with first through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and then from watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood...

If you attended the program, what did you like most about it?

What were some of your favorite childhood adventure stories?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 Student Art Exhibit at Kinnelon Library

2009 Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit

Time To Be Artistically Inspired By Kinnelon Students

The 2009 Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit is taking place now at the Kinnelon Public Library.

These are the works of students from Sisco, Kiel and Stonybrook schools in Kinnelon, NJ. At Sisco and Kiel, they were inspired once again by Sona Santagato whom Emma and I visited with Friday evening at the opening reception.

What a treat! I urge you not to miss it!

Cats from 2009 Kinnelon Student Art ExhibitThese cats are great fun; they're made from cardboard, oil pastels and glitter. You'll find these on both floors, one set in the lobby display case, along with Day of the Dead figures made from plaster of Paris, paint and fabric, and the other upstairs.

These next two are Emma's [top Still Life]...

Emma's Asian Brush Painting

Still Life
My photos don't do justice to the wealth and breadth of interpretations.

Talk a walk - ideally several- through the Library during the month of December 2009. You'll be amazed. Our kids are talented and their works guaranteed to lift your spirits. They also inspire you to see with fresh eyes.

Related post: Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit - December 2008

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bill Freind's Kinnelon Employment Seminar

What Color Is Your Parachute?

Bill Freind Leads Employment Seminars In Kinnelon

Perhaps you've seen the announcements about an employment seminar led by Bill Freind, longtime Kinnelon, NJ resident. They've appeared in Argus, the Smoke Rise Newsletter, Our Lady of the Magnificat's bulletin and the website news section, and News.

And the response has been strong!

Given the intensity of the program, Bill has capped attendance at 30 people. The original seminar, which took place November 24th and December 1st, 2009 [with individual one-on-one practice interview and counseling sessions scheduled separately], has been so well attended that he decided to hold another session in January 2010.

January 2010 Employment Seminar Session

The classroom dates are January 19 and January 26 at 7pm and take place at Our Lady Of the Magnificat in Kinnelon.

If you are interested in attending, please do check in with Bill Freind.

Bill Freind's Contact information:

+ wfreind [at]
+ tel: 973-838-1154

Must Read Employment Book!

Whether you attend Bill Freind's employment seminar or not, his advice is to absolutely purchase What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles. "You can get a step on your job hunt by beginning to read – AND WORK – this excellent book," he says.

Additional Employment Resources

By the way, I discovered a link to the official site for What Color Is Your Parachute: as well as to the author's blog Dick Bolles' Enchanted World.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saturday 12/5/09: Silas Condict Park Hike

Silas Condict Park Hike

Will you join us? This Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 9am , come hike Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ for the Hike a Park a Month program. [Read about the November hike in Jonathan Woods, Hog Pen Hike, Denville, NJ] I'm anticipating a hiking experience unlike any I could create on my own!


If you plan on attending, please make contact with Tom Edmunds from the Morris County Park Commission to reserve a spot. His email is tedmunds [at] morrisparks [dot] net. And, if you must cancel last minute, please do let him know, too.

December 5, 2009

MCPC Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ

9 AM start about 2.5 to 3 hours

Far parking lot opposite picnic shelter and the “casino”. We hope to have access into the casino.

This may be a difficult hike for some as it will require bushwhacking in a few areas and some steep slippery slopes especially if we have snow/ice beforehand. Definitely wear good hiking boots and your favorite walking stick/cane.

Also, no dogs!

I hope to see you on Saturday at Silas Condict!

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