29 October 2010

when not playing with a nylabone tangled in yarn, he's busy promoting positive locally.

perhaps our mascot was about to say something incredibly important before the camera's button snapped him into this little rectangle of history.

he favors intricately devised yarn-slash-nylabone toys he invents to keep himself entertained while busy being a dog and all.

we'll paraphrase him though--have a safe and wonderful october weekend ! paw paw.

24 October 2010

win a free pet-sit !

this week's giveaway from news, not blues is one free pet-sit from tara honey of the barto-based pets-ercise.

to learn more about tara honey, read this introspective piece on her website.

also well-involved in pets-ercise are the honey dogs who have together fund-raised incredible amounts of money for the local bark for life event associated with the pottstown relay for life.

to enter for a chance to win a free pet-sit from pets-ercise, comment below. please include your e-mail address in your comment. this contest ends the 31st of october. good luck !

gloria sands just won a sizable slice of pie !

congratulations to gloria sands ! she won a free slice of pie from jukebox café !

thank you to our contestants ! our next contest will be up on the webby shortly. spread the good word !

20 October 2010

local sky stretches well worth some admiration.

- a stretch of sky, road, and oley valley's awh-stirring farmland -

 this photograph was featured in news, not blues volume six in sightings from the garden harlot.

love up some local sky !

18 October 2010

( raved roadside retro: the jukebox café )

raved roadside retro: the jukebox café
by amy strauss

jukebox café—since 1995—has put chrome-trimmed, elvis photo-decked diners to shame. nestled on a bend of south reading avenue, the nostalgic, above-average café celebrates all-day-breakfast in a snappy setting specked with leather-lined turquoise booths, pink countertops, an old-fashioned bubble jukebox, and of course, pin-ups of marilyn monroe and james dean.

conceptualized by sandy l. and john e. hilbert, the area's 15-year-old go-to breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot has been a constant hustle since opening day, when the managing couple premiered their soda shop-inspired eatery to the boyertown crowds, mashing their love for coffeehouses with the simple structure of a retro diner.

the black-and-white checkerboard-floored space opens everyday, monday through saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., slinging original, luxe updates of fifties comfort food, while celebrating the best of the season peppered through various selections. for example, as fall is prime apple and pumpkin season, items like hot apple stuffed french toast, apple bread french toast, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin pancakes currently line their regularly-updated menu of specials.

previous seasons also followed suit, including their attractive “peach mania” roundup as seen this past summer, that roundup, as seen this past summer with fresh slices pressed into sandwiches. 

family-run and friendly, jukebox café also encourages visitors to savor bites at their counter space, available in addition to their up-to-four sleek booths and tables, for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink omelet or a piping bread bowl flooded with one of their homemade soups, available also in to-go quarts. with well-done mainstays served aside continuously-new varieties, like hungarian mushroom, tomato bisque, baked potato, italian wedding, and vegetarian chili, this nearby establishment swirls cordial soups on-par with grandma's best.

( all photographs by amy strauss )

considering they spout a moniker which marvels in the glory days of sock hops and triple-thick milkshakes, jukebox café also trots a classic assortment of burgers, fries, and meat and non-meat eater sandwiches, including melts and BLTs. proud to not pack any of their menu items with canned creations, the always-fresh ingredients are locally-sourced, including goods found next door at frecon farms.

better yet, if you have come to satisfy your sweet tooth, you may easily slip into a sugar coma. with this step back into the fifties, they bake all of their own perfectly-pinched pies, fruit-topped cheesecakes, traditional sticky buns, and multiple-flavored muffins.

jukebox café is no secret, as the lines for weekend brunch attest, and the service—manned by attentive, favorable females—leaves cozy diners dashing to squeeze more and more pop-ins into their wild work weeks.

jukebox café is cash-only, located at 535 south reading avenue in boyertown and can be reached by phone at 610.369.7272. operating hours are as follows: monday—saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. take-out is available, as well, during operating hours.

(freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win a slice of pie to go along with your next meal at jukebox café. please include your e-mail address in your comment. this contest ends sunday, october 24th. good luck !)

emma peabody just won some cider !

congratulations to emma peabody who just won a gallon apple cider kindly donated by bauman's apple butter as as a part of this news, not blues contest !

( photograph by amy strauss )

thank you to everyone who commented, and our next contest for a free slice of pie from jukebox café is up next ! please spread the word about news, not blues, what we do, and our weekly giveaways.

15 October 2010

( former berks county poet laureate reminisces about her recent post )

former berks county poet laureate 
reminisces about her recent post
by jennifer hetrick

the first evening of october marked heather thomas’ final minutes as the third poet laureate of berks county before the area welcomed her recently chosen successor.

thomas, who has been a member of kutztown university's english department since 1988, applied for the reading area community college-sponsored poet laureateship in 2008.

her submission involving a handful of carefully selected poems landed her the honorary position after a committee reviewed her work, along with the poetry from a pool of two dozen other area residents, with the final judgment by a renowned poet from outside of the county.

(photograph courtesy of the poetess herself, who 
sometimes writes under the name h. t. harrison)

thomas initially leapt into the sometimes brevity-swept, richer brand of literature most seriously following high school. she attended vassar college, later transferring to university of pennsylvania, and became enamored with the poetic works of anne sexton, silvia plath, adrienne rich, william blake, and h.d., or hilda doolittle.

born in new york, thomas moved to reading, pennsylvania at the age of five and later found out that one apartment she lived in as a child was also the former home of renowned poet wallace stevens.

this hardly coincidental seeming tidbit has provoked thomas to scribe several creative writing pieces about stevens with her response to growing up in his same home.

thomas said that when she first fully exposed herself to arrays of poetry, she clung gratefully to it, as it appeared more genuine to her than other forms of language and stitched a sense of truth into her.

“there are so many fascinating approaches to the poem happening, but you have to find your own path and your own way to enter and connect with poetry—at least [that’s true] for me,” thomas conveyed. “when i was younger, it was very much connected with figuring out who i was and with self-discovery.”

“now i think it’s more about healing,” thomas added. “the poet federico garcía lorca said that poetry came from the rim of a wound, somehow."

noting that she favors poetic works which are more meditative, thomas considers the aforementioned stevens and h.d. almost as catalysts for bringing visionary consciousness to poetry in our time and culture.

“i write a lot about the past in my life, and about loss, but i’d like to write more about joy,” thomas said.

despite practicing the written word for so many years, thomas admitted she never feels certain that the next poem will arrive or happen, but as she explains to her students, it’s important to trust the process.

“every time you come to the page, you have to negotiate that and reconnect,” she expressed.

“it’s like anything else; if you practice, it’s easier to make the connection,” thomas reflected. “when you don’t practice, it takes more time to burn through the language—to burn through it in your mind.”

among many poets, thomas referenced william carlos williams in that he thought poetry should be written in the language of polish mothers. thomas elaborated that by this, williams meant we should find the poetry in everyday speech.

thomas often pulls inspiration in her poetry from the schuylkill river nearby her home and also enjoys incorporating the names of components of nature into her poems.

at one point, she wrote exclusively from her dreams. today, her style often takes form in fragments, as she prefers to only use essential words, also sometimes emphasizing disjunction.

with six books of poetry published and another translated into a bilingual version, her latest is the delicately bound blue ruby.

along with other awards, thomas has received the gertrude stein award in innovative american poetry and has had her poems published in at least eight anthologies.

during her time in the honorary position of berks county poet laureate, thomas noticed that people seemed ecstatic to meet her, satiated in knowing she was minding the poetry of local life.

“i think poetry has so much to offer to the community,” thomas said.

thomas acknowledged that poetry isn’t on most people’s radar, but having a poet laureate in berks county of course changes that, with many people not initially realizing the county has its own poet laureate.

( heather thomas read a poem inspired by wallace stevens 
at craig czury’s induction ceremony a few fridays ago )

“it opens them up to possibilities of poetry as a place for meaning in our lives,” thomas concluded, with amiable well wishes in rounding out her term and handing off the proverbial pen to berks county’s fourth poet laureate, craig czury, who grabbed the reins the first evening of this month.


news, not blues recently donated heather thomas’ latest book, blue ruby, to the boyertown community library.

news, not blues volume seven is out !

fuzzy friday morning greetings, all.

news, not blues volume seven is out and will be at its regular distribution sites late today.

in this volume, we get a bit introspective about the language of poetry with kutztown university's heather thomas who recently finished her two-year term as the berks county poet laureate.

we will also be talking up boyertown's own jukebox café with the chance for one lucky winner to swap a free slice of pie.

stay tuned, and as always, spread the word !

14 October 2010

visit news, not blues at clayote's autumn open house !

tomorrow evening-- friday the 15th of october from 5.30 p.m to 9.00 p.m., news, not blues will be at clayote for the studio and gallery's autumn open house alongside local business owners and organizations known for contribuing positively to our community.

news, not blues will have copies of the upcoming volume up for grabs, a few of the last apple-y volume, and goodie bags (some including foamy robot stickers) for the first lucky 30 kids to scoop up the freebies.

then saturday night at 8.00 p.m., a comedy show will stretch for two hours thanks to the miscellaneous players. tickets are $8 each.

visit, a bit !

13 October 2010

say hello to ms. sheron faye in yellow house.

meet sheron faye, a sweepingly charming young ayrshire cow at wholesome dairy farms in yellow house. news, not blues volume six featured sheron faye in sightings from the garden harlot.

wholesome dairy farms sells raw milk and raw milk cheese, along with some other well cared for, locally raised food. they are also on facebook and are happy to give tours of the farm to new visitors.

11 October 2010

mark strauss won a sweet little locally-produced bluegrass cd !

congratulations to mark strauss ! he won the manatawny creek rambers' album meet me by the moonlight.

we still have a contest running till the end of next week for a gallon of cider from bauman's apple butter, well in line with fall's persuasion for taste buds. check it out !

08 October 2010

news, not blues donates third berks county poet laureate's latest book to the boyertown community library.

today, news, not blues will be donating its second book of contemporary poetry to the boyertown community library. this latest addition to the library is blue ruby by heather thomas who recently finished her term as the third poet laureate of berks county. thomas is a professor of english at kutztown university.

this hand-bound book tied along its spine with delicate black string from kanona, new york's foothills publishing joins the library's shelves fittingly, as october is  reading reads: the greater reading literary festival, and thomas' former poet laureateship is sponsored by reading area community college.

and this kindly penned thank you ! is from the packaging of the book when it shipped down to pennsylvania from the publisher.

please check out the book in the next few weeks, as it's well worth some eye-attention and supports readership with an inspirational local writer.

one of our next stories coming up in the 15 october 2010 volume of news, not blues is an introspective look at thomas' watch on the poetry store for the past two years. eye-gulp it here and in print next week !

04 October 2010

( sip of the season: bauman's apple cider )

sip of the season: bauman's apple cider
by amy strauss

it's that tantalizing time of year again—where wooden crates are crowded with an overflow of just-picked scarlet, yellow, and green apples, stacked snugly into pick-up trucks and shipping cars from as far as maryland, and soon, packed into bauman's apple butter factory, of sassamansville, where their cider mill produces the freshest pressed cider.

from september to december, their presses are plopped with the fruit's brilliant spectrum of fall colors, producing the rich, golden drink around the clock, monday through friday, including evenings, and on saturday mornings, too.

the local, yet nationally-known, family-business first premiered over a century ago, in 1892 by john w. bauman, who first purchased a cider press and appropriately operated it with a steam engine that was nestled inside his carriage manufacturing shop. quickly, the apple-intensive side project replaced bauman's carriage cobbling, as it continued to be mastered throughout the family line—now owned and operated by his grandson, harvey and his wife, kathy.

with the capabilities to press over a thousand gallons of cider a day, the bauman family takes advantage of their production space and, as their name assumes, additionally produces a wide array of apple and fruit butters in beautifully intoxicating quantities.

notorious for their low-fat, health-conscious jarred creations of naturally rich-and-sweet spreads, the entire process begins through their flash pasteurized apple pressing, with the tastes of the juices always important, for a substantial portion is used within their apple butter.

the autumnal routine, in simplest terms, starts with dozens upon dozens of apples being flooded in from an outdoor chute, which allows them to be barreled indoors, becoming finely chopped and then squeezed in the generously-sized press, extracting the apples' juices. immediately, the cider is pumped into refrigerated tanks, where it then will be stored and bottled.

of course, apple butter making is more extensive than cider making, and is jumpstarted by waltzing whole apples into waist-high cooking barrels and stewing cider among the rosy rounds, for about four hours. eventually, the darkened fruit creation is screened, removing apple skins, stems, and seeds, and cooked for additional hours to hone in the perfected taste and texture.

( all photographs by amy strauss )

the marveled montgomery county business also bravely acts as a warehouse, a bottling and jarring factory, and distribution center, allowing the bauman family and their trusted employees to maintain their business at a one-stop-shop—and yes, there's a country store, too.

as a local, rural enterprise praising pure, all-natural creations from the season's sweet and savory fruit, there is no better way to toast your autumn day away than with a flooded glass of bauman's apple cider, perfectly paired aside a wheat cracker topped with a dollop of apple butter—fall's finest creations found victoriously in your backyard.

bauman's pennsylvania dutch apple butter is located at 116 hoffmansville road in sassamansville and can be visited during operating in-season hours monday through friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. besides apple butter and cider, their inventory is packed with homemade butters found in flavors like pumpkin, pear, peach, apricot, strawberry-rhurbarb, and sweet tomato. visit bauman's online at www.baumanfamily.com or by phone at 610.754.7251.

freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win 1 gallon of apple cider from bauman’s apple butter. please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest will run a bit longer than most, till sunday the 17th of october. so spread the news and some cider affections !

03 October 2010

joshua hiltner won some baking-persuaded affection !

congratulations to joshua hiltner ! he won a $10.00 gift certificate for sweet treats at oley's black bugging baking company.

we currently have one contest running for the manatawny creek ramblers' album meet me in the moonlight, and we'll soon be posting a contest for winning a gallon of cider from bauman's apple butter. spread the word !

news, not blues volume six is out !

news, not blues volume six is out !

we'll be posting the final story in volume six online soon. it includes a chance to win a gallon of locally jugged cider. nom !

01 October 2010

( pickfest harvest bluegrass festival --- only an orchard away )

pickfest harvest bluegrass festival: 
only an orchard away
 --- by jennifer hetrick

peeling its way just around the corner is frecon farms’ fourth annual pickfest harvest bluegrass festival slated for saturday the 9th of october from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

co-visionaries hank frecon and daniel bower mingled minds several years ago in believing that the boyertown area would be an ideal setting for fall fruits and a festive music scene, and from there, pickfest whisked to life.

“i’m the ramblers, and hank is the apples,” bower said with a perked laugh.

( three photographs above - by joshua smith )

bower’s band, the aforementioned manatawny creek ramblers, are the main musical ensemble scheduled to grace a hilly perch in the orchard at pickfest.

the ramblers are known for playing in front of enthusiastic crowds at union jack’s inn on manatawny in oley.

bower also handles the booking of musically persuaded entertainment at frecon’s hard bean café, which sits in a cozy sweep at 128 east philadelphia avenue in boyertown. the café carries locally favored apple cider straight from frecon farms and is whipping up some delectable twists on classics one steamed cup of cider at a time, well worth sipping in the brr-like months ahead.

with an ingrained penchant for soul-stirring bluegrass tunes, bower carefully picks bands each year to headline the festival.

accompanying the ramblers are fellswoop and the keystone mountain boys of lehigh valley along with the bloody springs bluegrass band.

marc silver & the stonethrowers, recently having played the mainstage at the philadelphia folk festival in schwenksville this year, will also be joining the bluegrass lineup at pickfest.

an open mic will run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“kids are welcomed and encouraged to sign up,” bower said, knowing the nearby lyons fiddle festival brings many young bluegrass musicians out of the woodwork each fall.

bower explained that they take a lot of inspiration with pickfest from the recently held lyons fiddle festival, hoping to possibly reel in some of its talented performers across all age groups.

“hank and i are trying to model our festival off of a lot of the strong points of the lyons fiddle festival,” bower said.

pickfest takes to life up at the crest of the hill in the orchard on the back of a 1952 flatbed truck, bower said.

the front of the makeshift stage is lined with hay, and kids roll around in it as bluegrass belts from frecon farms’ antique red truck.

( three photographs above - by karl mcwherter )

also at pickfest will be an on-site serenity center, hillbilly bbq, clayote, carriage rides, hay rides, possibly a cider garden, and more.

but of course, with apples in abundance, the pick your own apples angle of the day is the autumn pull here, with apples for sale by the pound.

available varieties are macintosh, gala, jonathan, red & golden delicious, rome, fuji, stayman winesap, and the ever-puckering granny smith.

pumpkins along with what’s left of the pear batches of barlett, red bartlett, canal red, and bosc may also still be ready for the picking as the season trails on into crisp days.

bower describes pickfest as “the perfect experience” in this berks county backdrop, with the hearty and alphabetical juxtaposition of apples and bluegrass. 

additional pickfest sponsors include everything postal and prout's jollyview farm.

tickets are $5 ahead of time and $8 the day of the event, with a rain-date of october 16th.

frecon farms is located at 501 south reading avenue in boyertown. visit them on the web for more information about pickfest.

(freebie alert ! comment on this story to enter for a chance to win the manatawny creek ramblers album meet me by the moonlight

please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends sunday, october 10th. good luck !)