29 February 2012

( carry your heart-smart footfalls to the seventh annual boyertown wellness fair )

when: saturday, 31 march, 2012—
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

where: the boyertown area senior high school, 
120 north monroe street, boyertown, pa 19512

the best part ? it’s free. quite free.

a celebrated highlight:
running of the bears school walking competition 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.

for more information, contact
carla haydt @ 215.292.5866

this event is proudly presented by 
the boyertown area community wellness council.
  • free family fun 
  • healthy snacks, mmm ! great demonstrations 
  • kid-friendly activities, including an obstacle course & moon bounce 
  • lots of door prizes !!!

( boyertown paranormal: an investigation at durango’s saloon )

by jennifer hetrick

now into their second year since organizing, members of boyertown paranormal have found themselves conducting investigations both local and regional. a prominent spot in town where they’ve studied subtleties is at durango’s saloon at 120 east philadelphia avenue.

restaurant owners pete and sandy haberle asked the group to see what they could pinpoint after a slew of odd happenings continually irked those who work on the main floor as well as those who rent apartments above.

the building is known as one of the closest to the rhoads opera house where a devastating fire trapped 171 people indoors on a blustery day in january of 1908. what is today durango’s saloon, among other surrounding buildings, served as a temporary morgue. following the fire, bodies were housed in the cold of the basement.

other less than cheery stories have also been told, over the years, about incidents of deaths in the building’s history. this included the local legend of a hanging.

since buying the 1847-built brick-lined structure years ago, a few difficult to explain situations have stirred around those who work there. sandy once sliced lemons, limes, and oranges and pushed the lengthy container of them back to the customer end of the bar. after she went into the kitchen, she heard a crash and found the citrus pieces and the container on the floor. in that same 15-minute span, pete placed two full cases of beer on the bar top, with only a small portion hanging over the edge. when he left the room briefly, he heard a crash and came back to find the cases smashed, on the floor—behind sandy who heard it, too, but had her back turned when it happened, with no one else there.

in another instance, a bartender noticed her purse fly out from a shelf, onto the floor. she picked it up and slid it all the way to the back of the shelf, which had a lip at the edge, and a non-slip grip mat, also. when she walked away, she heard the purse hurtle toward the floor once more.  

and a woman renting an apartment on the third floor says she often hears footsteps late at night, when her roommate is sleeping, and sometimes even while watching a movie with him—although he never hears those same sounds that plague her ears, he says.

boyertown paranormal brought in amber anderson, a new jersey medium unfamiliar with berks county history, to see what she could pick up on during a tour through the building. 

“she sensed the dead bodies and the smell of burning in the basement—and that gold teeth and jewelry were stolen,” investigator gary schlegel says, noting that the group had heard of rumors about thievery from those who burned in the rhoads opera house fire. 

she also picked up on the struggle of a tenant dying, not long ago. pete and sandy both reacted emotionally to this, as they were very close to the tenant during his time renting from them; he had also worked at the restaurant, in the past.

one of the only intelligent voices perceived, after reviewing sound recordings, came as someone saying “not yet” when gary asked other paranormal members if they wanted to go outside for a break and some breaths of fresh air.

“they definitely have something going on there, but not enough to say it’s haunted,” says investigator kevin hojecki.

“i think they have a lot of residuals in there," gary adds. residual hauntings are said to be those of spirits who repeat the same actions again and again and don't seem to know that anyone alive, from today, is in the same space.

with so many small noise factors around even when everyone is trying to be quiet, and some energy-actions so challenging to detect in the first place, gary and kevin admit that it’s very difficult to conclusively affirm much. and realizing that evidence of video and sound footage can be easily manipulated or misinterpreted, without exact clearness, the group strives to nitpick with their findings, always aiming for what’s rare.

to reach out to the investigators—seeing and hearing their findings—search for them on facebook.

28 February 2012

( an eye into encaustics )

by sydney hetrick

lisa gauker, a freshly funky artist who calls blandon her home, spends time laboring away in her own studio but also teaches in the 19547 zip code. a lot of her magic happens at clay on main, which is nuzzled into the main street of the oley valley.  at the nonprofit known for its tenacious and heartfelt support of all sorts of art-inspired fun for the insides, she teaches, paints, makes jewelry and ceramics, and dabbles her weekly minutes passionately in many an artistic endeavor, making her mark in the berks county art-swept landscape. as a young girl, she found herself “inadvertently drawn to art,” she says, as her face turns up with a glowing smile.
inspiration arises for gauker through a sort of biological thought process. she recalls a time in her life whilst veterinary medicine nearly wooed her heart and intrigued her intellect. when gauker’s art teacher joked that she’d never be happy with a cow-birthing lifestyle, she decided to attend the pennsylvania college of art and design in lancaster, instead. there, she earned a bachelor of fine art degree, honing her skills all the more at the academic level.
gauker’s art tends to gravitate toward small subject matters. sometimes, an insect will crawl into her mind and make its way into her artwork as the subject. once in a while, she’ll throw a real (and really dead !) bug itself into the composition. her old roots of veterinary-intrigue are reflected in her art, since it’s often related to animal behavior and biological processes. she titles herself a “process-oriented person,” explaining that her journey is more important than the destination mindset. to gauker, her process is often more crucial and integral than the subject, in the end.

( copper pods, encaustic, mixed media on masonite
photo courtesy of lisa gauker )

( cut short, encaustic, charcoal, mixed media on paper
photo courtesy of lisa gauker )
by now, she’s been at clay on main for three years. her time there began soon after she bumped into the nonprofit’s owner, dolores kirschner, following graduation from art school.  back in senior high, she’d helped out periodically at clay on main, but once she came back to the region, post-academia, she knew she felt ready to instruct. tuesdays, she says, she coaches on the basics of hand-building with clay. but, gauker jokes that she’s more of a “sounding board” for ideas with her students because many of them, she vocalizes, are rather skilled and don’t actually need much assistance in their art-ways.
and when it comes to her own work, it pours to life in phases, she explains. this year, she’s into printmaking, while last year, 50 to 75 percent of her works were encaustics. gauker stumbled upon the persuasion of encaustics in her college days—essentially, they are brought about through layerings of wax used to draw attention to an image. gauker loved the ethereal-organic appearance of this art style.
compelled with a sudden theory, she wanted to find a visual approach for presenting the imagery of industry. “i tried to humanize the idea of an abandoned building and the life it once had,” she reveals.

( skin no. 6, encaustic and ink on paper
photo courtesy of lisa gauker )

( skin no. 1, encaustic and ink on paper
photo courtesy of lisa gauker )
“the imagery is drawn onto paper, either from observation or a photo,” gauker says, with the coal belt in schuylkill county as a large part of her inspiration. “the wax builds from the drawing up. the encaustics i do are normally working off of paper because i like the translucency the wax gives the paper when it soaks in.”
the drawings themselves are ink, graphite, and sometimes charcoal.
not only was lisa thrilled with the way wax allowed for “romanticizing the industrial landscape” but, she also beams, “it smells great, too !”  for her encaustics, she uses unfiltered, unbleached wax—more specifically, beeswax and dammar crystals. when she’s lucky, she says, she goes to a man at the leesport farmers’ market and buys a wax supply. he isn’t just a guy with beeswax, though; he’s a beekeeper, and therefore, this wax has actual bee-body parts in the very meat of it, bringing back into the picture an unexpected connection to gauker’s old penchant for biological angles of life wrapped into art.  she is even pursuing beekeeping herself now, though at a novice level.
gauker heats up the wax in a skillet, applying it often with different sizes of brushes. “from there, the wax can be inscribed, melted with a heat gun, scraped back, painted on, and fused, then with more layers applied,” she says. “color is added between layers with oil paints and pigmented encaustic medium.”
encaustics, gauker explains, take their history from the egyptians and romans, as they practiced the art form in their days long ago. but encaustics have had a resurgence, she notes. “people are tired of traditional painting.” this bee-spent medium certainly re-livens creativity’s makings, a good pinch.  her works are more than just flat-set paint on a tired canvas. they seem to have a life of their own, as the wax drips appear almost stopped in time.

01 February 2012

( massage-- in an introspective light )

by jennifer hetrick

a near fatal car accident eventually led judith gabriel to a new career away from her several decades as an english teacher at hamburg area high school. instead of helping young people with the gift of appreciating language, literature, and speaking, she switched into a mode of lending a literal hand (or two, actually) in allowing people of all ages to communicate better with their own physicality through the massage and bodywork expertise that saved her from a lot of chronic pain and discomfort in her own life, years ago.

a broken back and whiplash brought gabriel to know a massage therapist named dorothy blessing. after meeting, blessing told gabriel that her vertebrae were desperately out of alignment from the harsh accident and that she needed to see a reputable chiropractor to correct the issue that was affecting so much of her quality of life. as time went on, with the shift in how she treated her body, improvement began to reign, wholly, in fact. the more massage she had, the less chiropractic she needed.

knowing how the different modalities of bodily care had brought her back into the first decently pain-free part of her life after suffering for so long, and once a person in the field told her she had serious potential in helping others, gabriel took coursework to receive her certification through the former pennsylvania school of muscle therapy in king of prussia. with 25 years of teaching english under her belt, she has 23 years on top of that as a licensed and certified bodywork therapist.

gabriel operates out of alsace township in berks county, but she practices efforts well beyond massage. she also focuses on acutherapy, rebirthing breath work, reiki, reflexology, and intuitive bodywork.

“we are chemical, electrical, mechanical  machines, producing  byproducts like lactic acid—which can be toxic if not eliminated from the body,” she says about life-stresses built under skin.

“it’s an exchange of energy and cells staying in the body, appearing  as congestion,” she continues. 
what many people call “knots” in muscle-areas are almost like  little rocks or pebbles, she says, in tactile depiction.

but gabriel reveals that the term doesn’t quite live up to the reality of what muscles are coping with. instead, she describes the problematic spots as continual states of contraction brought on by different factors of the body falling out of its healthier form—life’s snowballing stressors from all sorts of starting points.

“muscles listen to your thoughts,” she explains. “the body is doing what it’s supposed to do. stress and thoughts create emotions, causing a physical reaction. it’s a physical feedback loop. and whenever the mind thinks something, the body reacts.”

this would explain why some people seem to feel like they’re in perpetual states of anxiety and can’t get away from the heavy way of weighted stress, not realizing that they are trapping themselves in this repetition of misery by their own behavior.

given how much massage and related forms of alternative therapy have bumped up the quality of gabriel’s days for years now, she says she has trouble accepting when people act as though massage is a luxury because from her experience, it is a natural part of what people owe to themselves to balance out the stiffening details of existing today, especially with the fast-paced habit of how so many never really stop to take time for themselves to just breathe or even relax, intentionally and mindfully.

( this table is a birthing place of goodness
photo courtesy of judith gabriel )

“the amish and mennonites  have always done massage and chiropractic because they don’t want to get sick,” gabriel elaborates about how certain groups of people have a lot of reverence for health-hugging approaches to a better life.

and one element people need to remember after a massage is to drink plenty of water, as the act of a massage dislodges toxins—hovering hard within muscles—dumping them into the bloodstream. drinking lots of water assists in flushing out the toxins. but if water is not sipped in serious amounts after a massage, the body is likely to ache sorely because of those toxins ache sorely because of those toxins staying locked inside, jailed to re-poison it.

and for those who either can’t afford massage or for their own reasons don’t make appointments, gabriel passionately suggests at least doing something positive for the body and mind, in a physical effort.

“swimming often in a backyard pool or doing yoga will help,” gabriel says. hiking, taking long baths, and any kind of exercise are other examples of ways to gift de-stressing. “if you feel tight or tense, pain, or anxiety, that all becomes suppressed in the body.”

gabriel points out that depression is something strongly impacted by massage. “we forget, in our culture, how important touch is. and massage is really good for the elderly as passive exercise, too.”

“when people explore their bodies and themselves, it makes their lives rich,” gabriel adds, noting that a number of her clients have told her that over time under her care, they’ve started to realize and understand more about who they are as people, recognizing particulars in themselves that they never gleaned before her massage efforts spilled into their days.

also reach gabriel by phone at 484.525.6563. online bookings are available, and a detailed listing of all her different approaches to bodywork are ready for eye-scooping on her website.

( cup it up: reading coffee roasters keeps on lifting )

by marian wolbers

– coffee is personal –

for 23 years, albert van maanen has been pouring worldly coffee beans into his huge roasters. a connoisseur of the delightful drink that drives the masses, and a master of temperature control, van maanen divulges a key to his company’s success: “the art is knowing when to stop the roaster.”
as the beans dry and shrink, he gauges their roastedness. then, at a magical moment, he calls it ready: “let ‘er drop !”
says the holland-born maestro, “when you become a roaster, that’s when you get into the really good tastes.” unlike other roasters, who tend to over-roast, van maanen prides himself on knowing the preparation needs of each varietal (the coffees distinctive to each coffee-growing environment—from guatemala to rwanda) and each background coffee (the base coffee beans used straight or for blending into flavored sorts, like vanilla or hazelnut).
“we have the best coffee—we are the top of the top. there is no better,” van maanen asserts. coffee reviewers agree: this company has quietly evolved into a long, elegant river of top-quality, yet very affordable brew-taste.
reading coffee roasters’ newest marketing incursion is office coffee service, fueling local businesses—including reading hospital—with freshly-roasted drinks. (what better of a palate-rich perk ?) restaurants and other vendors offer it as well. at reading china & glass, says van maanen, “we’re the top-selling coffee.”

( to some, coffee is nothing short of love
all photos by marian wolbers

( at reading coffee roasters, browned beans so alluring 
to the senses that they might as well be magic—
make a home in stretches of rich aroma, starting 
at the hands of albert van maanen & lisa  inmon) 
lisa inmon, who manages inside sales, adds that their coffees can be custom-packaged for fundraisers. example: the delaware valley golden retriever rescue sells coffee year-round, adorned with their own puppy-mission label.


on a recent day, burundi was the brew on tap, imparting its supple, satisfyingly round and slightly fruity essence, with a linger-effect that’s both sweet and bittersweet. visitors are invited to sample a cup, making it doubly enticing to buy direct. ask where the beans are from, and you’ll get the national geographic version: burundi comes from central africa, and earned its hearty start as a super-coffee when belgian colonists planted arabica beans along the green, mountainous slopes.
jamaican blue mountain, the caribbean queen of piping hot dinner drinks, is also available, and so is kona at special times—“we buy directly from hawaii, from a farm,” says van maanen. “certain coffees are standards here, like ethiopian and kenyan, for example—but sometimes even they become unavailable.” when that happens, the roaster steers people to similar flavors, aromas, and body. the “tanzaniaaaan” can stand in for kenyan, for example.
brazilian, peruvian, costa rican, french roast—the list is alluringly long. lately, van maanen and his wife rosemary have been starting their day with a half-panamanian, half sumatra decaf.
coffee is personal—so the staff prepares whatever works best for each person: high test, half-caf, decaf—and all sorts of flavored blends, from very vanilla to their high-kicking highlander.

here’s how to ride this coffee river:

  • call lisa inmon for office delivery details, at 610.582.224
  • see www.readingcoffee.com
  • visit 316 west main street, birdsboro, weekdays, 9-4.30 or saturdays, 10-2