By Robin Jovanovich

Life is like a well-designed garden, at least for Anne Mottola, who is rooted in creativity and spreads wonder wherever she sows.

Teaching and gardening are in her blood and she figured out how to enjoy careers in both. At Osborn School, she has not only taught, but also created the school garden. She holds a certificate in gardening from the New York Botanical Garden, where she works from March through early November and instills a love of gardens and gardening in young children, generally second graders, after school.

“Part of my job at the Botanical Garden is to create lesson plans,” said Mottola. The more she wrote about the benefits of insects and herbs, starting from seed, harvesting techniques, and incredible edibles, the more she thought about writing a series of children’s books on gardening that included activities.

With the cost of safety glasses for viewing a rare solar eclipse soaring sky high, what seemed like half the summer population of Rye began lining up around the Village Green by 10 a.m. August 21. Stargazers from 8 to 80 waited in hope of obtaining one of the 250 pair of glasses offered by Rye Free Reading Room and its generous donors. By zero-hour, 2:44 p.m., nobody seemed disappointed by being surrounded by a dusk-like, smoky shade of light.

–Tom McDermott

By Paul Hicks

Pullquote: “We are not the first Americans to witness our political parties mired down in vitriolic political warfare.”

While delving recently into the period from 1776 to 1815, I was struck by certain episodes in our nation’s history, which bear remarkable resemblance to a number of current news stories:

*On July 9, 1776, upon hearing the newly adopted Declaration of Independence publicly proclaimed, 40 American soldiers and sailors under the command of Capt. Oliver Brown stole down to the Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan under cover of night. They lashed ropes around the gilded statue of King George III, pulled until their ropes broke and then pulled again.

By Peter Jovanovich

When one undergoes a double lung transplant, as I did in 2004, one of the unexpected side effects is an aching sense of isolation. It feels like one is swimming in a sea of healthy people, who do not face the grim statistics of a five-year life span, punctuated by illness and pain, and who will not founder against the tide of fatal rejection or infection.

And then, one day I met Donna Hogben through a mutual friend, and that pool of aloneness evaporated. A longtime resident of Rye, who had a life-threatening lung disease, Donna was gathering facts in order to make an informed decision whether or not to have a transplant. She had heard about my transplant experience, and, typical of Donna, took action by calling me to find out more.

We met in Patisserie Salzburg; and, at first, Donna was all business. “What are the risks? How bad is the medication? What about the side effects?” Eventually, I interjected: “Considering the alternative is lying 6 feet under, the other stuff is not that important.”

Donna smiled and said wryly, “You have a point,” and we were immediate friends.

Before her transplant, and for 11 years after, my wife Robin and I went to plays and movies and dinners with Donna and her husband George, became friends with her children Julie and George, and lived to see our grandson Peter play with Julie’s daughter Isabel.

We laughed – about anything worth laughing about. We laughed about the silly euphemisms that hospitals use, about the farcical sides of political correctness, and the idiocies of modern life. When Donna served as board president of the Blind Brook Lodge Association and I served on the City Council, we laughed about the out-of-this-world demands we would receive. We laughed uproariously when a woman said to Robin: “I don’t know if I should tell you this, but your husband has been seen regularly having coffee with another woman at Patisserie Salzburg!”

And always, there was Donna’s and my unspoken understanding. We experienced the ups and downs of transplant life together — the crises in the hospital, the good “numbers” and the bad, indeed, all of it.

These lines of dialogue from Joseph Conrad’s short story, “The Secret Sharer,” echo our friendship.

“As long as you understand,” he whispered. “But, course you do. It’s a great satisfaction to have got somebody to understand. You seem to have been there on purpose. It’s very wonderful.”

Donna and I together beat the odds – living far longer than predicted. And then in July, she came down with pneumonia, and, within days, was in serious trouble. On visiting her in the ICU at Columbia Presbyterian, it was apparent she was embarked on the downward journey of every lung transplant survivor.

Julie graciously allowed me a few minutes alone with Donna, who was sedated. I wept. I wept for this wonderful, generous, loving woman, for all the people she helped, for her love of her family. And, I wept for myself. My secret sharer was passing away.

Madonna Jeanne Hogben, born in Buffalo on March 27, 1940, died on August 10, 2017.

<“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”>

By Robin Jovanovich

Christian Miller, Rye’s City Planner these last 17 years, is a man of vision and of patience. He knows how long it can take to implement the best of plans — the just finished downtown Rye streetscape improvement took over eight years, for example. There were a number of bumps along the way.

His energies are now focused on a new City of Rye Comprehensive Master Plan, which will replace the one completed in 1985. The venerable piece of work encouraged historic preservation, recommended a shuttle bus for seniors, proposed creating parking lots on Locust Avenue to “satisfy the need for additional parking,” and assumed that “extensive demolition and redevelopment will be unacceptable because of desired low density levels.”

Community involvement is an important component of any long-term plan, Miller emphasized. “It’s not like selling glasses for an eclipse, but I’m hoping to excite the community. This is their plan, and should reflect their values.”

An updated plan must consider trends and demographic needs. According to Miller, Rye has a declining Millennials’ population and a growing number of seniors who want to age-in-place. To attract and keep residents of all ages requires a nuanced plan.

“Planners used to be futurists,” remarked Miller, “but decades ago no one was including the presence of large SUVs in their plans” — much less the disappearance of pay phones and brick-and-mortar retail establishments.

Part of any new plan, said Miller, will be pedestrian safety improvements, enhanced recreation, sustainability, and additional parking for the growing number of part-time employees who work at Rye’s many restaurants, fitness centers, and service businesses.

“The biggest industry in Rye is home development,” said Miller, who believes that is one of the issues that will draw the community in most. “A master plan should be a guide to land use now and in the future.”

The City’s 12-member Master Plan steering committee, along with a consultant, will be interviewing every City staff member, and is hoping to hear from every corner of the community.

“People like to talk about their community, and this is a positive opportunity to talk about the future of our community,” said Miller.

The City will hold the first of three public workshops on the Master Plan September 26 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Meanwhile, get involved by signing up at

By Suzanna Keith

It was mid-August, and our first family trip to Europe was coming to a close. After an exciting Disney cruise with our three children that took the four of us to Naples, Florence, and Rome, we had gone on to Madrid and Barcelona and then enjoyed several delightful beach days at Sitges, a quaint resort town about 30 minutes northwest of Barcelona. I decided we should spend our last afternoon in Spain in Barcelona, where we planned to visit the Picasso Museum and do some shopping.

So after a fun morning at Sausalito Beach, one of the nicest beaches in Sitges, my two youngest and I drove down to Barcelona in our rental car, leaving my oldest son behind so that he could begin to do some things to get ready to return to college at the end of the summer.

The drive on the B-10 Motorway was quick and very easy, and we found a good parking spot not far from the Picasso Museum in La Ribera, an older section of the city. First, we decided to hit a few shoe stores in the Gothic Quarter that had been recommended by friends before we made our way over to the museum. As we neared the museum, though, we could see that the ticket line was around the block. We were told that some of the museum workers were striking that day, so everyone was forced to wait, and the clerk at the ticket window urged us to come back another time.

Not surprisingly, my 14-year-old and 12-year-old were only slightly disappointed. They really wanted to visit Las Ramblas again, their favorite shopping area in the heart of Barcelona that is anchored by a nearly mile-long pedestrian mall jammed with shops and sidewalk cafes. Since it was already late afternoon, my thought was that we could grab a snack along the way before hitting the streets and shops and then heading back to Sitges to pack for our flight home the following day.

We strolled toward La Ramblas, window-shopping on the way, and on the spur of the moment decided to pop into a Desigual outlet on the Plaça de Sant Jaume, a square in the center of the old city, to buy flip-flops for our daughter.

After that, our search for green tea matcha and a clean and free bathroom took us to a Starbucks on Carrer de Ferran, around the corner from La Ramblas. While we waited in line for our food, I struck up a conversation with another American woman and her teenaged daughter. They turned out to be from Michigan, and when I found out that the daughter was about to begin her first year at the University of Michigan, I was able to give her the names of some friends from Rye who were also going there. The three of us continued to talk, but then my children started to get very antsy, so I ended our chat and we exchanged phone numbers. In a short moment I would realize how fortuitous these slight delays would prove to be.