The Cookie Lady

There’s a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen table, and there’s an opera book on an antique music stand in the living room. They have only one thing in common: Renee Heitmann, baker, singer and believer in the goodwill power of small, random gestures like giving out chocolate chip cookies, which she does every week. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Renee is a singer and a baker. “I get an extreme sense of joy from the act of baking and sharing that,” says Renee, who details her sweet goodie-bag giveaways in her blog, “Single …

Continue Reading →

The Ice Riders

When the bell trills, Jet Thomason, a tree-tall Texan, adjusts the cowboy hat that’s the color of his first name and jumps on the bicycle like he’s trying to tame a bucking bronco. He twists the curly ends of his handlebar mustache, plants his hands firmly on the handlebars and pedals his fancy cowboy boots for all they’re worth. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Ice Riders was Jet’s cool idea. Before you know it, chains chug, wheels wind, gears grind and in the colorful cart behind him a cheese-wheel chunk of ice is shaved, its shivering …

Continue Reading →

The Different Drummer

There’s a Conga by the kitchen table. Tall and handsome, it stands next to a mushroom-shaped dumbek and a gloriously rotund davul. Richard Khuzami, whose smoldering eyes match his shoe-polish-black hair, has all these drums at his fingertips, yet when he wants to pound home a point, he raps on his shin. Pop, pop, pop; it sounds like a bat smacking a baseball. Richard’s a lot of things, but he’s no bionic man. He pulls up his jeans, revealing that his lower legs are encased in hard-plastic braces. They make him walk like Oz’s Tin Man …

Continue Reading →

The Parents’ Primary Partner

The strollers are starting to stack up. But it’s your ears, not your eyes, that tell you this. The padded playroom at Long Island City Kids is packed with one, two, three, OMG, it’s closer to one, two, three dozen tykes who are letting down their hair by shrieking at the top of their little lungs. Irina Rokhberg, an unflappable woman with sky-blue eyes and long red hair, smiles at their riotous racket. This is exactly what she had in mind when she established the children’s enrichment center five years ago to strengthen budding bodies and brains. …

Continue Reading →