Archive | February, 2021

Finding a silver lining in Covid-19

28 Feb

This last year has been awful. There’s no two ways about it. Covid-19 has brought sickness, death, separation and financial ruin to millions.

Our world has been put through the wringer. But while it’s really hard to see past all the terrible things that have happened and are still happening, if you look closely enough, it’s possible to see some positives that have come out of this experience.

I was chatting about this the other day with the nurse at school. In a normal year, children would often come to her office complaining of stomach bugs or with random (non-Covid) fevers. But thanks to the fact that everyone is wearing masks, she’s seeing those routine viruses a whole lot less. Kids are just not getting sick as much.

And that goes for us adults, too. I’ve usually contracted two or three colds by this point in the school year, but I haven’t gotten sick once. It’s not unusual for a stomach bug to run through the family as well, but not this year. Masks have reduced transmission, and since I’m not seeing family members as much, so they can’t infect me.

I realized there must be other ways in which our lives have changed for the better as a result of Covid. Here’s what I came up with, and maybe you can add some more:

  • Zoom. Like most people, I was totally unfamiliar with this program until the pandemic. But it quickly became an outstanding tool to stay connected with friends (like my regular Friday night virtual euchre game), family (playing Jackbox with family from as far away as Texas), and old school buddies (my husband’s old college friends’ happy hours). Over Christmas I also connected via Zoom with family members I hadn’t seen in years. None of this would have happened if we didn’t have a virtual way to gather.
  • Homeless animals are much happier. Many animal shelters were cleaned out by families who wanted to adopt a pet during shutdown.
  • We’ve rediscovered the outdoors. Shutdown meant that we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves aside from going bowling or to the movies or pubs. So we started walking and hiking and riding our bikes.
  • We’ve reconnected with our neighbors. Now everyone says hi when they pass by on their after-dinner walks. This was especially true in the early months of the pandemic. Everyone was just overjoyed to see other faces, even if you did have to move out into the street to pass by.
  • We’ve rediscovered hobbies. I have been reading more books and doing more jigsaw puzzles.
  • I learned the word “smize.” It means a playful expression with your eyes, or smiling with your eyes. We all do it, but now we’ve learned to recognize it, and know what to call it.
  • Pollution is down a lot. I read that the canals in Venice are clear, the reduction of pollution in China has saved thousands of lives, carbon monoxide emissions are down significantly, and the air is so clear near the Himalayas that the mountains are visible for the first time in decades.
  • We’ve developed a newfound respect for our essential workers, something which has been sorely lacking.

But I think the best thing that has happened in this last year is that we’ve all increased our generosity and connection to community. We’re supporting local businesses and restaurants. We’re donating to food cupboards and reaching out to community members who are struggling financially. We’re dropping off care packages, offering to shop for our older neighbors, checking on the health and welfare of family members. We’re looking after one another.

Basically, we’ve rediscovered our sense of community. When this pandemic finally leaves us all for good, let’s hope that sense of community does not. We must never forget this time when we really needed one another.

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My updated Webster bucket list. How many can you check off?

26 Feb

A few weeks ago, I introduced you all to my Webster Bucket List. As I explained in that first blog, I first developed the list more than 10 years ago, shortly after I began this blog, and was just getting to really know Webster.

That orginal list included more than 80 items from Webster and near-Webster (Penfield). It was pretty comprehensive list, but very out of date. It decided that it desperately needed an overhaul.

I started by throwing out some of the items which were no longer possible (businesses were closed, or events no longer happen, for example). Then I added several new ones, including many reader suggestions and others I came up with myself.

The final list still includes about 80 items, three pages of Webster and near-Penfield places you really should visit, or events that you really should attend. I toyed with the idea of including some more businesses on there (like the Waffle House and the new Cobblestone on Main restaurant), but if I started doing that, it would be tough to leave any one out. And of course the list can never be complete — there’s just too much to see and do in Webster. So if you think of something I should add, drop me an email.

You can download a .pdf of the list blow. Print it off and see how many things you can check off!

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Webster community mailbag

24 Feb

I’d like to start today’s mailbag with a few items from our friends to the south.

Penfield Girl Scout Troop 60060 is holding a drive-through food drive for the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf on March 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at 1618 Jackson Rd. Click on the image to the left to see the items they can and cannot accept.

And I received this note from the First Baptist Church of Penfield, whose monthly Flapjack Community Breakfasts I promote regularly in my blog.

Thanks to the pandemic, these events have been shelved for the time being, but the church itself is still open.

They write,

Our doors are open, and we are holding worship services via Zoom, and in person (with Covid protocols in place.) We miss seeing our community at our monthly flapjack breakfast, but we will be back in the kitchen as soon as we are able! Think of us as you flip your own pancakes, and remember our local charities. Join us Sunday mornings at 9:30, and we hope to see you soon!

First Baptist Church of Penfield is located at 1862 Penfield Rd. Call 585-586-2876.

Now here’s something fun. If you missed the Webster Public Library’s Egg Drop Challenge, which the library live-streamed last Saturday, you might want to check out the video, which has been posted to the library’s Facebook page.

Earlier this month the library challenged families to build a structure from a set of provided materials (including straws, string, twist ties, rubber bands and the like) which would protect an egg when it was dropped from the roof of the library. (Thanks to the weather, the event had to be moved inside to a tall ladder, but it all worked out.)

The final video is less than 30 minutes long, and it’s quite interesting to see all the different designs the competitors used to create their protective packaging. I’m not going to spoil the result, but I can tell you the competition came down to three designs, none of which cracked at all in the first two rounds. When they were dropped from the highest level, however, only one emerged victorious.

Click here to see all the excitement for yourself.

In other news from the library, their Seed Library will be opening again on March 1. We know everyone is looking forward to spring, so this is an excellent opportunity to get a head start by perusing the selection and borrowing some vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

Also available that day will be “take ‘n make” projects for adults and children, a table of garden books for sale selected from the Lobby Sale area, and information about local garden clubs. Feel free to bring your own seeds that you’ve been saving to donate to the Seed Library.

The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd. in Webster, at the back of the plaza.

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Seniors welcomed back to school in a “bright” way

22 Feb

Our Webster Schroeder and Webster Thomas high school seniors got a nice surprise this morning when they entered their buildings and saw each one of their names posted on the wall, near banners celebrating their bright futures.

The banners were created by Webster Thomas art teacher Todd Stahl, and hung by parent volunteers near the entrances of both schools. The students’ names were written individually on small squares of paper, along with the school’s logo, and plastered together into huge displays welcoming the seniors back to school after the February break.

Thanks to Stacie Peters for all these photos!

“We wanted to surprise the kids when they (got) back to school on Monday,” wrote Schroeder PTSA chair Stacie Peters. “We are hopeful this will be super exciting for all of them to see once they return, pretty cool to see all the names together!”

She added, “We are super thankful to Mr. Benz, Mr. Widor, and Mrs. Saiff for all their help and support in all that we are doing for the Class of 2021. We cannot thank Todd Stahl enough for his time in creating such a fun and unique banner for each school.”

Special thanks also to Webster Thomas teaching assistant Tara Nielander, who wrote all of the Thomas senior names.

The recognition is part of an ongoing program designed by the Schroeder and Thomas PTSAs. Once a month through June, the PTSAs are surprising each senior with a fun gift or special event, planned for on or around the 21st of each month (in honor of 2021). Every 2021 graduate at Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, whether remote, hybrid, GOAL or other, is included. The program began in January, when each senior was presented with a small baggie of Hershey’s kisses, complete with an inspsirational message. You can read more about that special delivery in my blog here.

An update on Bella’s Bumbas

20 Feb
A peek inside the Bella’s Bumbas workshop, where new chairs await shipping.

It’s been a while since we last visited Bella’s Bumbas. This is the incredible Webster-based grassroots organization which for almost four years has been improving the lives of children with mobility issues, not just here in town, but all over the globe. But rest assured, they’re still going strong and recently received some national attention.

Bella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. To date they’ve shipped more than 1600 chairs to children in 30 countries, recently adding Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuwait to the list, and they often adapt the chairs for each child’s individual needs.

As with most businesses, COVID has presented some challenges to their operation. But the pandemic hasn’t erased the need for these special chairs, so Rebecca and Marty remain dedicated to their cause, and continue to expand their services as much and as often as they can. All while being part-time caregivers for five of their grandchildren who are only attending school half-days.

I received this update from Rebecca the other day:

What a crazy year it has been thru Covid. We miss those of our volunteers that are social distancing for safety, and look forward to the whole team being together again. We’ve had some of our volunteers (Tom, Ron and George) rotate times and days to keep “bodies” at a minimum in the shop.

We’ve been shipping a few chairs directly to other countries (at great expense but worth the SMILES ) … we’ve been very blessed with the donations still coming in, and new contacts. We are well over 1600 chairs and have some amazing new businesses helping us in various ways making some of our specialized parts.

They’ve also recently partnered with Indiana-based Hearts in Motion, who will be helping them deliver several chairs to Guatemala.

Also, in a very exciting recent development, Bella’s Bumbas has been prominently featured in an article published this month in Brain and Life magazine, an official publication of the American Academy of Neurology. The article addresses how mobility devices, like the Bumba chairs, can benefit children’s brain health.

This is not news for anyone who’s taken the time to view the videos of smiling, mobile children on Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page. But it’s nice to see that confirmed by such as well-respected national publication.

How you can help

Bella’s Bumbas continues to ask parents to pay for shipping, but that’s difficult for some families these days. Plus. shipping internationally is very expensive, and some of those costs often have to be covered. So cash donations would be gratefully accepted, and would also help purchase parts which are not donated by local businesses.

If you’d like to help out, visit their GoFundMe page, where you can also read more about their background and continued efforts.  

They could also use boxes. The perfect sizes are 50 cm. x 45 cm. x 28 cm. (Rebecca uses two of these for the small chairs); 28″ x 20″ x 14″, and 29″ x 14″ x 24″ are great for the large chairs. If you’re getting Amazon deliveries regularly, you might also have the boxes they need; the ones that say P5 on the bottom are perfect (25.75″ x 20.75″ x 16.5″).

So if you have any boxes that are the right size, and would like to donate them, please connect connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page or email

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Here’s an awesome way to support our teachers

19 Feb

I think you’ll agree with me that our teachers are superheroes.

I mean, recall that last March, on a week’s notice, they were asked to finish up the year by going completely online. Even this school year, they’ve been juggling Covid restrictions, remote lessons, half days or half weeks, doing their best to deliver as much learning as possible. And given all those challenges, I think they’ve been doing an amazing job.

So now more than ever, we should show them how much we appreciate them, and throw as much support behind them as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to join the Webster Central PTSA and — better yet — get involved as a volunteer.

The PTSA has sent out an urgent request for anyone interested in filling one of several open committee and executive board positions for the 2021-2022 school year. Committee positions include PACE, Community Arts Day, Reflections competition, PTSA Calendar, Recognition (Oak Tree and other district-wide recognition programs), Grants, Advocacy and Programming.

All of these committee lead positions are OPEN for the coming school year. Plus, on the executive board, both co-presidents, 1st VP (elementary), 3rd VP (communications) and secretary positions are open.

The need is great. Please consider lending a hand. For more information you can email

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The museum’s Websterscapes gallery is open

17 Feb

The Webster Museum’s brand-new user-generated photo gallery, Websterscapes, is now open, and already features some stunning images.

Here’s your chance to show off your photography skills, and put them on display for all to see. Get out there are take some landscape photos, then send one or two of your favorites to the museum by emailing Or if you’ve captured one of our town’s beautiful landscapes on canvas, send along a photo of that.

You can also upload your submissions to the Webster Museum website. Please remember to identify the location of each photo.

Photos will be added regularly, so visit the gallery often to see the beautiful townscapes. Then stay a while and poke around the rest of the website. I say a while, because I just did that myself and definitely went down a rabbithole checking out several of the features in Phil Marr’s new blog section. Of particular interest is an old video explaining how a dial phone operates. I found it fun. And having seen at Community Arts Day how kids have no idea how to operate a dial phone, this might be something you should show them.

The website also has a section just for kids, which is updated regularly. This is another great resources to help keep kids entertained this week, and they won’t even realize they’re learning something.

Check it all out at the Webster Museum’s website.

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Webster Rec will host family fun snow day

16 Feb

We kind of lucked out the first few months of winter, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before we got any measureable snow. Now that we do, we might as well take advantage of it. Here’s a good place to start:

The Webster Parks and Recreation Department will host a Family Winter Fun Day on Saturday Feb. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rec Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive.

All sorts of family-friendly fun-in-the-snow events are planned, including

  • ice skating at the rec’s outdoor rink (bring your own skates)
  • an outdoor ice fishing game,
  • a polar bear station where kids can learn about polar bears, make a craft and read a polar bear book
  • hiking along the paved Chiyoda Trail (bring a flashlight or headlamp)
  • cross country skiing with the Rochester Cross Country Ski Foundation

If you don’t particularly like the cold, you can warm yourself by some fire pits, enjoy free hot chocolate and popcorn, or head inside to the gym to try out the Gaga Pit.

More details will be coming soon, especially about the cross country skiing. You can check them out on the Webster Recreation Center webpage or their Facebook page.

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Keep those Webster Bucket List ideas coming

15 Feb

Thank you to everyone who’s already sent along some additions for my Webster Bucket List.

I wrote about my list last week (you can see that blog here). It’s a comprehensive list, but so old it’s out of date. For example, a few of the places on it don’t exist anymore, and a few of the events no longer happen.

So I’m looking for additions. Once I have a final, updated list, I’ll re-post the entire thing so that everyone can print it off and see how many places or events you’ve already checked off, or would like to.

So check out the list, then let me know what I need to add! Email me or send me a message via Facebook.

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More local sightings of the Pine Grosbeak

15 Feb

A few weeks ago I wrote about how our area is being visited by a few flocks of Pine Grosbeaks, who have come unusually far south from their breeding grounds in Canada. It’s such a rare occasion that birdwatchers from as far as Pennsylvania were heading to Webster Park and Mendon Ponds Park to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bird.

Little did anyone realize that some people only have to look out their back window to get a look at the plump, colorful finch.

Since that blog posted, I’ve heard from three people who have seen a Pine Grosbeak in their neighborhoods. The first was Denise Bonney, a Plank North Elementary School colleague, who said she didn’t realize right away what she was seeing, then remembered my blog and recognized it. Then I got an email from Karen Terp who said she and her husband had seen one while they were taking a walk.

And a few weeks ago I got another email, this one from Ruth Caves, who lives in West Webster. She not only saw one at her feeder but was able to get a photo, which you can see above.

Keep those sightings coming!

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