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Webster resident reflects on cemeteries in her new book

25 Sep

I’m a sucker for cemeteries. They’re so peaceful. I love to just wander through them, enjoy the solitude, look at the epitaphs, and think about the lives they’re trying to sum up in just a few words.

So when I heard about a recent book about cemeteries written by Webster resident Jane Hopkins, I sat up and took notice. Then I started reading it, and realized that Hopkins and I are of the same mind when it comes to the power of cemeteries to touch us deeply.

The book is titled Cemetery Reflections, and it was sparked in part by a single, simple headstone. Hopkins was taking a walk in a historic cemetery in Canada a few years ago and came across the grave of a young child. The epitaph read, “Step Softly, Here lies a dream.” A much larger monument which stood nearby detailed the death of four children three weeks apart, and their father several months later. Hopkins writes in her book, “I thought about the dreams of these parents for their children, and the harsh reality that comes to many of us who experience an early death in the family.”

As Hopkins continued to wander the cemetery, she contemplated the deep grief expressed in the words on the child’s headstone. It compelled her to explore more cemeteries, perhaps, she wrote, “looking for a workable philosophy of loss and afterlife ─ including my own death ─ and how to  make it easier for those left behind.”  

The result of those wanderings is the new 206-page book, Cemetery Reflections, a visual journey through notable cemeteries, illustrated by stunning black and white and color photos. Historic poetry and beautiful prose accompany the photos, giving the book a free-flowing feel similar to what one would experience on a cemetery walk. 

You can meet Hopkins yourself and learn more about her book at a talk she’ll hold on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. in  the Gleason Auditorium at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 115  South Ave., Rochester. The talk is free and open to the public.

Copies of Cemetery Reflections are available for $44.95 at Amazon.com.   

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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(posted 9/25/2022)

Webster community mailbag

23 Jun

I’m going to lead today’s mailbag with a fun event especially for baseball fans, but also anyone else who would like to support a great local organization.

The Rochester Ridgemen will be playing one of this season’s games at Frontier Field in just a few weeks.

On Tuesday July 5, beginning at 6 p.m., the Ridgemen will take the field against the Cortland Crush. Best news of all is that admission is free, parking is free, and you can just walk into the stadium without a ticket. There will even be some concessions open so you can get dinner and a snack. What a great way to spend the night at the ballpark!

The Rochester Ridgemen are part of Athletes in Action Baseball and compete in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. The NYCBL, founded in 1978, is a summer wood bat league sanctioned by the NCAA and partially funded by Major League Baseball.

Five Webster players are part of this year’s team: James Bolton, Daniel McAliney, Braden Pumputis, Matthew Sanfilippo, and Ian McNabb. They play at Webster’s Basket Road field. (Their full schedule is below.)

The Ridgemen is a great local organization whose members are not only skilled, but committed to their community. Recently they helped out at Miracle Field of Greater Rochester’s Disability Dream & Do Clinic, sharing their love of baseball with children and young adults with disabilities.


The Village of Webster’s first Tuesday Night Movie at the Gazebo will take place next week, Tues. June 28, beginning at dusk, probably around 9:30.

The first movie this summer will be Trolls, brought to you by the Webster BID and sponsored by the Webster Health and Education Network (WHEN). They’ll be handing out free snacks, so stop by early to get yours, and remember to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on.

This is WHEN’s first village-sponsored event, and the organization is looking forward to playing a regular part in this summer’s activities. Registration is not required for the movie, but if you let WHEN know you’re coming, they’ll send you a reminder the day before. Click here to sign up!


If you ask me, I think the folks at the Webster Recreation Center are a little excited about the second annual Mud Run coming up in September.

Last year’s first-ever Mud Run was so well received, they started making plans almost immediately for this year’s event. They promise it’s going to be even bigger and better (that might mean messier) than the first. It’s scheduled for Saturday Sept. 17, with the first wave going off at 10 a.m.

It’s only $5 per person and you can register for it here.

Here’s a little teaser they put together:

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

(posted 6/23/2022)

Weirdness along the highways

22 May

I’m pleased to bring you another of my East Extra Afterthoughts installments today.

Afterthoughts is a completely separate blog, where I’m reposting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

This particular column just came out of thin air, probably when I was grasping at straws for something to write about that particular week. But it was fun, and helped me take a look at our towns in a different way. It was originally published on Aug. 2, 2013.

What do we have to entice out-of-towners?

Today’s column has an audience participation component. Keep reading and I’ll let you know when your part comes.

A few weeks ago, I took a road trip to Kansas City with my sister and father. On the way out, as we cruised along the highway, we noticed a billboard advertising the “World’s Largest Wind Chime” just a mile off the road in little Casey, IL.

Anxious to put the two-day, 20-hour drive behind us, we didn’t stop.

But somehow, we just couldn’t forget about that wind chime. So after our visit concluded and we headed home, we aimed straight for Casey, determined to see what this attraction was all about.

Click here to go to Afterthoughts and read the rest of the post.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Striking back against autism

18 Apr

I’m pleased to bring you another of my East Extra Afterthoughts installments today.

Afterthoughts is a completely separate blog, where I’m reposting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

I chose this particular column today because April is World Autism Awareness Month, and this piece highlights a jujitsu school which has for years offered classes for children on the spectrum.

Strike Back Martial Arts’ dojo used to be at 55 East Main St. in the Village of Webster, in the same building as Webster Hots (the sign is still there). COVID caused it to close in 2020, but it’s landed on its feet.

The column was originally published on June 4, 2015.

Martial arts helps children with autism

At a recent class at Strike Back Martial Arts in Webster, eight-year old Alex Maenza stood on the mats, awaiting instructions.

When “Sensei Mike” gave him the cue, he turned around, ran backwards toward the opposite end of the room, and caught a ball thrown at him from 20 feet away.

Alex beamed and bounced with delight. His instructors told him “Good job!” His parents were proud.

For most kids, this would be a simple skill. But for Alex, it was something to cheer about.

Alex and the seven other boys in his class are part of Strike Back’s Jujitsu Buddies program, for children ages 4-12 on the autism spectrum. For these children, skills like catching a ball, navigating an obstacle course, even interacting with their peers can be a major accomplishment.

Strike Back Martial Arts owners Mike Palmer and Dave Nicchitta describe the class as a comprehensive introduction to Jujitsu and martial arts for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. But these kids won’t be applying headlocks or throwing their classmates to the mats anytime soon. Other skills are much more important.

Click here to go to Afterthoughts and read the rest of the post.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Penfield’s Good Neighbor Day returns in May

11 Apr

As many of you know, when I started writing this blog (and until a few years ago, actually), I was a Penfield resident. So this annual event from our friends to the south has always been on my radar.

It’s the 8th annual Terry Rothfuss Memorial Good Neighbor Day, scheduled this year for Saturday May 7 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event gathers volunteers to help Penfield seniors, veterans and those who are disabled do light yard work and spring cleaning.

Projects require no more than a three-hour commitment, and volunteers of all ages are encouraged to sign up, so it’s a great family activity.

Volunteers meet at the Rothfuss Farm the morning of the event for refreshments and to receive assignments, and then spread out around the town to complete their projects.

The event honors the memory of Terry Rothfuss, who was a farmer in East Penfield and a friend to all. He was always ready and willing to help anyone at any time. His passing in 2014 left a huge hole in the community. His friends and family wanted to carry on Terry’s legacy of friendship by continuing to help their community and inspire others to do the same.

To sign up to help or receive help, please call Sabrina at 585-340-8651, or email srenner@penfield.org.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Webster stands with Ukraine

7 Mar

This week’s Webster This Week newsletter led with news of a heartwarming event that happened on Sunday at Town Hall.

Members of Webster’s Ukranian community gathered with many other community members to present the Town with a Ukranian flag to be flown at Town Hall. I wasn’t there myself (I didn’t know about the event in advance) but the photos in the newsletter captured what was obviously a very well-attended and solemn event. I found the one photo of the crowd waving more than a dozen Ukranian flags quite moving. Click here to go directly to the newsletter and see more photos.

You’ll also see an announcement about how you can help the people of Ukraine. A Ukraine relief effort is underway, collecting clothing, personal hygiene supplies, infant supplies and sleeping bags which will be shipped directly to the people of Ukraine. Items are being collected through March 10 at several locations all around Rochester. Click through to the newsletter for more details.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Barry’s Irish trad sessions highlighted in City Newspaper article

4 Mar

The weekly Saturday afternoon Irish traditional music sessions at Barry’s Old School Irish were featured front and center this week in an article published in City Newspaper.

For the article — which almost certainly was timed for the newspaper’s March issue because of St. Patrick’s Day — author Daniel Kushner visited at least two of the three Irish sessions which take place weekly in the Rochester area, at Johnny’s Irish Pub, the Chatlotte Tavern and Barry’s Old School Irish.

Kushner did a great job capturing the history, tradition and culture surrounding these traditional music sessions. But he didn’t stop there; Kushner also dug even deeper into Irish trad culture and history by interviewing Ted McGraw, one of the original members of the Rochester branch of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Irish musicians’ association, and long-time host of the Irish Party House radio program.

The Saturday sessions at Barry’s happen every week from 2 to 5 p.m. If you’ve been in the pub during those hours, you’ve probably seen the musicians huddled in a circle over by the bakery case. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about who they are and why they’re there, click here to check out the article.

Since we’re talking about Barry’s Old School Irish, I want to let you know that our favorite Irish pub is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. I mean, special events have already begun.

Barry’s is welcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities back after a COVID-induced hiatus by peppering the next few weeks liberally with music, whiskey tastings, dancers, a personalized Guinness pint night, green-themed trivia and a whole day filled with events on Parade Day (March 12), culminating of course on St. Patrick’s Day itself, when the pub opens at 8 a.m. with Irish coffees and breakfast.

There’s too much going on to put it all here. You can visit Barry’s Old School Irish’s Facebook page for more details about all of these.

Barry’s Old School Irish is located at 2 West Main St., at the Village of Webster’s four corners.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Webster community mailbag

18 Feb

I’d like to start off today’s mailbag with a sweet item from Mary Alice Moore about a friend of hers, Eleanor Scott, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Eleanor wanted to mark the occasion by going to Nick Tahoe’s. So she and her group of girlfriends — who often do things together — headed downtown last week to the restaurant. The group, as you might imagine, attracted the attention of Alex Tahoe himself, who came over to talk with the ladies. Upon learning it was Eleanor’s birthday, he gave her a t-shirt, facilitated photos in front of the sign (behind the serving counter!) and even walked them to the parking lot.

There’s a good chance you might know Eleanor; she’s very involved in the Webster Presbyterian Church and Young Life, and has taken several mission groups to Kenya. Make sure to wish her a happy birthday if you see her around town!

Thank you to Mary Alice for providing this story and photos. She’s in Florida right now and couldn’t attend the party, but was there in spirit, and the “girls” kept her updated throughout the entire event.


Blood donors critically needed

This recent spate of bad weather hasn’t just made driving difficult and closed schools. It’s also meant that the Red Cross has had to cancel blood drives. And that’s dealing a tough blow to the national blood supply, which has already been at crisis levels since early January.

The need for blood is constant and only volunteer donors can fulfill that need for patients in our community. Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every two to three seconds, and most of us will need blood in our lifetime.

Your next opportunity to donate in Webster is coming up on Tuesday March 1, in the recreation room at the Lighthouse Baptist Church, from noon to 5 p.m. The church is located at 48 South Estate Drive (that’s near the Summit Knolls apartment complex east of Webster Schroeder off of Shoecraft).

They’d love for you to make an appointment to assure social distancing. You can click here to do so. I also recommend you get in the habit of filling out the RapidPass on the morning of your donation; it saves a lot of time.

I’d ALSO recommend you download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, available on the App Store and Google Play. It’s a great tool to help schedule appointments, view your blood type and results of your mini-physical, and track your donations.


EXTRA EXTRA from the library

On Tuesday Feb. 23, the Webster Public LIbrary will host Deanne Quinn Miller and local author Gary Craig for a discussion of their new non-fiction book, The Prison Guard’s Daughter, and the events of the Attica Prison Riot, which marked its 50th anniversary last Sepetember.

Miller is uniquely qualified to tell this story. She’s the daughter of Correctional Officer William Quinn, the first casualty of the Attica Prison Riot. She’s also a member of Forgotten Victims of Attica, which provides counseling, has established an annual memorial at the prison, and in the last 20 years has secured $12 million in reparations for its members.

Here’s part of the book synopsis taken from Amazon.com:

On the 50th anniversary of America’s deadliest prison riot comes a prison-guard daughter’s quest to uncover the truth about her father’s murder during the uprising―a story of crossing racial divides, befriending inmates and correctional officers alike, and challenging the state to reveal and pay for its malfeasance.

Deanne Quinn Miller was five years old when her father―William “Billy” Quinn―was murdered in the first minutes of the Attica Prison Riot, the only corrections officer to die at the hands of inmates. But how did he die? Who were the killers? Those questions haunted Dee and wreaked havoc on her psyche for thirty years. Finally, when she joined the Forgotten Victims of Attica, she began to find answers. This began the process of bringing closure not only for herself but for the other victims’ families, the former prisoners she met, and all of those who perished on September 13, 1971―the day of the “retaking,” when New York State troopers and corrections officers at the Attica Correctional facility slaughtered twenty-nine rioting prisoners and ten hostages in a hail of gunfire.

The discussion will be held via Zoom on Tuesday Feb. 23 from 7 to 8 p.m. Registration is required, and once you do so, you’ll be sent the Zoom invitation. There’s no charge.

Penfield’s Annual “Indoor Hike” Scheduled for March

The Penfield Trails Committee will host its annual “Indoor Hike” on Saturday March 12 from 10 a.m. to noon at Penfield Town Hall, 3100 Atlantic Ave.

This unique event, held each year during the deep cold of the winter when the weather for outdoor hiking can be unfavorable, is a chance to explore and learn about nature and hiking-related topics in a lecture-style setting, with discussion time following the lecture.

This year’s topic is “Rewilding Local and Global Natural Habitats – A Sustainable Conservation Remedy,” presented by Penfield Trails Committee Chairman Nelson Carman. Mr. Carman will discuss ideas from environmentalist, author, and activist Paul Hawken on large-scale, practical remedies for reversing our climate crisis, as well as the concept of repairing and rewilding natural habitats on a global level from American biologist, naturalist, and writer E.O. Wilson. Discussion time will follow the lecture.

Hiking groups from other area towns and organizations will also be present with information about their groups and their 2022 schedules and events.

This event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to please register here or by calling Penfield Recreation at (585) 340-8655.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Senior center calendars bring whimsy to the new year

11 Feb

I’m pleased to bring you another of my East Extra Afterthoughts installments today.

Afterthoughts is a completely separate blog, where I’m reposting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

This one was just simply fun to write about. Somehow I had found about a calendar that had been created by the residents of a Macedon senior living center, where they’d recreated scenes from famous movies. The photos they came up with were just delightful.

The column was originally published on Dec. 11, 2014.


Local calendar has fun with famous movie scenes

In real life, John Krawlec doesn’t look much like Jack Nicholson. But give him two-day-old stubble, have him poke his head through a shredded door with a crazed look on his face, and you can just hear him calling, “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

The photo, mimicking Nicholson’s famous scene from The Shining, is one of a dozen knock-off images from famous Hollywood movies included in a 2015 “Hollywood Walk of Fame” calendar created by the residents of Parkwood Heights senior living community in Macedon.

Each month features a different movie scene, re-created in hilarious detail by the men and women of Parkwood Heights.

In one, for example, Faye and John Ford re-enact the famous bow scene from Titanic, framed by a setting sun. In another, Tom Simpson converses with the Caddyshack woodchuck. Jane Bradley and her little dog “Buddy” make an adorable Dorothy and Toto.

Click here to go to Afterthoughts and read the rest of the post.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Fairport, Ohio? Webster, Mass.?

10 Jan

Today I invite you all to check out the latest installment of my East Extra Afterthoughts blog.

Afterthoughts is a new, completely separate blog, where I’m reposting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

The column I’ve chosen today was one I came up with in desperation. I had no idea what I was going to write that week, so I had to get creative. It was a fun little research project which I hoped would interest my readers no matter where they lived.

Game with town names yields results

Have you ever searched the Internet for your name? It’s fun to see how many of you there are in the world.

I did that for our towns. I wondered if there are more Brightons in the United States (lots). If Irondequoit, with its Iroquois-inspired name, is the only one in existence (yes).

It was an entertaining exercise. Here (with help from Google, Mapquest and Wikipedia) is what I found out.

Click here to go to Afterthoughts and read the rest of the post.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.