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Porches, fairies and whimsy make our village special

23 Sep

You may remember a blog I wrote a few weeks ago about all the gardens I pass by on my regular walks through the village. The flowering bushes and shrubs in manicured rows and gardens brighten my every morning.

But the gardens are not the only charming thing I see on my walks. There are so many other things I come across that make my heart smile and given me that warm “Wow, this is a really neat village” feeling. On the top of that list: porches.

In the older neighborhoods on the east side of the village in particular, I walk by dozens of beautiful, large porches, most of which stretch along the entire front of the house. Many of them are framed by stately Greek columns, have detailed ornamentation and fretwork, or are accentuated with flowers. At night they often take on a special brilliance, tastefully lit with twinkly lights.

The porches are not only magnificent to look at, but are neighborhood gathering places. When I take my evening walks, I often see neighbors sharing comfortable chairs and conversation with their after-dinner drinks, greeting everyone who walks by. Because they know, even if you live two or three streets over, you’re still a neighbor.

It’s a very village experience, kind of a Tom Sawyer, Hannibal, MO vibe.

Here are just a few photos of some of those beautiful and happy porches. Most of them are from Park Ave., Elm Street and Dunning Ave.

And did you know there are fairies in our neigborhoods?

The photo on the left is of an entire fairy village set up on Park Ave., near the intersection with Lapham. And if you walk up Dunning, you’ll pass a house which actually has fairy doors by two or three of its trees. Earlier this summer, I didn’t see any fairies there, but there are now … so the invitation must have worked.

Two more things I’d like to share. The first is a stand of sunflowers along the sidewalk on Phillips Rd. When I first showed them to you in my gardens blog, they weren’t as spectacular. But these days, they’ve grown so magnificent that it’s like walking through a sunflower tunnel.

The second is a sign which stands in front of a house on Elm St. It makes me giggle.

Happy walking, my friends, and keep your eyes open for these — and other — village charms alonmg the way.

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The gardens on my walk

24 Aug

Several weeks ago I devoted an entire blog to the beautiful gardens crafted by Maria Blanco all around her home at the corner of Phillips and Ridge Rd.

It struck me recently that Maria’s gardens, while spectacular, are not the only ones I admire on my daily walks. One of my regular walking routes takes me into the village, up North Ave. to the bike path, to Phillips, back into the village, and through neighborhood streets home. And all along the way, Rose of Sharon bushes, bursts of flowers and flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials, sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and whimsical signs cheer me and help quicken my step.

Yesterday, however, I slowed my step long enough to take photos of many of the gardens I see along the way. Perhaps yours is among them. If so, thank you for all your hard work and for brightening my mornings.

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Village lemonade entrepreneur raised funds for St. Jude

17 Aug

I make it a habit to stop at every lemonade stand I encounter when I’m walking or biking, or even driving. I like encouraging young entrepreneurs, and adding to the thrill they get from earning a few dollars. If you feel the same, then you’re going to enjoy hearing about this very special lemonade stand.

It was set up at the corner of South Ave. and Park Ave. in the Village of Webster, at the home of Doug and Patty Pucci.

It was no ordinary lemonade stand, however. Not only was it about the most official-looking stand you’ll ever see — complete with an American flag, pinwheel, umbrella for shade and an “open/closed” sign — it also raised almost $500 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Nixie-Blu and a thirsty customer

The proprietor was 6-year old Nixie-Blu Howes, who was in town this summer with her mother, visiting her grandparents. Like any kid, Nixie-Blu loves the idea of making money, even though she said, “I don’t know what I want to spend it on.” But it was also her idea to donate half of her lemonade stand proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, in part because her aunt works there.

Just setting up shop in a highly visible location wasn’t enough, however. Nixie-Blu also made her own signs and posted them on trees throughout the neighborhood, pointing patrons to the stand.

Nixie-Blu first set up her lemonade concession when she was visiting in April. You may have noticed the stand and advertisements back then, and perhaps you even stopped by. This summer, however, she was really able to up her sales game when her grandpa Doug surprised her with the fancy new wooden stand.

The lemonade concession was open pretty much every day for the few weeks that Nixie-Blu and her mother were visiting. Business was steady; the stand attracted walkers and motorists nearly nonstop, paying what they wanted for their cup of lemonade. Nixie-Blu never set a price, instead asking her patrons to donate any amount they want to give. If they didn’t happen to have any money, she’d even give you some for free

Because kindness always begets kidness. And that’s the sweetest deal there is.

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A Park Ave. welcome to summer

28 Jun

Just a quick post today to thank the young people who chalked these messages last week on the sidewalk in front of their Park Ave. house.

They appeared, not coincidentally, on the afternoon of the last day of school, and they made me smile. ‘Cause it was the last day of school for me too. 🙂

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A beautiful, floral welcome to our village

23 Jun

Just outside the east edge of the village, next to the gas station at the corner of Phillips Rd. and Ridge, sits a little house. If you’ve ever had the occasion to walk, ride or drive by, I’m sure you’ve noticed it, because it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens in Webster.

I do pass by the house regularly, and have long admired the gardens. They always make me pause, especially when I see something new. I’ve often stopped to literally smell the roses (or lilacs, depending on the time of year). I would occasionally see the homeowners outside watering or weeding or planting, and wave a friendly hello. Finally, a few weeks ago when I saw the Mrs. outside again, I stopped and introduced myself as her gardens’ biggest fan. Her name is Maria; she was kind enough to give me the full garden tour and agreed to let me write about her, her husband Pedro, and their amazing gardens.

Maria and Pedro Blanco have been Webster residents since 1980, when they moved from their home in the city (which didn’t have much in the way of gardens). When they purchased their Phillips Rd. home, evergreen bushes stretched all across the front of the house.

It didn’t take before they’d removed those bushes, and little by little, Maria started to create her garden paradise. She’d tend to the gardens after work every day, and early in the mornings. Then of course, after retirement she could really start focusing on what has become her lifelong hobby.

Through the years, those front gardens expanded to the back yard and both side yards, plus two dozen hanging baskets and more potted annuals than I could count. She has so many different varieties of annuals and perennials, shrubs and vines that she has trouble remembering what they’re all called.

The ones that she could remember included: lilacs, Rose of Sharon, Stella D’oro, guara, daisies, daylilies, roses, sweet Williams, maelstrom, clematis, canna lily, brown-eyed susan, black-eyed susan, buttercup, phlox, hibiscus, hydrangae, and miniature morning glory. Everywhere you look there’s something blooming or about to bloom. Fanciful flower pots and decorations, many crafted by her very artistic daughter Glenda, make the entire scene even more beautiful.

Maria in her back-yard oaisis

In the backyard, hidden from view, Maria and Pedro have created their own little peaceful oasis: a small canopied patio which insulates them from the busy and noisy roadways that surround them. Pedro’s contribution to the gardens is there, too: a small vegetable patch with tomatoes, peppers and lettuce.

I’m not the first to bring attention to Maria’s gardens, by the way, and I might not actually be their biggest fan. She said that others have stopped on their runs and walks, or slowed in their cars to admire them. And in 2019 she even won an award from a local garden club.

Maria’s passion has remained strong through the years. Weather permitting, she’s out working on her gardens “all my free time,” she said.

“Sometimes I don’t go inside my home for hours.” After she’s done all the watering and weeding and transplanting that needs to be done, “I sit out under the canopy and start admiring my job. Then I get up to change something.” She doesn’t even like to leave home for any length of time because, “No one can take care like you do. When I come back, everything is a mess.”

“The plants are my babies.”

So next time you’re heading south into the village via Phillips Rd., take a look to the west just before you hit the intersection with Ridge. It’s a beautiful, floral-ific welcome to our little town.

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Loving life in the village

13 Jun

I love living in the Village of Webster. The people are friendly, the streets are extremely walkable, there are parks within walking distance, and great restaurants and pubs just around the corner. We live on a street, but feel like we are part of a neighborhood.

Saturday (June 12) was a great example of what’s to love about Webster. For starters, that afternoon our Park Ave. neighbor Doug Pucci hosted his second annual Village Block Party, featuring two food trucks and a free concert by his Red Hot and Blue Band, playing from Pucci’s spacious porch.

Everyone in the village was invited, and more than 100 answered the call. Adults spread their quad chairs across the lawn and closed-off street and listened to the music, or stood in small groups visiting with neighbors. Children chalked in the street, played with bubbles and danced in the grass.

It was the perfect opportunity for long-time neighbors to reconnect after a long pandemic. It was also a chance for new residents to meet their new neighbors and start to to know the feeling that they are part of the village community.

It was the quintessential village experience.


Earlier in the day, I was riding my bike and happened upon a woman setting up chairs and a table in the lawn of the apartment complex near my house. She was taping some kind of sign onto the table. Curious (and being who I am), I stopped to find out what was going on.

Her name was Jennifer Martinez, and she explained that she was setting up the table for her son and his friends, who were going to hold a Free Lemonade stand later that afternoon.

Apparently every year since her son Emilio was very young, Jennifer’s mother Gail had held a garage sale. And every year during that sale, Emilio would set up a lemonade stand. This year, Gail wasn’t able to hold her sale, so Jennifer suggested that Emilio simply set up his stand outside their home instead.

In years past, Emilio had charged for his lemonade. But not this year. When I asked Jennifer about that, she said that the idea to hand out the lemonade for free was “just to be kind.” Then, after giving it a bit of thought, she added, “It’s nice to be among people again.”

Emilio and his fellow business owners Will Brunswick and Owen Knapp, all 7th-grade friends at Spry Middle School, were enthusiastic lemonade hawkers, even though they weren’t earning any cold, hard cash. They stood out on the sidewalk yelling “free lemonade!” to all the cars driving by on busy South Ave, and any time a biker, walker or runner got within 50 yards of the table, one of them (usually Owen, wearing a flag cape), would chase them down “selling” their wares at full volume.

At first the salesmen were only getting a lot of honks and waves from passing cars. But while I was there (getting my free lemonade), they were able to wave down a passing FedEx delivery truck, whose driver gratefully accepted the refreshment. And if yelling to someone didn’t work, they would take the lemonade to their customers, at one point skittering across South Ave., two-fisting cups of lemonade, to deliver them to people who were setting up for the block party.

The highlight of the day was probably when the boys were able to attract the attention of a passing police car. The officer didn’t stop, but she did come back a few minutes later and invited another colleague to join her. So at one point two Webster police officers were standing at the table enjoying some lemonade.

The kids even earned a little money after all. Some patrons couldn’t resist throwing a dollar on the table, and one family brought them some fresh-picked strawberries.

A friendly neighbor who didn’t mind at all a random stranger stopping to chat. Free lemonade and kids having fun doing something other than sitting in front of a screen. Just two more things I love about village life.

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Webster community mailbag

8 Jun

And the fun just keeps on coming.

If you live in or near the village, you may remember the Village Block Party held back in September on Park Ave. The event was hosted by The Red Hot and Blue Band, who set up on the porch of RHB band member Doug Pucci, who lives at the corner of Park Ave. and South Ave.

The band played for three straight hours, while community members sat around and listened (socially distanced of course), and children danced and made chalk drawings in the middle of the closed-off street. It was a much-needed and greatly appreciated respite from the depths of the pandemic.

Well, the Village Block Party is back again this year, and it’s going to be even better.

On Saturday June 12, Webster community members are all invited to come together to enjoy the rockin’ sounds of the Red Hot and Blue Band, beginning at 3 p.m. And bring some cash, too, because this time the party will feature two food trucks, Terry’s Tips and Beef and Netsins Ice Cream.

Aside from the food trucks, there’s no charge for this event. Just bring your quad chairs and join your neighbors for an afternoon of good music and good food. It all happens on Park Ave. between South Ave. (Rt. 250) and Lapham Park.


This week’s Friends of the Webster Public Library Pop-up Book Sale has become a Bring-Your-Own-Bag Book Sale!

On Thursday June 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., bring your bag to the library and fill it with gently used books for just $4. It’s an inexpensive way to stock your personal library for a summer-full of great reading for you and your family.

The sale will be held in the Webster Publc Library parking lot, at the rear of Webster Plaza, 980 Ridge Rd. All monies raised will go to support library initiatives.

Don’t forget about this weekend’s Webster Summer Celebration, returning on Saturday June 12 to the Webster Recreation Center.

From 5 to 10 p.m., the whole family is invited to come out for dinner and snacks from some great food trucks (including Wraps on Wheels, Nancy’s Fried Dough, Effortlessly Healthy, Bay Vista Taqueria and Seabreeze Catering and Hot Sauce), while enjoying some great live music.

Festivities will conclude at 9:45 with a fireworks display. For more information, especially about parking for the fireworks, please visit the Webster Parks and Recreation webpage.


This Saturday also maks the opening of the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market.

This blurb from the market’s Facebook page seems to indicate that exciting changes are in store:

Things are lining up for what we believe to be one of our biggest and best market years ever. We are happy to announce that the market has grown with new vendors being added. We are pleased to see many old faces return as well. And also very pleased to announce the addition of a food truck and a possible lemonade truck.

The market is located in Webster Towne Center plaza, in front of Old Navy and near the gazebo. It’s open every Saturday through November from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Several Village of Webster shops will be holding a sidewalk sale next week on Friday June 18 and Saturday June 19. Take a stroll through the village, pick up some bargains and visit with with some of our very friendly small business owners.

The shops that will be participating in the sidewalk sale include Lala of Webster, Nest Things, The North Bee, Yesterday’s Muse Books, and the Village Quilt Shoppe.

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This “Little Free” location draws art lovers and book lovers alike

22 May

Certainly most everyone by now is familiar with the concept of Little Free Libraries, mini libraries installed outside homes and schools, packed with books and magazines free for the taking.

A few months ago I posted a blog about one family who turned their little library into a puzzle exchange. Recently I was delighted to discover another extremely creative twist on the Little Free Library idea: the Little Free Art Gallery. In this case, instead of books, visitors will find pocket-sized pieces of fine art neatly arranged on miniature easels inside the box. Anyone is welcome to leave a piece, take a piece or just enjoy the artwork that others have left.

Even better than learning about these whimisical, pint-sized art galleries is finding out there’s one only a few minutes east of Webster.

Julie and Jim Gocker live on Ontario Drive, about a half mile north of Lake Rd. in Ontario. About three years ago, Jim built and installed a Little Free Libray in front of their lake-side home. It was the perfect way for Julie, a retired school library teaching assistant, to share her love for books with her neighbors.

Last year, just as the pandemic started, Julie read somewhere about Little Free Art Galleries, and hatched the idea to build one of their own. Given her background and having raised a family of artists and teachers, the library expansion seemed like a natural next step.

“It’s such an important thing to appreciate, either having a book to read or a picture to look at,” Julie said. “Those are important to us, and because we live in a walking neighborhood we just thought it’d be kind of cool.”

“I have to say that the plus to the whole COVID thing is seeing kids on bikes, swimming in the lake, and walking with their parents instead of being off on the soccer field or lacrosse field,” Julie added. “They’re home doing family things and taking books. So we thought it’d be a perfect year to do our Little Free Art Gallery.”

Building the gallery kept Jim busy for a while in the depths of the pandemic. When it was done, they waited for the weather to turn, and installed it on May 1.

This was the very first piece of art submitted to the new gallery. By Emilee, future artist extraorindaire.

Julie and Jim stocked the new gallery with their own creations until other people started adding their own. Their first artist in residence was a young neighborhood girl named Emilee, who filled her canvas with a large pink, green and yellow flower.

Perhaps it’s because the gallery is fairly new, but Julie said they haven’t had a lot of submissions yet, even though they keep restocking the gallery with several blank canvases every week. “They all disappear, but nobody’s been bringing any more paintings back to us,” Julie said. “We think Emilee’s probably going to have an art show.”

Of course the Gockers would love to see more artists contribute to the gallery, but they also encourage visitors to help themselves to a pint-sized painting at any time. Most of them are only 3″ square, the perfect size for your desk at work or home. But if you just want to stop by and admire the artwork — just like you would in any art gallery — you’re perfectly welcome to do that as well.

You’ll find the Gockers’ Little Free Art Gallery at 697 Ontario Drive in Ontario. And while you’re there, how about showing some love to their Little Free Library, too? They’ve already got a good stock of adult books, but could really use some children’s books.

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Neighborliness transcends town borders

11 May
Julia Meyers and Sophia Elias ready to work.

Last Saturday May 8 was the Terry Rothfuss Memorial Good Neighbor Day in Penfield. This annual event, organized by Penfield Recreation, gathers volunteers to help Penfield seniors, veterans and those who are disabled do light yard work and spring cleaning.

The event honors the memory of Terry Rothfuss, a farmer in east Penfield who was always ready and willing to help anyone at any time. After he passed away in 2014, 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.

The annual event has grown every year, and I was pleased to find out recently that its influence has even spread beyond Penfield’s borders, as neighborliness should.

Webster resident Linda Meyers read about Good Neighbor Day when I posted a blog about it in early April. That same day, Linda messaged me to tell me how much she loved the idea and was going to sign up with her daughter Julia.

I was so happy to hear her say that. I’ve written about Good Neighbor Day several times in my blog and when I was writing my column for the D&C. Never did I even consider that anyone outside of Penfield would want to take part. But of course, the event is all about neighborliness and community. And when it comes to both those things, town borders mean nothing.

When she first read about the event, Linda wrote, “I was super excited because I love yard work and weeding.” She even recruited her neighbors Chris Elias, Kim Mead and their daughter Sophia to join them.

(We) went to the opening at Rothfuss Farm on Salt Road and it was awesome to see all of the volunteers and meet Sabrina (Renner) the coordinator. We got Good Neighbor T-shirts, donuts and bags for our day and it was wonderful hearing more about Terry Rothfuss from his daughter Molly.

We were assigned to a lady’s home and raked a ton of pine needles and did some weeding in a few of her back gardens. She was incredibly appreciative and even had water bottles, bagged apples and cookies as treats for us.

After all the work was done, participants were invited to Rothfuss Park for some post-event activities sponsored by Browncroft Community Church, including food trucks, mini-golf, a pitching inflatable and other games.

“Overall we had a great experience,” Linda said. “My daughter says she wants to go back to the same lady’s house next year!”


So, this is an awesome story on so many fronts.

First, we’re talking neighbors helping neighbors, just for the fun of it. Second, it’s so heartening to see kids get involved. What a great way to help them learn about compassion and giving to others. (And a little hard work never hurts, either.) And seeing the even expand beyond the Penfield borders just warms my heart and gives me renewed confidence that maybe we can all work together and keep this world running for a long time.

Finally, on a personal note, I’d love to see this event come to Webster. There are certainly residents in our town who could use this kind of help. It just so happens that our current Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Chris Bilow, was the former director at the Penfield Rec, and oversaw Good Neighbor Day for years.

So what do you say, Chris? Can we make this happen?

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Young artists create a garden on Baker St.

15 Apr

Do you know what our kids were doing around this time last spring? Chalking beautiful pictures on our sidewalks and driveways, turning our neighborhoods into art galleries. For a while it seemed that around every corner was a colorful new surprise — a rainbow, flower, smiley face, or inspirational message. The artwork was a welcome distraction from the stresses we were feeling from the worsening pandemic.

Well, I’m pleased to report that the artists are back. They’ve returned to Baker St. in the village, anyway. When my husband and I were taking our after-dinner walk last night, we came up Baker and were delighted to find that some artist — or artists — had chalked flowers along almost the entire length of sidewalk.

We counted more than 75 flowers, one on each sidewalk block. It must have taken a lot of time. And a lot of chalk.

This spring, fortunately, is not dawning as dismally as it did last year. Things finally seem to be inching back toward normal again. So we really don’t need the distraction as much.

But I for one am delighted to see it. Thank you, young artists.

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