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The marching band has followed me to the village

17 Aug

For years, when we were still living in North Penfield just off of Hatch Rd., we would occasionally hear the Webster Marching Band practicing in the Webster Schroeder parking lot. The school was more than a mile away, but every once in a while the prevailing winds would carry the music all the way to our house, and we could clearly hear snippets of the tunes they were working on.

Hearing the music drifting in on the warm breezes was one of the little things I always enjoyed about summer. Since we moved to the village three years ago, I’ve missed that simple pleasure.

But I got it back this summer.

Thanks to some set of circumstances, the Webster Marching Band has been displaced from their usual stomping grounds at Schroeder, and this summer are holding their practices at Spry Middle School, basically right across the street from my village home.

It’s like I’m getting a preview of this year’s program. And if it’s anything like last year’s — when the band took top State honors — it will be an award winner.

That’s just one more great thing about living in the village: music at the pubs, music at the gazebo, music in the streets … and now music across the street from me.

At least for a few more weeks.

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(posted 8/18/2022)

Bygone blog — a letter to my son

14 Aug

My husband and I spent Saturday moving my son Sean to the Bronx, where he’ll soon begin a new teaching job. It took us more than six hours to get there, and the rest of the day to unpack the U-Haul before turning around to drive three more hours to crash at my sister’s house overnight.

So basically, it was a nonstop day which didn’t allow me much time to think about what the move will mean to all of our lives. You see, for the last month, Sean has been living with us, having had to vacate his Webster apartment at the end of June. His comings and goings, culinary eccentricities and unkempt room were reminiscent of his college days.

It was wonderful.

But now he’s gone, and since he’ll probably love his new job and living in the Big City, I expect it’ll be for good this time. As I sat on my porch in the much quieter, much emptier house, I was thinking about that, and remembered this blog I posted in June, 2011. I’ve reposted it once before, but it seems especially appropos today.

A letter to my son at camp

(originally posted June 20, 2011)

Lenore Skenazy had a funny column in Sunday morning’s newspaper. Maybe you saw it; she had come across a website which actually gave instructions to parents on how to write a letter to their child at camp. Now, I didn’t go so far as to try to find that website, but I suspect the advice is aimed at parents whose young children are at a sleep-away camp, perhaps for the first time.

My daughter showed me the column yesterday.  She suggested I follow the website’s instructions and send a letter to my son, who left for camp Friday morning.  I thought that was a terrific idea.

But since my son is 21 years old and will be spending his entire summer as a counselor at the YMCA’s Camp Gorham in the Adirondacks, mine reads a bit differently:

Dear Sean,

I hope you had a safe trip to camp on Friday morning. Actually, I know you did; your dad took you there personally since we won’t let you have your own car until you can pay collision costs yourself for a change.

I miss you already. I was just remarking on that as I gathered your laundry from the floor in your room and rediscovered the color of your carpet.  I will miss all the charming peculiarities that make you unique and that bring us such joy at home.

Like your superhuman ability to eat an entire box of cereal in just two bowlfuls. And an entire 29-ounce can of peaches in one sitting.

I will miss seeing what new musical instrument you have decided to befriend this week. I will miss the way you can see music in everything. Like when you “conduct” the directional signal in my car as it makes its steady blinky noise, and how you can turn any surface in the house into an impromptu drum when we least expect it. I will miss having to high-step through my office so as to not step on a cymbal or flute or tambourine.

I will miss hearing the “SLAM!  THUNK!” when you come in from teaching in the evening, slamming the door behind you and dropping everything you carry within a one-foot radius. I will miss having to kick you out of the lounge chair because Dad and I want to use the TV ourselves for a change.  I will miss worrying if you’ll be up in time for your appointments because you stayed up all night playing video games.

Yes, I will miss all of these things, because as aggravating as they all are, they all mean you’re home and you’re safe. And that’s all a mom needs to know.

So have fun at camp this summer, Sean. I’ll miss you. But I’ll try to remember that I get you nine months of the year, so it’s only fair those kids at Camp Gorham get you the other three months.

They have no idea how lucky they are.

Love, Mom

I could have written pretty much this same letter today, with just a few changes towards the end:

So have a great life in the Bronx, Sean. I’ll miss you. But I’ll try to remember that you will come back to visit sometimes on long weekends and holiday vacations (emphasis on “WILL“), and it’s only fair that those kids at Horace Mann School will get you the rest of the time.

They have no idea how lucky they are.

* * *

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(posted 8/14/2022)

Bygone blog — my diaper bag theory of motherhood

7 Aug

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 14 years.

I was reminded of this particular blog when I happened across a new mother at a park recently. It was originally published on March 29, 2009.

Diaper bag theory of motherhood

Have you ever noticed how you can tell how many babies a mother has had by the size of her diaper bag?
Here’s my theory:

First baby:

Diaper bag rivals the suitcase you would pack for a week’s trip to Europe. It contains:

  • changing pad
  • at least a half dozen diapers
  • baby wipes
  • baby oil
  • baby powder
  • four extra Binkies (in case the one currently in use falls to the ground, a second in case the first backup falls to the ground, and two more … just in case)
  • two bottles of formula
  • three burp cloths
  • two changes of clothes
  • at least three rattles or other kind of highly educational and stimulating toys
  • blanket
  • band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • Children’s Tylenol

(And if you’re planning to be out for more than an hour, double everything.)

Second baby:

Diaper bag is about the size of an insulated lunch box. Inside is stuffed:

  • a couple of diapers
  • diaper wipes
  • burp cloth
  • spare Onesie
  • one extra Binkie (if you remember)
  • a bottle of formula or water
  • rattle

Third baby:

No bag necesary. You stuff a diaper into your back pocket and you’re all set.

* * *

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(posted 8/7/2022)

A little bit of Santa’s magic to brighten your day

6 Jul

I think we need to be reminded every once in a while that even during difficult times — and we’ve had a lot of difficult times recently — simple, magical moments can still happen to brighten our lives.

Such is the case with the following story, which I picked up from Facebook. It was recalled by my friend Jim Lockwood, “Webster’s Santa.” You’ve no doubt seen Jim in the village’s annual Parade of Lights at White Christmas, or maybe your kids visited him at the gazebo last year before the parade.

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to meet Jim, you know as I do that he actually is the real Santa Claus. There’s just something … magical about him and the effect he has on everyone he meets. I think this story which he shared a few days ago illustrates that.

He titled his story “Never Too Old.”

A few years ago I did a Christmas in July gig in one of the small towns in our area. It was a local Farmer’s Market set up in a large municipal parking lot.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in July, not too busy, moms magically juggling bags of fruits and vegetables, going from stand to stand with children in tow, checking everything out. Children were asking, “Where are your reindeer?”, “How many elves do you have?” and “Why are you here in the middle of summer?” All good questions needing carefully-worded answers.

A young woman waited until the line dwindled, then came over to my chair and whispered that her elderly grandmother had never seen or talked with Santa. She asked if I would talk with her, if I had the time. Of course Santa has the time. I told her, I would love to talk with her grandmother. During a lull of a thousand questions she brought her beautiful grandmother over to visit with Santa. I think they were vendors at the market.

This young woman gave me one of the most memorable moments I’ve had portraying Santa Claus by bringing this wonderful soul to visit with Santa.

They say Santa is the spirt of Christmas, that he brings happiness and hope. I think they got it right!

Yes, she did tell me her Christmas wishes…

When I asked Jim if I could share his story in my blog, he wrote, “I was so humbled and honored to be the first Santa that she had ever visited.”

“She brought the joy and happiness that day. She was the Spirit of Christmas! I think her face tells the whole story.”

* * *

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(posted 7/6/2022)

Bygone blog — The psychology of dinner dishes

1 Jul

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last eight years. This one was originally published on December 18, 2011.

The psychology of dinner dishes

As we were clearing the table after dinner last night, my husband, son and I got into a discussion about loading the dishwasher. (All families talk about stuff like this, right?) It wasn’t one of our more in-depth discussions like we’ve had about things like the proper way to hang the toilet paper, or why there are grease spots on the kitchen ceiling. No, this was simply an exploratory discussion about why on earth my husband chooses to stack the glasses on the inside rows of the upper rack rather than filling the outside rows first. That’s just weird.

From that discussion, we came up with an interesting idea: how a person loads a dishwasher can tell you a lot about their personality.

Let’s say, for example, that you always insist on loading the dishwasher yourself, and when someone else does it, you go back to correct their work when no one’s looking. That means you have control issues.

Do you make sure all the knives, spoons and forks are separated into their own individual compartments? You’re OCD.

Do you put your knives in point-up? That’s sadistic.

Do you methodically fill every square inch of the top racks with cups, glasses and serving utensils; stack bowls, dinner plates and pots and pans two layers deep in the bottom rack; shoe-horn in six more cake plates, and THEN turn it on and expect the appliance to deal with it? Totally passive-aggressive.

Think about that when you’re hanging around in the kitchen with your extended family this holiday season. You never know what you might discover.

* * *

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(posted 7/1/2022)

The kindness of strangers

10 Jun

If you don’t subscribe to the Webster Herald, then you missed a really touching letter to the editor in this week’s edition. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to share it with a wider audience.

In this day and age when the news is filled with stories about the awful ways people are treating one another, this letter shows there’s still good in our world. And it illustrates what a caring community Webster is.

Dear Editor,

Last Friday my husband Don and I, both in our 80s, were on our way to Mr. T’s for lunch when he lost his balance and fell hard, face down onto the parking lot pavement. In less than a minute, a young woman pushing a stroller came up and asked, “What can I do?” She called 911. Then, another young woman came. “I am a nurse. How can I help?” She got down on her hands and knees and spoke to my husband, who was bleeding from his face. Two more women arrived with paper towls and Kleenex. Another nurse arived, and together the two nurses agreed they shouldn’t try to turn my husband over onto his back. So they went to work, one on his face and the other on his knees to try to stop the bleeding.

Two more people came with umbrellas, opened them up over my husband to protect him from the noonday sun. A gentleman from a nearby store arrived with a chair for me to sit on, and an offer of a glass of water. Another gentleman came with a blanket to put under my husband’s legs. When I said, “It will get bloody,” his response was, “No problem.” The nurse lifted Don’s leg and wedged the blanket underneath his knees to make it more comfortable for him until the ambulance arrived.

After Don was safely in the ambulance and I was on my way back to our car, one of the nurses said to me, “Are you all right? Would you like me to follow you home?” (I wasn’t able to go in the ambulance with Don because of COVID.) When I reassured her that I was OK, she gently closed the driver’s door next to me and said, “I’ll pray for you.”

To say Don and I were blessed was an understatement. No one would wish such an accident would occur, but once it did, nobody would imagine how kind eight strangers could be.

Don is home now and recovering. We’re both “over the moon” with gratitude. We don’t know any of these people’s names, but I doubt we will ever forget their kindness.

— Carole Young

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(posted 6/10/2022)

The tale of the Wandering Box Spring

15 May

I bring you a short modern fairy tale today about loss, but ultimate redemption.

Our story begins last summer, when a lone box spring appeared in the wooded area along the pleasantly shady and tree-lined path known to local residents as the Trail of Bike. It rested comfortably along the north side of the Trail, only several feet from where cyclists and walkers would pass. It probably would have found its way deeper into the brush had a metal chain-link obstruction not halted its progress.

Clearly, the poor box spring had lost its way ‘twixt the small brick village nearby and Ye Olde Dumpstre.

One day, as I took a stroll along the Trail of Bike, I noticed that someone (a Box Spring Fairy?) had taken pity and extracted the wayward box from the wooded area, placing it on the grassy yard near the small village’s courts of tennis. Surely someone would notice it lying there and return it to its home — or at least help it finally find ye olde dumpstre.

Alas, the poor box lay there through the rest of the summer, through the the cold winds of autumn and blustery snows of winter, still lost and alone. And three weeks ago, as the spring flowers returned to the trees, it lay there still, filled with water from the melting snows.

One day, the Box Spring Fairy apparently took note, pushing it closer yet to the the courts of tennis. Perhaps finally some administrator from the small village would see it and take pity.

Huzzah! It did get moved one day! The laborers assigned to trim the grassy yard moved it aside … then moved it back.

Last week, the Box Spring Fairy tried once again, flipping the box head over heels several times until it came to rest standing against the fence surrounding the courts of tennis.

Today, it is gone. A happy ending.

* * *

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(posted 5/15/2022)

Bygone blog: The resort town of Webster, NY

21 Apr

Last week, my husband and I took a short trip to Baltimore, just to DO something and get out of town for a few days. It reminded me of the first and only other time I had been to Baltimore and its beautiful Inner Harbor area, when I visited with my daughter many years ago for a wedding.

It also reminded me of a blog I wrote shortly after that trip, which has always been one of my favorites. I thought I’d re-post that today just for fun. It was originally posted almost 11 years ago, in July of 2011. So, many of the references are a bit out of date (and I might have re-posted it once before) but it’s still a fun read.

The resort town of Webster, New York (Wait. Whaaaaaat?!)

(originally posted July 4, 2011)

My daughter and I recently visited the beautiful port city of Baltimore. One evening we were doing some souvenir shopping at the city’s Inner Harbor area, when one of the shopkeepers noticed my Webster Village Days t-shirt. He asked me where Webster was. I told him it was a small town near Rochester, New York. He replied, “Oh, is it a resort area?”

We laughed for about 30 minutes.

After we recovered, we got to thinking. Calling yourself a resort town or family vacation spot is really only a matter of packaging, isn’t it? Any savvy marketing professional could put the right spin on any town and turn it into an enticing vacation destination.

Case in point: if you look closely enough, you’ll see that Webster offers as many — or more — attractions as any respectable tourist trap.  For example:

Water Park

Wet, wacky fun is just around the corner at the Spray Park at Ridgecrest Park on Ebner Drive. Enjoy enchanting water-spray animals AND a splash pad! Or if that’s inconvenient, just have the kids put on their swim suits and push them out the back door. Even if there’s not a cloud in the sky, it’ll start raining within ten minutes.


YOU might not call it a beach, but we’re extremely proud of our rocky, weedy shoreline. Take a romantic stroll with your loved one to the end of the fishing pier to see the Great Webster Lamppost, some REALLY BIG rocks, and some stunningly beautiful graffiti art.


Your exciting go-kart adventure awaits at Webster’s shopping superstore, Wegmans. These spunky little vehicles feature the added convenience of an attached shopping basket. Climb in and join your friends for some exhilarating speed-demon action (the carts can be revved up to a breathtaking two miles an hour). This attraction is absolutely free and is open 24/7 (which is great, since the only time the aisles are empty enough for go-karting is between 2:13 am and 2:56 am).

Pedal cars

These two-man pedal carts are all the rage on boardwalks from Virginia Beach to Venice Beach! Webster goes one better! Sneak your Wegmans go-kart out into the parking lot and tour the sights along the plaza’s scenic access road. Can’t get more fun than that!


Don’t miss Webster’s Bar District, conveniently located in the village’s historic Four Corners area. You’ll find a nice selection of watering holes within steps of one another, with yet another one coming soon! (And remember, what happens at the Four Corners stays at the Four Corners!)

Tour Guides

My daughter needs a job. (But plan on her boyfriend tagging along.)

Walking Tour

Would you rather venture off on your own to discover the wonders of Webster Village? No problem! Erin can email you everything you need to know to enjoy all the wondrous things Webster has to offer. (Be sure to allow a good 15 minutes for the whole village, 17 if you’re accompanied by young children or senior citizens.)

Music in the Streets

Free, family-friendly musical entertainment abounds in Webster! For example, on cool autumn evenings, bring the kids, set up some lawn chairs in the Webster Schroeder High School parking lot and watch the marching band rehearse. Flutes, trumpets, big drums, flags…what more could a music lover want?

Local-only spots

In Baltimore you’re not considered a “local” until you’ve been to Dick’s Last Resort, which they advertise as “The joint your mama warned you about.” In Webster it’s Empire Hots (or “E-Hots” in the local parlance). Consider yourself warned about this place, too.


Try some of our famous Lake Ontario Fresh Water Taffy!!! (On second thought, that’s not a good idea.)

Famous Local Animal

Canada has its moose and Baltimore has its crabs, but Webster has famous local wildlife, too: DEER! You’ll see helpful signs along all the roadways indicating the best places to view these graceful, doe-eyed creatures. And if you don’t catch a glimpse right away, don’t worry! Keep driving long enough and one will jump out to meet YOU!

Tacky Webster Souvenirs

Make sure to pick up some souvenirs to commemorate your trip and take home to your loved ones! Our most popular ones include:

  • Refrigerator magnets in the shape of the WEBSTER bushes
  • Back scratchers that read “Where Backs are Worth Scratching”
  • Snow globes (actually, we call them “lake-effect globes,” and they have snowplows inside). Collect the whole series! County of Monroe Plow, Town of Webster Plow*, Pick-up Truck With Plow Blade, Man With Snow Blower, and the new, limited-edition Man With Shovel® which comes with a bonus bottle of Advil.
  • “Deer poop” (they’re really Raisinettes — see “Famous Local Animal” above)

See? Webster really is a great tourist destination ! It’s just a matter of how you look at it. So grab your fanny packs and instant cameras, pack your bags and visit Webster, New York, where life is always a vacation!

* (Allow 4-6 weeks extra delivery time for the Town of Webster Plow if you live on a dead-end street.)

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Beauty is all around us

15 Apr

It’s so easy to plod through our daily lives with our heads down, our minds heading in different directions at once, backwards to troubles that came before, forward to difficulties we know are on the horizon. But these days especially, for our own emotional well-being, we need to pause and notice the beauty around us.

I got to thinking about that several days ago when I happened to be at Webster Thomas High School. As I was leaving, I walked by an incredible mural.

Well, I ALMOST walked by it. Because it stopped me in my tracks.

The large mural is a close-up of a young man’s face, peering directly at you with a wary, almost accusatory expression. Not being a artist myself, I couldn’t tell you what kind of paints or techniques were used to create it. I just know that it captivated me.

It was then I remembered — from the many years I worked at Thomas — that this was not the only mural splashed across the school’s walls. They started appeared perhaps 10 or more years ago, and new ones are added every year in an ongoing beautification project. And they are beautiful.

So before I left, I strolled through a few more halls and took some photos so I could share some of the incredible art that can be found there.

That very same day, I also made a point to swing by the Webster Recreation Center. The folks there recently installed some art of their own — sort of.

Along the walls leading to the community rooms at the back of the Rec Center, there’s a stunning new mural comprised of about 350 miniature, 4″ by 4″ canvases, created by kids, adults and businesses. Hung together, they’re an explosion of color and whimsy.

There’s still room for more of the 4×4 art pieces, so if you’re interested in adding to the project and having your artwork displayed for all to see, stop by the Rec Center to get your canvas.

In the meantime, make sure to stop sometime in your day, every day, to notice something beautiful.

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The “lost” memory album is going home!

6 Apr

Another “lost” cause has ended happily.

Several weeks ago, I posted a blog about a memory album filled with mementos and photos which a friend of mine had found at a local Goodwill.

The album itself was nothing special; your basic sticky-paged photo album we’ve all used for years for our family photos. Its 19 pages were filled with photos dating back to the early 1900s, picturing relatives and special events. Several more pages were filled with cards and letters, many of them apparently made by children and grandchildren.

My friend turned sleuth and was able to determine the album was probably owned by a woman named Caroline Kolupski, who used live in North Greece. He reached out to me for help in locating Caroline’s family so it could be returned. Perhaps, he thought, if I wrote a blog about the album, someone might recognize the photos or names.

My readers came through.

Within just a few days of posting the blog, I was contacted by not just one, but two of Caroline’s relatives who still live in the area and who were excited about the prospect of getting the album back. After that, it was just a matter of arranging a time for the hand-off.

That happened earlier this week when my friend and I met Marilyn Kolupski Kraitsik and Sandy LaDonna Kolupski for breakfast at The Original Steve’s Diner in Penfield. Marilyn is one of Caroline’s daughters, Sandy a niece by marriage.

We had a delightful time, getting to know each other and revisiting the details of the photo album’s journey from Goodwill to breakfast table. The album lying between them on the table, Marilyn and Sandy paged through it, pointing out Caroline and all the aunts, uncles and grandparents pictured in the old, fading photos. We were introduced to so many people and so many wonderful memories.

It was especially delightful to learn more about Caroline, who passed away in 2000, and the Kolupski clan.

Caroline had nine brothers and sisters, and her husband Lou had ten siblings. They raised four children of their own, three girls and a boy. A strikingly beautiful woman, Sandy remembers that her Aunt Caroline, “one of our sweet aunts,” was “as beautiful inside as well as outside.”

The ladies were also able to fill in some blanks. For starters, I’d theorized that the album had been assembled for Caroline because she was going into a nursing home or was in the hospital. Instead, Marilyn believes it was one of many photo albums her mother had put together, and the cards and letters tucked in the back had been added later, perhaps as part of a group Christmas gift.

As for how it ended up at Goodwill? Marilyn thinks when her sister was clearing out some of their mom’s old things, the album got mixed into the bags and boxes and not noticed.

When breakfast was over, Marilyn tucked the album under her arm and both she and Sandy thanked us — again — for finding and returning it. They were clearly thrilled to have it back, and we were equally pleased to have followed the story to its happy ending.

In hindsight, we shouldn’t have worried that we wouldn’t be able to find the photo album’s owner. There are still a LOT of Kolupskis in the Rochester area, and they’re all related. So it was really only a matter of time before “Grama” Kolupski’s album would find its way back home.

Thank you to everyone who shared the blog and have followed the story. (Click here to read the original blog I posted about the album.)

* * *

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