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Webster community mailbag

9 Mar

Two opportunities to help our neighbors in today’s mailbag, and some reader memories from the ice storm of ’91.

Immanuel Lutheran Church at 131 West Main St., in the Village of Webster will hold a food and underwear drive on Saturday March 20 from from 10 a.m. to noon.

The food collected will be shared with needy families via Immanuel’s Weekend Backpack Food program and their Little Free Pantry.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Weekend Backpack Food program. It began with 16 students at one elementary school, and was just a 6-week commitment. It currently supports more than 70 students across all seven Webster elementary buildings.

In his recent email, Ed Huehn from Immanuel explained,

A referral from a teacher, school nurse or social worker and consent from a guardian/parent makes (a student) a part of the program. The food provides support to the student on the weekend. Some, but not all of the kids receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the week. The foods included are kid-friendly and easy to prepare. Each bag contains 4-6 food items for meals or snack. They are a supplement for the weekend and easy to prepare. …The Webster School District transports the food from the church to each building and a coordinator there distributes the bags! Many thanks to all involved in this program and their support over 10 years.

Immanuel also maintains one of the many little free pantries in the Webster area, located in the parking lot. The concept is “take what you need and leave what you can.” Some of the donations collected on the 20th will be used to restock the pantry. If you choose to bring donations at other times, please limit them to commercially prepared, non-perishable goods.

Oh, yeah! And remember they need underwear, too. Underwear is one of the most needed and least donated items in community programs. Pleease bring only new underwear and socks, in orginal packaging.


If you happen to be closer to Penfield’s four corners on that Saturday, Penfield First Baptist Church is also holding a drive-up, drop-ff food drive that day, also from 10 a.m. to noon. They’ll be set up in the church parking lot, 1862 Penfield Rd. Donations will support the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf “feed the kids” program.


The Webster Public Library has a Puzzle Swap Shelf!

I’m actually bouncing in my chair as I write that, because I am an off-again on-again jigsaw-puzzler (when I can find the time and space) and have burned through all the ones I own. And I fear my good friend Patty will get tired of loaning me ones from her expansive collection.

So when I heard that I can take some of my old standbys (some of which I have done several times) and swap them out for new ones, I was delighted. So grab your ond ones and stop by the library for some new ones. I might just see you there!

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

Finally, I would like to share with you a few reader responses I got after my blog on the 30th anniversary of the 1991 ice storm. I invited everyone to send in their memories from that day, and I received a few. Thank you for sharing!

At that time we lived in Country Manor apartments. And we were lucky because power was restored to that complex quickly. (Xerox was busy back then and I think that our close proximity to the plant helped get the power back later that day on the 4th) But it was one heck of a night listening to the branches cracking and falling in a nearby wooded area and also seeing the flashes of the transformers blowing up. I would rate this storm as probably the worst storm that I have experienced in this area in my life. The blizzard of ’66 was wild, but we did not have the loss of power or the outright destruction that the ice storm of ’91 had. Our county looked like a war zone for sure ! — Bob B.

We were living in the Maplewood area of the city. A branch in our backyard took out our power but we were able to run a large extension cord from our neighbor’s garage for minimal power. We were low priority for the power company so didn’t get power back for a week. My sons wanted to take a walk so I made them wear football helmets because of the ice falling from trees. It was beautiful! — Karen T.

We had moved to Irondequoit by 1991. … Our ice storm experience in Irondequoit similar to yours. Had power, so Greece family moved in. Crowded but fun. Lost some trees, no house damage. Beautiful wind-chime sound of ice-laden branches moving in wind until wind picked up and turned into crashing sounds as branches and limbs fell. — Kathy T.

On a side note, it was fun to discover through these memories that Kathy and I were apparently neighbors back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, living perhaps 10 houses away from each other on the same city street.

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The weird tradition continued, even without snow

26 Dec

Several days ago I blogged about an unusual, decades-old tradition my family has, the annual barefoot snow walk. (Click on the hyperlink to get a little more detail about the tradition’s history and recent interations.)

In that blog I pledged that the crazy tradition would continue, even though I wouldn’t be getting together with my extended family for the holidays. As promised, I set up a Zoom snow walk instead, and invited family members from around the country to participate.

It proved to be as crazy a virtual gathering as it usually is in person.

Just before the appointed time, 11 a.m. Christmas morning, cousins and nephews and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles from around the country started joining the meeting, and it wasn’t long before we were all barefoot and heading out the door. Many carried their phones to record the event, others had propped their laptop up on the porch or had a non-participant hold the recording device. (These nonbelievers are usally in-laws.)

We didn’t all have snow, but that didn’t stop us. I made sure, for example, to gather up a couple of buckets-full on Christmas Eve before the rains started and threw it in a freezer. The next morning we brought it to our gathering at my daughter’s house in Gates. It had frozen solid and I had to break it up with a hammer, but it was enough for the three of us to stand in.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the wild video.

Top row are my eldest daughter Sara and her boyfriend Tom in Cheektowaga; my daughter’s living room; my brother Chris and his family in PA; and my brother Greg in CT.

Middle row: me, my son Sean and youngest daughter Erin at her house in Gates; my sister Mindy in Greene; my cousin Laura in AZ (where she put her feet in a pool); and my cousin Amy in MA (holding a phone where my aunt and uncle are FaceTiming in from Cape Cod and walking in their snow).

On the bottom: my nephew Tim and his girlfriend Manda are watching while they drive; my cousin Paul in Horseheads; and my nephew Drew in MA.

Now here’s the really neat thing about all of this, and one of the few positive things to have come out of this pandemic. In total, 21 children and adults were part of the 2020 COVID Barefoot Snow Walk, from all over New York and four other states, including Arizona. It was something we never would have done in a normal year.

This is the first time all of these people have been “together” in one place. I haven’t seen most of them in more than a year — even years. And I don’t care the reason, or that it was through a computer screen. It was just great to see them all.

Hoping you all had a merry Christmas filled with your own comforting and unusual traditions.

No snow on Christmas morning? No prob. We saved some from Christmas Eve.

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Two stories of holiday kindness

19 Dec

Here are a few quick stories that will brighten your day.

The first comes from one of my faithful readers, whose daughter Julia dances with the local studio Dancing With Denise, located on Gravel Rd. in Webster.

Owner Denise Baller has always supported our community in so many ways, most recently participating in the recent Webster Holiday Parade of Lights, where she and her dedicated dancers kept going through rain and snow until the very last car drove through the parade.

Last week Sunday she and her “Happy Feet Dancers” dancers took that commitment to The Maplewood senior living community and created their very own Dancing Parade around the outside of the building. Each resident was treated to their own private dance show right outside their windows.

The photo above is of the dancers in their holiday gear. Go on over to Denise’s Facebook page to see more photos and a really cute video.

I picked up this next tidbit from a Facebook post created by Jamie Nodine about her son Josh.

I wrote about Josh back in March when he was treated to a very special birthday parade past his house, kind of a consolation prize for when his Dream Factory trip to Walt Disney World got canceled.

On nice days, Josh likes to sit outside his State Rd. home and wave at the cars and trucks driving by. When he was doing that a little more than a week ago, he was surprised by a very special visitor.

Jamie wrote,

The weather was beautiful yesterday! It was a perfect day for Josh to sit in the driveway and wave to passersby. As I looked out the front window, I saw a truck slow down and stop in the driveway. Much to my surprise, Santa hopped out to greet my son! Josh was beside himself! With a “ho ho ho,” he handed Josh some candy canes and wished him a Merry Christmas.

Josh was thrilled, Jamie added, and talked about the experience all night long. A big thank you to the the kind Santa in the pickup truck for taking the time to make a special memory this special young man.

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Honoring our first responders

27 Jul

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Better late than never, I’d like to post a follow-up report on the mini-parade that took place along East Main Street on Thursday night.

There obviously was no Firemen’s Parade this year, but Lori Allen and her family was undaunted, setting up their parade chairs outside their Main Street home anyway, at what would have normally been parade time (albeit a week late thanks to the monsoon). They handed out free flags to passersby, accepted donations for our first responders, and welcomed visits by officers from the Webster PD and Webster Volunteer FD firefighters.

I wasn’t able to make the festivities, but Lori posted this on her Facebook page:

Not a bad turnout ! Thank you all who stopped and got a lag, beeped your horn and waved, and those who donated! Thank you Webster Police Dept for stopping and also thank you to the Webster fireman and woman for coming as well and to all the firemen THANK YOU for what you do! 

Before the end of the evening, Lori raised $218 through donations from passers-by.

I don’t know exactly who took all these photos, but here are a few from the evening:

Many thanks to the Allen family for reminding us what community is all about.

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The parade will go on!

21 Jul

Well, sort of.

Last weekend I posted about Lori Allen and her family, who were planning to do something special last Thursday night in honor of the Webster Fireman’s Parade.

The plan was, on Thursday evening, which in a normal year would have been Parade Night, they were going to set up their chairs in front of their house at Baker and East Main (as they do every year). Then, during the normally scheduled parade time, they would hand out flags and encourage drivers to honk on their way by.

Well, you may remember that a monsoon blew through town last Thursday night, so that event was cancelled, as would have the parade itself, probably.

But Lori has announced that the virtual parade has been rescheduled for this Thursday, July 23.  So as you’re driving or walking through the village that evening around 6:30 or so, watch for them, grab a flag, toot your horn and join in the celebration!

flags

The event is as much a celebration of the parade-that-wasn’t as it is a fundraiser for our Webster Volunteer Fire Department.

This is what Lori posted about that on Facebook:

My Dad wants to show support for the firemen, police, all first responders. Thursday we will be sitting up there handing out American flags, and flags with thin blue or red stripes representing our police and firemen along with info on donating.

This is (the WVFD’s) big fundraiser and of course the Carnival has been cancelled due to Covid. So if you’re driving by Baker St., stop and get your flag, or honk as you go by, and please consider donating to the Webster Volunteer Fire Dept. It may be you they come to save.

I imagine that Lori and her family will have a collection jar out there, but if you’re not going to be able to stop by, you can also donate by visiting http://www.donatewvfd.org. Or if you’d rather send a check, make it payable to the Webster Volunteer Fire Dept. Fund, and mail to: Key Bank, 980 Ridge Rd., Webster, NY 14580.

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Birthday parade honors former St. Rita principal

13 May

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Birthday parades seem to be popping up every week these days, but this one was an extra special one.

On Monday evening, a parade of cars of cars honoring Sister Katherine Ann Rappl streamed through the St. Rita parking lot, offering gratitude and 80th birthday wishes to the school’s former principal.

It was a complete surprise for Sister Rappl, who clearly enjoyed the parade, which numbered about 140 cars. Thank you so much to Julie Schillaci for passing along the included here.

Julie also sent this write-up about the school’s beloved former principal:

No matter how many years pass, alumni of St. Rita School in Webster will always be “God drops” to Sister of Mercy Katherine Ann Rappl.

Exceptional students at the school are recognized with this honorary designation and receive raindrop-shaped sun catchers to hang in their windows to remind them 84CD1B72-D0E9-48EF-96F8-E6E6EF5CF9F9of how they capture God’s love.

The phrase “God drops” was one that Sister Rappl picked up during a National Catholic Educational Association Conference workshop years ago

“A raindrop is fully made up of what a cloud is made up of,” she always said, noting that people are God drops because they are made up of the same substance as God. God’s life is inextricably intertwined with their lives, she said.

And for the past 30 years, the lives of the students at St. Rita School have been intertwined with Sister Rappl, who began working there as principal in 1983.

She taught at St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist, Rochester; St. Salome, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; and St. Patrick Junior High School and Notre Dame High School, Elmira.

Formerly known as Sister Mary Benedicta, her home parish was St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit, and she attended the parish school. She said the Sisters of Mercy who taught her at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton were very influential in her discerning her vocation, and she became a Sister of Mercy in 1958.

Sister Rappl loves being in Catholic education because she has been able to teach children both academics and their faith, and she has gotten the chance to see students grow.

“That’s a big joy in seeing how they learn to take responsibility and control of their behavior from kindergarten to sixth grade,”

And, she always points out, J.O.Y. — an acronym that stands for Jesus, others and yourself — is the school’s theme.

“I always tell students don’t let anyone take your joy away from you,” Sister Rappl received the “Lighting the Fire Award” from the Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State for her 50 years of service in Catholic education.

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You may have heard some commotion last night in the village around 7 p.m. That was yet another birthday parade, this one for Fritz Sierk, owner of The Coach Sports Bar on West Main.

This one featured not only a fire engine and other emergency vehicles, but also the WFD’s antique engine, and that huge Teamsters semi, blasting music.

Hard to tell if Fritz saw it all; he seemed to have something in his eye for part of it.

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The next Webster Museum docent?

23 Jan

Edison PoppHere’s a wonderful tidbit from our Webster Museum and how the folks there are changing young lives.

The photo above is of 7-year old Edison Popp. His grandmother, Marianne Ferrara, had taken him to the Webster Museum where Sharon Pratt and Lisa McNamara were serving as docents. They gave him a tour of the museum, and he was so impressed that, upon returning home, he set up his own museum and acted as docent.

As for me, I would love to know what some of those objects are and am very impressed that he had access to all of them. I see a college history major in the future.

Haven’t visited the Webster Museum yourself lately? Make sure to pop in soon to see their latest exhibits. Perhaps you will also be inspired, juts as Edison was. The museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, open 2-4 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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The stories are still being told

16 Dec

WAHAS_11x17_PosterIf you haven’t stopped by the Webster Public Library yet to check out the We All Have a Story: The Stories Continue photography exhibit, I highly recommend you take the time to do so in the next few weeks.

The exhibit, created by local portrait photographer and Webster Central School District employee Linda Hayes, takes a closer look at the lives and stories of 21 WCSD staff members to help illuminate the people inside the classrooms and offices who work with our children every day. The stories are thought provoking, happy and sad. But more than anything else, they’ll probably make you think, “Wow, I never realized that.”

My story is among them. I tell my story about how three simple — but powerful — words a teacher spoke to me many years ago changed my life and inspired me to become a writer.

You will probably know at least one other of the participants, which also include:

  • Joe Montemaro, WCSD Director of Technology
  • Elizabeth Livorsi, Spry math teacher
  • Elizabeth Ristow-Klem, Klem South music teacher
  • Sandy McCormack, retired Wilink special education teacher
  • Ashley Yang, Webster Thomas Social Studies teacher
  • Karen Murray, Webster Thomas administrator and Chester French, retired Buildings and Grounds
  • Kyle Suffoletto, Webster Thomas English teacher and his father Mike Suffoletto, current school board member
  • Diane Huot, Plank South literacy teacher
  • Marnie Weinmann, Plank North kindergarten teacher
  • Leslie Jones, Klem South literacy teacher
  • Julie Provenzano, Schlegel speech pathology teacher
  • Krista Lawton, Webster Schroeder English teacher
  • Hannah Formella, Webster Schroeder speech pathology teacher, with Julius, her therapy dog
  • Kelly Stevens, State Rd. art teacher
  • Leslie Hall, Webster Schroeder foreign language teacher
  • Martha Sullivan, Webster Thomas English teacher
  • Patty Cooke, Webster Schroeder guidance counselor
  • Sarah Harding, Klem North PE teacher

It’s worth a few minutes to check them all out, so next time you’re at the library, take the time to do so. Or make a point to stop by before the exhibit closes.

The exhibit runs the entire month of December, and is open to the public during the library’s normal business hours, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 10 to 6, Saturday from 10 to 5 and Sunday from 1 to 4. (The library will be closed for the holidays on December 24, 25, and 31.)

The library is located at 980 Ridge Rd., its main entrance on Van Ingen Drive at the back of the plaza.

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Ah, the joys of raking…

5 Nov

Pile of autumn maple colored leaves isolated on white background.

As many of you know, I’m a fairly new resident of the Village of Webster. My husband and I moved here from our North Penfield home in April, and I totally love it.

I love being only a short walk from the center of the village, and all the pubs and restaurants there. I love being able to stroll to village events without having to worry about traffic and parking. I love being so much closer to great Christmas shopping, and only eight minutes from my job at Schlegel Rd. Elementary.

But you know what I love BEST about living in the Village of Webster?

I DON’T HAVE TO BAG ANY LEAVES!!!!!!!

I’ve been tapping out this blog for more than 10 years now, and pretty much every single year I whined about how the Town of Penfield still requires its residents to bag their leaves every fall and leave them for their refuse collector. I envied my Webster neighbors over the back fence who simply pushed theirs to the curb while I raked and swept and piled and stuffed and tied bags for hours every weekend.

We had several large trees in our yard, which meant that we would typically collect more than 100 bags of leaves every fall. And since our refuse collector only allowed us to put out eight of them every week, we would be placing them at the curb well into January.

In contrast, last weekend, it took Jack and me only about 90 minutes with our rake, tarp and leaf sweeper to clear our yard and dump all the leaves at the curb for pick-up. We estimated we’ll have to do it one more time in a week or two. But then…we’ll be done.

So thank you, Village of Webster, for providing this service. My tax dollars are well worth it.

Here’s a run-down of the village and town leaf collection information, from their websites:

Webster Village

This service begins when the autumn leaves begin to accumulate on the ground and will be on a daily basis until the beginning of December, or until the first heavy snowfall, whichever comes first. The Public Works Department will traverse each Village street once a week to remove leaves from the curb. To help make leaf pickup easier for yourself and our DPW staff, we request you follow some simple guidelines:

-Do not place brush, rocks, pumpkins, wood, plastic, or other foreign material with your leaves
-Do not bag your leaves for Village curbside pickup
-Do not place leaves in roadway, or on top of drainage structures, concrete, in gutters, or drainage ditches

The village also provides brush removal one day every month. For more details about that, visit the Village of Webster website.

Town of Webster

We start on the west side of town heading east and will make as many passes through town as possible during the leaf pick-up operation, weather permitting. There is no set schedule for particular streets throughout the town. Leaf season typically runs six weeks and start and finish dates vary based on actual leaf drop.

Please be patient with us during this process, as leaves do not all fall at once, and we never know what to expect for our weather conditions.
– Make sure leaves are on the edge of the road and not in the road or gutter
– Rake only leaves (and not twigs or branches) to the road’s edge
– Placing leaves in the road or gutter significantly slows down the entire operation. It is against the law to place leaves or any debris in the road.

For more information, visit the Town of Webster website.

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Kitchen philosophy

17 Sep

fridgeI have a very messy fridge (at left), and I always have. Like many families, the front of our refrigerator is our communication center and a vital tool for reminding me of appointments, generally keeping our lives in order. It always boggles my mind when I go into someone else’s house and see that their fridge is completely bare. I would be rudderless.

I was thinking about that the other day. I was staring at the fridge as my coffee was cooking, and was reminded about a blog I wrote back in October of 2008, on the eve of the 2008 election. Then, as now, I titled it “Kitchen philosophy,” and it read like this:

You know, you can tell a lot about a person by looking at her refrigerator.

Take mine, for example. A close inspection of the schedules, fliers, magnets, white board notes and calendar dates jostling for space on my fridge will tell you these things about my family:

  • we’re Buffalo Bills fans
  • at least one of us works for the YMCA
  • the kids get good grades and are musically talented
  • we’re involved in our church
  • we shop at Aldi and Tops
  • we’re blood donors
  • we watch WXXI
  • we’re into martial arts
  • someone attends Nazareth College
  • we care about the environment

The fact that there are three calendars on our fridge would also indicate that despite all these activities (and the chaotic appearance of the fridge), we’re pretty organized about everything and are keeping on top of life pretty well.

Now, that’s an amazing amount of information gleaned from one small part of a person’s life. And if you think about it, that’s a heck of a lot more than we know about either of the two presidential candidates or their VP picks, people we’re going to be trusting with running our country and helping our families maintain the status quo.

So what about this … how about we ask each of the four candidates to take a picture of their refrigerators and publish them in the New York Times. Those simple photos could tell us more about their character than any stump speech or debate ever could.

A lot has changed in my life since that fridge from 11 years ago. I no longer have any children at home, for example, which changes things a LOT. I also have an entirely new house — and new fridge.

So I thought it would be fun to do this again. Here’s what I gleaned from my current messy fridge:

  • My kids are grown, but I’m still proud of them. Their photo holds a prominent spot
  • We still shop at Aldi, and even tough I’m not a Tops shopper anymore, I still hold a soft spot in my heart for them — my Wegmans shopping list still says “Tops”
  • My daughter is getting married.
  • I like live theater
  • I shop at Kohl’s
  • I like pizza!
  • I’m into cycling, and am still involved in martial arts
  • We’re still going to the same dentist
  • I work in the Webster schools.

A lot of things are different. But so much stays the same.

What does your fridge say about you?

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