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Bygone Blog: Spam, spam, spam

2 Oct

This is the sixth in my series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 8 years. This one was originally published on August 25, 2012.

8252012 spam

Looking for some cheap entertainment? Poke through your spam folder sometime. Don’t worry, if you don’t actually click on a link, you’re safe. I do this every once in a while when I get bored. I visit my Gmail spam folder and see how many people want to give me money or need help carrying all their money-stuffed suitcases to the United States, or consider me a perfect candidate for a cheap loan. (I don’t get the male enhancement ads very much anymore. Maybe they wised up.)

So those always make me giggle. But if I’m in the mood for some real gut-breaking laughs, I check the spam comments I get on my WordPress blog. Most of them try to commend me on my excellent blog and insightful comments.

At least I think that’s the case. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.  Here’s an example (and I swear, I did not edit this for clarity):

I wanted to post you that very small remark in order to say thanks a lot as before with your spectacular suggestions you’ve shown here. This is simply remarkably open-handed of people like you to offer unreservedly exactly what a number of people would have offered as an e book in order to make some cash for their own end, notably seeing that you might have tried it in case you wanted. These tactics also acted to be the great way to recognize that the rest have similar zeal just as mine to understand a little more with regard to this matter. Certainly there are thousands of more fun instances up front for folks who read your site.

Thanks. I guess?

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New friends, brought together by art and apple cake

27 Sep
Pat and Josie and Buddy

Pat Tingley, Josie Pancione and Pat’s dog Buddy.

Today, I’d like to tell a story about two inspiring women — one an outstanding artist, the other an outstanding cook — and new friendships.

Josie Pancione, 88, lives at the Cherry Ridge retirement community on Ridge Road. She’s a faithful reader of my Our Towns East Extra column.

Some time ago, Josie tracked me down through the newspaper. She wanted to tell me all about an 87-year old friend of hers, Pat Tingley, who also lives at Cherry Ridge. Pat, she told me, was working on a huge painting in her garage. It was unbelievable, Josie insisted, a real sight to behold. And I might want to write about it.

It took me a while, but early last week I finally found the time to go down to Cherry Ridge to meet Josie and Pat, and to see this incredible painting.

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Pat Tingley’s painting stretches a full 18 feet long. The colors are so much more vibrant than my camera could capture.

The painting is indeed impressive. The canvas is a huge 8′ tall by 18′ feet wide, and it fills the entire west wall of Pat’s garage. It’s alive with color: oranges, blues, and a dozen shades of purple and pink.

The far left-hand side of the artwork depicts a pre-dawn scene on the Pacific Ocean, the sun glinting off the undulating waves, and a gull gliding through the growing brightness.

On the far right, another pre-dawn scene on our country’s Atlantic coast, framed by a handsome birch tree. The magnificent Tahoe Rift slices down the middle, separating the two oceans.

Pat describes the piece as “my concept of the composition of the earth, the creation of the earth, the ongoing of the earth.” And while it depicts both the Pacific and the Atlantic, it’s all just one ocean, Pat explained. “If you look at the way water moves, it’s one ocean.”

Pat plans to move her painting from her garage a large blank wall in her living room. There, it will be one of the first things visitors see when they walk through the front door. When I asked her if she had plans to frame her masterpiece, her answer was immediate.

No, she said, “You can’t frame creation. As soon as you frame it it becomes a static thing.”

My story could have ended here, a pleasant tale of how one woman’s passion for art has brought meaning to her life and beauty to our world. I could have taken my camera and notebook and headed for home.

But Josie Pancione had a different plan.

After we’d all had a chance to appreciate and chat about the painting, Pat and Josie ushered me inside the cottage, where Josie had prepared an authentic, three-course Italian dinner.

Pat’s dining room table was set with silverware and cloth napkins, and we settled in. Our meal began with dessert — a decadent apple cake — and fresh lemonade. We ate, and our pleasant conversation continued until our plates were bare and glasses were empty. Then it was time for me to head home, so the rest of the dinner came with me in to-go containers: pasta, sauce, meatballs, salad and freshly grated cheese, which Josie insisted should be sprinkled on everything.

It was enough food to last me for days.

There was only one more thing left to be done. As I headed toward the door, Josie called me over, spread her arms wide, and gave me a bona fide Italian two-cheek kiss.

It was an enjoyable, charming and amiable meeting. There was magnificent art and delectable food. But what I enjoyed most was the opportunity to make two lovely new friends.

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Bygone blog: Goodbye, old friends

5 Sep

This is the fifth in my series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 8 years. This one was originally published on December 16, 2011.

I chose this blog especially for today, the first day of the new school year here in Webster. As I begin my second year at the libraries of Schlegel Road and Plank Road North elementary schools, I still remember fondly my time at Thomas High School and all the friends I made there.

Including the copiers.  

RIP

Wednesday was a bittersweet day at work. We said goodbye to our two big, old copiers (which we affectionately called “Copier A” and “Copier B”) and welcomed two big, brand new ones.

For most of the staff at Webster Thomas, it was a happy occasion. After five years of heavy use, the old gals were really beginning to show their age. Jams were becoming more common. Parts were wearing out on a regular basis. People were beginning to think the Xerox repairman was on staff. No one shed a tear when they heard the copiers were being replaced.

But they never knew Copiers A and B like I did. For them, they were just convenient tools, meant to serve them and facilitate their administrative and teaching needs. As long as they were running smoothly, everything was sweetness and light. But jam up even for a minute and things turned nasty. Really fast.

I understand, though. Like most good things we have in life, the teachers didn’t really notice or appreciate Copiers A and B unless something went wrong, which was easily less than ten percent of the time. They didn’t work next door to them for five years like I had. They hadn’t rooted around inside with eight-inch tweezers and a miniature flashlight, searching for the smallest scraps of paper jammed in the deepest corners. They couldn’t tell just by listening that the copiers weren’t feeling well.

Yes, I was kind of attached to Copier A and Copier B.

So, to properly express my feelings and make sure our old friends got the respect they deserved in their final days, when I sent an email to the staff announcing the new copiers’ pending arrival, I added this footnote:

Please consider throwing some kind words at Copiers A and B when you’re in the copy room today. Despite their occasional PMS and old-age moments, they have been real workhorses and have served us well. If you’re a building veteran, you’ll remember the clunkers we had before our friends A and B came along. These were a huge improvement and they have earned the right to depart the Thomas family with dignity.

I might cry. Don’t watch.

To their credit, my peers understood and were very sympathetic. They sent condolence emails. One wondered, “Should we give them a proper going away party? What does one give the copier that has everything? It’s not like they need another drawer, and staples don’t always agree with them.” I received an email condolence card featuring blooming magnolias, in which my friend wrote, “As the flowers signify a new beginning, thus your fondness for your new copiers will develop over time. Sorry for the loss!”

But the best of the best was when my friend Leslie beckoned me into the copy room, taped two hand-colored paper roses on the copiers, took my hand and conducted a short memorial service. It was all I could do to not cry. Because I was laughing so hard.

We left the roses on the copiers until they were hauled away, and several teachers took the opportunity to scribble some kind notes.

flower

Hmm. Maybe they appreciated our old friends “A” and “B” more than I realized.

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Summer’s not over yet

31 Aug

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I came across this lemonade stand in my neighborhood as I was heading home after work yesterday. I always make it a point to patronize young entrepreneurs.

Kudos to these enterprising young people for stretching their summer business out as long as they could. Pictured are (L-R) Maddox Felton, Adam Dimartino, Jane Kraten, Harper Felton and Nicholas Dimeo.

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Dinosaurs, laughter and play keep a boy’s memory alive

28 Aug

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The memory of young Jack James Heiligman is alive and well, embodied in the smiles and laughter of children at our area’s newest playground, Jack’s Place.

Jack’s Place is a a blue, dinosaur-themed playground at Penfield’s Rothfuss Park on Five Mile Line Road. It was built by a terrific organization called the Jack Foundation, in honor of 3-year old Jack Heiligman, who lost his life tragically last October.

Hundreds of people attended the official opening ceremonies Sunday afternoon, where Jack’s mother Anne spoke emotionally about her son and how the playground has helped fulfill the dream she and her husband AJ had to keep Jack’s memory alive.

She said,

We knew we could never forget Jack, but we didn’t want anyone to forget him. With that in  mind, we started the Jack Foundation the weeks after he passed and were overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit and resources. We encouraged acts of caring and kindness in Jack’s memory and the caring people jumped in and helped. 

People would ask them how they were able to continue after such a devastating loss, to which she responded with a quote from Fred Rogers:

When disaster strikes, look for the helpers. You will always find caring people in this world who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong. 

When the idea came to them to build a playground to honor their son, the support doubled-down. Friends, neighbors, family members and local businesses donated their time, effort and services to help make it a reality. Individuals, local companies, whole families, even children, all started raising money for the project, collecting more than $175,000 in just ten months.

The result of that outpouring of love and effort is a beautiful new play facility which incorporates all of the things that Jack loved most: dinosaurs, climbing and sliding, and the color blue. There’s even a Little Free Library, because Jack also loved books.

There are slides, of course — six of them by my count; spinny, merry-go-round thing that’s quite a bit updated from my day; a bouncy thing; a sand box where kids can “dig” for dinosaur bones; and lots and lots of places where kids can climb and crawl. There are also eight benches, where parents and grandparents can relax.

As I watched countless kids (young and old; I saw a few adults taking to the slides as well) clambering around the playscape, I could imagine Jack playing, smiling and laughing right along with them. I know that Anne and AJ imagined that as well, and I hope the thought gave them some comfort.

Here are some photos from the opening:

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Helping keep the neighborhood clean

26 Aug

Capture

This is a great idea.

My husband and I were taking a morning walk the other day when we happened across this wonderful little dog poop receptacle that someone had placed next to their mailbox.

Perhaps they’ve been having trouble with people leaving dog waste bags in their front yard. Perhaps they’re just friendly neighbors and dog fanciers looking to make life easier for other dog fanciers.

Whatever the story behind it, I think it’s an inspired idea.

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“Old fashion summer fun in Webster”

13 Aug

That’s what my friend Jim called these photos when he sent them to me a little while ago. He snapped them when he was at Webster Park a few weekends ago.

He wrote,

I couldn’t resist taking a few shots of these kids having a good time in the spray at Webster Park last week. The waves were breaking and the wind was blowing and the kids were having a great time. Just thought you would like to see some young people having fun without their iPads or cell phones….

I agree, it is great to see.

Summer’s not over yet! Send me a photo or two of your kids having some summer fun and I’ll post them in my blog.

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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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Bygone Blog: Cats in Collusion

29 Jul

This is the third in my series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 8 years. This one was originally published on February 2, 2009. 

scheming cats

(Not actually my cats but they look like the ones I had. This photo courtesy weruletheinternet.com)

Yesterday I found myself standing in K-Mart, staring at a selection of kitchen trash cans, analyzing their various features, while simultaneously trying to estimate my cats’ intelligence.

Let me explain. My cats — to be honest, I think the older one is the ringleader — have become very adept at knocking our kitchen trash can over in the middle of the night and having a feast. It’s the only time they actually get along, so the camaraderie they show in this endeavor is touching. However, that being said, we got very tired of cleaning up trash every morning. So we started chocking the trash can against the wall at night so they couldn’t tip it.

They figured out how to open the swinging lid and fish things out from above.

Which brings me back to K-mart, the kitchen can aisle and my cat-IQ calculations. It was more complicated than you think. One can, for example, had a “quick-release” lid on the front which only had to be lightly touched and the lid would spring up. I was convinced they’d figure that out, either by accident or by design. Another had a foot-pedal mechanism which would have befuddled them, but it wasn’t big enough for our needs.

I finally decided on one with a latch on the side. I figured the cats would have to stand on top of the lid to press it, and their weight would ultimately keep the lid in place.

Believe it. These thoughts actually went through my head.

So I brought that one home and it now sits in our kitchen, where I debriefed my family on the whole trash can-purchasing, cat-IQ thought process. Someone wondered if, when the cat stood on the lid and pressed the latch, the lid might propel the feline into the opposite wall like a kitty projectile.

I do believe they failed to appreciate my efforts.

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The tour has finally come to an end

21 Jul

tour de parks

I do believe my 2016 Tour de Parks has finally concluded.

Earlier this week I spent a very enjoyable morning (and had a nice lunch) with the Wellness on Wednesday group which meets every week at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Webster. It was the fifth — and probably the last — time I presented my Tour de Parks talk.

If you STILL haven’t heard about my quest, basically it was this: In January 2016 I decided it would be fun to visit every single one of Rochester’s east-side parks (in the eight towns I cover for my column). It would be good exercise, a nice challenge, and would give me a lot of ideas to write about in my column.

I was able to cobble together a list of 100 parks, and spent many hours, especially on the weekends and during the summer, checking the parks off my list. I hiked as many as I could, biked a few, ran a few, took lots of photos and wrote a blog about my experiences.

One of the main reasons I was motivated to complete the tour was an invitation from the Adirondack Mountain Club of the Genesee Valley to speak at their March, 2017 meeting. I did that, and had a great time. Because it was so much fun, I thought I might like to do it again… and again. So I reached out to a few local libraries and in the next few months took my tour to Webster, Pittsford and Brighton.

And now, having completed my fifth presentation, I think I’ll tuck my display board away into a corner.  I’ve had a lot of fun, but I really need to get some housework done.

If you didn’t manage to get to one of the presentations, that’s too bad, because you missed my witty repartee. But all is not lost. I managed to turn my PowerPoint into a Google slideshow and have posted it on my Tour de Parks blog site, along with images of the display board and the brochure I handed out listing all the parks. I tried to put a short summary on each slide of what I was talking about.

You can find my blog here.

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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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Summer fun in the neighborhoods and village

19 Jul

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On the theme of summer fun, Jill Nelson sent me these photos from a street party her Creekbend Lane neighbors enjoyed last weekend, complete with a bounce house and an ice cream truck.

(I’m thinking I need to move to that neighborhood.)

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They don’t LOOK like kids, but….

Thank you to Sylvia Hungerford for this delightful photo of one of my favorite bands ever, whom she called a “ragtag group of musicians.” It was taken at this year’s Webster Kiddie Parade during the Firemen’s Carnival weekend.

band

This group, led by Jeannette Altavela leads the kiddie parade every year, and just have tons of fun. Sylvia wrote,

 

It is a fun event where we dress in costumes and let our hair down. The antithesis of formal parade guidelines, there are none. You can be out of line, out of step, mingle with the crowd and enjoy the children parading the route with their costumes. What fun it is.

For the first time in years I had to miss the kiddie parade, so I appreciate Sylvia sending along this photo. I also got several other photos from some of my readers, which I’ve put in a slideshow below. The first two are from Amy Weetman and the three others from Rebecca Parzynski and her amazing Bella’s Bumbas.

If anyone else has some photos you’d like posted, please send them along!

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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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