May 9th, 2013
Growing up, gifts were purchased, and came with pretty paper and bows. No one ever thinks of, or saw what their parents do as a gift. It’s time and life that adds perspective and poignancy.
Even though I lost my mother at a young age, I see it every day, when I look at her wedding ring, on my left hand. No matter what my parents’ own personal problems were, they raised three children who somehow each knew to pick exactly the right mate, and go on to have loving relationships, and productive lives.
What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most is a collection of personal essays, reflecting on the gifts of wisdom, courage and strength they received from their mothers. I am 1/31st into it, had to stop and write this: Buy This Book
“How They Do it in France” by Elissa Schappell is a funny and warm portrait of her mother whose choice of substance over style she saw manifest itself in baked goods. Other titles include The Plant Whisperer, The Gift Twice Given, The Unicorn Princess, and Never Too Late.
If you’re looking for a special way to thank mom, or the mom-like people in your life, buy her this book. If you’re looking for a really special way to thank her, buy this book, read a chapter or two for inspiration, then write your own story.
April 27th, 2013
While I’ll always be an Ossining gal, have been graced to live on the perimeter of Turnure Park in White Plains for many years now. And for thirteen springs I have literally had a front row seat to the White Plains Annual Cherry Blossom festival. Always a wonderful and uplifting event, but tomorrow-Sunday April 28th 2013- will host the best ever-do not miss it!
Organizers at The Japan Education Center have worked just as hard behind the scenes…the entertainers will be just as enthralling…the White Plains’ DPW crews have busied themselves just as mightily this year-repairing damage from the ravages of this past season, then seeding, edging, mulching, planting and such…so why will this one be the best ever??
Two reasons…first: Mother Nature is cooperating. Am certainly not an expert, but like most flowering trees, the blooms of the Cherry Blossom trees have a short span.
Too many warm days speed up the process, too many cold days, or back and forth weather yields mild or uneven blooming. This spring has been on the cooler side, with a gentle trajectory toward warmer temps, PERFECT. Looking out my window as I write this, tomorrow will be MAGNIFICENT.
Other reason it’ll be White Plain’s best Cherry Blossom Festival ever? We are SO READY.
This festival celebrates the beginning of Spring- always an uplifting time of renewal. But this year, we are REALLY READY. Ready to see neighbors, and share new experiences. Ready to wear just one layer of clothes, and to feel the warm sun on bare arms. Ready to breathe clean, crisp air under clear blue skies, stroll and linger under canopies of fluffy, cotton-candy pink flowers. Ready to put the collective heaviness of the last 6 months behind us. Ready to be HAPPY.
Free, and open to the public, vendors start setting up early, but festivities run from noon to 5. The park is one block in off of Broadway, between Main and Lake Streets. If you’re driving, I recommend parking at one of the municipal lots like Hamilton-Main, (by Wal-Mart) and walking the 2 or 3 blocks…trust me, you’ll spend at least that much time stuck in traffic behind others who keep circling the block.
The Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in White Plains is a celebration of Japanese culture: music, singing and dancing will abound. Storytelling, and other events are suitable for kids of all ages, and popular food and beverages will be available for purchase. TODAY might be a great day to find and dust off (or go out and buy) those folding chairs that you can carry in a fabric tube, on your shoulder, as sitting space is minimal.
Am always so grateful to The Japan Education Center, and the City of White Plains for this event.
LIKE it now on FB now to see photos and more details. It will be the best ever, do not miss it.
January 18th, 2013
When you got your last electronic gadget, did you just take it out of the box, and start using it? Well, you probably wanted to. Maybe you even tried to.
But new model have different programs and capabilities. Even early-adapters had things they had to set up, and personalize. Many in the middle took the time to play around, and see, as a practical matter-how this would really work for them.
Maybe you were like me, a slower-adapter. You found features you had NO idea existed..or even any idea that you needed? But once you got how much easier and enjoyable your life was when you found an online GPS app (!!), could stay current with email, or instantly capture/share photos, this new gadget had value. You respected the process, and were a believer.
Technology today is a vital, but amorphous entity. It affects us profoundly, and is all around us. It can embrace and baffle us, engage and frustrate us. We each have different needs, and understandings of it, but one constant: If it’s set up right, and works, it’s effortless, and life is grand. But if-when!-it fails, it’s hard to think of anything else til it’s made right.
OK>think of your home as that individual and universal element: A center of our days, in specific ways that are different for everyone.
NOW>substitute a living, breathing, charming and experienced Home Professional as your new i-Whatever device….with an extensive app store!
Decorating, and Home Staging are not just about a visual. It’s not a singular destination, a standardized entity, or a one-size fits all solution.
It’s a personalized experience, typically consisting of several different elements-but the goal is always the same: to serve your own, unique circumstances. As far as this Westchester County Decorator, and Home Stager is concerned, your needs, goals-even your own abilities-are factored into solutions as much as cost, and your expectations.
Like any other app search…umm, personalized service-Decorating, and Home Staging both start by looking for a different, better way to do things.
If your flip phone (i.e. your space, or stuff) works for you as it is, that’s great, you’re set. If it’s not-if you think it could be better-or even if your hand is somewhat forced-say, your husband lost his family plan phone, had to upgrade!-think of me as your new i-Whatever, and just start the conversation.
NEXT: Think of The Refreshed Home as your favorite pair of black jeans
November 8th, 2012
Regular readers know I’ve written about Furniture Sharehouse before. It’s our local furniture bank, where basic, average unwanted furniture is collected, then re-distributed to clients of about 40 different agencies, FREE. Donors re-claim space in their home while getting a receipt for their taxes, and perfectly usuable furniture stays out of landfills.
Clients include individuals and families transitioning out of shelters, seniors and vets, foster kids who ‘age-out’ of the system, and fire/flood victims. To date, nearly 2500 Westchester County families in need have received FREE FURNITURE through the efforts of Furniture Sharehouse founder and Executive Director Kate Bialo.
Kate is now one of 10 National Finalists in L’Oreal Women of Worth 2012 event, which has already won her a $10,000. grant for Furniture Sharehouse. But now there is a bigger prize at stake, and she needs online votes. LOTS of them. Whichever candidate gets more votes between now and November 21st will win an additional $25,000. for their cause.
Here is the link. You can vote once a day, every day, between now and November 21st. PLEASE:
- Make it a favorite, and vote everyday
- Share it with family, friends, colleagues
- Like and Share on FB, and ask the same of your friends
The timing of this event is especially fortuitous, as many in our area are just starting to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy; the need is certain to escalate in the weeks to come.
Sandy has brought many of us to our knees the last week, in more ways than one. The 15-20 seconds it might take to vote each day could help make a world of difference to a neighbor. Thanks in advance, and stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted
October 3rd, 2012
161 games over six months, and for 3 teams in the Active Rain Baseball Junkies Fantasy Baseball League, it all comes down to tonight.
The lead has see-sawed back and forth for the last two weeks. This morning when we woke up, Bill Feela’s Minnesota Rain was in first place. My husband Doug-who TORTURED me last year with his ‘advice’- was a point and a half back, while my Good Guys were 4 points back.
But it could be anyone’s win tonight…two of us had bad pitching today, and
my team the other one of us is having a decent day of both hitting and pitching (hee-hee).
Regardless of how it all shakes out, it’s been a blast, and I thank all the managers who participated: From Tracy CA, Susan “Team Princess” Golding, and her co-manager Reily; AR’s own Kerrie “Yanks All the Way” Greenlaugh, and Carey NC prodigy Craig “Raleigh Carey Apex” Rutman.
Stanislaus county’s CA finest Jim “Jim’s Team” Patton; from sunny South Brevard county FL Jeff “JD’s Mets” DiMuria; from cold and rainyWestchester county NY Phil “J Train” Faranda. Last but not least, the original founder of the AR Baseball Junkies-the pride of Columbia River Gorge, Mel ‘Tinkers2Ever2Chance” Ahearn…and MEL-one of these days, you’re going to have to explain that team name!
Thank you one and all. It’s been a great season, and I have so enjoyed it.
…and only 135 more days til the start of Spring Training!!
September 11th, 2012
I remember a lot of that day eleven years ago, but more about the days after. Vividly, violently confronted with the previously unimaginable, people in the NY metro area clung to each other in their horror and grief. From this vulnerability came tenderness and kindness.
In the days-weeks-months that followed, I remember reading reports on how many took definitive actions. Actions that affirmed who you were, what you believed in, and what you wanted from your precious, remaining days here on this earth.
Some enlisted, others made life decisions they had been dallying with, deciding to marry-or divorce; to have children, or to change jobs. Six weeks after the attacks we bought a house.
Last year the media here was brutal, beating the sensationalistic drum for the tenth anniversary remembrance for a month before. Inescapable, I was conflicted and angry-what, I’m not sad or grief-stricken enough? and guilty-with such close proximity to NYC, how was I spared any direct loss? and how can whatever I feel be of any importance, compared to what the friends and families of those that were killed have to live with every day?
Loss, grief and ways of coping are all very personal. While I respect and honor others’ feelings, and their time table, just being passively sad does not work for me. I feel it’s a waste of the wonderful gift we have, when we wake up every morning with oxygen in our lungs.
My good friend Heather does a 9-11 memorial stair climb, where she prays while reading the names of those who were killed, while climbing 110 flights on the Stairmaster. I like that a lot. And I love that more and more this time of year calls attention to service.
As much as we wish otherwise, we cannot change the past, we can only shape the future. Using the memory of that terrible time can collectively spur us on to make better days, and help us to live our best life on September 12th…January 10th…April 30th…etc. Taking action. Giving back.
Each and every one of us can ‘do’ something, even if it’s quiet prayer, or sharing a kind word or gesture with a stranger. Those in the Hudson Valley looking for a more substantial connection could find it in The Volunteer Center. They match your time, talents and interests to a specific local need. They are also a year-round entity, so no worries if your availability does not coincide with a memorable day. Kindness matters…pass it on.
September 1st, 2012
Many Labor Days ago (before everything was online) I remember reading an op-ed piece in the NYT, exploring why Labor Day would make a better New Years Day.
Don’t ask me where my keys are, but this really hit a chord with me, and YES, I think of this every year.
There were two premises: First, as a practical matter, there is just WAY too much going on at the end of the year…too many distractions, too much stress to plan, or implement any kind of real change.
Second-the lure of a fresh start- the hope, promise and potential of a new school year, ingrained in us as children, is irresistible to us as adults. This aligns perfectly with what we currently look for in late December.
As adults, we can start fresh on any day we choose… but it just feels right, when so many other people are on the same page.
The last few years have been an uncertain time for many. In my work, I started to see the fog lift late last year, and have seen constant and sustained forward movement since. People are doing things, making decisions and choosing to get on with their lives.
They are getting rid of physical, mental and emotional clutter. Energized, they are re-claiming their power, and choosing to be happy. Which is a lot easier to say, or write about-than do.
The end of this summer seems to have snuck up on us really quickly this year. Whatever you have going on in the next few days, I hope you can find some quiet time…to collect your thoughts, restore your balance and refresh your heart, so you’re open to, and all ready for your next adventure. HAPPY LABOR DAY, EVERYONE!!
August 26th, 2012
Tomorrow marks the start of the the US Open in Flushing Meadows Park, in Queens, New York, which means yesterday was Arthur Ashe Kids’Day.
The annual kick-off event for the US Open since 1993, it’s a combination tennis-entertainment-charity event that commemorates tennis legend Ashe’s commitment to reach, and help kids through tennis.
Free events make up the first part of the day, where kids can attend tennis clinics, play on the courts, meet some of the pros, and enjoy other kid-centric activities.
Tickets for the afternoon entertainment, a concert held in Arthur Ashe stadium are modestly priced at $10.00-20.00. This year recording artists Carly Rae Jepson, and the group The Wanted played to a sellout crowd.
Ashe was unquestionably a talented player and a trailblazer, but he always used his celebrity as a means to help enrich others, address and end inequalities.
When winnings were not on par with the explosion of growth in the industry, he supported the formation of the Professional Tennis Association.
When denied a visa-preventing him from competing in the South African Open-he used it to call attention to apartheid. Later, after his retirement from the pros, he co-founded the National Junior Tennis Association.
Arthur Ashe passed away in February 1993 from AIDS-related pnemonia, after contracting the disease from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983.
He announced his illness to the world in 1992, and even in the last year of his life, did what he could to call attention to AIDS sufferers world-wide. After his death, his body lay in state in the Govener’s Mansion in Virginia, where he was born….an honor last bestowed on Stonewall Jackson, during the Civil War.
He is the kind of person I wished I had been more aware of while he was alive, but every year this event helps keep our memory of this kind and extraordinary man-and his dreams for a better world- bright.
During his life he said a number of simple, yet profound things, this is one of my favorites.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
August 21st, 2012
Regular readers know I am a big baseball fan, but I had never heard of MLB umpire Jim Joyce before summer of 2010…then in an unlikely confluence of events, he burst into probably all our consciousnesses.
Doug and I had attended a high school lacrosse game that evening. It was a spirited rivalry, but some fans did not know how to behave…we found ourselves in the middle of an entire section of angry, rowdy, potty-mouth ADULT fans.
Seeing the look on the younger kids faces while they absorbed the verbal spewage from these faux-grownups was such a sad moment.
Flipped on the news before going to bed, only to find out this Jim Joyce made an admitted wrong call on the last play of the game, costing the pitcher a perfect game.
But in baseball there are no do-overs, and the pitcher accepted his tearful apology. I was moved to tears at this unbelievable juxtaposition, and wrote passionately about how I hoped these same kids would talk about, and remember this wonderful, gracious role model the next morning.
Jim Joyce and the pitcher, Armando Galarraga went on to become friendly, even writing a book together, called Nobody’s Perfect.
Then, last year the major league players themselves voted Jim Joyce the best umpire in all of Major League Baseball. Forgiveness and redemption is a very powerful thing to witness, so yes, I cried, and wrote more, on how the MLB players got that call right.
Now news comes that Jim Joyce saved a life with CPR. Really.
Last night, Joyce saw an employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jayne Powers having a seizure in the tunnel near their dressing room, about an hour and a half before game time. Even after the defibrillator failed to get her heart going, Joyce kept CPR going until the paramedics arrived, using the Bee Gee’s classic Stayin’ Alive to keep to the necessary rhythm.
Jayne is recovering in a local hospital, in stable condition. And Joyce? He’s probably back behind home plate again tonight, calling balls and strikes.
For a regular guy like Jim Joyce-the story keeps getting better. Good for him, and even better for Jayne Power; but lucky, lucky us-who get to watch, learn and be inspired.
August 20th, 2012
Facts have never been as intriguing to me as people, and their personal experiences. I am a curious person, and understanding another’s circumstances fully paints a more complete and memorable picture.
For several years now Doug has wanted to see the WWII vintage planes at the annual traveling Wings of Freedom exhibition, but as convenient as the Westchester County Airport is to get to, something else always got in the way. Til yesterday.
WOW. You’ve got to go.
Standing next to the planes is one thing. Walking across the open belly of the plane, on an suspended 8″ wide strip, in between (faux/de-commissioned) bombs…standing in the top gunner turret, looking down to see the paint worn away from the platform, where so many brave had stood…seeing the under-gun turret: understanding men were enclosed in this approx. 3′ in diameter bubble, then lowered out of the plane during flight spinning 360 degrees to protect the plan from all angles…WHOA….
There are two planes that are open for walking through-a B17, and B24-and several others to ponder. There are Air Corps personnel dressed in gear of the time, to answer all your questions about whatever-the planes, the history, the experiences of the time.
There was a real cross-section there, people of all ages. Most civilians, but a few small groups were scattered throughout the crowds…veterans who came to see, to remember, and thankfully, to share. Luckily, we met Frank.
Frank Honigman served late in the war, in the US Army Air Corps. He was married and with a 5 year old child when the family moved to a base in Mississippi. And yes, he trained as one of those guys suspended from the bottom of the underside of the plane, a bottom gunner on the B24, in a Sperry Ball Turret.
Frank will be 95 next May, and was there yesterday with his daughter Brenda Jeselnik, and her husband Joe Jeselnik. All Westchester residents, it was Brenda’s first time really seeing the things her dad had talked about all these years. Here he is (in plaid shirt) looking up into the bomb bay with Joe’s help.
We spoke for a bit, he explained about his training, how the ball turret worked, and what the risks were. Sobered, and with a mix of awe, gratitude and sadness for it all- we shook his hand, and thanked him for his service.
This traveling exhibition is sponsored by The Collins Group of Stow MA, and will be at the airport through Wednesday. Parking is free, and admission is $12.00 for adults, $6.00 for children 12 years and under. Go. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet, and thank a veteran like Frank, and their family- yourself.
August 13th, 2012
Over the winter of 2009-20010 homeowner Gerry Angel paid about $1000.00 per month to heat her 1850 square-foot ranch. This coming winter she’s thinking around $100.00 a month for her newly re-designed, now 2900 square foot house. Maybe.
Today starts a mini-series about a local project that is very exciting. Gerry’s passion for green and sustainable, combined with the vision of Hastings-on-Hudson archtect Christina Griffin and her team, and the work of uber-contractors Mamaroneck’s Murphy Brothers have merged to bring the eco-transformation of this house to almost completion.
Today the photo-taking starts, and The Refreshed Home has been brought in to help style them. More to follow-can’t be late for the first day!-but here’s the exterior B&A just so you can see how cool this is going to be.
August 2nd, 2012
Even if you are not a believer, it’s always fun to check and see what the stars are SUPPOSED to hold for you. Each month we take a fun look at what makes each of our boats float, home decor-wise. This month, we wish a Happy Birthday to LEO!
Ahhh…Leo the Lion…born between July 21 and August 20…one of the easiest signs to spot, I think. A strong sign, a real alpha…but not usually harsh, or mean-spirited. They are just confident…very, very confident.
Leos typically have a natural ability to speak well, and lead. It’s a fair statement that Leos are typically found at the top of whatever circles they are drawn to.
You’ll find many in law (current Supreme Court Justices Kennedy and Breyer) and in politics (4 US Presidents). They are pioneers (Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Bella Abzug) and charmers (Tony Bennett and George Hamilton). Successful and generous (Melissa Gates, Malcolm Forbes, Roberto Clemente), at the top performers with staying power (Madonna, Mick Jagger).
They are larger-than-life sports stars (Tom Brady, Walter Payton, NY Knicks Patrick Ewing, Bill Bradley and Wilt Chamberlain)-one reason the future looks bright for current Olympians LoLo Jones and Ryan Lochte. They also don’t do anything on a small scale-film producers/directors Ken Burns, Alfred Hitchcock, Cecile B. DeMille, James Cameron, Dino DiLaurentis.
Intrigue seems to find them-Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ William Felt and Mata Hari were both Leos. Sometimes their confidence can turn the corner into arrogance-Napoleon, and accused steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemmens. And yes, art can imitate life, two of Batman’s most notable Catwomen were Leos-Julie Newmar and Halle Berry.
Last-Schwartzkopf and Schwartzenaegger-both Leos…are you starting to get the picture?
Have listed more famous folks here than usual because this is the best illustration of a Leo: they are used to being seen, to being at the top, and their space needs to reflect that.
Many Leos are drawn to impressive, and expansive spaces-sometimes physically elevated ones (Leo the Lion, on his throne!). Farly adapters for the most part, but they wold not sniff disdainfully at say a set of mid 1800′s original Chippendale dining chairs…as long as they were in mint condition, that is! Pedigree is important, for both quality and status.
So is luxury. Re-purposed, funky, eclectic or retro has little place in the life of a Leo, as does most anything ethereal or soft and fuzzy. Like their personality, there is little ambiguity or frothiness. Best colors are clear, deep and strong, au currant, but not garish.
Leos love to entertain, and their homes typically showcase the finest in design and materials. Silk drapes? Ehhh..silk that came from free-range butterfly farms, where classical music was played for the cocoons as the silk was being spun? Now you’re talking! The music was live?? EVEN BETTER!!
OK< maybe I exaggerate..a little. But budget is a hard topic to discuss with a Leo-they can be extravagant, and who are you-a mere mortal-to offer counsel to Mr./Ms. Leo? Happily, funds are drawn to them almost as much as other people are.
Probably 90% of Leos are meticulously neat and organized, the other 10% not so much-but for both cases, storage and organizational systems will be an integral part of their home.
Years ago , I toured a big Southern plantation house on vacation. The long drive that led up to the house had a line of massive trees-sycamores, I think-on each side. Tall and majestic, their branches touched and intertwined creating a lovely sun-dappled passage, both striking and grand.
Local history says that when the original plantation owner’s daughter got married, he imported many many spiders-from whenever you imported spiders in those days- and set them loose in these trees about a week before the wedding. On the morning of, he had gold dust sprinkled in the trees.
When guest arrived, they saw something quite unlike anything they had ever seen before…the gold dust was suspended in the webs, creating this shimmering canopy, welcoming them to his daughter’s wedding. Safe to say he was a Leo-yes?
July 30th, 2012
Over the weekend the NYT ran a great feature, Ruthless Came the Stager. Two clients fw. me the link, wanted to be sure I saw it.
Thought the article was good: accurate and fair, sharing insight to the range of things Stager can come up against.
FAR more telling were the comments…what a hornet’s nest! The passion, the indignation, the NERVE!!
Yeah, whatever….where are some of these readers coming from?? I mean, it’s not like it’s pending legislation or anything…
Staging is like any other personal service. Lots of different approaches, lots of different people out there to help. You can choose it, or not. GET OVER IT!
Scanning through quickly, it seems the people whose panties were the most knotted up had no actual experience with this whatsoever…just opinions.
Guess what>>>>LA-LA-LA-I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
Which actually hits a nerve in this Westchester County Stager that has been raw for some time now…I am so done with the whiners and the naysayers…the crankies who whine and gnash their teeth, or wring their hands and cry big alligator tears about the state of the market, yet will dismiss doing anything on their own-or learning anything new- out of hand.
Confused, fearful, curious, skeptical? Let’s talk. Desperate, fed-up, in pain? Yes, I’m talking to you, call me. Take 15 minutes and find out what preparing your property can be about, and how it works.
Don’t let the whiners get you down. SERIOUSLY!
July 29th, 2012
Days fly by so quickly…
As July winds down…and things like boots, plaid, and sales on schools supplies start appearing out of nowhere, it’s easy to short-change the next 31 days known as ‘August”.
To keep the mood going, one of my favorite Summer songs of all time. Aptly titled SUMMER-by the recently reunited group War-it reached #4 on the R&B charts in July 1976.
There is no video here…just grab your favorite summer beverage of choice, lean back, and click here to listen to the full-legnth album version, 6:35 of ear candy. ENJOY!
July 11th, 2012
Melky Cabrera was awarded the MVP trophy at the conclusion of last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star game. Safe to say it’s the current high point of of his professional life, perhaps even his personal one.
Drafted by the Yankees at 17, he played his way up through the farm system, debuting as a NY Yankee three and a half seasons later in July 2005.
Young, shy and with little fluency of the language, Melky communicated through his actions. He was a passionate and joyous player…I believe video tape would prove it was during his tenure in outfield, the multi-player victory jump-bump was born.
A talented fielder, and fan favorite, but his hitting was inconsistent. 2009 was one of his stronger years, where he helped the Yankees win their 28th World Series, but less than a month later was traded to play in Atlanta for 2010.
Atlanta released him at the end of a mediocre season, Kansas City picked him up for the 2011 season, but he was not the same Melky. Rejection and failure had changed him, and he made some decisions in the off-season. He changed his lifestyle and his diet, he lost weight. He worked out a lot, and practiced even more. 2011 saw him setting many career highs. That increased his value, but apparently not enough, for he was traded to San Francisco over the winter.
But he continued his efforts, perhaps even doubling-down, and 2012 has been his best year ever. He is at the top of the entire league in hitting, and is loved and adored by SF fans. They dress and up as “Melk-Men” at games, flooded the ballot box, getting him a starting position in the mid-season classic…. and now he is the MVP of this years’ game.
Rejection and failure are the pits. It hurts, it’s embarrassing, even humiliating. And even if we care very deeply about what is at stake, it can shame us into retreat; withdrawing totally, or start a simmering pot of anger or resentment. Or it can make us better.
“Accepting” Rejection and failure does not mean being content about it.
And it doesn’t have to be a final destination, either.
Instead I suggest by honestly acknowledging our situation or results, and how we feel about them, we define our own ‘bottom’.
We need to know where we are, just as much as where we want to be, if we want to have any hope of creating a successful course for getting there.
We all have our own stories of inspiration, people who’ve battled through dark times, to triumph. I am a sucker for the quiet successes. While not particularly sportive myself, the personal power an individual has to make a difference in sports has always intrigued and inspired me, paralleling the potential I feel have to make a difference in both my life, and my business.
I have been an unabashed Melky fan from the begining. His original Yankee #28 replica tshirt is on top of my tshirt pile, and sheer luck of the draw, I got him in the AR Fantasy baseball league draft. Last night I could not be happier for his success, or more inspired to pursue new ones for myself. Congrats, Melky- HAPPY to YOU!
July 3rd, 2012
Even if you are not a believer, it’s always fun to check and see what the stars are SUPPOSED to hold for you. Each month we take a fun look at what makes each of our boats float, home decor-wise. This month, we wish a Happy Birthday to CANCER!!
While Cancer (6/21-7/20) is represented by the crab, their nickname of Moon Children is more telling. Rooted in the lunar rhythm, and the pull of the tides, Cancer is a true water sign. Like the planet itself- the moods and sensibilities of Moon Children appear to be in constant transition. But because it’s cyclical, and not random, it’s a little easier to understand. Kind of. Sort of.
At first glance, their shifting moods may seem unpredictable..but their unpredictability is well, predictable. If a Cancer in your life rebuffs, dismisses or cuts you off, just know you are seeing the waning of the Moon…give it a little time, they’ll be back.
There is much to like about Cancers. Like the crab, they can have a hardened exterior, but are intensely sensitive at their core-they tend to feel things very deeply. Cancers are passionate people, who generally love to laugh. And I don’t mean they have a good sense of humor (although they often do, and appreciate it in others) but when they laugh, they laugh down to their toes.
The time of Cancer includes Independence Day, and appropriately, Cancers are usually very loyal, and extraordinarily patriotic. Family and home are sacred to them, and their children rate even higher. They tend to be frugal, but money for a typical Moon Child represents safety and security, not status.
Similarly, Cancers are not particularly materialistic, but instead surprisingly sentimental, and in their homes, that translates into a tendency to hang on to EVERYTHING, as well as a suspicion of what is new. Anyone who lives with, loves, and shops with (or decorates for) Cancers know all about how hard it is to convince them to let go of, or replace something. Come to think of it, this Westchester County Home Stager would also have her hands pretty full…!
New-trendy-flashy will rarely be of interest to a Cancer-unless it can be proven to add better comfort to their nest, or provide protection, support or encouragement for their children. or other loved ones. Value-in the form of solid construction techniques, or as an investment will hold their interest. Big bucks for bedsheets for thir kids that came with SPF5o? Perhaps; but they can see right through those hucksters, and their super-duper 24 hour only special holiday promotions.
Last, you want to know that Cancers-like a true crab-will rarely follow any straight lines to get to what they want. One step foreward, two steps to the side, that’s the way it goes. Not expeditious, but isn’t knowing to expect that just as good?
June 30th, 2012
Westchester County NY: FIREWORKS and The Bensen-Scott Big Band July 3rd Kensico Dam Plaza
Music under the summertime skies was one of my earliest and fondest memories of childhood summers. Being serenaded while stretched out on a blanket at Nelson Park, looking up at the stars, fireflies blinking in silent accompaniment was magical.
Happily, summer brings many opportunities to repeat the magic, and create new memories, right here in our ouwn backyard…just have to get there early, because you definitely won’t be alone!
This coming Tuesday night-July 3rd will be your next opportunity, when Westchester County hosts their annual Independence Day Music Fest at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla.
The Bensen-Scott Big Band will be performing, and Westchester ears-not to mention hearts, and even feet!-will be very very happy. Formed by trumpeters Gene Bensen and Regent Scott, this 20 piece band has been delighting listeners of all ages in the tri-state area since 2001.
Big Band music reaches across generations like few other genres. Bensen-Scott’s stylized vocals and updated arrangements stay true to the classic compositions, but give the music a fresh and supple sound. Lots of brass sets the mood and tempo-adding both nuance and punch: The sound is, well, BIG. Notes can burst out of nowhere; bounce, like gentle raindrops, or linger, floating in the air like delicate, opalescent soap bubbles-listen to a preview here.
Pre-concert entertainment begins at 6PM, Bensen-Scott Big Band performs at 8:00, and will segue into the fireworks display, starting at roughly 9:15. Free, and open to the public, this event is typically the biggest draws in the county. Bring folding chairs or blankets for seating, and a light picnic dinner, and plan to dance on the plaza, but plan to get there early, and CARPOOL!!
June 29th, 2012
A weekend party in your future? Quick and easy, gazpacho makes a colorful splash, and tons of vitamins-it’s a semi-exotic, and healthy alternative to chips/etc, and the dueling mayonnaise-laden ‘salads’.
Courtesy of my friend Kate Bialo, and the award-winning cookbook Southern Sideboards of the Junior League of Jackson Missisippi is Mrs. Richard Greenlee’s recipe for the best gazpacho EVER.
I guess you could use a food processor, but I like the texture that comes from chopping by hand, not smooth/pureed, but not like salsa, either; plus you really taste all the ingredients.
This recipe says it serves 10, but you may be surprised at how fast it goes. Perfect for make-ahead, and it keeps for up to five days; I’ve doubled it for just Doug and I. Add a loaf of fresh crusty bread and you’ve got a meal-ENJOY!
VERY FINELY CHOP BY HAND
2 cups peeled tomatoes 1 cup green pepper
1 cup celery 1 cup cucumber
1/2 cup onion 4 tsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. snipped chives 2 cloves minced garlic
5 to 6 TBSP red wine vinegar 4 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups SPICY V-8 juice
Mix, and thoroughly chill
May 20th, 2012
Within the American Legion, each state has a position known as Department Commander.
It’s elected position with a term of one year, where the Commander tours every post in the state to meet the members and other dignitaries. They also speak at different functions to raise awareness of, and promote programs that support the health and welfare of both veterans, and those actively serving: homeless vets, the VA budget, their medical facilities, and pending legislation.
It’s a lot of work, but quite the honor to be voted into this position, and towards the end of the Commander’s term of service, they are lauded at a Homecoming Dinner, given by their home post. Home post members, as well as Legion dignitaries, politicians, friends and family all attend, and it is a big deal. Last year, Doug and I were invited guests of New York State’s retiring Commander, Jim Triola.
Now-my dad served in the Coast Guard, but my contemporaries were too young for Viet Nam, and too old for subsequent engagements. While I’m certainly grateful to all those who now serve, or have served, I have neither experience of the sacrifices, or any familiarity with the traditions, so wasn’t sure what to expect.
The hall was HUGE, and filled. The dias was long, directly opposite the entrance. Immediately I noticed a small table in front of, and slightly to the left of the dias. It contained a single place setting, a lone candlestick, a single bud vase, with one perfect red rose in it, all set on a simple white tablecloth.
I thought it was the guest of honor’s spot…perhaps this evening would be like a ‘celebrity roast’ that you see on TV?
The cocktail hour was in full swing, and we met a number of Jim’s friends. Then, when the group was called to order, and the evening’s program started, no one sat at that table. Within moments, we found out why.
For nearly 30 years now, every official Legion meeting is to have the empty chair and table for one set up, as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POWs/MIAs still unaccounted for from all the wars and conflicts involving the United States. It’s a powerful image on its own, but here is the preamble that starts each meeting.
We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table.
It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay our humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence.
This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.
The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty. They are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
Let us pray to the supreme commander that all our comrades will soon be back within our ranks. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.
If you did not know this story, you are not alone-please pass it on.
And for the holiday weekend, in between all the other stuff, find a parade, take the kids, cheer and clap loudly. (White Plains parade starts at 10am on Main Street, marching up North Broadway, towards 287)
Look for veterans selling the red paper poppies. Buy a bunch, wear yours proudly, and give the rest to friends. Made by disabled vets, they remind us of the past sacrifices of our veterans, with all proceeds going to supporting veterans and their families.
Thank any you meet, and then, in a quiet moment, say a prayer of gratitude.
May 3rd, 2012
Ahhh, it’s May, and this weekend the annual wave of commencement ceremonies begins. And yes, the inevitable Doonsbury comics, but that’s not where we’re going with this…
Unless you were Stanford ’05, chances are good to excellent you have no memory of who delivered your commencement speech, or what they spoke about.
So many other thoughts in my head those days… I know I don’t remember any of mine, but I do enjoy listening to thoughful speakers, and their messages in others’ speeches.
IMO, a good commencement speech is equal parts timeless and fresh, is both hopeful, and reality-based, and shares both retrospect, and vision.
Former speechwriter Charles Wheelan had his share of commencement speeches; writing them was his first job out of college. He’s since moved on, and in a recent WSJ essay, he wrote of things he wished someone would have shared with Class of 1988.
Adapted from his about to be published book 10-1/2 things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said, #3-Don’t make the world worse, and # 9-It’s all borrowed time I thought were particularly wise. Neither snarky or pessimistic, I think most are things we probably already ‘know’, but are just so well-articulated here. Click the link above to check it out, maybe get a little re-calibrated yourself.