May 21st, 2013
You know that annoying feeling when you can’t find that piece of paper on your desk, or that favorite pair of jeans you want to wear?
What about if you couldn’t find your desk…your closet…if you lost your home, your family pet or most cruelly, a loved one?
Last month I wrote about coming back from the events that we here in the northeast have faced in the last 6 months, and quoted Mr. Rogers…and it bears repeating. Just over twenty-six hours ago one of the worst tornados in recorded history chewed through the town of Moore, Oklahoma. The loss, the trauma, the sheer scale of rebuilding these residents will be facing in the months to come is staggering. They need helpers.
The Red Cross is clear, they need money. Money for food, shelter and medicine, money for rescue and recovery efforts. To help support these efforts, The Refreshed Home announces Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause, here’s how it works:
- Call now, mention this post and book up to two hours of Interior Decorating or Home Staging interactive consult for between 5/21-5/31.
- At the end of our consult, you write a check to the American Red Cross for the rate of $95.00/hour, and I mail it in a pre-addressed envelope
The Refreshed Home helps you make good plans and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. Together, we make better sense of your space, and your stuff. Consults can be for buyers as well as sellers, remote, or for shopping services and in-home/on-site in Westchester and lower Fairfield county.
Got a listless listing? Looking for a unique housewarming, wedding or birthday gift? Maybe it’s something you’ve been thinking about for yourself? Now is a great time to act.
Do good, get good, call now 914.607.2895
Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause
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.
February 13th, 2013
It’s that time of year. Perhaps it was a New Year’s resolutions we haven’t gotten around to yet…a long-awaited move…or just that cooped up, we are forced to face the sheer volume of STUFF that is in our lives. Deciding to clear out is one thing, how to approach it and get it done is another.
Knowing whether to donate, or sell some things is a common challenge. It’s a personal decision-your mind needs to be clear on your goals and priorities, as well as your time to get this done; you also need to be informed about the demand for what you have.
The 80s and 90s were a time of great procurement…and many people are doing the same thing you are. Costly items like furniture or designer duds abound in the market place, this affects value/desirability. And value is always in the eye of the beholder.
If you decide to sell, research a bit first. Depending on what it is, check out Ebay and local shops. Appraisers will give you an unbiased current price. Sometimes for free if you’re just looking for a verbal/ballpark type of thing; or for a fee that’s a percentage of the value if you need something in writing, say for settling an estate, or divorce.
Ebay sellers or consignment shops will share the sometimes brutal truth quickly, and for free…most specialize, and they are in the business of recognizing value, and make their living by being able to move things quickly, but work on a percentage basis, so they have your best interests covered, too.
If you decide to donate, it’s green AND greater good. Most charities are 501c3, meaning they are recognized by the IRS, and can give you a receipt for tax purposes. Understand the valuation is not up to the charity. The IRS has guidelines of accepted values for different items. If you feel the value of what you are donating is beyond that, you will need documentation, speak to your accountant before you do anything.
Libraries often have book sales in the spring and fall, which means they collect donations for a brief, pre-determined time period beforehand. You’ve got to time it right, but it’s a great fund-raiser-check out your local libraries online for details.
Donating clothes and other household goods you no longer need or want can be a win-win-win situation, but you’ll need to take some time, to plan and sort things out, so your items get to their intended destination(s).
Make sure your donations fit the needs and criteria of the charity-call ahead and ask, before you start packing things up. Items should be clean, and in gently used. Regarding business clothing, and baby items like car seats -being current is important.
Remember, some items do have specific life/use expectancies, and just wear out. Do not confuse your ‘cleaning out’ with ‘donating’.
LAST-plan ahead, and be patient. Most charities are run by volunteers, serve a specialized need, and on a shoestring budget; they might have limited hours, and an office that consists of an answering machine and an email address. But if time is not your friend, consider a eco-concious clean-out service like Junkluggers, where they will remove, sort, donate and recycle on your behalf. There is not a shortage of good causes, or people who are in need, seeing this through is a good thing.
December 29th, 2012
Welcome back to Word of the Week! Using the same words all the time because they come easily are lost opportunities, each and every time.
When you use a truly right-but maybe unexpected-word, listeners really hear what you say. They can connect on a different level, and you elevate yourself, and the conversation.
I love the power of ordinary, but under-used, or forgotten words for SO many reasons; so for the New Year I am re-focusing on this series of powerful words and this Word of the Week is CONSTRUCTIVE.
Today, it was every sixth word used in press conferences to describe the deal-making machinations that were going on regarding the Fiscal Cliff. Spot-on in any negotiation situation, but PERFECT for the housing industry-think of all the parallels: Reconciling opposing needs and often strong beliefs, the mix of many personalities, MONEY, and delays (with simultaneous deadlines!)-so that each side is satisfied. CONSTRUCTIVE is common ground.
Positive and non-inflammatory, it’s a buffer word. Both neutral and a sign of engagement, it doesn’t tip anyone’s hand, or tell you anything specific, other than both sides are still talking, trying to work things out. CONSTRUCTIVE finds what is agreed-on, and builds on it.
An adjective, CONSTRUCTIVE is defined as ‘serving a useful purpose, tending to build up. Also-helping to improve, promoting further development or advancement’. It can dial things down, and it’s a great choice to bring sides closer to center, without sounding judgemental or prissy.
CONSTRUCTIVE keeps its eye on the prize, and focuses on completing a task-NO WONDER The Refreshed Home likes it so much!
December 8th, 2012
Get Your Jefferson Village Condo Noticed and SOLD!
Jefferson Village Condos in Yorktown New York-just like any other community-it has history and character that makes them unique. Understanding both is fundamental in developing a successful selling strategy. In this series, we look at specific properties, discuss what is appealing to who, and why-and how to use that to get that type of property noticed and SOLD.
In 1950, Yorktown was a cozy town of 4700. Land, easy access to the Taconic Parkway, and IBM’s new Watson Center was all the encouragement many first-time buyers needed to migrate. By 1960 it grew almost four-fold, to over 16,000 residents, and almost doubling again by 1980, to over 32,000.
The first 55+ condo in Westchester, Jefferson Village condos were probably designed for two main markets: first wave of locals downsizing within Yorktown, and those from out of the area, to be closer to their families and grandchildren.
There are 11 different condos under the JV umbrella, built between 1968 and 1987. 1000 units among 195 buildings, on 114 acres. Most are 2-story garden style units with exterior stairs, but later construction included ranch-style attached properties.
Jefferson Village condos offer the comfort and convenience of condo living at a very nice price. Current research shows 15 active listings, but with the market trending up, and spring market thisclose, expect it to change often.
These units tend to either turn quickly, or sit forever. Sellers, or heirs who overestimate demand based on price alone are pretty much guaranteeing the latter. (If you are selling to satisfy an estate, you have another set of compelling needs, click here to read about preparing an Estate property for market.)
It’s simple housing….LR/DR/BRs are generally good size, but kitchens and bathrooms are pretty utilitarian. Most who buy here are downsizing from traditional spaces, so (s-h-h-h-h) focusing on the most house-like details is one of the secrets to getting your Jefferson Village condo noticed, and SOLD:
Make internal repairs Leaky faucets, sticky sliders, cracked tub grout, etc. may seem trivial, but your buyer has been there/done that and will either pass, or will want to take it out of the selling price.
Clean Hire a top-notch cleaning service-people who’ll see (and smell!) what you don’t. All the more important for a vacant space, where wear and grime will be that much more evident.
Edit “Cute” does not put money in your pocket. Lots of little things visually shrink a space, and also distract buyers. The space photographs much more expansively, more richly with some color and a few important pieces.
Modest updates These are not complicated or oversize spaces, so just by that virtue alone you’re not talking about a lot of money.
First- bring it into this decade: Lose the verticals. White, off-white or frothy, pastel wall colors. Small throw rugs, and white chenille bedspreads. Shiny brass or smoked bronzed glass lighting fixtures. Mirrored walls. Shabby, worn or mismatched towels and bed linens, flattened toss pillows. (“Good enough” is NOT good enough for your buyers!)
Instead: Get inexpensive generic folding shades and simple ready-made long panels to frame the windows. Remove wall mirroring, paint a warm neutral. If there are wood floors, buy a room-size rug; or replace worn or off-color broadloom with a fresh Berber. Switch out the fixtures, and while you’re at it, buy some lamps-these units have no ceiling lighting, and tend to be very unevenly lit.
Show rooms solely as their intended-traditional- purpose: a DR that could host a holiday dinner, a guest room that a grandchild would be comfortable in. Minimize the appearance of the TV(s). Tuck your workspace in an innocuous space-far corner of the LR, or 2nd BR.
New linens add life and vitality. Consider adding cove (ceiling) moulding, re-glazing the tub, even replacing the original toilets with newer ’comfort seat’ height. Yes, snicker all you want, but you don’t have to be 55+ to appreciate that extra height!
It’s important that sellers are committed to doing the best they can. No matter the price point, this Westchester County Home Stager maintains that buying should be a step up.Keeping the focus on helping buyers realizing their new dream is one of the best ways to get your Jefferson Village condo noticed, and SOLD!
November 29th, 2012
Legend has it that when when Winston Churchill was advised to cut funding for arts, in order to help support the war effort, he replied ‘than what is it we’re fighting for?’. Historians debate the authenticity, but it’s good enough for me, one of the reasons I am so fond of Churchill.
Art is good. It soothes, and makes you feel alive. It nourishes, inspires, and challenges. It can make you laugh, cry, ponder or react. But mostly art can make you happy.
This Sunday, December 2, Westchester Arts is sponsoring their annual FREE ARTS DAY. As good as art is for the soul, FREE ART is even better!
You and the kids can make bowls at Clay Art Center in Port Chester (LOVE you guys at CAC!!) , or jewelry…or beads at Westchester Arts Family Art Workshops in White Plains, or screen A Christmas Story at Jacob Burns in Pleasantville. Sample dance and fashion sketching lessons, or experience Play Theater Group workshop
For more grownup tastes, you can tour Caramoor, or the Historic Hudson Valley lamdmarks; visit almost every museum and cultural center from Mt. Vernon and the Pelhams to Peekskill and Purchase, View The Marriage of Figaro in Pelham, even catch YCP’s performance of Nora Ephron’s play Love, Loss, and What I Wore. ALL FOR FREE. Seriously.
Your (inner) child will have a blast, and work through some serious ya-yas in this uplifting and creative format.
50 events, 21 locations! Click here now to see the entire listing, and plan your day. Some events might have limited class or audience size, so I’d call ahead and find out the logistics on your favorites. GO-you’ll like yourself a lot for it!
November 18th, 2012
Maybe you have a freind or client whose space needs a fresh look. Or maybe you are looking to amp up your own home for the holidays, start the process of getting it ready to sell-or even ring in the New Year as a more organized you? This could be the nudge you need…. NOW is your opportunity to get started, while giving a hand to those affected by the superstorm.
To add to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort, I’m joining with two other local women business owners, to contribute in the way we know best. The result: Will Work for Food, a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross.
Between now and November 30th, Denise Hoffmann, Allison Segreto and myself -Accredited Homes Stagers and Interior Decorators all-will be offering a limited number of one hour consults free, in exchange for a direct and immediate $100.00 contribution to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Each of us created and run our own, independent business. Together we represent almost 60 years of hands-on, in-home design experience, Will Work for Food is the first time the three of us have collaborated.
Appointments will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis, so don’t wait-here’s how it works:
- Check out the profiles of the companies, and the different services.
- Choose the professional and the service you want, and follow the links below to contact them and directly to schedule an appointment.
- At the end of your one-hour consult, write a check for $100 (or more, if you are so inclined!!) made out to the American Red Cross, and give it to your provider. They will have pre-addressed official Red Cross envelopes, and will mail it on your behalf.
Questions are welcomed, hope to hear from you soon!
Denise Hoffmann, Owner of Cameo Home Staging Featuring Real Estate Staging & Home Design Services. Serving Westchester, Dutchess & Putnam counties. Licensed & Insured. Mahopac/Carmel & Yorktown Chamber of Commerce member. 914.497.0924
Allison Segreto,Owner of Mission: Organization Offering home and office organizing, decorating, and home staging services to clients in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. Simplify Organize Stage 845.528.2444
Marie Graham, Founder of The Refreshed Home. Interior Decorating, Home Staging and Project Coordination in lower Westchester/Fairfield counties, Helping you make good plans, and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. 914.607.2895
November 11th, 2012
Furniture Sharehouse is Westchester County’s own furniture bank. Run by volunteers, Furniture Sharehouse collects unwanted clean, basic furniture, and re-distributes it FREE to clients of about 40 different Westchester County agencies.
Every month, on average, 7 to 8 Westchester County veterans are helped to ease into permanent housing by Furniture Sharehouse, through the Veteran’s Affairs arm of WestCOP (Westchester Community Opportunity Program).
Donations (furniture, time, funds) are always sought and welcomed, but right now, your online VOTES are #1 ask.
Larchmont’s own Kate Bialo, founder of Furniture Sharehouse is one of 10 National Finalists vying for a $25K grant from L’Oreal’s Women of Worth event.
Now, through November 21, everyone can vote once a day (per email address) HERE.
Veterans are just one segment of the client base who typically receive 8 to 10 pieces of clean, basic furniture, things many of us take for granted: a sofa, a kitchen table/chairs, a dresser, a bed.
Regular readers know I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for support for this wonderful cause. If you are reading this, please, you have all the tools you need to help right now. Please click on this link to VOTE, then share it with your friends as well. WHatever you can so, thank you for your support!!
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
November 3rd, 2012
The first holiday solicitations arrived around Columbus Day. A package with holiday wrapping paper, some thematic greeting cards, and (still more) personalized address labels.
Most of these mailings were not inexpensive. Had donated to some of these causes in the past, but several came in my maiden name-which I have not used in 18 years. That I received them at all can only be attributed to my having the same address, and mail carrier-for that long.
Pricey, or repeated unsolicited mailings always make me wonder about the overall value of the organization itself (like how much service I’ll really get from an insurance company that every week spends money to send me something telling me how much money I’ll save by switching…!) or in this case, how wisely, how effectively does a charity utilize donor funds.
Need and giving are hugely emotional issues that touch our core; under ‘normal’ circumstances the next 6 weeks is high season for giving-and asking. But now we on the east coast have come to know Hurricane Sandy.
In the days and weeks to come, chances are we will be asked, and perhaps motivated and able to make a charitable donation or two. We all want to be sure our donation will be used properly and efficiently, here are two ways to give with our heads as well as our hearts.
To get an overall, independent read on different charities, try Charity Navigator. http://www.charitynavigator.org/ acknowledges charities have different services and programs, which leads to inherently different cost structures. They break over 10,000 charities into classifications and rate them on their efficiency, in their classification. Their top ten lists feature the effective, as well as the overpaid, and the broke; eye-opening and interesting reading, to say the least.
www.bbb.org/charity Just like BBB certification, charities that want to belong apply and provide vital info like contact info, their history, size, structure as well as a financial statement. BBB will tell you if the charity meets their 20 standards for accountability, and if their info is vetted, a Wise Giving Alliance report is issued, good for 2 years.
Best for providing a snapshot of , and credibility for a particular organization. Because charities have to apply, it is unlikely any less than stellar ones would. Seeing your favorite here is a positive, but not being on the list isn’t necessarily a negative.
Both sites are very useful , and for those who are really interested-The Chronicles of Philanthropy is a great source of info for non-profits www.philanthropy.com.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the harsh realization we were just a few towns away from total destruction, I keep coming back to this quote, incongruesly from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
October 31st, 2012
Client advocacy was one of the earliest founding principles of The Refreshed Home.
Even before the company was named, which was long before I even heard of BNI-I knew providing solid, quality referrals without fee, or other vested interest was in everyone’s best interest.
While this Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager makes good use of the jumbo contact list in my phone, my Rolodex is my rock.
Cards that represent a career’s worth of business relationships…cards that hold super-duper secret personal cell and email addresses, the name of the trusted personal assistant, as well as other vital, accumulated info.
These last few days, they have been a rock for others as well.
If the days to come, if you find yourself in need of the name of a good licensed plumber-painter-electrician-etc. in Westchester County NY-don’t hesitate. Even if we’ve never spoken before. REALLY.
October 27th, 2012
“Westchester County” is often spoken of in rarefied terms, the proverbial land of milk and honey. It’s all I know, I’ve lived here my entire life.
Last Sunday the Journal News’ lead feature was called Hidden Hunger, and featured six personal stories of local residents who are clients of local food pantries. According to the article, in 2010 roughly 1 our of every ten residents was food insecure-that is, they didn’t know where their next meal was going to be coming from.
It’s said that big issues with big numbers ‘read’ as incomprehensible, unfathomable to others-but when names, faces and specific circumstances are shared it becomes real. A big thank you to these reporters, and to those who shared their story. If you missed this series, please follow the link above and check it out.
Hunger is not a new, or seasonal issue.
Being hungry puts a lot of other things in perspective.
I know a lot of people, and see many faces in the course of a day. The thought that 10% of them might be juggling, trying to find a way to feed themselves and their family really hits my core.
Last year Janet Jones, a Stager friend in Hawaii wrote about her volunteer efforts for the Maui Food Bank, and suffice to say, I am inspired, and in the days to come will be laying the groundwork, and announcing The Refreshed Home’s commitment to give back.
Meantime, if you have any upcoming gift-giving opportunities, please consider making a donation to their local food bank, on the behalf of your gift recipient. Be they clients, family or friends-it will resonate in ways you cannot imagine. Here is how you can help, how you can make a difference in our area: Food Bank of Westchester , or the Food Bank of Hudson Valley for Rockland and Putnam counties. Gifts of funds, food and yes, your time are all welcome. And stay tuned.
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.
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 11th, 2012
In the 80s and 90s, there was little talk of how someone “felt” when they were buying things and doing stuff to their house.
Everything was about the visual. People spoke, and thought in singular, visionary words: stunning, gorgeous, elegant.
Then feelings entered the picture again….tentitively, at first. Words like warm, inviting and cozy were big, as were simple and peaceful.
Life changed for most of us in 2001, and our homes became our base. They were our refuge, our buffer. They kept gritty reality at a distance, while we yearned for the imposible, to be safe and sane in a scary and uncertain world.
The past decade has had so many of us in holding patterns. Busy doing and coping, keeping up and maintaining. But still waiting.
Even during those wild 80s and rebounding 90s, my client base rarely included people whose focus was procuring. People drawn to to work with me were people choosing to be happy. Planning to be happy, expecting to be happy. It’s what this Westchester County Decorator has always loved best of this business. And it’s b-a-a-a-a-c-k!
Happiness is a choice. But it’s not as easy as it might sound. It’s a choice to accept, let go, and move past who and what held you. It’s daring to want better, and doing something to go after it. It’s actually pretty brave.
Everyday I see Westchester County homeowners who are choosing to be happy. I see their confidence in paint charts, their dreams that look like a floor plan, and their hope that shines in the way of finally cleaned out basements and pared-down closets. I love it!! Better, couldn’t be happier for them!
August 10th, 2012
As an institution, The Refreshed Home holds an individual’s right to vote very dearly, and decries anyone who wants to mess with that. ANYONE.
As we journey through the last weeks of summer, November seems oh-so-far-away. But anyone who treasures this right as much as TRH does need not be concerned about November at the moment. It is the here and now.
Deadlines to register to vote are fast approaching. Do it now, or lose it. Here is the link to get you started in NY State.
Realtors and Movers: Want to reach out to your clients in a meaningful way? Anyone who has changed addresses in the last few years should hear from you on this, send them the link to your local Board of Elections with info on how they might register in a new area.
College-bound? Citizens who will turn 18 by Election Day can register. Use your FB page to remind your peers to register before they leave-and also to inquire/make arrangements NOW about absentee ballots. Post links, and ask others to like and share.
Friends, parents, neighbors: Know anyone whose status/address might have changed? How to quickly and easily register in your municipality is one google search away. Your one tweet, your one post can make a difference.
Similarly, your own status as an eligible voter is not to be taken lightly. Even if you are a regular voter, the rules in your state may have changed without you being aware of it. In the last two years, a whopping 16 states have made changes in their voting laws. That’s right, it’s not just about Florida and Pennsylvania.
At this writing, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin all have changes on the books; Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have laws that are being challenged.
Legal challenges to these laws will certainly continue after the election. But if you want to make your voice heard in November, you need to be prepared in the way your state now requires. Is there any greater reason to make sure you are able to vote now, that your future interests will be protected??
If you have any reason to question your status, now is the time to check with your local Board of Elections. PLEASE. Here in Westchester County, a quick phone call to the Board of Elections (914.995.5700) can confirm your eligibility on the spot.
Deadlines are fast-approaching: Do it now, or lose it.
President Lyndon Johnson delivering remarks in the Rotundra of the US Capitol after signing the National Voter Registration Act, August 6th, 1965.
LBJ Library/Photo by Frank Wolfe
August 7th, 2012
Many possessions are difficult to part with, but having another place where said possessions can go and be loved and utilized often eases the distress.
Unwanted pianos though are notoriously difficult to adopt-out. They are big, and difficult to move; often in need of some restorative work. Hyper-local facilities like churches, schools, Boys/Girls clubs have usually been the best options.
There was a helpful resource article, Where A Condemned Piano Can Win An Appeal in this mornings NYT. Stagers, Realtors, and Movers-should take special note.
A follow-up actually, in response to comments to an earlier article about old pianos being destroyed because of lack of options-For More Pianos, Last Note is Thud in the Dump
The resources are all over the country-Sacramento and St. Paul are named, as is an online clearinghouse and even an artist in Maine who gives new life to old piano parts (all links in article)…it’s still not going to be like dropping a shopping bag of clothes off at the local thrift shop, but for the passionate and the determined, if all local avenues fail, something else to try. Good luck!!