Reflections

Remembering…

Dad and Fritzi

Yesterday, we made the journey to Jamestown for a memorial service for my dad. A sad occasion but we also had to be concerned about the lake effect snow warnings that flashed on signs as we made our way along I86. There were threats of up to 8 inches of snow likely to fall but we figured if the weather got as bad as predicted, we would just stay overnight.

We wound up traveling several  miles behind a strange getup…it was a snowplow with a “trailer” that was pulled behind that could actually be swung out to the plow’s right side and take up the entire two lanes of traffic, plowing and spreading whatever blend of magical potient that removed the snow from the highway’s surface. This contraption slowed us down a good ten minutes and made me fret we would enter the service late.  Thankfully, the trailer slowly backed off from the plow and pulled in behind it, allowing traffic to regain speed.

We arrived at the church with a few minutes to spare, enabling us to exchange a few hugs and words of condolence from cousins we had not seen since the last funeral.  Sad, but true…

The service went well…the pastor was so wonderful! Carly’s girls, Sarah and Erin, sang Amazing Grace, a’cappella and in harmony, perfectly! I wish I would have videotaped it….I read a tribute I had written the day Dad passed. I had felt the inkling to write it before he passed. Perhaps an unction from the Lord to do this.

For those who couldn’t be there, here is the content.

My name is Kae Manelick Catalano and I am Harry’s favorite daughter. Oh, I am Harry’s only daughter.

I think most all of us have heard the words of Ecclesiasties, chapter 3.

To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. Futter we read A time to weep and a time to laugh: a time to mourn and a time to dance. And verses 12 and 13 say I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.

My father,  Harry, did indeed enjoy the good of all his labor. He was a man who worked hard all his life. He was a man who deeply loved his family….if we ever needed help, he was always there. Dad loved working with his hands and always had a building project, or so it seemed. Although he wasn’t especially fond of farming, I remember the large gardens he planted in Youngsville and every spring he began working flowerbeds around the house that always produced abundant blossoms. He loved nature and his backyard was a sanctuary for birds… he was excited when tiny hummingbirds would return to his feeder each spring.

One of the most outstanding characteristics about Harry, though, was how I would best describe him. Harry was a man of integrity. He was honest, straightforward,and if he said he was going to do something, he always followed through.  These traits were not only evident to us, his family, but others saw them as well. As such, his employer,  MRC/SKF, requested that he serve as a loan officer at the credit union. He felt honored and accepted the position, spending lunchtimes meeting with the other officers. He was proud of Mom when she completed college and became a registered nurse and he supported us kids in our pursuits. He was a man of integrity.

I believe my dad’s parting words would be accept Jesus, follow God’s commandments, love your family, love your neighbor, and enjoy the good of your labor,  for it is the gift of God.

After the service, a luncheon was served in the parlour. It was wonderful talking to relatives and hearing stories about Dad.

We began heading home at about 3 and happily traveled dry roads. The dreaded snow never fell and we grateful for a wonderful day, remembering a terrific man.

A Busy Weekend!

It was a busy weekend with much to do, but actually, it was a busy week!

I mentioned previously that we attended a Passover Seder on Tuesday evening.  We also attended another one on Saturday evening.  Our friends, Bill and Carolyn had decided to have two Seders instead of one because they wanted to have music and there isn’t quite enough space to have tables set up and also music equipment. Carolyn is part of the music group, along with Sue and Mark. Bill does all of the food….the man is an amazing chef!

I forgot my camera on Tuesday, but I did grab the camera bag on Saturday!  There was a lovely group of people in attendance.

Our host and hostess, Bill and Carolyn as Carolyn lights the candles.

There were four young adults who just added so much to the event.  They were awesome!

The purpose of the Passover Seder is to remember how God delivered and saved His Chosen People (Israel) from bondage when they were in Egypt.  This is a retelling of the Book of Exodus, relating the hardening of Pharoah’s heart and how God used plagues to finally get Pharoah to release the Israelites.  The final plague was when God instructed the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and paint the sides and top of their doorposts in the blood of the lamb so he would pass over their homes as He passed through and killed the firstborn of the Egyptians.

One fact that I forgot to mention is that Bill was diagnosed with pneumonia in his right lung on Monday morning.  The Seders were important to him, so he carried on with his preparations….and both Seders, even though he was not up to snuff!

The Passover story takes awhile to recount, and as it is told, participants eat various “elements” such as bitter herbs (parsley dipped in salt water),  hard boiled egg, horseradish, lettuce, and *delicious* Charoset (which is apples diced into pieces, with walnuts, raisins, spices, and honey mixed in).  After the story was told, Bill served up a most wonderful meal beginning with his homemade matzah ball soup, followed by roast turkey, mashed potatoes, his homemade matzah (unleavened bread), stir-fried vegetables, and Kugel.  Believe me, no one goes home feeling hungry after this feast!

We had such a delightful evening, and after folks left, the young adults and the music group hung out and played and sang music for quite awhile.  It was a memorable night and one filled with good fun and fellowship! We really appreciate all the work Bill and Carolyn put into these Seders, and also the effort put into Tuesday nights as well when they host a dinner and music practice!

Way overdue….

Well, it was almost two months ago that I had a few hours on my hands to wander around the Canandaigua area. The weather started out in a most spectacular way!

The sky was fascinating and as the day moved along, more and more blue began showing.  I drove on up to the city where major construction on the sidewalks has been underway all summer long.  It was rather unsightly, especially since Canandaigua has to be one of the most attractive cities I have seen.

In thinking through my options on how to spend my time, I thought about Sonnenberg Gardens and how it might be nice to visit.  The last time I had been there was about five years ago!

Such pretty flowers contrasting the white picket fence that greets visitors!

The following are some of the hundreds (yes, I think I took almost 300) of photos. Sonnenberg is such an incredible adventure. To think that this huge mansion with its seemingly endless acres of gardens, statuary, greenhouses, and the house, was merely a summer home built during Victorian times just seems incomprehensible. A “summer home” containing forty rooms doesn’t register….

I didn’t take many photos of the house itself, so I will just post pictures and you can stroll alongside me. I am always awestruck by the numerous water features dispersed throughout the property.

I didn’t remember the lush displays of greenery exhibited in the greenhouses. They were amazing! I took so many photos in the various houses, but I shan’t bore you.

Another awesome area was the Japanese garden! Oh my…it is so picturesque!

New York State has taken over the property and it is now a state park.  I was so impressed to see some improvements throughout the grounds.  One area that sadly remains in ruins is the Roman baths.

The gardens….ah, the gardens!

One thing that I noted was that the pillars along this pergola were all in good shape. The last time I visited, many were in bad shape, rotted, and with holes in them.

I love this stone building, which was the aviary. The red brick building in the background is the Veteran’s Hospital which is built on the original estate’s property.

Of course, there was so much more to show, but I did not want to bore you!!! So, we will end once again where we began….

Prime time

Anyone who talks to photographers will discover there are two magical times of the day for photoshoots.  This would be sunrise and sunset, and especially so this time of the year!

Yesterday morning, I was able to actually be in Canandaigua before sunrise.  I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to walk around a bit and get some photos. You will note that I am not the least bit shy about shooting into the sun.  This makes for some interesting pictures!

I love the “sepia” quality of this photo. No, I didn’t touch the photo to alter it….this is how it turned out….shooting into the sun!

As you can see in this photo, the sky was a lively golden/orange color. It was amazing! I liked how these coots were just hanging out on the stone breakwall.

Oh yeah…how could I not photograph the boathouses?  They were so pretty in the sunlight and glasslike lake!

I wandered over to Kershaw Park for a bit and loved how pretty it was there, as well! With all the leaves falling to the ground, it was incredible to see the Weeping Willows still green and full!

The clock was ticking and I had obligations….

I was rather amused to see this…

Somehow, I couldn’t be quite so brave as to take a horse and buggy on a 40 mile per hour road!  Particularly busy 5&20!

Why we live where we live….

Ah yes!  Autumn…..fall….whichever you call it, this is such a beautiful time of the year! As I mentioned in the previous post, we have truly been spoiled rotten this year.  Instead of cold rain and brisk breezes, we have been enjoying warm days with bright sunny skies.  It is unusual, really, but in listening to the weather forecast yesterday, the beautiful weather might be displaced by more typical weather and temperatures in the coming days. That is fine….the woodshed is full and things are fairly well buttoned up and we are ready! (How did that happen?)

Speaking of firewood…we have not had a fire in the woodstove this autumn.  There have been a couple of days that were a little chilly, but not really cool enough to fire up the stove! With Ben now cutting our firewood, we have more than enough.  We not only have the woodshed filled, but we also have several neat piles of firewood stacked in the woods!  I love it!

On Saturday, it was so amazingly beautiful, Mark and I decided to take a ride through the woods on the atv’s.  Of course, I took a camera along….I would not want to miss one picture!  It was so, so beautiful after all!  So, come on along and you will discover why I always dreamed of living in the woods. (especially  this time of year!)

So many awesome, incredible, amazing colors! As the wind begins to blow and the rain moves in, these days are sure to come to an abrupt end.  Although the days like this are far too few, knowing they are short lived makes us only appreciate them all the more!

And What a Fun, Fantastic, and Amazing Day!

Yes, can you believe it?

After my post about yesterday, I just *had* to post about our most fun adventure on Saturday!  I had meant to post this first, but got ahead of myself!!! (yeah, I know…called “disorganization”!!!)

If you read my blog, you will see that my main commenter is Jeanne.  Jeanne and her husband live not so very far away from the Bristolwood, but they also have a wonderful cottage retreat on Lake Ontario! Jeanne has spent many a summer there and after our little visit there, I can certainly understand why she would ever be reluctant to return home.  It is a whole ‘nother world….

Jeanne and Ben invited us to come on up last Saturday. We got up and did some chores and were on our way. As we left here, it was chilly and damp and wet.  The skies were (greatly) overcast with nary a streak of blue in sight. As we drove along, I couldn’t help but wonder if we had made a mistake!  However….the forecast called for clouds in the morning, then becoming partly sunny.  The journey was a three hour jaunt, but we were so excited.

We drove along a rather well-traveled road that was only a short distance from the lake and as we progressed (this was the last 45 minutes or so of the trip there) the sun came out, puffy, fluffy, non-threatening clouds greeted us and accompanied us right up to the cottage. (Which was found seamlessly…thank you so much Google maps and GPS!)  The trip was so pretty and when I saw the cottage vista, I could not believe my eyes!!

Jeanne and Ben greeted us and then we went inside, as the air was still pretty chilly.  Later on, Jeanne took my on a little scenic tour. Oops…I am getting ahead of myself once again.  Out the picture window that overlooks the lake, one can get a view of an island!  From the view there, it looks like there is nothing there, but….

Jeanne and I went for a little ride in her car and I was surprised!

There is a bridge (all manmade) that leads to the island.

And once we were on the island, there was an amazing KOA Campground!  Wow!!! Can you imagine camping right along the shore of Lake Ontario….on an ISLAND? The campground is a gated community!  In order to enter, Jeanne went inside the office (where there is also a store) and had to give pertinent information “for insurance purposes”!

The campground is rather large and believe it or not, one can not only camp there, but they also have a marina!

Hmmm…..not too many boats in those slips! But, we were there after Memorial Day when many people traditionally put away all the summer pleasures and begin looking forward to the fall and winter months.

There were many campers there. The lady at the desk told Jeanne there was an event going on so it was busy.  There were campers of every shape and size.  The best sites were located on the lake.  I guess one can choose from sites with a glorious sunrise or glorious sunset.

I think it would be tough to decide between a sunrise or sunset!

We headed back off the island, but I took a shot at the harbor where Jeanne and Ben’s cottage is located. Look how beautiful everything looks!

Jeanne also took me for a ride around the area where she often drives her scooter.  As I said before, it is a whole different world and culture.  It was such a beautiful day and I really enjoyed the mini tour!  As we drove, we spotted a big bird sitting in a marshy area.  I took a photo of the bird, but I am not sure what its identity is.  It had a large bill, though.

We went back to the cottage and Mark and Ben were still talking at the table where we had left them.  Ben fired up the grill and made delicious sausages and chicken breasts for everyone.  He had also made a fabulous Mexican type dish with beans and corn that was so tasty along with potato salad.  Everything was so good!

After eating, Ben showed Mark some of his guitar equipment and Mark sent me to the car where he had tucked away his traveler guitar and amp, hoping the two of them might play. And play they did while Jeanne and I visited.

We talked on and on until Mark and I looked at the clock!  It was getting late and we had that three hour drive ahead of us! We had also taken Murphy along with us and he spent the day snoozing in the car! I would check on him from time to time, but he is pretty content just knowing we are nearby.  It was nice and cool and we left the windows down most of the day, so it was like being outside for the wee Scot!

I realize now that I never took a photo of our generous host and hostess!  I am so bad at taking people pictures!  But, I did get photos of their sweet little “babies”. They are Bichons and they are so adorable with their fluffy little poofy heads!

This is LadyBug.

And this is Chloe, sleeping away in her little stroller!

Thank you, Jeanne and Ben!  We had such a wonderful time visiting!  As we left, Ben advised us of the route he follows to go back home.  It was so cool as we passed nearby Adams, where we go snowmobiling in the winter!  Awesome. Awesome day. Awesome friends. Awesome visit!

I must add….I was about to publish this, when I thought I would comment further.  Mark is a trooper about driving and he seems to never tire!  When he felt like he was weary, he pulled over at one of the rest areas.  I had fallen sound asleep previously and didn’t even notice the stop!  When I awakened, I asked Mark where we were and we were only a short distance from home. mark pulled away and off we went once again.  As we traveled close to Canandaigua, we saw lights flashing ahead.  Two volunteer firemen were diverting traffic along another road.  When we drove down the road, I realized we were close to where Ben and Jeanne live!  One fireman had told us there had been a terrible accident ahead and thus the diversion.

We learned the following day a young man had gone through a stop sign on a small side road.  Another young man ran into his car, spinning it on the main road, where it was hit by yet another car. The young man who ran the stop sign was killed in the accident.  These things happen so sporadically…..one just never knows….

Thoughts on Homeschooling, An Incredible Ceremony!

It is so hard to believe that next month, Michelle will graduate from college.  It was only yesterday that our little girl began her education. We decided that homeschooling was the route we wanted to take.  We just felt it would be a great way for a child to learn.  After all, it is parents who train their children to use the potty, tie their shoes, and many other life skills. Why not reading, writing, and arithmatic ? There are so many different curricula available, and many come with explicit instructions for parents.  Homeschooling is not just for the kids…it is an adventure in learning for all involved if done properly.

Michelle proved to be like a little sponge when it came to learning.  By completion of kindergarten, she had mastered the skill of reading and was well on her way. We had chosen a very work intensive curriculum for her kindergarten and first grades.  She flew through the coursework as though it was playtime.  I must note at this point that both of our kids were very, very active. The best way to settle them down was reading.  Michelle is two years, three months older than Ben and when they were very little, I daily read fifteen to twenty books a day.  That was how we spent our “free time”.  Sometimes, I read so much that my voice would actually disappear! (I always used different voices for each character in their books)

After Michelle’s intense kindergarten and first grade, we changed curriculum to workbooks through another publisher. One of the prerequisites for this curriculum was a survey of a child’s skills to properly place the child, grade-wise.  When Michelle took the barrage of testing, it was determined she was best suited to enter the third grade. This meant she skipped second grade.  Her basic reading, writing, math, and science levels were all well above the grade 2 level,  so we placed her in third grade.  We ordered her curriculum and she began working on computerized coursework. I was a bit apprehensive at first,  wondering at the wisdom of skipping a grade,  but she proved definitely properly prepared for the work she was given.

Michelle was fairly self-motivated when it came to her schoolwork, although there were times when we had to encourage her to “finish up”!  As time progressed, she learned to work almost totally by herself, and by grade 12, she rarely asked questions.  She aced her pre-calculus and physics studies, briefly asking Mark for help from time to time when stuck on a problem or concept. Mark’s Mechanical Engineering background was intense in math and science, so he was more than qualified in these areas.  Michelle never had problems with history and when language arts presented any challenge, I was up for that, loving this area.

Michelle had completed all of her “public schooling career” by age 15 and she began attending Finger Lakes Community College. Before beginning there, she took a test to see if she was properly prepared and when I asked about her results, the administering person assured me I had “nothing to worry about”.  Michelle proved that the work was a “piece of cake”.  She would come home from college and write down each assignment and would then write an amount of time she felt needed to complete the work.  Each day was spent using the allotted time on the assignment. Michelle did a fantastic job at FLCC and was discouraged by one course…Statistics, in which she received an A-. Every other course, she completed with an A.

After finishing up at FLCC, Michelle planned to probably attend one of the state colleges, although she also had her eye on a small private university located not too far away. It was “on a whim” that she applied to Rochester Institute of Technology.  Their E. Philip Saunders College of Business was one of the highly-ranked business schools in the United States.  Michelle was accepted and the rest is history!  She maintained a “perfect” 4.0 average throughout her studies and is set to graduate in May.  (She is actually taking two more courses and finishing in August, but given her record, the school is allowing her to receive her degree in May.)

Last night’s ceremony was entitled Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship 2012-2013. The ceremony took place at the Gordon Field House and Activity Center which is an enormous complex housing tracks, a gymnasium, swimming pools, ice arena, and even more!  It was a very colorful and delightful experience!  It began with two bagpipers…

and then a processional of the Deans of the various schools, the President of RIT, and then the Scholars. The Deans wore the colors of each individual school, resulting in a rainbow of color on the stage!

Note: I could kick myself for not making proper adjustments for the lighting in this building.  Please excuse the excessive orange color, but be advised (this said tongue-in-cheek) that the school’s colors include a lot of orange!!!

There was a brief message by the president of RIT, Dr. William W. Destler.

The presenter of the scholars was Dr. Jeremy Haefner, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs.  In presenting each of the scholars, he read a brief statement given by one of the student’s professors, attesting to the student’s outstanding characteristics. The scholars are chosen from the student body and must have at least a 3.85 of a possible 4.0 average and have completed at least 125 quarter credit hours of study. (2/3 of the total for a baccalaureate degree) Other factors account for selection such as creative work, service, civic activities and research.

Note: okay, so this is a funny picture….just look at the face of that dean looking at Dr. Haefner.  Gads, how did I ever catch this one???

After Dr. Haefner congratulated each student,  the student was then presented a bronze medallion by President Destler, then congratulated by the dean of the college the student attended.  The medallions were designed by the late Professor Hans Christensen who was a renowned silversmith. He chose an Athenian owl which symbolizes wisdom and on the opposite side where the scholar’s name is engraved, an olive branch.  Here is Michelle as she crossed the stage.

We each received a booklet with a listing of the scholars.  This listing included where they attended high school and gave a brief overview of accomplishments.  It was interesting to note that there were four other students who were homeschooled, two of which are studying engineering. Each scholar had been given the opportunity to invite a teacher or professor who made an impact on their life and of the sixty-one who were invited, over thirty were in attendance.

After the awards ceremony, the scholars, along with their guests, were moved into another area of the (amazingly, incredibly! large) gymnasium for a catered meal. We had been sent information regarding the event a couple of months ago and were asked to make a selection of a meal.  The choices were a vegetarian meal, a chicken meal, or prime rib.  We had prime rib and it was delicious!

This was certainly a night to remember! I will post a photo of the medallion later…

Saying Good Bye

Yesterday was an emotional day saying our good byes to my Aunt Lena.  The good news is that hers was a life well lived.

As Carly and I talked about my dad’s side of the family, we were amazed.  All of my dad’s siblings that have passed away have lived long lives.  Some of the brothers fought for our country and all returned home.  That in and of itself is awesome!

My Aunt Lena was eighty-seven years old.  She loved my Uncle Carl, who passed away in 2001, and she longed to be with him once again.  My cousin Lori paid an awesome tribute to her mom, as did Lori’s son, Nick.  My aunt had always been all about family and she will be greatly missed.

My mom handed me her camera as she was getting out of the car at the cemetery yesterday but I told her I had my Nikon.  I wasn’t sure it was considered “proper” to photograph a funeral, but now I am glad I did!

Of my grandparents’ eight children, only three now remain.  My father is the eldest,  my Uncle Jim, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and my Uncle Dick.

This photo of my dad and Uncle Dick is precious to me.  As they were standing there, they were remembering Aunt Lena….

It Feels Like Summer!

Today’s temperature really did feel like summer. In fact, it was a new record high for this date.

The family was off to Rochester and I stayed home with little Murphy.  We didn’t do much at all….just basically hung out and chilled.

Last night, in the middle of the night, I awoke with a terrible pain in my wrist. I tried to think what would have caused this and I suddenly remembered!  When Ben and I got out of the kayaks yesterday, I had some trouble “getting my legs”!  I tried to stand and just couldn’t do it!  Ben was up on a bank above me, so I gave him my right wrist and told him to pull me up!  Oops! Being the middle of the night, I then got worried…..what if my wrist was broken or dislocated?  Odd, the things one conjures in the mind when awakened…..

Well, this morning, I was fine. My wrist was fine. Everything was fine, indeed!  A few years ago, I had trouble with tendonitis in that wrist and I had to be careful when I slept because I had a tendency to “fold” my wrist so that it hurt something fierce. I think I may have done that during the night.  To keep from this odd habit, I usually tuck my wrist under my pillow so it’s flat.

Enough of that!

I played around with my camera as the sun was setting…it came through the window and lit up a bouquet of a dozen Tulips.  I am fascinated by light playing on objects and this was just too pretty to pass up!

Tomorrow is supposed to be yet another summerlike day, then the temperatures will subside a little.  Still hard to believe it is March.

I heard on the radio today that the man responsible for killing six Amish and injuring eight others in Penn Yan last year was sentenced to 12 to 24 years in prison.  The story went on to say that in that crash, fifty Amish children were orphaned.  The man will also have to pay $300,000.00 in restitution.  I wonder if the people who lost loved ones would even accept the money.   I realize that the Amish are a forgiving people, but 12 to 24 years for the murder of six lives seems so mild……