This cautionary tale has a lesson: Before embarking on a bike ride, make sure you have taken the right key for your bike chain.
It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in late April. The kind of afternoon in early spring when every tree is a different color of flowering buds, each branch has that blessed tinge of the lightest green. On that day in April, I wish I could freeze time then and there and live and linger in that feeling of potential that early spring gives. I wished to go no further.
There was nothing pressing on our family schedule for the evening: no plays, baseball games, concerts or meetings. And, our family of five was down two people: hubby in Detroit and my daughter on her way to a youth weekend retreat.
If you have a family, you know that the absence of even one member changes the dynamic of the household, and can inspire you to make a change in an otherwise humdrum weeknight.
Tonight, it would be just me and the boys!
I said “boys, let’s do something different. Let’s bike to the library, get out some books. Then I’ll grill for dinner, and THEN, let’s go to the Canal
for some yogurt for dessert!”
And who could argue with that plan? Not even my boys!
So off we went to the Brighton Memorial Library.
We locked our bikes and spent about 30 minutes reading and selecting some books.
Then, the tale of a wonderful evening took a dark turn.
My eldest son presented me with the key. It wouldn’t fit.
“You told me you had the right key.”
“Yeah, that’s the key, I took it out of the keybox.”
“Did you actually check if it worked?”
Obviously, he did not.
So, we walked home from the library leaving our locked bikes behind to locate the lost key.
Now, during the de-cluttering and staging of our home, somehow the key in question went AWOL.
Now, we had three bikes securely locked at the library and no key.
The grill remained unlit. Our bellies remained unfed.
Armed with a hedge clipper, I loaded the boys into the Traverse and headed back to the library.
Funny thing about a good bike chain. Underneath that rubber coating is a network of woven and twisted wires that don’t snap but merely bend when you try to clip them.
I called the good people at the Park Avenue Bike shop to explain my predicament and see if they had a lock cutting service.
“Are you far from home? Are you in a remote rural area?” asked Park Ave Bike Man.
“No, I’m at the Brighton Library. And I have a car.”
Folks, here is a bit of helpful information: Park Ave Bike is many things to many local bikers, but they do not have a lock clipping service for stranded, keyless bikers.
He then suggested I get some bolt cutters.
So, with the sky darkening, and are bellies growling even louder, we headed to our nearest big box hardware store.
A patient but doubtful man wearing an orange apron helped me select bolt cutters for the job.
“You may have to work at this for a while. This is not a one-person job. You may have to attach pipes to the end of each handle for best leverage at some point to break that lock.”
So, at this point, I am a starving mamma wielding a bolt cutter on the check out line of Home Depot. All I wanted that evening was a cup of soft serve yogurt on the Erie Canal.
At this point, my boys and I were beginning to feel like we were caught in a scene from our favorite comedy. I was taking on the role of Claire Dunphy.
We get back to the library and it is now nearly dark. I start chomping away at the bike lock. Next to me are some more unattended bikes. They don’t even have a chain on them.
A man exits the library and gives us a weird look. He takes out his cell phone.
The librarian comes out and also gives us a funny look.
At this point my eldest son shouts “THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, FOLKS. WE ARE NOT BIKE THIEVES. THESE ARE OUR BIKES WE ARE STEALING.”
Now, if I was going to steal a bike, I wouldn’t do it at the Brighton Library. The police station for the town is attached to the same building.
Finally, after a few chomps – without the aid of pipes – the bikes are free. The boys and I give a triumphant yelp and there are high fives all around.
We didn’t grill that night. Nor did we make it to the Erie Canal for a yogurt treat. I think I ordered in a pizza.
And the next day, I went back to Park Ave. Bike and bought a new bike lock.
With five extra keys.
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Frolic in the lilacs. Check out some free music from the TCMS Jazz Band this Wednesday at lunchtime!
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Patterns.
Patterns are found in nature. And in turn, we foolish humans try to mimic the majesty of nature’s patterns in the man-made world. . I photographed two examples of patterns I found this year in Rochester, N.Y.
While one is a pattern only nature could create (well, maybe man helped it along with a bit of hybridization), one is a pattern created by man, or a woman, in hopes of preserving nature.
The first is a lilac. But these are not your ordinary lilacs.
This week is Rochester’s Lilac festival, an event that draws thousands to the area for music, great food, and of course, to inhale the fragrance from the city that can boast the nation’s largest collection of lilac bushes in Highland Park.
While white lilacs are the most fragrant, photogenically, my mom and I like this striped variety the best. I give full credit to her photographic wizardry here. I also learned from the blog, eattheweeds, that lilacs are from the edible olive family. In addition to their intoxicating fragrance, lilac blossoms and seeds can be used in cooking and wine making.
The next photo is a pattern that struck my eye at Rochester’s Greentopia Festival, held every September. As much as I searched and searched on the Internet, I could not find a link to this artist/vendor, so if you know who makes these, leave me a comment and I will certainly give the artist a little link love:
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Rochester is now starring as the stunt double for New York City in Spiderman 2. And it’s making some Rochesterians as mad as the Incredible Hulk
This is going to be a weird spring.
For 13 winters something has been growing in my basement.
Now don’t be frightened, especially if you are a potential buyer of my house.
The things that grew were my seedlings. All through the winter. Under grow lights set under timers.
Trays and trays of seedlings growing in plantable peat pots.
Annuals. Perennials. And Herbs.
All legal herbs, that is.
From the tiny seedlings grew the fully grown plants that populated my garden each year.
But this spring, the spring of transition, the only thing I’ve planted has been this:
The only gardening I’ve done is the kind where you weed while kneeling on a gardening pad and watch the bulbs you’ve planted from previous years emerge from the ground.
So, this gardener without a garden needs your help.
Won’t you write to me with your gardening plans – especially if you live in my current town of Rochester, or better yet, if you live in Detroit, tell me what the gardening scene is like in the motor city. Write to me where you find my contact information and I will feature you as a guest blogger right here.
So, get your green thumbs out of the dirt and onto that keyboard and write me!
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WordPress asked us bloggers for an in the moment day in the life photo challenge. I am sure That others will post about their day on a safari or exploring some Eastern European hamlets. I wish I could offer a post as exciting. But, here is an honest glimse of my life from yesterday. The last […]
On my latest trip to Wegmans, my shopper’s club card failed to scan after many attempts to swipe it though the machine. It seems I have used this card so many times I’ve worn it down. Now, if a girl’s Wegmans shoppers club card no longer functions, I guess that’s another sign that it’s time for me to leave town.
Here is my final column in the Democrat & Chronicle. Thank you to all the readers, including the cashiers at Wegmans who recognized me with my groceries, who all made me feel like a celebrity.
Tomorrow, we head to Detroit for a “vacation” of looking at houses that are already pending a sale, houses that just went on the market only days ago.
Maybe at least this time, we won’t get a flat tire on the way.
Never underestimate the power of a smile. If you attended a CenterStage show at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester in Brighton, Cora Holliday’s smile from the box office booth was almost as unforgettable as the performance.
For the last several years, Cora was box office manager for the theater. When she sold me tickets to shows, we always chatted about how rehearsals were going and how excited she was for opening night as she browsed her computer screen to find me the best available seats.
“Even if you came to just one play at the JCC, you would remember Cora. She just had that way about her that made everyone feel special in her presence,” said Ralph Meranto, director of JCC CenterStage.
Behind that smile, Cora was fighting diabetes, a battle she succumbed to on March 13. She was 50. Even after having her second leg amputated, Cora’s positive attitude never faltered as she planned to soon be driving and yes, dancing on her prosthetic legs. The JCC in January held a fundraiser in her honor to offset her medical bills and to retrofit her car.
A celebration of her life is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton. Donations in her memory can be made to the JCC or the National Kidney Foundation, 15 Prince St, Rochester, NY 14607.
Thanks to all who shared stories
Goodbyes are tough. I have been dreading writing this final column for weeks now, but it is time for me to focus on my family and our big move to Detroit.
To all the readers and all who made my job so easy by pitching me story ideas over the last three years, I thank you. I especially want to thank the Democrat and Chronicle for helping me find my voice in reporting on all the local heroes in our midst. It gave me such a sense of connection and belonging in Rochester to know that this column helped raise funds and awareness for so many of the causes that you support. It truly has been a privilege to write it each and every week.
I will be sticking around for a few more months, so say hello if we bump into one another in the Pittsford Wegmans. You also can follow my Motor City musings and adventures at my blog atwww.stacylynngittleman.com or @slgittleman on Twitter.
Starting next week, please welcome Missy Rosenberry to this column.
A graduate of Cornell University, Missy has lived in the Penfield/Webster area with her husband and three children for 11 years. In addition to writing this column, she is a teaching assistant for the Webster School district and a part-time karate instructor. Please send her the latest happenings in your town to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for me, it is time to plan my life’s next chapter. Once I get to Detroit, I hope to find a writing gig as good as this one.
I also look forward to making many new friends in a city poised for an economic and cultural renaissance.
I hope to take part in Detroit’s gardening movement as it sets to turn its urban blight into the world’s largest urban farm.
And when new friends ask me where I am from, after living here for 13 years, I have earned the right to proudly declare, “I am from Rochester!”
A few weeks back, I wrote the first part of helping out back in Staten Island
I called it Part I which means, of course, there will be at least a sequel.
Well, it’s been a rough few weeks healthwise in our household so my apologies for the hold up on Part II.
It turns out that my synagogue’s education director in Rochester is childhood friends with David Sorkin, the executive director of the JCC in Staten Island. Our synagogue was collecting donations for Sandy victims in Staten Island. Their only problem: how were they going to deliver the goods?
So, in addition to helping out the fine volunteers at Guyon Rescue, with the help of my husband’s colleagues at General Motors, we borrowed the biggest Suburban you’d ever lay your eyes on and filled it with the gently used and new toys, books, art supplies and toiletries to be distributed through the Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island.
When I returned home to Rochester, Temple Beth El received the following letter from the JCC in thanks for our donation:
Dear Families of Temple Beth El,
Thank you very much for the toys, books, games and gifts that you collected for the children of our community who have suffered great losses from Hurricane Sandy. Also, special thanks to Stacy Gittleman and family for delivering supplies to the JCC.
As fate would have it, we received a call on Monday morning from a day care center that experienced damage from the storm and they were seeking replacement supplies. In addition, we sent some of the supplies to one of the shelters that are housing families. They were setting up a play room for the children, and your donations helped to create a warm and welcoming space in an otherwise bare and sterile environment. Some of these same children received the cards that were made by the children at your school.
Most of all, we must tell you that your acts of kindness will be remembered by all involved long after these families return to their homes and their lives get back to normal. …..
Thank you again to all my Rochester friends, neighbors and congregants who filled bins and my garage with donations that we brought down to Staten Island. I just wanted to share this letter with you to know how much it was appreciated.
Imagine being a kid, who, on top of losing all your favorite stuff, you’ve lost your home too.
Imagine being a mom trying to cope with all that loss. And at the same time, trying to get through all that red tape of filing claims with insurance companies and FEMA.
A few small things, delivered from up north, just might brighten your day. Even if it’s just a new bottle of berry red nail polish.
A few weeks ago, Susan Bernstein, Director of Education for Temple Beth El in Rochester, told me she had been in touch with an old friend in Staten Island. That friend, David Sorkin, happens to be Director of the Bernikow Jewish Community Center in Staten Island.
The two are collecting “stuff” – books, toys, crafts, games, and other small luxuries – for those who have lost everything on Staten Island. The “stuff” will be distributed to hundreds of clients of the JCC now living in shelters throughout Staten Island. These families, some of them living on the brink of poverty even before the storm, just need some sense of normalcy. It’s not much. Toys, books and beauty products may be just a small diversion as these families grapple with long-term struggle of rebuilding their lives and homes.
The only challenge – Rochester and Staten Island are about 350 miles apart.
Susan then asked my husband and I if we had room in our car to drive the donations to Staten Island.
Now, packing a family of five for a car trip is no small task. The family SUV will be crammed with suitcases, bookbags, snacks for the road, and don’t forget my son’s guitar. Then, there are those growing bodies that used to fit so compactly in an infant seat. Those ever-growing lanky teen and tween legs have taken up the room we once used to stow away all the extras.
No, I have no room in my car. But I’ll happily take all the stuff anyway. Happily.
There is all the room in my heart for my ravished hometown, Staten Island. I have seen the photos and have been following any speck of news from my hometown.
I can’t wait to go home. I know that seeing the devastation with my own eyes is going to be really hard.
In my phone conversation with Sorkin, he asked me to imagine a 4-foot storm surge reaching all the way up to Hylan Blvd. My brain just can’t process. All those businesses, many of them still not up and running.
Since Sandy hit, all I have wanted to do was go home and help.
So, I thank Susan for getting this project started with the JCC of Staten Island. I thank my rabbi, Sara Friedson-King, for letting me make an appeal to the congregation during Shabbat morning services. And I thank my Temple Beth El family for all the donations that will truly make someone’s day a bit brighter.
So far, in addition to the donations in the above photo, there is also an entire barrel of donations waiting for me at synagogue.
I’m putting a hitch on the family car. Renting a U-Haul. Where there is a will there is a way.
Staten Island, don’t worry, I’m coming home to help.
Here is my article on Susan Ferrari Rowley’s Rochester exhibit which ran in the November 11, 2012 Living Section of the Democrat 7 Chronicle:
In the male-dominated world of art, it’s tough to be a woman sculptor. Women artists seldom get the space they deserve in the pages of an Art History 101 textbook.
The exclusion of works by women is further evidenced in the inventory of American museums, where only about 5 percent of museum collections include works by women artists, according to the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. An even smaller percentage include sculptures by women.
That is why Robin Muto, who is the co-curator of one of Rochester’s newer galleries, AXOM Gallery & Exhibition Space, jumped at the opportunity to show the work of Rochester-based minimalist sculptor Susan Ferrari Rowley in an exhibit specifically designed for the studio’s airy, high-ceilinged space.
“New Directions,” on exhibit at AXOM, 176 Anderson Ave., through Saturday, offers the viewer a range of human emotions in stark white fabrics, stretched and sewn onto soldered aluminum frames. The works will head to New York City’s OK Harris gallery in December.
Contrast in form
“New Directions” reveals Rowley’s current migration from creating larger outdoor and public sculptures to works scaled for private residences. Asymmetric pieces likeInseparable, Centered and Off-Balance exude an edgy tension as they balance precariously on pedestals Rowley custom designed to be just big enough for their footprint.
The “living on the edge” quality of these smaller works also suggests anatomical elements of a body, legs and arms. A calming, translucent glow that seems to start from within the sculptures hints at an inner soul.
Rowley’s sculptures are a contrast of materials and moods. They are large and imposing, yet they invite the viewer to come closer. Through cloth and metal and angular and curved lines, the exhibit of about a dozen abstract pieces can be experienced by stepping around, over and through them.
Outside the main gallery is the story of the art through photos of Rowley making them in her Scottsville studio.
The dominating work in “New Directions” is 4-2-2, a 10-foot composition of three geometric forms. This construct of three white, billowy shapes gives off a peaceful, translucent glow made possible by the carefully placed overhead track lighting. At the same time, three enormous metal poles that extend from the floor to the 14-foot ceiling impale the composition. The very moment of this piercing appears to be captured within the tension of the cloth.
Though abstract and stark in composition, 4-2-2 was created out of a very human emotion: the heartbreak of impending loss. Rowley says it was inspired by the death of her dog Tu-Tu (pronounced tiyu-tiyu), who was a loyal companion for almost 14 years.
Rowley melds techniques like sewing, traditionally regarded as a feminine skill that she learned from her grandmother, with the more masculine crafts of soldering metal and machine tooling. The combined media make each sculpture confrontational in its large scale, yet lightweight and vulnerable in overall appearance.
“I like to work in opposites,” says Rowley, associate professor of fine arts at Monroe Community College. “Metal is hard, and poly fiber fabric is soft. There are male and female qualities, a vulnerability yet strength in my work that are emotions I needed to embrace in my own life as I evolved as an artist.”
A cause in jewelry
“New Directions” also includes Angular Extremes, wearable bracelet art that is the result of Rowley’s tenacious three-year campaign to convince American machine tooling factories and other manufacturers that they can make art and jewelry.
The aluminum bracelets are cast in a Milwaukee factory that did not think they were cut out to manufacture jewelry until Rowley talked them into it. The bracelets are shipped to Rochester, where another company provides the black-and-white nickel color coating.
She then designs the boxes, made from post-consumer recycled materials, with New York’s Jamestown Container.
It is a company where her late mother-in-law spent most of her working life. The label for the packaging was produced by another American company.
These bracelets are also part of the AXOM exhibit and available for purchase at Shop One2 Gallery on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus and the Memorial Art Gallery Store.
Influences on work
Growing up on Long Island, Rowley developed an appreciation for the arts by making treks into New York City. She found art in museums, but also in the windows of Macy’s or in the hand-drawn fashion advertisements in the Sunday New York Times.
On a sixth-grade field trip to the Museum of Modern Art, Rowley fell for a sculpture of abstract feminist sculptor Louise Nevelson. Rowley had found her calling.
“I remember on the train ride home thinking, ‘Making sculptures and placing them on pedestals, that’s what I want to do with my life!’ ” she says.
Later in graduate school, Rowley wanted to find additional 20th century female sculptors to emulate. She had studied the work of Constantin Brancusi and Marcel Duchamp. Then she found fiberglass artist Eva Hesse and sculptor and printmaker Nancy Graves.
“When I read about their lives and how they struggled as women sculptors, their drive inspired me. I knew if I was driven, I would be OK,” Rowley says. “I had to live up to my potential; I had to produce and show as a woman sculptor.”
More than 30 years into her career, Rowley still possesses that drive. She sometimes works alone in her studio. Sometimes she is “making it happen” on group collaborations. In 2004, she proved to be a quick study on zoning and construction codes when she designed relief art for noise-barrier panels placed along Rochester’s western highways for the New York Department of Transportation.
Rowley also made a suspended sculpture for the set of Garth Fagan’sLight Night and Melanin.
The diversification of work, trying to make it fit in several situations, is what she tries to impart to her MCC students, says Rowley, who received the 2011 SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
“I tell my students that our brains have tremendous capacity to diversify,” she says. “Artists today have to have communication and business skills as well as artistic talents, especially when they are commissioned on a piece and will need to work with those with non-artistic backgrounds.”