Thursday, January 11, 2018

Congratulations or Condolences

On what was one of the chilliest mornings in recent history, I made my way down to the meeting at the Woodstock town hall, which was advertised in the Woodstock Times a few weeks ago. The way I read the ad, I thought I was going to a brain storming session regarding the Woodstock Cemetery. I thought the meeting would be led by a group of concerned Woodstockers who wanted to have input about forming a new board of trustees for the Woodstock Cemetery. Of course, I’m used to “Woodstock Time” and arrived about ten minutes late. There were about three dozen interested people seated in the chairs provided, with Supervisor Bill McKenna hosting the meeting. My friend, Terry Breitenstein, who has shepherded the care of the administrative part of the cemetery for almost two decades, was speaking about the dilemma the cemetery board of Trustees had faced when I arrived. After about 45 minutes of questions and what seemed to me like confusion, Supervisor McKenna asked for a show of hands of who wanted to volunteer on the new cemetery board of trustees. I use the word confusion, because, as the multiple questions and comments were tossed about, there were times when the term “the board” was used, and if you weren’t really paying attention, a new comer would have trouble discerning between responsibilities of the cemetery board and the Woodstock town board. Never the less, when the request for a show of hands was made, there were no volunteers for a new board of trustees. I think that everyone understood a comment by one attendee who said “it doesn’t really matter, old board of trustees or new board of trustees, there is still the problem of not having enough income to run the cemetery”. So, that’s really it in a nutshell. There hasn’t been, for a number of years, enough income from the sale of graves to support the maintenance and up keep of the Woodstock Cemetery. Now, the Woodstock Town board will administer the financial needs of the Woodstock Cemetery. If you want to know how this is going to take place, it sounds like supervisor McKenna is the point person at the moment. He will be consulting with the state association of cemeteries as to what to do next. Truthfully, this is uncharted territory for a parties involved. Usually a town takes over a cemetery when there is no longer any land left for burials. Our cemetery is still an active cemetery, with plots available for sale. Also, along with the sites for burials, there is a house on the property that has been used for the past two decades as a home by Shay and his family. ( we are fond of the history of this little house, as it is reported to have been built by Walter Mower. Living on the property has been part of his compensation package. It remains undetermined what will come of this relationship, as Shay is no longer employed by the now defunct board of trustees. ( we are fond of the history of this little house, as it is reported to have been built by Walter Mower) Lastly, there was a lot of enthusiasm from volunteers/ plot owners who wanted to help with whatever the cemetery property needs. (fundraising, historical, deeds, maps, clean-ups etc. If anyone interested, please contact the supervisor with your interest and in what manner. Bill McKenna - At some point, I will try to put together volunteers who are interested in helping maintain some of the older graves in the old section of the cemetery. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Woodstock Cemetery- It NEEDS your HELP

When you have a genealogy hobby like I do, you spend an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries. I have poked around hundreds of headstones from Cutler Maine to Savannah Georgia. My hubby and I spent a number of hours in Roscommon Ireland searching for my relatives burial sites. We finally found “THE” Fallon cemetery one blustery afternoon, in stony Dysart, high up on a hill surrounding what the locals referred to as the Fallon Church. Most recently, we had an escorted tour thru the cemetery in Resuttao, Sicily. When I searched for this location on google maps, what I was looking at I referred to as condominiums. Yes, you guessed it, an acre or two of above ground crypts, decorated with photos and colorful flowers and offerings to the memories and souls of the deceased.
I’ve had the pleasure of traipsing all over the Woodstock cemetery on Rock City road, visiting gravesites of local people I’ve known or read about. I have family buried in one of the newer sections, dating back to 1967. My hubby has family buried in one of the older sections dating back to the early 1900’s. We’ve purchased our own burial site half way down the lane lined with grand old Maple trees. We have taken up the responsibility for tending to the headstones of our loved ones, making sure the stones are clear of grass and debris. Other families do the same for the final resting places of their loved ones.
On January 6th 2018 at 10am, at the Woodstock Town Hall, there will be a reorganizational meeting of the board of trustees of the Woodstock Cemetery. As you will see in the article By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE from December 2017, the board members at that time “relinquished control” (Kemble, 2017) of the day to day operations of the cemetery. The meeting on January 6th is, as I understand it, designed to appoint volunteers to the new board of trustees. The Woodstock Cemetery financial troubles are not new, as noted in the George Pattison articles of 2008 and 2009.
I consider the Woodstock cemetery on Rock City road a hidden treasure in our town for the following reasons:

1. By far, one of the best views of Meads and Overlook in the center of town.

2. Even with the poor condition of the roads, still a lovely place to walk at least a mile without the hassles of traffic.

3. Resting place for many of Woodstock’s original settlers and their families

4. Resting place for many famous artists and musicians of the 20th and 21st century.

If you are at all interested in the upkeep of this little hidden treasure in Woodstock, please consider stopping by on Saturday and listen to the proposals. If it seems like a good fit, by all means, join on!
References :

2008 Times Article by George Pattison>

2009 Times Article by George Pattison>

2017 Daily Freeman Article by William Kemble>

Rock & Roll Roadmaps>

Monday, January 1, 2018

Wow- a decade of blogging

Amazingly, I’ve been posting to this blog for ten years. After reviewing my original posts, it looks like I started the blog when I was doing a TV show on the local access channel here in Woodstock. I had joined the AAUW local chapter in 2007 and became friends with Garnette. We did a show together working to encourage people to vote. I’m trying to recall exactly why I titled my blog “View from my Kitchen Window”. With the benefit of a decade of time to finesse the answer, I think it was essentially due to the habit I have of deep thinking while I do my dishes. Yes, by hand.. Some days, more frequently than I’d like to admit. I’m blessed to be able to look out on a field- which has a wondrous life of its own. Each season, each time of day, the field morphs into a scene that is truly beautiful. A lot has happened in the past decade- I’ve become a grandmother four times, achieved a bachelor’s degree in nursing, watched my dad move from his independent 80’s into being in his 90’s and with failing health, lost a job that I thought I would work at forever and re appear in a career that is more challenging than I could imagine. I ran for town board in Woodstock, twice, and lost to Jay Wenk both times. Most importantly, my hubby and I are healthy, happy and each year find more and more amazing things to talk about and places on this great planet to explore. Our kids are happy, successful and healthy. Our fleamarket is starting its 41st year on the corner of Maple Lane and Deanies Alley in Woodstock. ( The photos included in this post are the view included in my kitchen window. Mary is always nearby, ready to receive my prayers and deliver good counsel. I work each day to let my faith be bigger than any of my fears. I look forward to continuing to blog every now and again, especially when a topic floats into the forefront of my mind while mediating on the view from my kitchen window.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Artichokes and Champagne

Artichokes and Champagne What could artichokes and champagne have in common? They remind me of a couple of experiences in life. Much of my work in family history and genealogy is comprised of collecting data about people I’ve never met. Then, I piece together a story about them that I can assimilate into the larger narrative of my family history. I am fortunate to be able to have had my mother in law in my life, the woman who taught me how to make artichokes. I recently realized, after a trip to Sicily, how “ sicilian” she really was. The evidence was in the foods that I experienced while on our trip, the very same foods that my mother in law incorporated into her everyday living. There was something else that she dished out with every meal she shared with us, the desire to celebrate life. That’s where the champagne comes in. For 2018, my wish for everyone is, celebrate every day and learn a little about the food culture that has been enfolded in to your life. Our traditional food tells a story of where we came from, what we are made of. My favorite way to stay connected to the past. Happy New year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Remembering what is true for me.

Wow, I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I posted on my blog. I had to ask myself, why is that? Part of the answer lies in all the misinformation that is being disseminated around in the social media and traditional media… who knows what to believe, what is real news, what is fake news. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of opinions on many of the topics that face us today- however, I haven’t taken the time to research what may be all the factors that make up the situation or problem. There is one aspect of my life, though, that has remained constant and true. That would be, my belief in GOD. The GOD, whose son, born of Mary, step son to Joseph, whose birth we celebrate this weekend.

This morning found myself yelling at the T.V. I had finally reached my limit with the commercials urging people to get out and shop and buy things to have ready for Christmas. I walked away from the T.V. mumbling that we’ve become a nation who worships the god of consumerism. I was enveloped in a moment of sadness, feeling that people are rushing around buying things that are supposed to represent the gifts that were brought by the three wise men to the baby Jesus. However, not just one gift, but dozens of gifts. Perhaps, in a judgmental state of mind, what I would consider an overabundance of gifts. There I sat, moving into a very dark mood. What I did next, was troll the posts on my social media feed, hoping to soften the dark mood with pictures of other people’s Christmas trees, cookies, and smiling children. What I found was the post below.

After reading through the message a few times, I realized that I had been blessed with the gift of knowledge through my friend’s social media post. The knowledge that even thought- what seems like excess to me might just be my friends and neighbors attempts to follow along with the Christmas Story. The story is a simple one. Mary said yes and followed the Angel’s instructions in faith. God gave us his only son. The wise men came bearing gifts. I pray that we all work to become wise men and women of the 21st century.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaguration day

Inauguration day January 20, 2017 Home, under orders from my chiropractor to apply ice every hour or so to my low back, and avoid sitting as much as possible, seems to be an unplanned opportunity to watch the Inauguration of our 45th president, Donald J. Trump. Though each time I get up out of a chair, I have to maneuver myself so that the pain isn’t’ too bad, I do feel fortunate that I am home to be able to watch this important process, the peaceful transition of power from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Many topics are flowing through my mind as I watch the dignitaries file in: Former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton and former candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are present. Also, I marvel at how graceful Michelle Obama and Melania Trump appear as they greet each other, and then leave the White House to head to the swearing in ceremony. The topics that emerge, are too numerous to enter into in this sitting. My thoughts to drift over to the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who have chosen to boycott the Inauguration- which is their right for whatever their reasons may be. Upon reflection, I’ve done the same thing myself on the occasion of local elections. However, what the ramifications were of my not attending local inaugurations will be left for future historians to uncover. What the fall out will be for those who gave the cold shoulder to the process of peaceful transfer of power in the greatest country on earth, will unfold during the next four years. While listening to Cardinal Timothy Dolan pray to God, and quote from the book of Wisdom, I couldn’t agree with him more, as he asks God to send her to guide our governing leaders. In 1789 the first inauguration occurred and what an amazing journey our country has had in the centuries since then. Many people I know are fearful at this moment, and others are angry. I confess that, with regard to the incoming administration, I do have one foot in the “show me” column. I like the way Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein expressed his view of the next four years on CNBC interview. He was a Hilliary Clinton supporter. He took the tone of one who wants to stay engaged in the process and, if I understood him correctly, plans to look for ways to see if he can work to see some sort of success in the Trump experience. I would want to do the same, instead of drifting to the outside of the process and being associated with “haters” and negativism. I would encourage my friends to heed the words of Senator Mark Warner ( D) of Virginia this morning on CNBC “ when you break a lot of eggs, its gets messy” . A similar phrase has been used by others: democracy is messy. The next four years does have the potential to be " messy". We’ve adopted a philosophy in our household “ If you can’t embrace change, it’s going to be a hard ride “. In closing, I appreciate some of the words spoken by Chuck Schumer, including his description of the inauguration process including the following: "Today we celebrate one of democracy's core attributes: The peaceful transfer of power. And everyday, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the constitution. The rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion. The things that make America, America. He closed with a statement that he has faith in in the American people and Americas best days are yet to come. Lastly, Rabbi Heir of the Simon Wiesenthal center spoke from the Torah, and when speaking about America and the future he notes “ a nation is remembered by its values not its vaults” . So, here we are, challenged to work together to engage in actions that tell the world what Americas values are. I’m ready to work to see our country continue to strive to successfully demonstrate those values and meet the needs of all Americans.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor Day recollection

Excerpted from biography of John Fallon written with Janine Fallon - Mower By December 1941, I knew that scholastically, I was doing poorly. My grades for most of my classes were C’s and D’s. The subjects themselves were a problem for me in their own right. I also believed that my scholastic performance was adversely affected by the disappointment I felt about my experience in freshman football. I entered into the football program with the high expectations of being a great triple threat halfback in college. The fact that I didn’t realize that dream had me wondering about being at Syracuse at all. I sometimes wondered if I might have been better off had I accepted a full tuition scholarship that I had been offered from Gettysburg College. As someone said, there I might have been a big fish from in a little pond, whereas at Syracuse I was a little fish in a big pond. It was a typical winter day in Syracuse New York. The cold air and overcast sky held promise of the usual snowfall later in the evening. In my home town, Kingston NY, we were used to winter weather. However, many of my fellow students who transferred to Syracuse from other regions of the country had to acclimate themselves to the regions primary color of winter, gray. My friend Shimmy (aka Maynard Schermerhorn) and I were walking along the sidewalk from our dorms. I had first met Shimmy, who was from south central New York near Endicott, when I enrolled at the University the previous fall, and he played guard on the Syracuse football team with me. You couldn’t help but notice that the green grass edging the concrete sidewalks we walked on was now faded brown and covered with a light dusting from the snow that fell the night before. Syracuse is synonymous with winter and snow. Moisture from Lake Ontario causes the surrounding countryside to frequently be blanked with the frozen white stuff. It was a setting in which one might find it easy to drift into a gloomy mood, even more so if you were like me and weren’t doing well in your freshman year at college. Many of my class mates who enjoyed the long central New York winter climate could occupy their free time with skiing or other winter sports. Unless one sought out something bright, something cheerful, you might find yourself in a rather down frame of mind most of the time in this lousy cold climate. I only had my kitchen duties, thoughts about my girlfriend Shirley, and the fresh memories of the miserable football season that just ended to occupy my mind. I was nineteen years old when I found myself in this pesky down mood. As part of our scholarship responsibilities, Shimmy and I worked serving meals and cleaning up after the “pay their own way” students in Sims Hall. When we were done working in the kitchen, washing and drying other student’s dishes and silverware, it was customary for Shimmy and I to sit together and eat our free meal. Well, we decided, maybe varying the Sunday routine would help chase away the grey frame of mind I was in. Classes were done for the weekend, so “Shimmy” and I decided take a brisk walk down off the hill and hop on the late afternoon bus and head downtown for dinner. No doubt, dinner in a real restaurant would make the day more pleasant. Our dining destination was a Schrafts restaurant on Salina Street, eight or ten blocks east of the Syracuse University complex. Schrafts, the candy company, ran a chain of popular restaurants throughout the United States. It wasn’t the fanciest place to dine, but it was warm, welcoming and we settled into an enjoyable meal and conversations about school and football. We admitted that we were glad that we had managed to grab a few hours away from our dining hall routine and also we gave ourselves a chance to get away from the tensions of studying. Adding to our pleasure was the enjoyable dinner music that was piped in over the restaurant’s sound system. Shimmy and I were relaxing at the table after completing our meal, waiting for the waitress to bring our coffee. An especially entertaining musical piece played by Freddie Martin and his orchestra was on. The melody was from a classical concerto called Piano Concerto in B Flat. As it turns out, it was one of my favorite pieces of music. I knew the song from its Americanized title, “Tonight We Love; and if asked, I could sing it in my Irish tenor voice. Abruptly, the music stopped. We both paused, wondering why the music suddenly went quiet, the song not yet at its conclusion. After some static, a man’s voice apologized for the interruption and the announcer stated that it was felt that the patrons should be told the news that Japan had attacked the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor on this day, at 7 55 am Hawaii time, December 7, 1941. Shimmy and I looked at each other in disbelief. We both had the same thoughts screaming through our minds. How could this happen? How was this event going to affect our futures? We had, up to this point, been disconnected from the war in Europe. Shimmy was already a cadet in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. (R. O. T. C.) He had let me borrow his uniform one time to dress up and clown around for a snapshot. Though it didn’t fit right the effect was fun and made everyone laugh. I wasn’t in R. O. T. C. but I was aware that very soon, I would be faced with making a decision about my status under the Selective Service Systems draft provisions. Ever so slowly, we walked back to the bus stop. In quiet conversation, we agreed it was a good meal but neither of us could say that we enjoyed the sour dessert served over the P.A. system. We hopped a bus back to campus with an uneasiness brewing in our hearts as to what impact this event was going to have on our lives. With all the difficulties facing me as a freshman college student, all I needed was for my country to be involved in a world war putting draft eligible males, like me, on the spot to determine a course of action. I had been a student at Syracuse for only a little over 3 months. And yet in that short time I had experiences that would influence any decision I would make, whether wisely or not, about my immediate future. draft version to be published by Anam Cara Press 2015