Tag Archive | Rochester

Oh There’s No Place Like Homes for Thanksgivingkah

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Yes. I know I really botched up the words of that song. But with the odd concurrence of Thanksgiving and the first light of Chanukah falling on the same night, and our first trip back to Rochester since departing for Detroit, my family feels like they are going through some surreal times.

Rochesterians, very well-meaning and sincere, actually said it to me:

“Welcome home!”

“Are you glad to be home?”

The word “home” was not something I expected to hear out of the mouths of my many Rochesterian friends and acquaintances I saw in the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving.

This is a homecoming of a sort. For my kids. Because after I checked off every last detail of what to pack, what to turn off and turn down in our new house. After the kids packed whatever they needed to eat and entertain themselves in the car. After the last seat belt had been clicked and the six-hour trek from Detroit to Rochester lay before us, my children said it:

“We are going home.”

Yes. Rochester is their home. Where they spent the better part of their formative years. It’s where two of three of them took their first steps and all of them lost their first teeth. It’s where their friends live who know them best. Who share some weird private jokes, shared histories,  and their own strange way of talking in a fake accent.

For me, Rochester is not home. New York City is home. Or is it? I haven’t lived in the area for almost 20 years.

I am trying to make Detroit home. But it’s tough to make it home when we leave it for holidays. It’s not a home if  there are no aromas of turkey and stuffing , and this year, the smell of potato latkes frying in a pan, and the sounds of grandparents, siblings and cousins hanging out in the family room. It’s just a house we live in.

Because home is where you go for the holidays. And if the majority of family do not live in your current city of residence, like the way smaller celestial bodies are drawn to larger ones in the universe, the pull is greater the other way. So home we must go.

Still, Rochester feels a lot like home now that we no longer live here. Yesterday, we spent the day in some old familiar places trying to catch up with as many people as possible. We got hugs everywhere. We are missed. And thought of.  I lost track of how many hugs I gave and received. It truly was a homecoming.

But there are places you really cannot return. My youngest wanted to go into his old house. That, we told him, was off limits. He was able to peek into the downstairs family room and said he didn’t like how the new owners painted it blue.

The big kids tried to loiter in  visit their old high school. To them, that was home too. They had it all planned out. They would enter the building in the morning, loaded backpacks slung on backs and blend into the stream of hundreds of other teens before the morning homeroom bell. Either in the library or cafeteria they would study and receive friends, and hugs, during their free periods.

But their old principal, who had known them since their elementary school days, apparently never forgets a face. And, knowing that these two faces had moved to Detroit, he kindly but firmly told them that new high school policy forbids non students to visit during school hours. But he gave them a valiant A for effort.

Sometimes, you really can’t go home.

A Warm Embrace

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athomedetroitThe first month of the school year is almost over, and with it a month that marked the Jewish High Holidays. Though the early mornings and late nights are starting to take their toll, though the unfamiliar hallways I walked through in my son’s new high school make me sometimes wish we were back in our old digs and routines in Rochester, things are going well so far in Detroit. 

One part of my Rochester life I am sorely missing is my weekly routine of writing my newspaper column.  Fortunately, I have picked up several writing assignments in the Detroit Jewish News. 

Here is my first piece, and it’s about (what else?) being a transplant. 

With the sound of the shofar, the High Holiday season signals the promise of a New Year.  We pray for a sweet year of new blessings and opportunities. For the rest of Jewish Detroiters, all this “newness” will happen in the same old familiar surroundings among family and old friends you’ve known for years.

For my family of five freshly-minted Michiganders, everything about 5774 is new.

Last year, as my family prepared to celebrate Sukkot, General Motors announced it would be closing the Rochester, N.Y., research facility where my husband worked and moving his job to Pontiac.  We lived in Rochester for 14 years. It was the only home our three children, ages 16, 14, and 10, had ever known.

After the shock of the news settled in and after my three children realized that no, their friends’ families in Rochester could not adopt them, it was time for us to pull together as a family.  The year 5773 was a journey filled with months of living apart from my husband, long-distance house hunting in a fiery-hot Detroit suburban real estate market, researching school districts, and many long and emotional goodbyes.

Moving can be a curse. In the Book of Deuteronomy, however, the Torah challenges Jews to find the blessing within the curse.

Contrary to what many of my New Yorker friends think, moving to Detroit is not a curse. Beyond the headlines of Detroit’s bankruptcy, we are enjoying the brighter sides of Michigan culture. In the short time we have lived here, we traveled to take in the beauty “up north,” savored homegrown cherries and blueberries, and climbed the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

I am learning how to make a Michigan left, which is scarier than a New Jersey jug handle.

We even stood on the curb of Woodward to witness the ultimate show of car culture in last months’ Dream Cruise

We found the blessing in the warm reception we received throughout Detroit’s Jewish community.  During a house-hunting trip that fell smack in the middle of Pesach, friends here hosted us three times for meals. Our children, also blessed with long-standing friendships forged at Camp Ramah in Canada, were invited for Shabbat meals and out to the movies to meet other new kids.   These friends have acted quickly to enfold our children into their social circles even before the moving vans arrived.

While we unpacked and set up our physical home with only one kid in tow (my oldest left Rochester on a bus headed for Camp Ramah), time was ticking for the quest to find a spiritual home. Belonging to a synagogue has been and will always be a top priority to our family. Not because we have to get High Holiday tickets, or have kids who need Hebrew school or a Bar Mitzvah date.   It is because here in Michigan, far away from family, we need a community.

During our “shul shopping,” we were happy to learn that we have many choices. Every congregation we visited this summer gave us warm welcomes on a level we never experienced in other communities. We were showered with greetings and given honors on the bimah within every sanctuary. Everywhere we go, people simply rave about their synagogue

One night, before going to sleep in our new home, I expressed to my husband about my worries of finding employment. He had his work. My kids had school. Once again, like many in my position who move to another town for a spouse’s job transfer, I would have to reinvent myself.

“Don’t worry,” he said.  “I’ll make the living. You go out and make us a life here.”

Wise and true were his words. While my husband worked at his office, I worked at finding doctors, pediatricians, dentists and orthodontists. I finalized details of moving out of one house and moving into another. I phoned school counselors on both sides of the move to assure the proper transfer transcripts and my kids would be signed up for the proper course work for high school. I did all I could so when they got off the bus in Detroit, sad to leave camp and even more saddened to be leaving all that was familiar, their biggest worry in their first days here would be how they were going to get through all that dirty laundry.

This year of transition has taught me many things. My kids are capable of stepping up more around the house. I can trust my husband to buy our next dream house even if I only saw it on Zillow. Most importantly, this move has reaffirmed for me the importance of keeping connected to the Jewish community. You never know where the road may take you, but our kehilah kedosha, our holy community, will always be there to take you in.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

As the sun sets on this day, I will add this photo post to my blog, inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge. Taken mid-June around sunset in Pittsford, NY while walking along the Erie Canal. In the foreground, my youngest enjoys an ice cream cone. The Erie Canal was a big part of our life in NY and we will miss it very much.

Just some thoughts before I go

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It’s tomorrow.

Tonight, my kids will lay their heads down in their bedrooms in this house for the very last time.

Tomorrow, they’ll wake up early, duffel bags in tow, and leave their rooms, and this house, and this town as they catch the bus for camp. I usually have very mixed feelings about this departure – sad that we’ll be apart for a summer, but happy not to have to do their laundry or dishes for an entire summer, a parental sabbatical, if you will.

Tomorrow, I will nave no mixed feelings, as tomorrow the packers are also coming to pack us away for Detroit.

Get the mop, people!  I’ll be a puddle on the floor.

I guess if you’ve lived in a place for a while, the days before a big move can feel like somewhat like a mourning period. You long to hang onto the familiarity of the same streets and buildings. I will miss the sidewalks. I will miss knowing exactly what stars I’ll see during what time of year from the window above my bed.

The other night I took a final walk around the neighborhood with the husband. It is all we feel like doing Even though summer is heating up and there really is so much to DO in town (can you say, International Jazz Fest??),

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Rochester International Jazz Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

We are ready to go. Like Jodi Foster’s character in Contact, as she sat strapped into a chair on that weird launch pad, saying over and over again.

jodifoster

Ready to Go.

Ready to Go.

The next morning, husband and I woke up and went through our usual morning routine.  We have been apart for four months now save the weekends, so the bathroom with the two of us in it has been kind of … cozy.

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I brushed. For the full two and one half minutes required for proper dental hygiene.

And he waited.

I then flossed.

Still he waited.

Then I cleansed and moisturized.

All the while, husband patiently waited. Isn’t he a darling?

Then, a realization. An epiphany!

In just a few days, husband and I will have his and her sinks!

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Good Bye, Rochester!

P.S.: This will be my last post for a while, as I’ll be going off the grid during the move. Good thing I have one guest blogger lined up. A shout out: if any of you have a moving story to share about MOVING, write away, I’ll need some guest bloggers in the weeks to come as I come out from under a house worth of boxes!

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Don’t Forget to Dance

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I hate ends.

I don’t like when books, or series of books, end.

Ask my kids about this.

Just last week,  after years of them prodding, teasing, begging and bribing me, and even going through lengths like borrowing books on CD from their school libraries.  I finally, finally finished the entire Harry Potter series.

I don’t even like to eat the ends of a loaf of bread.

Even when it comes to one of my favorite activities in the world – dancing – I prefer not stay for the last dance.  Call it a Cinderella syndrome, but I hate when the music ends.  I leave about 10 minutes each week before the session wraps up. As the music lingers in my head while I start up the car in the parking lot, I envision my folk dancing friends dancing on into the night, so the dance is never over.

But end it did, for me, at least in Rochester.

I have been taking Israeli Folk Dancing on Sunday nights at the Rochester Jewish Community Center for about 10 years now. When I first started I knew nothing about Israeli Folk Dancing outside of Hava Nagilah. Seriously.

But Israeli Folk Dancing is not your Bar Mitzvah Havah Nagilah. Blending music with Greek, Latin, Middle Eastern and the random Irish (yes IRISH)  influences, Israeli Folk Dancing has something for everyone. At every age.

And you don’t have to be Jewish to do it. There are Israeli Folk Dance sessions held the world over, including places like Tokyo and Beijing.

At first, Israeli Folk Dancing can be frustrating.  All these people whirling and jumping around you are having all this fun and really know what they are doing. And the beginner, well, the beginner fumbles. And watches.

Week after week I went.  I made sure I got there for the beginner hour. I watched feet. I danced on the outside of the circle not to get in the way of the experts. Then, with increased confidence that I would not crash or trip anyone (or myself) I moved in. I’m grateful for great guidance from the teacher to long timers who called out steps for me.

I have gone from stumbling through each dance, to learning the steps, to a point where I’ve actually become pretty good! Good enough to call the steps to newcomers who give it a try. Good enough to teach it to children in area Hebrew schools and camps.

Here are reasons why dance, any dance, but particularly Israeli Folk Dancing is good for you:

  • It’s a  great cardio workout. Dancing burns on an average of 375 calories per hour.
  • IFD is also great for your brain. Each dance is a sequence of choreographed steps. All this memorization improves brain function, especially for some of us who are, emmm, getting up there in age.  It takes about six lessons and going on a consistent basis to get the basic steps down. Before you know it, your feet are moving to each familiar dance without even giving it much thought, which comes to the next benefit….
  • Israeli Folk Dancing is a great social outlet. While your feet are moving, catch up in conversation with friends old and new.
  • If you are Jewish, or simply have a love for Israel, IFD connects your feet and ears to the Holy Land. During Israel’s peaceful times, dancing to the latest Israeli dance is a dance of celebration. In times of war or terror, the dance becomes one of solidarity.

And now, now that I am leaving town, the JCC of Greater Rochester offers Israeli Folk Dancing FREE to members, $6 per week for non members.

Last Sunday was my very last dance session, for now, with my dear friends from Israeli Folk Dance in Rochester.  It was a big part of my life and brought me happiness each Sunday night.

And last Sunday, I managed to make myself stay for the very last dance:

Do you dance regularly? What does it bring to your life? Leave a comment below, and don’ t ever stop dancing.

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Five more things I’ll miss, and what You Should Check Out – in Rochester, N.Y.

I got a lot of great feedback from Monday’s post about the first five things on my list of what I’ll miss about Rochester.

Some of the things people added and commented to this list are not tangible things. For some, it’s more of the community mindedness of the place that you come to know once you’ve lived here for a while. There is a great sense of collaboration between government, businesses and grass roots organizations that create a wealth of cultural offerings here.

What are they, you ask? For one, there was last September’s Fringe Fest, the first time Rochester has hosted this festival celebrating all things creative.

Another development just in the last 12 months has been the collaboration between wo Rochester treasures: WXXI, our public radio and TV station, and The Little, a great indie movie theater. Over the last year, the two non-profit organizations have put together free and open to the public discussions on many thought-provoking films that don’t come to bigger commercial theatres. Don’t take my word for it, check out The Little while you are in town. From the great films to the REAL popcorn with REAL butter, find out more here.

But for those of you are purely visiting, or are planning a visit to Rochester and the area, here are some more must-sees:

  • Water – Okay, I know there will be water where I’m going.  Michigan is famous for its lakes big and small. But I will miss the variety of kinds of bodies of water within an hour’s drive from my home in Rochester. I’ll miss taking a stroll or a bicycle ride on the historical Erie Canal. Blogger Renee a. Schuls-Jacobson loves to have lunch along the canal on a summer afternoon at great restaurants like The Coal Tower in Pittsford (don’t miss their pumpkin soup in the fall) or Aladin’s Natural Eatery for great vegetarian and vegan cuisine as well as micro brewed and local beer.                                                                                                                                                                                                             I’ll miss taking a short 15 minute drive and taking a walk along the shore of Lake Ontario, flying a kite with my kids at Durant Beach or taking our end-of-the-summer outing to Rochester’s great local amusement park Sea Breeze and cooling off with a chocolate almond cone from Abbot’s Custard, more of Renee’s favorite things.  Hell, I’ll even miss the radio ad, “Come Get Your Summer!” that plays from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
  • Artisan Works - It’s an art gallery. It’s a working artists colony. It’s a great place to have a wedding or a Bar mitzvah. But if you are an art lover, you must visit this funky gallery tucked into a huge warehouse on Blossom Road off Winton Road (right near the new Wegmans!). Eclecticism does not begin to describe this place, which boasts over a million pieces of art;  a library with furniture from Frank Lloyd Wright to a fire house themed room with some naughty art (adults only in this section please).  I can say this place is loaded with paintings and sculptures, photos and films, but it wouldn’t do it justice. Just GO.
  • The National Museum of Play- What started out as a bunch of toys collected by philanthropist Dorothy Strong has turned into one of the country’s leading children’s museums and home to the Toy Hall of Fame for playthings like The Hula Hoop and The Stick (yes, the stick, like the kind that falls off a tree, is in the Toy Hall of Fame).                                                                                      You don’t need a kid to have fun here (but if you do have a kid and they’ve pooped in their last clean diaper, they’ve got you covered with their own supply!).  Revisit your own childhood by taking a stroll down Sesame Street, “shop” for food at a kid sized Wegmans Market; twirl a hula hoop; make a craft with your kids and leave the scraps and glue sticks and other clean-up behind. Play in bins full of Leggos, play some retro video games like Pac Man and Space Invaders. Visit a Treasure Island, climb a beanstalk or explore a mysterious old house in Reading Adventure Land and then borrow a book from the museum’s library, which is connected to the Monroe County Library system.
  • The Finger Lakes - Need more reasons to visit Rochester now that I’m gone? Well, the Finger Lake Region, about an hour away from Rochester, has been voted one of the 10 best travel destinations in the world, people! While you are in Canandaigua strolling along the lake and checking out the cute stores and art galleries, dine at a great Mexican restaurant called Rio Tomatlan. Get the flan for dessert, you won’t be sorry.
  • Apples & Wine – okay, that’s two things. But a visit to this part of New York in the fall is not complete with either a trip to an apple picking farm, like The Apple Farm in Victor, NY or a Finger Lakes Winery like Fox Run. This year had a cold winter, no freak warm ups or frosts in the early spring, so the apple season this fall is supposed to yield a great crop.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Okay, that’s five things. I can count! That’s all I’m going to add to this list, but what can YOU add to a list of must-sees in the Rochester area?

And Detroit – what have you got in store for me to see? In a few weeks, I’ll have nothing more to do than to explore, so tell me what I shouldn’t miss in the Motor City. I’m listening. I’m waiting.

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10 Things I’m Going to Miss about Living in Rochester, NY: 1-5

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It’s been an emotional weekend.

Our friends, neighbors, and extended community threw us not one but two good-bye/sendoff parties on Sunday. One was a brunch in the morning and the other a dinner in the evening.

Hubby and I, as we saw friends file in bearing platters of fruit and food,  agreed that we felt the love. But to hubby, who has already moved on, who is already living in Detroit and only coming “home” on weekends, the day was anti-climactic.

I asked, what was he expecting?

He said, finality. Closure.

But to many of us, maybe all of us, good-bye is too hard a word. So instead of hearing good-bye, when friends left the party they gave us a departing hug with the reassurance of  “I know I’ll see you in the neighborhood before you go” or “I’m sure I’ll see you again before you take off.”

Maybe their claims are true and maybe they are not. But it’s easier to say than “when will we ever see each other again?” or “I’m going to  miss you so much!”  That stuff is for high school. For the end of camp. Not for a move in mid-life.

Between the morning good-bye brunch and the evening good-bye dinner, the new owners of our house stopped by for an hour-long visit.

The newly-minted home owners are a sweet couple who cannot be more than 30. The young woman held a 16-month infant boy with cherubic lips in her arms.

They told us how much they loved the old charm of the house and it’s “flow” for entertaining and living. They loved the basket-weave tile (original from 1929) in the bathrooms. She loved the shady backyard and the swing set that my dad and husband built for our kids.

Now I know who will be sleeping in “our” bedrooms when we leave. Now I know there will be a tiny boy sleeping in the room with the sailboat wallpaper, the pattern I picked out for my own little boy 13 years ago.

First night in HIS big boy bed with all HIS animals. This photo just says "mine."

Outside of friends that have come into our life, there is Rochester itself. I’ll say it:

I am going to miss you, Rochester. A lot.

To all those friends from “downstate” New York Metro area (and that means you too, New Jersey girls and boys) who ever told me they would love to come up and visit me in Rochester, New York, your time has run out.

It’s too late babies, it’s too late.

Maybe the reality of moving has given me perspective on just how great a little city like Rochester can be. Maybe the coming move has finally made this Rochester transplant feel like a native.

Even though I will no longer be living here, a trip to Rochester in the summer, the fall, and yes, even the winter is totally worth it. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Wegmans -

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My first twinges of separation anxiety about leaving the Rochester happened not in the company of friends, but in the produce, health food, and patisserie departments of the world’s greatest supermarket. Yes, Wegmans has elevated food shopping from a mundane chore to an art form. What other supermarket will employees approach you if you seem puzzled and proactively ask you “are you finding everything okay?” And if you cannot find that box of pre-cut Asian gourmet mushrooms, they will send out an APB throughout the store, and check their latest shipment, to make sure they get it for you. What other grocer has designated employees waiting for you in the parking lot with huge golf umbrellas, eager to help you put your groceries in your car in the rain, or who will help mothers with young children?

Wegmans, you have spoiled me for life.

So, Michigan grocers, I give you my warning. If someone in your check-out line starts to cry or whimper because you didn’t give me a smile and a hello while you asked if I prefer my milk in a bag, or you didn’t bag all my frozen items together (or maybe you don’t bag customer groceries at all!), that will be me. And you’ll have to comfort me and give me a tissue because I am mourning and pining for my WEGMANS!

2 – Small size – On our first area tour of Rochester, our realtor drove us West on Monroe Avenue. In the immediate horizon stood three or four tallish buildings. “There’s our Rochester skyline!” she proudly boasted.

The big city New York City woman in the back seat covered her mouth supress a laugh. That’s a skyline? I’ll show you a skyline, she thought smugly, thinking of the imposing New York City skyline of her childhood.

But now, I so appreciate a city where it’s not a huge production to get into “the city.”

In 10 minutes, I can leave my house, find a parking spot on the street or in a $5 garage and be downtown. To take in a museum, a parade on Memorial Day or  a film at The Little Theatre, meet a friend for lunch or coffee, or a concert at the Eastman Theatre.

In 10 minutes, my family and I can enjoy a night at Frontier Field, a stadium where I can let my kids roam free and on their own, and take in a Rochester Red Wings game.

3. Festivals – Rochesterians relish the weather when the snows melt and the sun finally arrives.Nearly every week from May through October, there is a festival going on somewhere, complete with great food, crafts and music. From the Lilac Festival, to the Xerox International Jazz Festival

The Barrel House Blues Band performed for free at the RG&E Fusion Stage

The Barrel House Blues Band performed for free last year at the RG&E Fusion Stage

(it’s become one of the best in the country, no lie!), to the Park Avenue and Clothesline Festivals, there is something to enjoy every week.

And because of the size of Rochester, you will always run into friend, to hang out with and sample the fried dough or a candied New York apple. lilacfriends

4. Music – Spiraling out from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester has fantastic musical resources. My kids took lessons and had recitals starting in preschool at the Hochstein School of Music. There has never been a shortage of dedicated and talented music teachers to share their love and gift with our children. Time and time again, the Brighton School District, as others in the Rochester area, have been bestowed awards in excellence for music education. My children each play several instruments and have been exposed to so many opportunities to perform. Most recently, my youngest, along with other local young musicians had his budding piano skills tested by the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music. Thank you to the dedication of his piano teacher Sherry McCarthy for bringing this program to Rochester for the first time this year!

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5. Rochester Public Market – When the weather warms, I skip my trip to Wegmans and make my way to the century-old Rochester Public Market. Voted one of the best public spaces in the world (yes, right up there with Seattle’s Pike Market), it has grown from a market where you can get the best local corn New York has to offer after July 15,  to a center for music, plant sales, a newly established Food Truck Rodeo each Wednesday this summer, and yes, another great venue for local festivals.

publicmarket

That’s about all the nostalgia I can handle for one post. Tomorrow, reasons 6-10.

Rochesterians, what would YOU have a hard time leaving behind?

Detroit: what do you have in store for me to explore?

I’m all ears.

Rochester Red Wings

Rochester Red Wings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The facade of the Eastman Theatre, an historic...

The facade of the Eastman Theatre, an historic auditorium in Rochester, New York. Conceived by, and named for, photography pioneer and philanthropist George Eastman, the Theatre opened in 1922. This is the primary performance space for the large ensembles at the Eastman School of Music and for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The streets in the foreground are East Main Street (left) and Gibbs Street (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Newspaper columnist turns into Bike Thieving Mamma

claire

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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

canal_walkersfor some yogurt for dessert!”

Photo: See ya soon !

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.”

PIPES?

Leverage??

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.

My Son’s first Gig on a Big Stage: Wednesday May 15, 12:30 Lilac Festival Main Stage

Frolic in the lilacs. Check out some free music from the TCMS Jazz Band this Wednesday at lunchtime!

Photo Challenge: Patterns

lilacpattern

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.

Photo Challenge: Patterns

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:

Wallets made out of recycled and laminated magazine and newspaper print. A perfect accessory for the sustainability-minded mom!

Wallets made out of recycled and laminated magazine and newspaper print. A perfect accessory for the sustainability-minded mom!

 

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