Posted in Family, Nature, Weather

HOW Badly is it Snowing in Buffalo?

I’m cold but comfy in Boston, but my family in Buffalo is watching a major snow storm rage by. Buffalo, for those who know it, is no stranger to snow but this is a real record-buster. My family lives a bit north of what’s called the snow belt in the south towns. Kenmore is okay. Orchard Park? Forget it. My dad is staying with my sister, even though he lives only one block away, in Kenmore. My brother also has limited snow since he also lives nearby. However, one of his buddies lives directly in the path of Brother Storm and sent over these pictures:

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Posted in Food


Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cookbook

This is where two of my three tomato sauces came from. They’re safely stowed in the big freezer downstairs, awaiting my return from Buffalo (I’m leaving this evening for a week or so).

The kitchen’s been a busy place this week, at least up until Saturday, when we took our last stay-cation of the summer and went up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a day of sightseeing. More on that later. I’ll look forward to this a bit later this year, when the leaves are falling and the evenings are chilly:

Tomato Sauce I – Hearty
Posted in Family, Health, Life

Days of Wine and Chocolates

We are, at last, on our way home. We’re doing it slowly, with a three-day stop-over in the Finger Lakes of New York State. This is a wine-growing region with big tourist appeal. The wines are better than they used to be and some are downright respectable. Cheese-makers have recently begun to take advantage of the many dairy farms out here, with some luscious results. There are also a few micro-brewers and at least one place that produces hard ciders from apples it grows on its own property. New York is an apple-growing state (as is Massachusetts). We picked up a bottle of cider, a bottle of wine and two packs of raw milk cheddar, one Colby and one with garlic. Yum!

My mother is stable for now and I can leave her without either feeling guilty or terrified. She has close to 24-hour care and Medicaid is going to be kicking in at some point in the near future. I’ll probably be back in August to check in on  her and see if she’s in any better shape. Right now she’s still in considerable pain following her accident in May. She’s due for a minimally invasive medical procedure on her spine in mid-July. Everybody in the family is crossing their fingers and hoping it will be effective.

And, if anyone’s interested, my mom suffered a compression fracture at t12. That means she has fragile bones and osteoporosis and, when she fell in May, fractured a vertebrae in her lower spine. Recovery is slow and painful. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Posted in Family, Gardening, Life, Nature, Spring, Summer, Travel With Margy!

Normal, Kinda-Sorta

It’s beautiful outside – warm, but not too hot and very sunny. I indulged myself and went for a longish walk while the morning and early afternoon health care aide kept an eye on my mother. My parents live in Kenmore, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. It’s a neat and clean little town with charming gardens and nice places to walk. I really miss walking, especially in Boston. Kenmore will do, at least in its nicer parts.

I walked up a side street until I came to a very pretty little corner with a municipal building and garden out front. There was even a little gazebo, surrounded by early summer flowers. I was surprised to see so few pedestrians on such a wonderful day. Back home there would be people everywhere on the street: mothers with strollers, joggers just off of the bike path, and folks walking bikes across the street with toddlers in baby seats on the back. Lots of Spandex, since we’re so close to the Minuteman Bike Path. Sigh. I’m getting lonely for home.

But, the stroll was nice. I stopped at a restaurant for a late breakfast and took my time getting back. I need to do more of that.

Mom on Porch

The weather was nice enough so that my mother could get herself outside and onto the front porch, with the help of an absolutely wonderful aide. we’ll do the same tomorrow.  When I got back both my mom, dad and the aide were sitting outside enjoying the view and the weather.

Delaware Avenue in Kenmore, NY

See what I mean about the lack of people on the street? Beautiful day, sunny and warm,, not too hot and nary a soul in sight. I saw a few folks walking here and there but, for the most part, the streets were completely empty. Still, it was beautiful.

Garden in Front of Municipal Building

This was one of the gardens I saw in front of the municipal building, which was built in the 1930s. It’s a lovely building, although I couldn’t really get a clear shot of it with my camera.


The gazebo, and the garden surrounding it, was lovely. Once my mom is sufficiently recovered, I plan to take here here for a little stroll. That might mean me pushing her around in a wheelchair, but I don’t mind. We have a good time together, mom and me.


There was a lovely snapdragon planted among the other flowers. I loved the color, so I took a picture. I just couldn’t resist!

I stopped for a late breakfast. The food was tolerable, but not great. Yes, I’m a food snob! However, I have been getting more greens into my parents’ diet since that’s how I eat. I’ve been chopping up salads and serving them, along with vegetable side dishes to go with the ever-present meat and potatoes.

I eventually wandered back to my parents’ home, passing some very pretty little gardens on my way back. I was particularly impressed with this tall rose bush:

Rose Bush

In the all-in-all, not a bad walk. I hope to get the same in tomorrow. Baby steps, but it did feel a bit more “normal.”


Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, Family, Just Bitching

What I Can’t Get Used to in Western New York

1. The accents. I know, I know, I grew up here and still sound the same, but it ends up grating on my nerves. I regard Buffalo as the far eastern outpost of the US mid-west. Everyone here has a hard, nasal “a” which I really notice since I’ve been gone for so long.

2. The architecture of the suburbs. Booooooooring.

3. The topography. Buffalo is flat as a pancake. I’m used to Eastern Massachusetts. Not exactly rolling hills out there, but more hills and dales (granted, all with houses on them) than around here. Flat, flat, flat.

4. The food. Meat. Potatoes. Sweets. Pizza. Spaghetti. Need I say more? I don’t think the refrigerator in this house would know a stalk of broccoli from a nuclear bomb. I miss veggies, although I do try to sneak them in whenever I get to the grocery store.

5. Racial tensions. They feel higher here. Whites are not even subtle in their racism, and African-Americans respond with resentment. They slow down when they see a car coming, for example, to make sure the driver has to wait for them to cross. I don’t even want to tell you what I’ve heard people in my family say about their minority neighbors (“bullet town” for black neighborhoods, for example). Ugly.

6. Political conservatism. I’m pretty liberal and I understand and appreciate that other parts of the country may not share my views. However, it would be really nice to see at least one Obama bumper sticker.

Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, History, Travel With Margy!

Just Dust Me Off And Put Me on Display

I’m a history buff, totally in love with the Erie Canal. We spent part of our vacation visiting excavated sites and/or checking out the waterways that are still in use.

I thought the Canal was a bust after it was first built between 1817 and 1825. I was given to understand that trains did it in. Guess I was wrong. The Erie Canal opened the American west and created boom towns along its path: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, etc. It made New York City what it is today (for good or bad!).

The canal was re-dug three times. After the initial dig, it was expanded in the 1850s or 1860s (I don’t remember which). We saw excavations of that, too. The final expansion/re-digging came in the early 20th century, I think in 1911.

The canal was finally superseded by the St. Lawrence Seaway in the late 1950s. Today the 20th century version of the Erie Canal is used for educational and recreational purposes.

The hubby and I visited excavations in Newark, New York and in Buffalo. In fact – and here I go about Buffalo again – there’s a push on to completely renovate the original canal harbor. There are extensive remains of buildings and the tow path there, all extremely well preserved and accessible to the public. Check out some photos of the site, which opened in 2008:

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Posted in Art

We’re Back and Breathing

We’re back and I’m feeling lazy, which is the whole point, I guess. Had a wonderful time, checked out the Erie Canal, visited wineries, went to the glass museum in Corning and rediscovered Buffalo, New York. It seems to be on the verge of a renaissance, or so it looks. I remember smoke stacks, vacant buildings and empty, broken-windowed storefronts. Now they’re fixing up stuff like this:

Guaranty Building in Buffalo, NY (1895)
Guaranty Building Exterior Light Fixture, With Terra Cotta Tiles Behind

And that’s just the outside. Here’s what’s in the lobby:

Detail of Staircase

The building is in use, by a law firm that participated in its renovation.

Posted in Uncategorized

Stepping Back and Seeing The World

The world, by the way, as it looked in 1901. I recently found an interesting video of the Pan-American Exposition which was held in Buffalo, New York. It was a gigantic event, or so I hear. Some of the buildings (made of marble!) are still standing and currently house the city's historical and science museums.

I find this video interesting in its depiction of electricity. In 1901, electricity was pretty new. We take it so much for granted these days: just go into a room and click on a lamp. Light up a building with the flick of a switch, to take its place among all the other lit-up buildings in the city.

But 109 years ago, that wasn't the case. Our house, built between 1895 and 1900, was originally piped for gas. We have a lot of the original tubing. Electricity didn't enter the house until later. We still have a disconnected power panel from 1913, with old knob-and-tube wiring setups.

Imagine being at this fair when the sun went down and all of the buildings were suddenly lit – by electricity! It would have been an awe-inspiring site. In fact, I think it would even wow us today.

Enjoy the video. I added the soundtrack: the Marine Corps Band planing a Souza march. Perfect! You can just imagine the band playing in a gazebo somewhere as you meander the broad paths and grand buildings of the Exposition.

By the way – the Exhibition took place in my home town of Buffalo. That's where I'm originally from, although I've lived in Boston since 1979.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Visiting Home

I spent this Labor Day weekend with my family. I'm originally from Western New York and was born in Buffalo, NY. I've lived in Boston for a long, long, time but the rest of the family is still in that area. My parents and sister/brother-in-law live in the comfortable suburb of Kenmore, NY and my brother/sister-in-law live in Southern Ontario. Buffalo is right on the Canadian border and it's a relatively short hop, skip and jump to places like Niagara Falls or Fort Erie, Ontario.

I've been running around a lot lately and appreciated the chance to just stop and relax for a little while. We're a pretty close-knit family so visits are pretty important occasions.

I talked, visited people, relaxed and ate. My parents are having their house re-decorated so I got a chance to see that project in-progress. Very nice! I'll see the finished product this Christmas, when my husband Aram and I go back again.

My sister, Bette, and brother-in-law, John, live about a block and a half away. My sister is an investment broker and John owns a high-end furniture refinishing business. They do well. Bette and I both share a passion for gardening and cooking and can spend hours gossiping about this, that and the other thing.

And what was the most interesting and fun thing we did the day I got in? Ready for this? We played a round of miniature golf! We did that all the time when we were kids and I suddenly got hit by a nostalgic desire for a round of 18 holes past windmills, around corners and under bridges. No kidding – we had an absolute blast!

The fellow in the Australian-looking hat, by the way, is my 87 year old father! It was a hot day. At one point my sister-in-law, Penny, got a hole-in-one. We practically fell over ourselves whooping and laughing. At one other point she knocked the ball over the fence and into the parking lot. This was definitely not a game of skill. We just had good old, down home, fun.

Isn't it nice to be silly every now and again? Actually, we have another date for indoor miniature golf this December when I come back!

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