Friends - Ties to the Past, Road to the Future

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Once in a while my blog takes a little detour and serves as an editorial outlet allowing me to voice opinions or ideas about things that are on my mind.  Those posts are lumped into my Directory category, "Food for Thought".  In the past year those posts have ranged from stories about my family members, (my mom, my dad, great uncle, neighbor, a dying child, my grandmother, etc..) to thoughts about changing  how we see, embracing our circumstances, the darkness of depression, and a variety of other philosophical or  humorous topics.  While some of the personal stories may not necessarily entertain or interest all of you, I write them for a few reasons:
  1. They are important to me and the blog serves as a way to 'document' them for future  generations.    
  2. Writing is therapeutic.  
  3. You never know who may be touched by my story.  
So.....today's post is one of those Food for Thought posts that I hope will touch and inspire you.
Friendship is a complicated thing.  It encompasses so many facets, so many levels of connection.  It involves everyone on the planet.  Regardless of our circumstances, our personality, our income level, our race or our religion, all of us have friendships.  They may evolve in their intensity, they may differ in length, they may even end, but it is human nature to make friends.  Our friendships with one friend to the next may differ....we may talk to one friend daily, while another we may only talk to monthly or even less, but each friendship is important and has value in our lives.  As we move through the different stages of our lives, our friends sometimes change.  We sometimes acquire new friends who are in similar life stages, i.e. we make friends with other new parents or parents of our children's friends.  In today's world where people leave hometowns for careers, it's not always easy to maintain long-term friendships.  Sometimes if we grow and develop differing views, we grow apart from friends.  But sometimes if we're lucky, as we grow our friends grow with us.  Their views and values may remain similar to our own and in those cases, we may be fortunate enough to have these friendships throughout our lives.    That is the case with the friendship I want to tell you about today - a friendship that has spanned more than a half a century.
When I was three my family moved from an apartment to a two-family flat 'on the hill' in Cohoes.  Ann Marie lived next door with her mom and dad, her brother and her grandmother.  She was 7 months younger than me but we became best friends.  Being an only child, Ann Marie is the closest thing to a sister that I have.  Aside from the typical kid spats, we got along very well.  Although we each had other friends, we were best friends.
Ann Marie (L) Me (R)






Here we are, around the age of 5 maybe, with our puppy, Dutchess.  Plaid was obviously in style at the time, as well as really short bangs.
The perfect mommies to our baby dolls......Remember....she's 7 mos. younger.....













                       







 My First Communion Day
1962 - Taken in the yard between our houses.  Mine was the yellow house.


Here we are the Brillo headed Bobsy Twins!
Future Swimsuit models for sure! Frizz was IN!
 


I'm the short one, as you can imagine....the innocent one who just a short time later pushed Ann Marie off the dock resulting in a nasty cut on her thigh.  
Ann Marie was always taller - look at my feet!  Never touch the floor - even today!

I was in Second Grade, Ann Marie in First.  Check out the saddle shoes!
Easter Sunday - classic 60's attire!
We had mumps together, went to parochial school together, looked like brillo heads from the hair permanents her mom gave us, learned to ride bikes together.....all the things girlfriends typically do together growing up in the 50's and 60's.   We were neighbors until I turned 13 when my parents moved to Saratoga Lake.  That didn't stop our friendship though.  Ann Marie would come to Saratoga for an occasional weekend.   She even went to the Junior Prom with a guy from my high school - pictured below.
Yes...I wore black to my Junior Prom and no, it was not in style to wear black in 1971.  I call it my 'Classic Little House on the Prairie" look.  I loved that dress.  What can I say, I was NEVER into fashion, not even way back then. 

 One weekend when she visited, in order for me to see my boyfriend I had to find a 'date' for her.  So I introduced her to our friend Chuck.  After that first blind date.....the rest is history .....in October they'll celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary!   Sharing life's journey didn't end here.... we had two daughters each - first her, then me, then her and me - at two year intervals.  We grieved the loss of parents together, faced the challenges that come with 'letting go' of our children as they reached their independence, faced health scares, and through it all Ann Marie and I are still best friends. Ann Marie is the friendliest, most giving person I know.  It's a known fact that a perfect stranger will soon be bearing their soul to Ann Marie while waiting in a grocery line.  When someone is in need, whatever the need, Ann Marie and Chuck are there, often with a home cooked meal.  Ann Marie's faith is an ever present part of her life and the foundation of the way she lives that life.  Ann Marie's life has not been without it's trials.   She is a three-time cancer survivor.   Back in 1995 when she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, all of our world's were shaken.  But Ann Marie demonstrated that she and her faith and strength were bigger than cancer and she carried on.  Since then she has faced that enemy two more times but you'd never know it.  Her positive attitude, her sense of humor, her love of life and her sense of adventure are an inspiration for everyone around her. 
Ann Marie and Chuck have been the second family God chose for  us.  They've been with us through all things that life has brought our way, good and bad.  Our friendship doesn't need daily phone calls or texts, but we know we can count on each other as we embrace life's ups and downs.  Aside from knowing we can always count on them for a shoulder or advice, their faith is perhaps one of the most comforting and reassuring aspects of our friendship.   As soon as I ask them for their prayers for any situation, big or small, I feel an immediate sense of peace and resolution.  It's almost as though I know that as soon as God hears their prayers, He will see fit to lift the burden.
In Rockport, MA helping us celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary - 2008
Ann Marie, John and Chuck relaxing on the porch of the B & B
As we enter the 58th year of our friendship, we have seen 3 of our daughters marry.  We have traveled through life from doll babies to grandbabies....
- perhaps the most precious stage of life yet.  Our road, our friendship has spanned nearly our whole lives and has brought us from our toddler years into our 60's.  Not many are as blessed as we are to have a friend that is such a lasting and influential person in their life.   I am so thankful for this blessing.
This is a big year for Chuck and Ann Marie.  It is the year they both retired.  It is the year Ann Marie turned 60 and it is the year they celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.  Realizing the blessing of these milestones, they are celebrating with a huge party, a band, and all their closest friends and relatives.  They know quite well the importance of appreciating God's blessings, the importance of recognizing life's achievements, and the miracle of beating the odds of cancer.    We will be honored and blessed to be a part of their, "Life is Good" celebration as we look forward to this next chapter in our lives when we can embrace and enjoy what the future holds for the four of us in our retirement years.  This weekend as we help Ann Marie and Chuck celebrate, think of the important people in your lives.  Whether they've been around for 5 years or 50, tell them what they mean to you and what a difference they have made in your life.  Ann & Chuck.......we love you, we appreciate you and we can't wait to walk together in this new chapter in your life!


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The Cohoes Falls - The Place of the Falling Canoe

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Good Morning!  Well now that our series on spring is over, it's time to get back to our roots.  Speaking of our roots........If you've read my About page, you know that the goal of my blog is to acquaint my readers about the treasures that often go unexplored right in our own backyards.  So often we travel to other cities, states and even countries (well, not me, but maybe you) to find beauty, excitement and history, when it's often right in our neighborhood.  That's exactly the case when it comes to today's post!

I was born in Cohoes and lived there for 13 years.  I knew the Cohoes Falls existed.  My parents drove past it on our way to our summer camp at Saratoga Lake, but I never paid much attention to it.  The thing that excited me more about the falls was the mastodon that was discovered in this area and is displayed in the NYS museum.  That's a whole other story.  As for the falls, well it was just a part of the landscape that, as a kid, I didn't really give much attention to.   Like other local landmarks which vacationers come to the area to see, I now realize there's something pretty special about the Cohoes Falls and its history.  And when we take the time to research - what a story it has to tell.
The Hiawatha tales tell this story....(taken from the official City of Cohoes website)
"Once long ago before the White Man came, the land of the trees and rivers was free to all Red Men. Life was good, the Great Spirit smiled, peace reigned in the Wilderness of the Savage. The braves hunted, the squaws labored, as was the way.
Once a young maiden, the beautiful daughter of a chief and the pride of the tribe, was working at the river's bank. She tired in the heat of the day and sought the shade of one bark riding at the water's edge. She sat, and quickly fell into a deep sleep from which no motion of the craft would wake her.
The canoe slipped from its mooring, was caught quickly by the river's swift current, and glided silently toward the white water at the brink of the Falls. The rapids and the tumbling water's roar woke the slumbering maiden. She screamed to no advantage, attempted unsuccessfully to right the bark's course and finally resigned herself to her fate, death at the Fall's edge. The mists covered her, the Falls claimed her, and no remains were ever found.
The Tribe mourned its loss and all Red Men marked this place, for a princess...daughter of a warrior, died there. All called the place Coho, the place of the Falling Canoe." 
In 1655 a Dutch explorer, Adrienne Vander Donck, in his "Description of the New Netherlands" retells the incident with a slightly different twist of an Indian travelling with his wife and child and six beaver skins
in the area of the great falls of the Macques Kill (Mohawk River) which the Indians name the Cahoos Falls when he carelessly came too close to the falls and got swept over.  His wife and child were killed,
But his life was preserved. The Cohoes Falls is one of the Iroquois most sacred sites due to the Peacemaker's miraculous emergence after his plunge into the Falls.
 There are many different versions of the word Cah-hoos as it filtered through the many dialects to the Indian language. "Cohoes Falls: in Mohawk dialect Ga-ha-oose, means ship-wrecked canoe."  
" In April of 1660, Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, two Dutchmen seeking areas for prospective colonization also recorded their impressions.
..."We rode to visit the Cahoos, which is the falls of the great Macquas Kill (Mohawk River) which are the greatest falls not only in new Netherlands, but in North America, and perhaps...in the whole world.
As you come near the Falls, you can hear the roaring which makes everything tremble, but on reaching them and looking at them, you see something wonderful, a great manifestation of God's power and sovereignty of his wisdom and glory. 
In 2011, the importance of the Cohoes Falls in Iroquois history resulted in Brookfield Renewable Power ceding part of their land holding at the Cohoes Falls to allow the Iroquois access to their sacred site for the first time in 300 years.

 In 1804 the great Irish poet, Thomas Moore, wrote to his mother in Ireland:
"I was to see the Coho Falls or the Mohawk River and was truly gratified. The immense fall of the river over a natural dam of thirty or forty feet high, its roar among the rocks and the illuminated mist of spray which rises from its foam were to me objects all new, beautiful and impressive...
He was so moved that he chose to immortalize the sight in a 34-line poem entitled "Lines, Written at the Cohoes Falls of the Mohawk River."



This is just a sampling of the many accounts of this majestic sight right here in our area.  Yet I'm betting that only a handful of you know of its history or have visited.  If you haven't, now would be the time.  In the past several years,  Brookfield’s School Street Hydroelectric Plant, the City of Cohoes and National Park Service’s Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor have teamed together to create the Falls View Park.  Containing an upper and lower level, the park provides a beautiful area not just for viewing the falls but for community events to take place.  The lower level - accessed by a long staircase, is only open from May-November, due to the slippery conditions that would make stair access quite dangerous.
Last summer we decided to check out the lower level for the first time because it gives provides a great view of the falls.  Let me say now, this is not for the faint of heart or weak of heart.  The descent to the bottom is long and and not as easy as one would imagine, but the trip back up - well, let me just say if you're not in great physical shape, these stairs could very well be the 'stairway to heaven'.  I won't tell you how many times I stopped to catch my breath, each time reminding myself that the EMT's would have a devil of a time rescuing me from my peril.


This is the first part of the descent  doesn't look so bad, right?  Well...scroll down and have another look!






This is an idea of what it looks like coming back up.  I'd advise visiting on a day when the temperature is in the 50's, not the 70's and when the humidity is such that allows you to take in air more efficiently.


 The Cohoes Falls became an important source of power for the local factories, in addition to being a great tourist attraction back in it's day.  A very interesting history of the damming process can be found on the Cohoes website using this link: http://www.cohoes.com/Cit-e-Access/webpage.cfm?TID=34&TPID=6432  The information I've already shared was taken from their article.   Here's an interesting tid bit for you....  The Niagara Falls discharges 100,000 cubic feet of water per second, the Cohoes Falls discharges 27,000 cubic feet per second.   Obviously this varies depending on the conditions based on weather.  At times the falls is quite sparse.

compared to this
Regardless of the time of year you visit, or which vantage point you choose to view the falls, the Cohoes Falls is a sight to behold and it's right in our own backyard.  It is an important part of the history of Cohoes and an important source of power too.  Next time you're sitting around thinking there's nothing to do, take a ride to Cohoes and take in the beauty of this magnificent view!  To learn more about the Falls Park, use the link below for more information.
Thanks for visiting Life As I See It.   Come back soon.

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If Spring Came in a Store - Artique

Monday, March 23, 2015

Well, just as in life, all good things come to an end.  Today marks the end of my series, 'If Spring Came in a Store'.  This has been such a fun series to write, but even more fun to research.  I've found some great new places to shop, added some beautiful pieces to my home decor and met some really wonderful people.  I've also figured out what my followers enjoy reading....not that it should come as any surprise!  When I began this series two weeks ago, I had less than 20,000 page views...as of today I have 23,958!  That's a lot of page views, and it's no wonder!  Who wouldn't want to window shop at these truly unique and beautiful shops?  Hopefully I've inspired you to visit some or all of them.  Today, my last but certainly not least venue is Artique Co-Op.  Fitting that my eighth in the series is located at Exit 8 of the northway on Crescent Road in Clifton Park.  If you are unfamiliar with this one, let me give you a little background.

Opened in September of 2009 and expanded in 2014, today Artique is the home of over 100 vendors in Clifton Park and has a second storefront in Colonie Center housing 30 vendors.  Artique is a cooperative venture of sorts with vendors working 12 hrs. a month at the Clifton Park location.  What you'll find when you visit Artique is a variety of offerings from jewelry to fashion accessories, home goods to children's merchandise,  candles to candy, and pottery to beauty products and much, much more.  There's something for everyone at Artique guaranteeing a unique shopping experience for even the most seasoned shopper.  Some of the merchandise is handcrafted, some vendors sell antiques, some sell manufactured goods.
Two vendors, Cathy Vegal (Fabulous Finds) and Erin Brewer (Lillies and Lace) have recently worked hard putting their heads and hands together to plan monthly events to take place at the store.  In March it was a Stitch & Sip event.  On April 9th, from 5-9:00, they will host a Spring Spruce Up event - Flower Arrangements, Garden Accessories and all things Floral.  Coming in May, a Girls Night Out event will be held on May 7th from 5-9:00 pm where you can Pamper, Indulge and Relax.  Be sure to mark your calendar to attend either or both of these events.
While I didn't necessarily find a lot of 'spring' at Artique, I did find a lot of awesome stuff that I think will pique your interest.  Artique is a great place to go to find something unique for that hard-to-shop for person in your life.  Let me show you what I mean....
Disclaimer here:  My friend, Marcelle, makes these slump bottles.  They are a unique and wonderful gift item.   A great way to serve a block of cheese or spread and come with a serving knife as well!  Have an empty bottle from a special occasion?  Ask Marcelle to transform it into a keepsake for you!
A HUGE selection of Melissa & Doug merchandise!
 




 
 

 
 Don't forget - click on any photo for a larger look!
 




 Above - these silicone lids are the bomb!  Check 'em out!

See what I mean?   And this is just a small sampling of what the 100+ vendors offer at this unique shop.  Check it out soon.  Located right off  Exit 8  at 1536 Crescent Road (in the shopping plaza), Clifton Park, and on the first floor of Colonie Center.  Please use the link below to check store hours.
 
So that's about it....the end of my series.  I hope you've enjoyed it and will stick around to see some of the other local treasures John and I stumble upon.  The weather is improving and soon we'll be venturing outdoors and I promise to have some fun destinations for you to explore without leaving the state.  In the meantime - check out my Directory for earlier posts.  It's almost gardening season and I have a whole lotta posts under the "garden" category.  Just click on "Gardens" and keep reading and hitting "Previous Post" to check out all of them.  Or....use the Directory to see a listing of Garden posts and click on the month listed next to it.  If you're new to my Blog, check out this post, http://gwfirecracker.blogspot.com/2014/11/someone-got-facelift.html for a little tutorial on navigating my blog!  So....thanks for sticking with this series and come back soon to Life As I See It!

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