Swapping out Christmas for Winter Decor, Thanks to Some Expert Inspiration

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

 So, is Christmas all packed up and out of sight till next year in your house?  Did you pack up and clean up right after Christmas or wait till New Year's Day, or later?   I'm more of a 'later' kinda gal, and later usually translates to January 6th for us.  It always makes me wonder why some folks take down their tree the day after Christmas.  I would find that too depressing, especially this year when the world has been so void of joy and things to cheer us up.

For some reason I didn't make it till January 6th this year.  Around January 3rd I began feeling in the mood to dismantle and clean up and if you saw my annual house tour blog, you understand that this is no small job.  That being said, in the past several years I've found a way to pack up 'Christmas' but still enjoy 'winter' decor for another month or so.  This year, I was inspired by Colleen of Life on Kaydeross Creek.  Colleen is a local blogger who inspires me every season with her decorating style and her recent blog post, "How to Easily Transition to Winter Decor After the Holidays" (click here to read) got me so excited that I couldn't wait to pack Santa away and do my own winter transition.  My little house is no comparison to her gorgeous home, and my decor and vignettes are not nearly as spectacular, but I love what I was able to do thanks to her inspiration.

BEFORE: I may be ready to say goodbye to Santa, but Mr. Fox is another story.  He needs to hang out for a while longer and makes the perfect accent in my winter re-do.

I keep my moonlit winter scene up all winter long, but on my dry sink I replaced my Christmas decor with a small winter canvas that lights up, some winter greens and timer candle.  


Don't you love this candlestick and ring?  Thanks to the Speckled Hen.....where all the greens in this  photo were purchased.

On the mantle I removed my beautiful Shelly Broughton gnome paintings, the twig tree with red accents and then rearranged what was left, adding a couple candles but leaving my twinkly lights.  On the hearth I removed Santa, his reindeer and the white fur tree and left the woodsy accents.  The live cat in the display comes and goes ;)   
Here's the BEFORE:

You may have noticed that although the mantle is balanced, it's different on both sides.  Maureen at the Speckled Hen has tried to instill that in my mantle decorating.  Both of the candles and candle rings are from previous purchases at the Hen.  If you look closely at the photos, you'll notice that I used a crystal candlestick of my grandmother's for one and a metal candle  holder for the other, with different color candles and different candle rings.  My OCD struggles a bit with that and I may replace the metal holder for the other crystal candlestick when I'm finished here, but I've actually gotten to like the variety which also carries through in the vases at either end of the mantle.  Don't you just love that huge pinecone?   Also from the Hen.  

A gateleg table replaces the tree in the corner.  As I've aged I've acquired an appreciation for antiques, especially old relics that have been handed down in the family.  On the table is an old photo of my mom (subject of a blog post:   https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2014/11/the-photo-shall-remain-nameless.html, an old family bible, a photo of my dad when he was about 4, some old wire-rimmed glasses, my dad's baby shoe and a new candlestick and candle ring from the Speckled Hen.

In the family room, I left some of my snowmen and ceramic trees in the wall shelf, but brought back my crackle glass collection from my mom.  I also left out my beautiful new Shelly Broughton painting courtesy of my wonderful hubby this Christmas.  I replaced the Christmas decor on the bookcase with the grandkids new school pictures and some old books and ambient lighting.

I love my winter glass and greens display so I replaced the red balls with some blue, green and white ones and left the lighted garland.  Back in the living room, unrelated to Christmas, I printed some new photos and updated the photos of me and John, Katie and Mike and the grandkids.  This task was assigned to me by the grandkids who repeatedly pointed out that the photos were 'dated'.  I think they've been hanging out with their Grandma too much!

As I compiled this blog post, I noticed my end result looks and feels much more Christmassy than Colleen's.  I think the twinkly lights probably contribute to that and when all is said and done, I like the lights.  The point of this post is certainly not to showcase my humble little abode, or to have you think I have any illusion that I'm one of those legit, talented design bloggers like Colleen and the many others who inspire me.  The point is to share with you all that it doesn't matter whether your home looks like the magazine and blog photos that inspire you.  The point is that they inspire you to use what you have to recreate a home that makes YOU happy, regardless of how much or how little it ends up looking like the inspiration you draw from.  We don't have to be as perfect as the things that inspire us, we just have to be happy with the end result.  Do you remember the HGTV show, "Design on a Dime"?   I loved that show because they shopped in their own homes to repurpose pieces to create a new look.  That's what I try to do.....and then I go to my favorite shops, like the Speckled Hen and Bluebird Home Decor, and occasionally a discount big box store, to fill in the blanks.  All of us have sentimental pieces tucked away that we've inherited from loved ones, why not bring them out and incorporate them into you decor?  At the end of the day when I sit down and take a moment to admire the view, a view that is filled with pieces of me and the people who came before me, I'm pleased with the cozy, welcoming atmosphere I've created and happy that the end result reflects me and my heart, not someone else's space.  Does that make sense to you?  People who walk in have no doubt who lives here or what matters to us.  They know that family is first and that family extends to the generations before us.  
By the way.....I changed out that candlestick.  ;)   Christmas may be over for another year, but winter is here for a while more and you may as well enjoy it in the warmth of your home!  I hope this and Colleen's blog post inspires you to decorate your home for more than holidays!  Thanks for stopping by!  Come back soon to Life As I See It!

Our Fourth Annual Best Business List 2020

Sunday, January 10, 2021

It's become a tradition here on the blog to devote one post a year to shining the light on businesses we've used during the calendar year, businesses who have exceeded our expectations, businesses we're proud to recommend. Good help isn't always easy to find, but with the help of Angie's List and some word of mouth recommendations, we continue to be blessed with a large group of great folks to help keep life in the Welter household running smoothly. 2020 may have been a difficult year, but despite the challenges Covid presented, our favorite businesses came through when we needed them. It gives me great pleasure to share these wonderful businesses with you today.

  • All Star Plumbing - Topping our list, and making his third appearance on our Best Business List, is All Star Plumbing.   Since we found All Star Plumbing, we have enlisted Nate's expertise (as well as Ryan, his partner) to update or replace numerous plumbing fixtures around the house.  From new and better valves, shut-offs, outside fixtures, Nate has brought the plumbing in our home up to snuff and working like it should.  This year we decided to bite the bullet and pre-emptively replace our hot water heater before it leaks or dies and once again, Nate did a thorough, and covid-safe job.  From the booties he dons when he enters our home, to his home inspection and membership program, to his warrantied work, Nate takes the headache out of plumbing worries.  Friendly, punctual, and always a perfectionist, I don't know how we'd ever face a plumbing issue with anyone but All Star Plumbing.  You can trust Nate for all your plumbing needs!  https://www.facebook.com/Allstarplumbing518
  • KT Electric - (formerly owned and operated by Ken Tibbits since 1987) Brad Smith has continued the legacy of KT Electric. We've been using KT Electric since 2018.  This year we called on Brad to replace our kitchen light fixture and to once and for all replace a faulty 3-way dimmer switch in the family room.  It's no surprise KT Electric ranks high on Angie's List with over 200 A reviews.  To reach KT Electric, call Brad at 518-412-4114.
  • Absolute Pest Control -After many years of trapping a half dozen or so mice in our attic each year, we decided it was time to call in the professionals.  Josh from Absolute Pest Control came, inspected every nook and cranny in the house, basement, garage, crawl space, attic and roof and quickly determined the mice were crawling up the chimney and entering the attic through a space under our ridge vent.  Josh fixed the compromised ridge vent and left bait in all the appropriate locations of our home.  I'm happy to report we have not had one visitor since (as proven by the untouched bait and empty traps).  Their competitor, Meerkat, quoted their 'fix' in the thousands when Absolute charged hundreds.  It was a no-brainer decision.  For 25 years we've battled mosquitos in our yard because we live near a wetland.  Normally we use a Mosquito Magnet which runs on propane and attracts and catches mosquitos.  While this has done a pretty decent job, it requires a new propane tank every 3 weeks, plus other expenses, and some time investment, so this year we contracted Absolute to spray the yard (boundaries and thickly vegetated areas) for both mosquitos and ticks and I can tell you I didn't see one mosquito all season.  We are thrilled with both the success of their program and with the professionalism and courtesy of their staff.  Call Absolute Pest Control to get rid of all your unwanted pests.  Absolute Pest Control Facebook Page and https://absolutepest.com/ 518-382-5577
  • Advanced Power LLC - During every storm, winter or summer, I rest easy knowing my power will stay on and so will my heat or AC. Thanks to Advanced Power, my home has energy backup from my Generac whole house generator.  This year my daughter had a Generac generator installed by Advanced Power too.  Every year I get a call to schedule our annual maintenance and like clockwork our serviceman shows up and makes sure we're in tip top shape for the year ahead.  If you've been considering adding a whole-house generator to your home, I strongly suggest you give Advanced Power a call..http://www.advancedpowerllc.com/  It's an investment you'll never regret.
  • Mangino Buick GMC - There are few things I hate more than car shopping so when we decided it was time to replace John's 2009 Toyota Matrix, I was not looking forward to the process.  Growing up on Saratoga Lake, the Mangino family has been a familiar name in the business world.  Several of our friends are long-time customers of the Mangino's and it became clear to us quickly why.  From Anthony our salesman, to Ralph Mangino Jr. the owner and every staff member in between, we could not have asked for an easier, more friendly or professional purchase.  The entire process was simple, covid-safe, and frustration free.  Next time you're in the market for a new car, consider Mangino Buick on Route 50 in Ballston Spa.   https://www.manginobuickgmc.com/
  • Daigle's Automotive - Once again, I couldn't do our annual list without including Daigle's for our automotive repairs.  Howard and his mechanics always handle our repairs with prompt scheduling, honest diagnostics and fair pricing.  It's such a pleasure knowing I can trust a mechanic who isn't out to empty my bank account.  In fact, Howard is the opposite, always doing what's right and fair for the customer to save money whenever possible.  If you're tired of being taken and are ready for a reputable, quality service, call Howard!  He's located at 229 Vischer Ferry Road in Rexford, NY 518-383-2689.
  • Kulak's Nursery - Once again, I have to include Kulak's Nursery and Landscaping in our list because once again, they proved they're top notch in the business.  This year I decided to revamp one of my gardens, a long narrow strip that was crowded with several day lilies and other perennials.  I was envisioning a garden that would look more presentable for the majority of the season and require less maintenance and deadheading.  We contacted Pam at Kulak's because she'd done such a fabulous job picking out plants for our front landscape.  As it turned out, that day was to be her last day before maternity leave (her due date was the next day), but she happily walked us through the nursery, in the hot sun, laying out perennials in a mock garden bed.  She looked at photos I'd brought of the space and listened to the details of what I was hoping to accomplish and once again came up with the perfect choices including about a dozen perennials, a hydrangea, a spirea and some ornamental grasses.  This project took place at the beginning of September so I can't wait to see how beautiful everything looks this spring.  For healthy plants and the best customer service, I highly recommend Kulak's Nursery & Landscaping for all your gardening needs!  Located on Balltown Road at 1615 Balltown Road in Rexford NY  https://www.facebook.com/KulaksNursery
  • Green Gardener - Another repeat on our favorite list, another I couldn't live without.  In order to accomplish the big job listed above...a lot of muscle and dirt moving was necessary.  While Kulak's could have provided the manpower, I already have a gardener who I was thrilled to work with again.  Maia van Holsteijn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture and has been building her Green Gardener business since 2018.  From lawn maintenance to pruning, weeding, plant installation and everything in between, Maia is a wonder in the garden.  I had my son-in-law dig out the majority of the long-established day lilies, but Maia dug up the rest, prepared the soil for the new plants and then planted every one of them - after she and I mapped out a pleasing design.  I am so lucky to have found her.  I'm able to keep up my overly ambitious appetite for flowers while Maia helps handle the maintenance.  If you need some help with your gardening, Maia is your girl.  She's as sweet as she is strong, a little powerhouse in a sunhat and gardening gloves.  Contact Maia at https://gogreengardener.com/
  • Vinmar Solutions - It is with mixed feelings that I share my love for this small business.  This was our first year using Vinmar for our lawn care (fertilizing, weed prevention, etc..) and I couldn't be more pleased with their service. We've tried the big names in the past and our lawn never looked good.  With Vinmar, our applications are done with patience and care, always in a timely fashion with email notifications a few days prior to their visits.  Their price is lower and their results are superior.  The bad news is that they are a small company who wants to stay small so they can continue to do a great job for their existing customers, meaning they may not be able to accept new customers.  Still, I can't share my favorite businesses without including them.  If you're in need of a lawn service, check them out....http://www.vinmarsolutionsllc.com/
  • Burnt Hills Optical - For several years now we've been using Burnt Hills Optical for our eyeglass needs.  For annual eye exams and the most expert help in choosing the right pair of glasses, the folks at Burnt Hills Optical are the best in the business.  Located on Route 50 in Burnt Hills, this business is convenient, professional and so nice to do business with. Check them out: https://www.facebook.com/burnthillsoptical and https://www.burnthillsoptical.com/
  • Saratoga Turf Care - Another awesome business that is at full capacity and not accepting new customers, but too exceptional to leave out.  Doug and his guys mow and trim our property every week in an eighth of the time it would take John to do it at a price that's less than nice dinner out.  He does our spring and fall clean ups and trims our burning bushes as needed.  While John is certainly still strong and capable of handling most of the chores these professionals handle for us, there are many things in life we'd rather be spending our time on.  I'm not ashamed to admit we'd rather take a ride in the country or play with the grandkids than maintain our lawn. It's all about priorities!
  • Mother Theresa Academy - This may not be a service business, but I need to take time this year to acknowledge the amazing job the folks at MTA do educating and nurturing kids from 3-Kindergarten.  MTA knows kids are not all the same and they work hard to help each child grow at his/her own pace, teaching values the children can use their whole life.  Beginning with chapel time each day followed by enriching programs in math, science, language, physical education, art and more, at the end of the day what I'm most impressed with is the amount of love, patience and encouragement kids get in the atmosphere throughout MTA.  Our granddaughter and now our grandson have both loved and benefited from this wonderful preschool.  In fact our first grader regularly says how much she misses MTA , her teachers, and all the fun she had there.  If you're looking for a great place that offers fulltime education and quality life lessons, look no further than Mother Theresa Academy. http://www.motherteresa.academy/
  • The Speckled Hen and Bluebird Home Decor - these are not service businesses, but they are businesses I love and frequent.  At my age, shopping isn't something that interests me, but I love decorating my home and these two shops are my go-to when I'm in need of home decor.  Maureen at the Hen and Nicolle at Bluebird provide the friendliest, most caring atmospheres for escaping our sometimes ugly world.  If you've seen my Holiday Home Tour blogs, you know I depend on these two shops for most of my holiday (and year-round) decor.  If you're not already a customer at these fun shops, what are ya waiting for?  https://www.facebook.com/thespeckledhenscotia/ and  https://www.facebook.com/Bluebirdhomedecor
  • This has been an unusual year, for sure.  Many of our regular business were closed and some places we stayed away from due to Covid, but there are a few that went above and beyond to keep their patrons safe while serving their usual fare.  We appreciate them and have tried to support them for take-out throughout this pandemic.  They are Power's Pub, Vischer Ferry General Store, King Brothers Dairy and Ravenswood Pub. 
Well that's it folks, our favorite businesses of 2020.  One thing I need to point out....all of them are small and/or family businesses.  That's not the way we planned it, but in the end, I believe it makes a difference.  I'm not out to get the cheapest price, I'm looking for companies who take the time to listen to our needs and do their best to provide the best service to meet those needs, people who look at me as a person, not a source of income, people who care about my home with the same respect they have for their own.  I've found that relationship in all the businesses I share in this annual post.  I hope you'll consider them the next time you need superior service.

"Your customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
                                                                               - Damon Richards

She Lived A Legacy of Love, Strength and a Joie de Vivre

Friday, January 1, 2021

Born in Canada in 1910, Antoinette Durocher, lived a life that was surrounded by family and built on hard work, quiet strength, and determination.   Antoinette was my great aunt and her story is as colorful as her eyes shone blue, a story that begs to be documented.

Antoinette (my Aunt Twin) was born in Clarenceville, Quebec in 1910 to Ovila and Essie Comtois. Mr. & Mrs. Comtois lived on a farm in Clarenceville in a brick house with no electricity. Heated with wood, the family of 5 daughters and 5 sons made their livelihood farming. Antoinette and her siblings walked two miles each day to a one-room schoolhouse, unless the weather was so inclement that they got a ride with a horse and buggy. Antoinette shared in the chores by milking cows, feeding the chickens, gathering firewood or working in the fields. For fun in the summer, Antoinette and her siblings swam in the river and in the winter they ice skated. Now ice skating on the farm was a little different than the ice skating most of us experienced. Ice skates for nine kids would have been pretty costly, so Antoinette's father came up with a thriftier solution. Ovila would dry out the bones from slaughtered chickens. Once the bones were dry, he would strap the breast bone of the chicken to her boots and voila...she had ice skates. The resourcefulness didn't end with the skates - the ice on the farm consisted of frozen cow manure and if your 'skate' broke it wasn't a problem, you'd just get a new one the next time a chicken was slaughtered. With nine children in the family, money was not plentiful. Antoinette's wardrobe consisted mostly of hand-me-downs. She got her first 'new' dress when she was 16.

Antoinette's family immigrated to the United States in 1923 when she was 13.  According to Ancestry.com, Ovila worked as a farmer, a blacksmith and later a mechanic.  Antoinette, like most women in Cohoes at the time, worked in sewing mills.  In fact, she retired from Cluett Peobody in Troy in 1972 when she was 62 years old.  She was a talented seamstress and made many of her own clothes long beyond the time when that was common.  She was also not a stranger to heartbreak.  Her sister Ann Marie died in her very early 20's of some sort of respiratory condition and her brother, Halsey, was killed in WWII while he was stationed in Italy when he was just 32 years old.

Along her path in life she met my grandfather's brother, Henry.  Henry was also from a large family, the baby of 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls.  The Durochers had also immigrated from Canada, in the 1880's.  On November 28, 1936, Antoinette and Henry (Harry) were married.  

Unlike the large families they came from, Twin and Harry did not have any children, but their life would be full and surrounded by extended family.   They were both friendly, social folk and the many photos I've been lucky to inherit illustrate a life that frequently involved Harry's brothers and sisters and their spouses.  As an only child, I'm a little envious of that, but the company they enjoyed the most was each other.  Actually, if Harry had his way, their life would have been perfect had it only been the two of them.  

Sisters perhaps?

8th Grade, Antoinette front seat, left row

Niagara Falls

Even as a young girl, I recognized the closeness Twin and Harry shared with Harry's siblings.  Elmira and her husband, Marcel, owned a house right next door to Twin and Harry's.  My grandparents lived in Cohoes too and sister, Edna and her husband Charlie, lived in Latham.  My Uncle George was drafted just a few months after his wedding to Aunt Harriet, so Uncle Harry and his siblings took Harriet under their wing for the three long years he was off to war.  She lived alone in their apartment, but George's siblings helped with rides and made sure she wasn't alone for holidays.  Perhaps that's where the family togetherness began, but it's clear from photos that a lot of fun and memories were made along the way. 

Twin, Harriet, Elmira, Irene

Marcel, Elmira, Harry, Twin, Charlie, Harriet, George, Irene, Stanley and My Dad in Front

Elmira, Harriet, Twin, Irene (my grandmother)

Irene, Elmira, Twin, Harriet

Irene, Stanley (my grandfather), Twin, George, Harriet

Irene, Twin, Harriet, Elmira

(left to right) Twin, Irene, Elmira, Harriet
Throughout life, Twin stood in Harriet's shadow.  Like Harry and Twin, Harriet and George did not have children, a result of Harriet's polio.  Harriet had gone to business school and worked for a Commissioner in the state.  When George came back from war, he eventually got a job at the Watervliet Arsenal.  I don't think one couple was wealthier than the other, but I know one brother had a tighter fist with his cash than the other.  Harriet, an equally talented seamstress, ordered beautiful fabrics from New York City and made herself fancy dresses and business suits for work.  She studied Architectural Digest and decorated her little Cape Cod home in Latham with the latest trends and carried herself with poise and confidence, even though her bout of polio as a child left one of her legs atrophied and slightly shorter than the other.   Twin's wardrobe was modest but fashionable.  Her home, also a small cape but lovely and meticulously kept, was every bit as cozy and pride worthy.  Twin had no reason to feel less than, and Harriet was never the sort to think of herself as better than anyone, but we all have our insecurities.
Growing up, I don't remember ever going to George and Harriet's home, but we visited Twin and Harry often.  Aunt Twin had a special box for me in her hallway closet, a box filled with treasures that I couldn't wait to open.   Inside this large, flat box was a coloring book, a small box of crayons, chalk, a small chalk board and cardboard stencils.  Nothing in that box was special or fancy, but for me, it was a treasure just waiting for me each time I visited.  Aunt Twin may not have had her own kids, but she would have been a great mom.  She taught me games like, Button, Button, Who's Got the Button and Cat's Cradle.  When I was little, she'd tape a magazine picture to the bottom of my glass - a cat or dog or other cute picture - so that I'd want to finish my milk to see what was on the bottom of the glass.   I wasn't too wise because she tricked me into finishing my milk every time!  
Twin's kitchen, me on the left corner, my grandmother, Irene, and my Dad and Harry

Twin cutting my mom's hair in our kitchen.

Aunt Twin may not have felt fancy compared to Harriet, but she was skilled in many areas.  A sportswoman in her own right, Twin swam, ice skated and golfed.  She was also our unofficial family beautician. For many years she cut my mother's hair and mine.  I still have her 'barber kit' complete with comb, scissors, thinning sheers, cape and powder-filled brush for removing hair from necklines.  She had a green thumb, was a great cook and an accomplished seamstress who could whip up window curtains or drapes just as easily as a skirt or jacket.  Perhaps the thing I most remember about Twin was her ardor for neatness and organization.  She was a 'recycler' before it was fashionable.  Never wanting to waste, Twin cut up her old compression hose and used them for tying things....many things.  Old bread bags were cleaned and folded neatly in her kitchen drawers ready to be reused ....for disposing of wet garbage, leftovers, whatever needed containment.  Her clothes were meticulously kept, never wrinkled, always looking perfectly fitted and spotless.  Even her diary (used from 1969-2004 to record life events, illnesses, deaths, and doctor appointments) was orderly and concise.  All of her old photos have descriptions on the back of them!  Twin was the original perfectionist.   She had a sense of humor, a twinkle in her eye when she laughed, she loved to dance and sing along to familiar tunes.  She was loved and adored by everyone she met.  She was sentimental and thoughtful and always interested in hearing what was new in the lives of others.  Self centered would never describe Antoinette.  
Many a good times were had over the years - at our camp on Saratoga Lake, then our home there.  Once Twin and Harry retired (Uncle Harry worked at the water power plant in Cohoes), they and Harriet and George went to Florida for four months each winter.  They rented places close to each other and socialized and golfed with their mutual friends.    Here she is with Aunt Harriet and Leo Durocher..... Uncle Harry's 1st cousin when he was managing the Houston Astros.
When they weren't in Florida, they went out to lunch nearly every week day and many of those days they would run into, and join, Harriet and George.  Both couples frequented the same few local restaurants - The Lobster Pound, The Century House, The Oaks, and Krause's.  Harry may have been thrifty and may have kept Twin on a tight budget, but there were a few things he enjoyed .....lunch out, winters in Florida, golf and new cars.  He and George had a thing for new cars and one might say a competitive spirit when it came to buying them.  Every couple of years Harry or George would pull into our driveway driving a shiny new car (often Gran Marquis, Gran Torino or something similar).  The new car was always a well kept secret, especially from the other brother, and it would vary as to which brother would be the next to up the ante.  It was a friendly but quietly serious competition that was entertaining to witness.  Despite this rivalry and a few short disagreements over the years, it's obvious from both memory and endless photos - the four of them were thick as thieves and that bond continued long after the brothers were both gone.

Harry, Harriet, George, Twin and Stanley
Twin battled her share of health issues over the years...acute diverticulitis, gall bladder, glaucoma macular degeneration and a pacemaker.  Harry was always worried about losing her, convinced her death was imminent for years.  He treasured her so, she was definitely the sugar in their twosome.  He was well aware of that and that her sweetness compensated for his sometimes prickly nature.  He also knew he probably couldn't live without her.  In February of 2000, Uncle George passed away from lung cancer.   Once again, it was Twin and Harry and Harriet....just like when George was off to war.  Only this time, all of the other siblings were gone, and had been for some time.  
Aunt Twin and Uncle Harry by now had sold their home and moved to an apartment.  Always in charge and bent on doing the 'right' thing, Uncle Harry wanted to be proactive and responsible by emptying his own house, and not leave the burden to others.  They sold their beloved home on Columbia Street and moved to an apartment in Ballston Lake.   When Coburg Village, an upscale independent living complex, opened, Twin and Harry moved in, but that lifestyle didn't last long.  Harry and Twin, now in their late 80's, didn't like being around the 'invalids' with their walkers and scooters, so in August of 2003 they moved back to an apartment.  Uncle Harry passed away in April of 2004 at 91.  Twin was legally blind by then from the glaucoma and macular degeneration and had never driven or had a license.  Within a month of Harry's passing, Twin moved into the Home of the Good Shepherd, an assisted living facility.  She was happy to move so that her needs would be met without being a burden on anyone. Even then, when she had people to cook and clean for her, Twin washed her own clothes in her bathroom sink and made her own bed every morning....because nobody made it quite right, quite as pristinely as she did.  
For five years after George's passing, I was Harriet's companion.  Though my mom and dad managed her financial affairs and assisted in areas that George would have, I did her cleaning, cooking, shopping and chauffeuring.  When it became clear that she needed more care than we could provide, Harriet moved to the Home of the Good Shepherd where she would be reunited with Twin for the last chapter of their lives.  

Harriet and Twin in 2007

Twin & Harriet at Laura's Wedding in 2007 (Twin was 97, Harriet 96)

Eventually both of them ended up in Schuyler Ridge Nursing Home.  Harriet left us first in August of 2011 at 100 years of age.  Aunt Twin carried on the legacy and lasted the longest of all of them passing in October 2012 one month shy of her 102nd birthday.
Twin on her 100th Birthday!

Twin on her 101st Birthday

Twin and Elena just two months before Twin died.

 My dad, her nephew, was more like a son or grandson to Twin and Harry and was the person who would look after them in their old age.  If it weren't for my mom, I don't know who would have navigated the world of assisted living and later a nursing home for Twin (and Harriet).   My dad was an only child and since neither Harry, George, Edna or Elmira had children, I imagine my dad was more like their grandchild than their nephew.  I inherited that special place in the family.  Growing up their devotion landed on me, not such a sad thing for an only child.  The four of them were such an integral and unified part of our immediate family, visiting often and present for most holidays and birthdays, all of my life feeling more like grandparents than great aunts and uncles.

I realized as I got a short way into this story about Twin that it was impossible to write about her without also writing about Harriet, George and Harry.  While they were brothers and sisters-in-law, their lives and their stories are so infinitely intertwined.  Sorting photos, reading journals, and reminiscing the past, I am reminded what a blessing they were to each other. While the brothers did have their spats and disagreements over the years, they shared almost a century of friendship, family and memories.  Harriet and George were married for 64 years upon George's death, Twin and Harry were married 68 years.  Together the four of them were role models of a life well lived, dedicated to their spouse, making the most of what life had to offer.    She was definitely an inspiration and I am blessed to have had her in my life for 58 years!

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