What a Hoot of a Time We Had Discovering All the Coxsackie Owls

Sunday, June 27, 2021

 As life returns to normal, so do we begin to get back to enjoying some retirement traditions we started.  One of those traditions (in life and here on the blog) is visiting the various art displays in Greene County, namely the Cat'n Around Catskill exhibit, the artful Bears of Cairo and the What a Hoot owls of Coxsackie.  We hit all three of them this past week after taking last year off and boy, it felt great to be back at it.  There's so much talent out there, so much creativity and such great little towns to explore so close to home.  I'll start this year's series with, "What a Hoot".

The first year the owls appeared on the village streets was in 2017, following the examples of the horses and ballet slippers of Saratoga, the moose and mountain lions of Bennington, and sailboats of Saugerties.  Local businesses sponsor owls by donating $500 to cover the cost of the owl and all related expenses including shipping, mounting equipment, art supplies and promotional fees.  Each owl has a name plaque which displays the owl's name, the artist who created it and the sponsoring business. Some of the artist are so talented they design and paint cats too!  Owls are displayed outside of the sponsoring businesses from Memorial Day through early September.  Owls are then gathered from their perches to be auctioned off at a gala at the Coxsackie Yacht Club on September 25, 2021.  Due to Covid restrictions last year, the annual gala could not take place.  The 2020 owls were held over and are back on display this year - lucky for all of us who missed them.  

This year's collection features 41 owls - 39 in Coxsackie, one in Cairo and one in Catskill.  We didn't try to find every owl this time, but I was immensely disappointed looking at my collection that I missed two.  Darn!  Why didn't I check my map?   My apologies to the two artists whose amazing owls I've left out. Visitors can pick up maps at local participating businesses, although most of the owls are easily found just by driving around this really quaint historic town.  Did you know that the word Coxsackie is a Native American word that translated means 'hoot of the owl' or 'place of the owls'?  How lucky for me since I used to be a big owl collector and still find the owls my personal favorite of all the art collections.  Shhh.....don't tell the cats or bears I said that.  So without further ado....here's the owls of Coxsackie!

I don't know whoooooo could disagree, these owls are just spectacular.  And I'll borrow the two we missed from the brochure (thank you) so you won't miss any!

I wish I had space here to show you the back sides of these pieces, but you'll have to take a trip and inspect them all for yourself.  Visit the fine businesses of Coxsackie and stop in and meander around the wonderful Coxsackie Antique Center - home of over 100 vendors where you'll take a trip back in time and feel like you're in your grandmother's home again.  For more information, check out the What a Hoot website: https://www.coxsackieowls.com/ and Facebook page: Hoot of the Owl.  Stay tuned to upcoming posts featuring the cats of Catskill and the Cairo bears.  You won't want to miss them.  
Thanks for reading and come back soon for more Life As I See It.

Thanking Those Who Make a Difference Before It's Too Late

Friday, June 18, 2021


As we appear to round the bend, carefully bidding an overdue farewell to our chapter entitled, 'Covid-19", we look forward to a return to normal.  Is that even possible?  And is it even advisable?  Maybe going forward instead of returning to 'normal' we should be creating a 'new normal' - a life that encompasses the lessons we learned while we survived the storm we'll remember and talk about years from now.

The past 15 months were trying, frustrating, depressing, terrifying and death-defying.  Some may say that's dramatic, but for anyone who suffered with covid or lost someone with covid, they know it's not. Those long, seemingly endless months were full of life lessons including the importance of planning, stocking up on essentials (toilet paper became a treasured resource), the simple pleasures of talking mask-less or seeing people's full face and happy smile.  It taught us not to take life or the simple things in life for granted.  It should have also taught us not to take people for granted.  I've been reminded of that a lot lately as I've said goodbye to one very dear, life-long friend, another friend who in a short span of time left a lasting impression, and the passing of a few other, less intimate acquaintances.  These losses have been speaking to me, and as corny as it sounds, have beckoned me to share what I've learned from them.  So here goes.....I'm pretty sure we can all learn from what I'm about to share.

Have you ever noticed that when someone dies everyone has so much to say about that person?  So many lovely stories, compliments about their attributes, ways they'll be missed?  People fill their social media pages with comments about how special they were, how funny or how kind, almost as if the person might somehow be able to read those comments from beyond.  An example of this was a very special man who I'd never met but friended me on Facebook way back when I first started sharing photos.  He was sarcastic and comical and his posts brought a smile and joy to all of his friends lives, many who had never met him.  When he passed, everyone, like me, felt a deep sadness and a void because we knew our days would be a little darker without the daily light he brought into our world simply by sharing whatever moved him on social media.  It was evident by the outpouring of love on his Facebook page that he was respected and loved by so, so many.  

Another Facebook friend died recently.  I saw it by accident this week.  Facebook is so selective these days about which posts it decides to deliver, I'd missed when his obituary (one he wrote himself), was shared back in April.  Again, a wonderful human being who gave so much to his community - local and beyond, loved by his family and friends....many of whom took to his Facebook page to express their love and sadness and express their admiration for someone now unable to hear his accolades.

Today, news broke of Billy Fuccillo's passing.  People either loved Billy or hated him - not because of anything any of us knew about him as a person, but because of his endless commercials that shouted 'HUGE' until we wanted to cry, 'uncle'.  Our love or disdain for him was often based on our tolerance for his media campaign, similar to how I sometimes feel about political commercials during election season.  The fact is, as a society, we often base our opinions, our judgement, our respect of people on limited information.  Sometimes that limited information actually says nothing of the actual human being, instead it's a screenshot of a full-length feature film.  Today, John Gray told two stories about his experiences with Billy Fuccillo - two stories that showed John (and now all of us) that Billy was not just an obnoxiously loud person who dominated commercials at one time, he was a charitable, caring human being.  I suspect that John's two experiences weren't the only two times Billy displayed his alter ego, and consequently those of us not privy to that side of him formed an opinion, not of that person, but of the commercial character he chose for us to see.

People are not generally one dimensional.  While there are plenty of folks that are 99% who they portray, most of us are a mix of good and evil.  Perhaps evil is too strong a word, but you know what I'm saying.  This post isn't about judging a book by its cover, even though that is the point where Billy is concerned.  It's about waiting to tell people what they mean to us - while they're alive and can hear it.  Covid brought out the best in some folks - the first responders, the medical professionals, the teachers, and so many others.  But in many ways, it brought out the worse in us.  In our frustration, desperation, loneliness, and anger, it highlighted our deficits and our angst.  It gave us reason to complain, daily, for 15 months.  Social media gave us a platform and the news media gave us plenty to stir up our emotions.  We all felt it.  Now, now that covid is hopefully in our rear-view mirror, it's time to get back to positivity.  It's time to notice the good, the blessings, the joy in our lives.  It's time to look at the people who surround us - in person and on social media.   People may joke about how dumb social media is, or how negative it is, but the truth is, strong connections, bonds and friendships are formed with our Facebook connections.  I can testify to that because I have many of those and I can tell you too that I was overcome with great sadness and tears at the loss of my Facebook buddies.  

So my point is this....when you admire someone, tell them.  Don't wait till they die and you're at their wake.  Don't just write it on their Facebook page.  Tell them how they enhance your life.  Tell them what you admire about them.  Tell them how important they are, how admired they are, how much you look up to them.  Tell them how their presence in your life - whether through social media or in real life, matters and brightens your world.   No one ever dislikes knowing they matter, knowing their life and actions make a difference, knowing they are loved.  Who doesn't want to know that?

So unless there is social media in heaven, I suggest you don't wait till later to share your sentiments on Facebook.  And if there is social media there.....well, that's a story for a different blog.  Have a great day folks.  And by the way.....if you've read this or any of my posts, know it means so much to me and having you all to share life with means everything to me!

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