Monday, January 22, 2018

Marching with 4,500+ friends in downtown Buffalo

On Sunday, January 21st, I went to photograph and to experience the second annual women's march in downtown Buffalo. It was a colorful event on a warm winter day, a good day for a march. Many people marched, with friends, with family, and with their dogs. The Buffalo Police estimated the crowd size as 4,500. Another estimate was 10,000 marchers. I had originally thought that there would be about 1,000 people. It turned out to be an amazing although, at times, overwhelming and even a bit claustrophobic. It was certainly something to see and experience. I was surrounded and sometimes enveloped by a large group of  marchers, who carried signs and other images, which offered a great variety of messages. 

Nathan McMurray at Buffalo's City Hall
It has been a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. In my opinion, the year has felt like a nightmare from which there is no awakening. I have to admit that I had come into the event, wondering if little people such as me had the power to change hearts and minds. Was my country lost?

The situation in the United States, said Nathan McMurray, a candidate for Congress in New York's 27th district and supervisor of the Town of Grand Island, is like "being trapped in a bad reality TV show." 

Photographing Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown

Shannon Smith of WIVB-TV, a
CBS affiliate in Buffalo, conducts
an interview.

How could we escape the reality TV show, in which it feels as if we are constantly being voted off of the island via Twitter? How could we escape a bad reality TV show that causes us to fight with one another, instead of with the people who created the show and who are forcing us to live it, day after day? There were any ways suggested. We were encouraged to take various actions, including registering to vote. We were told that our vote empowers us. The march itself allowed the thousands present other ways to express their viewpoints, including singing and carrying colorful signs and dressing in a variety of costumes. 

A choir director leads a selection
of songs.

With a police escort, we were able to march in the streets of downtown Buffalo. We had started at the steps of City Hall.
One of the more unusual images
at the march.
We walked past Buffalo's City Court. We stopped briefly at the Erie County Holding Center, one of Erie County's jails, where people have committed suicide out of desperation. It is alleged that there is very little oversight of this jail. I've been in prison and even in the holding center in the past. People on the outside don't really know what goes on in these places. Several people stood at the doors of the Holding Center, waving signs that read "Prisoners are people, too." That was an important message because, sometimes, we forget.

We continued to march and, before long, we were back at City Hall, where speakers were invited to share their viewpoints with us.
Buffalo's City Hall
These speakers, who talked to us, both before and after the march, included New York's deputy governor  Kathy Hochul, Buffalo's Mayor Byron Brown, Congressman Brian Higgins, and
Nathan McMurray. He had brought his wife and two sons to the march. He said that one of his sons told him, "Dad, there are a lot of women here." 

His observation was accurate. Many women did participate in the march. They were outside, wearing costumes and carrying signs that said that their voices were worthy of being heard. 

While speaking, Nate asked for an American flag. He said that we need to have more flags at rallies and marches. When we carry our flag, we are telling everyone that "this is our country."

Our flag represents our country. It represents everyone, Nate said. Carrying it is a reminder that we have a place in our country and that we deserve to be heard.

Former County Legislator Betty Jean Grant of Buffalo speaks to the crowd following the march.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Comments, Conversation, and the Caption Contest winner

Today, I am featuring you in my blog. When I read the comments that you share on my posts, I am so happy and grateful. I really appreciate everything that you tell me. You open me up to perspectives that I would not have considered. You give me new ideas and you express so much kindness. Thank you!

Painting a barn with watercolors:

Rajlakshmi: The snowy barn looks so pretty. Love the paintings... I like to draw and can imagine how much fun you have must have had painting lovely piece.

Thank you so much. I would love to see your drawings, too.

Jeanine Byers: I love your picture!! It's amazing! You could sell it.

Thank you, Jeanine. I am really contemplating the idea of trying to sell my artwork. It is a big step for me!

curtis03 Lewis: Thanks a ton for sharing this! I was just thinking what I should do for my daughter’s birthday cake and this is just the thing. We have booked one of the best San Francisco venues. I’ll just ask my decorator to do the SpongeBob theme for the party.

Oh, what fun. I hope that your daughter has a good time.

Lady In Read: love all the paintings;; and thank you for the tip about using the salt -i need to start painting (painted so long ago that i don't recall)..your posts continue to inspire me and now i need to act

Go for it. Painting is amazing. You start with a blank sheet of watercolor paper and you end up with a scene, almost as if you created a world.

Doug Jarvie said: The paintings show that there is a lot of talent around Lewiston. Do you live far from there?
My interest in painting got lost when I got interested in tools. Now my art will come out of a camera. Looking forward to seeing your flower.
Blog on!

I don't live too far from Lewiston. Maybe about twenty miles or so. Your photography is fantastic. I truly enjoy seeing your travel pictures. You've visited some incredible places. said...
Great demonstration of your artistic talent. I have take a few of these painting courses (to no avail). Glad to see someone gets something out of them.

Thank you very much. Art classes are fun. I especially enjoyed the art classes that included wine tastings. I was very relaxed, lol.

Modern Gypsy: That’s a great demonstration of the painting process. And it looks really pretty! I find watercolours tend to have a mind of their own, which freaks me out a bit. But I do want to pick up a few tricks this year (hopefully)!

Watercolor can be a challenging medium, and the paints sometimes do seem to have a mind of their own. But it's fun, and there are all sorts of new tricks to discover on your painting journey.

Lily Leung: Lovely paintings, Alice. I wish I have more patience. I think I must have attention problems. I signed onto a year long online art class last year. Was gung ho for awhile. Then I just struck out on my own exploring and looking at others' art and doing it on my own. I haven't been able to get back to the lessons. They'll be up for another year. I guess I could download them, too.

Thank you, Lily. Fortunately, you have another year to enjoy the lessons. Downloading them would definitely help you follow the lessons when you are ready to do so.

Martha DeMeo: What beautiful painting! You make it sound so easy by drawing a box, x and line! You do amazing drawings and painting!

Thank you, Martha! I love those little tricks, such as drawing boxes and lines. Breaking the project down into steps makes it easier and less intimidating.

Forty-one years ago in Buffalo (the infamous Blizzard of 1977):

SlimExpectations: It does sound like a bad blizzard. Trust me while reading this, I could feel a shiver pass down my spine.
Well, I’m glad that you were the ones who were fortunate and indoors.
Sad about the those who lost their lives:(

Yes, I was very fortunate to be in a warm house during the disaster. I am very grateful for that. Also, I am very sad about the people who passed away during that terrible storm.

Martha DeMeo: I'm from upstate NY near Saratoga, Lake George area and I remember that storm!

It was a very dramatic event! It definitely had an impact.

Healthwealthbridge by Dr. Amrita Basu Misra: I am shocked at how calmly you narrated the story with no drama at all! Your blizzard experience sounds like a really scary horror. I am very glad you had a warm home and food. It must have been very scary.

I think that the experience would have been much scarier if I didn't have my father there with me. Because I wasn't alone, I truly was never afraid.

Blogger Lady In Read: that blizzard sounds awful
..and I was thinking about all those folks who have no place to call home just earlier today, cold snaps like this makes it so much more difficult .
on the lighter note, love that first photograph you have on your post..

Thank you. I am happy that you like the photograph. It's always difficult to be alone, but it's even harder when you are caught in a terrible storm.

Di Hill: Have experienced nothing like that. I am fortunate.

Yes, you are. But, even though you've never experienced a disaster, please make sure to stay prepared for whatever kind of disaster is likely where you live.

Jayanthy: It is called blizzard for a reason as you have mentioned. It is a very calm narration and I pictured the whole experience. It is true there are many things to feel thankful for. The first incident was Tsunami in 2004, the next two were floods in 2015 and 2016. Anyway these did enough damages to many cities around me, but had limited damage to my surroundings. I am thankful for many things in my life. God bless those souls who lost their life in that incident.

Tsunami and floods. They sound very frightening. I'm glad that your damage was minimal. I hope that the people and cities were able to recover from the terrible disasters and that the families of the people who passed away were able to find peace.

The photo caption contest:

The winning caption is "Canadian convertible," submitted by em.

This caption was selected by a random number generator, after three captions tied for first place. The other two captions were: "When Santa's reindeer ran away with the sleigh" (submitted by humaninrecovery) and "Where's the corn?" (submitted by

Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope that you had fun.

Friday, January 19, 2018

images of Woods Creek

Over the past few years, I have taken pictures of Woods Creek. I've taken pictures of it full of ice and snow. I've taken pictures of it when the ice had started to melt. Some of these picture depict the waters overflowing their banks. 

On Christmas Day 2017, this was Woods Creek, looking very much like a Christmas card.

The same creek, seen in sepia tones.

This is Woods Creek along the town's linear bike path, completely covered with snow and ice.
After a few days of above-normal temperatures, the ice melted and the creek flooded its banks.

Another view of ice in Woods Creek, no longer filled with snow.

This is another view of Woods Creek, as seen on the linear bike path.

A tree and its reflection in Woods Creek
Another view of a tree and its reflection

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Painting a barn with watercolors

Today, I went to Stella Niagara in Lewiston for a painting class. The theme for today's class was snowy barn scenes. The instructor, Virginia Kelley, plans on putting the instructions on wikiHow, under the title "How to paint a snowy barn." It is currently a work in progress.

the initial sketch, done in graphite on watercolor paper
The first step in this project is to draw a square on the watercolor paper. Then draw an X and then draw a vertical line. The center of the square will be the spot where all of those lines intersect. On the square, which is the front of the barn, you can draw a door. A barn door would be very wide, much wider than the door to a house.

After you have your square, draw a roof. Virginia told us about two types of roofs that are common in barns. They are the gable roof, which appears to be pitched or peaked, and the gambrel room, which has two different slopes and is also known as a "barn roof."

The next step is to finish the building. Figure out where your vanishing point is and draw your lines at angles. The vanishing point is the spot on the horizon where the receding parallel lines seem to disappear. It is one of the elements that makes a drawing, a painting, or a photograph appear three-dimensional.

Once you finish your building, you can add other structures, including a side building, a shed, and a silo.

After finishing the structures, you can add other things to your painting. I included trees and a fence. Other people added animals and birds, and one person added an ice skater.

Here is the sky, painted in. It is a late evening sky. Notice the little spots. That's where I shook the salt.
At this point, I was finished with drawing and was ready to begin painting. I began by painting the sky.While I was painting the sky, I decided that I wanted to give it a snowy effect, so I sprinkled salt on the painting. The salt needs to be added when the paint looks as if it is glistening. The salt takes pigment away from the painting, which will be more apparent after the painting dries.

Here, you can start to see the effect of the salt. It looks as if large flakes of snow are falling.
I then painted the buildings, leaving most of the roofs white, with some indication that there is roof underneath all of that snow. The deciduous trees were depicted as bare trees, and the evergreens were painted in several shades of green. As for the ground, it is not a solid white because snow tends to reflect the sky and the structures and the trees. 

Here is the completed painting.
I used two paintbrushes for the entire painting. One was a round brush and the other was a very tiny brush for details. Below are a few of my classmates' paintings.

The painting with the skater on a winter's day.

This painting looks very snowy. A day to stay indoors and drink cocoa, to be sure.

A barn in the woods.

Next week: stay tuned! We are painting flowers with a black background.The black background will be acrylic paint; hence, it will be mixed media.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Forty-one years ago in Buffalo...

... it snowed. The temperature was well below normal. For the month of January, the average temperature was 10 degrees F (-12.2 C). Snow had been falling on a daily basis since some time in December. So, if it had been snowing every day, why was snowfall on January 17th, 1977, big news?
Note: In 1977, I did not have a
camera. Therefore, the photographs
were not from the Blizzard of
1977 but are, instead, just random
snow pictures taken in the
past few years.

The snowfall and the unusually cold temperatures were just two of a variety of weather conditions that were very unusual when they all occurred together. Here is another: Lake Erie was frozen solid on December 14th, which was a record. Never before had the lake been frozen that earlier. When the lake freezes, the lake effect snow machine shuts down. So did that mean that there should be less snow that year. 

Well...  no... it didn't work out that way... all of this was just the prelude to an enormous blizzard: the infamous Blizzard of 1977. The blizzard actually struck on January 28th. 

This is my story:

It was a snowy and very cold winter day on January 28th, 1977. I was at home, on winter break from the State University of New York at Brockport. In a few days, I would be returning to college. Or so I thought.☃

When I woke up, I could hear the wind howling and I could see the snow falling sideways. My father, Roy, and I were alone in the house. My mother, Roslyn, was a visiting professor of sociology at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. All three of my sisters were away at colleges and universities. 

"Should I go to the office or should I stay at home?" my dad wondered. He was the president of an economic consulting business that he co-founded with other economists. He decided to stay at home because the weather conditions looked terrible. The sky was a steel gray, and the snow was starting to fly faster and faster. 

My dad and I settled in. At the time, we had no idea that it would take another week before we would be able to emerge from the house. We watched television and we watched the snow falling. On television, we watched movie after movie. We saw newer movies and we saw classical silent movies, such as Sergei Eisenstein's "The Battleship Potemkin."

We turned on the television news and heard all of the dire warnings about the weather. We saw the dire warnings realized in images on television: abandoned cars on highways, blinding white-outs, and large objects being carried away by enormous winds. We looked out the window, and we could see nothing. After a few days, we could not longer open the front door for all of the snow that had blown against it. We looked out of the upstairs window and saw that the snow bank had reached the second story of the house.

We were more fortunate than many others. Many people were trapped in the offices where they worked. Their cars were buried under enormous piles of snow. The wind continued to howl and the snow continued to fall, day after day. President Jimmy Carter declared four Western New York to be disaster areas. We were in the center of a disaster. The National Guard was called in to help Buffalo remove the snow. There was so much snow and wind that the National Guard was soon overwhelmed and needed help from private companies.

In Grand Island, everything came to a sudden halt. The bridges were all closed. I called the university and said that I would not be there for the start of the semester. 

My dad and I continued to eat our way through the storm in front of the television set. We were lonely for the rest of the family but, when they called, we were always watching a "show." My dad's friend called and said, "This has to end. I've already gained ten pounds."

On February 1st, the snow stopped falling, and the winds stopped howling. We opened the door and we were able to walk outside into a world of endless whiteness. We went to the grocery store. There was some food there but it was obvious that it had been a long time since a food delivery. The bread, milk, and eggs were gone. We went to the grocery store mostly to see other people, to know that there was life in our community that, at that moment, felt broken by a relentless wind and by the snow that fell sideways and had, until that last day, taken away our view of the outside world. 

I went back to school and my dad returned to working in his office. On some weekends, I returned home and I walked on sidewalks that appeared more like tunnels through the still-massive piles of snow than like pathways. It seemed as if I was on some strange planet that wasn't quite Earthlike.

But we were fortunate. We had a warm house, plenty of food, and an uninterrupted supply of electricity. I discovered a love for movies. A few years later, when I went to journalism school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, I made up my mind that film critic would be a great career for me.

Some people, however, were less fortunate. The storm, which some people refer to as a "perfect storm," took 29 lives away with it. That winter, Buffalo's total snowfall was 199 inches, which was a dramatic record. The Blizzard of 1977 was called the blizzard that buried Buffalo.

Conversation: In the comments section below, feel free to describe your experience with extreme weather and/ or disasters.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Expressing your opinion: the photo caption contest

A week ago, I posted a fun photo caption contest. I asked you to submit your captions. Well, the captions have been submitted, and it is time for you to choose your favorite. I will post the winning captions, with the name of the winners, in a few categories, on Saturday, as part of a comments and conversation post. Who will win the readers' choice category? It's up to you. Please submit your vote by mentioning the number of your preferred caption in the comments section below.

Here is the photograph, and the captions:
Photograph in search of a caption

1. Everyday Occurrence After a New York Snow Storm

2.  When Santa’s reindeer run away with the sleigh

3.Where's Santa? He was just here a minute ago! Anyone see a man in a red track suit?

4. What every pickup truck with snow chains wants to be when it grows up.

5. Canadian convertible

6. Baby, It's Cold Outside!

7. Look left, look right and then cross the road.

8. Where's the corn?????

9. Next year I'll buy the one with the heated cab .

10. Only in Western New York: my four-wheeler is bigger than your four-wheeler.

Enjoy and make sure to vote!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The 52-week photography project

"Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of colour to express myself more forcefully ... To express the love of two lovers by the marriage of two complementary colours ... To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a dark background. To express hope by some star. Someone's passion by the radiance of the setting sun."
Vincent van Gogh, 1888.

The theme for week two of the 52-week photography project is color harmony. Do opposites attract? Can there be harmony with opposite colors? One term that is used to describe opposites in the color world is complementary colors.

There are three primary colors on the color wheel: red, yellow, and blue. Between each primary color on the color wheel are three secondary colors: purple, orange, and green. The opposite colors would be red and green, orange and blue, and yellow and purple. If you were to get paint and mix opposite colors together in equal portions, you would be a grayed color, called a chromatic neutral.

In exploring color harmony, I took photographs of several subjects, including people, fruit and beverages, and artwork.


Grand Island Town Council member Beverly Kinney in dark blue contrasts with the light orange color in the background. The blue and the light orange in the background also are opposites that attract.

Town Council member Pete Marston, Jr., wears a red tie that contrasts with the Christmas tree. The red bulbs and the green branches also are opposites that attract.

The orange paddle and the blue background are opposites that attract on my shirt.

food and beverages

the bowl is mainly a shade of orange. The tangerine and the blueberries are the opposites that attract.

Still life with book and water bottle. Much blue and some orange.

Another blue and orange still life.


reproductions of artwork with several sets of complementary colors.

Next week: Come back for the third week of the 52-week photography project.

Congressman Nathan McMurray?

Life is about taking risks and embracing new adventures. It's about finding your way out of your comfort zone and discovering your strength. I have had a number of opportunities to meet people who have taken risks and have left their comfort zones for the purpose of making life better for other people. Because they didn't give in to fear, which is always a factor for people when they jump out of their comfort zone, they were able to make enormous differences in their world.

One of these people is Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray. I can say that with confidence because, in the past year, I have had much opportunity to observe the inner workings of town government. I'm a member of a town advisory board, and I've attended town board meetings, as both a private citizen and as a reporter.

Today, Nate took a big step. He announced that he is running as a Democrat for Congress in New York State's 27th district. This is a district that was designed (gerrymandered) to be strongly Republican. Some people might say that Nate is tilting at windmills by running for Congress in this district. Maybe he is. Nate's former assistant Cyndy Montana said that Nate is a "doer and a dreamer," who is "not afraid to take a chance." 
Town Board member Beverly Kinney spoke
about Nathan McMurray's energy, work
ethic, and ability to get things done.
And, sometimes, when doers and dreamers who are not afraid to take chances, tilt at windmills, they knock those windmills down. By doing that, they remind us that hope is not lost. It is possible to create change, no matter the odds.

Nathan McMurray and Paul Leuchner,
a retired biologist with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, who has worked
tirelessly to conserve Grand Island's
natural environment.
So, today, I went with my friend Bekki to the Brickyard Brewing Company for Nate's Special Announcement. 

Congressman Chris Collins is currently representing New York's 27th district (or, maybe, just his campaign contributors). He is also the former Erie County Executive. A reading teacher said that, as county executive, "Chris Collins waged a war on public libraries."

"Nate is everything that Chris Collins is not," the reading teacher said. "Nate is relentless. He has passion and drive, and he will win the 27th district."

"Nate is a hard worker and charming. He gets stuff done," Cyndy said. 

"I am running for Congress against Chris Collins in the 27th district," Nate announced. He said that Chris Collins "does not represent you. This man has abused his position. He's rich, powerful, and has connections."

"We need to find a way to pull together. Our country needs it," Nate said. Nate, who speaks Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, said that the Chinese word for America could be translated as "beautiful country."

Our beautiful country, however, has lost its way. "Our country is in a cold civil war," Nate said. "Our country needs to invest in our people. It's about priorities. We need to get rid of student loan debt. We need people who can build our infrastructure. I will be relentless."

"We have degraded bridges and roads. Internet comes in a trickle," Nate said. The future of internet is in 5G internet, which is four dimensional. The fourth dimension is a tesseract, but I am not sure what that means in the context of the internet.

"Congress is not a country club," Nate said. "We can change that. Chris Collins is not doing a good job. He is not representing you. This is a guy that needs to get beat."

For more information about Nate's campaign or to volunteer, check out Vote Nate McMurray website.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

An illustrated guide to making pancakes

Today, I made pancakes for breakfast. I got on the internet and looked for a recipe. I like the internet for that. It is the World Wide Web and my World Wide Cookbook. 

The first thing that I did was to collect my ingredients. I needed flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, an egg, almond milk, and cooking spray. 

My next step was to combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

In another bowl, I combined the egg, almond milk, and the melted butter. I prefer to melt butter in a small pot on the stove, although it is perfectly all right to melt butter in the microwave. After the liquid ingredients are combined, then I add the dry ingredients to the mix.
That gets stirred so that the dry ingredients are covered but it is unnecessary to make the batter smooth. It's not a cake! So it's OK to leave lumps in the batter. 

While I am making my pancake batter, I am heating a griddle. This recipe calls for vegetable oil spray to be applied to the griddle.
My next step is to pour batter on the griddle. I can make four pancakes at a time. According to the recipe, I was to set the timer for five minutes and, after that time expired, I was to flip the pancakes.
After five minutes, the pancakes were nowhere near ready to be flipped. My griddle is old and rather cold. So I reset the timer for seven minutes. 

The pancakes are topped with plain Greek yogurt and blueberries. While I waited for the pancakes to cook, I made a smoothie, with blueberries, plain Greek yogurt, and apple cider. Breakfast is served!
I made about ten pancakes with this recipe. They are thin and light, almost like crepes.

Let's chat! Do you have any interesting breakfast recipes that you'd like to share? Feel free to talk food in the comments section below!