Thursday, April 26, 2018

U is for unusual and unique

Yesterday, as I was traveling to San Diego, I was thinking about the letter "U." What U word would I use for a blog post? I was thinking about that while I was traveling on a cross-country flight, from Atlanta to San Diego. Maybe I wasn't thinking too hard on that flight. I didn't just have an airplane seat; I had a whole entertainment center. There was a screen in front of me, and I had entertainment choices, which included music, movies, and games. It also included a flight tracker. At any point, I could see exactly where I was flying. In other words, I was flying over a map. Well, in the flight tracker, I was flying over a map. I guess that, in real life (which is not as entertaining as a simulated flight tracker), I was flying over mountains, valleys, rivers, and desert, as opposed to a map with clearly defined state boundaries.

I listened to music.
Or, since I was thinking about the letter "u," that was mUsic. Then I started watching movies. One had too much violence and it was making me squeamish so I gave up on that. Another one seemed kind of disjointed and my attention span died. Then I found "Under the Tuscan Sun," starring Diane Lane. Well, the word "Under" starts with the letter "U," so that's pretty good.

"Under the Tuscan Sun" is based on the memoir of writer Frances Mayes, who impulsively bought a villa in Tuscany, while she was on a tour. She had just gotten divorced and her friends did this intervention that involved sending her to Italy for a tour. She suddenly got off of the tour when she saw this villa for sale. The villa was in need of massive renovations, and the story is about how the villa was restored.  Along the way, spiders and snakes popped out from where they were least expected, which was scream worthy. Young people fell in love. People got together in big groups to eat luscious Italian food and drink delicious wines. In other words, life happened. While the villa was being restored, Frances was able to restore and heal herself.

Today, I started thinking about the letter U again... and, all of a sudden, there it was... staring me in the face.
After lunch with my lovely California family, I saw the most amazing sight. It was a life sized chessboard... and people were walking around the chessboard, moving pieces. I could hardly believe my eyes.
That chessboard was unusual and unique. How do you like that? Two words that begin with the letter U. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

T is for teacher story 14: the enthusiasm of second graders

Today, I am sharing a teacher story. Frances Reid teaches at Huth Road Elementary School. In this conversation, we talk about learning and about what it’s like to be a teacher. She talks about the beauty of connecting with young students, who are enthusiastic to learn new things.

First of all, you teach at Huth Road School, and you teach second grade?


Tell me what motivated you to be a teacher. Did you always want to be a teacher or did you have other career dreams?

I think that I wanted to be a lot of things when I was a kid. I wanted to be a writer, and I still do.  But I think that it was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Burton, who really inspired me to want to be a teacher. She made learning fun. She had fun, cool ways to remember things, and I wanted to pass that on to some kids of my own.

Could you give examples of the fun ways to remember things?

We were learning about the explorers so she told us that Balboa took a bubble bath in the Pacific Ocean. And Ponce de Leon. We pictured him jumping on a lion because his name was Leon, but it was really an alligator. And we remember that he discovered Florida.

And Ponce sounds like pounce.

And to remember the periodic table of elements, AU can mean them gold chains. And, when you get older, your hair turns silver, and it spells AGE for age, but it is AG. Some mnemonic devices.

It’s like music, where I remember FACE for the treble clef. That’s a good way to learn.

Every Good Boy Does Fine.

So you decided to be a teacher. Was it after fifth grade?

It was that year. My teacher did a writers’ workshop back when it was brand new. We were a pilot class. So a lot of reading and a lot of writing.

That sounds like a lot of fun.


So, where did you go to college?

I went to Buff State for one year. Then I moved out to Michigan, and I went to Oakland University, but I knew that I was coming back here. I arranged to do my student teaching through Buff State. I ended up student teaching at Huth Road.

When did you student teach?

It was the spring of 2001. I student taught in fifth grade. Then I started subbing after graduation in May. I finished out the year subbing here in Grand Island.

Were you living in Grand Island at the time?

I was living in West Seneca at the time. I live in Lancaster now.

So tell me about subbing here. Was it only at this school or all over the district?

I subbed at Sidway once, but they needed me here because Betty King back then had some heart problems or surgery and they needed me to fill in for the last two week.

So did you work in any other district before you came here?

No, I student taught here and then I subbed here. Peggy Koppmann (the former principal) got to know me. She gave me a call over the summer when they were looking for someone to fill in for Betty King. This was a full year so I had my first year of teaching as a long-term sub. That was third grade.

How did you like teaching third grade?

I loved it. They love learning. They’re not old enough to be wise guys. They are still young and cute, and they love learning.

When did you get placed here on a permanent basis?

For the following year, they had opened up a position. I had to go through the interview process. By that time, it was the spring of 2002 that I went through that whole process, and I got hired.

Were you teaching third grade or were you hired for a different grade?

Yes, I was placed in third grade. I continued teaching third grade, and I taught third grade for ten years.

How long have you been teaching second grade?

This is my seventh year now. I went from ten years of third to seven years of second.

Tell me what you like about second grade.

I think that it’s just their love of learning. They love you as a teacher. They love to be here, and they love school. They love learning. They love reading stories. I think that it’s really the kids. They make it the great job that it is.

Can you give me an example of a positive experience that you’ve had lately? Something that you’ve done with the kids that they’ve really enjoyed?

We did a lesson on fact and opinion. It was a detective lesson. They all got a case file in their little groups and they had to read the facts and the opinions of the witnesses. They had to sort through the facts. They had to differentiate between fact and opinion and figure out who committed the crime. They loved it so much that they asked can we do more? When you see the kids involved and asking for more, you know that you have a good lesson plan.

Do you have any other roles that you play at school?
I’m the grade level chair so I participate in a lot of meetings.

Tell me what it’s like to be a grade level chair.

You have a little extra responsibility and attend extra meetings in the building with the principal and also in the district office, where we assemble with all of the grade level chairs throughout the district. We work on the shared decision making things. Report back to your grade level; report to the higher ups. So you do a little more planning with things such as field trips.  I like it because I know what’s going on.

Have the kids had any interesting field trips lately?

We went to the Theater of Youth in March to see June B. Jones is not a crook performed on stage so they got to see a book brought to life. They enjoyed that.

Tell me a little about that.

We got to tie in some other things, too, because we’ve been learning about communities: rural, urban, and suburban. So we talked about how we were driving into an urban community, into Buffalo. We got to dress up and go to the theater so we talked about the proper way. Not all of them had been exposed to the theater. Some of them had been there before but, for others, it was their first time. They got to see it and it was great. Afterwards, after the performance, the actors sat on the stage and were themselves, instead of acting in character, and they answered questions on how to put on the production. The kids got to see that there was a back stage crew and everything that goes into something like that.

That sounds really cool.

When you’re not here teaching, what are some of the things that you like to do best?

I’ve really been interested in ancestry research lately. I did one of those 23 and me tests lately, where it tells you where your ancestors came from.

You’re all human? I’ve been wondering about mine.

Well, they put Neanderthal in there, which is part human. Yes, they’re all human. I renewed my account so I could work on my trees. I’ve been doing that in my spare time a little bit.

And are you married?


And what’s your husband’s name?

Jacob. We were just married in June.

Do you have kids?

I do. I have a daughter. Her name is Brooke. She is thirteen years old. I have two step children. I have Sebastian, who is fifteen, and Carly, who is thirteen.

So tell me what it’s like to be the parent of teenagers.

You need a lot of patience. You need a lot of firm discipline. You need to be up to date with technology because they are on their phones all of the time. You need to keep up with every new app. Even the language. They say things and you’re thinking, “What is that?”  Sebastian says, “I’m the GOAT!”

Oh. Greatest of All Time.

I didn’t know that.  How can you keep up with this stuff.

Yes, because usually the goat was the idiot.

In Minecraft, they put those sheep in.

Is there anything that you would like to add that I didn’t ask?

I think that Huth Road is a wonderful school. It’s a great place to work. The faculty is great. The parents are great. I really enjoy it. I feel that I made the right career choice

So if you had to do it over again, you would do the same thing.


Monday, April 23, 2018

S is for snapshots and stories

Today, Lee Tetkowski and I went to an Earth Day celebration that was held at Congregation Shir Shalom, in Williamsville. The earth day celebration involved food trucks, musical entertainment, and story. It was a happy event.

Here are some of the images of the people at the event, along with a story that professional storyteller Sue Tannehill shared about a king who was on a search for a happy person. 

Sue Tannehill and Lee Tetkowski

A king decided to disguise himself as a begger and go into a the village in search of a happy man. The king, who had his seamstress sew an ugly, mismatched outfit for him, snuck out of the palace and began walking around the village, which looked like busy happiness when he was the king.
members of the
Buffalo Ukelele club
Disguised as a beggar, he was able to observe the busy happiness up close. People who seemed content and happy were quarreling with each other. At the end of the day, he had lost hope in finding a happy person.
He left the village and walked past a shack that had nearly fallen down. And, through the window, he saw a man, with a smile on his face, in front of half a loaf of bread and a jug of water. What did this man have to be happy about? And so, he knocked on the door.

The man welcomed him in and shared his meal with the king.

Selling cookies by Violet Peck
The king wanted to know why the man was happy, and he said that he was a cobbler who had fixed a woman's shoe for her. He had enough money to buy half a loaf of bread and a jug of water.

The king decided to test the man, to see if he was really happy, so he posted a sign requiring people to repair their own shoes.
Jon & Cathy Rieley-Goddard, co-
pastors at Riverside-Salem
Environmental Chapel in
Grand Island
The next day, the king, in disguise, went back to visit the man, who, once again, appeared happy and read to eat a full loaf of bread and a little wine. The man invited the king in, saying that "A guest is always a blessing. Come in and share what I have."
Sister Eileen O'Connor & friends
The king asked the man how he came by that lovely meal, and the man said that he carried water for people all day, since he could no longer repair shoes. 

The king then ordered people to carry their own water.

When he returned to visit the cobbler, he said that the cobbler was ready to enjoy a loaf of bread, a round of cheese, and a jug of wine. The cobbler expressed happiness to have a guest, saying, "A guest is always welcome. Come in and share what I have."

When the king asked the cobbler why he was so happy, the cobbler said, "Day by day, I have faith. All will be well."
Sue Tannehill shares a story
The man also said, after being asked, that, since he could no longer carry water for people, he earned enough money for his food by helping the wood gatherers.

The king decided to test him further. He ordered all wood gatherers to serve as the king's guard. At the end of the day, the king donned his costume and he went to the man’s house. He saw that the man had a bunch of grapes, a full loaf of bread, and a full bottle of wine. He knocked on the door.

Welcome! A guest is always a blessing. Come in and share what I have.

And the king said, I saw the notice. How did you come by all of this?

The man said, well, it’s true. I stood there all day as a guard. At the end of the day, I asked for my wages.
choir sings songs about empowerment
He said that I wouldn’t get paid for a month, and I didn’t know what to do. I walked past a pawn shop and I thought, I have a silver sword. I’ll take that sword and pawn it so that I could have money to live on for a month. I’m carving my wooden blade so that, when I put it into the scabbard, no one will know.

The king was delighted.

The next day, while that cobbler/wood gatherer was standing on guard, the head of the guard threw a beggar at the man’s feet and said, “This man was caught stealing and the king orders you to cut off his head!”

“If this man is guilty, let me cut off his head with one blow. But, if he is innocent, let the sword be turned to wood!”

It was a miracle!

The king came up and said, “Do you know who I am?”

Yes, you’re the king.

But do you know who I am?

The cobbler/wood gatherer/ guard looked at him and he saw the worried lines in his face.

He said, I believe that you’ve been my guest at dinner these last few nights.

Yes, said the king, and now I’d like you to sit at my table for the rest of your life because I know that you have the secret of happiness in you, and I want you to share it with me.

Today's question: what is the secret of happiness for you?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

R is for rubbish and restoration

Happy Earth Day! Today, I found beauty in the most unlikely place... a piece of land that is full of brush and plants with sharp spines. I found the beauty when I decided to pick up trash with a group that had been organized by Neil Gallagher, who has organized litter pickup parties in the past, with the support of Town Board Member Beverly Kinney.

The pile of rubbish was in an overgrown field on Baseline Road, near Grand Island Boulevard. In front of the overgrown field is a broken-down and faded for-sale sign.
For years, I walked past that piece of land and wondered if it would ever be cleaned up.

Today, we cleaned it up. A small group of adults, teenagers, and small children collected the litter and filled numerous plastic bags. We found trash bags, empty coffee cups, old store receipts, cardboard boxes, and fast food wrappers. We found bricks and handles of shopping bags. We found old, broken buckets and a deflated beach ball. We found junk mail and advertising circulars and yellowed newspapers. We found soft drink cans and water bottles without lids. The refuse, which once told the stories of human lives, had been there for a while, maybe years; some of the garbage bags and paper were partially buried in the wet mud.

The beauty of the day showed in the energy of the volunteers, who carried bag after bag past leafless shrubbery with thorns.
The beauty was apparent in the field, in which there was far less litter than there had been for many years.
The beauty of the day showed in other people who came out to collect rubbish to celebrate Earth Day. We spotted Rite Aid workers collecting refuse on the store's property. As I walked down Grand Island Boulevard, I saw two people, sporting garbage bags, collecting garbage near a tree on the grounds of Fantasy Island. As I walked past Fantasy Island, I saw the employees get into a golf cart and drive away, with the garbage bags in the back.

Litter collectors include Samantha Buccini, Lauren Ode, Kelly Cicero, Neil Gallagher, Vincent Corulli, Joseph, Joe, and me.
Tomorrow, the Earth Day celebrations continue. Make today and tomorrow and every day Earth Day!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Q is for Quiche or "You speak Italian with a French Accent!"

Yesterday Linda Cascio Critelli came to the Grand Island Memorial Library to do a cooking demonstration and to tell stories about her experiences in France, as well as her knowledge of Italian cooking. She was selling a little cookbook, titled Sicilian with a French Accent. It features "deliciously simple cuisine." She turned the library meeting room into a cooking show and added stories and taste tests! The beauty was in the magic that she brought with her!

As Linda told stories, she cooked sfingi Siciliens in a small fryer. She described it as being "like a cream puff." She had a bowlful of dough, from which she picked up scoopfuls of dough with an ice cream scoop. She put the dough in the fryer, where they cooked until they were a golden brown. After they came out of the fryer, she set them on paper towels so that the fat could drain off. Once the "cream puffs were sitting on the paper towels, and the fat had been drained, she added a bit of powdered sugar to the sfingi, which made them look festive.

Linda shared three taste tests: the sfingi Siciliens, la Tapenade Provencale, and la Quiche aux Legumes.
La Tapanade Provencale is made with olives, capers, garlic, and herbs, and is made in a food processor. The quiche is like a savory open tart or a flan. In a handout with recipes for all three of the taste tests, she said that the quiche "consisted of a pastry crust, filled with eggs, milk or cream,and cheese, meat, seafood, or vegetables." Linda, who is the queen of multi-tasking, taught us a little French while simultaneously preparing food.

Here are some of the stories that Linda shared:

Linda talked about her early experiences with foreign languages: "I heard Italian all of my life. My grandfather died when I was ten. Nobody spoke much Italian any more. It was mostly to keep secrets from the kids. The problem was, for some reason, I understood what Grandpa was saying. My mother would get on the phone with Aunt Betty and they would get to talking. I’d say to my brother, 'We’re getting bikes for Christmas.'

"'How do you know? She was talking in Italian.'

"He was five years old.

"So, of course, we got bikes."

Why did Linda choose to learn French? "In high school is when we had to pick a language to learn: French or Spanish. I picked French. It is romantic and a beautiful language. So is Italian. I studied it in my high school, from freshman to senior year, and went off to college at Buffalo State and studied Italian and French. That’s when I found out that I had an accent. ('You speak Italian with a French accent.') I think that my heart is French but I’m also an Italian citizen so my Italian family would kill me if they thought that I was more French than Italian. Once an Italian, always an Italian."

About studying in France: "I was an ants-in-the-pants kind of kid and couldn’t sit still. So when everyone else was sleeping, I was thinking, 'sleeping? What’s sleep?' I want to go for a walk and figure out where I am in this country. The city (in France) is known for having a fountain in every corner. It’s a very pretty little town, with lots of trees. Of course, everybody was sleeping. So I decided to take a walk. I found a perfumerie, and I talked to the ladies. I bought some perfumes. I kept walking. I realized that I was far from town. There was a little man who had a cane sitting on a bench. I explained in French that I was from the university and that I was lost. So he explained, with no teeth, how I was to get back to school. (growly voice in French) So I took off completely in the opposite direction. No, no, no, no! Come back here. I’m going to go with you. Oh no! He accompanied me back, gave me a big hug, said I could come back, but I never saw him again."

Linda loved France and returned there as a teacher: "My professors were pretty much from all over France. It’s a wonderful country. I enjoyed visiting there and taking students there."

And, to conclude an evening of magic in the library, with tasty food and stories, there was a magic beauty in the sky.

Friday, April 20, 2018

P is for pesto

Today, I am writing about the fun of preparing food and not necessarily following the recipe. I didn't have pine nuts or basil... but I still wanted to make pesto.

I had started experimenting with replacing basil with other greens some time ago. I first started with spinach, which was fun because it made the pesto look like such a bright green that it could have been a lawn. It was funny but it was yummy. So, last year was my first experience with community supported agriculture. I picked up a small box full of delicious produce from Becker Farms every other week. Although the box was called "small," it was full of stuff. Usually, I got an email with a list of the stuff that I was going to get. It gave me a little heads' up on the Frantic Recipe Search, especially when I got kohlrabi, beets, and other vegetables that, until that point, I had never prepared.

I was definitely unprepared, however, for the massive amounts of kale that I received throughout the growing season. In the middle of the growing season, I wondered if I might try using kale for pesto. I had already tried garlic scapes and that was delicious.  I made kale pesto and discovered that it worked well as a substitute for basil in pesto. And, since I didn't have any pine nuts, I replaced those with walnuts. That was a successful experiment, too. My experiments weren't always successful. I tried replacing the pinenuts with pecans and that was awful. The pecans tasted bitter and the pesto remained unappetizing, despite the addition of a large quantity of lemon juice.

Today, I had a big container of a "spring mix" (organic).
The following items could be included: baby romain, baby chard, baby mizuma, radicchio, baby leaf lettuce, baby green leaf, baby oak leaf, baby arugula, baby spinach, and baby butter lettuce. I had walnuts, instead of pinenuts. The rest of the ingredients were the ones called for in the recipe: parmsan cheese, garlic cloves, and olive oil. I also add a little lemon juice because I think that brings out the flavor of the other ingredients. Garlic and lemon make everything better and never bitter.

All of the ingredients are prepared in a food processor. Once it was finished, I serve it on top of angel hair pasta. Another option would be to put the pesto on spaghetti squash, which is also a tasty combination.
It can also be used on bread or as a salad dressing. I've also tried mixing it into tuna fish and that was appetizing as well.

Today's question: how do you like to adjust recipes so that you can use whatever you have on hand, but still come up with a tasty dish?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

O is for oak tree planting

For the last month, I have been taking a tree steward class, which was organized by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County and funded by the Buffalo Green Fund. We are being trained to plant and care for young trees. We can do our volunteer work in Buffalo, as well as organize tree projects in our own communities. 

Today was the last class session. We were given some instruction about planting trees and, then, out we went! The class was held at the Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park in Buffalo. We walked through the park and looked at several trees at various ages. After visiting trees, we arrived at a spot where a young oak tree was in the ground, waiting to be planted. 

Oak trees are great trees.
They are slow growing trees that reach maturity at anywhere from twenty to fifty years. Once mature, the oak tree flowers. It produces both male and female flowers and is capable of self-pollinating.
A mature oak tree is a tall shade tree that produces great color in the autumn. It is a beautiful thing, where ever it grows. Oak trees live for a long time, past 900 years. The tree's circumfrence can be up to eight to ten feet. Oak trees grow everywhere in the world, and approximately 300 different species exist.

Years ago, Grand Island was known for its white oak trees. They grew in great abundance. But in the nineteenth century, Grand Island's white oak trees were cut down, to be turned into mastheads for ships. The trees were processed in a sawmill on the east river called the Whitehaven Settlement, and the logs were floated across the river. More recently, some small efforts have been made to plant white oak trees in Grand Island. 

Today's tree planting was in Delaware Park. It was of a "ball and burlap" tree. The young tree that we were going to plant is six years old. It originally came from Oregon and was then brought to Western New York, where it lived and grew in a tree nursery for several years. It was recently dug up so that it could be transplanted into its forever home in Delaware Park. For the trip, the roots were wrapped in burlap. There is a wire cage to keep the root ball from falling apart before planting time.  For the tree planters, the first task  was to start digging a hole. We also removed the twine that was around the tree's branches to keep them from getting damaged when being moved. The bottom part of the wire cage was removed.

The hole was measured a few times before it was determined to be the right height and width for the tree. The tree was placed in its new home and was checked to make sure that was straight. Soil was placed around the root ball, which was still wrapped in burlap and with much of its wire cage still intact. Eventually, the wire cage was removed, as well as the top portion of the burlap. The burlap underneath the root ball was left, as it will degrade within a few years.

After the tree was completely planted, it was staked. Two stakes were used. The stakes give the newly planted tree some stability, especially against wind. After a year, the tree is considered to be established in the soil, and the stakes get removed. Compost was placed around the tree. When it gets warmer, a bag will be placed on the tree. The watering bag gets filled once a week and it drips water for the tree, to keep the tree constantly hydrated. It is not necessary to prune a young tree or to fertilize it. It is also not necessary and is, indeed, a bad idea to surround the tree with a mound of mulch (volcano mulching). 

Oh... and my theme... beauty! Delaware Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the nineteeth century. It is considered to be the jewel of Buffalo's system of parks. A newly planted tree in Delaware Park is truly beauty in a very likely place.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

N is for notes from you (comments and conversation)

It's time to share more comments and conversation!

From the Comments and Conversation post…

thank you for chatting with me!
… we continue the conversation!
Martha: I missed "E"!! I love your elephants!!

Thank you so much, Martha. Just like my dad, I love elephants. Elephants are interesting, complicated animals. They are very large, the largest mammal to live on land, weighing anywhere between 11,000 and 15,400 pounds or 4,989 to 6,985 kilograms. They have a great gift for listening and can use their ears and their feet to listen. They can be anywhere from ten to thirteen feet in height. They are very smart and very social. They are also gentle and sensitive,  and, when they are separated from their family group, they grow sad. They make friends with elephants and humans alike. They have good memories. If you make friends with an elephant, your elephant friend will never forget you. I think that I would like to have an elephant friend.

Jeanine Byers: This was so neat!! When you have several different comments to read, you really see the sweetness of them.

Thank you, Jeanine. It's great that you connect the comments and see a pattern in them! 

Ls: I didn’t know you are doing the A to Z.. let me check the other posts too. I liked the idea of you doing this post.

Yes, I am doing the A to Z… and am now a day behind! I’m glad that you like the comments and conversation post.

Corinne Rodrigues: What a fantastic idea, Alice. I enjoyed reading the comments and your responses.

Thank you so much, Corinne. I'm glad that you like the comments and conversations idea. I really enjoy chatting with readers, and I like to showcase them. Very creative blog concept!

Thank you so much.

snehal joshi: Superb round-up. :)
Looking forward to your posts.

I hope that you find them interesting.

H is for history

Martha: Very interesting history lesson Alice! I learned more of Grand Island. Thanks for sharing.

You’re welcome. Grand Island and Buffalo have quite the interesting story.

Jeanine Byers: Wow, I love that picture of the Buffalo Harbor! And I don't think I knew that Grand Island was connected or adjacent to Buffalo. Or, did I?

I am happy that you liked seeing the Buffalo Harbor in its heyday! Grand Island is a large island in the Niagara River, located between Buffalo, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Jen: I think a big reason people don't like history is it brings to mind boring high school and college classes with dry, boring teachers/professors who only wanted to get through the material and didn't really care about making it interesting. That's been my experience anyway. Although, with my family history, I love hearing stories from the past, whether part of "official" history or just family history.

I see two points here. The first is the dull way in which history is often taught in high school and college. Yes, that is a problem. So many people have lost interest in history because they were not engaged in their history classes. There are two reasons for that, in my opinion. The first is that history classes can get bogged down in the memorization of dates, which is not fascinating.  In addition, one of the main models for teaching history is the “great man” theory. We are taught about kings and queens and presidents. We don’t connect with those leaders at all. They are far removed from us.  And this is where the second part of your comment comes in: your family history and the enjoyment of it. You are hearing stories about people who are directly connected to you. It gives you a sense of where you come from, and that is so fantastic. What if history were taught that way: stories about the lives of ordinary people? People who may have had your type of job or who lived in your community? How did they live? What was their medical care like? What were the schools like? Would getting a whole picture of life in different times of history and getting that feeling of connection make history feel more like STORY and less like a bunch of disconnected facts?

Shilpa Garg: I like when you say that there is a story in History and it should not be only dull drab facts. Interesting to know about Tongue Oil and Fingy. Thanks for sharing, Alice :)

You’re welcome, Shilpa. Yes, I agree. Random facts and characters makes history far more interesting. History is about people and, maybe, about odd stuff, such as Tongue Oil. Somehow this simply reminds me that Buffalo should stop reveling in its faded past and grab onto its potentially fantastic future.

Alana: In a way, I agree with Cerebrations - they used to teach children (like my son, when he was in school) countless lessons about our area's past, but very little encouraging them to stay and give our area a future. At the same time, I love history - and I agree it needs to be taught partially by true stories, and never by memorization of dry facts.

Yes, I agree with you and Cerebrations. Our area needs to celebrate its past and to look forward to its future. I see continuity there. We can’t recreate the past but we can make our future better by knowing what worked in the past and what didn’t. One small example would be tree planting. In the past, the trend was to plant a monoculture. That’s how we ended up with so many ash trees. Here in Grand Island, anywhere from 35 to 60 percent of our trees are ash trees. And they are infested with the emerald ash borer. The trees are dying. Monoculture doesn’t work. We need to look forward to a future with a diverse collection of trees to prevent that sort of disaster from happening again.

Bonnie:  And oh, gosh, I was all excited for a second thinking I have friends who are restoring one of those steamboats, but I was misremembering, the Columbia was in Detroit sailing to Bob-Lo Island. She's in Buffalo now, though, you might enjoy her history too.

Thank you, Bonnie. I’ll definitely look her up!

I is for ice I is for I,I,I- ice floes in April!!!!

Oh my.

Jeanine Byers said: You are right! The chunks of ice are beautiful. Wow, you're really doing it this month - on posts like this one, where it's clear you're going to really have to look for it - it's a delight when you manage to find it.

Sometimes, it is hard to catch and, when it’s there, it feels even more magical than ever.

Elaine: It's nice to see these beautiful photos of nature! Coming from someone who used to be a place of snowy/icy weather to the south where there is virtually no snow at all... lol, I am able to step back and enjoy the beauty of icy weather.. Thank you for sharing your walk!

You’re welcome. The best kind of adventure is a shared adventure.

Lily Leung: Lovely photos, Alice. Nature can be nasty but beautiful. What a strange and long winter. I wish and hope for spring soon.

I couldn’t agree more. This winter is starting to feel endless. I refuse to say the “S” word anymore. It has become s**w. It is no longer welcome. I hope that we can enjoy a lovely spring soon.

The Gratitude Guru: I is for "I can't believe we are in Spring" - It feels a lot like winter still! The warmer weather is on its way, and all the ice will be quickly forgotten!
Thanks for sharing!

Yes, it does. The weather has been more appalling than appealing. I am hopeful that will change… soon maybe?

Nabanita: How the weather has changed around the world. It's April and still feels like winter, doesn't it?

It does.  Last year, Buffalo had beautiful cherry blossoms at the end of April. I think that it will be sometime in May before the cherry trees show their beautiful blossoms.

Shilpa Garg: Floating chunks of ice must be fascinating to watch. You have captured them so beautifully too. Thanks for sharing, Alice!

You’re welcome, Shilpa. The ice was quite fascinating to watch. It was amazing because there was so much ice. I was amazed by how photogenic the ice really was.

keithaw2k: April so far over here in the UK has also been wintery - wet rather than ice though.

The forecast for next week is warm and sunny - how about that?

That sounds wonderful.

Alana: I remember the ice breakup we used to have on the shallow Chenango River each spring when I first moved to the Binghamton area in the mid 1980's That was a sight to see and if I had only known that it would be a rare sight one day, I would have taken a picture (with film, of course). Remember the days when we couldn't take hundreds and hundreds of pictures unless you were a millionaire? Ice on trees is so pretty, too-pretty and deadly.

Ice on trees is an amazingly beautiful sight but… yes, scary. And, yes, I remember the days when we used up a roll of film and that was it. That’s what I love about digital. I can take so many pictures… and delete all of the bad ones… instead of having the mistakes printed for me to look at forever.

Martha: Beautiful pictures Alice! How the ice chunks brought back memories from when we lived in upstate New York. It was super cold but enjoyed the great photos that we were able to take.

It was very cold and I had to step carefully when I nearly stopped right into a frozen puddle.

J is for the joy of being human

this is the picture that i didn't post: the joy of creativity
Rashmi Agarwal: This is lovely:)

Damyanti: A collage of joy. How lovely!

Thank you very much, Rashmi and Damyanti.

Lady In Read: and I remember the stories too that you told with these pictures.. thank you for sharing the joy

Thank you for reading my stories, and I am happy to share the joy with you.

Alana: This is a lovely idea - and, as Lady in Read said, lots of stories accompany these pictures, from your various walks and actions.

Thank you, Alana. I am happy that you enjoyed the pictures and the stories that had gone with them.

Shilpa Garg: They say, as long as you live keep smiling because it brightens everybody's day. It's always wonderful to see happy smiles. Thanks for spreading some cheer at my end, too, Alice. :)

You’re very sweet, Shilpa. I am happy to send the cheer in your direction.

Shirley Corder: Lots of lovely happy smiles! Thanks for sharing. Next in the #atoz challege: M is for Music and how it can improve your life and your mind.

I’m happy to share and I agree that music can improve your life and your mind. Right now, as I work on this blog post, I am listening to a selection of music by Andrew Lloyd Webber that’s streaming from my phone. It’s uplifting and happy music.

Su-sieee! Mac: A joyful homage to joy. :-)

I am happy that the pictures made you happy.

Jeanine Byers: Neat! I see what you mean about the joy.

Thank you, Jeanine.

K is for kitchen fun

Alana: I love those canned peanuts. If you go into one of the stores, they have so many kinds, and you can sample them (none of those stores around here, but I think there is one in Savannah, GA, not that that helps us). I love peanut sauce on pasta and using peanut butter in marinades, with soy sauce and garlic.

I am still so happy with the peanuts! I like other nuts, too. Last week, I went shopping and bought almost two cups' worth of almonds. Yesterday, I made almond butter, and I’m planning on making a pasta or rice dish with vegetables and almond butter.

Jeanine Byers said: I don't know about peanut butter in a sauce or on other dishes, but I also like my food mild. Or, I should say, my tummy prefers it that way. Glad you made yourself something yummy!

I understand completely. I’m definitely with you there. Or I should say, my tummy is. My tummy and my taste buds both prefer my food mild. If I were to serve the peanut butter yummies to other people, I would probably offer them a bottle of hot sauce so that they could choose the spiciness of their food.

Martha: Congrats on winning and always making peanut butter! That is so cool and love the photo and the little bear checking it out!

Peanut butter is so much fun to make! I’m glad that you like the Inspector Bear!

Rajlakshmi: You are so resourceful. I could have never figured out what to do with so many peanuts. The pasta looks good, it must have tasted great with peanut sauce. I have never tried that combination before. Maybe I should give it a try.

I definitely recommend that you try it. It tastes great and you can eat it mild or spicy, whichever you like best.

L is for lucky little lull

Jeanine Byers: Oh, cool!
I was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat during the summer between high school and college. I didn't have a "role" but was among the background crowd. As was usual for plays and musicals I did with The Little Theater for Children. Sounds like you had a neat day.

That sounds like fun. I was always in the chorus, too. And that was fun. Scary, though, in the operas. In one opera, I had to sing a high C while on my knees. That was… um… unique. Fortunately, I was a chorus member because… um… I sound like a drunken mouse when I sing that high, lol.

Yvona: Good soup is never bad... always good.

Mmm. Soup is always good. I found a cookbook that is all soup recipes. I’m looking forward to trying more soups.

The Gratitude Guru: It will be SPring soon here in NJ as well! We were in the 80s yesterday and today down in the 40s! What the heck?!?
One good thing.... Soup! Just like you said. Thanks for sharing.

Soup! In all seasons! Even winter-spring. Warm, thick soups in the winter, and cold soups in the summer! Soup is always on!

Nabanita: Looks like you made the most of your day. Your post wants me to go get some mushrooms and do some cooking ! :)

Go for it, Nabanita! What kind of mushrooms are your favorites?

Lady In Read: that soup sure sounds like something i would love.... and the book has been on my bookshelf for me to read for a while now.. maybe will get it out to read it now.

Soup and a book. What could be better? Enjoy!

Bellybytes: I thought Winter was over! Lucky you had something to keep the blues away.

Winter doesn’t want to leave. Stubborn little creature. It kept me inside but, fortunately, I was entertained. Glad you found things of use and fun to keep you busy when you were iced in.

I wasn’t bored and it was safer than sliding on the driveway!

My name is Chien:  A very relaxing day should last a tad longer than regular days don't you think? Enjoy lull days. :)

I agree. My relaxation was enforced by an ice storm but, every now and then, a relaxing lull day is a good thing to experience.

M is for market

Shilpa Garg: Buying from Farmer's Market is so good.
Not only are the products fresh, seasonal and home made but are economical too. The best is that you are supporting the local community. :)

I’m glad that you enjoy farmers markets, as well. I also see a great benefit in supporting local agriculture.

Shirley Corder said: I love shopping at a Farmer's Market. We used to attend one regularly when we visited my son and family in a town some four hours away, but they have now moved. So I'm glad you mentioned this. I must look for one in our own town. Next in A to Z Challenge: O is for Take every Opportunity to improve your life, improve your mind.

I hope that you find a good farmers market in your own town and that you get an opportunity to see your son and his family in their new community.

Jeanine Byers said: I agree, happiness is beautiful! And just so you know, I'm craving pancakes now.

Oh my. The power of suggestion. All of a sudden, pancakes sound delicious. Of course, with that lovely Western New York maple syrup!

bookworm said: I love going to the farmers markets wherever I travel. And, of course, at home. We are so fortunate, in New York State.

We are fortunate in New York State. The weather is atrocious, but there are still good things to be found in a farmers market. In a few months, there will be produce. I have a small share in a local farm (community supported agriculture), and I am looking forward to the variety of produce that will come to me in a box, as well as to finding cool recipes in my favorite cookbook, the internet.

Faeriembassy: it is a great way to shop for Thanks for sharing. food at a farmers market - being able to have a personal relationship with the producer makes all the difference.

It does. One of the best things is developing relationships with the farmers. Knowing where the food comes from is definitely a benefit. It used to be that going to the farmer's market meant you got the freshest items at reasonable prices. Now, you see elevated prices- and, to be honest, a bunch of stuff that makes one wonder how they came off the farm.
I pine for real farmer's markets. (The best I can generally find is a roadside market by a farm that I am passing.)

I hope that you find a good farmers market near you. Our farmers market offers much more fresh produce when it’s in season. Right now, we have eggs and maple syrup and honey, which are the best choices. Roadside stands are always good. They are a real treat and you can find good stuff there.

 Elaine: I absolutely LOVE farmer's markets. 
Actually whenever my family is travelling somewhere 
(during farmer's marketing time of year of course)
 we seek them out!  If you're ever out by the 
Redwoods in ca, there is a lovely one by Crescent City.
 And if you're in Eugene, oregon, by far my
 most favorite farmer's market every saturday!

I'll definitely look into these markets. They sound delightful.