Archive for the ‘Upstate New York’ category

Yeah, Save the Dates are ordered!

January 31, 2011

Today I ordered Save the Date postcards from Vistaprint, a Lexington, Mass.-based company. About 100 postcards and envelopes cost $75 ($15 of which covers seven-day shipping). I’m not sure if that’s a good price, but I am happy to have placed the order. Here’s what the front of the postcards will look like:

I don’t have Photoshop, so I added the text with Paint.

Being engaged is kinda fun

January 23, 2011

You get lots of stuff:

White wine

Chocolates (as you can see, these didn't last very long)

Flowers

A wedding box

Stuff for the wedding box

Wedding books

Wedding post-it notes, a wedding datebook, and a wedding journal

Pearl earrings and a pearl necklace

A heart-framed picture

A book with art from Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

My mom bought me the book because of my fiance’s connection to the artists.

Being engaged is also fun because you get to do photo shoots. Here are some pictures from ours:

It’s also cool because lots of people ask if they can help. Like my aunt offered to make Greek pastries for the reception, a friend is doing my wedding website, and my sister is keeping an eye out for bridesmaid and wedding dresses.

AND, my aunts,  cousin, and mom took my fiance and I out for an engagement lunch. We went to The Retreat in Liverpool, NY and had delicious meals (I had the quiche and salad special and he had the stuffed chicken breast and broccoli).

Lots of wedding-related things were accomplished this past week. For instance, we booked the ceremony and reception sites, wrote up an engagement announcement, and picked out photos we want to include on the wedding website. Also, we edited our guest list. The next steps are doing the save the dates and sending those out, writing up the story of how we met (also for the wedding website), and narrowing down bridesmaid dresses.

DeWitt’s ShoppingTown Mall not doing too swell

January 20, 2011

I was at my parents’ place in the Syracuse, NY area earlier this week to take care of some wedding planning. I needed to get something from Sears, so I stopped by the ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt. I hadn’t been to the wing near Sears in a couple of years. It’s soooooo crazy what I saw. With the exception of Sears, all the retailers (including Famous Footwear, Old Navy, and Baby Alpaca) were gone. In their place were sports lesson places, a gymnastics place, a teen center, an improv center, and many other service-based businesses. I’m guessing this is a reflection the mall’s not doing so hot. And actually, this article in today’s Post-Standard (Syracuse’s newspaper) blatantly states the mall has struggled in recent years. Here are some pictures showing the types of businesses that have sprung up:

A driving school

A railway historical society

A fencing place

A martial arts place

You can do extreme sports here.

A golfing place

A gym

A teen center

A softball place

A kung fu place

An improv place

A tutoring center

A "family restroom"???

A gymnastics place

A dancing place

A party place

Today I saw this funny sign at the Oneida, New York rest stop

January 20, 2011

Everything’s normal until you get to the bottom.

He seemed so happy

November 19, 2010

This post is way overdue. It’s about an incident that took place a few years ago. A guy I wrote a couple of news articles about shot himself inside his trolley car home. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about his historic trolley car in November 2006.

In August 2007 I wrote an article about his upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Romania. For that interview, he had me over to his trolley car for lunch. We sat at his outdoor picnic table, in a wooded area beside a bubbling creek. It was quite a picturesque scene, and one reason neighbors had complained about pest control trucks driving back and forth in this neighborhood (I wrote about this topic, too; the article is at the bottom of the page).

For the Romania interview, Mr. Trolley made delicious chicken salad sandwiches, and served them with strawberry wine. He also had me taste some special cheese he had ordered from the West Coast, where he used to live. As a reporter I wasn’t supposed to accept gifts or meals, but this was one of the few times I did. I felt it would be rude to turn down his nice gesture. In addition to telling me about his planned trip to Romania, he told me about a recent spinal cord injury that was really impacting his daily life. He seemed very distraught about this, but I thought he’d be OK.

A  few months later I heard he had shot himself inside his trolley. He was dead. I had never personally known anyone who committed suicide. This was a shock. I didn’t know what to think. I figured his injury may have played a role in his despair. I also knew he had been through a tough divorce and his daughter was siding with her mother (according to him). He had been involved with contracting work but maybe that work had dried up. Maybe he was at the edge and some incident occurred to push him over. Or maybe he had been planning this. I’m not sure.

I remember when I went to his trolley to interview him for the trolley story. He was so jolly and proud to show off his special abode. He had it all lit up in a beautiful way. He had put so much care into restoring it, into making sure the home was well insulated, repainted, etc.

I remember he loved the story. He called me up right after he read it and said it was perfect. I remember I got a lot of positive feedback from others as well. They like the historical aspect. Anyway, I’m saddened to think that such a good person was prompted to end his life. Maybe he was in such pain, though, that he’s in a better place now. Either way, it makes me realize that life is so fragile and anything we can do to to make others happy is energy well spent. You never know when someone is right at the edge.

I love my pig paper towel holder

November 17, 2010

I bought it about a month ago at an apple festival near Syracuse, New York. It’s handcrafted and oh so cute (as you can tell). I’m currently using it in my kitchen; every time I grab a sheet of paper towel I smile!

A couple of good movies

November 3, 2010

I’ve seen both of these within the last month. One is “Departures,”  a Japanese film. Here’s the DVD cover:

The other is “Get Low,” an independent movie starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek. Here’s the DVD cover:

It’s funny both pictures have a cerulean blue background. Anyway, I saw the Japanese movie at my friend Ina’s house. She had a bunch of girls over to watch an Academy Award-nominated film in the Foreign Language category. We plan to get together again and watch another movie that falls into this category.

Overall, we enjoyed this film. It’s basically about a man who loses his job as a cellist, and must find a new one. He comes across a job listing in the paper, but it doesn’t exactly state what the job is. He goes to an interview, and finds out he’d be cleaning dead bodies and conducting rituals to lead their spirits into the afterlife.

That doesn’t necessarily sound THAT bad, but you come to discover the job has some pretty negative aspects. Like, he gets calls in the middle of the night to retrieve dead bodies from wherever the person died. One lady had been dead for a week or so when she was discovered, so the body was all gross and decomposing when he arrived.

Another difficult aspect of the job is that society looks down on you. I think it’s because Japanese families used to take care of cleaning the body and doing the ceremonies. I think they view the man’s job as something a “stranger” shouldn’t be doing. The man’s wife certainly didn’t approve of what he was doing until she saw him perform some of the rituals. She was moved by their beauty, and her husband’s care at performing them.

The rituals also made a really positive impact on the families of the deceased. Anyway, here are some reasons I like the movie:

  • The beautiful string music
  • The glimpse into Japanese culture (for instance, I learned about their public baths)
  • The way the man’s job gives him a greater appreciation for life
  • The unusual plot
  • The subtle humor

I saw “Get Low” with my mom at an independent movie theater near Syracuse, NY. It’s the story of a hermit (played by Robert Duvall) who decides to throw his own funeral party. The catch is he wants to have the party while he’s still alive.  He finds a funeral home that is willing to help him out (they are mainly in it for the money).

At first, he tells everyone he wants to have the party so all the attendees can tell a story about him. The problem with that idea, however, is no one really knows him. He has lived in seclusion in the woods for over 40 years. Whenever anyone walks onto his property, he greets them with a gun and a threat. So the only stories people have are rumors or about brief unpleasant encounters.

So eventually he starts telling everyone (he and the funeral home are advertising heavily for the party) that he’s going to reveal a secret at the party. He’s going to tell everyone why he’s shunned society for so many years. This is a big draw for the townspeople, and results in a huge turnout at the party.

I’m not going to tell you what he ends up telling everyone, but it’s pretty amazing. I will say that it’s a bad thing he did during his youth.  To repent for his sin, he lived in solitude for all those years. When he felt he had paid his dues, he decided to confess his transgression to everyone. It’s quite a story of redemption.

Here are a few reasons I liked this movie:

  • The strong performances by Robert Duvall and Bill Murray (he heads the funeral home, and is quite funny)
  • The overarching question of why the man lived in seclusion for so long
  • The suggestions that he used to be happy and in love (and your desire to learn more about this)
  • Some of the cheesy but moving dialogue, like a quote about how leaving things alone (like nature) makes them beautiful…I’m really frustrated I can’t find this particular quote online.
  • The movie’s rural setting
  • The fact the movie is based on a true story

I really liked this movie, but not quite as much as “Departures”. I think part of the reason was because for a while you don’t understand why the man would organize a party to have people tell stories about him. You don’t realize there’s another reason for the party until later on, and are kind of confused in the meantime.