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Empathy, Gratitude and Compassion; True Gifts Any Time of Year

8 Dec

My grandmother was sweet, incredibly kind and joyous.  At a young age, she was surrounded by grandparents who doted upon her.  This attention and leadership from elders certainly helped mold the person she was to become.

Marguerite Robinson Campbell Reich, Peggy, Mom, Gramarite.  She lived near “The City,” fondly looking over her beloved Palisades and even the Empire State Building. A true adventuress, she was fascinated with knowledge, reading and travel. Life was a grand adventure to her, always adding in a little sparkle or whimsy to enliven a scenario. As magic makers might, she wove her view well beyond her physical life. Artwork and phrases that spoke to Marguerite became household adornments or features of love notes. Writing autobiographical tales in narrative occurred more than once. Newspaper articles, Hershey’s Kiss ribbons and pressed flowers became thoughtful gifts. They surface in my notebooks, jewelry boxes and dresser drawers, filling my life with her unrelenting appreciation for life and commitment to grace.

 

Compassion, Affection, Respect and Empathy are key ingredients for relationships. C.A.R.E. Recipe. -Author Unknown.

As we approach the holidays and endure our various challenges, this recipe can help everyone! Compassion, Affection, Respect and Empathy.  When outraged or confused by someone’s behavior, please consider their perspective, goals and challenges.  Respect others as we travel about for our holiday shopping or festivities.  Consider others may not enjoy the season and understand strong emotions the holidays may bring.

One Christmas Eve when I was little, my dad took me with him to deliver food baskets.  Puffy, white snow was falling and covered the ground.  We took a basket of food to an elderly couple in a small home.  I seem to recall it being very cold but my dad’s visit filled the room with warmth.  The couple’s gratitude is unforgettable.

Another year, our living room was covered in donated stuffed animals that we loaded in our van to deliver to a collection and distribution point.  It may have been a school.  I remember a huge stage with piles of toys for children.  The spirit of Christmas was present as we imagined the children opening their gifts.

Truly taking the time to be with family is an amazing gift! In the face of difficulty, being with loved ones proves most important.  Does your use of devices separate you from those around you? Are your family your loved ones or merely obligations? Erin Marteal wrote a fantastic article entitled, “Gratitude Pairings, Naturally.” First published in Tompkins Weekly, Erin, Executive Director of Ithaca Children’s Garden gives numerous suggestions for creative pairings of activities and foods to share with gratitude.  I’m looking forward to visiting the Fuertes observatory-per her recommendation.  As well as constellations of homemade cookies and thermoses of host chocolate!  Consider some of her ideas and work out a few of your own.  You might discover what fun it is to gather items for a wreath or wail your sibling with a snowball. Have you ever made snow angels?!

New Park Retreat and Event Center is opening their doors this coming Thursday, December 14 5:30-9:30.  Guests will be treated to live music and refreshments, with donations benefitting local food security organizations including The Backpack Program, Fresh Snack Program and Friendship Donation Network.  

New Park Retreat & Event Center celebrates the holidays with an open house December 14, 5:30-9:30 at 1500 Taughannock Blvd. Ithaca, NY.

Hope to see you there! I’m heading back outside to look at the stars! Happy Holidays!

 

 

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The Burns Sisters Bring It to “The Hills of Ithaca”

16 Nov

“Together WE Stand.” The Burns Sisters gathered a few friends for their annual concert at The Hangar Theatre. Joining Annie and Marie were Doug Robinson, Bobby Sweet, London McDaniel, Tony Markellis, David Borisoff and Martin Horn.

Saturday evening at The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, The Burns Sisters played their annual concert, this year in honor of Veteran’s Day. Joined by numerous talented musicians, “Together WE Stand” was an emotional treat!

Delighted to perform, the bandmates displayed their talents through diverse styles of music, covers and original songs.  Joining Annie and Marie Burns were Doug Robinson, Bobby Sweet, Tony Markellis, London McDaniel, David Borisoff and Martin Horn. Two organizations were highlighted that help veterans, The Blue Star Mothers of America and Stand with Me. As someone who grew up with a devoted dog at my side, I know how valuable their companionship and support can be.  Stand with Me trains teams; a veteran and their dog, to learn skills that will help veterans navigate life after military service. Francess “Myrph” McMahon, founder and director of STAND WITH ME, stood on stage under the bright lights and explained to the audience the benefits and importance of service dogs,  and their training program.  Two of her students, one canine and one human, joined her onstage to demonstrate their progress and unity.

Marie Burns’ singing was haunting as she sang “Kilkelly”, a song written by Peter Jones.  Each line expresses another decade’s yearning for an Irish son who had emigrated to the United States.  Based upon family letters, this song is but one example of lyrics generated from writings from long ago.  “Hills of Ithaca” and “Lehigh” share Woody Guthrie’s words, written about a trip to Ithaca in 1947 or 1948.  Marie explained this on stage Saturday and does so here as well.

“My Peace” was dedicated to everyone on Veteran’s Day.  Woody Guthrie’s lyrics were set to music by his son Arlo Guthrie.  This calm, reassuring song ended the second set happily.  Then, the band sizzled for an encore of “Free Little Birds” an old Appalachian folk song.  The musicians’ joy spilled off the stage as they jammed.  Their rendition was smoking but this traditional version, “Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s” is fun too!

 

 

 

 

Developing Adventures at New Park and Beyond

2 Nov

Feelings of adventure include confidence, doubt, curiosity and informed foresight.  Driven forward by this momentum, I drove to New Park to see what the fuss was all about.

Down the road from Taughanock Falls, this hidden gem of an estate lies behind a long wooden fence.  Arriving promptly for my appointment, Director of Operations, Martin Horn welcomed me warmly and began to describe the grounds.  My ability to speak left me as I observed the surroundings.  Magnificent details shine as part of a whole vision of vitality, excellence and comfort.  A custom glass rendition of the Finger Lakes inside a shower, elated me! Vintage telephones, a telephone booth and fluorescent lit jukebox also captured my attention.

Three sculptures of Jay Seaman accompany guests in an open outdoor area between buildings.

A copper musician plays the trombone in celebration and joy in the garden at New Park.

Jay Seaman’s sculpture appears to catch a ribbon unfurling.

Jay Seaman’s oxidized copper jester sculpture blends into the garden discreetly.

Created by Jamie Kehoe, New Park offers a unique, natural and luxurious venue to enjoy the Finger Lakes in numerous ways.

Event space at New Park Retreat

This welcoming space boasts cozy, woodland views while hosting guests gathering for celebrations, workshops and retreats.

A spectacular site for a destination wedding, New Park Corporate and Wellness Retreat can also meet needs of individuals and small groups.  More than a lodging facility, New Park provides a relaxing space to create memories through active means.  Try paddle boarding, indulge in a wine and cheese seminar amidst a woodland walk or learn about birds, water, African dance or butterflies! Sharing magic, through art, hospitality, education and celebration continues to guide activities at New Park.

Monarch Eggs Have Arrived!

6 Sep

                         Monarch eggs arrive in the mail!

Monarch eggs arrived last week! A six gallon fish tank with a screen lid is an enormous habitat for the speck sized ovo from Rose Franklin of Butterfly Bushes in Pennsylvania.

I’ve been studying Monarch migration patterns and feeding needs for months, so I’ve been developing a deep appreciation for milkweed.  Milkweed serves as a food source and habitat for Monarchs.  There are many kinds of milkweed, some being more appealing to Monarchs than others.  (This area needs further investigation.)

Observing milkweed stances has become a bit of a hobby this summer.  Wether unwinding morning glory vines from milkweed plants or searching for Monarch eggs and caterpillars, I’m curious what I will find next.

Monarch caterpillar crawls around milkweed plant.

    Monarch caterpillar crawls upon milkweed in a hay field.

Learning about the multi generational migration of Monarchs makes me wonder where these ovo will fit into that cycle.  Their metamorphosis is estimated to be completed in 28-32 days.  Six days into their cycle they now look like super tiny black worms.

Monarchs are being released through various programs around the state.  Some of these programs are well established.  Read about the butterfly breeder who recently released nearly 150 Monarch butterflies !

Cornell’s Dyson School has an annual Monarch release that includes tagging the winged creatures! Professor Jack Little directed students in the proper technique of tagging, while many observed the butterflies release.  Follow this link to view pictures of the event.

Our Monarch eggs have changed into tiny worms and now small caterpillars!! New pictures soon!

Editor’s Note: Due to the severity of Harvey, publishing this post was delayed with respect for those affected by the disaster.  Grateful for pleasant weather in New York, we continue our work with concern and awareness for our shared existence.

Finger Lakes Culture Bubbles Like A Spring (or Sparkling Wine!)

14 Aug

Grassroots creates a showcase of talents throughout handmade arts to music, dance and more.  The festival experience is rich, extensive and often exhaustive.  An experience not to miss.

Juggling many responsibilities, I was only able to catch a few performances. I’m thrilled Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People was one of these bands! Their performance enlivened and uplifted the afternoon’s crowd, dancing in mud near the stage.  I’ve been playing their videos and talking about this band since Grassroots.  Luckily, I found out about a soft/grand opening for F.L.X. Live in Geneva with Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People headlining! A hot ticket with limited availability, I scooped mine up quickly at Area Records in Geneva.

Tickets for an exclusive show!

Two tickets for Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People for the soft/grand opening of F.L.X.Live!

The band’s performance in the brand new, intimate venue was epic.  Danielle Ponder’s powerful performance and her tight, happy band bring dazzling energy and stir the willing into a dancing frenzy! This impromptu visit to Geneva was excellent.  Dinner at The Red Dove Tavern was impressive and casual.  Beginning our evening with Rose Cava and Champagne set the tone for a fabulous time. Professional, friendly service welcomed us to the noisy tavern, while our food mesmerized our attention and tastebuds. Cavatelli in a lemon artichoke broth with shrimp pleased me while my friend had flank steak sandwich and fries.  Peach cobbler and great coffee made the pleasant surprise complete.

A yoga eco hike along Lake Ontario’s shore at Sterling Nature Center worked any muscles I missed dancing the previous night! Leading this hike with Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center is incredible fun.  Poses throughout our hike lent themselves to each place we visited August 6 at 9am.  Our group was diverse, with participants in their early teens and the span of adulthood.  Men and women came from Baldwinsville, Fulton, Oswego, North Rose, Fair Haven and more to gather together for this yoga walk.  From the smiling faces, pictures and sincere thanks, I think people enjoyed themselves. Practicing group yoga on a pebble beach in synchronicity with our breath and crashing waves was awesome.

A downed tree provided a challenge for each of us, that many conquered with group support.  Walking up a steep trail to a large meadow looking off MacIntrye Bluffs over Lake Ontario warmed us before a series of poses a safe distance from the edge.  These poses were challenging, my legs often wobbling and my hip muscles screaming! For some reason, the pain was comical to me.  Karen humored me, instructing the group to place their arms upon each other’s shoulders and move into a warrior pose where it was as if we were an eagle about to soar to Canada.  Brilliant!

 

 Before long, I was setting up  at Aurora Ale and Lager Co. on the east side of Cayuga Lake.  An old farm is the perfect setting to enjoy the beers of this nano-brewery. Their Mango Infused Goseface Killah Gose recently won Bronze at the New York Craft Beer Competition and Governor’s Excelsior Cup.   

All of this is making me hungry and thirsty! Where to next? Somewhere lovely, for sure.

Coming soon! Updates regarding our Monarch butterfly project.

Yoga Hike at Sterling Nature Center Invigorates Body and Mind

20 Jun

Participants look north over Lake Ontario as they strike a yoga pose on top of MacIntyre Bluffs at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Our busy lives can affect our health in many ways.  Therefore it is particularly important to develop and maintain a wellness practice that will enhance one’s physical vitality and resilience to stress.  Recently, I was thrilled to team up with Karen Haas and Susan Gately to facilitate a yoga hike at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Teachers from Red Creek gathered at the 1,428 acre nature preserve to follow yoga instructor Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven, NY in yoga poses throughout the Cayuga County park. Lake Ontario sailor and scholar, Susan Gately provided insight into glacial geology, erosion of the bluffs and beach, beaver activity, bird identification and more.  A treasure of a property along the shoreline of the Great Lake between New York and Canada, attendees practiced yoga and hiked in many different settings.

A meditative walk through a quiet forest set the tone for yoga beside the lake.  Group poses, chosen to match the location, warmed participants up before a quick walk along the sandy beach and up the steep trail to MacIntyre Bluffs. Practicing poses high up over the lake in perfect June weather was a spectacular experience! We placed our arms upon each other’s shoulders and moved into a group eagle pose, as if we were going to soar to Canada!! Liberation, joy and slight pain were all bursting through this part of our session.

Participants took pictures before descending the trail to the beach to observe our surroundings. Evidence of beaver activity drew us away from the pebble beach to look over the tip of a marsh adjoining the lake shore.

A tree stump and logs shows evidence of the labor of beavers.


Exploring and researching new locations and activities is a favorite part of my work.  Before developing this walk, I was unacquainted with this nature preserve.  Now that I know how to get here and I’m aware of the numerous and diverse trails and waterways, I’ll be sure to return!

If you do go to the Sterling Nature Center, don’t rely upon Google Maps.  Numerous guidance tools may be wise, including a paper map.  Trail maps are likely available onsite at the kiosk beside the parking area and can be viewed here.

Participants reach to the sky while overlooking Lake Ontario’s blue waters during a recent yoga hike.

 

New York in Bloom

2 Jun

New York is far more than one often imagines.  Beyond New York City there are numerous, regions to enthrall and captivate.  The Finger Lakes and Lake Shore along Lake Ontario offer such bounty and diversity, especially in late spring.

First paddle of the year was fine. Red winged blackbirds, a family of swans and lily pads make for a special paddle.

As blue waters beckon, birds swing and swoop, bees and hummingbirds fly, trees bend and winds blow, plants respond to warming, sunny days and people emerge from long, winter hibernations. Many friends give happy updates regarding upcoming performances or events and educational/agricultural progress, demonstrations of one’s own growth and interests.

IthacaFest begins Friday, June 2 in a jubilant celebration of community and passion, offering ample opportunities for dancing, live music and fun! Look over the schedule to gain an idea of the different performers and events. Or wing it but be sure to allow extra time and energy for parking/walking.

Remanu Steele, a Renaissance man, could have his own performance schedule this weekend! He will be everywhere, with one group or another, including Fall Creek Brass Band, Spiral Cracks and his own spoken word. A community organizer and performer, when asked for links to upcoming events, he provided information for events to teach and inform.  Tompkins County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension has numerous events planned.  Peruse classes and workshops on their site, from creating your own fairy garden to learning about challenges tomato plants face, you may be surprised by what you can learn!

Ever talented and motivating, Kathy Lucas will bring her practice of African dance Sunday evening with M0xie Kumba! Watch the dancers of Moxie Kumba in this video by Jonathan Keefner of their Dun Dun dance performance at Grassroots.  What rhythm, vitality and power!

Warm, pleasant weather can be rare so please get outside and explore a little.  Try a new sport or trail and witness the spectacular displays of nature and neighbors. Be safe and have fun!!