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Posts Tagged ‘Hudson Valley’

Spring is Here! Not.

April 7, 2013 6 comments

garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said.

“What is it like?”…

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

Frances Hodgson Burnett,

The Secret Garden

This weekend was opening day for town soccer in the Hudson Valley.The first day of soccer is always a clear indication that spring is truly here! Indeed, starting at 9am, the fields were flooded with kids ages 5 to 16, each one of whom came out ready to play ball!

There was just one problem.

game day 023

 It was 32 DEGREES!

Ehem!….that would be the temperature at which all things freeze! Including humans standing on a field.

But, Spring is here! Phil Said So! Remember? Two months ago in front of millions of people! Live! On television.Well Phil, it’s not and there’s a bit of an uproar here on the East Coast about it.In fact, there’s been talk of a lawsuit by a prosecutor in Ohio who wants to indict Phil for incorrectly predicting the weather, some back tracking gibberish about Phil’s “handler”mistranslating the prediction and even the calling of the poor fellow’s head by a radical few.

People who live on the East Coast take their weather very seriously and talk about it all-the-time! They really enjoy their four seasons: the (temporary) heat of summer, the cool of fall, the (temporary) cold of winter and the warmth of spring.Yes, the warmth of spring. Even though it made it to 50 degrees later in the day, well after the soccer games had ended, it was too little, too late. Thirty-two degrees at the start of any day is not spring. We were promised spring, an early spring! We’re waiting and we’re over due.

But heck people! We really can’t blame Phil. Even though Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the start or stall of spring for the last 123-years amidst great fanfare, pomp and circumstance, and even though he predicted an early spring for us this year (back in FEBRUARY) let’s face it; no matter how you slice it, the truth is, Phil, is a groundhog! A GROUNDHOG! And groundhogs really don’t have special communicative or weather related powers.There is no such thing as “groundhogese“. I don’t think they even make good house pets.

You never hear anyone talking about their pet groundhog — ever.

mother nature new

It’s Mother Nature who’s the real culprit here. 

She’s the one to blame.

Go ahead.

I dare you!


 

Photo Credits: #1 & #3 – Google Images

Photo Credit #2 – Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Namaste’ Nemo!

February 10, 2013 10 comments

Snow1

Namaste’ whose origins come from India is a word and gesture exchanged in salutation when meeting and departing, usually said with a smile, pressing one’s hands together and giving a slight bow signifying reverence and respect.

Schools closed Friday in anticipation of his coming and folks prepared ahead of time; buying batteries for weather radios and filling bathtubs with water. We hunkered down with necessary supplies; food, water, flashlights, charged cell phones, blankets, a good book to read. Then, much like with the coming of Sandy, we waited, some of us more anxiously than others. With each passing hour we wondered just how fierce he would be, whether we’d lose power and if so, for how long. It’s a humbling predicament to be held captive in one’s own home by the uncertainty of what the weather will bring. There is no greater force than that of Mother Nature and her wrath, should she choose to unleash it. The only thing you can truly rely on, is that nature will do what nature will do. At 8:30am Friday morning, the flakes began to fall. At first in the form of sporadic showers but by1:30pm, the snow was steady. By evening-fall, we had settled into the knowing that the storm was upon us.

With all due respect, Namaste’ Nemo!

An inch of snow an hour quickly turned to two and up to five inches per hour fell mercilessly in parts of Connecticut overnight. With him came hurricane-force winds. Major roadways in two states were closed. Curfews and car bans were instituted. Nemo had been unleashed in the Northeast only 100-days after and hardly enough time to recover from Sandy’s visit. In one night, Nemo left up to 3-feet of snow in parts of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Over 650,000 homes were left without electricity.

Namaste’ Nemo!

Come Saturday morning, the sweet, steady hum of a snow-blower spewing its contents high above its handler filled the air. The scraping sounds of metal hitting asphalt could be heard too, for the many hours it took to shovel driveways and pathways freeing residents from Mother Nature’s captivity. Nemo was here and he left a thick, sparkling blanket of white as far as the eye could see in his wake.

Read

There is an oft-repeated phrase in A Game of Thrones, the series I’m reading, that gives the reader a sense of impending doom. Unlike the pleasant prediction that Punxsutawney Phil gave last week that Spring is coming, the repeated phrase in the books is that

Winter is coming…..

A chill runs down my spine, every time I read it. Winter, I am reminded, has not yet left us, which brings me to what lies ahead. Orko.

Last week, Phil said Spring was coming. This week Nemo said, not just yet.

Next week, Orko looms.

Oy!

Namaste’ Orko!

It Takes A Village And A Can

December 9, 2012 17 comments

villiage

It takes a village.

~ original origins unknown

I love this phrase because it’s true.

Indeed, when raising children, it takes a village. Or a neighborhood. Or a sgoyaredchool. Or a group of amazing teachers. Or in this case, a can. Well, maybe a few hundred cans. Okay, in this case, it took 900 cans.

Goya cans that is and I’m not talking about raising children exactly, although the concept behind the phrase made famous by Hilary Clinton in 1996, is the same and the idea that when people come together to help each other to do good things, good things get done, is the implication.

In this case however, I’m talking about it taking amazing teachers and awesome, eager teams of Kindergarten through 12th grade students creatively coming together to feed hungry people in our community. (And 900 cans of course.)

They’re doing this by building incredible sculptures entirely from canned food.

The program they are participating in is called Canstruction® and, it is brilliant.

This is the first Canstruction® Jr Hudson Valley event in our region and it’s being presented by my daughter’s school. Several other schools in the area are also participating. The academic, social and humanitarian components of this project will no doubt serve to enable these outstanding students to absolutely make a difference in someone else’s life this Holiday Season. 

That is what it’s all about. Isn’t it?

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade

But in our world of plenty, we should spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time

~ Do They Know It’s Christmas

For several weeks my daughter’s 6th grade class has been working with their math, science and humanities teachers along with an artist to come up with a diagram of a structure they could build using canned food. This is progressive, project-based learning at it’s best.

Their efforts culminated in 5-hours of  precisely stacking nearly 900 cans to create this melting masterpiece:

Melting Snowman

Melting Snowman

For the next week or so, this and other wonderful creations will remain on display at our local Galleria. Red bins in front of each structure will collect more cans for donation to a local soup kitchen and food bank from visitors and onlookers.  The bin with the greatest number of cans at the end of the week will receive the coveted “People’s Choice” award but the real winners in this competition are each and every student who participated. Through awareness, guidance, teaching and love these students will take with them the pride and joy of knowing their efforts helped collect thousands of cans of food that will feed hungry people in our community at Christmas time.

They are making a difference.

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It takes a village. Or a neighborhood. Or a school.

Or in this case, a group of amazing teachers and awesome students.

Oh, and 900 cans.

Or — all of the above — because when people come together to do good things,

good things get done.

b23

The World


There’s A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You’ll Find There’s No Need
To Cry
In This Place You’ll Feel
There’s No Hurt Or Sorrow

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living

Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

~ Heal the World

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One Proud 6th-Grader

Photo Credits 1 – 2: Google Images

Photo Credits 3 – 6: KarenSzczukaTeich&www.Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Resting My Foot On Your Head

May 20, 2012 15 comments

In January my horoscope for 2012 advised me to ‘go forth in the way I intend to be.’ Taking that to heart, I’ve been very committed to being open to all kinds of possibilities while keeping it simple and spending my free time, well.

Storm King Art Center

After you pull up to the entry booth and dole out a $12 fee per person, a security guard will approach the driver’s window and give you parking options as well as the vitally important low down on where the porta-pottys and the onereal-restroom can be found on the over 500-acres of these magnificently manicured and cultivated grounds. Storm King Art Center featuring large-scale sculptures, in New York’s HudsonValley, is massive and totally worth the trip across the river, up from Westchester or down from Albany.

If you prefer a more docile adventure, you can hop the free tram that hugs the perimeter of the park and enjoy the ride along with the views. If you come with a friend to spend some time, give yourself plenty! You can walk and talk for hours. Trust me, my companion for the day was able to relay the entire storyline of the latest book he’s reading, and then some. His endless supply of words was equally met by endless intertwining walkways. Both of which, I enjoyed thoroughly.

If you’re looking for a more aggressive exercise-art experience, you can rent a bicycle for $20 and bike along the pathways.

A photographer’s heaven, you don’t have to be a lover of modern art to appreciate the pristine landscape and natural beauty that in a few cases actually is and in all cases surrounds, the art sculptors that reside along the footpaths.

After spending one day a week for the past five weeks exploring some great places in my own backyard, like the Walkway Over the Hudson, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, The DIA: Beacon and most recently, The Storm King Art Center; I realize, that although I didn’t plan it this way, this is just what I needed to help me put myself back on a more even-keel for living. In keeping with my resolution, I remain open and continue to move forward with the intention of not letting life pass me by but living it, meeting it and enjoying it, any way I can. I’m blessed with many beautiful friends but this one is different. And in these consecutive and consistent meetings, I’ve let myself get lost in thought and talk and walk, with someone who doesn’t really know me all that well; an impartial friend. It’s been refreshing to spend time away from the details of the past two years of my life.

I’ve allowed myself to leave myself and in doing so, I’ve come closer to myself.

Sometimes, The Universe knows what you need better than you do and provides it for you, whether you’re looking for it or not. You end up getting what you need and what you didn’t even know you wanted at the same time. 

Sometimes.

Yep. Recently, I’ve spent time resting my foot on this head and it’s been time, well spent.

Where have you been resting your feet and how have you been spending your time lately?

Related Post: Birthday Wishes

Photo Credits #1-9 Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com/All rights reserved.

Oops! I Think The Universe Was Listening!

October 30, 2011 10 comments

When I stated last week that I had gotten my, second wind and was ready for whatever else should happen to come my way, boldly telling the universe to “BRING IT ON!”, I wasn’t exactly talking about the Nor’easter that came full force, literally blowing me and millions of others away this Halloween weekend!

No, No! This is not what I meant at all!

My blog is all about striving to live life on life’s terms and handle its unexpected events with as much grace and decorum as I can but I’m afraid the unexpected event of having a foot of the white stuff covering my front lawn in October, is nearly enough to send me over the edge!

Seriously, doesn’t Mother Nature know my son was supposed to have a championship football game this Sunday?

Or was it Old Man Winter who was awakened from his slumber?

Doesn’t he know he has at least four to six weeks left of snooze time before having to blast down on the North East?

Could it have been <GASP> my doing?

Perhaps this was an early, Halloween trick conspired by the two heads of nature?

Major tree damage, downed limbs and widespread, rampant power outages was the prediction and By-George, that’s exactly what we got! We lost power at around 5pm Saturday. By 7:30 our county was declared a “State of Emergency”.

Hurricane Irene and the rains that followed left our Hudson Valley grounds sopping to the roots! Throw in the seasonal fact that many trees still carry their fall leaves, add heavy, wet snow and gusty winds and you have the disaster that we got; two days before Halloween! It was a cold, long night but thankfully, we got our power back at around 10am this Sunday morning. Considering what I’ve come to see and hear, I think we’re among the luckier lot who got their power back as soon as we did. No doubt, some people in our and the surrounding areas will be in the dark for days!

My girl, surveying the snow right before we lost power, Saturday.

Ugh. I’m bummed! I’m a huge fan of this and all holidays. I love to decorate and celebrate. Who will see our graveyard now that it’s buried under a foot of snow? I want to hear the rustling of leaves beneath sneakers as the ghosts and goblins approach my door, not the squishy-squeaky sound of snow boots sloshing their way up the footpath!

My boy, who is going as a Cheer-leading girl, is gonna freeze his hairy legs off!

On his way to the Halloween dance at school Friday evening. When there was only leaves on the ground!

My girl, who is going trick-or-treating as a Sponge-Bob, is going to, well, be miserable!

Friday's pre-Halloween parade celebration at school.

It’s too early, too soon for this freezing nonsense! I’m just not prepared to be wearing my winter coat in October. It’s something I prefer to ease my way into, not be abruptly forced into! I’m not even sure I know where my snow boots are!

BRING IT ON!

I said it. It’s true. I put it out there.

I’m sorry.

Next time, I’ll keep my declarations to myself!

I don’t ever recall snow, let alone a full-blown storm in this New York area before Halloween. Do you? Were you affected by the storm?

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Photo Credit #1: Mother Nature

Photo Credit #2: Old Man Winter

Photo Credit #3-5: ©Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com & Karen Szczuka Teich

Irene’s Grace

September 3, 2011 10 comments

Last Saturday morning, my daughter and I left our peaceful retreat in the woods, hoping to get home before Irene got there. We made it, just in time to clear off the pool deck and secure all fly-able objects before the first onslaught of heavy rains pelted our area. Other than a few severe but sporadic downpours that afternoon however, Saturday turned out to be more like the calm before the storm. Things started out slow enough but strange for us in the Hudson Valley. Early in the evening, I noticed a few displaced turkeys.

If nothing else, their presence on the median in our otherwise “turkey-free” neighborhood was a sign that something was justnot right.

It wasn’t until around 6am on Sunday that Irene picked up the pace, becoming faster and more furious, showing her relentless nature. Hour after hour throughout the day, she presented us with a deluge of rain leaving the better part of my front lawn under water by late afternoon.

A happy “singing in the rain” moment for my daughter perhaps but a menacing sight for her mom.

She's literally "singing in the rain"!

In her fiercest moments, two sump pumps, a powerful wet-vac and ultimately even a bucket brigade couldn’t keep her at bay. She streamed right into our basement through the glass doors that lead out to the back yard. There was NO stopping her. In the 24-hours or so that she hovered over our area, I back-washed at least 9-inches of water out of our pool, into an already over-flowing street drain.

Under dryer conditions, you can easily see the three steps that lead from the basement to the pool area.

Late in the day, the fire department closed off our street. They pumped water out of homes while we watched a variety of small objects float passed our house down the stream that is normally our road. By nightfall, she was gone.

 

Irene was “beast” as my kids would say, doling out her special blend of mayhem in the most sporadic of places. Perhaps she was a disappointment to some, not packing the punch that was anticipated by so many who took great measures to prepare for her arrival. But to me, her arbitrary selection of where to leave harsh destruction reinforced the fragility of life and the urgency to live it to it’s fullest without taking it for granted. She left just enough damage in my basement and neighborhood to earn my deepest respect. In the days following, as I watched report after report on the damage and heartache that was left elsewhere in her wake, she reminded me in no uncertain terms, that no matter how difficult things may seem, there is always someone out there who has it worse.

There are no limits to the power of nature.

So, I’m going to wade in gratitude for a while knowing that, there but for the grace of Irene……

The path of Hurricane Lee

Tell me, were you affected by Hurricane Irene?

Keep your eye on Lee, Louisiana!

Photo Credits #1-5: Karen Szczuka Teich and http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Photo Credit #6: International Business Times Hurricane Lee

A Wet Haven

June 5, 2011 4 comments

Think back to when you were a kid in grammar school. What would it have been like for you, if you were able to throw a bucket of water over your “favorite” teacher’s head without fear of retribution? What if, once a year, you were allowed, encouraged even to get the principal or head of school soaken wet?

My girl soaks her math/science/this is how you build a rocket, teacher!

And what if, even after you left that school, you were still allowed to come back at the end of the year and take part in a wild and wet, water-splash-out of students vs. teachers and parents?

My boy gets to come back and relive this thrill even after being gone for two years!

Six years ago, I began working at the small progressive school my kids attended so I could be near them and see firsthand, what it was all about and why my kids barely got any homework. Coming from a catholic grammar school and an all girl catholic high school, I was a little skeptical of the progressive education that I’d signed on to for them. I ended up getting an education for myself, on what it means for a child to be in an environment that nurtures their curiosity and fosters the development of a life-long love of learning. For eight years my son went to the Randolph School. He left after 5th grade. My daughter is finishing up 4th grade. Next year will be her last. I’m already feeling sad.

The curriculum at Randolph School is project based. Several months are devoted to one study at a time, such as birds, Native Americans and human flight. Math, English, Social Studies and Science all get incorporated into the study using a hands on learning approach. These kids are out and about, seeing, doing, building and loving what they’re learning. They’ve done some pretty awesome things too, like making paper and cooking an annual ThanksGiving meal with vegetables they planted and harvested themselves. They’ve tapped maple trees, collected sap and boiled it down to make their own syrup for a pancake lunch. They’ve been schooled on tracking people and animals, building shelters in the wilderness and trebuchets in the back field. They know how to use the resources they have to solve a problem. Each child builds a rocket and launches it every year and each year ends with an adventure day which usually involves a hike along the Hudson river or in this year’s case, a walk across the Hudson River on the newly opened, Walkway Over the Hudson. After the adventure there’s an all-school barbecue. After the barbecue, the older kids, students in kindergarten through 5th grade, get to camp-out behind the school with parents and teachers. Tents are pitched at the bottom of the same hill the kids and teachers, sled down during the winter. A bon fire is made, songs are sung, stories are told, s’mores are eaten.

Somewhere in-between the end of the adventure and the beginning of the barbecue, a twenty-plus-year-old tradition lives on. It began when two teachers who overheard a plot being hatched by two students to bring water guns to the camp-out, staged a surprise counter-attack, fully equipped with their own loaded water-guns and behold, a no holds back, teacher-parent-student water splash-out filled with 100% pure fun was born!

A wet haven for kids of all ages! Splash-Out June 2011

It’s tough being a kid. Society is drenched with all kinds of peer pressures and technological enticements. Finding a place in early childhood where children are free to be themselves, free of some of these stresses just long enough to give them a solid footing is a blessing.

So much of parenting is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. Without foresight, you point yourself in what you hope is the right direction and move forward, praying that you hit the target. Sometimes, you get lucky and hit it dead center.  Other times, you veer way off to the left or the right and have to go back and try again.

Sending my children to a school that encourages kids to be kids was a “hitting the target dead center” move — a blessing.

The result, is that they love to learn, they always will and I am very grateful.

What do you love about your child’s school?

 

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