Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

Thirty-three years living in Westchester County, NY, and I continue to be surprised by how much there is to see in the surrounding area. The Buddhist Association of the United States, Chuang Yen Monastery, located in Carmel, NY, in Putnam County, is just shy of an hour's drive north and slightly west. Fred and I spent time there a week ago, Friday, August 25, walking the grounds and exploring The Great Buddha Hall, where the western hemisphere's largest indoor buddha resides.

Several years ago, when querying friends about interesting places to visit, I received this reply regarding the Monastery: It's not far, the grounds are beautiful and lovely to wander through. The temple is interesting, calming and on the weekends there is an opportunity to join for a vegetarian lunch. It's such a gentle place.

We, too, found the Monastery interesting. However, ten years ago we traveled to Todaiji in Nara, Japan, home of an extremely large bronze statue of the Buddha, which is housed in an extremely large wooden temple. Our expectation for Change Yen was definitely influenced by having our Japanese experience in the back of our minds. As a result, we were underwhelmed by the grounds, even though our friend had described them as "beautiful and lovely to wander through." We did appreciate the calm, and the sense of having stepped into a place that was off the beaten path and seemingly nestled away in the woods. And ultimately we were glad to have visited, to have given our senses a rest from the daily intake of sights and sounds.

Opening Faculty Meetings 2017-18

This was me last year on the second day of opening faculty meetings. And here I am a year later.

This was a fun outfit to put together and, as Sheila often writes, a dress is the easiest item of clothing to style. The sandals are from Land's End several years ago; the sweater from Ann Taylor. Earrings, which you cannot see, are blue and green inlaid on silver drop earrings, a gift from a friend many years ago (maybe 20 years ago!) The bracelet and necklace both are hand beaded and were made in Mexico. The bracelet a gift from my daughter-in-law's sister; the necklace a gift from the sister of a colleague at school. Both are beautifully crafted pieces.

The backpack, a red Mountaintop Kid Backpack, is the same one that each of my grandchildren have (they each have different colours). It is the first backpack I have tried as an adult that actually fits the contours of my back and lands in all the right places. Most adult backpacks tend to be too long or too wide for my shorter torso/back.

And then there is the dress, a simple cotton sleeveless dress that is fitted till the waist and then flows to just the right length. This summer I discovered ModCloth, and this is one of two dresses I purchased. It is comfortable to wear, and I like the easy print and bold blue colour. Am saving the second dress to wear for the first time on my birthday (in November). And then there are the two tops I bought, which will surely make their debuts within the coming days or weeks.

Early Morning Walkers

Earlier this summer I read an article about the beauty and benefits of rising between the hours of 4 and 6 in the morning, not an uncommon occurrence in our house as my husband is up between 4 and 5, and I rise between 4:30 and 5:30. We are avid walkers, though summer's hotter temperatures usually cause us to take a break from long walks. After reading the article, we decided to begin walking early in the morning, starting our day with the sunrise while benefitting from the quiet, calm, cooler hours of the day.

Recently, my favored walking outfit consists of long pants and sleeves to provide protection from early morning hungry insects! Years ago, perhaps in 2008, after his multi-year sojourn in Japan as a student, our older son traveled home via stops in SE Asia. One of the gifts he brought back were these Thai fisherman pants. For awhile they sat in a drawer as I wasn't quite sure what to wear them for or how to wear them. In the past four or so years I discovered how wonderfully comfortable they are for practicing yoga, kayaking, and walking.

As for the glory of mornings, even during winter my husband and I are early risers. We appreciate the quiet and calm before the sun rises, before the neighborhood awakens. In summer we listen to early morning bird song; in winter we cuddle in fleece blankets while reading. Year round, when not walking in the morning, I practice yoga while my husband reads, side-by-side, enjoying the quiet time together.

And now, off I go to join my husband for a kayak! (PS He also has Thai fisherman pants and just this morning decided to finally start wearing them as they are perfect for kayaking.)

Lastly, I am linking to Judith's Style Crone even though I missed the most recent linkup for a Hat Attack. When the next Hat Attack opens I will return to this post and add the link. My hat is from LL Bean, was once my husband's till he bought himself a similar one from some place else, and has been my go-to kayaking hat for the vast majority of our kayaks because it is lightweight, permits air flow, is unsusceptible to salt water, dries quickly, and has a strap that 99 percent of the time keeps the hat on top of my head in stronger winds.

SUP & Lavender Labyrinth

We live on a tidal creek that flows into Mamaroneck Harbor and from there into Long Island Sound. Multiple times this summer I have seen stand up paddleboarders heading out from the Harbor to the Sound. Turns out that SUP Westchester is based in the Harbor at the entrance to Harbor Island Park. I also have a friend in the neighborhood who launches her SUP from her backyard, much like we launch our kayaks from our backyard.

No surprise then, that SUP has been on my "I'd like to try that" list for the past few months. This week I had the delightful opportunity to try SUP at my brother-in-law's home in Lewes, DE, thanks to our niece who keeps her paddleboard at her parent's on their backyard dock. Their backyard abuts a long narrow finger-like branch of a large manmade lake created as a Mill Pond.

Not only did I try SUP and remain upright the entire time, but my husband tried, as well, and had the same satisfying experience. We are both rather pleased with our accomplishments! Okay, so the Mill Pond is quite calm, though filled in places with lily pads. But it wasn't all calm when I first went out!

The sky was cloudy and the forecast was fine, so off I went on the SUP with my sister-in-law joining in a kayak with my niece and her almost 4-year old son in another kayak. We reached the end of the "finger", with my niece having turned around earlier, amidst tiny raindrops. The raindrops began to turn to a light drizzle, then a stronger drizzle. Around this time a flotilla of niece and her son, my husband, and his younger brother joined us, each in their own kayaks. And then the stronger drizzle became rain. Not just simple rain but full force, in your face (and on our eyeglasses) rain, thumping down in large drops that I kept thinking might turn to sleet!

So back we went to the dock, arriving soaked from the rain. And then the sun came out! And it was my husband's turn to try SUB. And off he went, able to explore a bit further in the Mill Pond thanks to the sunshine lighting the way. Would have included a picture of my husband but there wasn't anyone around to take one.

During our visit we saw much of the Lewes-Rehoboth area, including stops at several beaches and swimming in one of them. We also visited Lavender Fields in Milton, DE, where my sister-in-law and I walked their peaceful and calming labyrinth. 

And for posterity, here we are on their back deck, content as can be :-)

Sax Motors Studebaker

Look what we found online!

My Dad's father owned a Studebaker dealership during the 1920s and 30s, as noted by my Dad in his memoires:

My father, as was common in those times, and owning his own business, spent most days at "The Place", which meant the Studabaker car showroom, located a 350 South Broadway, a short walk from the Park Hill Gardens.

[From The Yonkers Herald: First photo "is the exterior of the new car showroom and service station at 350 South Broadway" and the second photo "is an interior view of the same showroom." The exterior looks the same today, many years later, though the interior is now subdivided into multiple stores. There is also a vacant lot to the left of the building, and I wonder if it was used as a driveway in and out of the dealership.]

My Dad did a number of things for me that I never knew about until years later. To allow me to go to summer camp, he paid for it by paying the camp owner in the form of a car. He suffered through the years of financial depression, which contributed to his demise 16 days before his 52nd birthday. He, as others of his age, lived at a time when all the things we now know about healthy eating, exercise, smoking (cigars every day) and other health measures were unknown. These things plus the immense pressures of the 1929 market crash and the great depression of the 30's made Dad and his peers prime candidates for early death due to heart attacks about which doctors knew little. Thus, Dad and I only had 17 years together.

Last week I pulled out a box of clippings and papers stored in our attic, and found what I was looking for – copies of newspaper stories about my grandfather from The Yonkers Herald in the 1930s!

My grandfather was the president of Burton Motors (named for my Dad), located in Manhattan and the Bronx (though the area of the dealership is now part of Yonkers, which is in Westchester County, so perhaps the overriding locale changed over the years.) The images below are photos I took of the newspaper clippings, and the clippings themselves appear to be copies made of the originals.

From The Yonkers Herald, Saturday, January 9, 1932

From The Studebaker News, March 29, 1935
From The Yonkers Herald (date missing from the copy I have); take note of the lower right hand corner blurb; it attracted my attention simply because the paper found it newsworthy (and I took a picture to make it easier to read)

South Broadway, Yonkers, NY

My Dad grew up in Yonkers, NY, a city in Westchester County (though for a long time I thought it was part of the Bronx, and thus part of New York City.) Sometime in the 1970s or 80s my Dad took me on a drive to his former neighborhood. I do not recall much of the sight seeing, but a recent visit caused me to dig out old newspaper clippings about my grandfather and his business.

My Dad and his family lived at 272 S. Broadway in an apartment building named Parkhill Gardens. (These many years later, I teach at a school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. On occasions when the highway is backed up, I exit in Yonkers and take the local roads, not far from my Dad's old haunts.)

Recently I traveled with my older son and grandchildren to scope out the apartment building as well as the location, a few blocks south, of the Studebaker dealership owned and managed by my Dad's father.

Of the three photos below, the two without the street entrance were taken on our visit. The one showing the arch from the street is from a Redfin real estate page. The Redfin page answered a question I had, which was curiosity over the street level entrance. On my recent visit, that lovely arch was no longer in place. Instead there is a white metal arched gate that appears to get locked in the evenings, a different set of steps leading to up the building's courtyard, and a small elevator on the right to permit access for anyone unable to navigate the steps. [Updated 10-24-17 – A picture of the current entrance, taken on our visit, has been added to the set below.]

In his 1995 single-spaced, typed memoire, here is how my Dad described the building.

They were called the roaring 20's, but by the time we hit the 30's, the market crashed and the great depression took over. The family was living in Yonkers, NY, and my Dad ran the Studebaker auto dealership there. We lived in a brand new apartment house on the 4th floor. Every apt. had a "dumb waiter" (a shaft that had ropes that went to the top floor into which each family could access by opening a door.) Newspapers could be placed in the dumb waiter and at the appointed time, with the signal of a bell a worker in the basement would pull on the ropes and pull down the papers to be discarded. Our Apt. house was called The Parkhill Gardens (272 So. Broadway).

We lived in the ParkHill Gardens for about 8 years, moving to a rented house at 68 Ridge Road. That move took us to the Park Hill section of town and a new school. [You can learn more about the Park Hill section of Yonkers here and here.]

In 1934 after 5 years in our house, we moved back to the Park Hill Gardens into the same size apartment and wing that we had been in before, being on the 6th floor in place of the 4th … The "Great Depression" took it's toll on many, including our family. My parents were suffering the same financial strains that everyone else was experiencing, but I at 9 years old was blissfully unaware of these events.

Indelibly etched in my mind is a story my Dad shared of antics on the roof. My Dad and his two cousins (siblings around the same age as my Dad, and whose family also lived at 272 So. Broadway) would scamper to the roof of their apartment building and toss water balloons down on unsuspecting pedestrians. However, no fun deed goes unnoticed by neighbors, and upon descending back to their apartments they were reprimanded by their mothers. Having visited the building, I think the "roof" in reference is the area directly over the storefronts, rather than the roof above the top floor of the building.

The picture below is of my Dad and the two cousins noted above. The photo was taken by Ada, my Dad's mother, "from the roof top building at 272, South Broadway, Yonkers, N.Y., shortly after the return of Burt [right], Paul [left] and Harvey [center] after 'all the boys' came home" from World War II. 

a Documentary

Last week I met one of the two young women who produced this documentary and did the interviews. It is a poignant, relevant and important 20 minute film focused on opiate addiction in Mason County in the state of Washington. While this particular story is a local one, the topic is a national one. 

"Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, or they really don't know that they know somebody that is affected by this epidemic."

"You've got to have support of law enforcement, you've got to have support of city management, you have to have support of community groups."


There is no pizza better than one handmade at home by people who know how to make pizza. About two years ago my husband began making homemade pizza using a vegan crust and making three pizzas – one with mozzarella, one with tofu (for the Vegans and cholesterol watchers in our home), and one mini marinara pizza for our grandchildren. The result was tasty and became quite yummy when he made some subtle changes to how he prepared and cooked the dough. Our taste buds agreed he had mastered the art of pizza making.

Last week we had two professional pizza makers visiting from Olympia, WA, where they make pizzas at Vic's Pizzeria. Not one, not two, not three, but four pizzas did this duo make for our group of eight, each pizza as good as the other. (Okay pizza makers, if my count is off, please let me know!) 

Pizza making tips from the pros:

  • use plenty of flour (even more than Fred typically uses) so the dough does not stick to the large wood pizza spatula 
  • and the flour can be cornmeal instead of flour 
  • use hands instead of a rolling pin to form the pizza shape
  • start with a ball of dough, flatten with palms, then use fingers to roll out the dough in a circle (I have video of Katryna doing this but haven't yet figured how to export from my phone and upload to here)
  • if the dough rips, use your fingers to "glue" it back together
  • bake in a 500° oven (they started with a higher temperature and then decided to turn it down; it cooks in a 600° oven at Vic's)

Katryna showed us a video taken by her Mom of her flipping a pizza dough three times high above her head as the dough spread out in a circle, growing in circumference with each toss in preparation for making a large pizza.

Definitely a fun experience watching the entire pizza prep! And the pizzas were delicious, each topped with different combinations of spinach, Shitake mushrooms, avocado, homegrown tomatoes, onion, mozzarella, tofu, cashews, red peppers, and broccoli. (Did I leave anything out?)

Pizza accompanied by Jacques Brehl, what could be better!

Nail Polishing - saga and success

On what looked to become a rainy summer afternoon, I checked with my daughter-in-law to see if it would be okay for my  granddaughter (almost 5) to have her toenails polished. My thought was we would walk to town and purchase some polish. This is when I learned about Piggy Polish, a less odorous brand that was suitable for children and adults. My granddaughter and I walked the 1.3 miles to town and purchased two polishes and polish remover. Then the saga began.

As we walked home, my granddaughter dragged the paper bag along the grassy area by the sidewalk. Two blocks later I noticed the bag was wet and when we investigated, the bag had a small hole. At that point, we should have looked in the bag! Alas, we continued on our journey and upon returning home went to show our stash to her Mom. Oh dear, one bottle of polish was missing! Despite me and then both of us retracing our steps, we never located the bottle of polish that had escaped thru the small hole in the wet bag.

We soon moved on to other activities, including conjuring up multiple stories about the adventures the escaped polish was having, and I put the remaining bottle of polish in a safe place where it would be available to us when we decided to polish our nails. Days passed. Rain came. We decided to polish our nails. Uh oh, where could that one bottle be? We searched, asked others in the house, all to no avail – the bottle was lost. We sighed and went about our day.

A few weeks later my daughter-in-law surprised us with a 4-pack of Piggy Polish. Yippee! My granddaughter polished my toenails and I followed suit polishing hers the same colours; a few weeks later we repeated the process. 

During the last week of family visits, Katryna asked if the three of us would like to have our nails done, so off we went to Pristine Nail & Spa where we each received a manicure. This was easily my first manicure in more years than I can recall, and it was a special treat for each of us - Katryna because she has a job in food service and cannot wear nail polish at work, my granddaughter because it was her first time in a salon (and she handled it with finesse as if she was a long time patron), and me because I satisfied two interests – French Manicure and a picture on my thumb nails. The pictures tell the story. :-)

We had a delightful time (Thank you Katryna :-)) and then headed off for a second treat at Chocolations only to discover they were closed, perhaps just as well as we had a tasty dessert planned for after dinner that evening.


As of yesterday evening all our family and friends have departed for their homes. In cleaning up (not much to do since everyone had already done laundry and vacuuming before they left - thank you all!) look what I discovered on the shelf behind our bed. Ah, the most obvious of spots and one I never checked. The missing bottle of Piggy Polish!

Summertime 2017

As a school teacher, I have long enjoyed gloriously relaxing summers. In my early years of teaching I typically taught during part of the summer, but in the past six years I have savored up to twelve weeks of work-free vacation filled with relaxation. Relaxation, even during summers when I worked, is swimming, kayaking, reading, one or two weeks vacationing elsewhere (Cape Cod; Maine road trips; visits to Olympia, WA to visit our younger son), taking workshops, seeing family near and far, and indulging in pastimes or whatever tickles my fancy without the constraints of time.

This summer was a glorious hodgepodge of nine weeks of non-stop houseguests! The constant was our older son, his wife and their two children. During the first five weeks our visitors also included my daughter-in-law's mother, and then her father joining us for the last of those five weeks. The following three weeks we settled into a household of six. And the final week was hands down the most heart warming week of all, as our younger son and his girlfriend flew in from Washington State. It had been almost two years since my family was last together, and the reunion was all the sweeter as it provided ample time for reconnecting, and for our grandchildren to get to know their uncle and he to get to know them.

Summer highlights…

  • Stamford Museum and Nature Center
  • Greenburgh Nature Center (amazed it took till being a grandparent to visit!)
  • Tibbetts Brook Park (twice! and see the end of this post for my almost-86 year old Aunt's recollections of when she and my Mom went to Tibbetts Brook!)
  • Rye Playland (where I made a goof and went on a ride with my grandchildren and agreed completely when my 28 month old grandson said "Grandma, this is dizzy!)
  • games of Hearts with the Olympia contingent
  • lunches and a dinner at Sal's Pizza (especially when my daughter-in-law's parents were here, including multiple stops for Sal's devilishly rich gelatto)
  • delicious family meals, including pizza by the pros! (all but one cooked at home, and almost all eaten on our deck)
  • lots of conversations, some in French (with my daughter-in-law's Mom, who also speaks English so we both were able to practice our conversational language)
  • a kayak or two with our grandchildren
  • Nail Polishing
  • plenty of visits to Mamaroneck and Harrison Libraries
  • having my younger son and his girlfriend practice yoga in two sessions that I led (he followed my journey to becoming a yoga teacher with encouragement and support)
  • long mornings spent on the beach at Rye Town Park (where we discovered we are considered Seniors - 62+ - and each purchased a 20 dollar pass providing unlimited free parking and beach access)
  • numerous (some weeks daily) afternoons at our neighborhood pool and beach
  • occasional bicycle riding, with our granddaughter graduating from her balance bike to a larger bicycle with pedals
  • walks to CVS, Lord's Farm and Mangone's, all less than a mile from our home
  • with my older son and grandchildren, visiting the neighborhood in Yonkers, NY where my father grew up in the 1920s and 1930s (my Dad lived at 272 S. Broadway [more on the visit here] and his Dad owned the Studebaker dealership [more on that here] just a few blocks south at 350 S. Broadway) followed by brunch at The Corner Cafe
  • going with my grandchildren and son to attend his graduation after three summers/two years of study with the Montessori Training Center Northeast in Hartford, CT (Master's of Education studies and AMI Primary Training certification; AMI is Association Montessori International), and while there visiting the home in West Hartford where my husband lived for many years (that's the house, below)

At times my husband and I felt wiped out by day's end, sometimes even before day's end! We found ourselves having to acknowledge our energy depletion, both physical and mental. Eventually, when our son's four weeks of studies were completed and he was no longer spending Mondays thru Fridays in Hartford, our days found a summer mellowness. We quickly saw that having Papa home provided a consistency and stability that two sets of grandparents, despite our collective best intentions (or perhaps because of best intentions ;-)), were not providing, and the consistency and stability resulted in fresh reserves of energy for Fred and me.

What brought our family to spend nine weeks with us (and ten weeks next summer!)? Our daughter-in-law is studying for her AMI Assistants to Infancy certification, and the program is based in New York City, just a 40 minute train ride from Mamaroneck.

We have had priceless time with the people we love. We have glowed in the gathering of our two sons and the people they care about. Happy Sighs. 


My Aunt Joan's memory of going to Tibbetts Brook Park:

Memories.  We used to go to Tibbetts Brook for canoes and swims.  Lived in the Bronx but probably wasn't for Westchester residents only or had to pay an admission.

You can tell this to A. & E.  Go back 80 plus years.  I figure I was about 4 or 5.  Mother packed salami sandwiches and we would pick nick and eat lst.  Then, because old fashioned idea of don't go in water till1hr. After you eat, my dad would take out a canoe.  Eileen and myself went with him - of course only one who could swim and not well at all was dad.  No such things as life vests or rules in those days.  My mother would sit and watch and worry.  One day she realized that if the three of us went under she would be frightfully upset - but she still never got into the boat.

Then into the most gosh awful ugly suits for swim time.  We had to wear sneakers so as not to get germs on feet - ha! And also walk through a foot bath/basin of disinfectant (with the sneakers on) when leaving dressing room.  There were fountains spaced out in the pool and kids had a lot of fun under them.  Men wore bathing suits with tops to cover the chest.   We were only kids wearing sneakers - mother was super cautious. I think bathing suits were wool.  Women wore heavens knows what - maybe there was a corset built in, I remember a lot of hooks.  Sorry, no pictures from that era but I recall it vividly, especially asking "Is the hr. Up yet" because swim time was the main attraction.

You mentioned it and brought back memories.  Now you're taking your grandchildren to the same place.