Saturday, January 30, 2016


For me, the only sport in the world is Fencing.  Swordplay has been practised for thousands of years, and modern day fencing began as a form of military training. It did not become a sport until around the 15th century.  It is an elegant, graceful, beautiful, aggressive, challenging, athletic, compelling and civilized sport.
My interest in fencing began the first time I entered the gym at my high school.  The old gym in the school had wood cut out silhouettes of every sport, lining the walls.  Unfortunately most of the sports pictured were not offered in our district.  The silhouette that caught my eye was the Fencer in full protective clothing in a lunge.  I could never take my eye off of it.
And again, unfortunately, all those years ago, there was not much of an opportunity to study fencing in my home town.  But, it never left my mind.  It didn't help that in 1977 George Lucas created the ultimate Sword Master. 
And to this day, 39 years later, even though I am not a huge Star Wars fan, I am probably Darth Vader's biggest fan.  And the characters' fight scenes were choreographed and preformed by British Fencer, Bob Anderson.
And of course he did it in all in that iconic and amazing Lord Vader armour.
But back to the real thing.  When I was a bit older and now into my career I decided to seek out fencing opportunities and I was able to find a club at one of our universities, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or RPI in Troy.
So with jacket, mask, glove and foil in hand I started my adventure with fencing.  The amazing thing is now as time has gone by, there are so many more opportunities to fence.  SUNY Albany has a fencing club;   and there is a non-affiliated club called Capital District Fencing For All. 
Since the 1896 Olympic games in Athens, France has dominated the sport with 103 medals, 37 of which are gold.  Team USA Fencing      is ranked 19 with 13 medals.
  But the point is we "medaled" in a sport that is not as dominate in our county.  But that is changing and  Fencing is growing in popularity.
2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Tim Morehouse   is doing his share to build the love and appreciation of Fencing in the United States with  Fencing in Schools.
To learn more about this amazing sport check out  USA Fencing.  And if you are so compelled, there are many videos on line of Fencing Competitions.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


A new exhibit opened in the East Gallery of the NYS Capital, honoring the accomplishments of one of our great Governors and (later) a great President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
FDR, whose 134th birthday is January 30th, was our 44th Governor (1929 to 1932) and our 32nd President (1932 to 1945.)

So off to the NYS Capital Building.  (This is the link to the visitor center's Facebook page, take a look, some great pictures of this fantastic building.)

The items in the exhibit are on loan from the FDR Presidential Library and Museum,    in Hyde Park, New York. 
This is the painting of Governor Roosevelt that hangs in the Hall of Governors on the second floor of the NYS Capital. 

FDR suffered from polio while serving as Governor and this is the wheel chair he used while in the mansion. 
And you can use this link to explore the mansion.  Although the majority of our Governors lived in the home our current one does not see fit to.
On to the exhibit.
Just a small collection of some of FDR's accomplishments.
One of my favorite of his accomplishments is the conservation of the environment and resources.
A map of the ever expanding Adirondack Park that has benefited from this conservation, not unlike are other state parks.
And thanks to the advocacy of Eleanor Roosevelt  NYS created the first public university system that is now SUNY.  She did not attend college and regretted that her entire life.  She felt higher education was important to longer term success.
The photo on the lover right is of Governors Carey and Rockefeller.
On a side note, there is a fun mystery series featuring Eleanor Roosevelt as the sleuth.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Mysteries are "authored" by Elliott Roosevelt, but were actually researched and penned by William Harrington.  I have read a few of them and they are quite fun.  They take place during her time as First Lady.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


The kitchen, is still as close the original kitchen that I found when I bought my home 21 years ago.  There are a few small things I would like to do to the kitchen, but a major modernization is not in the plan.  I see no reason to update my kitchen, it worked when the house was built in the early 1920's and it still works today.  I don't have much counter space, but it is an eat in kitchen, with ample room for a good size table; and in the past that is where much of the food preparation would have happened.  I also have a generous size walk in pantry to hold the counter top appliances and offer a little more pep-space. 

This tile top table is over 25 years old and although I have seen other kitchen tables I like, I have no plans to replacing it.  I have not come across any really nice tile topped tables and I really like the durability and easy clean up of the tile.  The American flag quilt on the table is hand made and I found it at a little store several years ago while up in The Forks, Maine for white water rafting.

I mentioned in the past I like to change all the textiles in the house every 5 years; I currently decided to go with a large black and white gingham.  I had a great toile and gingham combination last.  I also prefer a full treatment over a traditional "kitchen" style set.  And sisal roller shades similar to the bedrooms to keep out the hot sun in the Summer.
I still have the cast iron apron sink and I used cafe curtains for the skirt.  I added the oak cabinets and I  had them built to match the built-in in the hallway.
A spice cabinet holds cook books, teas and cleaning supplies.  And I also added the simple shelves above the sink and the stove.
Next to the refrigerator I added a cabinet to work as a home office area.
I don't have a radiator cover for the kitchen so I just added another simple shelf for a bit more space.
I always wanted a tin ceiling in the kitchen but decided on a simpler option; I had the ceiling papered with a paintable textured wall paper and painted in with a glossy paint. 
And another change was to remove the small old light fixture and replaced it with a stained glass Hunter ceiling fan.
And on the floor I decided to go with a retro style vinyl.  This house did not have hardwood in the kitchen when it was built, it had linoleum.  I had thought about removing everything down to the wood, but I liked the idea of the vintage vinyl that coordinates with the white tile wainscoting.
The built-in in the hallway is painted a glossy white inside.
And on the opposite walls I have some of my favorite pictures.  The top is an Amish girl holding a cat, I found it in Lancaster, PA; the middle is from Salem, MA and is of the memorial to those who lost there lives in the Salem witch hysteria; and the lower one is called "The Thing in Mr. King's Bird Bath."
And on the other wall is a print from Martha's Vineyard of the Black Dog.
It may not be for everyone, but I love my simple country kitchen.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


A bright sunny and pretty warm January day, we got up into the 40's; and that little bit of sleet we received from Mother Nature last week is almost gone; so we headed out to The Albany Institute of History and Art  to see the Capital Region in 50 Objects
This exhibit is just a small collection of artifacts the tell the story of the wonderful Capital Region of New York State; Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties.

The Albany Institute founded in 1791.  Remember to click on the photos to see them a bit larger.

The exhibit is on the third floor in the rear gallery.
And "object" number 1, right in the entrance to the gallery is Nipper!
And, here is how Nipper looks in "real life" in the warehouse district of Albany.
Our beloved Nipper has been lovingly cared for.  He is definitely my favorite.
The second "object" inside the exhibit room is a ticket booth from Hoffman's Play Land, which has been relocated and now known as Huck Finn's Play Land.
And like Nipper, the saving of the Play Land proves the love residents in our region have for our home.
Next we have the Albany Tulip Festival  that honors our Dutch heritage; the Erie Canal; and
Freihofers Bakery,   the makers of the best chocolate cookies on the planet, they have been in Albany since 1913.
Many of the "objects" show our place in the history of this nation, we hold a larger part than many people think.
and this is the last flag in existence,  It is on loan from the Grafton Community Library.
The Witenagemot Oak Peace Tree,  is still alive and well on the grounds of the Knickerbocker Mansion.  And it is wonderful to sit beneath on a hot day.
We built trains and had great steam ships traveling our majestic rivers.  And then there is the  famous WGY radio station.  still broadcasting to this day.  I have a great copy of a photo of Amelia Earhart speaking into a WGY microphone during an interview hanging in my guest room.
And industry has always been and still is alive and well in the Greater Capital Region.
General Electric, Thomas Edison's electric motor plant.  And, yes the plant is till going strong.
Troy Built, a well respected brand.  Arrow Collars.   and other textile makers.
And some industry is a bit more quirky, like billiard balls;  and the first rolled, perforated toilette paper.
We have many, many, many notable residents, but remember it is just 50 objects, so they picked just a few.  Number 1 has to be Uncle Sam.
There is no lack of great food and drink in the Greater Capital Region and it is definitely in our DNA.
World renowned Saratoga Water,   being just one.
We also have our land marks, many still standing strong but some are now sadly gone.  Like the Iron Works Wheel in Troy.
And the Rapp Road Community.  Although some of the larger homes are still standing and are lovely homes today.  But the smaller shanties are no longer.  But they were still around until not long ago.
A couple of my favorite "objects" The Empire State Art Collection,  which is owed to my favorite Governor, Nelson Rockefeller.
And the first Christmas Card.
And we also have strong military presence, such as the Watervliet Arsenal;
There are just a few "objects" omitted from this post, but that does not diminish them.  I love the Capital Region, it is a wonderful place to have been born and to live!