Category Archives: writing

Does Anybody Really Know

Last night, I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. reading #NanoPoblano2022 blog posts. At least, my phone said it was 1:30 a.m. But what time was it, really? Had Daylight Saving Time ended yet?

I thought about getting up to check the other clocks in my house, but I was tired, with a sore arm and a mild fever after getting my COVID booster that morning. I just rolled over and went to sleep. When I awoke this morning, my phone said it was 6:30 a.m. Was that really 6:30, or was it 7:30? Or, was it 5:30? I was so confused.

I stumbled into the kitchen. My microwave said it was 7:30. I set it back an hour, still not sure how many hours of sleep I’d actually gotten. (Not that it mattered. I was going back to bed as soon as I let the dog out.)

It was like one of those horrible math questions:

If a NanoPoblano blogger with a 99.8-degree fever stays up reading other NanoPoblano blogger posts until 1:30 a.m. on the night that Daylight Saving Time ends, and then has a dream that she'd taken a train that left the station at point A at 1:30 and arrived at point B at 6:30, and if the clock in the train station says it's 7:30, but her analog watch says it's 12:32 because she forgot to wind it, what time is it in her kitchen, and how many cups of coffee will she need before she can write a blog post of her own?

I need more coffee to figure that one out. Meanwhile, here’s a reblog of a post I wrote way back on Nov. 4, 2017 for NanoPoblano. It’s about Daylight Saving Time. (I think you have to click “Continue” in order to read the entire post … the technical aspects of blogging are also something requiring more coffee.)

Are you affected by Daylight Saving Time? If so, what do you think of it? Should we do away with it?

This is post #6 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

featured photo: mohamed_hassan at pixabay.com

Listen to the Trees

In my Nov. 2 post, Secrets Revealed!, I shared the story of how I came to write a little ditty called “Home Alone.” Today, I’d like to talk about another song I’ve written for my new songwriting club.

Our prompt for this song was “inspiration.” We were supposed to try and write songs having to do with a quote that means something to us. I bent the rules a bit and used the title of one of my photos for inspiration. Here’s the photo, which also can be seen in my Nov. 1 post:

The stillness and vulnerability of the trees, and the way they seemed to be listening to and supporting each other, made me want to write something quiet and reflective to support them, something that would say “I hear you.” I grabbed my guitar and played one of my favorite chords, A-major-seventh (Amaj7). Here’s a photo of an Amaj7 chord that I found online. It’s one of the easier chords to make!

Photo by sweetlouise at pixabay.com

Major chords, or major triads, are often described as happy. The notes are bright and positive-sounding. Minor chords can be described as sad. The second note of the triad (third note of the scale) is dropped by a half-step (one fret on the guitar). For some reason, this brings out sad emotions. But major SEVENTH chords are really different. They add an unexpected fourth note – a half-step below the octave – and the result is a little bit dissonant and melancholy, but at the same time warm, sweet, and hopeful. At least that’s how I hear major seventh chords.

After I played that Amaj7 on the guitar, my hands drifted up the neck a bit and sort of accidentally landed on the strings in places that, when strummed, sounded good to my ear. Turns out it was a chord called Cadd9. (I had to look it up.)

My new song, “Listen to the Trees,” ended up with ten different chords altogether, and it all started with that Amaj7. It has a bossa nova beat which makes me think of the great Brazilian jazz composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, who used a lot of major seventh chords in his own songs.

Here are the lyrics to my song:

LISTEN TO THE TREES

Whispers in the forest, carried on a breeze

hear the quiet chorus of the trees

branches are bending, roots move underground

messages that barely make a sound.

Telling their troubles, each in their own way

helping each other through the day

around them only silence, actions too few –

and the trees, they know this is true.

     Take the time to listen, listen to the trees

     know what they are saying, get down on our knees

     tell them we hear them, do what they need

     and give a word of thanks to the trees.

Inhale the essence of treasures we can lose

be mindful of the things we choose

learn nature’s lessons from branches above

wrap our arms around the ones we love.

I’ll try to record it and post a link, if I can remember how to use Garage Band. That could take me until next November, though!

Have you ever written a song, poem, or story about trees? Post a link in the comments below if you have!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is post #5 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured image at top of post by Gordon Johnson at pixabay.com

Glasses and Me

Six-Year-Old Me:

I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since I was six years old. My first frames were red. Red PLAID, that is.

Not my actual glasses, but close!

Adult Me:

As an adult, I’ve been careful when purchasing eyewear, in the hopes of not looking as dorky as I did in first grade. My last pair was trendy, a Warby Parker style in a dark blue color called “Beach Glass.” I paid $325 for them in 2019. Here’s an actual, unretouched photo of me in my glasses:

I see I’m still wearing plaid. Oh well.

By 2021, I realized my vision had changed, and so had my taste in frames. Maybe the pandemic changed me. All that dreary news, all those drab and dreary masks. I no longer want such dark frames. It was time to go shopping for glasses. Things went downhill from there.

Late 2021:

I found an eye doctor in my new town and went to see him. When I arrived, there were no cars in the parking lot. That should have been my first clue. Inside, the office looked run-down, there were no other patients waiting, and there was loud classic rock music playing somewhere down the hall. I considered leaving, but then out he came to greet me. He was an older gentleman who seemed a bit forgetful, but he was very nice. I went ahead with the exam and got a new prescription.

Early 2022:

I found frames I liked at Zenni.com (a company I’ve bought glasses from before) and ordered them online. They were really cute: pink, cranberry, and black in a tortoiseshell pattern. Best of all, they only cost $126, including progressive (no-line bifocal) lenses and non-glare coating!

Pink and black … uh-oh. Maybe I’m stuck in the 50s.

Mid-2022:

I received my Zenni glasses. The prescription seemed off, so I returned them. Zenni inspected them and discovered a manufacturing error. They remade them for me free of charge and sent me another pair … but those were even worse. I couldn’t read the TV screen; I couldn’t even read street signs while driving. I returned this second pair of Zennis. They were inspected as well, and Zenni commendably admitted they’d made another error, just a slight one this time, but enough to earn me a full store credit. I haven’t used it yet. Don’t know if I ever will.

Summer 2022:

I had another eye exam, and my vision had by now changed again. With my new prescription in hand, I decided to take a chance on the optician playing the loud classic rock music in the other half of the office. Boy, I don’t know how to take a hint, do I. When I picked up my new Kate Spades, a right-wing talk show spouting conspiracy theories, instead of classic rock music, was booming out of the guy’s radio. I paid for the glasses ($450) and vowed never to return again.

I had to return again, though, because although I could read street signs off in the distance, I couldn’t read anything else .

Fall, 2022:

It was second opinion time. I saw a new eye doctor, who really seemed on the ball. She said she’d corrected my vision to 20/15 (the best it’s ever been), and I could tell when I looked through her equipment that it was true. The new prescription was a far cry from the one I’d gotten only a few months earlier. Finally, I was getting somewhere! At least, that’s what I thought.

Because now, I needed to find a pair of well-made, affordable glasses. I decided to visit the optician who was part of her practice. Almost immediately, I fell in love with a pair of stylish rose/mauve frames that looked great on me.

The friendly, talkative optician couldn’t  have agreed more as she cheerfully worked up my price quote: with lenses, $832, plus tax.

I. Don’t. Think. So.

I went home without ordering, wondering how a pair of glasses could cost that much. When I started looking into it, I learned that, according to Forbes, The Guardian, the L.A. Times, and other news outlets, there’s been something close to a monopoly in the eyeglass industry for years, and it’s run by a company called Luxottica. And Luxottica actually seems proud of their “vertically integrated business model” that allows them to market their brands through LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Target, etc. Not quite a pyramid scheme, but almost.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“Luxottica is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Its portfolio includes proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette, Costa del Mar and Alain Mikli, as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Versace. … One of the Group’s competitive advantages is the vertically integrated business model built over the years, covering the entire value chain: design, product development, manufacturing, logistics and distribution.”

Yep. The eyeglass industry seems to have gone the way of Big Pharma. Since they control distribution, they’re free to charge the consumer whatever they can get away with.

November, 2022:

I’ve been trying to find out if I have insurance coverage for glasses. (I don’t, but after NINE phone calls between various optical companies, my insurance benefits office, and a company called Eye-Med, I’ve discovered that I’m eligible for a discount program with Eye-Med that I have to pay for in order to get the discount. And the information on their website is so confusing that I still don’t know how much that discount is.

I’ve gone back to wearing my three-year old glasses for now. I’ll probably try to find a pair on Warby Parker that I like. I just can’t see spending over $800 on a pair of glasses when my prescription changes about once a year.

How much are YOU willing to pay for a pair of good quality eyeglasses?

This is post #3 in this year’s #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

Thanks!

Songwriting Club

My sister Lisa recently suggested I join her songwriting club. The group is given a prompt and then meets once a month to perform their new songs for each other (followed by polite applause and short critiques). Even though I get nervous performing in public, I decided to give it a whirl.

What’s the worst that can happen, I asked myself. I’ll be on Zoom, and if I can tell by their faces that my song really sucks, I’ll just mute myself and blame it on my computer!

This month’s prompt is Home. That’s a pretty broad topic. Maybe a little too broad, I thought. And for an entire day or two, I wracked my brain trying to come up with a clever idea. I even made this list of phrases using the word “home,” hoping it would lead me somewhere:

But that list just led me in circles. In desperation, I sat down at my piano keyboard. Now, mind you, my piano skills are somewhere between beginner and advanced beginner. But sometimes my fingers accidentally land on notes that lead me to a song idea. This time, it worked.

I played a couple of simple chords, and – lo and behold – some words popped into my head. I hate to admit it, though: they were pretty dumb words. The words were:

“Since my baby left me.”

Yeah, I know, that’s been done before (in the song “Heartbreak Hotel”). But what good is a good song lyric if you can’t steal it, I asked myself.

Just so I wouldn’t be sued by the estate of Thomas Durden, who wrote Heartbreak Hotel, I decided to give my song a more positive twist. Somehow, I’d turn heartbreak into happiness.

Writing a song about heartbreak turned on its head was difficult. The struggle was real, as these pictures will demonstrate:

In the end, I DID manage to come up with something positive, and, I think, positively funny. Here’s what I’ve got so far for my new song, “Home Alone”:

So now you know a few of my songwriting secrets, and also what happened “since my baby left me.”

P.S. The song above is a work of FICTION. My baby didn’t leave me, and I don’t like being home alone!

This is post #3 in this year’s #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

Thanks!

Secrets Revealed!

Welcome to Day 2 of NaBloPoMo and NanoPoblano (November’s 30-day blog post challenge).

I have a new camera!

Yes, about two weeks ago, I bought a Nikon Z5. It’s a step up from my Nikon D3200, and it comes with some awesome features like full frame sensor, mirrorless, better sensor, image stabilization, tilting touch screen, and more focus points. Plus, it even has the ability to stack several photos on top of each other.

Secret #1: I don’t really understand any of that, but I’m hoping for some interesting results, eventually!

I also bought a new lens to go with my camera, a 28-75mm zoom.

Secret #2: My old 18-300mm zoom lens was fairly crappy. The more I used it, the more I came to realize that. In low-light situations, or when zooming all the way out (for example, when trying to capture birds in flight), everything was either grainy or out of focus. It was frustrating. My new lens seems to be doing better. It only zooms out to 75mm, but that’s okay, because I think it’s a better quality lens. Eventually, I’ll buy the 28-200mm I have my eye on, but for now I’m just going to focus (pardon the pun) on learning to use what I’ve got.

Here’s one of the first shots I took with the Z5 – a zinnia in my garden. For this shot, zoomed out to 75mm, I got close to the flower and set the f-stop at 2.8, which gives the photo that soft, blurry background known as “bokeh.”

And here’s another one of my first “new camera” photos. I think it’s the first still life I’ve ever attempted.

I set the camera on a tripod and experimented with different lighting, including filtered window light plus a floor lamp. For the background, I went to a fabric store in search of black velvet. The closest they could come to that was brown velveteen, which I settled for, and I’m glad I did … I like how the soft brownish tones go with the toast.

But … Secret #3: I wish I’d gotten more of this photo in focus. I could have done that if I’d taken my time and adjusted the f-stop from 5.6 to a higher number.

By the way, that plate in the picture? I spent $10 on it at an antique store, specifically for this picture, and … Secret #4: I promptly smashed a chunk of it off when I accidentally banged it against the bowl of oranges while arranging the shot. I cobbled the plate back together with clear packing tape, and then … Secret #5: I airbrushed the crack line in the photo using my Lightroom photo editing software. (Okay, now you know all my secrets.)

This still life is based on a song, “Chelsea Morning,” by Joni Mitchell. Do you know it? Click the link and you can watch her singing it live in 1969. I actually just met someone online who had never heard of or listened to Joni’s song, “Blue,” and that made me sad. If you’ve never heard “Blue,” I urge you to listen to it!

But now, back to Chelsea Morning. The song, one of Joni’s earliest recordings, includes the following lyrics, which you’ll hear at 1:38 in the video:

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
and the first thing that I knew
there was milk and toast and honey
and a bowl of oranges, too.

After all this talk about songs, I think my next post will be about my own attempts to write a new song, which I’ve titled “Home Alone.” And it isn’t the least bit sad!

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 5)

Welcome back for the fifth and final installment of “Lucky to Live in the ROC.” After Part 4‘s mad-dash adventures in pizza tasting, coffee drinking, and mural gazing, I’ll bet you’re ready for a nice relaxing drive through the autumn hills of upstate New York.

But first, a note: November is National Blog Post Month (#NaBloPoMo), when dedicated bloggers everywhere try to post a little something every day. Throughout the month, I’ll be writing daily posts until I run out of ideas – which could be tomorrow. 🙂 Luckily, I’m part of a Facebook group (NanoPoblano) that cheers each other on by reading and commenting on each others’ posts. To read NanoPoblano posts, just join the NanoPoblano Facebook group or type NanoPoblano in the WordPress search field.

Now for those autumn hills:

Letchworth State Park

A beautiful upstate New York destination – especially in the fall – is Letchworth State Park, 40 miles south of Rochester. Due to its scenic gorge carved out by the Genesee River, the park is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” The photo below was taken at Inspiration Point, where you can take in the view of both Upper Falls in the distance and Middle Falls. (Lower Falls can’t be seen in this photo.) It’s just a short drive (or fairly easy round-trip hike) from one waterfall to the next, with plenty of parking areas, and even a snack bar close by. I visited the park on a Sunday, and even though it was a weekend, it wasn’t crowded at all.

After admiring the view, I turned around and looked up at the trees. They seemed to be communicating with each other (which, according to Peter Wohlleben in “The Hidden Life of Trees,” they actually do). These trees literally inspired me to go home and write a song about them. I call it “Listen to the Trees.”

Here’s a closer look at Upper Falls:

The photo at the top of this post (above the title) is Middle Falls.

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

About 35 miles south of Rochester, you can hike through Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area and get a lovely view of Honeoye Lake, one of the eleven Finger Lakes.

Look around and you’ll see even more to admire there: leaves, park buildings, a hornet nest (yikes!), and even a gray squirrel or two. Full disclosure: the squirrel was perched on a fence in nearby Dansville, which I visited later in the day, but somehow he jumped into this scene. I’ll forgive him for acting so squirrely.

This sure was a good year for fall colors. The hills seemed to be alive with brilliant reds, oranges, and golds, especially when the sun hit them just right. I’m glad I got outside with my camera in October, because the leaves are dropping quickly now.

Speaking of which, I have a new camera! Although the above photos were taken with my older one (a Nikon D3200, considered “entry level” among DSLR cameras), future posts will show my attempts at learning to use my new Nikon Z5 in “manual” mode. Stay tuned!

If you’d like to follow me to see how long I last in the #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

Thanks, and happy November!

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 4)

Welcome back for another installment of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” the ongoing series in which I write about upstate New York attractions in and around Rochester. In the last episode, I promised you an epic road trip in search of the perfect pizza, and some unexpected artwork, so here goes:

The Pizza

On a recent road trip through upstate New York, I stopped in Geneseo, a quaint college town thirty miles south of Rochester, and discovered “Mama Mia’s Pizza.” The pizza was so amazing – thin and crispy, with great-tasting sauce – that I returned a few weeks later with a friend for another slice. This time, I didn’t just get great pizza, I got a great cup of coffee, too.

When I ordered my coffee, the woman behind the counter said they’d make a fresh pot. “Okay,” I replied, wondering if I was causing them too much trouble as I began to eat my pizza at a table outside. Pretty soon, a young man came out. “I’m going to make you a cup of Costa Rican coffee.” “That’s fine,” I said.” About ten minutes later, I’d finished my pizza and was wondering if I’d ever get my coffee. Suddenly, the coffee man came out with a steaming cup.

“I ran home and got some beans,” he explained. “I bought them at the Rochester Public Market, they’re great.” And he’d come back to the shop and ground them just for me. Wow. It was the BEST cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time.

I didn’t take a picture of my pizza because it disappeared too quickly, but it looked something like this:

And here’s a sign I saw in a Geneseo shop window.

The Unexpected Artwork

In 1914, Robert Frost wrote “Mending Wall,” a poem about a wall that divided his orchard from his neighbor’s forest. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” he wrote. But in Livingston County, New York, the residents love their walls so much that, last July, they commissioned some artists to paint murals on them, and then they held the Livingston County Mural Festival to show them off.

The colorful walls are actually the sides of buildings, one for each of the nine villages in Livingston County. I hadn’t heard about the murals, but on our way home from Mama Mia’s Pizza, my friend pointed out of his window.

“Cool,” he said. “I’d like to photograph that.” We parked on Main Street and gaped at the mural for a while.

Soon, a woman approached us. I thought she might have been the mural’s artist, eager to talk about her work. But she was just a helpful citizen who wanted to tell us all about the festival.

Like the friendly coffee man, she momentarily ran off and returned bearing a gift: a small booklet detailing everything you ever wanted to know about the festival, including maps and the painters’ names. That day, we made it our mission to visit each and every one of the Murals of Livingston County.

I know that sounds like “The Bridges of Madison County,” but please do NOT mistake this essay for that book. If you’ve ever been forced to read “The Bridges of Madison County,” or if, like me, you were just curious to see how bad it was, I’m sorry to bring it up.

But hey, who am I to judge? I just binge-watched eleven episodes of “Virgin River,” where almost every scene ends with a warm embrace and this stunning dialogue:

“I love you.” “I love you, too.”

I can’t wait for Season Five! And no, I’m not being sarcastic!

But I digress. Here are two more murals of Livingston County. I’ve actually been to four others to date (Avon, Caledonia, Leicester, and Lima), but I lost the photos! It’s the first time a memory chip has failed on me (besides the one in my brain, that is). It’s disheartening, but I can always go back and take more photos. I think the murals will be there for a while.

Next time, I’ll post recent photos of Mother Nature’s artwork: the colorful autumn leaves I’m seeing everywhere. Stay tuned!

Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss a thing! Just click below, and then look for the small blue button that says “Follow loristory.” Thanks!

Featured image by Wilfried Pohnke @ Pixabay.com.

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 3)

Previously, on Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 1) and Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2), I shared two great places to visit in Rochester, New York: the Little Theatre and Highland Park. In Part 3, I reveal more attractions, including THE FOURTH-OLDEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD!

SEABREEZE AMUSEMENT PARK

Seabreeze is a historic amusement park situated in a breezy part of town where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario. It’s been a summer destination for young and old since 1879. I used to go there in the 1960s.

My favorite ride then was Over the Falls, which in those days meant a slow, creaky ride through dank, cobwebby tunnels, and a 40-foot plunge into a pool. Over the Falls eventually got to be over the hill, though (what does that say about me?), and was replaced in 1984 by the Log Flume.

Although I was daring enough to go Over the Falls, I never had the intestinal fortitude to brave the Jack Rabbit, built in 1920. It’s the fourth-oldest roller coaster in the world, but at 102, it’s also the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in America.

Jack Rabbit

Yes, the Jack Rabbit isn’t just old, it’s an antique – entirely constructed of WOOD. And if that isn’t enough to send you screaming from the park, consider this: you’ll be strapping yourself in for a wild ride full of sharp twists and turns on track that clickety-clacks like a rattlesnake (over 2,000 feet of it) , a 75-foot drop, and a dark tunnel signaling the merciful end.

But hold on a minute. If that type of cheap thrill isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other rides here at Seabreeze (including swirling teacups, which caused me to have to sit perfectly still for an hour after being swirled in one of them).

Although Seabreeze Amusement Park happens to be the fourth-oldest operating amusement park in the United States, not all of its rides are old. Here are some of the other rides you’ll see there. Pictured below are the Time Machine, Tilt, Screamin’ Eagle, Revolution 360, Log Flume, Carousel, and Bobsled:

Speaking of old, seniors get in free every Tuesday. They can enjoy all rides for free that day, too. And yes, if you must know, I was there on a Tuesday.

In my next installment of Lucky to Live in the ROC, an epic road trip in search of the perfect pizza leads to some unexpected paintings in the strangest of places.

Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss a thing! Just click below, and then look for the small blue button that says “Follow loristory.” Thanks!

Follow loristory on WordPress.com

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2)

I’m back with another exciting installment of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” an ongoing series in which I extoll the virtues of my hometown, Rochester, New York.

(Bonus tip: Scroll to the bottom to see the CUTEST PICTURE EVER TAKEN OF MY DAUGHTERS, and then return here to continue reading.)

Part 2: HIGHLAND PARK

When I first moved to Rochester as a child, I immediately noticed the abundance of trees.

Maybe my impression was colored by the fact that my former street was a busy four-lane highway, and my new address was on a quiet road covered by an arc of leafy elms. But to my twelve-year-old mind, Rochester was a green oasis compared to the drab Buffalo suburb I’d come from.

I soon discovered many lovely parks in and around Rochester that supported my first impression. And, of all the parks in the area, Highland Park turned out to be my favorite.

Highland Park was designed in the late 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of New York’s Central Park). Its 150 acres are located within the city limits. It’s an arboretum that showcases more than 1,200 lilac shrubs (over 500 varieties), as well as magnolias, rhododendron, azaleas, and many other beautiful plants, while maintaining a natural, flowing vibe. It also features an amphitheater, Highland Bowl, that is used for outdoor movies, theater productions, and music concerts.

Highland Park is a great place to visit in the spring, when many flowering plants are at their peak. For a guide to what’s blooming when, click here.

A Lilac Festival is held in Highland Park each May, with music, art, food, and – of course – lilacs.

Winter in Highland Park can be a good time for photos, too, until your fingers get numb from the cold.

Here are my top three memories from past visits to Highland Park:

#1: Attending a Sarah Vaughan concert in the 1980s at the Highland Bowl amphitheater. Fun fact: My daughter Erica (age 1 at the time) came along with me. About 30 years later, we learned that her husband, Richard, had been there, too. Coincidentally, they tied the knot at Warner Castle, located IN HIGHLAND PARK! Could their fate have been written in the stars that night?

#2: Seeing Herman’s Hermits there during the 1990s. Somewhere in my archives, I have a blurry snapshot of Peter Noone (taken by me) singing “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am.”

#3: Taking my daughters there to see the flowers. One year, on Mother’s Day, a reporter noticed Katie and interviewed her. She was on the news that night!

Well, I guess you can see why Highland Park is special to me. I think I’ll go there today and take more photos.

Tip: Follow me so you won’t miss the next fascinating episode of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” in which I’ll discuss the FOURTH-OLDEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD!

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 1)

A friend is staying with me this summer, and the weather has been cooperating. In fact, since his arrival, we’ve had almost constant sunshine (and that’s really rare for Rochester). As a result, we’ve been going out on little adventures every day.

Now, through my friend’s eyes, I’m starting to appreciate my hometown more than ever, and I’ve decided to write about this in my new series, “Lucky to Live in the ROC.” In each segment, I’ll discuss something really special about Rochester, New York – something that makes me glad I moved back home.

PART 1: THE LITTLE

The Little Theatre, a.k.a. “The Little,” is located at 240 East Avenue in downtown Rochester. It was built in 1929 as part of the Little Cinema Movement (an alternative to commercial movie houses), was constructed in the Art Deco style by Edgar Phillips and Frederick Pike, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In my opinion, it’s the best place in Rochester for movies, especially if you like independent and foreign films. In addition, it has a great little café with live music and food (including a light, delicious limoncello layer cake).

The Little Theatre, Rochester, NY

We recently visited the café at The Little to hear Hanna & the Blue Hearts. Hanna PK grew up in South Korea; her parents were in a rock band. She learned to play piano at a young age, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she discovered American blues, and it knocked her out. (My friend Aleks, guitarist for the Blue Hearts, tells me she was “gobsmacked.”)

You can read more about Hanna’s evolution as a blues musician in the WXXI news story, “Music Heals Hanna PK and the Blue Hearts.

Tony Hiler (drums), Hanna PK (vocals),
Aleks Disljenkovic (guitar)
Gian Carlo Cervone (organ),
Hanna PK (piano, vocals), Tony Hiler (drums),
Aleks Disljenkovic (guitar)

I love Hanna not only for her musicality (she plays piano and guitar, covers the blues and American classics, writes her own songs, and sings), but also for her huge heart, which comes across in her original lyrics as well as her stage presence. And the music she and the band play is world class. To my mind, hearing Hanna & the Blue Hearts play the blues is one of the most uplifting things I’ve experienced, here or anywhere else.

And I’m getting an education about the blues, too. After hearing the Blue Hearts’ version of Memphis Slim’s “I’m Lost Without You,” I asked my friend Aleks about it, and he sent me a link to a video – Memphis Slim performing the song along with famed guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy. I’d never heard the song before, never heard of Slim or Murphy, and now I’ve heard both of them play another great version of the song.

Then I did three things: I looked up Memphis Slim (and learned his real name), I looked up Matt “Guitar” Murphy (and learned that he played in the Blues Brothers band and even played a role in the Blues Brothers movie), and I listened to Hanna’s version of the song, which is track 4 on her new CD, “Blues All Over My Shoes.” I learned a lot that day.

As I said, I’m lucky. Lucky to live where I can hear Hanna & the Blue Hearts playing LIVE at the Little Theatre (and all over New York State).

Do you feel lucky living where YOU live?