Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Secrets of My 10-Year-Old Self


While I was cleaning up the house, I happened on an old diary. It was from when I was 10 years old. I stopped cleaning to look at it.

My parents used to give us these little diaries at Christmas. I remember I would wait breathlessly until Jan. 1 and then I would begin writing in them. There was a page for each day. The trouble with that system is that eventually you fall off the wagon and it is hard to get going again. For this diary, though, I did pretty well. I made it all the way through January.

I do not remember ever looking at this before. It was illustrated! I drew pictures of my teachers and my friends.

I do remember Mr. Cvinar was our 7th grade teacher at Christ the King School. So I was in 7th grade. I was kind of babyish, I think, because I was just 10. I was the youngest child in my class. That was because when I was in kindergarten, my dad had taught me to read, and I was put ahead into first grade. In effect I skipped a year.

That picture of Mr. Cvinar does look like what he looked like, to my recollection. I did not remember Mrs. Cvinar. But apparently I liked her. “Mrs. Cvinar said on Monday she would bring little Steve Cvinar in so we could see him.” I loved reading what I was excited about.

On New Year’s Day I wrote, “New Year’s Eve, we stayed up till 12:30. We drank wine and Pepsi. We also watched them launch the New Year’s balloon on TV, and saw half of Show Boat. The grups wouldn’t let us stay up till 1:30.” “Grups” was our shorthand for “grownups.” I think my brother Tony got that from “Lost in Space.”

I was already a partyer. On Jan. 4 I wrote: “Margie (my sister) dropped out of Brownies lately. Jean dropped out of Girl Scouts.” Jean Schneggenburger, my best friend, makes frequent appearances in the diary. Looking back, I would have thought that with Jean out of Scouts, I would have wanted to leave too. But no! I continued: “I might drop out of Scouts too, but I’d just as soon wait until after camp and the Potluck Supper.”

I stayed in Scouts. On Jan. 11: “Tonight was Girl Scouts. We reviewed a couple of our dances and discovered we would do one for the Potluck Supper.” I remember going to several camps and Potluck Suppers. Good times.

It’s funny to see something that flies in the face of what you thought you remembered. I thought I hated gym. But no — the diary mentions hockey (floor hockey, this would have been). I looked forward to games. I was on a team called the Cherry Bombers. “We are the champs!”

My Uncle Bob gave us piano lessons every Sunday. “Boy am I going to be in trouble for lessons,” I wrote one Saturday. “I didn’t do 1/2 the things I was supposed to do.”

Next day: “Lessons didn’t go as bad as I expected. I simply said ‘no’ when Uncle Bob asked me if I did the Kinderscenen. Then I was able to fake (sight read) the finale of the Mozart Sonata, up to the ‘episode.’ When Uncle Bob asked me if I did the 4’th Beethoven variation, I just said no.”

I wrote a lot about my teachers. There is a day-to-day account of Mrs. Bucholtz and her sprained ankle and when she was finally going to come back to school and how she had to walk with a cane. I seem to have liked Mrs. Bucholtz more than I remembered. There was also a Mrs. Mazzu, whom I don’t remember. I drew a picture of her captioned “Mrs. Mazzu, when she isn’t yelling.”

I did a lot of drawing. One drawing of a woman yelling is captioned: “A Mean Teacher.” And at one point I wrote: “Somehow I can’t refrain from doodling in my books at school. Hope for the best!”

There is a nun named Sr. Marie Patrice who would give me a tough time. I had no memory of her. Then I read that she was subbing for a Sr. Marie: “Fortunately, Sr. Marie came back today. Sr. Marie Patrice was just going to give us a science test. Sr. Marie decided not to.”

One episode is something I distinctly remember. I got to go to my Uncle Joe and Aunt Marie’s to help my cousin Caroline serve hors d’oeuvres (I spelled it “orderves.” I don’t blame myself — I still struggle with that word.) I remember they dressed Caroline and me in dirndl skirts and we went around serving shrimp and stuff. Well, I describe it:

There were many people there, about 40. Most of them were doctors. Caroline and I were busy from beginning to end, picking up dishes, passing food, refilling glasses, etc. Despite that, though, it was a lot of fun.

There was this one woman there. She had a long, green feathered ‘strip’ around her. Caroline and I kept finding bits and pieces of green feathers on the floor. After a while the whole strip disappeared. Maybe it grew small and she put it away. Or maybe it shredded to pieces.

It is funny to be able to place that party in its proper place: Feb. 23, 1973. And the “strip” of feathers. I did not know the term “boa.”

Back to my friend Jean. We were just making plans to get together — I will have to bring this diary, or at least tell her about it. Because it is so funny reading back on our doings. One day we made mean posters of all our teachers. “It was great!” I wrote.

Then this: “I played with Jean again today. We decided to go to Tops. However, when we came back, there was so little time we only got to play the piano for one another and then separate.” Jean and I were always playing the piano for each other.

There is a lot of mention of Tops. I loved going to Tops — I still do, LOL. Back then I would go there with my sister Katie and with Jean. We would buy candy and cans of pop. No wonder that on Feb. 20 I talk about having to get two cavities filled. “Yippee!! It’s all over! Katie has 5 cavities. Man, I don’t envy her!”

How awful, that we had all those cavities. That wasn’t right, you know?

But the diary is so much fun. I found another little daily diary too, along with this one. That one was four years later, however. I would have been 14. I’ll read it at some point, but 14 isn’t as much fun as 10.

That diary of my 10-year-old self.

I wish I had kept it up all year!


Saturday, May 25, 2024

Jackie Jocko's Piano Comes Home


Today lounge pianist Jackie Jocko’s piano came home to its old location. It is sitting in the corner of the Hyatt in downtown Buffalo where it used to sit. That corner is in the lounge of the new steakhouse Johnny D’s. When Jocko played there the restaurant was called E.B. Green’s.

I am explaining all this for the benefit of non-Buffalonians. Jocko is special to us in Buffalo still, even though he has been gone for a few years now.

Mary’s Substack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Howard is going to be playing Jocko’s piano most nights of the week as we go forward. I am going to be playing it the leftover nights. I am guessing I will have the low-rent nights such as Monday and Tuesday. That is fine by me! When I worked for The Buffalo News I used to like it when they ran my columns on those days. I figured they did that to get people to read the paper on a day when they might not otherwise.

The expert piano technician Thomas Miller did the honors of moving and tuning the piano. Here it is in its new/old spot. Before he tuned it, Howard played it. I stood by the piano and listened. I grew nostalgic thinking about how many times I stood on that spot, talking with Jocko.

“Mary!” Jocko used to beckon you over to the piano. And you would stand there.

Sometimes if he had something really juicy to confide, you would sit on the piano bench with him.

Ah, the memories. They light the corners of my mind!

I played for the restaurant owner. Howard told me to do something classical so I played Chopin’s Aeolian Harp Etude. I was happy I got through it from memory! I had not expected to do this. Grand slam! Yay me! After that I played “Over the Rainbow.”

The owner loved “Over the Rainbow.”

“I like songs I know,” he said.

So, I will be playing songs he knows. That is fine by me! I love playing classical music, it’s my thing — however you have to watch what you would play in an atmosphere like this, in a beautiful restaurant. You can’t play anything too loud or, well, anything too deep. The Beethoven “Moonlight” sonata, everyone knows it, however it is just too deep to play in this environment. You don’t want to distract people from their dinners. A lot of Mozart also falls into this category. It’s quiet, it’s simple — but it’s just too deep. Maybe I could do piano treatments of a couple of arias. I do not rule it out. However I aim to please, and I aim to please myself too, and if it’s a toss-up between Chopin and Harold Arlen, I am happy to do the Harold Arlen.

Today is a long story however the adventure ended with me taking the subway and then riding a Reddy Bike down Amherst Street in a long cheetah-print dress and sandals. This killed me — as I was nearing Delaware Park, I passed some parked cars, and this being Buffalo, a voice came out of one of them.

“Mary!” It was a woman, is all I know.

I did not want to know more! It was probably someone I love, however sometimes you cannot, you just cannot. Excuse me, I am riding a Reddy bike in a cheetah print gown and sandals.

Do I look as if my life is normal?

Sunday, May 5, 2024

My wall-to-wall carpeting is out the door!

It wasn't pretty, but it had to be done! As my old friend Daryle woulds say.

Isn't it funny how you pick up phrases from people and use them your whole life? But anyway.

The carpets .... gone!

It was an, ahem, adventure that went on for three days and from which I have only just begun to recover. I reveal the saga on my Substack page. I would be honored if you would check it out here.

Above is a picture I took of Carpet Don putting in the pad for the living room carpet. I was standing their agog. 

The end of an era!

Do join me for this adventure.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A New Skillet, A New Website

There is this cast-iron skillet I cannot bring myself to use. 

It just sits on my counter!

And I keep on using my old annoying frying pan, which goes back centuries. The picture above proves it. Velazquez painted my old skillet! That is it in the picture, I am sure of it.

Because of the book "The Artist's Way," I am starting to question my behavior and try to figure out why. And so I am taking a trip down this rabbit hole.

Why do I not season my skillet?

I am exploring this question today on Substack. Click here to find it there. I would be so grateful.

My Substack is free!

Substack is nice and organized and it is helping me to get on a better writing schedule. I do not plan on doing paid subscriptions, in part because I do not want a job -- I want this to be for fun.

Please follow me there. Please take out a free subscription -- I would love that! One reason I am doing this is, I plan on shortly publishing my book about Leonard Pennario, and this would help pave the way.

If you are reading this I appreciate you being here. Thank you -- and if you want to be in touch, great

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Return of the Great White Heron

The heron is back!

I am not sure if it is a Great White Heron or a Great Blue Heron. It is a kind of bluish white. I saw it this morning at Hoyt Lake.

Studying the pictures I do believe it to be a Great White Heron. Whatever it was, the heron was standing around on its long legs looking for fish. I am building a history with herons, including this heron that I drew. In my growing experience, herons can remain pretty much motionless for a long time.

I could not wait it out on account of I had to go and get my manicure. Remember my first manicure? This was my second. And it will not be that long until my third. I am getting into this groove here and I find I like it.

However even being in a hurry I snapped some pictures of the heron.

I filmed him too! Here he is just standing around. Haha, I am noticing that because my cat Jeoffry is a tomcat I am always assuming all animals are boys.

I like the video because you can hear the birds. This is a part of Delaware Park where I love walking...

... because you can hear birds. The red-winged blackbird is the bird that dominates. To me that is always a sound of spring.

Notice in the above picture that there is somebody out on a boat. I loved that!

Spring... bring it on!

Monday, April 8, 2024

Total Eclipse of the Rhinoceroses


Howard and I went to the Buffalo Zoo today to view the Total Eclipse.

We had been invited to an eclipse party we had really been looking forward to, however the traffic predictions were vexing, and Howard had been under the weather and was recuperating. The Zoo allowed us not to be in close quarters with anyone, in case he had had some bug that could be passed on.

And so we viewed the eclipse from outside the rhino enclosure! Those are the rhinos up above. 

The afternoon was honestly magical. I had ridiculed the eclipse beforehand. Why are all these people traveling to Buffalo, I had wondered. I would not cross the street to view an eclipse. That is what I said.

Then I did end up crossing the street to view the eclipse. The Buffalo Zoo is across the street!

Delaware Park was full of people with their eclipse glasses. Howard issued me a pair of eclipse glasses so we were set too. We ran into some people we knew. Other people were texting us. Everyone was excited.

When the eclipse really got down to business, everyone grew quiet. This facet of the eclipse was almost as astonishing as the videos. Here in Buffalo we never shut up for anything! Yet everyone was suddenly hushed.

I took these pictures.

And this video ....


LOL! You can tell how dazzled we were!

And then I stopped filming anything because you just have to enjoy, you know?

It was just so beautiful! 

The Zoo being plunged into darkness. I mean real darkness, aside from the lanterns were on of course, and there were other lights.But really, it was dark as night. No one could believe it. 

This eclipse, I had totally underestimated it. It made me think of a few years ago when the high-wire artist Nik Wallenda walked the wire over Niagara Falls. I had thought that would be no big deal. Then Howard and I were watching it with Jocko in the Hyatt and we all realized we had been wrong in underestimating it.

I will remember this the way I remember that.


Sunday, March 24, 2024

An epic Palm Sunday

This morning I sang in the choir of St. Louis Church -- remember when I joined? It was quite the adventure then and it has only gotten better. Above is a photo one of my friends in the Alto section took of me on her phone as I was looking down admiring the church. I cannot get over how beautiful it all is!

Today being Palm Sunday we sang "All Glory, Laud, and Honor." That is the traditional Palm Sunday hymn. You may not deviate from it, not that we would want to.

The organ that accompanied us this morning!

Our choir director and organist, the great Frank Scinta, he pulled out all the stops. I mean it was as if we were in a movie. An epic movie. He is improvising this, too. He is pulling it out of his head. It is not as if you can go out and get this arrangement. 

I am sure that nobody in the entire world heard an "All Glory, Laud, and Honor" remotely like ours!

Oh, brother. I wanted to put the video on the Web log however the person in charge of the live stream is not letting me do it. So here is a link to the video.

"All Glory, Laud and Honor" begins right about 16:20. Actually a bit after that, however tune in at 16:20 so you can hear the announcer announcing it... "Number 97, on page 120," as if it is just another hymn, on just another Sunday. It is not!

That fanfare that introduces it!

It was like "The Ten Commandments"!

Then Scinta just takes off with his improvisations. We were so dazzled in the alto section we were all just smiling dazedly.

It is hard to get it across just in a video. I should have been recording it up in the choir loft. The volume of it, you can't imagine. Like an ocean wave. Here is where I wish it were a Latin Mass, where I also sing. This kind of church, this kind of music, calls for incense and pageantry. 

I recommend you watch the entire video because all the music was interesting. The Mass ended with the spiritual "Were You There." It was very quiet compared with "All Glory, Laud and Honor" -- in between of course you have gone through the entire Passion, and everything feels different. I was crying in "Were You There" and I was not the only one.

An epic Palm Sunday, as I said to one of my friends.

A Mass to remember!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

An Artist's Date at a Salon

 In the last few weeks I have been charting my journey so far going through Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way." It is time now to recount my third Artist's Date.

In a change of pace, I went for a mani/pedi!

And yes, this is artistic. I need a manicure for my piano playing. What if I am invited to perform a recital or a concerto or something? This is one impediment that will be out of the way. The Artist's Way is all about clearing impedimenta from your life.

Besides that, I have never had a mani/pedi in my life! I just did not grow up in a family where those things were done. Also I was a nail biter until recently. That was a great victory, stopping that nail biting!

Preparing for this step, I scouted a salon on Hertel where I just got my hair cut. It is called Imagine. It is just about around the corner from where we live. Imagine that! Amazing the things in your own back yard, you know? You are looking for something and it turns up right under your nose.

If I like the place, I thought, I will go there for the mani/pedi. And I did like the place. I loved my haircut. It felt so good to walk out of there not wearing a Scrunchie. That afternoon I went to see the movie "Cabrini" and I was sitting there the entire time trying not to put my head back against the chair. I did not want to squash my curls before going out to hear Howard play at the Hyatt that night. "Cabrini," by the way, is a great movie. But that will have to wait for tomorrow.

The day I returned to the salon a few days later, was a beautiful day. Soaring temperatures. I wore sandals because I read that would be best for the pedi, in case the polish was not quite dry.

That did end up not being an issue. The stylist, Hayley, did the pedicure first, and it was a leisurely process, as these things should be. Now that I think about it, I do not think that we as a culture are comfortable with this kind of thing, with someone scrubbing your feet, massaging your feet, working on making your feet beautiful.  Jesus knew that he began the tradition of the Washing of the Feet which is, goodness, coming up next week -- Holy Thursday. 

Well, I got used to the idea and now I am comfortable with it, I will tell you that. Also I loved that I got to sit in a massage chair and fiddle with it, having it do this and that with my back. The chair purred and rumbled, and Hayley and I gabbed periodically about this and that. In the background a customer was getting her hair cut, and bits of talk drifted over, about children and upcoming marriages.

".... And it's so nice, he's an altar boy...."

"... And I told her, why don't you wait until you have lived your life a little ...." (No, I was thinking, don't wait...)

"...And he is changing his major for the second time..."

Conversations like this have been going on for centuries and it was part of the fun of this sweet experience. While the pedicure was drying we did the manicure. I asked the stylist to make my nails short, because I play the piano. She asked questions and I got to talk about Beethoven and about Leonard Pennario.

Oh! I did not mention the most important thing -- the color I chose, for fingers and toes. Yes, I am a poet, and I know it.

It is Barbie pink! 

Yes, I will be playing my late Beethoven with my Barbie pink nails. I did not think of the color as Barbie pink but that is what it is. My friend Brenda correctly identified it as that when she came to pick me up to go see "Cabrini."

She said, "Mary, why did you choose that color?"

When in doubt, tell the truth, as Mark Twain said. So I did.

I said: "Because it is fun."

Sunday, March 10, 2024

My Artist's Date at the Zoo


I have had two more Artist's Dates and one of them was to the Buffalo Zoo!

This is a Victorian zoological gardens, in that it dates from 1875. It is across the street from my house. I mean I can see it from my front window, and at night I can hear the roaring of the lions.

However I almost never go there! Of course I was there when I was little. We all go to zoos when we are little. Then we go there again when we have little kids. However we never go there as adults on our own. Which, I just did that. And I totally recommend it!

The book "The Artist's Way," as I may have explained, demands that your Artist's Dates be on your own. You do not bring anybody! When I look around YouTube there are some YouTube gals who say you can take baby steps and bring someone else. However I strongly disagree. Get your act together and go somewhere on your own. It will not kill you. And when you are on your own you make your own decisions and you listen to your own thoughts. Do you want to stay and watch the polar bears for an hour? You do it. Do you want to wait until no one else is around so you can shoot a video? You can wait. 

It gets extremely relaxing, I have to say that. You just wander around, accountable to no one.

La la la la la la la.

Above is a picture I took of the capybara in the Buffalo Zoo's Rainforest exhibit. Just the Rainforest exhibit by itself is worth the price of admission to the zoo. You get to hang out in a tropical environment for as long as you want, listening to the waterfall, admiring lush greenery, looking at parrots...

... and turtles and capybaras. There is also a Giant Anteater in there though I have not seen him. My Seek app saw him! I pointed the app at some birds and for some reason it spotted the Giant Anteater though I could not, and that was what it identified.

At least I could see the capybara. There is no missing him! I texted a picture of the capy to my friend Ryan. Ryan loves rodents!

Ryan wrote back: "As they used to say at the Erie County Fair: "Come see the RAT that's bigger than a CAT!"

After that I could not stop laughing.

These Artist's Dates, I am not sure what they are doing.

But at least they are keeping me entertained!

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Fountain Pen heaven

My new fountain pens are all filled now and in working order. I waited until this morning to take care of all that. These things always take patience, in my experience.

Above is a photo I took of my growing collection!

I bought, do not ask me why, an Oasis Light notebook to go with the purple fountain pen which, yes, I filled with a cartridge of purple ink. All this was a struggle by the way. I am making it sound easy however it required help from Howard and from, ahem, artificial intelligence. The end justifies the means!

The purple pen is a Pilot. It comes from Japan. The other two pens are Lamys and they come from Germany.

Above is a picture of my growing family. The purple Pilot pen is at the top, and the Lamy pens are beneath.

Here is the purple pen with the Oasis notebook.


What to do with that notebook? That is the question.

The inside of the notebook said to check their website, for "a lot of great tips on how to use this notebook." So I did.

All they had on there was how to print artistically in your notebook.

Not write, as in longhand. Print!

This is what the world has come to. No more cursive writing. Which really bugs me. If you do not know handwriting, how are you to appreciate looking at the Declaration of Independence? How can you read Mozart's catalog of his works if you happen on it in the British Museum? I remember once going to the Karpeles Manuscript Museum because they were displaying musical manuscripts, and I marveled at Mendelssohn's handwriting, so perfect and flowing and scholarly. If we do not bring back handwriting, no one will be able to understand that.

Oh well. I will fight the powers the only way I know how.

Speak softly, and carry a fountain pen!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

In the Land of Fountain Pens



Today I went back to Hyatt's and bought a new fountain pen. It could not be helped!

OK, I bought two fountain pens. I admit it.

One was a Lamy. I already have a Lamy however I had to get another one because a few days ago I splurged on this fancy giant jar of Cobalt Blue ink by -- wait for it, Graf von Faber-Castell. Not merely Faber-Castell which we are used to seeing.Graf von Faber-Castell. The Count of Faber-Castell!

So the Lamy pen was one. I also went and bought a Pilot fountain pen.

Then cartridges to keep both of the pens fed.

I notice in the same series as the Cobalt Blue, the great Count of Faber-Castell also offers Garnet Red ink. How glamorous! Just the word "ink," I love it, you know? I will wind up owning all these inks.

Once you go into Hyatt's you can never come out. Above is a picture I took of just a small portion of their ink department. It is not even the fountain pen department, or the ink and calligraphy paper department! It is just the ink.

Here is a bit of the ink aisle looking north.


The inks are amazing. They come from Germany and France and Japan. The inks are interchangeable if you have a pen that takes ink from a bottle and not just from cartridges.

The inks are ready for their closeup!

Monday, March 4, 2024

A Summer Day in Buffalo Town


Today it was summer!

Just a few days after my freezing Artist's Date just last week, suddenly, as Howard said, it was as if we all flew to North Carolina. It was almost 70 degrees! My friend Ryan and I went and sat on the beach and took the sea air. And earlier, I took the picture above when I walked around Delaware Park.

The water was so clear.


I kept hoping I would see the giant snapping turtle again. I am on complete Turtle Alert and I am sure he and I will meet up in the future!

In the afternoon at the beach Ryan and I sat on Adirondack chairs in the sun and it was so warm we could almost complain about the heat. That is always fun, the first time each year when you can complain about the heat. We are not quite there yet but we will be soon.

Our usual spot, Wilkeson Pointe, is closed for construction. They cannot keep their hands off of Wilkeson Pointe. Here all our other parks need fixing and nothing needs fixing at Wilkeson Pointe and yet Wilkeson Pointe gets the attention. It is like working in the garden. You gravitate towards the area where everything is doing well and all the flowers are coming up. And that patch of bishop's weed -- oh, you leave that alone.

What with the summer weather I am thinking about my next Artist's Way Artist's Date.  I am thinking a mani/pedi. Does that count as an Artist's Date?

I was thinking that being a pianist I should get a manicure. Leonard Pennario always got manicures. When I knew him he was still getting them. You need your hands to look good on a piano. I will have to tell the manicurist to make my nails short because I am a pianist.

This is a wonderful time of year, very early spring.

The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sunday in the Gorge With George

Because of an unforeseen sequence of events, I did not end up at Zoar Valley today with my friend Barbara as I had thought I would, to conclude our Western New York Hiking challenge.

Instead I ended up at Artpark, walking the gorge trail along the Niagara River!

My friend Barbara ended up going with her husband to Eighteen Mile Creek, an undeveloped -- that dreaded word! -- park in Hamburg. And I went with my brother George to Artpark.

Neither of us went to Zoar. Which is probably just as well, Zoar having the dangerous reputation that it does.

Artpark is also pretty impressive, I have to say that.

Here is my brother George setting off on the trail. 

That is the beautiful Lewiston-Queenston bridge in the distance!

I asked George to go with me because I thought he knew his way around the terrain. He did not! My dad had taken him walking to see the remnants of the old Great Gorge Route where the streetcars used to go, however that had been 30 years ago or more.

So we explored it together. We could not get over that these trails were there. We have been to Artpark hundreds of times, many of them together. However we never went near these trails. As I just said to someone, all I have ever done at Artpark is listen to music and drink wine. And write concert reviews. I did a million Artpark reviews for The Buffalo News.

Remember the one where St. Christopher saved me on the way home? 

Next to that adventure, this one was a cakewalk!

As these hikes go, this one was easy to follow. You were just supposed to walk this trail. You did not have to turn right or left or look for anything, aside from the waterfall that I was supposed to get my picture taken with.

There were three waterfalls. Here I am with one of them.

 I did not need that bulky pink coat today! However this trip was very spontaneous and I did not have time to turn the house upside down and my closets inside out.

This is really a magnificent part of the world. There is a color called Niagara that is the deep green of the river, and the river today was really that Niagara color.

I like that building visible in the first and last pictures -- an old power station apparently, on the Canadian side.

I also loved looking up at the American and Canadian flags over the Lewiston-Queenston bridge. My parents loved this part of the country. They loved Canada too. My father would always tell us that the Canadians were great gardeners and he would point out that Canada was cleaner than the U.S. This old power station has such an elegant old British Commonwealth look. It makes me think of the Edwardian era.

Now I want to know about the Great Gorge Route, where its remains are to be found. Actually I want to go back in time and ride the streetcar along that route. That must have been a thrill!

We stopped for a picnic beneath the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and enjoyed the vistas.

A beautiful hike, if a bit frightening at times! You do get close to the edge.

George and I agreed that we enjoyed the adventure tremendously. For us however it is not the thrill of hiking that we love. Hikers, I love them, however to them the point seems to be conquering adverse elements and terrain and visiting places that are not easily accessible. They also love employing tons of equipment -- snowshoes, spikes on their shoes, who knows what all.

Me, I like to travel with just Chapstick and a sketchbook. I do not even usually bring water. I love visiting places that are easily accessible. I can walk endlessly, I mean miles and miles. However I would prefer they are easy miles. I want to relax. Take the air. Look around.

I felt I could do that today. And now this is my eighth hike and I win my badge!

My old hiking partner Barbara also earned her badge for her hike at Eighteen Mile Creek.

As we love to declare...

We are the champions!