Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Wonderful Parade

I have long been a huge fan of Jimmy Stewart, and the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" has been one of my favorites.  I have the movie poster hanging in my living room, and my family has been forced to name our pets from the movie (our dog is named Bailey, and our cats have been named Clarence, Zuzu, Violet, and Mr. Gower.  We keep trying to acquire an Uncle Billy but so far that hasn't worked out.)  This film is full of sappiness and nostalgia, but it has a good message and I just love to watch it and quote along, annoying everyone around me.

Based in upstate New York, the original town that Capra modeled the movie from is believed to be Seneca Falls.  Every year they host an It's a Wonderful Life festival, and I've never attended, even though I live fairly close by.  That changed this year when my kids were able to ride in the parade thanks to a very kind and funny blogger named Greg, also known as TellingDad.

This connection happened because of the internet, and really it all started with Wil Wheaton.  Yes, Wil Wheaton--aka Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: the Next Generation.  You see, a few years ago I had little idea what Twitter was, but I thought it would be cool to follow some famous people.  Being a Trekkie, I searched for Trek celebrities first, and started following Wil.  Turns out that Mr. Wheaton is pretty much a king of the internet, and through his tweets and blog posts I was introduced or re-introduced to some incredibly awesome things.

Here is a sample list of awesome things I now enjoy thanks to Wil:
The Big Bang Theory, Felicia Day and The Guild, Paul and Storm, Wootstock, ThinkGeek, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Jonathan Coulton, John Roderick and the Long Winters, Bad Astronomer, Nerdist, Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, shirt woot, and  Hyperbole and a Half.

One of my favorite people that I've discovered though Wil is Jenny Lawson, aka the Bloggess.  Jenny is a blogger that lives in Texas, and her hilariously quirky sense of humor matches mine--I thoroughly enjoy her tweets and blog posts.

So, what does this have to do with a parade in Seneca Falls??  Hang on, I'm getting there.

Jenny often recommends other sites that she enjoys, so one day I clicked on a recommended blog site which was Greg's Telling Dad. Greg is a great writer, and his posts always make me laugh.  I had no idea where Greg lived, but some of his posts hinted to the fact that he was in Upstate New York.

Greg bought a fire truck he named Perry, with the intent of using it for fundraisers, parades, etc.  Last month he posted that Perry the fire engine was going to be in the "It's a Wonderful Life Parade".  You see, it turns out that Greg's family lives in Seneca Falls, birthplace of It's a Wonderful Life, and just 20 miles from my home. I commented on his blog post how this year I would take the kids to come watch the parade, and he then invited my family to ride on the truck.

That's right--from Wil Wheaton in California, to Jenny in Texas, to Greg who LIVES JUST DOWN THE THRUWAY FROM ME.

On Saturday we made the drive to Seneca Falls and rode in the parade.  K and E had an absolute blast, and I was relishing the Bedford Falls nostalgia.

This my friends, is why the internet is awesome.

We hear about awful things that happen to people because of the internet--creeps, freaks, cyberbullying, abductions, evil social networking--however, there are many situations where the internet uses its superpower for good.  Social networking made it possible to create a great experience for my family, and it is encouraging when you get to meet strangers that are incredibly nice people.

It was butt biting cold on the parade day, and I worried that my kids would think the entire event was "lame", but when we got in the car to return home both of the kids said "That was awesome!"  That made it a Wonderful Day.
Ethan is waiting for the parade to start

Putting on his gloves--it's getting serious now

I rode on top to make sure Ethan wouldn't fall off.  It was a lot of fun!

Waiting before the parade.  Greg is the tall man just to the left of Katie

I think the actress that played Zuzu might have been riding in that convertible.  So, I could have been 50 feet away from someone that was held by Jimmy Stewart.  Squee!!

People were encouraged to dress up in the 40's era.

Downtown Seneca (Bedford) Falls

Katie chose to walk the route and hand out candy

She had a ball handing out candy

Tell me that isn't the bridge.  That is soooo the bridge.  "Zuzu's petals, Zuzu's petals!"

They boy had fun riding the top of the truck

A cold but very fun afternoon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fried Dough

Attending the local fireman's carnival has been an annual tradition with our family since I met my husband 16 years ago.  Over the years the focus has shifted--before we had kids, we would spend Saturday nights in the beverage tent with friends.  Once the children arrived the mission changed to watching them ride the carnival rides all afternoon.  A constant through all of the years of attending the carnival is enjoying fried dough--that mouthwatering big glob of flour, deep fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  It is the most evil, yet most delicious of carnival treats, and it is made by local volunteers from the fire department.

This year I was standing in line with my daughter waiting to pick up that glob of goodness when I noticed the man in front of me was quite irate.  He had two orders on plates in front of him and was yelling at the dough-making ladies, saying his dough was cold.  He was really, really angry about it, as if there were some kind of fried dough conspiracy out to make sure his dough would not be served warm.  I was a little taken aback at what I was witnessing.  He was too angry to hear me making comments behind him. "Dude, it's just dough.  Really.  You are going to yell at these nice ladies over a piece of dough?"  Based on the temper of that man and the way he stormed off, it was probably a good thing he wasn't listening to me.

Once he left (dough-less), I stepped up to the counter and happily took one of those orders.  It was delicious!  While my daughter and I were eating that "cold" dough, the angry man came back, reached around my daughter's head and snapped up the other order.  We decided to leave before he realized that I had taken his dough.

The angry dough man has affected me.  Witnessing someone get so mad over such a trivial thing gives me pause to evaluate my own behavior.  There are many times when I want to rage over something--just in the past week I've been angry over several things--my daughter's name not being read at an awards ceremony, attending an overcrowded elementary concert where people saved seats for no-shows while others couldn't even get into the auditorium, interacting with an exceptionally rude person at work.  In the future when the anger starts, I will ask myself if this the anger is truly justified or is it a fried dough moment, the result of being tired or hungry and taking my crankiness out on others. No one should be screamed at because a piece of dough is cold.  Life is short and disappointments are frequent, but even cold fried dough is absolutely delicious.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I've lived in Upstate New York now for twenty years.  When I first moved up here, the thought of a tremendous amount of snow was terrifying to me.  I dreaded the winters, feeling trapped inside while all of the white stuff fell.  One of the most difficult changes was the fact that in Rochester some of the heaviest snowfalls happen in March.  March!  In Indiana, I was out running around in a windbreaker in March.  Spring was on its way by then.  Not so up here.

Back in 1992 a coworker talked me into buying a pair of used cross country skis.  At the time, I didn't even know what they were or understood the skiing process.  We would spend early weekend mornings meeting at different parks around the area, gliding around on the skis.  I've been hooked ever since, and in 1994 I sprung for a new pair of wax-less skis which are still in rather good condition to this day.  Cross country skiing has rescued me from the winter blues.  I have no idea if my technique is any good, and I would probably make an expert skier cringe, but being able to get out of the house and get my heart rate up amidst all of the white stuff is invigorating and freeing.

Twelve years ago Bob and I built a house on several acres of land, and I was now able to put my skis on and take off out our back door.  No more driving twenty minutes to ski around several other people on public trails.  Now that we have the dog, he delights in going with me, dodging in and out of snow drifts, running along my tracks and sometimes stopping right in front of me, forcing me to stop and shout "DOG!" to keep from crashing.

I will never take this for granted.  Every time I go out, I stop and look around, and realize how blessed I am.  Bob and I know darn well that within ten years we could quite possibly be surrounded by housing developments.  It is probably inevitable.  I am taking the time now to focus on the absolute quiet of a field of snow, being able to hear the chickadees chirp in the tree line by the trail, and the fact that the dog can run freely for acres without roads or other houses in the way.