Fun Times With Family and Friends

In the month or so that I took a blogging break, things were downright nutty around here.  I mentioned that we had some family come in town, and now I’ll elaborate.  In yesterday’s post I talked about my weekend trip to Jax for a surprise party – so I figured with all the family and friend fun times, I could just mash up the visits together and make one big photo dump post to catch everyone up on what’s been going on.

One on hand, I totally realize this is kinda cheap and corny (to throw it all into one post).  But on the other, I’m trying my best to achieve a balance that’s tough to strike, between wanting to cover events that are fun and important to me, without boring the pants off everyone reading.  I know that the minutia of my personal life isn’t nearly as fascinating to y’all as I find it – and with respect to that, I’m trying to not drown you in lame-o posts about very ordinary things.  I do realize, however, that for people who know me in person and hang out with me, there’s a certain expectation of making it into the blog when we hang out.  Or least a nervous reluctance that you probably will end up on here at some point.

So.  With all that meta debate established, I’m cool with going ahead and mentioning a little bit about several different events and then slamming y’all with a photo dump.  Cool? Good.

First up, my cousins Justin and Nicole came up here from Florida.  I hadn’t seen them in over a year, and having them come up to New York (and Canada) for a while was awesome.  They’ve grown up so very much, and realizing just how different they’ve become in 15 months makes me sad to be as far away from them as I am.  I knew both of them in vitro, and have seen their growing up firsthand, until I moved to Hawaii.  We had a great time and made sure to squeeze in as much as we could – like going boating on the lake, doing arts and crafts, cooking out, etc. etc.  In addition to having them up here, my sister Anna and her boyfriend Jared drove over to come visit with them as well.  They live north of Albany, so it’s not too much of a hike.  Having everyone all in Fredonia was both awesome and crazy.  It was a lot of moving parts to keep track of, that’s for sure!

All in all, we had a great time – and I was super sad to see everyone go.

Like less than a week later, my Dad and Step-Mom (Anna) came up here to see us!  They took a big trip up from Florida and we were their first stop.  Neither Duggs or I had seen them since they came out to visit us in Hawaii (remember that post?), so hanging out with Viper and Anna was long, long overdue.  We had an awesome time.  Lots of hanging out, some rambling, we went shooting, hung out with other family members that live in the area, went out to eat, and who knows what else.  Oh yeah, Dad took me to a doctor’s appointment and got to meet one of my new docs up here.  We dedicated a lot of their trip to just spending quality time together, not necessarily focused on an event or an activity.  And that was good, it was just great to hang out all together.

So that covers the two big events of us hosting folks up here.

As y’all already know, last weekend I flew down to Florida to go hang out and get crazy with my old college pals.  I went to UNF in Jacksonville, FL from 2001-2005.  After graduating, I stayed in town for several years (like four?) where I worked and lived and kept partying with my college friends in some weird pattern of extended adolescence.  It was very rad, and I loved the years I spent in Jax.  The beaches are great, the community is great, I loved riding my beach cruiser everywhere and getting to surf after work.  It was just an awesome place to live, and I miss it often.  Well, I miss the friends most of all – but Jax too.  It’s a very rad town!   I didn’t get a ton of pics (partying + mob mentality + not having a flash = lame, blurry, too dark photos), but a couple of the ones that are okay I threw into the photo dump here.

As much fun as I had reuniting with my pals, and wishing one of my dearest dudes, Cory Lee, a happy birthday – man, there is NO place like home.  And at this point in time, I’m confident to say that Western New York sure does feel like home.  I’m glad to be back and I’m happy to be here.  I was just going through some pics from this summer- snap shots from runs I’ve been on, photos of the dogs being silly, and I can easily say that I love my now-life.

Thanks to everyone who hung out this summer and contributed to some super fun times!  Hawaii was amazing, but it was lonely – so seeing loved ones again is a very very nice thing.  It’s wonderful and fills my cold little heart with a whole mess of happiness.

As always, thanks for reading my blog!!  XOXO, HHR

Without further ado… THE PICS:

Advertisements

The Circle Of Life Rings Around Pain and Loss, Too.

I know.  I know what you’re thinking, and yes – I readily admit it.  I’ve been super absentee lately.  What started as a small break because family was coming to visit and I had too much to do, turned into a little blogging break and then snowballed into just well, blog neglect?  For my loyal readers and supporters, I do apologize.  The break has been nice though, and times have been busy as of late.  Work is going full swing, so has home life.  But before I can delve into stories of runs I’ve been on and adventures in which I’ve partaken, I must take today to post about something serious, something sad, something hard.

My Grandmother died last week.  

A week ago today, actually.

a recent pic of me and my gma

Sally Ann Jacobs Eckerle is no longer with us.  And seen it coming as I may have, it still stings and hurts – the circumstances surrounding her last earthly day took us all by surprise and have left a bigger hollow than I could have anticipated.  But isn’t death always like that?  You always prepare and stonewall yourself, you brace and prepare… and yet, your efforts be damned, it still sucks the wind out of your sails with it’s urgent appearance, pulls at your heart and spirit to leave you bereft with sadness.  And disbelief and questions, longing, missing, emptiness.

My Grandma had been sick for a while, she wasn’t a spring chicken.  Not as spry and energetic in recent years the way I had always known her to be.  We knew time wasn’t on her side, of course.  Rational, smart people can always perform simple math.  But even with that knowledge in the back of our minds, I was caught off guard.  She had a tragic accident last week, and now… she’s gone.

I have to stop the sad talk and darkness here though.  Not for myself, because I assure I could go on… but for her.  This is NOT what she wanted.  She didn’t want tears, not ever and especially not now.  She didn’t want a process surrounding her death, she didn’t want us to fuss, she didn’t want to upend everyone around her.   She just wanted to go and to be at peace, and asked that we trust in what is to be and find our own peace too.  Not exactly religious, but more than spiritual, she did acknowledge the full-circle nature of nature – she knew that death was part of living.  As a woman who really lived – boldly coursing through life with chutzpah – she didn’t fear death or despise it.  She was ready, I think.

And in my own beliefs, and the strength I find in God – I have to trust, and be willing to trust, in His timing and in His ways.  I know she’s better now, I know she is in happiness now.  And I thank God for giving me the peace and serenity I so need now.

My Grandma was amazing.  

this is several years old, i do believe

Where to start?

She was strong, smart, outspoken, kind, passionate.  She’d always tell you what she thought, you always knew where you stood with her.  She was blunt, she was honest.  Her heart bled for so many – she felt compassion for causes the world over, and always took the time to understand how a person could feel.  She taught me a great deal about empathy, about being a humanist.  Back before the Internet, she’d educate me about women’s rights issues in remote places, about sex trafficking and slavery.  If she could have fixed it all, she would have.

She had long, strong legs… and I just have this image of her in my mind as both standing firm and tall (she was 5’10 after all) and also of her striding through life, strutting really, with her long legs stepping over obstacles and challenges and never breaking her pace.  She didn’t really let others get in the way of her determination, you know.

When I was little I was somewhat resentful of who she was.  I wanted a tiny old Grandma, a cuddly woman with soft white hair.  I wanted a Grandma who rocked in a chair, knitting, and telling stories.

My Grandma was big and booming, brassy and brazen.  

As I grew up and grew into my own strengths and glaring personality, I understood her better.  Through my own challenges and experiences, I became the “me” I know myself to be today – both resolute and kind, strong yet sweet.  In recent years, my Grandma used to compliment me on the woman I’d become.  “You’re really a nice person, Rose.”  She’d tell me.  And I know she meant it as a compliment – sometimes being nice is difficult.  And I knew that (I haven’t always been so nice, you see).  She saw the changes in me, from bratty teen to confident adult, and she approved.  Really approved.

She loved me.

I admired her.  More than she knew, I suppose.  I tried to make sure she got the idea – it’s hard to say how successful I was at that.

she was a model, it’s easy to see why. what a knock out!

She didn’t have it easy.  Her first husband died when my Dad was only five.  She raised my pops as a single Jewish woman in NYC, post WWII.  The world was harder back then, people more unforgiving.  Feminism wasn’t yet to have burst forth.  She worked jobs taking lower wages than the men around her.  She felt the heat and pain of antisemitism all the time.  She knew the heartache and loneliness of being a young widow.  And yet she held her head high – always.

When her husband died, she found out she was pregnant.  Securing her role as a harbinger for women’s rights, she sought an abortion.  Yes, in the 1950’s, she went to Cuba to get one.  The shame she was forced to crawl through to take care of her own body left her with a hunger to assure that others didn’t have to do the same.  She always fought tooth and nail for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, and I’ve always admired her for that.  A true feminist, I hope I do her proud as I keep that torch going.

if you’ve ever wondered where on earth my hippie tendencies come from… hahaha… viper (my dad) and gma, old school!

Well read, well traveled, sophisticated in many ways and yet rough around the edges when she wanted to be.  She lived through a lot.  She knew a lot.  I just can’t express  well enough how she was just so able to get from life so very much.   She could really grab life by the balls and make it hers.  She was funny,  she was charming.  Witty and crass too.

Seeing her get ill in the past several years has been hard for all who know her.  She hasn’t been herself at 100% for a while.  And that was tough.  For someone who’s been able to shine so brightly, it’s hard to see her personality dampened and darkened by the clutches of Alzheimer’s, and the slowing of her body thanks to COPD.   I resent the sickness that detracted from the fullness of her character.  She did too.

a recent one of gma and my dad, at his house in leesburg

So now that it’s all said and done, I can at least step back and say: she lived a full, rich life.  Her memory will carry on for a long time to come, and she will be both loved and missed forever.   And when I take my own selfishness out of the equation, I recognize she’s at peace now, reunited with loved ones she’s been too far removed from.  I’m happy when I think that she’s with Stanley again.  Her father.  Her brother.  She’s missed them all, and so many more.  That’s the terribleness of out-living everyone you know.  We may be lonely for her voice down here, but she’s without want now – and that fills my heart.

Thanks for reading this.  It means a lot.  I love any chance to spread her legacy just a little bit further, to have one person aware of who she was.   I wrote this all as a stream of consciousness more or less, and I’m worried that if I go back and edit it, I’ll end up just hacking it to pieces and taking things out.  So I’m going to let it ride… probably full of typos, and blistering with raw feelings, but it’ll be real.  And honest.

Oh, and the title: SHE LOVED THE LION KING.  She really did.  She loved animals so much, Spirited Away was her favorite movie – how rad is that?!?!  She was so rad.  Really really truly rad, without trying at all.   There’s just so much I could say about her, she was so dynamic, she did and saw so much, she held so many ideas… it’s really hard to sum her up, and I hate even trying to.  But I don’t want to keep this post going forever, so I’ll wrap it up.  I loved her, I always will.

she was a hipster, from brooklyn and all

Here’s her obit, as written by my Dad and Stepmom and put in their local paper:

Sally Shapiro Eckerle, age 85, widow of the late Richard Eckerle, passed away at home in Leesburg on August 23, 2012. Born in New York City, May 5, 1927, she moved to Miami, Florida in 1974, later resided in Delray Beach, Florida for 28 years until she moved to Leesburg in 2008 to be with her son and daughter-in-law Scott and Anna Shapiro. She is also survived by her grand-daughters Rose Duggan (NY) and Anna Shapiro (NY), by her step-daughter Edith Eckerle (VA), step-son Kenneth Eckerle (GA) and sister-in-law Ellie Jacobs (CT). Sally graduated for NYU with a bachelor of arts degree, worked as the executive secretary for the P.A.L. in NYC, office manager for the Miami Home Builders Association until retiring in 1978. Her interests included mah jong, bowling, card games, word puzzles of all types and socializing with friends and family. She was an avid reader and was always in the middle of a good book. In honor of Sally?s wishes, there will be no service and her body will be cremated. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Humane Society, one of her favorite organizations.

Thanks for reading.  You can count on me to be “back” now – my blogging break is over, and I’m excited to catch everyone up with all kinds of hippie missives.  Love to you all – tell the ones you love how you feel, because life is so precious.

XOXO,

HHR

 

Western New York: I Feel Home.

Western New York is a beautiful place to live; constantly I’m awed and surprised by the bounty of this land.   After being here for about three months, I’m beginning to feel settled.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to live in versatile and dynamic places – I mean, Florida and Hawaii – does it wackier than either of these tropical touristy havens?  A Floridian childhood is special in its own ways, yes.  But there was always the part of me that would jealously eye the neighborhoods in John Hugh’s movies, wishing I lived in a northern suburb somewhere – dreaming of White Christmases and houses without stucco.

Western New York is a rich, amazing place.  In the outdoor activity department, WNY’s cup runneth over for sure.  Season to season there is so much to enjoy outside.

Summertime brings swimming, boating and all kinds of water sports on the ample lakes and waterways – specifically Lake Erie – there’s fruit to pick, festivals to go to every weekend, cook outs, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and on and on.  The weather is sunny and warm most days, varying between balmy and mild, the latter giving way to gloriously cool evenings.  This far north the days are long, with dusk’s light fading out at almost 10:00pm sometimes.

As Indian summer fades into Fall, we’ll head into different picking seasons… the grapes first, then apples, pumpkins.  The length of daylight and the level of mercury will both sink.  Hunting season will open up, hiking and camping become more enjoyable with fewer bugs and the festive beauty of the autumnal color show.  Winter snow and the iced over lake will bring even more to do: snow mobiles, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, skating – all things winter.  Thanks to the lake effect snow this region is known for, winter sports and activities are almost always a go ahead (last year was a particularly weak winter, so I’ve been told).  And then as the spring thaw happens, the whole cycle kicks over again, baby animals and wildflowers bloom as warmer days grace this land.  Gardens are planted, the trees extend soft green leaves out of their barren branches, and the desire to run outside and play is felt by all.

More than just a pretty face who’s good for a fun time, Western New York is deep – her rich and dynamic history, specific to my family, has me enthralled.

You see: I’ve always been a transplant.

Growing up in Florida was awesome, don’t get me wrong.  I could swim before I could walk, I’ve seen my fair share of crazy critters, gorgeous sandy sunrises, Mickey Mouse ears, shuttle launches, big cities and sleepy country towns.    Nice, but in ways I’ve never identified before – often hollow.   I’ve never felt like I “fit in.”  Rest assured, I know this is a broad and baseless complaint experienced far more often than people convinced that they’re popular.   But it’s true nonetheless.

Now being here, in the land of my family, where our roots go so very deep (well, American deep, haha) – it’s a very different experience.  An intangible comfort is omnipresent here; I have the confidence of my ancestors encouraging me every day, something in my DNA guides me and tells me, “YOU ARE HOME NOW.”

Being related to so many people in a proximal area is really rad.  Both immediate and extended family are here – and I can hardly go anywhere in town without there being a long-established family connection in place.  And not in a grease-the-palms kinda way, just in a friendly, “Oh! You’re Kathy’s daughter!” kinda way.  My Great Uncle is something of a living legend here too, so that always makes me proud to be known as a Gioia ’round here too.

In Florida, my last name never held currency.  No one cared, no one knew who we were (save for the small immediate circle of my Dad’s co-workers and perhaps the people who did community service with my Mom).  But familial love and long standing relationships bred into generations of families in a small town is something indescribably nice: there’s nothing like the easy acceptance and welcome I feel here.  (Okay, anonymity is nice in its own ways too – especially if you have some wild oats to sow and would like to be able to do just that without seven hundred years of shame brought on your house; my hat tips to Florida for that!).

We’ll go out to eat and there’s a story, many stories, of how one such family member was close with the original owner, and on and on.  I love that the history of this area relates to ME.   My Aunt Patty is always telling me these connections, the old stories, and I’m 100% fascinated.

More than ministrations and tales, it goes deeper, down to something instinctual and primal – something that eludes a direct understanding – that pulls me to this land.  I just can say I “feel” it.   My sense of direction here is flawless –  I grew up in a sleepy beach town with a grid system for roads and huge bodies of water to serve as glaring directionals – Yet, on twisty country roads that weave through hills, I feel like I know my way around.   Sometimes I have this (morbid and) strange vision of late relatives guiding me, walking alongside me, smiling with familiarity as I travel paths they’ve undoubtedly walked along countless times before me.

Weird?

Yeah, I know.

I’m being super weird.

I’ve been mulling over this feeling for weeks now and this is merely my feeble attempt to put the idea into something digestible.  There’s just this massive looming of emotional connection to the actual dirt and trees, the wind and weather here, that I cannot put into words (although I’m trying damn hard as I reach nearly 900 of them in an attempt to suss out an understanding of the feelings this place evokes).

Sigh.

It’s just lovely is all.  I’m happy to be here.  I feel safe, welcomed, wanted, and normal.

Oh!  I can elaborate on the feeling of normalcy, actually.  Growing up in Florida you’re living with a mixed bag of snowbird transplant families.  When I was in college there was legit stat that 30% of Floridians were born in Ohio!  It feels like everyone merely lives there but actually considers New York or Boston or stinky Ohio (sorries! my Dad went to UM, so I gotta hate a little) to be “home.”   Of course I know that there are long-standing Florida families, and that the expansion of the mid-1900s is now making way to third and fourth generations who’ve called the Gunshine State their own.   The vast majority are though, relocated folks from the great white north.

For me, I always knew we were not of that land; I felt like a visitor.   And now – only after living here – do I understand some of the quirks I was raised with that always felt so odd to me.  They’re cultural norms up here!  Little things, like ordering a strawberry shortcake and having it served on a heavy drop biscuit, the exact way my mother always made it.  I’d never in my life had a strawberry shortcake made that way by anyone other than my Mom.  In FL the norm would be angel food cake, pound cake maybe.  Taking a bite of the slightly salty and dense biscuit covered in local strawberries and whipped heavy cream – it was like childhood relived.  “Oh!” I literally exclaimed at seeing the biscuits next to the strawberries last night at Tops (supermarket) – “this is why my Mom does it this way,”  realization of this region’s influence dawning.

The list of little silly habits goes on.

And while I know it seems minute and weird, after nearly three decades of assuming I was just a sore thumb raised by a pair of quirky, wacky (albeit very loving), nut jobs – there’s something so reassuring about being normal.     Yeah, I do think I almost fit in here.  Now… If only I could rid myself of the gentle lilt that betrays me every time I open my mouth.  That and ditch the tie dye, fanny packs, legwarmers, bandannas and other fashion statements akin to wearing a neon “I’m not really from here” tee shirt….

Hahaha.  I kid, I kid.

Yeah, I know I’ll never be run of the mill – a happy realization and one that I’m proud to own.   Don’t worry, I’m not seeking cultural assimilation by any means.

It’s just a nice realization to be able to piece things all together, is all.  And of course, it should go without saying, Florida will always be “home” in so many, many ways.  (I’m actually terribly Florida-sick lately, missing the sand and saltwater more than ever before.  Oh yeah, and all you people who live there too – I miss y’all as well.     But that’s another post for another day.)

For now, wrapping myself in the dichotomous distant familiarity of a land long inhabited by my own blood is just new, fascinating, calming, and … nice.   My induction to Western New York has been altogether charming.

Okay, that’s enough waxing poetic for now!  You get the point, yeah?  (haha, Hawaiian joke.  See, I’m still a regional grab bag).

HAPPY FRIDAY and HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE!

xoxo, hhr 

Happy Birthday to Me and to The USA!

What a busy week it’s been!  My birthday is July 3rd, America’s is the 4th, I had a whole mess of family in town for the festivities and it’s just been a lot of good times and fun.  Oh, and food!

So my mother (Krazy Kathy) came into town on the 2nd.  I hadn’t seen her since she visited Hawaii almost a year ago! Yowzers, that’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her.  So it was a much overdue visit and it was so nice to have her up here!  We ran some errands together (go figure), hung out, discovered an awesome sandwich place a stone’s throw from my cousin’s house, visited the family cemetery, went out to eat, caught up, so on.

my mom, at my great uncle’s house

dinner pics from our evening at the brick room in downtown fredonia – awesomely great food!

The night before my birthday Kath took us out to eat at this great little Italian place in downtown Fredonia: The Brick Room.  Our food was incredible and it was the perfect ambiance for our very inappropriate and bawdy dinner table talk.

I think it’s easily safe to say that a good time was had by all.

going out to dinner on the 2nd with my mother, husband, and great uncle

love this billabong maxi dress!

Then on the third of July, my actual birthday, I spent the day with my Mom.  Well, I worked a bit in the morning – Duggs worked all day (stupid weird mid-week holiday is such a bummer!).  Then I hung out with Mom.  Once it was dark out we headed over to Uncle Bobby’s – my cousin, his wife, and their kids are up here visiting too, so we got to go see them and hang out.  Sadly the fire works for the third were cancelled because of crappy weather!

mom

and me

this is very funny to me for some reason!

 

 

Alright, so my Mom and I had a nice time on my birthday.  We ran into my Uncle Chris and Aunt Betty who were also in town for the 4th, at the cemetery, how wacky is that!

Oh, the sunset over Lake Erie on my birthday was awesome:

light em up !

pretty paper lanterns

Fourth of July Fun!

The fourth was a busy holiday.  We started the day hanging out at home and getting food and treats ready.  I baked a boatload of festive red, white, and blue cupcakes.  You can flog me now for my flagrant use of food dye, I know I’m terrible!  This is the summer of hypocrisy or something, lol.  Anyways, at least I did bake some without dye (and in the stash I kept home for us I included plenty on un-dyed options).  After getting everything ready, we went over to Uncle Bobby’s for a big ole picnic and cookout.  We played some ladder ball, laid out on the beach, had some delicious steamed clams, hung out with everyone there, I ate some of the best potato salad I’ve ever had… and then we wrapped it up and headed over to my Aunt Patty’s house for a nice cookout!  Al cooked up some awesome steaks, Aunt Patty made ribs and mac’n’cheese, and we all hung out and had some cocktails and cold beers.

Busy, but an awesome holiday for sure!

sweet treats from the 4th

4th of july at uncle bobby and miss peggy’s house

the good stuff!

collage from the cookout at my aunt patty and al’s house

And in case you were wondering, I wore red, white, and blue ALL week.  Haha, just to clarify in case there was any doubt.

It’s been an awesome week, that’s for sure!  And we still have a weekend to go now (okay, maybe I take back what I said about mid-week holidays being stupid).  I hope to get back into a more normal routine come next week, that’s for sure!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Bullets, Boooze, and Berries

Sounds like the perfect day, huh? We had us a good ole Redneck Sunday this past weekend! Yee-haw!

Note: Always practice firearm safety, use weapons responsibly, and never fire a gun for fun while intoxicated.  Guns are serious weapons and should always be respected for how powerful they are.

My cousin Nick, his son Austin, my husband Duggs, and I went over to Aunt Ruth’s house (EZ’s younger sister) for some target practice.  Aunt Ruth’s house is known for being THE spot for deer sightings around here. With plenty of property, not a lot of neighbors, and some good areas to set up target practice – it’s the ideal location to go shoot some guns!

loading the bed of the truck with all of our guns

nick, austin, duggs

I mean, if we’re going to be able to hunt successfully at all this upcoming season, we gotta get the practice in now – right?

nicky showing austin how to do it just right

i did awful with my pistol accuracy this weekend, some of my worst shooting ever

austin and the pistol

success!

here’s a sweet little action collage of me with two guns and my fanny pack on. aww year!

he always catches the shell between shots, so hawt!

i could look at this all day long. the man looks good with a gun!

comparing their groups – nick had the top target, duggs used the lower one.

lookin good hot duggs o’ mine

yeah nicky! nick is great at shooting standing up, more sensible than prone position for hunting.

my cousin nick, hittin’ bullseyes all day

i made him pose for this and he was so annoyed

i love using duggs’ rifle, i did way better with it than with the pistol

sassy prone position

my shoulder got beat up. bad!

i’m a gun slingah… in leg warmers, neon tie dye, and a fanny pack.

All in all, we had a lot of fun.

It was a super hot day, which was a mixed bag: I was thankful for the break in the rain we’ve had so much of lately.  But man, it was really hot out – like muggy, humid, hot.  I know that come winter I’ll be longing for these sunny hot days, but after Florida and Hawaii, the cooler weather of New York has been nice.

Hunting and shooting are two hobbies that I’m okay with.  I think that if you’re going to eat meat, getting your meat via hunting is far more humane, healthy, and natural than the factory farming system we have here in the US.  I know that for some of my animal-loving pals, the act of hunting is hard to understand.  If you ever want to know why I feel the way I do, just ask!

Strawberry Festival!

After a couple hours of target practice, Duggs and I headed over to the local Strawberry Festival!  Put on by a near by winery, Merritt Winery, the strawberry festival was a grand ole time.  We swung by mostly to pick up some food for lunch, so we didn’t stay long.

It was a pretty small set up though, so even in about 30 minutes – we were able to at least see everything there was to see.

The festival is home to their world-famous “Sangria Slush” – as soon as I heard that, I was just dying and begging to go all week long.  And trust me, I was not let down.  The red sangria in slushie form was oh so tasty!

After a hot afternoon in the sun, this hit the spot:

What to do after you’ve been shooting all day? Why, shoot some more of course!

The festival all went to benefit jeuvenile diabetes research (great cause, and local too). One of the tables was a small Glock range, and for a few dollars you could fire off seven rounds.  With a beer in hand, Duggs just had to go and shoot some more.

Shoot a bullseye, and win $5 off your food!  Since we were buying burgers and hot dogs to bring home – this worked out perfectly! Good job Duggs.

The fine boardwalk of booths and sundries:

And of course, the classic car show!

the car show portion of the festival was pretty swanky! 

General Lee

little me in the general lee

Strawberries and other fine foods!

strawberry shortcake, the old fashioned way with a heavy drop biscuit

We actually got way more food than this… including some NY state 100% pure maple syrup, a homemade spice and herb mix to cook with, and all the hot food we brought home for lunch.  I should have grabbed some pics of that!

The festival was cute, but I didn’t mind not hanging around for a long time.  There was a band, and the singer was pretty good – but she was just doing covers mostly, and it was nothing epic.  My cousin told me the line up for Saturday consisted of some great local bands that he’s heard before and really likes.

This weekend seems to have kicked off “festival season” – all summer long, just about every weekend around here is some kind of festival or fair.  I am SO EXCITED!  I love fair food, I love the atmosphere, the fun vibe – I want to go to as many as I can (if Duggs actually read my blog, this is the part that would just fill him with dread, lol – imagine going to a fair every weekend? haha).

We had a really fun time.  The sunny hot Sunday outdoors more than made up for how rainy Saturday was and the outside time we lost because of it.  I can’t wait to see what else summer in this new place brings, hopefully more good times and neat stuff to see and explore.

Do you have a lot of festivals in your area? Do you go to them?

ready to head home after a wacky fun day – arms full of treats and awesome

As always – thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

I Love The Crazy 80s! (Octogenarian 80s)

A weekend ago, we celebrated my Great Uncle John, Zio Giovanni’s, 81st birthday.  Can you believe it? 81!  And this past Saturday, we had the pleasure of celebrating Nick’s Grandma, EZ Lyman’s, 85th Birthday!

Both are incredibly talented, wonderful, kind people – who’ve both been these crazy family legends that I’ve heard tales of my entire life.  These octogenarians know how to get down, that’s for sure.

So yes… around recently, we’ve been kickin’ it crazy 80s style.  Let me re-cap the two most recent birthday parties I’ve attended:

EZ Lyman, Happy 85th Birthday!

EZ has always been a tomboy-with-class idol of mine.

happy birthday to ethelyn

She’s Uncle Bobby’s Mom and you can so tell: Ethelyn is long-known for going hunting and fishing with the boys, keeping up with their outdoor antics and being able to hold her own.  The flip side is that she’s a wonderfully warm and sweet woman, known all over the region (and probably farther than that) for her incredible landscape and nature paintings.  She’s won awards and prizes for her ability to capture the charm of Western New York scenery – whitetail deer, sugar houses, snow covered trees, glens and dales and that sort of thing.  Everyone I know in my family (except for myself *pouts*) has some of EZ’s paintings displayed in their homes.

I’ll have to do a whole post about EZ’s artwork, it’s just wonderful.  Even as I was Google-ing her the other day, I found some awesome old newspapers with photos of her artwork, or articles listing the prizes she’s won.  Maybe I can even sneak over to her “studio” and get some action shots of her painting.

So Happy 85th Birthday, EZ!  It’s so nice to be up here and able to get to know you better.

EZ’s spice cake with fishy candles

fish candles

spice cake with birthday cake ice cream, delicious

I was a derelict on Saturday, and spent far more time eating pasta (along with Uncle Bobby’s incredible venison meatballs- perfectly seasoned, they tasted just like Italian sausage, and not gamey at all), and laughing as we were shooting the breeze and telling crazy stories, than taking photos.  So I don’t have too many from this past Saturday’s birthday afternoon.

yeah, we were hittin’ the hard stuff

duggs, all full after a big ole pasta dinner

some old photos were busted out, including this gem: uncle bobby, holding chad and nick, his sons and my cousins – and then me, in the pink. oh precious!

Uncle John, Happy 81st Birthday!!

My Great Uncle John celebrated his 81st Birthday at his home, a rustic log cabin (his dream cabin) out in the country… kinda near Cherry Creek, but mostly near some dairy farms and Amish folk.  He requested a birthday bonfire, so that is exactly how we celebrated. (Hence why I’ve been eating microwave s’mores lately, we brought home the leftovers).

you gotta love this man, jean overalls and everything!

happy eighty-one to you

Now, my Uncle John is a very special man.  He’s our family patriarch, and really has been my entire life.  Dynamic, witty, sassy, outstanding and incredible – there is no one on this earth like my Uncle John.  A former Marine who fought in Korea, the first ever Brut model, a Broadway star, a television actor, world-traveler, biker leather daddy, Italian-speaking, chef extraordinaire – he’s amazing.

Really amazing – and just always himself, be that cheesy, or silly, or a little bit country.

my great uncle john, blowing out his 81st birthday cake

He used to teach drama for years and years, and although recently retired from that – he’s still acting.  In fact, he has a play coming up this fall that we’re excited to see.  He’s brilliant on stage, always stealing the show.

Ahh my Uncle John.  I just smile when I type his name.  I’ve always held such a special place in my heart for him.  He’s the brother of my late Grandma Rose, whom I was named for – and who I’ve never actually met (she passed away before I was born).  I’d have to dedicate an entire blog (not just a post, an entire blog itself) into chronically properly the life and times of the one and only UJ.

So for now, I’ll just post a ton of photos I took at his 81st birthday bonfire:

gathering the fire wood

making the fire

UJ’s property, out in the quiet near cherry creek. Austin, Aunt Patty, Matthew (Duggs) + Nick

now that’s a fire

After building the fire, making s’mores, and hanging out in the cool air by the warm burning wood for hours… we decided to let it die down so we could head inside for cake and birthday gifts + cards.

side view of UJ’s cabin, his “hideaway”

uncle john’s sweet pooch

oh sweet girl – UJ was dog sitting this sweet one

oh jeez we’re silly

take two? austin, great uncle john, me and nicky

nice family pic (third time’s a charm)

austin, doing his best UJ impression

austin and UJ

playing with the doggies, go figure

It was getting late, and we were all getting loopy… so we decided to call it a night and let UJ enjoy some birthday peace.  All in all, it was a fun evening and I’m glad I could actually be up here to celebrate one of my Great Uncle’s birthdays with him (I don’t think I’ve celebrated an actual birthday with him since his 75th?).

Happy Birthday to both EZ and UJ, it’s been a blast celebrating with you Crazy 80s – but more so, it’s been a pleasure knowing you and spending time with you, always.

As always – thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Guest Post from a Veteran: Please Have Fun On Memorial Day

To all of happyhippierose’s readers, Happy Memorial Day!

My wonderful wife Rose has asked me, as a veteran, to write this guest post, and I am both honored and humbled to do so.

our wedding day, april 17 2010

Together, with teachers and missionaries, Blacks from Charleston established a “May Day,” in 1865.  Memorial Day was established following the Civil War in 1866 to honor the fallen soldiers.  It was then known as Decoration Day.  Later on, in the twentieth century, the honor of this day was extended to American veterans of all wars.

Today, I write from my own experience and opinion.  Over the last six years, I have had the luxury of a wonderful support system not limited to, but comprised of family, friends, and my loving wife!

may 12, 2009: leaving for afghan – saying goodbye

afghan homecoming ’09

Having served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq, and twice in Afghanistan, my fellow Marines and I have endured the worst of the worst.  Terrible conditions, and unthinkable losses have been our experience.  The funny thing is that we have all been more than happy to do so.  As service members it is the reason why we decided to sign on the dotted line.  I now understand why “old people” watch their war movies, and silently reminisce.  It has been, overall, a completely life changing and (no matter how much we have all griped at times) positive experience.

echo 2-2, cax 2008

2nd platoon, echo company in iraq: 2008

In the days leading up to this holiday, it has been my observation, that some of my fellow Marines harbor feelings of anger and bitterness towards people who they feel might not fully grasp the meaning of the holiday.  With posts like “*$%& all the people who think it’s just another day off of work,” and “*$%& your bbq’s,” that I have seen on Facebook, I find it disheartening.

this one and many others have been passed around the interwebs this past week – some are nice, some are just negative and miss the point

I say enjoy your time off!  Live, laugh, and love with your friends and families!  Enjoy your BBQs, and drink your drinks!  I sure know that I will.  I will also ensure that I hold Rose a little tighter and kiss her a few more times during the day than usual, for I am grateful.  I am grateful to all veterans who have paid the ultimate price, those who have made that ultimate sacrifice for the precise purpose that we all have the freedom to enjoy our lives and loved ones all the more.  It is the gift that they have given us, and it would be in vain if we did not make the most of it.

smooching on memorial day ’10

afghan homecoming ’11

I hope that all of you out there have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday, and that you are near your friends and families!

….

From Rose: Special thanks to my hubs for all his service, dedication and for writing this post!

It’s with immense gratitude that I want to thank ALL service men and women, past and present for protecting all of the wonderful freedoms we know here in the USA.  Thank you!!  And to all the service families out there too – I know y’all do a lot on your ends, give up a lot, go through a lot too, so thanks to you all too.   To my cousin Chad and his fam, my Great Uncle John, my Aunt Edith, and all my dear friends in the military community: it is with so much love that I say Happy Memorial Day and thank for fun days like today!

Duggs does have a blog of his own, too.  He just hasn’t updated in a long, long time… go check it out and heckle him into posting more often (he’s a great writer, huh?).

I Am Rose’s Keeper is his blog.

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Life in Fredonia, all the Fancy Photos!

Whew… it’s been a busy time here at HHR, with all my photo posts from our trip, updates, catch ups, and everything.  Hope you can stomach one more photo binge.  Can you?

Here are all the rest of our initial Fredonia pics, from our first few days and weekend here!  Just like the other posts of the fancy pics (all the photos from Long Island and then all the photos from Pottersville), I’m just going to throw all the photos in here as a blob, and anyone who wants to can go through them.

As for getting settled in and how we’re doing, I touched on all that earlier this week in our post about finally being here in Fredonia.

So things should be getting back to “normal” around here … if my blog even has a normal! It’s been fun including everyone on the trip, and I know that people have been so curious to see what our surroundings are like, to see the big difference it is to go from Hawaii to Western New York.  So it’s been fun.

But hopefully life will take on a more routine feeling and I’ll get back in the swing of things, around the house, with work, and here too!  I’m hoping that my energy levels keep soaring and before you know it I’ll be posting about running again, and who knows what!

I’m just so very glad to be where I am.  I’m feeling better in so many ways, and just being on the first page of a fresh chapter is so nice.  I’m so blessed to be with my Duggs, surrounded and supported my some amazing family and friends, and to have a whole new section of our story to set out on.  No matter how routinized daily life becomes, that aspect of where we’re at – that newness and that exciting looking-over-the-edge feeling won’t wear off for a while I don’t think, at least I hope it won’t!

Anyways.  For now, I’m quite happy to be posting from Fredonia.  And I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with us on the trip!

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Fancy Photos From the Road: Camp Curtis

More photos, I know! I’ve finally uploaded the nice pics from our good camera onto the computer and put together some posts from our trip around New York last week.

I already wrote about the lovely time we had visiting my sister and her boyfriend Jared in Pottersville, NY at their rustic and luxurious lake house on Valentine Pond, Camp Curtis (check out that post, here!)… but I owe y’all the rest of the photos from that leg of the trip.

And since my sister had so much fun messing with the camera, we took a TON of pics while we were there.  With so many animals, such pretty scenery and so much going on, how could you not just snap away all day?

So here’s a whole mess of photos from the few days we were there.  Thanks for looking!

And as always (and I really do mean this), thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

Fancy Photos From the Road – Long Island, NY

As promised, here are some of the “good” photos I took while we were on Long Island last week visting Duggs’ side of the family and a lot of our friends there.  In my earlier post, I used the snap shots from my iPhone (which aren’t so shabby), but now here are some better pics that we took with our real camera.

And even though we have a fair amount of pics, I wish I had taken more!  I always do.  It seems so annoying at the time to have out the camera and to nag everyone to pose and take pics.  But then after the fact, when you have nice photos, you’re always so glad you did it.  So my new thing is not being afraid to be the annoying one – because the benefit in the end is so worth it.

Okay.  Enough rambling, here’s from the wonderful time we had on Long Island with family, friends, loved ones near and dear:

Like I said, I wish I’d taken more photos.  These hardly paint the picture of the time we had there – no image can really encapsulate how nice it is to see family when it’s been so long since you were all last together.  But some are better than none, so I appreciate y’all checkin’ out the ones we did manage to take.

And next time someone’s pestering you to smile, think of the big picture – maybe the person with the camera writes a blog and they’re trying to fully illustrate a week-long road trip with oodles of pics.  Maybe!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr