News + Views

Escape to a World of Orchids at New York Botanical Gardens

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Are you tired of the snow, ice and howling winds of winter yet? There is a place to escape into a tropical environment that is breathtakingly gorgeous. The Orchid Show: Thailand opened on February 18th at New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) and runs through April 9th, 2017. The show is an homage to the wealth of orchids, acclaimed tropical gardens, renowned orchid breeding, and rich cultural history of Thailand, home to more than 1,200 native orchid species. Visitors to the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will be transported on an epic journey that engages all of the senses and underscores the allure and intrigue of these exquisite beauties.  Visitors will walk through the climate controlled hot house, offering the feeling of being in the midst of summer warmth.


The allure of orchids has been with me ever since I was a young girl reading a comic strip called Brenda Starr, Reporter that ran daily, with a full color page on Sundays, continuing the adventures of this vibrant, beautiful reporter. The Brenda Starr series was a mystery and romance, with a modern woman as its lead character. The strip ran from 1940 through 2011 with Brenda, known for her flaming red hair and being similar in appearance to the 1940s film star Rita Hayworth. Brenda had a mysterious boyfriend, Basil St. John, who reappeared in Brenda’s life throughout the storyline. Basil wore a patch over one eye, was ruggedly handsome, and was famous for growing exotic black orchids. Basil, in his orchid greenhouse, was repeatedly woven into the storyline as part of the unknown of why he held these exotic flowers in such high esteem.


 The NYBG celebrates its 15th year of spectacular orchid exhibitions with The Orchid Show: Thailand, a country that in the last century has become the leading exporter of cultivated tropical orchids in the world. Native and hybrid orchids alike have become synonymous with the nation. This year’s exhibition will feature an astonishing array of blooming orchids in a lush tropical garden, including a rainbow of vanda orchids, whose large patterned blooms are widely popular in Thai gardens and homes. The show culminates in a jaw-dropping scene of a large arched facade in the style of a traditional Thai pavilion, festooned with hundreds of exquisite orchids.

NYBG is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458 and is accessible by car or train.

Peek at the breathtaking beauty of some of the orchids present in the show by visiting:

February 22, 2017 |

Iconic Film Couples

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



What makes a memorable movie besides the story line?  Often it is the chemistry between the two lead characters that drives the film into classic status or being highly acclaimed for years after it was made. Just think of the 1939 Academy Award-winning film Gone with the Wind and the relationship between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. It’s impossible to picture any other couple in these roles, especially the last scene where Butler walks out the door and tersely says, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” For that time period these words were almost scandalous.  Think about another old time movie, the African Queen, made in 1951. Billed as a “drama/romance,” the two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, were the only two that could have sailed through those treacherous waters, making the journey believable during this WWII classic film.  Once again Bogart was part of an unforgettable pair when he starred earlier in the 1942 Casablanca. His leading lady was played by Ingrid Bergman in this war-time romance and thriller, and the chemistry between the two made the film the long-time classic it remains.

TV Couples

One of the most popular comedy series that remains a favorite during reruns on channels devoted to old-time programs has to be I Love Lucy. This series was the perfect combination of “screwball” slapstick comedy where viewers were able to watch a real-life married couple work together every week in a successful show. A popular western series starred a married couple entwined in a different adventure each week; at our house we never missed a weekly episode of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, which also starred their horse Trigger.

How many iconic couples can you guess from the simple hints below?

1. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began their romance making what film?

2. What cartoon couple shared an Italian dinner, where they kiss after nibbling on the opposite ends of a strand of spaghetti?

3. Pretty Woman paired which two actors in this romantic comedy/drama?

4. Rose and Jack, star-crossed lovers in a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, sailed together on what famous ship?

5.  Demi Moore contacts her late husband played by Patrick Swayze in what movie?


 l. Cleopatra

2. Lady and the Tramp

3. Richard Gere and Julia Roberts

4. Titanic

5. Ghost

February 15, 2017 |

My Trip Down Memory Lane

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



The other day I took out my sewing box to mend some socks that had a small hole in the toe area. The first thing I reached for was the darning egg from my grandmother that was nestled under the cloth seamstress-type tape measure. I am guessing some readers might not know what a darning egg is, or is used for. Shaped like its name, it’s a smooth, wooden egg. After turning the sock inside out, the egg is placed inside the sock by the toe area. Now it is easier to sew without your fingers being pricked by the needle. I love this darning egg because it was my grandmother’s.  This is an item that is a touch of the past that is convenient in these modern times that have let go of many old fashioned ways. While doing my mending—even that seems to be an old fashioned word—instead of just sewing the tear, I began thinking about things of the past that are now gone.  From words and expressions to household items, these were things we grew up with and miss.

Let’s start with our phones, comparing them to the heavy, black rotary phones our grandparents had.  I recall dialing my grandmother’s telephone and putting my finger in the numerical holes on the dial and hearing the clicking sound as the dial returned to its starting point. We once bought an old phone at a tag sale that was similar to hers because I couldn’t resist the purchase and just hearing the clicking sound when I tested the rotary dial.

My grandmother loved to write and kept a daily diary that had a page for every day of the year. I remember watching her write in her diary using a fountain pen. There were two kinds of pens, one you literally dipped in ink, and the other that you filled directly from the jar.  That kind was still popular in my early days of elementary school, and the Waterman brand was what I wrote with. There was a small lever on the side that you drew down before placing the tip of the pen in the ink jar. Slowly the lever was released, and the ink would go into the pen. Amazing technology, but sometimes it was a little messy to maneuver.

This was a pleasant trip down memory lane thanks to some necessary sewing.

February 8, 2017 |

The Bikinis — 1960s Nostalgia at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




During the early 1960s, the comedy genre at the theatres were “beach movies” where California surfing and popular teen stars like Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon were the leads in numerous summer flicks. My favorite, Gidget, started a series of follow-up films based on its popularity. Flash forward to the current year, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) spreads sunshine this dreary winter with The Bikinis, a “new musical beach party”! Opening February 2nd and running through March 19th, it is once again the summer of 1964. The story is about four inseparable friends who form a girl group called The Bikinis, win a talent contest, and make it to the top! Now, many years and a few pounds later The Bikinis reunite for a show filled with sun and fun and all the great songs they sang on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore.  Audiences at the WBT will join them as they relive their heyday and put on a show that promises to get everyone dancing in the aisles!

Ray Roderick and James Hindman conceived and wrote this musical, based on a true story about a one-hit-wonder 1960s girl group whose members come back together two decades later. These Jersey Girls perform in a non-stop celebration of song with over 30 hits like It’s In His Kiss, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Heat Wave, I’m Every Woman, I Will Survive, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, and many more! The Bikinis promises to be irresistible! The production is directed and choreographed by Ray Roderick. The musical director is Dan Pardo and the lighting designer is Jamie Roderick. Call up your friends and make a date for a fun evening of dining and great entertainment with some of the best music of that era!

For reservations call: (914) 592-2222 or visit:

Ticket Prices: Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Beverage service and gratuities are not included in the ticket price. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at select performances. Also check the website for on-going special offers! The Westchester Broadway Theatre is located in Elmsford, New York.

Upcoming shows:
Mamma Mia – March 23 – June 25, 2017
Annie – June 29 – September 10, 2017
Annie Get Your Gun– September 14 – December 3, 2017


February 1, 2017 |

Discard Outdated Medicine Cabinet Supplies

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat








By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



When was the last time you went through your medicine cabinet and checked the dates of your medicines?  Discard outdated cough syrups, aspirins and cold capsules that are hidden in the back of the medicine cabinet and seldom used. Now is the time to discard these expired medicines and restock so you have potent ones ready for when an illness hits.  This gives you plenty of time to watch for sales on the items you need.  Having these supplies on hand will ensure you are ready when they are needed and you do not have to head out to the store when you are sick. Speaking of discarding medicines, check with your town to see if they have a program that collects outdated medications.  Many towns have programs where medicines can be dropped off at the local police station in a dispensary box. They should NOT be flushed down the toilet to contaminate the water supply.

First Aid Kits

Is your home first aid kit well stocked?  Is the Poison Control Center telephone number clearly posted by your telephone?  Most families store a first aid kit high up on a shelf away from the children. Let your family members know where it is stored and think about locating it within reach of everyone.  Show your children where it is and what is in it.  You may be the one hurt and have to depend on a child to get the first aid kit for you.  Being prepared and going over the contents with the child before an emergency happens is a good idea. Also keep a fully stocked first aid kit in the car, complete with a flashlight and fresh batteries. You should keep an old blanket in the car or purchase a solar blanket for emergency situations.  A solar blanket looks like a large piece of crinkly aluminum foil, but is lightweight and durable.   It is made for warmth and particularly for keeping a patient warm who may be going into shock.  Keep extra bandages in the auto kit and heavy, sterile cloth for severe wounds.  A clean, new diaper could be used if a wound produced a flow of blood that was heavier than gauze or bandages could handle.  Being prepared with all the proper materials is of the utmost importance, but knowing what to do is even more critical.

January 25, 2017 |

Organize for the New Year

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Christmas shopping bills have started to arrive, and once charges are paid the next money topic to think about is income taxes.   For me, the first of the year signals the start of gathering the necessary papers needed to work on our taxes.  Over the course of the year, we have collected an assortment of papers and receipts and stored them in a large, accordion file folder.  I write headings like “contributions,” “medical/dental,” “real estate taxes,” and so on, and file the receipts in the corresponding pocket. This makes it easier to locate the papers needed to compile and total these expenditures.  Some papers arrive well into February, but having a head start compiling them gives us ample time to figure out and compute our income taxes before the deadline.  When my husband is ready to work on the income taxes, the papers are ready. When taxes are finished, these papers are moved to a storage box and filed away. The folder is now ready for the coming year.



After exchanging Christmas presents with friends and relatives, we are always faced with the problem of where to store the new clothing we received.  With closet and drawer space at a premium, it is difficult to know where to put bulky sweaters, new pocketbooks, boots, and a host of glove and scarf sets. Our older clothing is still in perfect condition, but has gone unworn for many reasons.  Several times a year, we go through closets and attic storage and decide what we no longer need.  After Christmas is also a good time to re-evaluate what we want to keep.

There are so many organizations looking for clean/warm clothing that it is a shame not to pass along these unused items to others that need them. Ask your family to also pass along warm winter clothing to those agencies providing for needy families.  Call your house of worship to see if there are clothing drives in which they are participating; collection sites are also centrally located throughout the county.

View the PennySaver for notices about civic organizations holding tag sales or drives looking for donations of clothing or household items. If you have received a new set of dishes, pots and pans, blankets or towels, go through your cabinets and donate the extras you have that are no longer needed.  Someone else will be grateful for these items you no longer use.


January 18, 2017 |

Presidential Trivia Quiz

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Here we go — it’s just days before the January 20, 2017 presidential inauguration and the main topic in the news is about the preparations, inaugural balls, weather conditions, and a host of comparisons to the ceremonies of the past forty-four presidents. On the same topic concerning presidents, the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, two of our most famous leaders, are next month.  So the topic of presidents is a perfect subject for this week’s column.

How many of these questions do you remember from your elementary school lessons?  If the children are at home during the broadcast of the inauguration, try to watch parts of it or record it to show them a little bit of American history. Usually, wonderful footage of our nation’s capital is shown and the pomp and circumstance of this event is played on all of the TV channels. It is certainly a day in our country’s history where the peaceful transition of power is one that is admired and envied throughout the world. That in itself is something to make all American citizens proud!

Trivia Quiz:  Ten points for every correct answer. If playing with elementary school students, tell them the answers if they fail, and in a week ask them the same questions and see how many were retained from the first testing.



1.  Which of our presidents was a famous Union general during the Civil War?

2.  Which president was a five star general in our army?

3.  The “teddy bear” was named after which president?

4.  Who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?”

5.  Whose initials are LBJ?

6.  Which president kept a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here”?

7.  Which college produced the most presidents?

8.  Who was the first president to live in the White House?

9.  Who was the only president to not represent a political party?

10. Who is the oldest person to be elected a U.S. president?



1.  Ulysses S. Grant

2.  Dwight D. Eisenhower

3.  Theodore Roosevelt

4.  John F. Kennedy

5.  Lyndon B. Johnson

6.  Harry S. Truman

7.  Harvard produced six presidents and four VPs

8.  John Adams

9.  George Washington

10. Donald J. Trump


January 11, 2017 |
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