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Preserving Your Photographs

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

We love to take pictures and capture the special events that our family has been part of during the year. My husband’s favorite saying, “It’s a slice of time, never to be recaptured,” says it perfectly. We both feel the same satisfaction about our photos and make sure they are preserved so they can be enjoyed for years to come. Photographs do not last forever and special maintenance needs to be taken to preserve them.

Albums

How many of us have boxes of photos tucked away in the basement? Rather than let moisture get to your precious memories, organize and put them into albums and store them elsewhere. Nowadays, the pages used in photo albums are treated to prevent photos from deteriorating. Are you old enough to remember the photo albums with the black pages and small triangular shaped stickers that held the photos in place? Putting together a photo album using this method was quite tedious. It was a pleasure when plastic-page albums came along. Unfortunately, the magnetic-type page albums are harmful to photographs because the glue can be transferred to them. If you have photos in these older albums, they should be removed before they adhere and yellow.
Albums with sleeves made of polyester materials such as Mylar (a very thin and clear plastic), or other plastics such as polypropylene, triacetate and polyethylene are good because they are chemically stable and will do little harm to the photos. Cardboard boxes made from the above-mentioned materials or of acid-free cardboard are also a good choice for storage if you do not use albums. Be sure to avoid sleeves or containers made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Look for the words “archival” or “archivally safe” on an album or storage box. Old color photographs that are fading can be re-photographed on black & white film and printed on black & white paper. If you are handy with a computer, scanning your old photographs is a way to preserve them on a disc.
Be sure to label the back of each photo with the date and names of the people or locale for future identification before placing in an album. Write lightly so the indentation will not protrude on the main part of the picture.
Happy organizing!

September 2, 2015 |

Channeling Fred & Ginger at Westchester Broadway Theatre

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

When I was a little girl, it was almost a nightly occurrence that a black & white movie would be on television that my father was enjoying. His favorite was anything with dancing — especially tap or ballroom — and big production numbers. Sitting next to him on our overstuffed sofa, I soon became a fan of this type of musical featuring the stars of that era. Reflecting back to the joyful days of watching TV with my dad, those fond memories surfaced when we recently attended the latest production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, New York.
Backwards In High Heels is a toe-tapping, swirling, gliding account of Ginger Rogers’ ambitious public and private life. The musical takes its title from a quote in a 1982 Frank & Ernest cartoon about Fred Astaire and Rogers. “Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did — backwards and in high heels.” Rogers’ career began when she won a Charleston contest in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, at age 15. Three years later, she made her Broadway debut and quickly became a star.
Ginger was discovered by Hollywood and danced into America’s hearts in a string of 1930s films partnered with Astaire. Her fame culminated in winning an Oscar for her title role in Kitty Foyle. Along the way, she had tempestuous relationships with producers, co-stars and many husbands, but none rivaled the importance of her relationship with her mother.
A celebration of Ginger Rogers, the musical was conceived and developed in 2007 by Lynette Barkley and Christopher McGovern. The book, musical arrangements and original songs are by McGovern. The show features vintage movie musical numbers like Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off, Embraceable You, and A Fine Romance, plus original songs to showcase the major events in Rogers’ life. Stars are Darien Crago as Ginger Rogers and Jeremy Benton as Fred Astaire, with featured actors Avital Asuleen, Erika Amato, Matt Gibson, Sebastian Goldberg, Ryan Steer, Amy Van Norstrand and Jacob Ben Widmar.
The dance numbers and singing are outstanding, as are the costumes that transport the audience to a truly entertaining period of Broadway shows and film. If you love fast-paced tap numbers and old-time songs from the Astaire-and-Rogers era, then don’t miss Backwards in High Heels!  The production runs through September 20th. Call (914) 592-2222 or go to their website at www.BroadwayTheatre.com to check for ongoing special offers!

August 26, 2015 |

Back to School Time!

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

The wonderful sound of squeaking school bus brakes is music to the ears of many parents who were home all summer entertaining their children.  Parents with preschool-aged children may be torn between the exhilaration of free time and the apprehension they feel over their preschooler starting nursery school. Starting school is a wonderful experience and with the right guidelines, one that will be rewarding for both the adult and the child.
The first year in nursery school is often the first separation from a child’s parents and is an introduction to the world of education.  The experience should be a positive one so that the child will have a foundation to build upon and look forward to future school environments. Once parents have made the decision to enroll a child in school, they should show the child how enthusiastic they are about this decision.  When parents are touring a school with the thought of enrolling, they should avoid asking the young child whether he or she “likes this school.” After all, the parent is  the one making the decision.  Parents should check that the school is licensed. Also check the staff’s credentials, the program content, the cleanliness of the classrooms, what the teacher/child ratio is and of course, tuition cost.  Working parents should ask for a copy of the school calendar before they sign up.  They will find out what days the school is closed so that they can make arrangements for childcare. These criteria are too complicated for a child to comprehend, so why ask a child, “Is this the school you want to go to?” What would a parent do if the child says “No”? Never ask unless you are planning to leave this decision up to the child.
Children should hear about all the fun things they will do at school and the new friends they will meet.  When it is time to be left at school, many children will cry when the parent is attempting to leave.  This is normal for the first days of preschool.  It takes most children six to eight sessions before they feel comfortable with the school, teachers, and new friends.  When a parent drops the child off in the classroom, the departing goodbyes should not be extensive. Leave it up to the teacher to greet the child and help the child become involved in the first activity of the day.

August 19, 2015 |

Storm Preparation Tips

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Recently our area had a torrential downpour; a summer storm that caused local town roads to overflow and areas to flood. A neighbor emailed my cell phone with photos of local roads that looked like rivers. Luckily, the high winds and flooding didn’t cause any power outages this time. However, it is good to be prepared for when the next storm or hurricane-like weather does crop up.
Supplies
Keep on hand several portable, self-powered lights, battery powered flashlights or gas powered lanterns, candles or other emergency lighting apparatus. Years ago, my husband bought a camping lantern and we have used it many times. This propane lantern throws out enough light to allow us to read and see into two rooms that are adjacent to each other.   Make sure you have a portable, self-powered radio and a weather-band radio to keep track of what is happening in both your own and surrounding areas, if you must travel to work.  We often rely on our TV to keep us informed, but once power goes out, the radio is your best source of information.  Refresh your battery supply regularly. Buy packages of AA, C, D and 6- or 9-volt batteries in case of emergencies.  Some families have found that investing in a portable generator made sense for them because of the past winters we’ve had.  Do your research and find out which model works best for your needs and budget, if you plan to buy one.
Food storage is a problem in the summer because of the high temperatures. Winter storm outages are easier to manage because we are able to fill coolers with snow and keep food on the back porch.  Buy several picnic ice chests that can hold enough of the ice and food you will need until power is restored.  If you have a grill, eat the meat you have on hand first so it does not go to waste. Speaking of cooking, we are fortunate our range is gas operated and we can cook on the stovetop during electrical outages.  Friends of ours use their barbeque grill to cook during these times, so it is vital to keep propane tanks filled, if the grill will be your main cooking source.
Last but not least, make sure your first aid kit is stocked and up-to-date. Never let your car fuel tank go below half full. Remember, in a town-wide power outage, service stations are unable to pump

 

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2015 |

Finding a Kennel

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Our dog is truly a member of our family and we take his care very seriously, as most families do. This is why it was difficult when we had to find a kennel for him when our entire family would be away attending a function together. Our elderly pet is somewhat hard of hearing and slow moving, with arthritis in his hind legs, so walking on steps is difficult. A few friends offered to watch him, but the thought of them trying to carry a 30-pound dog down steps made me go against this decision for both their and our pet’s safety. The only solution was to investigate a kennel for him. We had never used a kennel in all his 14 years.
We asked around, and it was our veterinarian who recommended the kennel. I checked out their website and was very pleased with what I read for starters. The well-done, informative website had one sentence that especially appealed to me. It read “Come visit during business hours. No appointment necessary.” This was perfect, and we decided to do just that about a month before we needed their service. We appeared unannounced about 11:30 am and were greeted warmly by the friendly young man whose family has owned the kennel for more than 40 years. The office was clean, modern and welcoming with a glass door that looked onto one of the kennel complexes. After chatting for 20 minutes, where we asked every question we could think of, we were given a tour of the kennels. They were clean, well maintained, and each dog had its own roomy pen with outside access on nice days. A clean blanket was given daily, too. The outdoor pens kept each pet separate, but they could see each other. In the immaculate kitchen, pots of chicken were being cooked. The kennel supplied the food and had every brand imaginable on hand. Any medications would be given to the pet without an extra charge.
This tour and information was positive for us, so we made a reservation. It pays to do your research and visit before you need the service. This kennel was all we had hoped for, and our time away was more enjoyable because we knew our pet was safe and well cared for during our absence.

 

 

 

 

 

August 5, 2015 |

Live Theatre in Yorktown Heights

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Right in the middle of Yorktown Heights there is a gem of an entertainment center, and it’s called Yorktown Stage, located in the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center (YCCC) building at 1974 Commerce Street. Throughout the year the theatre presents outstanding productions of well known musicals and other shows that are equally as appealing.  During the summer they offer Summer Theatre Workshops for children, “where every child has a chance to shine!”   Children ages 6-14 (1st through 9th grade are eligible.) This type of camp program helps children become comfortable in front of groups and gives those with a yearning to perform a chance to be part of a wonderful learning experience.  During each two-week session the students learn and practice dance and musical routines, and at the end of the session a production is held to show off their talent and hard work.  Free and open to the public, the shows take place on Friday mornings. Annie and Peter Pan, the last two productions for the summer, are scheduled for Friday August 7th and Friday August 21st respectively.  Each production is only an hour long and the perfect length for young theatregoers to get used to attending a live show. Note: Summer session camp openings are still available for the month of August.  For more information, call 914 962-0606.
Upcoming Shows
Don’t miss any of these full-length shows planned for the fall.  A new musical “13” is a “hilarious, coming of age musical about discovering that cool is sometimes where we least expect it.” The show runs October 9th and 10th.  In November, plan to take the children to a full length production of Peter Pan, Broadway’s timeless classic musical that will whisk you away to a place where dreams are born and no one ever grows up! Peter Pan has been performed for over 60 years around the world and enchanting children of all ages! That show takes place November 21st -29th — perfect timing for a family Thanksgiving outing!
For more information about either the summer workshops or upcoming productions, visit www.yorktownstage.org or call 914 962-0606. This summer you can start to take pleasure in theatre productions with friends, family or go by yourself and see what wonderful things are in store! Visit this gem of a theatre and be impressed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 29, 2015 |

Vacation Travel Tips

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Getting the most out of your dollar is something savvy travelers like to do when they go on vacation.  Whether you drive or fly, there are ways to cut your travel expenses drastically.

Hotels

Most hotels provide access to their information by website and a toll free telephone number.  However, it may not be the way to find the best rate for your accommodations.  Check both sources, then call the hotel directly to find out their best rates or room availability.  If you call the toll free number and find the rate higher than you would like to pay or that there are no rooms available, ask for the direct number to the hotel.  Sometimes only a small block of rooms are made available through the toll free number, yet the hotel may still have empty rooms.   When you talk to the representative ask if you are eligible for any discounts, whether it is through automobile clubs, senior citizen discounts, corporate or military rates. Inform the telephone representative about your membership AFTER you have received a price quote. Most hotels will come up with a ten percent or better discount for any of these organizations.

When you arrive at your hotel and the room is stocked with “mini bar” items, make sure you know the cost of these expensive treats. If you feel you will be tempted, or are traveling with young children that might insist on these treats, make the decision easy to handle. Request that the mini bar be cleared out before you check in to alleviate this problem. Once it is empty, you can refill it with your own snacks, if you want.  When traveling with young children, parents know that packing extra snacks is a must and it is best they are brought from home or by stopping at a local supermarket in the resort area.  Avoid the hotel gift shop or vending machines if you want to keep spending down.

Telephone 

When guests use the hotel phone, charges can be imposed for each outside call, even if it is a local call.  Read the bedside literature to understand phone rate charges. To keep down these costs, use your cell phone if it is a domestic call.

Happy travels!

July 22, 2015 |
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