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Furniture With Character

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

What does it mean when talking about furniture having character? After all, it is an inanimate object, so how could it have a personality?  Several years ago I read an article in a decorating magazine that said even if a home was decorated in one particular period, throwing in a totally different object might add interest to the room. The article went on to state that adding an older piece of furniture to even a modern décor could give the room character. Our home is decorated in a traditional style, yet there are several older pieces of furniture that I feel fit the description provided in the article I read.

When I was a little girl my grandmother had a unique dining room table that was rectangular in shape, with extensions on either side to make it larger. The bottom of this trestle- shaped table had both carvings and little swirl designs on the cross section that ran between the two ends, giving it support. When I visited, my grandmother would entice me to dust the bottom swirls and would give me a quarter for my efforts. As a six-year-old, this was a small fortune.  I now have that table as part of my living room; it is no longer used as a dining room table, but as a display surface for family photos.

Perhaps there was a talented member of your family that loved to paint or draw. Displaying some of these long forgotten works of art in a cluster on one wall might add interest and family history to the collection.  One of my cousins had an ornate fireplace mantle piece that was in the home when their family bought it, but she didn’t like the design and wanted it changed. The previous owners, who traveled the world, had this piece shipped back from one of the exotic locales they had visited. When I mentioned to my cousin that I thought the mantle piece was beautiful and she should keep it, she asked if I wanted it when they remodeled. Without hesitation I said yes. This piece is now the focal point surrounding our fireplace, and I receive many compliments about its beauty and the richness of its wood.

Look around your house and see if your rooms are missing some character or personality. See what you can add to give it spirit and a new life. There may be a piece of furniture in your attic or basement that you might have overlooked that is just waiting to be discovered!

 

March 9, 2016 |

Movie Classics Memories

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

While riding in the car recently, a series of old songs from the 1940s came on which brought me to a nostalgic place in time. The songs prompted me to think of the old movies my dad used to introduce me to when I was a little girl. They were on television in the late 50s and 60s and were in black and white, yet the dancing, singing, mystery or scary themes were as effective as any color film of the day. Today these films are featured on Turner Movie Classics (TMC) and are available to be enjoyed by this generation. Make note, too, that the heroes in these films were real and not the “super-human” genre of many of the current films now being produced.

If you are stuck inside during the winter, try to watch some of these with your young students or even your high schooler to learn what real storylines and themes were about. Here, to start you off, is a list of some of my dad’s favorites that he and I watched.

Musicals: Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney; Singing in the Rain or any 1940s film with tap dancing and featuring Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly.

Action Films: Two true war stories; To Hell and Back, starring Audie Murphy, whose life story the film is about; or The Five Sullivans, who were five brothers serving on the same ship during WWII. The ship went down in battle and all five brothers were lost. From that incident, the “Sullivan Law” was passed which stated that no siblings were allowed to serve on the same vessel.

No movie list would be complete for my dad without the inclusion of several horror films. Watch for them on TV or see if your library stocks these classics. The original Dracula with Bela Lugosi; Frankenstein or The Mummy starring Boris Karloff; or The Werewolf series with actor and makeup artist Lon Chaney, Jr., completes the list of repeatedly viewed films.

Westerns: Without a doubt, no movie list would be complete without including John Wayne, whose main genre was Westerns. Although he starred in numerous Westerns, he also added war and romance films to his credits.

To add to your viewing categories check out this list for horror films:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_horror_films_of_the_1940s

Then take a look at the list for 1940s musicals:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1940s_musicals

Happy viewing!

March 2, 2016 |

Winter Etiquette and Important Reminders

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

With the frequent snows we have been having, several observations came to mind and much of it pertained to dealing with this weather and safety.  While driving on a highway after a recent snow storm, I saw so many cars in other lanes that still had piles of snow on the roof of the car. This is dangerous for both the driver and any car following it!  How many minutes can it take to clear off your whole vehicle before heading out to your destination? Think about the drivers behind you and what would happen if a chunk of ice or snow flew off the top of your car and smashed into the windshield of the car behind you. Even if the windshield did not shatter, the temporarily obstructed vision and noise of the impact might cause the driver to lose control of the car and swerve into another vehicle or off the road.

 

Speaking of clearing off your car, here is something I’ve done many times after leaving work. Often there were other cars parked next to mine belonging to colleagues that I knew were working later. Since snow had fallen during our work hours, all the cars in the lot were covered.  It only took a few minutes to clear the soft, fluffy snow from my car and windows.  As long as I had my heavy gloves and the long snow removal brush, it took only an extra ten minutes to clear off the cars on both sides of me as well. These two cars belonged to co-workers that would be faced with the same conditions I found, but were leaving work later. It is a simple gesture to help someone else, and no mention need be made about it the next day.

 

On the same topic of clearing off snow, here is something that impressed me many years ago. A friend, with two teenage sons, often had them help an elderly next door neighbor. Whenever the snow fell, the friend would send her two sons over to shovel the lady’s steps, walkway and driveway, without waiting to be asked. Neither son would accept any payment when offered and agreed with their mom about helping out. This was teaching her sons a valuable lesson and at the same time made sure an elderly neighbor was safe.

 

 

February 24, 2016 |

Calming Children When They’re Scared

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

“Help! There’s a monster under my bed!”  This may be a familiar phrase to parents with a preschooler.  Waking in the middle of the night to soothe a crying child is simply a part of raising children.  Fear and anxiety are a natural part of human feelings. Children’s fears or anxieties, even about monsters, are real to them. Parents should realize the fears children have are as important as the fears or things that scare and worry adults.  How would you describe anxiety?  This can be a case of mild uneasiness or stress.  Typical symptoms might include crying, screaming, wetting the bed, or withdrawal from usual activities, with causes varying depending on the age of the child.

An infant, under the age of one, has fears that are displayed through sensory impact.  If you turn on a bright light in an infant’s room or make a loud noise, the child will cry when awakened.  After one year, a child may react to unusual events that may be frightening.  Maybe mom is wearing a new hat that is strange looking to the child because he or she is not used to seeing something large on mom’s head. Do you remember the first time you showed your young child a jack-in-the-box?  Some young children laugh and giggle, but most repel and even scream at the surprise.  That square box suddenly transforms into something unexpected — a clown bobbing on a wire extension. Scary stuff for a toddler!

By age four or five, children may start to take notice of an adult’s fears.  This is why it is vital for parents to try and remain calm and hide their own anxieties about something upsetting.  If a parent is terrified of thunder and lightning, this fear will be conveyed to the young child.  The child will watch mom pacing during a storm or making comments like “I hope the lightning doesn’t hit our house.”

If the child is anxious over the storm, parents can respond to these fears. Let the child know that you are aware he or she is upset or nervous about the loud thunder and flashing lights.  Assure the child it will be over soon and devise a game by creating silly reasons why the noise is occurring.  Remember being told the clouds are bumping into each other, or that the angels are bowling and the loudest noise was a strike? Adults that have fears about water, fire, or certain animals, should also be cautious not to transfer this fear to the child.

 

 

 

February 17, 2016 |

Patsy Cline Tribute at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

It is hard to name any female country singer that has a more sultry, emotional and impactful voice than legendary singer Patsy Cline. Back in the early 1960s Cline was one of the most influential and successful vocalists of the 20th century and was an important part of the Nashville sound, yet she was able to cross over to the pop music genre. Her haunting version of “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “She’s Got You” are among her most unforgettable hits and some of my personal favorites.

Starting February 4th and running through the 28th, the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford is featuring Always Patsy Cline, a tribute to the singer who died tragically at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963. Created and originally directed by Ted Swindley, the production is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961. Having first heard Cline on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957, Seger became an immediate and avid fan of Cline’s and she constantly hounded the local disc jockey to play Cline’s records on the radio. In 1961 when Cline went to Houston for a show, Seger and her buddies arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and, by coincidence, met Cline who was traveling alone. Through letters and visits, the two share the homespun stories of laughter and heartache that brought together a housewife and a legendary country singer.  This fun-loving, crowd-pleasing musical complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, features 27 classic songs, including “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Back In Baby’s Arms” and more. The stars are Erin McCracken as Patsy Cline and Susann Fletcher as Louise Seger. Understudying both roles is Jeremy Parker. The show is directed by Amiee Turner, with musical direction by Ken Lundie and features The Bodacious Bobcat Band.

With Valentine’s Day coming up — and you don’t have to wait till that exact date to see the show — it is a perfect venue for a wonderful evening of live entertainment, a delicious dinner and a step back in time to a more innocent era. Invite a group of co-workers or friends or that special someone you enjoy being with and come out for a great night at the Theatre!

 

For Reservations:  Call (914)-592-2222.

Also at: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

Group Reservations:  Discounts for groups of 20 or more, call 592-2225.

 

 

February 10, 2016 |

Locating Important Papers

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about collecting papers for tax season. A friend that read the column remarked, “My husband handles all of that stuff and all things financial.”  I feel it is still important for both partners to know where vital papers are. Do you know where records are kept, what companies you use for utility services and how much money it takes to operate your home each month?  In many households one partner handles the budget and financial obligations and the other partner takes on other areas of the relationship.  Whether it is by mutual understanding or just a matter of being stronger in a certain duty, it is vital that both partners know all that is involved.  There may be a time, through a serious illness, an unexpected death of a partner or the separation through divorce or a parting of ways that one is left to take care of these matters. There is nothing worse than coping with an emotional situation and then having to decipher financial areas that one never touched before.

 

Files

Both partners should know where all household papers are kept.  Vital records like birth and marriage certificates, home mortgage or deed, wills, car titles, passports and insurance policies should be stored in a safe place.  This could be a bank safe deposit box or a fireproof box at home.  If kept in a bank deposit box, each partner should know the bank’s name and where the key to the box is kept.  Make a record of when deposit box fees are paid and when they become due. Mortgage papers are important as are any insurance policies that pay the mortgage loan off in case of the death of one partner.  While it was the vogue many years ago to buy one of these policies at the time the mortgage was purchased, some experts feel that purchasing term life insurance may be less expensive.  If you want this coverage, ask your accountant or financial expert which is best for your situation.  If one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and not capable of earning enough money to make mortgage payments, you might want to look into this policy.  This is especially important if there are no other large life insurance policies to pay the mortgage. For instance, a parent with young children may not be able to return to work and earn enough money for childcare and the cost of operating a household. These are serious topics to be covered before they are needed.

February 3, 2016 |

Discovering a Lifetime Hobby

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Some families are fortunate to have one or both parents that are handy or skilled with tools.  However, it does not take a carpenter’s background to teach a child the basic concepts of working with tools.  Even learning the names of each tool is a starting point. Pick a first project that is both easy and fun for a child to do.  Perhaps making a birdhouse can be a starter project.  There are kits that can be bought in craft shops, building supply stores or catalogs that are just right for a beginner project. Vocabulary, techniques, as well as safety pointers can be taught to children working with a parent on this project.  Children should not be allowed to use dangerous tools or instruments.  Parents can teach children how to sand, glue or nail the parts together and then how to stain them properly.  Go one step further and take a trip to the library after the birdhouse is complete, look for books about birds indigenous to the area, and learn about their breeding and dietary habits.  Any trip to the library is a learning experience, but this one will be a continuation of the hands-on project the child just enjoyed.

 

Hobbies

 

In my day, some of the most popular hobbies children enjoyed were stamp or coin collecting.  We would have binders or albums that were specially made to hold these collections.  For stamp collecting the pages were filled with photos of the stamps that needed to be adhered to that spot.  Coin-collection binders had slots that the coin could fit into, in accordance with the date on the coin.  For both hobbies, a Sherlock Holmes-sized magnifying glass was the necessary complement.  Bookstores still carry both these types of collection albums today.  In those days, many of us did not travel to exotic places as people do today, so getting a stamp from Asia, Europe or South America was surely a novelty.  Today people have friends or family that travel for business or pleasure, and they could be a perfect resource for a child’s collection.  Either hobby will produce the same results: the child will spend time reading, learning about dates and countries and recognizing the symbols on each different coin or stamp.  Can you think of a better way for children to spend time that gets them away from the television and computer and is educational?

 

 

January 27, 2016 |
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