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Artifacts…an old car

Artifacts a country story from an old blog 11/09..the car is still here but there is less of it

old decaying car

old decaying car

In any environment, there may be those pieces of human history left over that try to tell their own story.  On the property here, there are neat things: glass bottles piled in a heap; large boulders that line hedgerows between farmland; and four abandoned cars.

The cars are placed throughout the property,

when you reach the pink car, you know you have almost reached the southern end of the land.  Closer in, toward our house, is the decaying car featured in the picture.  You may not even be able to tell it is a car.

Since the beginning of my life here, I have made up stories about who sat in these cars, and why they were dumped in these spots.  Through the mist of time, I recreated Bonnie and Clyde or their 1940s, 50s, 60s counterparts and had them running in the middle of the night to our house where they paid the owner to dump their car.

“Nah,” said my husband, “this is just what people did with trash back in the day, put it on the farmland.”

Then one Sunday night, I would say circa 2000, I cannot remember now, a phone call came at 10pm.

“Sir, this is the state police office.”

“Yes, what can I do for you?”

“Does your son have access to some old cars?”

My husband’s son lived out-of-town then. “Yes,” replied my husband.  “Why?”

“Well, he apparently gave one of the license plates to this young man we have just pulled over, do you know a Bud D?”

“Ok, that is possible, Bud D, is his friend.”

“And, this license plate belongs to a man wanted for killing a very important person a few decades back, we will be over to check out the cars tomorrow.”

“Oh,” replied my husband and hung up the phone.

“That was weird” and he told me the story.

We were both gone the next day and no note was left signifying the police stop.

The cars looked unmoved.  Nevertheless, what I learned from that is something like the old statement about paranoia, “just because you make it up, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

The artifacts around us tell a story. This car has been here since before my husband moved here in 1979. We no nothing about the specific owner, not even the name.


November 23, 2014 Posted by | Country living inspired Ithaca, HIstory, Photos | , , | 3 Comments

Gate A-4


This is a lovely human story: posted by David Kanigan, by Naoim Shihab Nye who also wrote the poem Kindness, which you can read at After reading this, I think I’ll always take a plant with me wherever I go:-)

Originally posted on Live & Learn:


Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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November 19, 2014 Posted by | The Stories | Leave a comment

It is really lovely here, but it is also messy

In 2008, I thought it might be fun to write a blog.  I did not get around to it until 2009. I found this tonight on my computer.

My old homeland is the suburbs and if you live in the suburbs, or have lived in the suburbs, you can just imagine how discombobulating all this country life can seem to a born suburbanite.  But as I look back, I have to say that I’ve learned a lot about the cycle of nature and processing bio-mass here.

photograph of our Boxer Phoebe among the daisies

Phoebe among the daisies



Blogging~this is what

Tazz & Honey Bunny

cats 2006

I would have posted in September 2008.

September 4, 2008

Below are the peaches that have fallen from the tree. The peach tree stands next to our house and this is the 2nd year in a row it produced. I picked several and sent my husband off to work with 5 containers, I will also take five this afternoon.

When I look at the peaches, I feel duty and obligation: duty to clear them out and obligation to use them for something good: donate the ones that are edible, pick the beauties still on the tree and freeze them. These are tough times; the earth has been good to us, and wasting the peaches seems a sacrilege.



The picture above is of my cats, Tazz and Honey Bunny. They are often in the basement under a heated light because Tazz’s age led him to incontinence. Tazz doesn’t know it yet, but he needs a flea treatment. His bedding is airing outside. I went downstairs with the big ol’ shop vac to begin the flea fleecing and one minute into the procedure, the lights and vac went dead. This morning the fleas were going to be gone for good.

The procedure includes vacuuming up all the remnants of the pine shavings (sustainable kitty litter), numerous cobwebs that have accumulated since Christmas 2004, or whenever it was I vacuumed last, and a lot of random dirt…hoping to start with a clean, dry slate. When the lights went dead, I retrieved my reading glasses and a flashlight, opened the electric box and began switching away to no avail. There is other work to be done, no use wasting precious time on this endeavor.  I’ll just leave it for Ram;-)

I think that is when I really saw the peaches by the basement door calling me. The next job also called, dumping the kitty litter. Back when I lived in suburbia, I just bagged it up and sent it on its way. Too expensive here, weekly I clean out the kitty litter boxes and take a garden cart full of “crap” down to our own little recycle area. We use the pine shavings to help shore up a pond so at least we do not waste plastic and landfill space.

The picture on top is of Phoebe. A little boxer, large in size. She is the tenderest of our animals, naïve, does not really know about evil in the world, and just laps up the love. She is hopin’ and a prayin’ I’m going to take her out with me so she can finish the Gradew left by the neighbor’s dog in the yard, sampling it earlier wet her appetite.

So that is my life in the country today. Not quite as it is pictured in the glossy mags except for one thing. It is soothing here. I look straight a head at a wind that gently rocks orange and yellow sunflowers, a white butter moth flits around, and in the distance a pond, a body of water surrounded by trees, still in this moment, listening to the sustained late summer sounds.


Note:  November 2014, RIP Phoebe and Tazz

November 17, 2014 Posted by | The Stories | Comments Off

My Child, You are the devil’s stool!!

You get old and you realize there are no answers, only stories.  Garrison Keillor

St Patrick's 21st Century, adobe water color, source below

St Patrick’s 21st Century, adobe water color, source below

 Link to St. Patrick’s picture, source Wikipedia commons.

This is St. Patrick’s Grammar School, the one my grandfather, Harry J. Lagonegro, an Elmira businessman and co-founder in 1912 of the Arctic League*, attended with Hal Roach, the famous Elmiran who produced the The Little Rascals comedy series.  According to my Mother, they became life-long friends because they were  outsiders, my grandfather was Italian and persona non grata in an Irish Catholic milue and Hal Roach was protestant.

At this same grammar school, my Mother, years later, with some real Irish blood in her, attended grammar school during World War II.  I later attended religious education here. It is now, residential apartments.

This is the story…

sitting at my Mother’s kitchen table Saturday, I mentioned I might like to write a book about my public school teaching experience: the high school I taught at recently closed.

“Well,” boomed my Mother, “you will have to start with my getting hit with a yardstick in grammar school!”

“What?” I replied.

“Yes, one day Sister took me out into the hall, whacked me on the arm with a yardstick and screamed, ‘You are the Devil’s stool, You are the Devil’s stool.’

My mother started to laugh…”That is what I heard, but, of course, what she really said was  ‘You are the Devil’s tool, you are the Devil’s tool.’ “

My mother was born in 1931  and three of her five brothers were soldiers in World War II.  She went on to tell my husband and I that when she was having a bad day, she’d start sniveling a bit, and say, “We got a letter from my brother yesterday.”  I surmise this kept some of the yardsticks away.

Recalling a different incident and not specifying whether it was before, or after, her whacking, my Mother said,

“I was so naïve, one day Sister asked the class if anyone had any old yardsticks they could bring in for her.”

 My Mother continued, “I enthusiastically raised my hand and brought one in for her.”

My Mother raised her eyes to heaven as it to say, can you imagine.  Yes, I can, women always at the ready to be helpful, and teachers that abused authority so badly the logical counterbalance was to take their authority away.

*Arctic League-The Arctic League began in 1912 as a group of baseball fans who met regularly at Harry J. Lagonegro’s cigar store at 157 Lake Street. 


November 10, 2014 Posted by | The Stories | , , | Comments Off

Social Media is a powerful tool for sharing stories even from rural areas!

Originally posted on Blandin on Broadband:

This weekend I attended the Twin Cities Media Alliance Forum – we talked about the power of storytelling to raise under-heard voices. Attendance was diverse – lots of colors, several native languages, plenty of religions, ages ran the gamut, lots of viewpoints – although most of them urban. Today I wanted to share what I learned through a rural-focused lens, including lessons to help amplify the rural stories and advice for reaching the under-heard (minority) voices in a rural community.

Social media is a powerful tool for sharing stories

“Social media is a powerful tool for sharing stories,” noted Nekima Levy-Pounds, a lawyer, advocate for racial & social justice and a pretty amazing speaker. The conference happened the day after “Pointergate” – where Minneapolis Mayor was accused of flashing gang signs by a local news station and social media went wild questioning the accusation. Pointergate was a…

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November 9, 2014 Posted by | The Stories | Leave a comment

What happens when one broadband company runs half the country?

The  average American citizen is left powerless.

 Three years ago, Time Warner Cable told us they would charge us $53, 927 to connect us to their service .6 miles away.

At the same time, they wired the same space for $40,000 less in Maine (with similar population densities and for free).

I asked why the discrepancy? In fact, I asked and probed for a year. No one from Time Warner, or its monitor, the New York State Public Service Commission, could tell me.

$13,200: the amount Time Warner paid to wire .6 miles in Maine.

$53,927.00: the amount Time Warner quoted us this past
spring to expand service .6 miles to our home with the potential to serve over 11 households.

from My Rural Broadband Journey, this e-book is free today.

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October 30, 2014 Posted by | #self publishing, Photos, Rural broadband | , | 2 Comments

Rural Broadband…Free book and why it matters to net neutrality

Book promotion is no easy task…so here is a sample of a letter I wrote folks on LinkedIn…I paid for 30 InMails which I have to use up by the end of the month.  It was one of

those free trials when you think you will cancel it by the time they ding you for $68.00 twice.  In addition, my book goes off KDP select on Friday, so I thought I might as well offer it free

today through Thursday.  So here is the promo letter which at the end answers the question:  Why my book matters:

Hello:  I am a Roy H. Park School of Communications graduate and I want to bring your attention to my e-book, My Rural Broadband Journey, which is free on Amazon Kindle through Thursday, October 30, 2014.

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October 28, 2014 Posted by | Photos, Rural broadband | , , , , | Leave a comment

storms storm in #2

Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake via iPad

Cayuga Lake via iPad

there is perhaps nothing like the impending storm

those moments when fear paralyzes us as we look
to the safe harbor
the sun shining a moment ago, the clouds now gathering
the distant rains far,but in sight
brace ourselves for the winds that will come
the rains that will beat us down
until once again, the clouds part
and the sun welcomes us to its warm embrace
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October 19, 2014 Posted by | Country living inspired Ithaca, Photos | , , , | 1 Comment

Two famous Tommys…reading Vanity Fair on a Sunday morn and reflecting on pulsars

Tommy Hilfiger is from my hometown, Elmira, NY. When we were teens, my friends and I would venture into his store, People’s Place, and buy gorgeous, modern sweaters. We were oblivious to the bong shop in the back.
Tommy Hilfiger is older and I do not know him personally, but I know his family members. His father, Hippo, was a sweet man who repaired jewelry at the fancy Shriebman’s Jewelers. His sister, Didi, coached me, with all her sweet might, during my failed attempt to make the junior high cheerleading team. When I taught, two of Tommy’s nephews were in my classroom: great kids and down to earth.

In my early 20s, reading Vanity Fair…I almost fell off my seat when I saw an advertisement for Tommy Hilfiger clothes… who knew that when he moved to NY City, he’d make it? I was impressed and the rest is history.

When I moved to Ithaca, where everyone knows famous people, or at least one famous person, in some field, I use to mention my Tommy connection. It fell on unimpressed ears. One friend said, “Oh, yeh, his first wife went to high school with me.”

My husband, Radames, the science teacher, who swept me away to our home, a perpetual science lab, said to me,

“You know, these people, these sports people and Tommy Hilfiger types, they don’t alter human history, and they make so much money. It is the people who study and add to knowledge that matter, for example, Sir Fred Hoyle, Sir Hermann Bondi, and then he’d rattle off some other names, and something about the golden age of physics.”

In the summer of 2003 I applied, through Cornell University’s temporary service office, for any old job. I received a call from the Center for Radiophysics and Space Science and an administrator described a position: memoir assistant to Professor Thomas Gold. He received a grant to finish his memoirs and she thought I might be a good fit for the job.

I took it and that day ran out to meet Radames in the driveway, he approached the house,

“Guess who I am working for this summer? Thomas Gold.” He took a step back: “You are going to work for Thomas Gold?”
“Yes,” he moved a step forward and then two backward. “You are going to work for the Thomas Gold?!”
“Yes,” I said, my giggle bordering on nervousness, Radames moved forward again:
“You are going to work for Thomas Gold! The Gold of Bondi, Hoyle, and Gold!!”

…oh, now, I remembered Gold was the other name. Finally, an impressed husband and an impressive Tommy and suddenly, a very nervous me.

I absolutely loved working for Thomas Gold but those stories are for another day. We did finish the memoirs within the year and shortly before his death.~~~~~~~

Time moves forward, I rarely mention my Tommy connections…if I mention Hilfiger, people shrug , if I mention Gold, people want to know what he did, and I never explain the science very well. I have found myself at one too many cocktail parties trying to explain pulsars, my husband bailing me out while the conversation partner just stares at me, deer in the headlights.

But on a hot August day a few years ago, while walking through the streets of Manhattan with my  friend from grad school, something very interesting happened. We often brainstorm about how we might make our millions, dreaming for the most part, but on that day, after my frequent intermittent stops into air-conditioned sanctuaries, I said,

“We should go into the Tommy Hilfiger store, I could see if any of his relatives are around that might remember me. Hey, who knows, maybe they would hire you as a model?”
He laughed and I said, “Did I ever tell you that Tommy Hilfiger is from Elmira and my connection to him?”

He slowed in his mid-town tracks,

“Claire you never told me you knew Tommy Hilfiger… how come you never told me!” Still stunned, he just said, “Wow!”

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October 12, 2014 Posted by | The Stories | , , | 1 Comment

The Smitten Kitchen Moms Apple Cake

This is a delicious cake…it takes awhile to bake, 1.5 hours, but it is loaded with apples and delicious.IMG_0800.PNG

I pulled the recipe off the web at:”>

September 28, 2014 Posted by | Country living inspired Ithaca, Photos, The Stories | | Leave a comment


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