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Mother’s Day Memories

May 8, 2016

richards mom2
Here are some photographs of my mother, Margaret, between 1959 and 1991. She was a very strong, liberal, and independent woman. A Massachusetts Democrat. Outspoken. A Union member. A real-life Norma Rae or Maude. Ahead of her time.

My mother was a great woman who had a difficult childhood because Margaret’s father died in 1924 at the age of 28 when she was only 4. Before her father became too ill from what was probably diabetes, he drove the family to Florida during the last few months of his life: Driving from Boston to Lake Okeechobee and back must have been a fun adventure in 1924! Margaret was an only child and was raised by a single parent. The statuesque Margaret married the love of her life in 1938 and that union produced three children. However, before the youngest was a teenager, their young father died, leaving Margaret to become a second-generation single mother. Margaret was very talented and skilled with a Singer sewing machine and she would make beautiful clothing for both men and women, thereby supplementing the income she earned at the textile mills. The money was needed to support her family of four. Margaret certainly made stylish dresses for herself and children (even her daughter’s wedding gown) and was a remarkable cook, gardener, best friend to a few, and regular beachgoer. In the late 50’s my parents married and Margaret finished her three decades (30’s, 40’s, & 60’s) of childbirth. However, shortly thereafter, Margaret returned to the single mother role…a successful role, once again.

Margaret worked hard to support her family of two. Relatives thought that I just might not make it to age six because of high tension levels between mother and son-all unsubstantiated, I say. It was very difficult for Margaret to work in the un-air-conditioned mills and to deal with the ‘change’ – I know first hand that her hot flashes seemed to last most of my adolescence…they were real and they occurred often, and they created a lot of tension. In the late 70’s Margaret’s diabetes and other medical issues allowed her to retire early and to let her begin to regain her strength.richards mom

Margaret had four children; eleven grandchildren (many more great and great-great since her passing and her 12th grandchild was born in 1997) and everybody always included her with the family events and trips to Cape Cod. By 1984 or so Margaret moved into Elderly Housing in her hometown and that marked the first time she lived alone. Margaret enjoyed life there as it was convenient and she learned whom to avoid but befriended the good neighbors. We lost our mother in July 1991. She was 71 and I was only 29. RIP Margaret Rosanna. We miss you.

Sinapis Pastries and Cakes

February 28, 2016

Aunt Betty’s Birthday request was for a Strawberry Short Cake and a Napoleon. Now I have to mention that Betty can sometimes be a little ‘Strong Minded’, and I was a bit apprehensive with given the task of getting these cakes for her celebration. I knew I need to call in the Big Guns – Anthony Sinapi from Sinapis Kettled Bagels Cafe.cakes1postercake If you haven’t tried his cakes and pastries you are really missing something. Anthony is a master baker and uses only natural and fresh ingredients. How many times have you been lured into purchasing those great looking pastries from the supermarket bakery only to be disappointed when you realized that they taste like sh**. Have you ever been shocked how the icing stained your kids’ teeth and cloths from those large sheet cakes purchased from the big Warehouse Stores? Do yourself a favor and order your next cake from Sinapis’s. You can’t beat the price and quality of the ingredients that Anthony uses. Watch out Buddy Valastro,there is a new ‘Cake Boss’ in town!cake90
If you’re looking for some Homemade Soups or great Sandwiches try Sinapis for lunch. In a rush, can’t find a parking spot, why not try the ‘Curb Side’ pickup service. Just give them a call and your order will be delivered right to your car – no need to even get out. Have an issue with Gluten, try Anthony’s Gluten Free Bagels.mrsinapi Rainbow Bagels and Funfetti Cream cheese were available for the first time last weekend and boy were they a hit (24 dozen were sold in the first hour) No need to travel to Brooklyn – ‘Mt. Kisco Has It’.
Aunt Betty’s 90th Birthday Celebration was a huge success and everyone raved about the Cakes. Betty gave the cakes a 2 thumbs up and has already put in an order for her Birthday next year bettypic

Record Low Temps and Frozen Pipes

February 14, 2016

Last nights temperatures hit a record low in the Hudson Valley (below zero in most areas – these were actual temps and not wind chills).As you can imagine many pipes froze. I spent the evening checking in on some of my listings to make sure that they were prepared for the cold. Below are some tips to follow. Tonight’s temps won’t be as cold but pipes can still freeze.thermomiter
The first thing you should do is keep the cabinet doors open on all sinks that are located on an exterior wall.The trick is to allow a circulation of warmer air around the pipes.I take it a step further by using a foam insulation panel on the back of the cabinet.If you have young children please REMOVE all chemicals from under the sink before you do this.sink
Check your house for any openings around pipes,electrical service,dryer vents etc. and seal them up with insulation. Cold air coming in near pipes can cause them to freeze.Don’t forget to check those drafty basement windows and insulate those as well.
The best thing you can do in weather like this is to keep the water moving through the pipes.Turn a faucet on in your house that is farthest from the water main to a slow steady trickle.If you notice a decrease in water pressure your pipes might be beginning to freeze so run warm water through them to loosen any ice that might be beginning to form.
water mainIf your pipes do freeze the first thing to do is turn off your water main (everyone should know where their main is for emergencies) to minimize damage and call a professional to help.

Holiday Decorating and Listing Your Home

December 18, 2015

Many times I have been asked if it is ok to decorate a house for the Holidays when it is listed for sale. My answer is always yes, BUT it has to be ‘tastefully’ done. This isn’t the time to get out the things your kids made in kindergarten or the hideous ornament your sweet dear old Aunt Edna gave you (the one that you always hated but now that she is dearly departed you feel obligated to put out). My motto is less is more and keep it simple. After all you wouldn’t want to put up a 7 ft tree when you have low ceiling height or a large tree in a small room . This will only draw attention to all the shortcomings of your property.Remember not everyone shares your religious beliefs or decorating tastes. It is best to keep it simple and as neutral as possible.

On occasion I have had to remove some “What were you thinking” items. This was a Santa that was obviously possessed! It wasn’t just ugly it really scared the kids.Next up was the Christmas Tree Tea Pot – Wow I would love a spot of tea out of that!You know I’m not really not sure what the heck this next one was. I guess it’s an Angel – but who knows – just bury it.I would love to see your ‘Ugly’ Ornaments – come on you know you have them!

My Damn Irish Skin and Giving Thanks

November 29, 2015

I guess it was inevitable… pasty Irish skin ,summers in #Rockaway beach and Sea-n-Ski sun tan lotion with an SPF of Zero, that I would end up with Skin Cancer. In a strange twist of fate it was my ‘Irish Skin’ that kind of saved me. I have Rosacea (which affects many fair-skinned people) and I needed to renew my cream. I called the office and they refused to renew the cream over the phone (because it had been too long since my last visit) they said I had to come into the office. Needless to say I was really annoyed at the idea of having to make a trip into the office for a stupid prescription.
While I was there I figured I would make the most out of my visit so I asked the Dr. to look at a few moles that I had moles (I was convinced that they looked like all those cancerous moles you see on posters in the office waiting room) He said they were fine, no worries. Kidding around I asked if he could do anything about this age spot on the tip of my nose. He looked at it, felt it with his finger and said “Hmmmn”.He then retrieved what I would refer to as a Jeweler’s loop ‘to get a better look’. He examined the tip of my nose under magnification for what seemed like an eternity, I was afraid to breathe (partly because I was scared and the other because I had onions for lunch and had really bad breath).He eventually walked away and I could finally exhale. He mumbled something but I wasn’t listening, I was ready to leave. He then turned around and said that “it warranted a biopsy”. (WHAT, are you kidding me?) He said that the Age Spot was fine but it was a blood vessel that shot off of it that concerned him. He was quick to say that there was only a 20% chance it was ‘anything’ and if it was ‘something’ this was the time to ‘catch it’.
The biopsy was done and he said I should hear something in a week. Two days later I got a call from his office and the nurse said she was sorry but it came back as positive for Cancer .My heart sank and a flood of thoughts went through my mind. I wallowed for about 30 minutes and then started to look at all my options (which turned out to be many).
1. It could be a lot worse
2. I was kind of lucky it was caught when it was
3. I am older and looks aren’t as important
4. Free Nose job
5. I had the ‘Good Kind of Cancer’
6. If this is the worst thing that happens in my life – I’m grateful
nose1
Here is my PSA for the day – 1 in 5 people will experience some kind of skin cancer – no group is immune –you need to get a body scan 1x a year (more often if you are in a high risk group). Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Use sunscreen and protective clothing when out in the sun.

Mice, Mice Everywhere

October 4, 2015

This is the time of year that those cute little furry friends try to take up residence in your home. As cute as they are, not many folks like the idea of sharing their homes with Mice and for good reason, their droppings carry diseases and Mice also harbor Dear Tics.
The first order of business is to try to keep them from coming in. This can be a tough task since Mice can squeeze through holes as small as a dime. Do an inspection around the perimeter of your home and repeat the process on the inside. A favorite access point for Mice are dryer vents that are low to the ground, make sure the vents are not clogged with lint that prevent them from closing properly.
If you want to try to get rid of the Mice yourself here are some tips:
1. Place traps in areas where you see mouse droppings.mice poop Don’t vacuum up droppings because you can get sick if you inhale the airborne urine and fecal matter.Mice have terrible eye site and tend to make paths along walls – place traps along walls instead of the middle of the floor.
2. If you are going to use bait stations with poison do not use the kind that has pellets. Mice don’t always eat the poison right away – they sometimes bring it back to the nest or hide it around your house (this can be dangerous for your Pets and kids). Instead use the poison that is a paste or a gel stick – they can’t transport this kind.mice poison
3. You can use many different kinds of foods to entice Mice – peanut butter works well and according to my neighbor the #1 thing to use is Tootsie Rolls. Mice have an incredible sense of smell so it is important to switch out the bait often no matter what kind you use so it doesn’t rot.
If this isn’t your cup of Tea just call a professional:)

Decks , Decks and Decks

September 6, 2015

Just because a deck has a C/O doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. I came across this situation with a young couple buying their first home in Bedford. The first question any good Agent asks is ‘Does the Deck have a C/O’? In this case the answer was yes so I thought there wouldn’t be a problem – not so. This home was a weekend home for an older couple from Manhattan. They owned the home for over 30 years and when the deck was built it was built to code however, since that time building codes have changed and for good reason. Looking at the Deck you would never suspect the Deck was dangerous as it was well taken care of and the wood was in good shape (the couple rarely used the deck so there was not much wear and tear). On closer inspection things popped up like the railings. This Deck was built when horizontal railings and built-in deck seating was popular. This is a big no/no since kids can climb onto the built-in seats and over the rail. Handrails have to be at least 36’’ high (check with your local building codes) and the space in between spokes can be no larger than 4’’ (so kids and pets can’t get their heads stuck).
Here are some other things to look for:deck2
The deck should be ‘bolted’ to the house, not screwed with deck screws or nails. If it is not bolted it can separate and pull away from the house. You need to use ½ inch stainless Steel or Galvanized Lag Screws. If the Screws are not large enough they won’t be able to support the Deck. If they aren’t Stainless Steel or Galvanized they can rust and become weak.deck3 The Posts that support the deck need to be placed on footings and not buried beneath the ground. The posts should also never sit directly on top of the concrete footing (wood should never come in direct contact with concrete) it should be anchored to the footing with a metal anchor.deck4
deck5 Footings need to be larger than the post and the post should sit in the center of the footing – the footing in this picture is too small and the post is not anchored.
Another thing to look for is flashing,this can be overlooked but is important. Flashing is located between the deck and house.It protects the house from water.moisture and helps prevent rotting.Proper maintenance and yearly inspection of your deck will help it last a long,long time.

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