Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Underground Railroad! Post # 900!

From about the age of 5 till about 12 or so, my family lived on Nakoma Farms, in Fairport, NY.  Above is an aerial picture of Nakoma Farms, or at least the buildings area of  the farm.  There are lots of stories to share about my years at Nakoma Farms, but today Dad and I added another chapter.  We were at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, wandering through their Underground Railroad exhibit.  Very educational and quite chilling.  At one point Dad called me over and pointed out that a couple of places on Whitney Road were on a exhibit panel showing pictures and addresses of a number of local Underground Railroad stops.  I looked closely at the pictures, and told Dad I was almost certain that one  was the Butler place - the big house front and center in the picture above!  Some internet digging, and sure enough - that is the house!  The exhibit called it the Talman House. but a Rochester Library web page about the Underground Railroad identifies it as Talman/Butler House

Another stop was mentioned in the exhibit which turns out to be our 1950's next door neighbor's home - the Isaac Talman House!  At that time home to the Schermerhorns.  Just down the road from Nakoma Farms.  It turns out that the Butler's home was built by Darius Talman, and his father Isaac lived at the Schermerhorn place!  There were a total of 5 Talman built homes in my old neighborhood!  Additional history of the farm and the house can be found here.

Just for the record, we didn't live in the big house - we lived in very small digs over the milk house  - the small structure in front of the big barn - with a truck parked beside it, and I think that's our family car out front.  I did lots of odd jobs for the Butlers who owned the fancy old farm house, including changing storm windows and screens, lawn mowing (two full acres), etc.  We still have a couple of Christmas ornaments that Mrs. Butler helped my brother Dave and I make one year.

I'm very pleased  that this story came along for my 900th post! 

Not totally clear from the picture, but the fancy house is on quite a hill.  Note the driveway headed down from the back of the house toward the barn.  Dad taught me to ride a bike by launching me down that hill!  It was a cinder driveway, so I learned really fast!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Cheryl will be doing the Paradise City Show in Northampton, MA
this holiday weekend - Saturday, Sunday, and Monday!  I think that clicking on the link to the show can gain you a discount on the admission price!

These shows usually feature a challenge to the artists to create a piece for a special exhibit that is part of each show.  This weekend's challenge  was the theme - Magic!  (or Hocus Pocus?)  The piece above was a collaboration between us as usual.  She is about 28" tall, and I think will be priced at around $200?  Check her out!
I'm particularly pleased with this piece - love the top hat!   The plan was to create a moving piece with her popping out of the hat, but the mechanism was too time consuming, so she just has to POP on her own, and I think she does!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Custom Designed Baseball pieces to raise funds for Young Audiences.

 We get lots of requests for artwork to be sold to raise money for worthy causes, and while we often do it, we aren't always very pleased about the idea because the auction price is usually less that what we charge for the item, and while the winning bidder is pleased, and  the organization is pleased, we are a bit annoyed at sort of losing a sale?

However, this time it was a challenge to create a piece of art using a baseball!  It could be as simple as painting a baseball creatively ( a lot easier than doing one of those full size "Horses on Parade" ) or whatever we wanted.  We love Young Audiences, because  they work very hard to expose kids to the "Arts", and we loved this challenge.  Cheryl was already making a piece we called "Women on the Ball" using some left over wooden parts from The Toycrafter, so it seemed natural to create a "Woman on a Baseball" with some adjustments of course, and Don thought it would be fun to create one of his "Balancing Acts" using the ball as the weight on the bottom.  After several false starts using ball bats and gloves, and even a strange idea using an image of the diamond, the design below emerged in his brain while on a bike ride!  A video can be seen here!  --- http://vimeo.com/72527698     Rockin With The Red Wings!
Come join us for a Red Wings ball game, and a great fund raising event celebrating 50 years of Young Audiences!   Buy tickets by August 19th - www.yarochester.org  or  585.530.2060 

The event is Friday evening the 23rd of August 2013 - see you there?

If you didn't figure it out, The Red Wings are our local baseball team.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Which kind of "bike" were you referring to?

I took  this picture in the parking area near Genesee Valley Park - Rochester, NY while riding through during Bike week a couple of weeks ago.  I'm struck by how often  there seems to be confusion when people use  the word "Bike".  Some automatically think motorcycle, some automatically think bicycle - I even sometimes think about my big yellow tricycle.  These folks - from Piffard, NY if I remember rightly - came up to Rochester for a bike ride on the northern section of the Genesee Greenway bike trail (bicycle).  They ride regularly on the southern portion through their hometown, but had never ridden this far north!  The little bike trailer is a homemade unit - a small motorcycle trailer with a car top bike carrier attached!  Nice folks who enjoy both kinds of "bikes"!

By the way - I'm up to 418.5 miles on my bikes so far this year.
17.2 on the big yellow trike, and 401.3 on my Biria!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Maeve graduates from Drew University today!

That's Maeve on the left!
We are so proud of you kid!
You too Wyatt - three more years and I'll re-post this picture for you!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A couple of sights on the bike path yesterday

 Wisteria growing high up in some trees along the bike path -above- and below I  thought I had missed my shot of this bunny, but actually caught a nice shot.  I  really want a camera that takes the picture when I push the button instead of some time later when it decides it is ready?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gravestone has arrived

Dad and I went to see Mom on Sunday - Mother's Day.  We took along some lilacs from our yard, and were pleasantly surprised that their head stone was in place.  I got a phone call from the funeral home this morning (Monday) that the stone had been installed last week.  I asked Dad how it felt to look at his own stone - something not many of us get to do?  The response - "Strange".

We miss you Mom!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Just one of many signs of spring, 
and one of the reasons why I love 
getting back on my bike in the spring.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rochester becomes New York City for a couple of weeks!

 Spotted while out for my bike ride. Parked in a parking lot in downtown Rochester, NY.  Props for the filming of Spiderman 2.  Yes - that is a NYC Airport Express shuttle bus.
 Above - not a real newspaper delivery van unless you click on the picture!
 A whole bunch of NYC police cars ready for the big chase scene - above
A NYC taxi - a lot more arrived by the next day!
We aren't on the list of top ten cities used for film, but this week we are it!  They have taken down the street signs on about 4 blocks of Main St., and removed any building signs that would give away the true location, but when you go see Spiderman 2 , remember that the big chase scene is actually Rochester, NY!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Robert Frost for 2013

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Each year I post a picture of willow trees around this time, because every spring Robert Frost's poem springs to mind as the willow's turn gold!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Olney Place!

 A couple of years ago, a good friend told me about The Olney Place, and told me he was friends with Nate Olney.  I did some research - mostly asking my dad - and discovered the exact relationship between Nate Olney and Dad and I.  We are cousins - second cousins once removed, and all that genealogical terminology stuff.  This past Sunday, Dad and I decided to go find Nate, and The Olney Place.  Nate wasn't around, but his son Seth Olney was, and it turns out an all around great guy and the owner of The Olney Place!  Seth and I are third cousins once removed.  The third cousin  thing is because Henry Cadmus Olney is his great great great grandfather, and my great great grandfather.  The once removed thing is because Seth and I are not the same generation - at least I think that is the correct explanation... anyway, we are related, and I'm very pleased to know Seth!
 That's Mel Olney, Seth Olney, and Don Olney above! Click on the picture for a bigger view.
 At age 32, Seth seems to be a very dedicated and successful entrepreneur - even sells his own private label dressings, spices, honey, etc. in his market and deli!  Seth and I even discussed my designing and making some additional products for his store - definitely some tops, and I'm thinking about some other ideas!
While he says he is not yet running for Congress, he already has a sign in the window to help spread the word that he is available!
I highly recommend stopping by The Olney Place for some ice cream, a great sandwich, a couple of t-shirts, and a fishing pole?  He is well stocked on beer, soda, chips, and whatever else you might want for a summer picnic!  Tell him Don and Mel Olney sent you!  And maybe he'll have some Olney Place spinning tops by then - handcrafted by his cousin! If you'd like to know a lot more about Seth's great great great grandfather - Henry Cadmus Olney -

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Another License Plate ... This one with the real story!

Picture collected outside the restaurant where Dad, Cheryl, and I had dinner tonight!  Dad and Cheryl were already inside - I shot the pic in the parking lot, came in and showed it to Cheryl.  Took her a while to translate - she then said "Late for Supper" out loud!  A chuckle from a nearby table - "That's mine" followed.  I went over and talked with her a bit, but upon my return to our table I realized that while I had actually met the owner of one of my license plate's pictures, I had neglected to get the story!

Back to her table I went -

The story ---- I used to be a Dead Head, but discovered that having bumper stickers, etc advertising that fact led to being pulled over too many times!  Thus the more subtle license plate message --- Late for Supper is the first song on Jerry Garcia's first album!  Also, being a pastry chef, she had named her business Late for Supper also!

People have such good stories if you take the time to listen!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Spinners at 2013 RIT Juggle-In!

Above - My good friend and fellow top spinner Mike Hout with Autograph - a large top that he works hard to have autographed by all top spinners.  My limited travel schedule has kept my autograph off until now, when Mike, Mark, Dick, and Jim all came to Rochester where I could join them!  Thanks guys, and many good wishes to Jorge who planned on coming, but could not make it due to a family emergency.  We missed you Jorge!
 Above - Don Olney (ME!) with Autograph!
Above - Jim Neff with Autograph!
 Above - Mark Hayward (already a signer of Autograph) - many heartfelt thanks to Mark who organized getting these guys all to Rochester to spin tops, and to tour the top collection!
 Dick Stohr  above (also already a signer of Autograph) spun a pretty mean top in the Friday evening open show!  I think Dick was the only guy older than me - except of course for my Dad (below) who spent about 12 hours with us all on Saturday - from first top throw in the morning to the end of the public show!  Dad is not a top spinner, but he sure has kept me spinning for many years!
 We all spent about 4 hours on Sunday morning digging through my top collection - no where near enough time, but we sure did all have fun!  Mike Hout stayed over Sunday night, and talked me out of some of my collection.  I am no longer a virgin when it comes to selling my collection, so anyone else with some money is welcome to visit!  Below - Mike about to pull out of my driveway on Monday morning with some of his loot!  Mike and I toured Mount Hope Cemetery , and spend a couple of hours at the Strong Museum of Play before he took off for home!
Much thanks to all for almost 3 1/2 days of pure fun!
And - Jorge you have a personal invitation to come visit anytime!
Also any of my other top spinning friends, and if you can't spin a top, come anyway, and I'll teach you!
Next year's RIT Juggle-In  will be April 11-13, 2014 so put in on your calendars and plan to come spin with us!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

New Ride for the Grandchildren

 My Worksman Industrial Tricycle came with a small metal "basket" on the back platform that the grandchildren loved riding in last fall.  In the firm belief that they would outgrow that space by spring, I have created a larger wooden seat area that allows for their continued growth for a while.  Our friend Mike who has an upholstery business created a very nice cushion for them to sit on.  I asked him for some scrap foam, and got a professional cushion instead - Thank You Mike!
 With their names on the back,
and the name of my new movingwoodstudio.com
 on the sides,
they now have a much larger and more luxurious ride!
Maya and CJ haven't seen it yet - maybe tomorrow if it gets a little less snowy and a little more spring like?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Custom piece created recently

We were recently commissioned to create a family piece for a wedding anniversary gift.  Above is the result.  Customer was very pleased. Don created a new figure to be used for the Dad! (third from the right).  I'll post a better picture of the new male figure soon - we need to make more!  With some secret muttering under our breath, we actually enjoy the challenge of creating new designs to order.  This one needed a new male figure - some of our male figures are not all that interesting, but this fellow, while not exactly dancing, still manages to exude some class!

This piece uses a background a bit larger than our usual 20"x30" background.  The figures are our standard 15" tall size.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Recent Award

 Another recent award - 
made by us, 
and presented to our friend Alice Young 
by the 
Greater Rochester Area Branch 
of the 
American Association of University Women 
International Women's Day - 2013!
We love participating in the recognition of people who serve the community in so many creative ways!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trash Talk - Marlborough Paradise show

Each Paradise City Craft show features a "themed" area where exhibitors are challenged to create some work in keeping with various interesting themes.  This spring's Marlborough show - next weekend - features work on the theme - Trash Talk.  Cheryl has been making paper "beads" for a while now, and rather than stringing them as necklaces, or other usual uses for beads, she has been decorating note cards, etc. with them.  She took this year's Trash Talk challenge to heart, and created these three figures - the bodies are designed using left over pieces from our many projects, and instead of painted wood clothing, these feature paper rolled beads.  The larger one (33 inches tall)  is called "Oprah - September 2010", and is decorated entirely in beads made from rolled pages of the September 2010 issue of Oprah magazine
The larger figure will be featured in the special section of the show devoted to "Trash Talk". and the other two will be in the booth.  Come early and get all three to adorn your home or office?
  Paper bead detail below.

March 22 - 24 - Paradise City - Marlborough, MA - MAP

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Grandma for Obama pin with Michelle Obama!

It was cool when our pins made it to the Democratic Convention, but this picture - courtesy of our of our customers  -  is even better!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Art Therapy show at The Episcopal Church Home

Above - picture of Mom and Dad at Highland Hospital - January 2012
Below - copy from the brochure for our latest show at My Sister's Gallery - Episcopal Church Home - 505 Mt Hope Ave  Rochester, NY 14620

Art Therapy

Cheryl and Don Olney have been making wonderful, colorful, uplifting wooden "sculptures" for 17 years.  The retired social worker, and the retired toy maker, collaborate to create these "Art Therapy" pieces.  They are therapy for us as we make them, because they keep our life full of creativity, and the joy of making other people smile with us!  They are therapy to you, our friends and customers, because they cause you to stop, smile, ponder life for a moment, and go on, hopefully a bit better off than you were.  And if they encourage you to go on with, or begin anew, your own creative endeavors, whatever they may be, our art therapy has been even more successful!

We dedicate this show to Don's Mom and Dad!  Mom passed on this last year, but Dad, with lots of help from lots of people, has turned a difficult year into a triumph! For Dad, 2012 was a year of 5 hospitalizations, and 3 rehabilitation stints, lots of electric scooter rides to visit Mom in the nursing home, and ultimately the loss of his wife, but closing with a few months of solid enjoyment of the fruits of months of effort.   Those 3 rehab periods were right here at The Episcopal Church Home - specifically in The Center for Rehabilitation.  The dedication of the staff here, supplemented by Dad's dedication to steady work toward improvement, have worked wonders!  We dedicate this show to Mom, Dad, and all the caregivers who helped us all through a special year.  Enjoy the show!

Cheryl and Don Olney
Louise's Daughter
(and Violet and Mel's Son)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Family Christmas Tree Ornaments

Every year we create a special Christmas tree ornament for the folks at the annual holiday party.... mostly the Palmeri side if the family - our daughter-in-law's family!  Just a quick question - Why isn't there a name for that group of folks?  They are our son's in-laws, but no term for what they are to us.  I can tell you that they are family, and we are very lucky to be related to them!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

I recently created a one of a kind Candy Corn Top for a friend's birthday!  Being a "production" sort of guy, I don't create very many "one-of-a-kind" things, so  this is unusual.  I'll probably make one for myself sometime... I'm thinking about other candy tops, including trying some with Christmas Candy?


Monday, December 03, 2012

Some days just give us wonderful -- another reference to an old blog post

Almost 5 years ago, someone left a note on our front door expressing appreciation of the artwork on our front porch, and in our windows.  We were very moved by the note, and I scanned it and included it in a very early blog post here.

Saturday evening at a party for a friend's 60th, I was talking  with a couple about misc stuff.  While cycling through some pictures on my phone looking for the picture of my new Big Yellow Bike with grandchildren to show them, I went by a picture that showed some of our figures.  The woman exclaimed something on the order of "Oh you are those artists!"  A few moments later she said how much she liked our house, and that she had left a note on our door several years back!  Our mysterious stranger who made us feel so good years ago, had materialized right in front of me!

I love how the world works, connecting us to people and things that enrich us.  Those "out of the blue" moments that I've always said are really very specifically oriented and aimed at our soul.  I used to say, and may need to re-establish as a commonly used phrase, "Out Of The Blue" is a very specific place! 

Thank you to whatever forces are at work in the universe that make life so rewarding and exciting!  There are a lot of folks who seem to concentrate on the things in life that are not so pleasant, rewarding, or exciting, but I find most of my life organized by those "Out of the blue" forces.  Life is very good right now - Dad is doing well (for 3 months now), and I'm feeling quite creative.  And, even with my life in great shape, "Out of the blue" sent me another reminder.  On top of grandchildren, children, wife, dad, and my Big Yellow Bike, "Out of the blue" reached out and put a nice bright cherry on top of my sundae!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A tale of an accident!

This is basically a repeat of a post from about 3 years ago.  The reason for the repeat is that on our drive two weeks ago, Dad and I went through the intersection where the accident happened.  So - read on and learn why that bad fender behind my great grandfather Herman Babcock is really an improvement over the car's condition after the icy slide of 1944?

That's me on the left! I figure that this picture was taken sometime the winter of 1946/47 - maybe Thanksgiving '46? That's my Mom, Violet, holding me. Next to Mom is her mom - my grandmother - Florence Babcock Drake. Next to her is Herman Babcock - her father, my mom's grandfather, and my great grandfather! At that time, Herman was living with Glenn Babcock - Florence's brother - and his wife Katie. The picture was taken by my Dad outside their home. The car in the background is a 1938 Plymouth Coupe.

Note the damaged fender on the car. Dad had been in an accident at an icy intersection, and the right front fender was destroyed, but the collision shop could not get a fender - it was war time, and metal stuff was in short supply. He tried driving the car without a fender, but so much mud and stuff was thrown up on the windshield that he could not see to drive. He went around to junk yards till he found the right fender - not in good shape though! Still, it would catch the flying mud! The junk yard guy told Dad he could have it for free if he wanted to take if off the wreck himself. Dad went to work, and got the fender -- or at least most of a fender! Not pretty, but no more mud on the windshield!

Thanks to Anne for finding the picture in some of my brother's old stuff. Thanks again to Anne for knowing I would want that picture! Thanks to Dad for taking that picture 65 years ago, and thanks to Dad for another of his classic stories! And thanks to Herman, Florence, and Violet for passing on the heritage!

What Dad's 1938 Plymouth looked like before?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Uses for my Worksman Bike!

Well, some research reveals that what I have is a Worksman 2620 Stretch Industrial Mover! Worksman means it is made by Worksman They have been making a  wide variety of bicycles and tricycles mainly for industrial use since 1898.   They even currently operate in a solar powered factory!  If you've ever been in New York City, and seen those delivery people with the bicycles with the huge delivery box built in, it was probably made by these folks!  2620 means that the front wheel, with a built in drum brake ( none of those wimpy caliper brakes will do on this thing) is 26" in diameter, and the real wheels are 20".  Stretch means it is very long - I haven't measured the overall length yet, but that rear platform is 38" long x 26" wide.  My "basket" is 23" x 23" by 16" deep - plenty of space for a three year old with all his stuffed animals, etc.... and even room for his 5 year old sister - see below!  Industrial Mover needs no explanation - they are rated at 500 pounds capacity, so 70 pounds of grandchildren is no problem!  Even with grandpa included there is room for over 250 more pounds!   Price new is $1200.  I paid considerably less, and the little rubber string thingys from the molding process are still on the wheels, so it is not very old. Despite the "leaf spring" mounting of that rear platform, CJ declared the ride "bouncy" and we added a foam pad, and his blanket in the bottom for today's ride. I've put over 25 miles on it so far, and while I plan my rides to avoid "big" hills, it has very hill friendly gearing!
Besides possible use for craft/art show display, I'm fantasizing about  building a neighborhood Ice Cream vending thing, or possible other ventures..... maybe I could even deliver pizzas for our neighborhood pizza place or add a nice love seat on that platform, and start a pedicab business?  For now, carrying grandchildren is a great option that they seem to greatly enjoy.  Too bad the snow will fall soon --- :-(     I'm  even thinking that riding in the snow might not be too bad because with the wide stance of the rear wheels, skidding or sliding over into traffic seems less likely than on a regular bike!