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My Top 8 Buffalo Summer Traditions

Hello and welcome to summer. Buffalo style. I often say, there is too much to do around here. Too many gorgeous places to visit. We really are spoiled in the summer months in Buffalo. We don’t have much time, we have too many options, but there are certain MUST-DO’s that we always find time for.  We like to stay close to home in the summer and enjoy our own back yard. You can travel to far off places but really everything you ever wanted is right here. There is something so sweet about summer. Wearing sandals, eating corn on the cob, moving at a slower pace and reading under a tree. It’s swimming outside. It’s doing handstands in the pool. It’s going off diving boards. It’s swinging on a swing. Summer is really all about kids and bringing out the kid in you. It’s about connecting as a family and nurturing and being playful. It’s where I hold cherished memories of my own childhood and think of my wonderful years being a young mom. We are off the clock in a way. No homework projects due. New friends develop and new skills are learned. Now mind you, it’s not all perfect, there’s pesky mosquitos, humidity and quite frankly, I can do without fireworks. But, as a family, it would not be summer without these 8 traditions. The Canadian beaches, visiting Chautauqua Institute, Swimming outside and outdoor swim meets,  grilling and eating outside, the annual family picnic at Chestnut Ridge Park, the inspiration of the Garden walk, Saturday mornings and walks to the Famers Market and one that will never be the same is taking an annual picture of our children. Again, I know we have a lot of options and I did not even include Niagara Falls or baseball. But hey, this is my list. And these 8 traditions are true blue with our family.

1. Go Over the Peace Bridge to Canada


It is always a thrill to enter Canada and take advantage of our friendly neighbors and our unique geographic location. In 15 minutes we are on the bridge from our house. So close yet it feels like a world away.


The first picture in my blog. Poodlewalker!! Inspiration from our dogs running free on the beach of Windmill Point, Canada. Fresh water from Lake Erie and the perfect place for beautiful walks and swims.

2. Spend a day or a week at the Chautauqua Institute. 


Here we are sitting on the rocking chairs of the Anthethian hotel.

Here we are sitting on the rocking chairs of the Athenaeum hotel. I thank God for these happy memories. Traditions and family vacations fill our hearts with memories and closeness. I know only too well you don’t get that time back. You are just so so glad you did.


Inside the gate of the Chautauqua Institute. I am so thankful for these vacations that my parents started and that we continued with our children. Chautauqua is only a one and a half hour drive from Buffalo and has old fashioned charm and is located on a lake in a community that offers lectures and evening performances.


3. Swim Outside – just to relax or to watch a swim meet outside

Oh the years of outside swim competition warm your hearts and memories for decades. the magic of summer.

Oh the years of outside swim competition warm your hearts and memories for decades. It’s the magic of summer. Swimming outside and breathing fresh air is a delight. No hot natatoriums. Nothing but fresh water and the joy of watching your children and others compete.


The Titans swim team enjoyed the short outdoor swim practice season. The cold water entering the pool was welcomed on a hot day. After practice the treat of a ride down the slide gave Natalie such joy.


4. Grill and Eat Outside


Entertaining is much easier and more colorful in the summer. Natalie fussed and showed us how to prepare meals with happiness and joy. “It doesn’t take much to step it up a notch” she would explain.


The fresh fruits and vegetables are bursting with flavors.



5. Reconnect at the Annual Family Picnic


Chestnut Ridge Park. Such a rustic and homey feel to the park. There is such comfort to returning to the same shelter year after year. Follow the paper plates and connect with your family. Here is my dad in the navy shirt and our Uncle Dan in white who paved such noble paths for the family. Uncle Hank, the baby, is missing in the photo.


How fortunate we are to have the focal point of our family picnic be a celebration of mass. Here is Father Jack Mattimore, SJ with his nephew Michael serving as altar server.


6. Enjoy the flowers and Garden Walk


The Buffalo Garden Walk is inspiring and who doesn’t enjoy getting ideas and seeing peoples back yards.


7. Saturday Farmers Market


The fresh vegetables and fruits are delicious but the mini bouquet of flowers are a colorful treat.


8. Photograph and take the annual family picture of the kids


Here is a playful pose of the 3 children. Natalie will always be so loved and adored and lives in all of us. We are all changed and are better because of Natalie. This was the last photo shoot of all the children. I always took the Christmas card picture in August and told the kids how beautiful their hair and skin looked in the summer. Gathering our children together for a yearly photograph is beyond cherished to us now. We could not do this last summer. We know we have to forge ahead but this is the toughest of all.

4 Sports Patty

She was a 4 sport athlete in college. When she found out that was against the rules she dropped down to 3 sports.

She was a 4 sport athlete in college. When she found out that was against the rules she dropped down to 3 sports.

I always enjoy having dinner and meeting people out. Recently at the Catholic Diocese dinner, I ran into Patty Blake. I use to run into her when our sons were in high school together. We got to talking, and more talking because I am really good at talking! I learned that she was a super athlete.  It turns out that during the years of 1975-1978 when she was getting her teachers degree at Canisius College she was also quite the athlete. In the Fall, she played tennis and volleyball. When she found out it was against the rules to play two sports during the same season, she chose to drop tennis. She was point guard for the Griffs basketball team in the winter. In the Spring, Patty was playing softball for Canisius. Can you believe it? Stuff like this just can’t happen anymore in sports. So much time and commitment is required to participate in one sport much less two. But, in the late 1970’s rules were changing. Women were benefitting from inclusion rules. They needed female athletes! Patty was there. Patty thrived. Her maiden name is Kieffer and she met her husband Dick Blake while at Canisius College. I love that Canisius College. It’s where leaders are made and marriages too! Patty and Dick make their home in Hamburg where they raised their four children Jeffrey, Laura, Carolyn and Michael. I wanted to share the story of Patty Kieffer Blake. She paved the way for many of our female athletes. Her favorite of all the sports? Playing Basketball! You can still hear her say “GO Griffs!”

Remembering Charlotte

The house that Charlotte lived her entire life in; she shared the house with her mother.

The house that Charlotte lived her entire life in; she shared the house with her mother.

Slips and toiletries and an old fashioned designed bathroom.

Slips and toiletries and an old fashioned designed bathroom.

It was clear that Charlotte lived tastefully.

It was clear that Charlotte lived tastefully.

On this cold and snowy January day, I was struck by the amount of strangers on our street running in and out of 46 Clarendon Place. A beautiful center entrance green colonial. A house that was always discreetly quiet. Charlotte lived there her whole life with her mother. I knew very little about her. She outlived her mother by only a few years. Rather sad in a sense. Now that she had died and there were no surviving family members around, the house was quietly sold and without warning, estate sale signs came popping up and so did the crowds. As I walked through the house, I relished at all the old fashioned items. It was almost like walking through a museum. She loved literature, Vermont, Wedgwood and fine linen. She liked fine china, crystal and daisy jewelry. It was clear that Charlotte lived tastefully. Estate sales are a little different from garage sales. They can fetch a better price and usually have items available in every room. Estate sales tend to take place for 3 reasons all beginning with D –death, divorce and downsizing. Maybe it’s because I would exchange hello’s with her on the sidewalk, or maybe because strangers were rummaging though her cherished possessions haggling for a lower price, or maybe it made me realize that one day people will be tossing out my things I thought were so prized, but it just simply made me feel forlorn. All of her adored possessions being tagged with 1/2 price after 12 noon today signs. Life is fleeting. Another reminder on a snowy cold January day. RIP Charlotte.



The Lion Ring

The Lion Ring


Recently I attended a 90th birthday party for a retired doctor who remains in wonderful shape. The party was festive and the stories were flowing. One of his sons took the microphone and told the story of the lion ring. I have to share it. “You see when you grow up Catholic and Italian”, began Tommy “your First Communion day is huge”. When one of the 7 children would make his or her First Holy Communion, the parents would visit the local jewelry store and buy a cross necklace for the girls and a medal and chain for the boys. When Tommy was 5, he tagged with his parents to select the perfect medal for his older brother Frankie Jr. The young boys heart stopped when he saw a lion ring in the jewelry case. He begged his parents to buy it. He had to have it. It was the coolest thing he had ever seen! His life would be complete if he had that lion ring!! The parents gently but firmly said NO; after all, this day was about Frankie Jr. and his First Holy Communion medal.  Tommy was crushed. He thought his world had ended;  he eventually forgot about the ring–until his 18th birthday when his dad handed him a wrapped box and inside was the lion ring. “Little did I know my parents had returned to the jewelry store the very next day to buy it for me,” said Tommy. “The thought that they saved it all those years still makes me made me feel so special.” Tommy joked that he is the type of guy that never wears jewelry. He rarely wears the ring but he cherishes what it represents. Tommy joked to his parents in the crowd “I should have asked the return policy of the store. Was it 30 days or 13 years?”

Hello from poodlewalker!

The purpose of this web page is to laugh, inspire and share. It’s a little variety show. Life is full of good things. Take time for the little things like walking your dog and important things like faith, family, love and laughter. Engage in fun. And I hope you’ll engage in some fun with this web page.