Hope you are all doing well! Thanks for all your notes regarding what is going on for you! I really enjoy reading them! Here is some news I would like to share with you this month!
Many thanks to those who wrote and wished Siobhan a speedy recovery. The tendons in her left hand are getting better and better every day. She is playing again, and for most of our shows, she only has to sit out for a few songs. Special thanks to Perry Cleaveland, Bob Spadafora, and Tim Chaapel. These guys, all quintessential musicians, often sit in with us and take our shows to a higher level. They really stepped up to the plate in helping us during Siobhan’s recovery period, and we feel very grateful to have them as friends.
For obvious reasons, I am not into bird watching, but this past month, grackles have absorbed quite a bit of my time and energy. Grackles, similar to red-wing blackbirds, live in small colonies and choose thick pine trees for their habitat. The south and east sides of our new property, lined with thick pines, serves as a perfect condominium for the grackles. Up until mid May, I enjoyed sitting in our yard and listening to them chirp, but then the babies were born. The babies made a little more noise, but that was not the problem. The problem was the nesting behavior of the mother. Mother grackles are very fastidious about keeping their nests clean, and they have an uncanny habit of carrying and dropping the babies’ fecal sacks (poop) next to and into the nearest body of water. Well, our swimming pool is about ten feet from these trees, and it was bombed more than Normandy was on D-Day. Siobhan, who struggles with menopause, went postal on these birds several times, but they were not rattled one bit. After trying numerous ways to change the somewhat disgusting behavior of these birds, the Autobahn Society Web site gave us two simple strategies to follow. One, wait fourteen to sixteen days for the babies to start flying; once they leave the nest, the mother’s behavior will stop. Two, during this two-week period, have your friends wear caps while they are swimming. By the end of May, the babies were flying, and the fecal sacks were gone. I am once again enjoying the grackles, and next year, we’ll open the pool at the beginning of June!
Several months ago, Brian Kolb, our local assemblyman and also the New York State Senate Minority Leader, asked me to serve as a member of the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. This committee of fifteen members made of a diverse group who has had experiences with issues concerning the blind and visually handicapped, offers suggestions to legislators who are determining policies for constituents who struggle with problems concerning their vision. I accepted Brian’s nomination, and this month, Governor Cuomo appointed me to the commission. My struggle with blindness began in 1966, and I attribute much of my success to myriads of people who have helped me along the way. I feel very grateful, and I want to do what I can to help others who struggle with vision issues. So, if you have any issues, or you know of anyone who struggles with problems in this area, please send them my way. I do not know what I can do, but I do know this. Because this is a non-political, non-paying job, I can speak freely and truthfully in trying to affect positive changes for those who contend with vision issues.
Many of you on this mailing list are from Saugerties, NY, and you know the Warfel family. For those of you who don’t, The Warfel brothers, Gene, John, Richard, and Mark are the guys who taught me how to wrestle and play guitar not long after I went blind. They played a major role in my recovery. Anyway, this past month, Siobhan and I spent a delightful evening with Mrs. Warfel, John, Mark and Katie, Mark’s wife, in Clinton, NY. Mrs. Warfel, now in her late 80s, is still going strong, and John and mark, despite being successful professionals, still maintain a sense of humor just as twisted as it was back in the 60s and 70s. Katie cranked out an unbelievable dinner, and as we ate, we caught up on what the rest of the family was doing. Although they were all contending with the normal issues of life, everyone was doing well. For me, it was another great moment in time, one similar to those we use to have sitting around their table back in the Church Street home in Saugerties. Thanks, Warfels, for a great night!
After our visit with the Warfels, we moved down the NYS Thruway to Albany, NY, to spend a night with Ray Welch and Walt Kemp, fraternity brothers and roommates of mine from Colgate. Ray, Walt, and I are lucky in that the women in our lives get along quite well. The six of us spent a long evening exchanging some great stories, and as usual, we left the restaurant at the end of the night with the servers and cooks. For those of you who know Ray and Walt, they are doing well. Ray, who has recently experienced a couple of setbacks with the loss of his dad and a hip replacement, is back on the road trying to save lives with his wife and partner, Gina. After listening to an evening of Ray and Gina’s stories about the life of a dermatologist, I can almost guarantee I will always use sun screen and stay out of tanning booths. Walt and his wife, Martha, are very busy too. While Walt manages a thriving insurance business, Martha works as a school psychologist for a district in the Albany area. The last of their four sons, Andrew, is finishing up his sophomore year in high school, and he is beginning to look at colleges. What I loved about being with Ray and Walt, as I have with so many friends I have reconnected with in recent years, is that although they have changed, they are still the same genuine, down-to-earth, fun-loving people I met so many years ago! Thanks, Welchs and Kemps, for a fine time!
From Albany, we made our way down to Saugerties, NY, to visit my father. For those of you who know him, although he is slowing down a bit, he is still going strong, still driving and living independently in his home on Elm Street. While we were in Saugerties, we got a chance to drop in on Tom Murphy’s wife, Jeanne, and his daughter, Colleen. Tom, another close high school friend of mine who was instrumental in my recovery, was in Mexico working as a consultant on a construction site. We skyped Tom while we were visiting with Jeanne and Colleen, and we all had a great time catching up on the news. No matter how long I have been away from the Murphys, when I meet up with them, it is just like we’ve never been apart. We’re looking forward to getting together with Tom and Jeanne when tom gets back from Mexico!
Our “Singer/songwriters in the Side Room” concert series at Buffalo Bill’s is headed into its fifth month. So far, Maria Gillard, Pat Maloney, Jeff Riales, and Steve Piper gave us four terrific shows, and we hope we can keep delivering fine performers like them. We have two great singer/songwriters coming up this month! We are happy to announce that Elaine VerStraete and Brooke Pevear will continue the series on Thursday, June 21 (details on the music schedule on our web site). These two talented women, also known as Birds-On-A-Wire have been writing songs for quite some time. We are currently enjoying their most recent recording, It Is What It Is. As a special treat, Perry Cleaveland, the Mando Master who adds some great sounds to It Is What It Is, will join them for this performance. To learn more about Birds-On-A-Wire, check out their site right here! Hope you can join us on June 21!
Siobhan and I moved to a new home back in November, and now we are trying to sell our old home. Check out our home right here! If you know of anyone who might be interested in this home, we’d appreciate it if you would send them our way! To all of our realtor friends, we are on the MLS. So, if your buyers are not interested in your properties, they might be interested in ours. Hey, 3% ain’t bad!
For those of you who are interested in our music, but can’t be with us, here is an article about one of our original songs. The article focuses on "Leaving All Our Troubles Far Behind” a song from the Caught in the Middle CD. You can read about the development of the song, check out the lyrics, and listen to the song!
For those of you who want to know more about our gig schedule, recordings, etc., check out our web site right here!
We'll be back with another update in a few weeks! Hope you are all doing well! Drop us a line and let us know what is going on for you!
All the best,
Siobhan and Frank