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Over Coffee With Ellen

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BELATED WISHES – Two very important people celebrated a birthday this past week and neither was mentioned in last week’s column. And for that I apologize. My excuse is my “new” computer, which is now over a year old ,I believe.

I have mentioned previously that everything was transferred to my new computer with the exception of the program that kept track of my birthdays and special days for celebration. With a number of birthdays misplaced, I did turn on my old computer and copied each by hand in a calendar – but that calendar this past week literally was at the bottom of the papers beside my computer. As I have worked through those papers in my weekly typing for various projects now due, I discovered my calendar.

My apologies this week to Jackie Mitchell at the Courier-Observer office and to Marge Beaubien as well. How could I have forgotten the birthday of those two very special people in my life? I have known Jackie since I first started at the Observer – has it been over 30 years ago? What an amazing woman she is - my heartfelt thanks, Jackie for always being there when I call with a question – and for all you do not only at the office, but for your family and for your “Angel,” too.

I believe I have known Marge Beaubien perhaps as long as we have lived in the north country, now well over 40 years. When we first moved to Bombay, the Hogansburg Post Office was near the bridge across from what was Tatlock’s – now there is a coffee shop in that location. When I would stop with a box for mailing or a question on a box that was to be sent, Marge and Susie Bero would always be so welcoming and would always be most helpful.

What a joy it was to visit the Hogansburg Post office with Marge and Susie behind the counter. The mailboxes were all nearby and if you were fortunate enough to stop at mail time everyone in town was there. The Post Office was a gathering place for the community – you could visit and learn the goings on of the day. Now Marge and I exchange greetings in restaurants in the community or at Hannaford’s. What an extraordinary woman Marge is.

My birthday wishes are a few days late, but they are most sincere. My warmest wishes to Jackie and Marge. I hope you both had a wonderful birthday and my very best wishes for only the best in the year ahead – for that is what you both deserve.

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DIGNATARIES CELEBRATE – Three Massena dignitaries will celebrate their birthdays this week. Today is the birthday of Bruce Truax. It is always such a pleasure to visit with Bruce – what a fine gentleman. He is always there whenever there is a need with a neighbor, friend or family member. I am sure your family will make sure your birthday is a very special celebration this year.

Friday is the birthday of Wally Cornell. Take a moment this week and stop by the Main Street Cornell’s Cleaning facility and wave to the gentleman in the back room and wish him a very happy birthday.

And on Saturday Bernie Hazelton will celebrate the anniversary of his birth. What an amazing man Bernie is – so very talented. I have always been impressed by his ability to take a piano that is desperately out of tune – and with a twist and a turn of a wrench like tool, the sound improves. When Bernie would begin to play in the most amazing chord progressions I knew his job was completed – he had transformed a piano where no true key could be found into a beautifully sounding instrument.

What an outstanding talent – and then to listen to him play. His music always touches my heart and stirs my soul. And for that I am most grateful. Isn’t the north country a marvelous place to live with such kind, generous and talented people – such as Jackie, Marge, Bruce, Wally and Bernie this week? I certainly think so.

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WORLD CHAMPION – This past week I heard a news report on the morning TODAY Show that announced a new World Champion Air Guitarist had been named. Perhaps someone can help me with understanding this concept. I have been puzzled by a contest honoring someone playing an air guitar for there is no guitar to be held in hand when playing the air. And there are no strings with which to practice each note and chord while playing on air.

I began taking piano lessons at the age of 7 and continued through one semester on the college level. Recently I have taken lessons on the electronic organ. And with those lessons I have practiced working on patterns and notes and songs to hopefully improve. The guitar is a difficult instrument and although I thought at one time I might learn how to play the one I have in our home, I have never been able to do so.

I have watched with admiration others playing stringed instruments – my friend Tim and Jeff, too and what admiration I had for my friend, Bill, who loved to play his guitar. And I have watched my friends Ethan and Joey play their instruments – and practice and work to perfect their skills. For each of these individuals I would pay tribute and honor them in a World Championship Guitar Playing (or in Joey’s case a ukulele) contest.

I know what practice means, and I know all of these individuals and so many others who play, work diligently to produce an amazing sound – all worthy of appreciation and championship honors. But I have yet to figure out how one can be named a champion for strumming mid-air with no apparent sound from that instrument.

Perhaps someone can explain this phenomenon to me – and help me understand the world of air guitar. Until then I will attend the high school concerts and this year perhaps some at the junior high school and I will be so impressed by the dedication, hard work and skills of the young people playing each instrument. And at this time, I have no intention of scheduling attendance at an air guitar concert.

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – Without labor nothing prospers. Sophocles

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