Showered with gifts (II): local artists, local churches

picture from Ann

A happy occasion: my friend (and long-ago babysitter) Ann (Roushorn) Sexsmith stopped by the Manse one recent Sunday afternoon to present me with her drawing of our own St. Andrew’s United Church (the church she and I both grew up in) – a drawing that had won her a first-prize red ribbon at the Madoc Fair. What a wonderful gift!

As I started telling you good people last night, I thought I’d devote a few posts to the interesting, sometimes delightful, often treasured things that readers have given to me because they know they will have significance for this inhabitant of the old United Church Manse in Queensborough, Ont. Yesterday’s post was about a sweet little midcentury jewelry holder that now adorns my bedroom dresser; tonight, we turn our attention to pictures of local churches by talented artists.

Here at the Manse, Raymond and I actually have a wall devoted to those pictures (and, for good measure, a not-yet-functioning cuckoo clock from the Black Forest that Raymond picked up at an auction sale). Here’s a photo:

Wall of church pictures

And here are the stories behind the pictures.

The largest one, on the left, I’ve already told you about (in a post here); it is a beautiful drawing done by Ann Sexsmith – who, when she was a young teenager named Ann Roushorn, had the unenviable job of babysitting my sister and brothers and me when we were kids here at the Manse. And it won first prize at this past fall’s Madoc Fair! And while I was admiring it and congratulating Ann at the fair, she promised to give it to me! I was a bit taken aback by this extreme generosity, but completely thrilled. And sure enough, one Sunday afternoon after church late last fall, there was Ann with the picture. I made sure Raymond snapped a photo of the two of us with it, to commemorate the occasion.

The picture at top right is something I’ve also written about before; it’s part of a post that you can read here. Here’s a closeup of the picture:

Hazzard's church by Vera Burnside

Hazzard’s Church, by Vera Burnside.

It is a drawing of Hazzard’s Corners Church done by the late Vera Burnside, a talented amateur artist who was also one of the world’s greatest elementary-school teachers and Sunday School teachers. I remember her Sunday School classes very well and very fondly. What’s extra-special about this particular framed print of Vera’s drawing is that it once hung at the home of the late Bobbie (Sager) Ramsay, who, like Vera, was a pillar of St. Andrew’s United, and was also a longtime Queensborough storekeeper and our hamlet’s unofficial mayor. (More on Bobbie, including the great story of her secret wedding, here.) That picture was given to me by my friend Barbara, Bobbie’s sister, along with several other treasures. It was a gift that still brings tears to my eyes.

And finally, there is a church picture that, for me anyway, has a bit of mystery attached – and I am hoping that some of you readers might help solve that mystery. It’s this picture:

St. Andrew's by F. Strish

A drawing of St. Andrew’s United Church by “F. Strish.” Who is F. Strish?

This one was a gift from our friends and fellow St. Andrew’s members Jack and Lois, who just knew – how did they know? – that I would love to have it. It’s a print of another black-and-white drawing of St. Andrew’s Church, and a very nice one too. But here’s the mystery: who is the artist? The picture is signed “F. Strish,” and I have to confess that that is a name I do not know at all. Who is this talented artist, and how did he or she come to do this picture of our church? Was it a commission, perhaps? I know that someone out there will know.

Anyway, while I have previously thanked Ann, and Barbara, and Jack and Lois, for their gifts of these pictures that are so meaningful to me – because of the churches’ local significance, and because my late father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was once the minister at them – I guess this post is my way of doing it again, and more publicly.

I so often feel blessed to be living at the Manse in Queensborough, where I grew up. But never more so than when, out of the blue, an old (or new) friend passes on something meaningful and lovely like these church pictures, saying something along the lines of: “I thought you should have it.” Or: “I thought you would like it.” That’s the nicest gift of all.

As the Madoc Fair arrives, I say: “Bring back the Booth!”

Satisfied customers at the fair booth

Service with a smile and satisfied customers at the Queensborough booth at the Madoc Fair, September 2005. (Photo taken from a video courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

This coming weekend brings the Madoc Fair, and if you’re not excited about that, well, I don’t even want to know you. I love the fair, and Raymond does too.

Grandpa Ellis taffy

The Grandpa Ellis Taffy trailer is a happy sight at the Madoc Fair.

We especially like the horse-pull competition – which formed the backdrop and running theme of my first long post about the fair, back in 2012 when I’d visited it for the first time since my long-ago childhood – but we also get a kick out of the displays of prize-winning vegetables and baking, the sheep-herding demonstration (which that first year featured a duck, instead of a sheepdog, herding the sheep, which was pretty entertaining), and the 4-H kids doing their thing, all dressed in spiffy white, exhibiting their dairy calves and whatnot. And I like the Grandpa Ellis taffy, which you can see being made just minutes before you are able to buy and eat  it. And Raymond lingers longingly over the shiny new pickup trucks from Doug Hunter Ford that are always on display inside the arena.

But what I want to tell you about tonight isn’t all of that stuff. I want to tell you about the booth that the United Church Women of St. Andrew’s United Church here in Queensborough ran at the Madoc Fair forever and ever and ever. It’s a little wooden building in a prime spot on the fairgrounds, near the horse-pulling track and the bandstand; and at that little both every fair weekend, folks would line up many people deep for French fries and hot dogs and hamburgers and the best homemade pie you ever tasted. The women (and some men) of the church worked their bottoms off all weekend, peeling hundreds of pounds of potatoes, working over hot fryers and grills, and slicing up pie after pie after pie.

It was a great fundraiser for the church, and it was pretty universally regarded as the primo spot for good eats at the fair. And while I never got the chance to work in the booth myself back in the day – I imagine it was felt that kids would only get in the way of the super-efficient ladies of the UCW – I think I’m safe in guessing that the volunteers who did take part had a great time even though they worked really, really hard.

A few years ago the St. Andrew’s people decided that they’d have to give up the booth at the fair. The number of people who could be rounded up to help out was getting smaller and smaller, and nobody was getting any younger, and it was just too much work for too few people.

Inside the fair booth

The view from inside the booth – something I never got to experience when I was growing up here, but would love to get a chance at now as a volunteer worker and server. And the best thing about this photo? At right is Pauline Harris, who was a pillar of St. Andrew’s and just a wonderful person. (Photo from a video courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

But this week I got a happy reminder of the days when the Queensborough booth was in full swing. Our friend Terry, a stalwart and hard-working member of the St. Andrew’s congregation who was also, with his wife, Joan, a volunteer at the booth for many years, gave me a delightful gift: some DVDs featuring video footage of the women (and men) at work.

Fries at the fair

Fries at the booth, fresh out of the deep-fryer. (Photo from a video courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

What a treat it was to watch! Everyone did seem to be having a lot of fun. The fries looked scrumptious; Raymond, who adores fries, was practically drooling. And perhaps best of all, there were the much-loved faces of some people who are no longer with us – notably Pauline Harris, a pillar of St. Andrew’s and the community, and Bobbie Sager Ramsay, ditto on the pillar front and about whom I’ve written many times before. (The best one is probably the story of Bobbie’s wedding, which took all of Queensborough by surprise; it’s here.)

When St. Andrew’s gave up the booth, it was taken over by another church group, this one from Madoc. And good food is still served there; the pie in particular is still pretty great. But what I wouldn’t give to have that annual tradition back in the hands of our little church and community, this time with Raymond and me on hand to help out. I am a non-stop whirlwind of energy when it comes to working for a good cause, and how I would love to be part of a Queensborough team helping to feed the fairgoers and support our lovely and historic church at the same time. And maybe I could even enlist some of you wonderful Meanwhile, at the Manse readers to stop by and give an hour or two of your time to help too!

So what do you think? Should we start a Bring Back the Booth campaign?

Or – come to think of it (she says at the end of a long, hard week) – should we just take it easy and enjoy the fun of an old-fashioned fall fair – and let someone else cook the fries and pie? I suppose there’s quite a bit to be said for that too.

At any rate, people: see you at the fair this weekend!

Precious pieces of history – Queensborough women’s history

Hazzard's Church by Vera Burnside

“Hazzard’s Church,” by Vera Burnside. A wonderful drawing by a very talented local artist (more on that below), and especially important because it shows the long-gone old drive shed where the horses would have been parked during services in the church’s first century or so. (Am I dating myself if I tell you that I remember that drive shed? Oh well, what the heck.) This framed edition of the drawing belonged to Bobbie Sager, one of the brightest and most important lights Queensborough has ever seen, and a great friend of Vera. And now, thanks to a gift from Bobbie’s sister Barb, it hangs proudly in the kitchen of the Manse.

I received a truly wonderful Queensborough-themed gift a while back, one that moved me almost to tears. Actually, excise that “almost.” There were tears. And it is high time I told you about it.

In fact, it was more like a gift package, because there was more than one item. A bunch of stuff, actually, all of it delightful. But three of the items were, and are, particularly close to my heart, and I’ll tell you about them. Over the course of tonight’s post, and tomorrow’s.

But first let me tell you about the person who gave them to me. She is Barbara Martin, née Sager, a Queensborough-born girl and the younger sister of the late Bobbie Sager Ramsay, who ran one of our village’s two general stores and generally kept things in order here in Queensborough for years and years and years. I’ve written about Bobbie many times before, but here is a post that tells the story of Bobbie’s wedding, one of the classic Queensborough stories of all time. Not because of my telling of it, you understand, but because of Bobbie herself and how great she was, and how important to our community; and also of what a stunning surprise she pulled off when she decided to go and get married. In fact, just because I can, I am going to show you once again a wedding photo of Bobbie and her husband, Allan, just after they were married. Right here at the Manse:

Bobbie and Allan Ramsay wedding

The newly married Bobbie and Allan Ramsay, after a top-secret ceremony right here at the Manse. As I write this post I am not two feet away from where they were standing. And I was there for the great (top-secret) event! It gives me goosebumps sometimes, the history in this house.

Bobbie’s sister Barb is an absolutely lovely person who, though she now lives about an hour’s drive away, keeps close ties with Queensborough, is a go-to source of information about our hamlet’s history, and is kind enough to read and sometimes comment on my ramblings here at Meanwhile, at the Manse.

In fact, those ramblings kind of led to her gifts. For which I will forever be grateful.

The first came because I’d mentioned my love for a style of serving trays popular back in the 1950s and ’60s. Come on, you’ve seen them: black background and, against that, a design of big, colourful (usually pink and red) flowers. The ones I wrote about came in the form of TV trays; my maternal grandparents had those ever-so-useful TV trays, and I wish to goodness I still had them. After I wrote that post, another friend, Ernie Pattison – proprietor of the funky and great tearoom and restaurant The Old Omsby Schoolhouse up in northern Hastings County in the hamlet of Ormsby – presented me with a miniature version of such a tray; details here. (Ernie has a bunch of them, acquired at an antique store, and they’re used at The Old Schoolhouse when they bring you your check and then the change. A nice vintage touch in a lovely vintage place!)

Okay, so: one of the gifts I received from Barb was a full-sized version of such a tray. Here it is, and I think you will agree that it is beautiful:Barb's shower-gift tray

But when it comes to why this tray is meaningful for me, the fact that it’s beautiful pales in comparison to this: Barb received this tray as a shower gift before she was married, which just happens to be 54 years ago this very month. (Happy 54th anniversary, Barb and Don!) Those of you with good subtraction skills will have already figured out that that was 1960 – a very good year, if I do say so myself. (Perhaps, if you are a regular reader of Meanwhile, at the Manse, you can do your own math and guess why I say that.)

Anyway: where was the shower held? Why, Queensborough, of course; I’ve already mentioned that Barb was a Queensborough girl. And where, more specifically? Why, at the one-room schoolhouse; that historic (built 1901) building was (and is to this day) our community centre. It was where the Women’s Institute met, where euchre parties were held, where we have the annual spring pancake breakfast – it was at this past spring’s pancake breakfast that Barb passed on these treasures to me – and where community bridal and baby showers have taken place since … well, probably since 1901.

One time I wrote about the bridal-shower tradition in Queensborough as I remembered it from my childhood. That post is here, but the highlights from it are these:

  • All the women and girls from the community would come.
  • All the just-unwrapped gifts would be passed around the circle of attendees so that we could ooohh and aaahh over the tea towels and dishcloths and whatnot – hey, those were simpler times, and practical gifts were needed and welcomed!
  • And most importantly, the bows from all the gift wrapping were stitched to a paper plate by an able assistant sitting beside the bride-to-be, and at the end of the evening that blushing young woman would don the finished product and wear it as a colourful hat.

That, my friends, is fine old-fashioned community fun, all focused on (and enjoyed by) the women of the community. And I miss those days.

And I love to picture Barb – who is a very good-looking woman “of a certain age” now, and must have been a knockout as a young woman at the time of that bridal shower – wearing that made-for-her-from-the-gift-bows hat, and exclaiming over the gift of the very tray that now has pride of place at the Manse. Here is what Barb wrote me (in part) when I sent her a thank-you for the gifts:

“I was only too happy to pass the things on to someone who would really treasure them. The tray was a shower gift from Queensborough and we will be married 54 years this August so you know how old it is and if I ever find my book with the record of gifts in it, I would be able to tell you who gave it to me. I know Bobbie is up there thinking how wonderful for you to have the drawing and have it hanging in the old Manse. I so wish she had lived long enough to enjoy yours and Raymond’s company in the Village.”

Did I mention that this makes me cry? I just feel so honoured that Barb would not only pass on treasures from her own, and Queensborough’s, past, but also those kind words saying, basically, “Welcome (back) to Queensborough. You (and Raymond) belong here.”

Okay, on to “the drawing” that Barb mentions. It is a black-and-white sketch of Hazzard’s Corners United Church, a beautiful and historic old building just up the road from Queensborough that I have written about many a time; here and here are just two examples. The drawing is by the late Vera Burnside, a woman who in my view was, and is, like Bobbie (and Barb), a model of strength, beauty, brains, talent and resilience.

Vera, a schoolteacher by training, lived in the Hazzard’s area but, after that church closed in 1967, attended and was very active in St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. She taught Sunday School (including brats like me), was active in the UCW, and just generally was busy doing useful and helpful things for church and community. And (to boot) was an accomplished artist! Here is my post about finding, and being fortunate enough to be able to purchase, a Vera Burnside original painting at an auction. That painting is not five feet away from me as I write this. It makes me happy, and happily reflective, every time I look at it. Which is many times a day.

As I write all of this, I am struck by how all the players and characters in the stories – Barb, Bobbie, Vera, the women and girls who took part in the bridal and baby showers at the schoolhouse, me – are female.

Yes, this is history. Community history. But also – it is women’s history. Women in tiny rural places like Queensborough. Their history – our history – often gets short shrift in the overall scheme of things. People, I think we are on to something, thanks to inspiration from my friend Barb and her wonderful gifts. Tomorrow, Part 2, and it’s a good one: the Queensboro Cook Book!

Retro retail technology

Vintage retail sales-slip technology

Do you by any chance remember what these “machines” were called? If you’re like me, you don’t – but perhaps you do fondly remember the pleasantly slow process of the sales clerk writing out your purchase on it and then hitting the button to give you your copy of the bill. Fancy technology, back in the day!

Okay, it’s maybe not quite up to the level of the huge spool of string (or was it twine?) that was attached to the ceiling of Bobbie Sager Ramsay‘s general store in Queensborough – with some sort of contraption that allowed Bobbie to pull down on the strong/twine and tie up your package of pork chops or whatnot that was on her sales counter – but you have to admit this is some fun vintage retail stuff here. Take a look and cast your mind back: Do you remember when all manner of stores had these devices? (I have no idea what they were called; do you?) And do you remember the sound of the sales clerk’s pen writing out the details of what you were purchasing, and then the clerk pushing a button and your copy of the bill of sale magically coming out of that not-so-high-tech machine? (With the merchant’s own carbon copy, on pink or yellow paper, also produced, and boy that was wizardry back in the day.)

I had to take a photo when I came upon this unit in a store somewhere in Ontario (the exact location is my secret) not more than a month ago. I couldn’t believe these things (what are they called?) are still in use, at least in the odd place. But I quickly decided to shove aside my disbelief, suspecting that it was far more useful to the general karma to just be thankful for a sweet reminder of the good old days of buying and selling merchandise.

This one is for Christina

Isabella and Will Holmes, our across-the-street neighbours in Queensborough many, many years ago, on an occasion that I think I am fairly safe in guessing (from the corsage and boutonnière they are wearing) was a wedding anniversary – 50th? (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

Isabella and Will Holmes, our across-the-street neighbours in Queensborough many, many years ago, on an occasion that I think I am fairly safe in guessing (from the corsage and boutonnière they are wearing) was a wedding anniversary – 50th? (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

Christina Sager, an early (and appreciated!) supporter of this blog, grew up in Queensborough like I did – though somewhat later. (When I was in my early teens, before Christina was born, I babysat her older siblings once or twice.) She and her husband also have an Eastern Ontario home-restoration project on the go, and you can learn about it on their blog here. Christina’s great-grandparents, Will and Isabella Holmes, lived in a house right across the way from the Manse; it was Will who warned us “Don’t drink the water!” on the day our young family first arrived at the Manse in July 1964. (And we proceeded to carry drinking water from a communal village pump for all 11 years that we lived there.)

This photo of them – I think chances are good that it was taken at their home (no longer standing), but I am far from sure of that – was given to me by Barbara (Sager) Martin, the younger sister of the late Bobbie (Sager) Ramsay, Queensborough general-store-keeper and pillar-of-the-community extraordinaire. It’s so lovely to have the photo, to see again those kind faces that I remember from my very earliest childhood. Here is another one from the same event:

Will and Isabella flanked by their son, Leslie Holmes, and their daughter, Isabella Sager. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

Will and Isabella flanked by their son, Leslie Holmes, and their daughter, Isabella Sager. Leslie’s wife, Jean Holmes, was the clerk-treasurer of Elzevir Township (in which Queensborough is located) for many years, and wrote the essential history of the area, Times to Remember in Elzevir Township. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

And finally, here is a photo, also kindly given to me by Barbara Martin, of the October 1939 wedding of Will and Isabella’s daughter, also named Isabella, to Allan Sager, the brother of Bobbie and Barbara. Allan and Isabella are Christina’s grandparents.

Oct. 18, 1939: Newly married Allan and Isabella Sager with their attendants, Jennie Sager and Earl (or is it Gordon?) Sager. The photo is taken in the front yard of the Manse; you are looking north. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

Oct. 18, 1939: Newly married Allan and Isabella Sager with their attendants, Jennie Sager and Earl (or is it Gordon?) Sager. The photo is taken in the front yard of the Manse; you are looking north. The house that you can see at far right is still there; the others in the background are all gone. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Martin)

This photo was taken on the front lawn of the Manse; the resident minister, The Rev. Snelgrove, performed the ceremony. Some months ago Christina sent me another photo of the wedding, featuring just Allan and Isabella (you can see it, and read about what it taught me about time passing and landscape changing, here), but this one includes their attendants, Jennie Sager (sister of Allan, Bobbie, Barbara – and Bernice and Eileen) and – here is where my memory fails me and I’m annoyed that I can’t find the notes that I took the day that Barbara gave me the photos – either Earl or Gordon Sager. Christina, or others reading this, can you set me straight? Earl and Gordon were brothers who farmed together and obviously were related to Allan (and Jennie, Bobbie, Bernice, Barbara and Eileen), but I’ve forgotten how. Uncles?

Anyway, this post will be primarily of interest to us Queensborough folks who knew (or are related to) Will and Isabella (mother and daughter) and Leslie and Allan and Jennie and Earl (or is it Gordon?). But I like the photos too for the sense of time and place that they convey. The curtains and the couch upholstery and the carpet in the wedding-anniversary photos, for instance: that just is rural Ontario, mid-1960s.

And the wedding photo? That is just a happy day, a long time ago. At the Manse.

Measles, mumps and chicken pox

My sister, Melanie (right) and me at the table in the Manse kitchen sometime in the mid-1960s – around the time that I started to contract all the famous childhood diseases. Don't you just love that square black vinyl purse? That was my pride and joy. (Photo by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

My sister, Melanie (right) and me at the table in the Manse kitchen sometime in the mid-1960s – around the time that I started to contract all the famous childhood diseases. Don’t you just love that square black vinyl purse? That was my pride and joy. (Photo by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

The recent bout of flu that Raymond and I have just come though, and the fact that I was suffering the worst of it while at the Manse over Christmas, got me to thinking about all the other ailments I had as a child growing up in that very same house.

I’m not sure when the vaccine against measles, mumps and chicken pox started being widely used, but I must have missed out because I succumbed to all three. (I think I might have had whooping cough too, actually; I have a very dim memory from when I was very young of being at a lovely garden party – a United Church Women event, perhaps? – at the home of John and Marguerite Thompson, and making a spectacle of myself thanks to a shockingly uncontrollable cough. Must ask my mother about that.)

Anyway, of the verified illnesses that I suffered, chicken pox came first. I got it before any of my younger siblings did – in fact, I don’t know if they ever did get it – and my mother, not being entirely sure what was up, called in storekeeper and unofficial Queensborough mayor Bobbie Sager (later Ramsay) for a diagnosis. I vividly remember Bobbie, a tall and imposing figure, coming through the Manse’s kitchen door one evening on her way home from the general store she ran, and wasting no time as she asked to see the spots that had appeared. As it happened they were on my stomach, and no-nonsense Bobbie ordered me to pull up the little shift dress I was wearing so she could see them. So there I was in the middle of the big old Manse kitchen, with various family members looking on interestedly, exposing myself! I was mortified. Fortunately it took Bobbie only about half a second to come up with the chicken-pox diagnosis. Much calamine lotion (not that it seemed to help much) ensued.

Next was the measles, and that was pretty serious. I remember spending many days in bed, blankets pinned over the window shades because my mum had been told that exposure to light could cause eye damage when people had the measles. I also remember weird (and doubtless frightening to my parents) bouts of delirium. I wasn’t allowed to read because of the light thing, but Mum read to me; that was the first time I ever heard Stephen Leacock‘s wonderful story about the sinking of the Mariposa Belle (actual title: The Marine Excursions of the Knights of Pythias) and I remember my mum laughing so hard as she read it that she could barely get through it. (If you’ve never read it, you absolutely must; it is a hilarious treasure of Canadiana. I have it in a collection of stories at the Manse, and I would be happy to lend it to you.) I also remember listening to the radio a lot, especially the show Bruno Gerussi hosted (called, imaginatively, Gerussi!) on the CBC. So that tells you how long ago this was; that show ran for two years, 1967 and 1968.

I have to confess I did not have the mumps at the Manse, but that was only because they struck in July, which were Dad‘s “holidays.” We always spent July at the family farm up in Haliburton County (where Dad worked 18-hour days getting the hay in; some holiday). As you probably are well aware (though not if you’re much younger than I, because then you won’t have any experience whatsoever with these illnesses), mumps are much less serious than measles, but they’re pretty unpleasant nevertheless.

Anyway, I lived through all three classic childhood illnesses, and here I am telling the tale. But it was kind of a funny feeling being in bed with the flu in the Manse’s master bedoom – the one that was my parents’, and where I was transferred when I was really sick with the measles – all those years later. And thinking about how circular life can be.

A newly cozy corner of the Manse

A happy little corner of the dining room: our newly installed electric fireplace, complete with Raymond! (Whose shirt, come to think of it, matches the cranberry-coloured fireplace.)

It is cold here in Montreal tonight, and it’s been cold for the last few days, and I do not like being cold. And tomorrow night we will be travelling to the Manse, and for sure it will be cold when we arrive, because we keep the heat low when we’re not there. Fortunately the house heats up pretty quickly when we turn up the thermostat, but for the first few minutes (and longer upstairs, which has only two heating vents) it will be chilly.

But on this visit, something recently arrived at the Manse will mean there’s a source of instant heat – barring the power being out, of course. (Insert comment on the need for a generator – or not – here.) A couple of visits ago, when I was scanning the flyers that come with the local papers, I noticed that Home Hardware had little electric fireplaces on special, and they even came in cranberry! (As you may have read elsewhere on this blog, red in all its forms is my favourite colour.) The store didn’t have any in stock, but we placed an order and by the time of our most recent visit it was there to be picked up and installed.

The same corner, looking rather bare and drear, before the fireplace arrived.

So now one corner of the Manse’s dining room – which once upon a time in my childhood housed a china cabinet with the cups and saucers and whatnot but has of late been looking very bare and rough, especially after I did some archeological excavation of the various layers of wallpaper – has a warm and happy flame and instant heat whenever we want.

Yes, it’s a fake flame. But it’ll do nicely until we get a wood stove. And no kindling or matches needed!

News you need: Thanks to my friend Elaine Kapusta, yesterday’s post about one of the biggest events ever to happen in Queensborough, the surprise wedding of storekeeper extraordinaire and pillar of the community Bobbie Sager, has a great new addition: a photo of Bobbie and her groom, Allan Ramsay, taken just after that long-ago ceremony at the Manse. Bobbie and Allan both look so happy! I urge you to take a look here.