Four of us former zipperheads (i.e., IBM employees) visited the Bundy Museum of History and Art in Binghamton NY and thoroughly enjoyed it. The main attractions is the Queen Anne style Victorian house built by Harlow and Julia Bundy in the 1890s. The Bundy brothers started the first ever time recording company which became quite successful and, through various mergers and acquisitions, eventually became IBM.
Our museum guide was well versed in the house, its history and restoration, the Bundy family history, life in the late 1800s, and the whole evolution of the time recording business. The museum includes a nice display of many of the clocks, scales, and other devices made by Bundy Manufacturing Company through its incredible evolution.
The museum also has an improbable collection of other things related to Binghamton history including a lot of Rod Serling/”Twilight Zone” memorabilia, and a complete barbershop that used to serve the clean-cut Endicott IBM employees from 1940 through 1982.
The museum also features rotating displays; we saw some interesting artwork from a local (Endicott) artist and some (rather unfortunate) installation works by Binghamton University students scattered around the mansion.
It was a fun and fascinating couple of hours for us. We recommend it to anyone in the area who might have an interest in Victorian homes, life around 1900, IBM origins, Rod Serling, old barbershops, or “interesting” art.
Well this is it: we’ve witnessed the official beginning of Winter as cars start running off the road onto our property. This morning’s was the first but certainly won’t be the last. If I recall, we had four cars run off our road last Winter. Fortunately, so far no injuries but that luck will run out eventually. In the Spring we’ll do rut repair assessment after the Winter adventures.
It is our considerable good fortune to have some good friends and good neighbors. A confluence of such over Thanksgiving was a treat. Our friend Stella visited with us for a few days and we all headed across the street to neighbor’s Anne and Bill (and daughter Sidney and extended family Pickles, Ziggy, and Zelda) for Thanksgiving after-dinner desserts.
The next day we visited the amazing Corning Museum of Glass which always delights–we’re glad Stella enjoyed it as much as we do. Only a short drive away, we never tire of conjuring up a pretext for checking out their latest exhibits.
Somehow in the somnolent enjoyment of my retirement, I abruptly found myself working as a court clerk. Now at it for more than six months (part-time), it’s taken over a big swath of the days as I struggled to learn the ropes and simultaneously help streamline and modernize processes and procedures.
Recruited by neighbor, friend, and local town justice Bill Chernish, I started out inauspiciously with a letter from Tompkins County informing me that I was unqualified for the job. In fairness, they were right–nothing in my background translated directly to the justice business. Bill overrode the rejection and my next opportunity to get out of this was a fingerprint FBI background check. Oh well, I got past that too.
It’s been fascinating being on the front lines of the justice system, however modest our little town endeavor is. We have sufficiently “interesting” cases to belie Newfield’s sleepy-little-town characterization. But the bulk of our business is the routine processing of traffic tickets, dog licensing issues, etc. The court clerk’s job throughout is to support the town justice to give prompt, fair, and correct processing through the judicial system for all who visit our court.
It’s humbling for me as I learn a daunting mound of procedures, tools, and forms. Most of what we do is watched over by state authorities to make sure we manage money, reporting, and administration within strict guidelines.
We’re just one of over 1200 town and village courts in New York State, each staffed with devoted court clerks making the jurisprudence machinery work smoothly. My guess, based on observation at training sessions, is that at least 95% of clerks are women. And most are impressively skilled and professional. And they’re not earning what they’re worth. (I’m not personally complaining because I’m doing it for entertainment and as a way to help our town.)
This is an unplanned shot of Lori, comfortably lounging in a bed, reading “How Not To Die”. I like it because of the dynamic light, the muted hues, but mostly because it’s so Lori-esque: even relaxing she’s ferociously focused.
The topic of the book is how diet and nutrition affects our health and the title is a bit sensational given that current expert opinion is that we are biologically engineered to live 115 years at the most. I’m betting that Lori lives to at least 150 years if for no other reason than to be stubbornly contrary. Any winnings I make on that bet will, of course, be post mortem–I won’t have the patience to hang around that long.
I had some time to kill recently when Lori was out grocery shopping. What to do, what to do. Then it hit me: Of course! I’ll cut open an Eastern yellowjacket wasp nest.
A handy wasp nest was built under our deck this last summer so I carefully cut it away and then sliced it open with a bread knife.
These are amazing structures that are beautifully engineered. The ball-shaped wall is multiple nested shells of paper with an entrance hole in the bottom. The walls protect the interior from the elements. The core of the nest consists of a suspended set of disk-shaped combs used to grow the pupae. There’s enough room between the combs and around their sides for the wasps to move around and tend to their chores. Each comb is suspended in the middle from the one above by a paper-like string wad. This particular nest had four of these combs with the bottom one being the smallest.
The dozen or so wasps still in the nest were too sluggish from the cold to be a threat, giving me plenty of time to admire the extraordinary design and construction of the nest. Then I chucked it into the woods.
In the mid-1970’s I wrote to the editor of Susquehanna magazine, a Sunday insert in the now defunct Binghamton Evening Press newspaper, with a rather cheeky offer to provide better illustrations for their stories. I included a cartoon drawing of an artist flinging pigment at a primitive painting. To Darrel Burkhardt’s credit, he overlooked my youthful arrogance and offered to give me a shot. I worked with him and a couple of his writers on various stories for several issues. Sometimes they would provide me the story ahead of time and sometimes it would be a discussion about what they were going for. I would provide pen-and-ink drawings that would reproduce well on newsprint. I had some fun, made a few extra bucks, and they got some illustrations that were at least marginally better than the stuff they had been using.
It was fun while it lasted. I don’t recall exactly how our working relationship ended but I recall it was kind of a fade-out. They were going for more conventional stock illustration and I was realizing that this was too much like work with deadlines and specifications. It’s a bit humbling to look at this stuff now. Clearly I was not following in the footsteps of N. C. Wyeth or Norman Rockwell.
Mouse (one of our two cats, good friend, and family member) has passed away just shy of 16 years old.
She was, in fact, a better friend than a cat. She lacked a few basic cat skills like catching mice and birds (total failure). She never mastered use of her claws, frequently getting stuck when jumping up on an ottoman.
As a friend she was stellar. She never bit or scratched anyone, was relentlessly friendly, ever affectionate, and forgave transgressions immediately. She was an enthusiastic conversationalist, delighting in taking turns speaking in our respective languages. Her purring was all out of proportion to her size.
Mouse was a consummate hedonist, spending all waking hours on the prowl for food, belly rubs, or noogies. As a prodigious producer of hair, she relished her brushings when Lori could, in one sitting, brush out enough hair to knit a kitten. We often spotted her gazing at her reflection in a window or mirror–we shared her opinion of her good looks.
She always assumed that if anyone was in, near, or walking through the kitchen, the only plausible purpose was to serve her food. She would relentlessly pace and exclaim her frustration at the staff’s inability to focus on this essential task. Food finally served, she could purr and munch simultaneously.
Her naps were long luxurious embraces with a splash of sunlight, a vacant warm lap, or a cozy cardboard box.
As part of the family she was loved and she loved us, and we all (mostly) overlooked our respective shortcomings as any beloved family members do.
Mouse was a sweet sweet friend, will be dearly missed, and will be the subject of fond reminiscences for years to come.