Category Archives: Columnists

December 31st

by Jim Farfaglia

The days of our year
have been collected,
each placed in a sack
we have labeled 2012.

This bag has grown fat –
filled with April’s blossoms,
August’s dog days,
October’s tumble-leaves.

Now, near the year’s end,
time slows to a standstill,
the sack offering one last chance
to remember and reflect…

until we arrive at today,
the year bundled complete,
and we fall into slumber – awakening
to the empty sack of a new year.

All things Christmas

Roy Hodge
Roy Hodge

by Roy Hodge

It has turned out that one of my jobs around the house is keeping everything neat during the day.

My duties usually consist of doing a few dishes a couple of times a day and keeping clutter to a minimum, which I usually interpret as being able to walk around the house without every object I pass falling on the floor.

I am finding that my job gets a lot more difficult at this holiday time of the year.

We have had Christmas cookies in the house for a few weeks now. I know my wife has made some, but I am sure others have made their way into our house courtesy of baking friends.

They seem to come into our house in neat plastic bags, on plates or in attractive containers, but after a few days they were piling up and creating a messy situation. My solution to that problem – eat them.

Our home’s neatness during the holiday season time of the year is also challenged by several large cartons which find their way down from the attic. They are the containers which hold the hundreds of Christmas ornaments we have accumulated through the years.

Then, of course, there are the greetings we send and receive during the season. A couple of weeks ago we hauled all of the cards, envelopes and stamps out of the drawers and closets, wrote messages of Christmas time endearment inside the cards, put addresses and stuck stamps on the envelopes before licking and sealing them and sending the whole pile on its way.

We no sooner got all of those greetings into the mailbox when we started receiving several cards a day which are scattered all over the house.

And there is wrapping paper — boxes and bags of wrapping paper — some still fresh in its own wrapper, and some wrinkled and crinkled in expected and unexpected places.

A big part of the Christmas season, of course, are the gifts we buy, give and receive at this time of the year.

For the past couple of weeks Christmas gifts, coming in and going out, have been all over the place during different stages of the gift buying and giving process.  All that once beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon was turned into torn and shredded trash.

That brings us to where we are now — a few days after Christmas — with the shredded trash, all those empty cartons in the garage, basement or attic, all the stuff that belongs inside them, the cookie crumbs, the hundreds of needles which have fallen from the Christmas tree, all those greeting cards, the used gift wrapping, and don’t forget — all of that new stuff.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397


by Pastor David Grey

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13-14

More than 30 times in the New Testament we are told to forgive one another’s trespasses and offenses. But there is one verse in scripture that reveals just how crucial it is that we obey this command.

It is verse 6 of Matthew 15: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Does God really mean that His forgiving me is contingent upon my forgiving others? The answer is “yes, He does.”

That was the whole point of the parable of the debtor Jesus told in Matthew 18. You might remember the story. A man who owed the king more than he could ever repay, begged for mercy and had his debt forgiven.

Yet that same man demanded that someone who owed him far, far less pay back every penny.

When the king heard about it he, “called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”

Now in case someone would fail to understand clearly what this parable meant, Jesus concluded, saying, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397


JerryHoganKasperek_Wby Jerry Kasperek

We used to laugh at my Grandmother and think she was “cute” because she wore hats and gloves and did silly things and was so darn forgetful. Why can’t she get my name right? I’d wonder after she’d gone through the entire list of family names before she’d get to mine.

“All she does is talk about her aches and pains,” I’d say to my mother who’d shake her head in agreement. It was so like Gramma to walk through our door and start in about her high blood pressure and arthritis and carry on so that you’d wonder if she’d live through the day!

Bless her heart. What did I know when I was so young? Oh, how I’d love to be able to spend time with her now. Especially now that I’ve pretty much turned into a replica of her — white hair, forgetfulness, aches and pains and all!

When I wake up in the morning I wonder what’s going to hurt today. Lately it’s been my right hip. Am I due for another hip replacement? I contemplate.

My right thumb throbs a lot too – some days it’s as sore as “a sore thumb!” (I don’t think they can replace a thumb, can they?)

I guess it’s too much of throwing a 16-pound bowling ball down the lanes in a couple of bowling leagues a couple of nights a week way back when, and maybe to too much computer time and cross stitching down through the years.

If a person lives long enough, I’m slowing finding out, all the hurts they endure will eventually come back to haunt them. I’m also hearing that many of my older friends are in the same boat! (Okay, admit it, it’s nice to have someone who understands to commiserate with.)

And that’s how it goes. Speaking of “goes,” the memory, hearing and eyesight is under siege as well. My eyesight isn’t the best. But my eye-doctor said maybe someday they’d have genetic engineering to fix it. That’s something to look forward to, I contemplate again.

I am thankful for my hearing aids; however, it sure beats saying “Huh?” or “What?” every other minute. Even so, Ed, my ever patient husband, and I shout back and forth from one room to the other and still don’t always know what the other one is saying. He has hearing aids, too!

He and I also seem to spend a lot of time searching our house for lost items. Where in the blankety-blank blank did I put my car keys! Where did I leave my glasses? Where’s my cell phone? Did you see what I did with my billfold? Have you seen my pocketbook?

You know how it is. You open the refrigerator door and can’t remember what the heck you’re looking for. Or, you’re out and about and see somebody you’ve known for ages and recognize the familiar face. But for the life of you, you cannot come up with a name!

So you stand there, smile and nod your head, while searching your mind, in vain, because no matter how much you try you draw a blank. You feel embarrassed and mad at yourself for not remembering who it is, but carry on as best you can and hope and pray your old friend doesn’t guess you don’t have a clue. Later that day, or maybe in the middle of the night, voila, their name pops up as clear as a bell!

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Gun control

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

This is not the article I had planned to write for this week and it’s not one that I enjoy writing.

Several people have asked me what I thought about gun control now, after the horrible atrocity at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut.

It’s been hard to answer them, not because I don’t have thoughts on what happened and on gun control, but because I can’t give them the answer I think they may want to hear without being misunderstood. So I decided to address this in print.

Not everyone, and certainly not a lot of NRA guys, would go along with me, but I pretty much agree with the gun control crowd on this one: 100 shot or even 30 shot clips are not needed for hunting and I am not at all sure they would be needed in a case of someone breaking into one’s home.

After that, the rest of my thoughts I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t win any kudos from the anti-gun bunch.

It is likely that we will see some kind of assault rifle ban coming out of all of this. Does that bother me?

Well, yes and no. It depends on a number of things. If the ban is for a few select weapons that are true assault weapons, I guess I could live with it, but the problem is that a great many of the new generation of hunting guns look like assault weapons.

Media people and gun control proponents are afraid of and want to condemn, and if possible, ban a whole class of guns because of their looks. But, and have no doubt about it, a semi-automatic that looks like every other rifle has looked for a hundred years can be every bit as deadly as an “AR.”

By the way, AR does not stand for assault rifle, it comes from the name of the manufacturer that turns out high performance, low recoil hunting weapons that look like military weapons. That company is Armalite, and they did develop the AR15, which was licensed to colt to be built for our armed forces.

The AR15 is in use around the world and it is almost as good as the AK47; some would argue better.

The look has been copied by other manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe and they invariably are called assault rifles by the people who barely know one end of a gun from another.

The other negative, and it’s one I think is more important, is an assault rifle ban is not even a band-aid, it is only a feel good piece of legislation that doesn’t cost anything, but unfortunately, it will give many a false sense of security, while doing absolutely nothing to stem the gun violence.

The things that can be of real value in helping to prevent scenes of carnage such as was just suffered in Connecticut, will cost money.

The legislation will be some time before it’s enacted, and without a doubt, that legislation will end up being examined by the Supreme Court.

The one thing realistic, helpful legislation will not be is gun control, with the exception that I believe we will see legislation that requires background checks for gun buyers at gun shows, and that’s not a bad thing.

If we are going to prevent at least some of these tragedies from ever happening, we need workable legislation that will enable us to identify and help or somehow control those individuals who would be most likely to become perpetrators of such deeds.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Fulton Post Office

RoyHodge_WEBby Roy Hodge

 Since I haven’t been commuting to Fulton five days a week — and sometimes it was more than that — I can say that I now enjoy the one or two times a month that I do make the trip.However, there is one thing in particular that I do really miss — my daily visits to Fulton’s post office.

An aspect of my life in Fulton that I thoroughly enjoyed was my daily trips to the post office to check The Fulton Patriot’s mailbox and pick up the mail. I think that during that time I got to see and speak to everyone in Fulton — at least the ones who had post office boxes.

A small town post office definitely serves as an important social center. It is convenient for many people to have their daily mail put in a post office box where they can retrieve it early in the day. The morning trip to the post office has become an anticipated social event.

It is not unusual to see a group of several local businessmen gathered on the sidewalks and post office steps engaged in lively conversation.

I was talking the other day to a Fulton resident I hadn’t seen in several years. “I still remember meeting up with you at the post office,” she said.

I had forgotten that she was also one of the morning mail picker-uppers at the post office back then. I remember many almost daily post office-based conversations with Al Squitieri, Wally Auser, Jr., Fred Somers, Ed Frawley and others.

I remember thinking that the very sociable and talkative Ed must have spent a big chunk of every morning in front of the post office.

The local post office is certainly an important part of small-town life. I wonder how long I would have to hang around the post office I go to here in Syracuse before I met up with someone I know.

*  *  *  *  *

Here it is — it is, according to a popular Christmas song that I am hearing often on the radio — “…the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle-belling, and everyone telling you to be of good cheer — it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

And, if Andy Williams says so it must be true.

Being a true lover of this season since childhood, I have shared my feelings in almost every Christmas-time column since I started writing in 1979. That first year, in the weeks before and after Christmas, I wrote about annual Christmas lists, a shopping trip to the ladies department of a downtown Syracuse store, holiday concerts, letters to Santa, and the week after Christmas.

I ended the column about children’s letters to Santa, which was published in The Patriot on Christmas Day, with this: “Santa’s letters reminded me of one I was given to mail several years ago by my son, Jeff. On the outside of the envelope was the following P.S.:  “Dear Santa (or Dad), Please send a copy of this letter to Grandma.”

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397