Home is where the virtual reality headset is

Ellen Emery

There were visitors at our Bombay home last week. Yes, we actually had guests at our home.

In this pandemic, conversation with family and friends has been virtual. There have been visits through Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp, old school telephoning, texting and Google Meet.

In recent months, there have been no trips planned with family visiting from downstate. Neighbors and friends have not stopped by for visits over coffee. And members of our family in California have not made plans to visit our north country home.

My brother-in-law celebrated his birthday recently with a gift from my sister, a virtual reality headset. He has never visited the north country and was interested to see where we lived. With the assistance of his virtual reality equipment, he found the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department Station No. 1 on Route 37.

With my sister guiding his path, he traveled east on Route 37 seeing the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino and then Speedway Plaza. They were thrilled to see Speedway Plaza recognizing Dunkin’ and each place I have mentioned through this column.

A turn was made onto State Route 95 as he made his way to our Bombay home. My sister called to share their visit to the center of the roadway in front of our residence. She told me she even attempted to go up our driveway nearer to our home, but that wasn’t allowed in their virtual visit through the program Wander.

My sister has been at our home during an actual in person visit — now several years ago, but things have changed a bit. The color of our home has changed, and there were questions about items in our yard.

Pictures were taken of the visit my brother-in-law made to Bombay. The photos were sent — I was amazed to think a visit was made from California to Bombay on a weekday afternoon. Social distancing was certainly in play as a bicoastal virtual reality visit brought us closer.

What fun! I am now looking forward to the day when my sister and her husband can safely travel eastward for an in-person visit.


Charlie Jacobs celebrates this birthday Sunday. What a fine gentleman.

It is always such a joy when our paths cross. His smile and friendly greetings always make my day a very good one. My warmest wishes, Charlie, for only the best as you celebrate this year. Happy Birthday!


Last Friday was designated World Kindness Day. As I thought about this designation, I was saddened to think kindness might be limited to a single day or that there might be a need to recognize kindness.

The north country is filled with the most marvelous neighbors and friends who share kindnesses every day. This past week has been no exception.

There was a notification from my cellphone that a text had arrived. It was a young man from Massena whom we know.

He called to check on us: “How are you doing?” was the question asked. With a follow-up message, “If you need anything, just ask.”

How kind of this gentleman to take time from his schedule of work to check on us. That simple text meant a great deal.

There was a telephone call from a friend who lived in the north country for a number of years and has now moved to California. This gentleman called to share his concerns and thoughts for a mutual friend in Massena and their family during a difficult time. Again, a kindness shown.

Our house phone rang on Saturday. A lovely woman (who, I learned through our visit, is now 90 — amazing!). She called from Potsdam again to check on us.

“How are you,” she asked kindly as The Gardener and I visited with her about gardening, shopping and an upcoming birthday. How kind of this woman to remember visits past and call to visit.

And on Monday, a friend who has moved to Governeur sent a delightful photo of her son. They had been dancing to a song they knew I loved, “I Have that Joy Down in My Heart!”

How marvelous to share in their joy on a Monday morning. Again, there was kindness shared during a pandemic.

I would ask each of you to take a moment this week and call a friend and just say “Hello” and ask how they are this week. I am sure it will touch your friend’s heart and mean a great deal on a difficult weekday.

Let’s hope that in the future there will be no need for the celebration of World Kindness Day. My wish is that each day will be touched by kindness.


Christmas will be different this year. There will be no time with family — at least not in-person time together. I plan to make sure Christmas is celebrated in our home, though.

When our sons were small, we would make a yearly trip to North Lawrence where they would chop down a live Christmas tree for our living room. We loved having a live tree to decorate.

Later when the two boys had left home, I purchased a beautiful artificial tree from a local craft show that had come completely decorated. The first Christmas that our feline friend, Tigger, was with us, he literally jumped into that tree, burrowing into the branches. Tigger loved the tree and ornaments, knocking everything off and the tree down.

We tried a new tree the next year, but Tigger remained determined to get inside of the tree and knock it onto the floor. The Gardener had a wonderful idea. A small live Christmas tree was purchased locally and put in a hanging basket.

I discovered costume jewelry containing flashing lights for the holidays were perfect for decorating our small but beautiful tree. Our hanging basket tree was a success with Tigger not able to jump to the heights of the basket.

With 36 days until the Christmas celebration in our home, the weather somewhat cooler and the fear of the ground freezing, a small tree was discovered in our backyard by The Gardener. On Monday, he put this beautiful Christmas tree in a hanging basket. It is hung in our living room waiting for decorations to be placed on its limbs to be enjoyed.

Tigger will remain on the floor with his celebration confined, hopefully, to his cat toys nearby.


“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come.”

— Zig Ziglar

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