Have you begun polishing your communications skills at the “New Day Toastmasters” at the Regina McGinn Education Center?  The group meets on Thursday at 7John’s Pasta Party was a blast with much support being shown for a great cause—to help students with cancer stay in school during and after treatment.  If you would like to contribute to the John Dressler Scholarship Fund, make checks payable to the South Shore Rotary Foundation, with a note “for the John Dressler Scholarship”, and send to the South Shore Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 061068, Staten Island, NY 10306-0011.

As a middle child, I would invariably get my sister’s hand-me-downs.  Sometimes I hated it, but most of the time I cherished whatever my older sister had—books, clothes, toys and a bike.  When she graduated to a sleek, skinny-wheeled bicycle, I received her fat-wheeled bike.  I also received freedom!  I rode all through the neighborhood, to Silver Lake with my cousin or friends up and down the paths.  The exciting part was coming down the cobble stones of Franklin Ave. at a fast pace with the wind blowing through my hair.  When my son was a baby, I bought a bike and attached a baby seat.  We rode everywhere as he waved to people on the street.  I was in the best of shape, my legs were strong and I never had to depend on a car to reach my destination.  Staten Island has the best bike paths--my favorite Silver Lake, South and Midland Beach, Gateway Park, Willowbrook Park, LaTourette Park, Wolfes Pond Park, to name a few.  I confess that I last rode a bike on the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail in Confluence, PA a few years ago and regularly at the gym.  If you are inclined to hit the roads on a bike and are looking for inspiration (and maybe even find one of the cobble-stoned streets that still exist on Staten Island), visit http://www.nycbikemaps.com/maps/staten-island-bike-map/On Thursday, 5/14 from 4-6, don’t miss the Forest Avenue BID (Business Improvement District) Spring Stroll on Forest Avenue from Hart Blvd. to Broadway.  View windows painted by local school children, do some shopping and have dinner at one of the many restaurants along the Avenue.  Look for sales, raffles, entertainment and more as you stroll along.  This event is a good way to get outside in the nice weather and enjoy being with your family and friends.  Hope to see you!

Catch a performance of “The Lizard of Oz” at the Center for Performing Arts at CSI, 2800 Victory Blvd. on Thursday, at 10 and 11:30.  Presented by the Enrichment Through the Arts, Bug Lady Annie and Balloon Man Allynn tell stories with audience participation.  Call 718-982-5678 for info.

Visit the Conference House Park’s first “For the Birds Festival—Everything Avian” on Saturday, 5/16from 11-4. Enjoy a day of guided bird walks, lectures, art, photography, literature, film screenings, children's activities and more. 
For more info, visit:  http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2015/05/16/for-the-birds-festivala-celebration-of-all-things-avian

The St. George Greenmarket has returned.  Hours are every Saturday from 8-2 at the corner of St. Mark’s Place and Hyatt St.  You will find purveyors of vegetables, fruits, baked goods, seafood, turkey, honey, cheese and pickles.  As the season progresses, other vendors will present their goods for sale.  It is a fun experience where you are bound to meet friends and perhaps make some new ones. 

On Sunday, 5/17, at 1, bring your children to a FREE wildlife puppet show at the Blue Heron Nature Center, 222 Poillon Ave. between Amboy Rd. and Hylan Blvd. 

If you know me and/or have read my blogs, you know I am an advocate of the New York Public Library.  At an early age, my parents, as well as us kids, were frequent visitors to the Library. We were avid readers which we passed on to our offspring.  Now my grandson, Gerard, is also an avid reader and attends different programs and classes at the Tottenville Library.  I began working as a “Page” (so apropros!) at the Port Richmond Library in high school and my brother followed in my footsteps directing programs and plays with the neighborhood children. Over the past decade, City funding for public libraries has been slashed by nearly 20% and staff has been reduced by over 1,000 workers. Yet demand for libraries has never been higher.  I write all the time about different services (computer classes, tutoring, tax preparation) and various programs for seniors, teens, toddlers.  If you love the library as I do, you can write to Mayor de Blasio, the Speaker and City Council simply by visiting http://www.nypl.org/speakout and sending a letter urging our representatives to give the Library the funding that is needed.

On Wednesday, 5/20, beginning at 8 a.m., the fleet of ships (for Fleet Week) will begin to come into the Harbor.  You will be able to watch this beautiful sight at Alice Austen House at 2 Hylan Blvd.  Bring your lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy.

Do you have any special plans for the weekend that you'd care to share?  I appreciate your comments (and especially thank Shari for her suggestion).  You can call me at 646-258-9696, leave a comment below or e-mail me at joan.coogan@gmail.com

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