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A yuletide or two ago, covering the 100 Things Every Western New Yorker should do at least once, we did our Christmas shopping on Elmwood Avenue. This year, we're hitting Hertel. Make no mistake, we'll find time for Elmwood too. You can't stay away. But Hertel Avenue, the jewel of North Buffalo, increasingly clamors for attention. The fun begins in earnest this weeke…

Gardening

The next two weekends are good times to buy a cut Christmas tree, preferably fresh from local farms. The Western New York Christmas Tree Farmers Association lists 17 member growers in Erie County and seven in Niagara County and surely there are others who aren’t yet members. You might consider hurrying out to a farm this year a little sooner than in the past. While a snowf…

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As the holiday season unfolds each year so, too, do the tablecloths. How did it work out for you this Thanksgiving? Was your tablecloth clean and pressed and ready to go? Or was it wadded up in a drawer with a cranberry stain from last year? Storing tablecloths in a way that keeps them wrinkle-free and at the ready can be tricky. Last weekend, as I wrestled with the fre…

YOUNG  ADULT Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl; Farrar Straus Giroux, 279 pages ($17.99) Ages 12 and up. From the author of 2013 adult novel "Lessons in French" comes a love story like no other, set in summer in France and told in the unforgettable voice of a 16-year-old boy on the autism spectrum.  Martin, son of a French father and American mother, has always attended a …

Books

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. and younger brother Rudy used to listen to the rickety wooden roller coaster and the screams of riders from Fontaine Ferry Park. Louisville's amusement park was within walking distance of the boy's house, and they would stand at the fence looking in. But that's as close as they could get growing up in the separate-and-unequal South, where the …

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Photographer Wayne Geist has a cool name for the weekend house he built in Portland in Chautauqua County: Turtle Rocks. The three-bedroom house sits on a 4-acre, cliff-side, forested lot on the shore of Lake Erie. It was completed in February. Its name is derived from the limestone formations on the beach at the bottom of the cliff. Geist described how the home came to …

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Holy Angels Church, which has towered over Porter Avenue since 1875, was built to last. The church's organists are, too. Robert Chambers, Holy Angels' current organist, has been on the job for 70 years. In October, he announced his retirement, effective at the end of this year. But his fellow parishioners have been trying, with some success, to persuade him to rethin…

Business

The holiday edition of Queen City pop-up is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts. The program, administered by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., hosts a handful of emerging retailers in vacant commercial space in the city. The temporary brick-and-mortar location lets merchants test the waters in hopes of opening permanent shops downtown. What I love about it is …

Lifestyles

  Western New York Unit 116 will hold its annual meeting and game next Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Main-Transit Fire Hall, 6777 Main St., Amherst. Lunch is at noon, followed by the meeting at 1 p.m. and the game. Tickets must be purchased from board members by Tuesday, Nov. 28. For more info, call Carol Bedell at 633-5680 or Denise Slattery at 602-8629. *  *  * The …

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There always seems to be a faux fur trim loose in one of our closets, one that can be easily reattached to the hood or collar of the coat or parka to which it belongs, if the wearer so chooses. Faux fur trims on winter outerwear are nothing unusual. Neither are the faux fur pillows and throws that accessorize many home interiors these days. Still, as the temperatures…

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For at least one day colorful gourds have a prominent place at the table. They are associated with harvest. Maybe they spill from cornucopias at the Thanksgiving table or harvest dinner, or they hang on autumn wreaths on the door. These plants have history and many uses, well beyond the decorative crafts you’ll find on Pinterest. They’re all worth growing for next season, …

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“Why Write? Collected Nonfiction 1960-2013” Library of America, 452 pages, $35. Here in 1973 is Philip Roth describing with conspicuous art a 1924 photograph of Franz Kafka, taken at what was Roth’s age at the time, when a sick Kafka was 40 and approaching death. “His face is sharp and skeletal, a burrower’s face: pronounced cheekbones made even more conspicuous by the …

Books

NONFICTION The Bug House: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound By Daniel Swift Farrar Straus Giroux 297 pages, $27 This short work of critical nonfiction by Daniel Swift has more to say about Ezra Pound’s influence on Modernism than A. David Moody’s three-volume biography where every aspect of the poet’s life is given equal billing. “The Bug Ho…

Lancaster Garden Club will be at Westwood Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 26 to help children decorate ornaments. Members will prepare Visions of Sugar Plums-themed decorations at 9 a.m. Nov. 27 for the Victorian Christmas event at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.  The club will decorate the Lancaster Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29. Hamburg House…

Books

NONFICTION Radio Free Vermont By Bill McKibben Blue Rider Press 224 pages, $22 Everyone loves Vermont. Really, what’s not to like?: The gorgeous Green Mountains that give the state its name. The tiny state’s reputation as a progressive and environmental giant. Its small, clean cities; rolling countryside; and front-row view of  an almost-Great Lake. Ben &…