The Friend I Never Met

As much as anything, girlfriends enrich my life. Nowadays, geography hardly interferes with friendship. I had no fear I would lose connections with my Pennsylvania pals when Paul and I relocated. However, I set an intention to find a new friend in the 1000 Islands.

Northern Try-Out

We conducted our first serious North Country try-out in a comfortable rental house on Carnegie Bay Road in Alexandria Bay.  We had the place for October and November of 2015. I’m the one who actually stayed those eight weeks. Paul would come when possible. The granddaughters could visit on weekends.


I set out to become acquainted with the community. First, I stopped at Macsherry Library to obtain a card only to be denied because I was not a resident. I did not have any bills or mail with the Carnegie Bay address. The chief librarian was so adamant, I felt like a trespasser. A more sympathetic staff-member (who turned out to be Denise, my first friend) suggested I check out the used book sale. I exited with two paperbacks and no inclination to ever return.

Potential Friends

On the sunny days I strolled around the neighborhood, hoping to encounter an approachable individual, but mostly found seasonal camps, vacated for the winter.  One woman across the street would wait outside to meet her two elementary-aged sons as they vaulted off the bus. Although she smiled at me once, she had her hands full herding those boys home and then along with hockey equipment, back into her vehicle.  When I explored Alexandria Bay proper many houses appeared deserted: bare porches, curtain-less windows, and empty driveways.  Broken furniture, small appliances, and odd-shaped trash bags waited by the curb for collection. I felt as if the majority of village residents had evacuated.

My hopes lifted when I encountered a flyer advertising the Cape Vincent writers’ group. An upcoming meeting would be held during my stay. I marked my calendar. Although I had just one opportunity to meet the members, a year later I would find them to be reliable friends and like-minders.

If I could find a fellow painter I would be ecstatic. I checked out a website for the Thousand Island Arts Center. Except for an after-school art program for children the other classes had concluded at the end of tourist season.  One day, as I browsed the internet reading about local artists, I stumbled upon a web site picturing a most appealing woman in her art studio. Her paintings captured the vibrancy of the 1000 Islands.




Imaginary Friend


I read the biography of Mary Randazzo. A self-taught artist, she painted the illustrations for the local Coyote Moon Wine labels.  The vivid, river scenes and unique designs enthralled me. I allowed myself to fantasize.  She would invite me to her studio to paint and share life stories.  We might take excursions for plein-air painting. In the words of Anne Shirley, we would find ourselves to be “kindred spirits.”  In my ideal future, the woman in the photograph just might become my new painting mentor.

IMG_3159Eight months later we bought a house. When my sister came to visit I showed her the wine labels and told her I intended to meet the artist. Tami couldn’t wait for that to happen. I took my visiting friends to the Coyote Moon Winery and they enjoyed the wine and admired the labels.  Cathy IMG_3161checked out the winery website and read that each label had a story. I hadn’t yet met Mary Randazzo, so I resisted announcing that by their next visit we just might be drinking wine in her studio.

Missed Opportunity

In fall 2017, as I paged through the T. I. Sun, our weekly newspaper, I was stunned to see a full page dedicated to Celebrating the Life of Mary Randazzo. My heart soared, and then plummeted. Mary had passed away October 10. The article IMG_3158praised her, “She had the ability to make those around her feel loved, supported, and important; because of that people were drawn to her.”  And to confirm my own intuition, “Mary made every person who met her feel like her new closest friend.” She had a favorite tree that she intended to paint, but it was cut down before she had a chance to paint it. Years ago I had the very same experience with a gnarly old tree by Twin Bridges. Like Mary, it fell before I had the chance to befriend it.



Nonetheless, I’ve been fortunate to meet an inspiring painting mentor, Donna Hammond, and many fellow painters in her oil classes. I found new friends in writers’group and book club (at the Macsherry Library). Yet I still contend that Mary Randazzo was the first friend to welcome me to the 1000 Islands. I intend to take Mary with me (in spirit) for a girlfriend weekend two weeks from now. She’ll fit in perfectly. Maybe Sally will show up, as well.




8 thoughts on “The Friend I Never Met

  1. Hi Cinda. What a great story. I was really happy to see that MOSCATO was printed on the bottle. My only wine I drink is that. Can’t wait to see you in 2 weeks. Love you, Dee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you can see, I already cracked that bottle open. Never fear, the winery is close…I will stock up. I am so looking forward to our Chautauqua weekend and even more excited that you’ll be with us. Thank you so much for supporting me by reading the blog. You can’t imagine how motivating it is to know someone actually reads the posts. Love you, too. Cinda


  2. Cinda, I found this story of yours to be very inspiring in your venture of finding new “friends” in your new community. I’m sure that is very hard after spending the majority of your life in our great hometown! You are such a bubbly personality that “new” gals will come knocking on your doorstep very rapidly when the word gets out just how sweet you & Paul are! Fondly, Cheri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog! I appreciate your supportive words. But I had to laugh thinking of Paul…he says he doesn’t need any new friends. I enjoy seeing your posts on Facebook occasionally. Looks as if you and Dick are doing well.


  3. This is such a great example of being intentional when you move to a new community. My natural inclination would be to curl up in a corner with a book or my knitting and never venture out except to the grocery store. You continue to be an inspiration!


    1. When and if you elect to have a distant retirement home/location you will not curl up with a book or knitting. Look at you now…friends and clients all over the U.S. And that is after you relocated to a new strange city! Who is the inspiration here?:)


  4. Cinda, I read every entry of your blog and enjoy it very much. And I’m happy to have become one of your new Wellesley Island friends! By the way, I met Mary Randazzo at a Coyote Moon dinner about 3 years ago and she was very friendly. One of the door prizes that evening was a piece of her artwork and I remember that I really wanted to win it. We also talked with her husband, Phil, at the winery about 2 months after she passed. He was still very much in mourning and said some wonderful things about he. My heart was breaking for him. I think she was a great lady!


    1. Melissa, Thank you so much for investing time reading the blogs. The goal to write every week during my 65th year has revealed lots about my own life that I never considered. Plus, it’s keeping me disciplined and providing plenty of practice. How cool that you met Mary Randazzo. She must have been amazing, and clearly so talented. You have been so instrumental in helping me feel like I belong here…and I do feel that. I once read that certain people are called to the St. Lawrence. We have that and more in common!! I have yet to work out the details for Boat Babes, but maybe inspiration will arrive soon. Cinda


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