After a wonderful Thanksgiving, the holiday season has now officially begun, and that can only mean one thing. Well, actually it means a couple of things—holiday shopping, holiday gatherings and the much anticipated holiday galas. The Fellas, the Hillbillies, the Comus, look for updates to come.

Congratulations to Kendall Flowers, who was among those inducted into the Howard University Hall of Fame as a member of one of the swim teams that won the CIAA Championship from 1961 to 1968. According to the legend, “In 1961 Howard University swim teams began their string of CIAA championship wins. In the early stages of college athletics, there was a distinction between amateur and professional athletes. Amateur athletes were not allowed to accept compensation for demonstrating their athletic skills. It was the policy of many colleges to maintain the amateur standing of their athletes, so they did not offer scholarships for their athletes. The foundation and drive for the success of the program was based on the athlete’s love and passion for their sport. [Howard University] swimmers were trained, nurtured and tempered by great coaching, supported by very talented team with members coming from Washington, D.C. and the surrounding communities, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit and Jamaica West Indies. These talented young people created the most dominant expression of African-American swimming for this period by winning seven consecutive CIAA Swimming Championship titles 1961-68.” Our very own Kendall Flowers was among those who made it happen, which is what Kendall does anyway. He makes things happen.

Now that we’ve kissed Indian summer goodbye, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. That is especially so if you’re planning to ski this winter. And who wouldn’t? Swimming and skiing are such fun things to do.

In case you’re wondering where to hit the slopes, the 2016 Winter Fest provided a host of vendors representing ski resorts from throughout the New York State region, and boy do they have a lot to offer. Whether you are driving to Thunder Ridge in Patterson, N.Y., 60 minutes away right outside of Brewster, or to Catamount Ski resort, which is only 110 miles from NYC, nestled in the “bowl” of the Berkshire Mountains, you will find great ski packages suitable for everyone, including the kids.

Skiing doesn’t have to be expensive. Metro-North offers some good deals and getaways throughout the Hudson Valley. Gore Mountain offers a three-day ticket, lessons and rentals option for $169, with a one-day option for $79. Rossignol Ski resort offers a three-day first-time skier program for adults and young adults, including free skis for only $299. West Mountain Ski area has facilities for weddings and other special events, and the Windham Mountain Resort features the Alpine Spa. After a day of tubing, skating, zip-lining, snowmobiling and getting custom fit, personalized boots at the Boot Lab, what could be better than a massage, facial, yoga, steam and sauna? (This is where I’m going.) From Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes Region of New York to Mount Peter in Warwick, or inventing your own perfect day at Lake Placid, you’re sure to have a blast. Visit the websites, pull out your heavy sweater, down coat, thermals, snow pants and gloves and off you go. It’s as easy as that. Also available is the I Love NY Winter Travel Guide, which gives a complete list of resorts and what each has to offer. Go to for information.

If it’s wine, bourbon, whiskey and rye you’re after, you’re in luck. With a purchase of the Vino Visa Passport, you get a tasting passport to the Niagara wine trail with discounts on purchases and more. Plus, you can always look at the Falls. Then there is the Taconic Distillery, which has been producing bourbon, “America’s Native Spirit,” since 1964. From the Dutchess Private Reserve to the Double Barrel bourbon whiskey with maple syrup (yikes!), located in Stanfordville, New York, they have it all. You might want to check into one of the nearby B&Bs to rest up before heading back home. Be careful of drinking and driving this holiday season and always.

For all of you stargazers out there, Mercury, our planet of communications, will go retrograde Dec 19-Jan. 8, and you know what that means? Just in case you don’t, it means expect all kinds of snafus regarding communications, electronics and traveling. While I am no astrological expert, I can speak from experience. When a planet goes retrograde, it is the equivalent of putting on your pajamas, getting in the bed and going to sleep. Therefore, there fails to be that extra set of eyes looking over your shoulder as you go about your daily tasks, in the area that the planet rules.

Ancient artists depicted Mercury as the messenger of the gods, a figure with wings on his helmet who moved as quick as lightening. For those who are analytical, think of mercury as an element; it’s extremely fluid. Quite naturally, every three months, Mercury needs a rest and has to slow down or regroup. While it is in slow motion, the other planets seem to zoom past Mercury, giving the illusion that Mercury is going backward. Hence the term retrograde.

As you are now asking yourself, “So what does this mean to me?” It means do all of your mailing early, take your time in everything you do, especially driving, check that text or email twice before you hit send, dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Thinking of buying a new cellphone, laptop, anything electronic? Think again. Either buy it now (right now) or wait until at least Jan. 10, giving Mercury time to “wake up,” and have a cup of Starbucks. Whatever you do, don’t sign any new contracts that are binding for a lifetime, unless you are getting married between those dates, as the commitment has already been made before Mercury’s retrograde. In this sense, you’re just tidying things up. So you see, all is not lost. Mercury in retrograde is a perfect time for finishing up old projects and reconnecting with old friends. What better time for that than the holidays?

Until next week … kisses.