Stepping back…

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In all my years I am not sure I have ever witnessed the monsoon rain we experienced in Rochester on Monday — all day Monday. From my 10th floor office, I don’t believe I ever saw a break in the rain. Walking out that evening with Merritt Smith, we were talking about the weather, and I asked him if he had ever experienced water in the basement due to weather? Happily, we both reported no history of water.

Driving home thinking about a couple of friends anticipated that evening for a catch up,  I was thinking of the prepping I needed to do when I hit the house. Fifteen minutes later as I was descending into the basement for some laundry and a bottle of wine, I was getting ready to take my final step when I heard what sounded like “lapping water”. OMG — I HAVE WATER IN MY HOUSE! Two to three inches. And my first thought was — this is unfair.

Mary's Flooded Basement

Now I have about an 1,100 SF house, so the basement footprint is pretty small. I keep a very neat house, and a very neat basement, so the good news was that what I do have down there is in plastic containers. Though most of the containers belong to my mom who really has a hard time separating from her past now that she is living at St. John’s in the apartments. When I spoke to mom about an hour later her immediate response was not at all about me or the house — but instead, “are my things ruined?” To which I responded, “No mom, your things are fine and in case you are wondering, my house is okay too!!” She giggled, realizing how it came across, and remarked, “Oh sorry, how are you and the house?”

So back to the flood. I sat down and thought about next steps.

First, was I willing to bail water? No.

Second, who do I call to bail the water?

So I began to consult the professional wizard in my life — Google — who is all knowing about most of what I need. First to appear to my search was Roto Rooter, followed by Serv Pro and a variety of unknown plumbers. Placed calls to Roto Rooter and Serv Pro. Obviously both were slammed with no promise that they could be there before 10:00 pm, or even the next day. Serv Pro cautioned me about stepping into the water in the event there were live wires. My first thought here was, “oh my, the friends are coming over and the wine is in the basement! Hmm?” Serv Pro would call me back. Fortunately for me, Mr. Roto happened to be in the neighborhood and arrived within 30 minutes.

A charming fellow by the name of Sam trekked down to the basement in his heavy boots, while I contemplated where those boots were earlier in the day, with a note to self, “mop basement steps.” Anyway, Mr. Roto inquired as to whether I had a sump-pump. I am embarrassed to say, I did not know. Now before you judge me, I have only been in the house 5 years with no water issues. Do I really need to know whether or not I know where the sump pump is? I know where my electrical box is, and I actually know how to flip a switch on the box. I take all of this house-hold business on a “need to know” basis. If there has been no water, I don’t need to know where the sump pump is.

Anyway Mr. Roto walks down and wades into the water. I said with alarm, “Don’t you need to check for electricity first?” I guess not. He begins wading through the water talking about the rain that had come down and the mess it was creating around town. Since he was wading in the water, I did say, “Could I ask a favor (thinking of my friends that were heading over) do you mind grabbing that bottle of wine over on the table?” With good humor he helped me out by rescuing the bottle of wine for my friends.

After the sump pump inquiry, I said, “I do know there is a small drain in that corner” pointing to what I suspected might be a drain. Sure enough with a few twists of the wrench, the cap was off and the drainage began.  Within less than 10 minutes the water was gone. I retrieved a large fan from the 2nd floor, and began the drying out process.

Mr. Roto went on to theorize where the water came from. My biggest concern was that it was not rain water, but the other kind of water none of us want in our homes. Mr. Roto had no clear answer, so as you can imagine that kind of freaked me out. Having observed that he did not wear rubber gloves throughout this exercise, I washed my credit card with a Clorox wipe after he returned it to me at the conclusion of our transaction.

With the basement now free of water and the fan doing its thing, I turned to getting ready for my friends to come by, while listening to the national news.

The floods, tornadoes, and fires ravaging all parts of the United States.

The Middle East conflict, and the loss of innocent lives.

In  Africa, where terror continues to reign in some parts, while disease and starvation reigns throughout.

The tragedy in the Ukraine, and more loss of innocent lives.

The unrest between Russia and the rest of the world

The endless stories of poverty, unemployment, and crime in our country.

The loss of the 41 year old woman here in town to a drunk driver.

The injustices around our globe. The earth is angry. And so are many of the earths citizens.

So as I stepped back and reviewed all of these thoughts with my gathering of friends on the porch later that night, I realized that my life is not unfair because of a few inches of water in the basement. My life is a gift. I have my 3 incredible children — all living their lives. I have my beautiful, though tonight slightly damp, house. I have a great job where I get to spend my day with great staff and volunteers. I have my freedom. And most of all, I am loved.

Mary and Kids

Yes, there have been challenges. We all have challenges in our life. As my children have heard me say many, many times, it is the challenges that make us strong, build our character, and teach us about empathy for others.

But none of my challenges will ever compare to some of the heartache we witness in our world, our nation, our city, and just walking down the street outside of the Telesca Center for Justice. I find myself wondering about the power of the universe. How was I so lucky to have been born to the life I was given?

Thanks for checking in…


P.S. Just in case you were wondering. Serv Pro came by the next day and confirmed it was ONLY rain water, none of the nasty, dreaded other water. Just so you know…



We’ve got nothing…Guest Post by Dajaneé Parrish

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We've got nothing

Every Monday, I rack my brain trying to think of blog topics for Thursday’s blog. I will pass them on to Mary for her consideration because sometimes she is stuck. Well, this week I couldn’t think of a single thing. If I can’t think of anything I turn to Liz, who usually always has a topic. No, not this week.  Liz was fresh out of ideas too. Mary wanted to write a blog this week that was thoughtful and might even tug at your heartstrings, but we just couldn’t think of anything. (Does this mean that we are all due for a vacation?)

It’s quiet here at the MCBA office which could be due to our downed phone system. Okay, so the phone system is up and running, but you get what I was trying to do there. The MCBA staff is still busy at work, but since there aren’t a lot of meetings, the foot traffic by my desk has significantly decreased.  And, it’s all quiet in the lives of Mary’s kids, so no new story telling options there.

So we are giving you a BLOG BREAK.

You can practice your swing… so that you can be the best golfer at the Lawyers for Learning Thomas & Solomon 21st Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, September 8.

Playing golf Blog

Or, you can look through photos of our most recent BarSTOP to get even more excited for August’s BarSTOP which will be held Thursday, August 21 at City Grill.

July BarSTOP

Or, you can stay tuned next Thursday for an even better blog post. Your choice.

As always, thanks for checking in.

- Dajaneé

Celebrations of summer…

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With all the partner-ears in the Telesca Center for Justice, we heard that Ray Squilla, our dedicated guardian that watches over all of us and all of you as you come to the Telesca Center for Justice was celebrating 20 years in this position this week. So we spread the word to everyone in the building to show up in the lobby at 10:30 AM on Tuesday, the 15th. A big sheet cake was ordered, and as we rode down the elevator, I suspected there would be 25-30 folks at best since it was the middle of the morning. But much to everyone’s surprise, there was more like 80-100. Poor Ray was standing in the midst of it all, wondering why everyone was congregating in the lobby. Adding to his state of wonderment, I approached Ray to ask if I had missed a fire drill? Were the police on the way? “Ray, what is going on?” To which Ray responded, “Mary, I don’t know. I am asking everybody and no one seems to know.” With that I announced that we were all there to celebrate Ray’s 20th Anniversary as our trusted guardian in the Telesca Center. In addition to knowing everyone in the building by name, I know he knows pretty much the whole bar membership by name as well. We all agreed, Ray is a gift to downtown Rochester, and particularly to everyone who works and visits the Telesca Center. Following a few more brief remarks, Ray was greeted with congratulatory hugs, kisses, handshakes and cake!

Ray w_cake

Last night the MCBA hosted a welcome reception to our new substantive law LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Committee last night. We had a nice turnout of members of the LGBT community as well as allies of the LGBT community from the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. The primary focus of the LGBT Committee is to assist the MCBA and our members in being better educated and informed on the multitude of legal issues facing LGBT people. Secondarily, the LGBT Committee will provide a comfortable place for our LGBT members and allies to gather and foster a supportive community locally. Supporting the formation of an LGBT Committee further supports the MCBA’s commitment to encouraging diversity and inclusion within the association and the practice of law in Rochester. The first formal meeting of the LGBT Committee will be Monday, September 15th at 12:15 pm in the Nixon Board Room. MCBA members are welcome to join. If you are interested in joining, please contact Ginny LaCour at Join early and be part of the early planning.

Also this week is tonight’s July BarSTOP at a NEW location. The City Grill, the cool new place at the corner of East & Alexander. Coming from downtown, just past Alexander, on East, the entrance will be your very first left. Pull right in, and you will be greeted by their complimentary valet service. BarSTOP continues to be a great success with all generations showing up for this informal, no speeches, just fun event from 5:00 – 7:00 pm on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Drink specials and complimentary food courtesy of Alliance Advisory Group and Counsel Press. If you don’t take advantage, you can’t very well say, “the MCBA does not provide any social networking…” can you?! I invite you to come and check out this really laid back event at one of the new places in town.

Bar STOP no red eye

We have so much to celebrate and to be grateful for at the MCBA, and at the Telesca Center for Justice.

Thanks for celebrating and for checking in,





Welcome to the new bar year…

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And what a great year it will be! I started the day with an 8:00 AM meeting with my new leadership, President Steve Modica and President-Elect Neil Rowe. It is 10:30, and I just returned to the office. It was a great meeting! This monthly leadership meeting, held at various Panera’s where we can have endless coffee, is an opportunity for the three of us to meet to talk through various meeting agendas; dialogue on different ideas and initiatives; anticipate potential issues or areas that require our attention; and anything else that requires our attention. I started requesting this meeting several presidents ago. I prepare a “Leadership Work Plan” that I provide updated to them each month. In some respects it serves as our “leadership task list”, and I have found it is very effective in helping us avoid the dropping of balls.

In the early part of the bar term, the document starts out at about 4-5 pages, but as the bar year grows, so grows the Work Plan. What I look forward to witnessing in these early meetings is the relationship between the two bar leaders. And this morning, as in past years, I was not disappointed. Steve and Neil were in a good synergy together. Steve was not afraid to delegate, and Neil was stepping up and offering to assist. I loved the energy at the table!

We discussed the upcoming Board agenda for next week’s meeting, as well as a Task Force Steve is going to appoint to do some exploration on a particular matter. We talked about Strategic Planning, and how to continue to move this forward, and since Neil teaches strategic planning at Keuka College, he is a natural to work with me on reviewing where we are on this very large beast of a project.  We then covered another long list of items that would leave this blog to more than 3 pages if I wrote about all of them. As the bar year rolls on, you can look forward to hearing more.

With about 45 minutes in the office, to connect with members of the bar team on a few matters, I headed over to City Hall to meet up with our 13 summer law clerks from the Diversity Clerkship Program. We had the great honor of having lunch with Mayor Lovely Warren, T. Andrew Brown, Spencer Ash and Jeremy Cooney. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear each of their stories about how they ended up in Rochester, whether born and raised, or relocated here, and the influence of the local legal community on their personal and professional life. The law clerks had the opportunity to ask the Mayor about the future of Rochester; about the schools; and about life in Rochester. The discussion was open and honest about the challenges that face our community, but that they have confidence and faith in the people of Rochester that we will turn this City around. The energy in the room was without a doubt contagious.

Mayor Warren speaks to clerkship

The session ended with a great group photo opportunity with the Mayor, the passing out of her business card, and an offer from Mayor Warren, that she is free to meet with them again if they are interested in connecting. The business card was a prized possession by some of the clerks that could not believe they received her card. The gathering was warm, genuine and full of hopefulness. Their farewell gift from the Mayor was a “hot off the press” new Rochester pin titled — “Believe” with the Rochester logo.

Clerkship students and Mayor Warren

With a little over an hour to go before my next meeting, I have to complete this blog, and then focus on reaching out to a many of you with a friendly reminder on your dues renewal. Perhaps this blog will serve to remind you that you have not yet renewed. If so, feel free to go online right now to: Make my day!

At 3:00 pm, Steve will be in the MCBA offices for a meeting with Anita Pelletier from Nixon Peabody regarding the necessary changes to our By-Laws as a result of the new Non-Profit Revitalization Act. Ginny has left me about 10 sets of the various by-laws that we have for the MCBA, the Foundation, the Center for Education, and all of the sections. Ninety minutes of by-law talk. I think I need to go get a cup of coffee.

Once that meeting is out, I pick up my 82-year-old mom for a family dinner out with her 80-year-old brother, Paul McGlynn, and members of his family, in town for a short visit.

My hope is that by 9:00 pm, I will be home and on the porch listening to the sounds of summer, and thinking back to what a great day it was, and what a great year lies ahead.

Thanks for checking in,


Happy Fourth of July! Guest Post by Liz Novak

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On behalf of the MCBA staff, I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!


Of course, the day is more than just fireworks, parades and hot dogs, it is the day of independence of the United States of America.

And to different people, it may represent different things – time to spend with loved ones; a day to give thanks for the freedoms and liberties we have today; a moment to pay tribute to those out there on the lines fighting for freedom, whether it’s our veterans or those who helped to bring the Civil Rights Act to pass; or simply an acknowledgment that Independence Day was “the first time that Americans stood up and said, ‘We are Americans, this is what we stand for.’”

That is how MCBA member and Trustee Peter Glennon sees it. He described his feelings about Independence Day in an article that ran this week in the D&C about him, and his dedication and work with Honor Flight, a program that takes military veterans free of charge to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials of the wars that they fought in for our freedoms.

Here is a link to the article:

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about some of the good work that our young lawyers are doing in the community, and here is another fine example of our members bettering the community and more…and I see no better timing to highlight Peter’s work than on the eve of our country’s independence day, so I encourage everyone to read the article.

To quote Louis D. Brandeis: “Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

Happy Independence Day, one and all! Be safe out there…



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I came across this image of gratitude, and I really liked it. I loved the personal nature of the language.

So it is with my heart and an abundance of feeling, that I wish to express to you my gratitude as we conclude the 2013-14 bar year.

To MCBA President Diane Cecero;

To MCBA President Elect Steve Modica;

To Treasurer Amy Varel;

To Secretary Neil Rowe;

To Immediate Past President Connie Walker;

To the MCBA Board of Trustees;

Board Photo

To the Foundation President Audrey Peartree;

To Foundation President Elect Bruce Lawrence;

To the Foundation Board of Directors;

To all of the Committee and Section Chairs, and their Members;

To the Partners in the Telesca Center for Justice;


To all of the Past Presidents;

To all of the Foundation Donors;

To everyone that attended a CLE; and to the Academy of Law for bringing them to the Bar;

To everyone that attended one of our more than 3-4 dozen events throughout the year; and

To the incredible MCBA Team that makes everything above and below happen:  Kathy, Liz, Louise, Ginny, Galina, Diane, Mark, Dajaneé, Dianne, and Merritt. They are an incredibly dedicated and passionate group of people to work with every day…we should all be grateful.


I am grateful for all that we accomplished this year, and grateful that you allow me to be frustrated, and you join me in being frustrated, when we don’t accomplish all we set out to do because the bar year simply became too busy.

But I am grateful that you have we will have a “let’s try again next year attitude.”

Most of all, I am grateful for your faith and belief in the MCBA, and for your confidence in the MCBA.

I am grateful for the fact that you do not always agree with us, and when you don’t, I am grateful that you are comfortable enough to say, “Mary, I don’t agree…”. I am grateful for your willingness to debate when you don’t agree.

I am grateful for those of you that have renewed your dues already for the year, and for those that have yet to renew, I would be MOST grateful if you were to call Liz Novak and take care of that little piece of business right now!

So if throughout the year, you sense that I need to be reminded to be more grateful, please promise me that you will call and remind me.

And on this 26th day of June, I am grateful for my first day of vacation.

Have a great upcoming holiday week as we officially begin the start of summer and the start of a new bar year.

Thanks for checking in,


The birds woke me up….again

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A sure sign of summer is the early morning sounds of the early morning birds doing their early morning chirping. My house has no A/C, something my kids repeatedly suggest I should get every summer when they visit for a few hot nights. I repeatedly ignore them.

My front yard has two good size trees right outside my windows, so at times I feel as though I am sleeping in a bird sanctuary — the chirping is so darn loud. I am a light sleeper anyway. So this morning, when I really would have loved a little more sleep, the chirping seemed to start a little earlier than usual.

Blog 2 061914

As soon as one eye is awake, my mind begins to move slowly, then as it picks up speed, I am picking up my iMary assistant (my iPhone) to begin responding to emails, reviewing tasks for the day, stalking my children on Facebook to be sure they did not do anything outrageous overnight, and reviewing my meetings for the day.

This particular morning, I decided to grab the fleece, the coffee and head to the porch to finalize my remarks for this evening’s installation dinner, and to write this blog since it is Thursday. As soon as Dajaneé Parrish, our incredible Communications Coordinator, arrives on the scene, there will be a knock on my door, and she will peek in with her big smile, saying, “good morning Mary! I just wanted to see how you are doing on the blog today…” Poor kid. She is so polite with me. Some days I need no inspiration, and other days, Dae and Liz Novak are feeding me ideas, and I have them right up against the wire. For Dae, when she receives the blog, it determines the rest of her day and when she will be able to hit the send button on the eDocket.

Blog 061914

I have written the blog from home, many from this porch at night or in this early morning hour, from the office, while waiting in a doctor’s office, while having a glass of wine with friends or in a meeting when a really great idea strikes, and I just need to get this quick thought down. But my porch has really become a place that I go to for thinking, processing or simply trying to be quiet.

The moment I am up in the day, the sliding door gets opened, and the porch is my main gathering space, even on a cool day. A jacket, fleece and the heater, make the porch this warm, quiet place to simply sit and be.

Today, I am thinking about tonight’s installation of our 119th President, Steve Modica. It seems as though it was only a few short months ago that we celebrated Diane Cecero as our 118th President, but, in fact, a full year has passed. This year has flown by like no other. Diane worked incredibly hard in her second job, while maintaining her primary gig as Counsel to the President of Monroe Community College. Diane has been a great and thoughtful president, but to hear more on Diane, and Steve, you will need to come to tonight’s installation dinner. If you have not registered, you can call Ginny LaCour at 402-7188, BUT do not tell her I told you to call this late, she will kill me.

Now that the sun is finally up, my final thought as I pack it all up to get ready for work is — I wonder if my yard is big enough to pull off a summer BarSTOP here? I would love to have you all over to the house and the porch. We would have to take turns in the porch, and I would probably have to get a port-a-potty since on top of no AC, I have one potty! LOL

What do you think? Should I try it? I think it would be a blast. Would you come?

Thanks for checking in. Hope to see you tonight. If not, see you around the MCBA, and if I don’t, where are you?