Sunday, September 28, 2008

I am now in retail, where the customer is always right. I come from a law enforcement environment, and although I had very little to do with law enforcement itself, our customers were generally never right. ever. My job was mostly human resources and secretarial duties for the Chiefs and the Board of Commissioners. Customers in the Police Department can be angry, rude and sometimes even dangerous, and that's just the residents! The perps as they are called (I never could use the jargon of police work, I always felt like I was in a cheesy episode of Batman), were never happy to be at our place of business. Much different than retail, where everyone is happy! Retail Therapy works!
The Costume Shop is filling up rapidly as Halloween approaches. I am amazed at the number of costumes that are being reserved by adults for this Holiday. Thankfully, this community embraces Halloween, as they seem to embrace all party and celebration activities. Houses are painstakingly decorated, and autumn vignettes are seen all over town. Hay stacks, corn stalks pumpkins and gourds are given porch and front yard status, and there is an air of celebration everywhere. Of course, it helps when the foliage is magnificently participating in the autumnal brilliance. Everywhere you look it is orange, yellow, reds, gold, burgundy and green. For those of you who plan to get up here next year for the peak of leaf peeping, remember that September 28th is PEAK. It is glorious. The rain for the past few days has made it difficult for the leaves to hang onto the trees, and they are beginning to pool at the bottom of the maple trees, falling with each gust of wet whipping air. Still warm from the tropical storms that have been hammering the south, we are getting a little last growth in the pasture. Lucky for us. Yesterday was eerily quiet, no gunshots to be heard as they are during regular hunting season. I keep looking for the turkeys that I have been seeing on the side of the road and in our yard for a few weeks, and none of them are around. They are either laying low, wisely, or already part of someone's Thanksgiving menu. Either way, I enjoy their presence in my life. I read the book "Animal, Vegetable and Miracle", and recommend it for anyone who is not sure where they stand in the hunting issue. Of course, if you are vegetarian or vegan, as many of my friends are, you know exactly where you stand and no amount of reading will change your mind. That's cool. But for me, it clarified alot of the discomfort that I had towards hunting and raising animals for consumption. I enjoy meat and fish, and hope that raising animals or hunting humanely for our table is the best way I can control the horrible injustices that occur in the commercial meat processing industry. Just a thought. I have been spending the weekend alone. Since Jerry had a dental appointment, and Allison was visiting on the island, I was designated as official dog watcher for the weekend. We all got along famously. Jake has been engaged in a hunger strike, as his soul-mate is gone. I keep telling him to eat up, as Jerry will be back on Sunday, but no deal. He is clinically depressed and enjoying being the sighing and listless canine companion without his Master. Yuk. He does this anytime Jerry goes away. He just stops eating. Daphne of course just saw the empty side of the bed as a greater opportunity for comfort, and moved right in. She is now sleeping next to me, and is not questioning how little gift from heaven occurred. I hold no illusions that she will mourn us when we're gone. Whoever holds the key to the cupboard holds the key to her heart. She is an opportunist. It was a quiet weekend, and I got alot of reading and cleaning done. My shoulder is keeping me from knitting or spinning right now, but I'm back to PT tomorrow, and looking forward to it. We haven't seen or heard from the contractors since opening day, and I don't expect that we'll get much work done this week. We're learning to live with this low standard of accomplishment. It will be done in good time. I keep reading that upstate New York is depressed, but actually, we're all having a pretty good time.
Except the Turkeys.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Opening Day - Bow and Arrow

They say here in the Adirondacks, when winter hits - you either get very artistic and creative. . . or very drunk.
Although it is a bit hard to see from this picture, there is a tidy number of customers outside the liquor store in Gloversville, at 9:20 A.M.!!!!!!!!! The place was fairly bustling with activity. I better stock up on more paints and fibers. Quick.
I'm not pointing any fingers. I happened to be across the street at the hardware store only because I was returning home from physical therapy and needed to run some errands. We were all in actual and vocal physical pain due to the inclement weather. It sounded somewhat like the battlefield after the North took over Atlanta. It was damp and chilly this morning, and we are all suffering. Loudly. Anyone with just the slightest touch of arthritis will tell you that cold and damp weather is brutal. It started last night, and got worse as the barometric pressure dropped. So the pool was particularly glorious, albeit empty. Because here in New York, tomorrow is opening day for bow and arrow hunting, the usual characters in the therapy pool were out doing manly things like securing the tree stands, cleaning their guns and stalking their territory. It was noticably testosterone empty in the gym. I guess all that therapy is important when you want to at least be a capable marksman. I do know that a humane hunter is one who expects to take the shot and end it right there, not follow the poor animal with near-misses until it finally collapses. I'm not a big fan of hunting, yet, although I totally recognize the necessity and the integrity of it. I have been seeing turkey all over the property and the roadsides these past few weeks. I wonder all the time if they are just beginning to feel safe and enjoying the cool and crisp weather now that they are bigger and more capable of being on their own. I can recognize the family units and see who the mothers and fathers are. I have become maudlin in my recognition that next week at this time, if all goes as planned, they will be in someone's freezer. And I am practical enough to hope that it is my freezer. I am fortunate enough to be married to a morale hunter and the animal's dignity and welfare is first and foremost in his mind. When I pointed out that we could probably take a deer off the back deck while still in our pajamas and never even have to put down our cup of coffee, Jerry pointed out that while that may be true, it was not a desirable or sportsmanlike way of tagging your deer. I guess he's right, although the ability to do anything productive in my pajamas thrills the living beejeesus out of me. Speaking of bees, there has been no honey harvest as of yet. Jerry is leery of taking any of the honey from his hives due to the fact that they had been cleaned out so thoroughly in the spring when they were robbed by the bears. Although the bee yard looks sufficiently protected to me, and I choose to believe the almanac which says winter this year will be mild, I think we should get SOME honey out of this deal. I'm ready and waiting to taste this honey that has been so thoroughly nursed and protected. Orders and reservations are pouring in, and I don't have an answer as to when. Do we live dangerous and take some of the honey? Or protect all the bees and their crop so they can live through the winter with abundant honey for themselves, and take what is left in the spring? My big question is this - who gets the honey first? Us? Or Them? The bears I mean. Do we wait for spring so they can laugh at us again? Or perform a pre-emtive strike and get what could be surplus honey now? I'll keep you posted. When it comes to the bees, it's not my call.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More thoughts on PT

If you live in the local area (Johnstown, Gloversville, Caroga, etc.) and want to hear the latest gossip, er, I mean information, you just need to hang in the pool at Physical Therapy for 45 minutes or so. That is how long it takes me to exercise my shoulder, and in that length of time I can be brought up to speed on who has died, who has been promoted, died, married or divorced. It is an amazing wealth of information, and for someone like me who is learning about the area, this is the place to be. It seems like the pool (which is approximately 15 feet x 25 feet) acts like a cocoon for the bathers, and all sense of privacy is lifted. The pool room itself allows a 4 foot perimeter around the pool, and a 20 foot ceiling that is acoustically perfect for hearing detail and innuendo. Therefore, what happens in the pool does not stay in the pool. Nothing is sacred in the pool. I'm having a ball.
I learned that a beloved local pastor passed away after deteriorating rather quickly. I was so happy to hear that his parish was busy baking and preparing food for the after-funeral reception, which is being held at the church. Some of the recipes discussed sounded quite wonderful, and I briefly considered attending the funeral so that I would qualify for the after-mourning feast, even though I had only met the Pastor once before, at a friend's funeral. You'll be happy to hear that I ruled that out, only because of the fact that I had to be at work during that time.
There are a number of people who take the time and effort to clean the snowmobile trails in anticipation of the imminent snow. This takes precedence over physical pain and possible damage to recuperating shoulders and knees. Snowmobiling is tops in everyone's life. You would be amazed at the little old ladies who are discussing their inability to still use pull-start snowmobiles and have had to switch to electric start, a very undesirable concession to age. This discussion went on for quite some time. When it was understood that I came from Caroga Lake, (yes I did share in the conversation) there were various responses and opinions as to the apparent snow belt that we live in. Caroga apparently gets snow when the rest of the free world is experiencing spring thaw. It somehow continues to snow here when lawns are being mowed 8 miles down the mountain in Johnstown, which explains why I am wearing turtlenecks to work in Gloversville, while I observe other proprietors still in flip flops and sleeveless tops. Weather is a huge topic in the pool, and the reports change daily. What the weather was, what was reported, what is forecast and who has had frost in their fields (us!) It is a microcosm of what is going on in the community and I have a front row seat (from 7:30 to 8:15 AM) At that point, I move to the gym area where conversations are more inclined to focus on exercises and the level of pain you are experiencing or have overcome. It is not as personal, or as interesting. It makes me want to get through the day and get back to the pool in the morning. I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, I'm definitely interested in pricing a snowmobile. Apparently that is the universal mode of transportation once the snow flies, which according to my sources could be by mid-October. These patients, whose average age is 65, are still out there and participating in snowmobiling, ice fishing, downhill and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and can willingly take on all that winter throws at them. These are the movers and shakers of the north country. These are not delicate snowbirds who run at the first sign of precipitation. These are frontiersmen and women. They are tough! They are rugged! They are in physical therapy! I am hoping I am up to the task. I got a ways to go. I'm cold already. Thank God the pool is maintained at 90 degreees. I'm not coming out till Spring. Would that be in June or July?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Age vs. Beauty

Today I was offered the Senior Citizen Discount - 55 and over, at a shop in Gloversville. Just shoot me. I am perfectly happy to embrace my accurate age. 50. There. It's mine, and I own it. However, 55? I was actually cleaned up for work too. Sometimes I run into town for a thing or two, and maybe have been working at home or outside, I don't pay alot of attention to what I have on, or even what I look like. It happens. I expect to be mis-identified as an elderly woman. It's amazing what moisturizer will do for you - when you aren't using it, it is possible to be pretty scary. However, this was not a moisturizer-free moment. I was made up to go to work, and assumed I was putting my best foot (or is it face?) forward. And then I was offered the discount. WTF? That was all I could think. It was a rough moment in my day. It will be a rough moment for me for a few days. I just said "No", not "ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?" I thought I handled it beautifully actually. I just was not prepared to take on the embarassment twice. The first time in my own head, and then again when the salesgirl was mortified for me, and for herself. I just couldn't take it. I am past the point of being able to laugh at it. I am offended. Color me sensitive, but I would like to at least look good for my age. Whatever that age may be. But to be mis-aged is an awful error. It takes away those years without the benefit of having lived or enjoyed them. I don't mind looking my age, I earned that. Every wrinkle and roll is mine. I lived it, I loved it, and now I look it. That's totally OK. But don't add a few years to me, if you don't mind. And certainly not FIVE! I will most thoroughly be offended. And what was that girl thinking? It's almost as bad as being asked "when are you due?" when the only thing due you is another Twinkie. That hurts too, and yes, I have been asked that brilliant question once in my life. The styles were swing dresses and I had one on. Last time I wore that little number. Tossed it in the trash as soon as I got home. What do I throw out now? My moisturizer? Well, I'm now off for a facial and beauty sleep. Apparently, not a moment too soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We have spent the day gloriously junk shopping. It's not junk to us, but at one point it was someone elses junk, and they decided to move it along. We are all cut from the same cloth. Katie, Jackie, Allie and I. We love a bargain, and the thrill of the chase is half the fun of the successful purchase. We are all antique buffs, and appreciators of the odd. Here in Fulton County, there are a plethora of antique shops and today, we made a huge dent in alot of them. Quite satisfied with our purchases and arrangelments made for tomorrows pick-ups, we will spend this evening enjoying each other's company and sampling the Sangria so artfully created by Jacqueline. This is a fun weekend. Blue has been raised by a hard-core shopper. He understands the necessity of behaving during these sojournes, and completely cooperates. He was happy to accompany us, and completely at ease sleeping in Allison's arms. It was a long day for him, and he was a trooper. As well he should be. Since he slept in the car yesterday during the trip up from Long Island, he was quite awake and alert during last night's "normal" sleeping hours. He spent the night visiting us all. At one point, he drove Daphne from our bed (I couldn't help but cheer him on as she is unfailingly cruel to Jake - it felt so right to see her get a dose of her own medicine. She actually went over to Jake in his bed on the floor and slept next to him. They now have a common enemy - Blue. Jake is not really his enemy, but doesn't spend alot of time trying to bond with the little dogs. He is curiously detached, and perfectly happy to let them rule the roost. As long as he is eventually fed, he doesn't care who eats first. He understands that he doesn't fit on our bed, and accepts that he is expected to sleep through the night on the floor. . There is a common acceptance of the pecking order here, and Blue has disrupted that understanding. It's fun to watch. He is completely confident that everyone is as curious and open as he is, and never expects anything but total friendly acceptance. That is a risky attitude for a dog who weighs 6 pounds. So far he has never run into anything but, however, one day that may be a dangerous encounter if he meets another dog with attitude. Thankfully, we have not had to witness such a meeting. He is a good guy.

The weekend continued with the glow of family and good times. We always have a "story" to tell after we are together, and this time it was the dead dog in the middle of the road. Actually, he was not dead, but napping. We came up North Bush Road after picking up a piece of furniture fromthe Carousel shop, and there in the middle of the road just before our house was a dog who looked, for all intents and purposes, dead. He was a black lab, and although I knew immediately it was NOT Jake, the girls were terrified for a few moments. Like a well oiled machine, we parked the car, jumped out and simultaneously took off for the dog, and the house right there. Jerry went for the dog, as he would be more helpful in an emergency rescue situation, and I went straight for our neighbor Roger's house. It was his dog and I wanted to alert them as soon as possible. As I approached the porch, Roger's son came out and said "he's not dead is he?" Of course, I started to cry. The girls in their car were already crying, thinking it was Jake. It was a rough moment. Then the dog got up. Jerry had called to him and he woke up. He was simply napping in the middle of the road. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! This guy is laid back. Can you imagine just laying down where you stand when you're tired and taking a nap? Incredible. Apparently he does that all the time. He's 17, and he's tired.

So, our weekend was eventful, and wonderful, and the girls have gone home. Jackie and Katie were perfect guests, as always, and we can't wait until they come back. Again and again and again!

Our dogs got it right.

This is an e-mail that I couldn't resist sharing, nor could I improve on it. Enjoy: A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year-old). Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.' Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The Six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.' Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like: When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy. Take naps. Stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily. Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's all good

Since I last wrote, I have been meeting with the physical therapist, enjoying a visit from Chuck and Pam, attending a swim meet, finishing up the bathroom decor and getting a job. For real. Physical therapy is the best thing that ever happened to me. And it is paid for by insurance. Who can believe it? The pool is 95 degrees and I swim for an hour doing exercises. Then I move to the gym where we do some exercises for a half hour (20 reps of each). The therapist helps with all of it, and then I get a shoulder massage. I mean really, this is rehab? No wonder Britney keeps going back - rehab is good.
My cousins Pam and Chuck were here for three days, and we had such a great time. We did alot, including cheering on Allison at her swim meet. She was thrilled to have us all there. Really. It was also an amazing moment to sit by the side of the lake and listen to the waves lapping against the rocks, watching the kayaker on the sun dappled water and just visiting with each other. We had alot of laughs about family and our shared memories. It was the best part of the visit, and I will think of that moment all winter long - a perfect crisp autumn morning. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. The other favorites are winter, spring and summer. At 35 degrees this morning, I'd say summer is definitely over. It didn't take long did it? Officially, the last day is Monday. Thermally, it's right now. brrrrrrrrr.
We've been dealing with mornings and the bus, and it fluctuates between lovely and cooperative and bitchy, screaming and late. I hate mornings with teenagers. It is just meant to be combative and stressful. Little do they know that this is as easy as it gets. Just meeting the bus and being prepared and on time. It doesn't get easier than that. Someone picking you up and dropping you at the door for your job. Not a bad gig.
I am now a gainfully employed COSTUMER. The job I got is at the Gloversville Costume Shop and it is a part-time position that deals with community theaters, local schools and community organizations for all their costuming needs. As last weekend was Johnstown's 250th Anniversary, they were very busy costuming for the parade where everyone was done up in colonial garb. They take their dress-ups very seriously, and I feel like I have landed in Oz. This is too much fun. It is a job that requires research for costuming book shows, and assisting the costumers for any needs they have. The place is huge and to say they have inventory is a total understatement. The place is incredible, and they pay me to go there. Woooooo Hoooooo! This will keep me getting out in the winter, and I will also get to meet all the people in the area who are interested in playing theater games. This is big news. I feel like I keep winning the lottery, over and over and over. If you had asked me two or three years ago if I was happy and optimistic you would have received a very different answer. Today, I am standing here with my honey looking at the best view in the world, observing and enjoying all the experiences of our kids and their partners and looking forward to everything tomorrow has to offer. We are blessed.
By the way, Fonda-Johnstown 91 - Hudson Falls 76 - WE WON!

How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Physical Therapy

The biggest fear of Physical Therapy was that it was going to hurt. I am a firm believer in eliminating pain as fast as possible. So, signing up for PT was scary for me. I finally got there yesterday, and boy was I surprised. Not only did it not hurt, but it felt good! There is something about PT that seems absolutely selfish, like you are lounging in the pool and taking advantage of the system. Actually, the pool was work, although not painful and not something I won't look forward to tomorrow. I'm on board for three times a week, and I am actually looking forward to it. It was definitely beneficial to my shoulder, and I think the long term program will assist with getting back to 100% functionality. It needs to. This is a huge problem, not having my left arm for any physical activity. And when the animals arrive? Forget it? There are too many things on the farm that will need both hands, and both arms. I'm determined to get myself back to 100% just as soon as possible. That's today's plan. I am heading out for a call-back today, looking into a job as "Costumer" at a local costume shop. How fun is that? I definitely want to be around people who are having fun, and coming to the costume shop means you are looking for a dose of fantasy - what better place to work? Anyone searching for a costume is not on their way to a funeral, that's for sure. So, that is where I am going today - wish me luck! It's the 24 hr. Countdown to Allison's first swim meet - 50 yd backstroke - Go FOJO!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lawn Ornaments

Our days are developing a rhythm about them that is purposeful and relaxing. Of course, there are days when the rhythm is totally out of sync, but mostly we meet the challenge with lots of energy and a plan for accomlishment. Today, we are heading back to Amsterdam to pick up the appliances for the second floor bathroom; the first floor bathroom being very close to finished. It is totally exciting to be at the point where we can fill the tub and relax in a clean and beautiful finished and renovated room. Allison has booked the tub for tonight, immediately following swim practice. We are a family of tub lovers. Actually, Jerry says he prefers showers - I think it's a Venus/Mars thing. Appliances are cause for debate here in the North Country, which is a small clue as to the level of activity, or lack of.
As these projects get done, the old boxes and appliances have been stacked in a section of the yard, at the ready for disposal when the entire renovation is done. It doesn't pay to make trips to the garbage dump one appliance at a time. We have been very focused and excited about exchanging the old appliances for the new, and where we stacked them was not a huge issue in our minds. Allison pointed out yesterday that the old toilet is front and center in this pile of construction material, and if we wouldn't mind moving it so the entire bus does not have a view of our bathroom appliances (specifically,the toilet), she would really appreciate it. Good God, it never even occurred to me that the appliances were on the front lawn. I guess this means we have really arrived. I'm horrified that a toilet on the front lawn never jumped out at me as something that would be cause for offense, or even noticeable. How far I've come. eek!
It's actually kind of funny, if I didn't feel so bad for the poor kid. Imagine coming to a new school and trying to make a real good first impression, and having the bus pull up to your house where boxes, lumber, old vanities, tubs and TOILETS are sitting on your front lawn. Even I can appreciate the humiliation that could cause. The thing that really broke my heart was that she was apologetic about the request - as though we had done this consciously and she was trying not to judge us. Although I tell the kids anytime I've humiliated them that my day is complete, that's not really the truth. I say that to let them know that sometimes their perception of humiliation is nothing more than self conscious embarrassment and that no one else is even paying attention. But a toilet on the front lawn absolutely qualifies as an embarassing vignette. Sorry 'bout that Allison. I promise to get it moved ASAP. Just as soon as I finish my beer.
Somehow, I don't think it would have had the same effect on Walter.
This comparison is compliments of my niece Emily. She has a keen eye don't you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11/01

It's hard to write about anything today, without remembering the date and it's importance in our lives. No matter where you live in the world, 9/11 is the date America was attacked and shaken from our collective innocense. It is burned in our memories and our hearts, and even though seven years have passed since that day, it is so important that we keep alive the horror and outrage, as well as the compassion for our brothers and sisters who perished, and their families who still pay the immeasurable price of their loss every day. Those who stepped up and helped us dig out of the rubble and are doing it still; the police, fire and medical responders and the armed forces were there almost instanteously, doing what had to be done. They have not stopped yet.
No matter what your politics are, the party that I want to be most affiliated with is that of Citizen. No one asked your political affiliations that day. "American" was enough. Imagine if we could keep that same sense of purpose and mission in our everyday lives, we would pay tribute to those whose lives were taken so tragically and brutally. We could accomplish so much if we put aside our petty differences and worked towards a future that held promise instead of fear. On a day like today, it is easy to believe that is possible, because the memories of 9/11/01 are still so fresh. We don't have to just dream of a country that works together, we can still remember it.
Whatever you do today, keep that memory in your heart and make the world a better place, a kinder place and a safer place. Even if it's just your neighborhood, honor those whose lives were taken. Live your life well and be a friend to someone who needs. A random act of kindness in honor of 9/11. Not really hard when you think of the sacrifices that have been made. Not hard at all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The Frost is on the pumpkin. For real. We woke up this morning and there was frost, on everything. Just a light covering but FROST! Tonight there is a freeze advisory, which I am loving! There is nothing like snuggling in with the pellet stove and reading a good book. I just didn't expect it to be September 10th when that would be possible. It will probably warm up again in a few days. Probably. The town of Johnstown is celebrating its 250th anniversary this weekend, and we are looking forward to the festivities. There is a parade on Saturday, with nine divisions - NINE. It should pan out to be a beautiful day. We hope so. It's an opportunity to see the best of Johnstown, all lined up and passing before us. I do like parades. The line up was listed in the local paper, and the Shriners are coming. I haven't seen the Shriners in a parade since I was a young kid, back in the day. Who exactly are the shriners? I know that my grandfather was a Shriner, but I'm not quite sure who they are and what they do. There are alot of organizations here that are not readily identifiable by their names. The Eccentric Club. I went online to check that out, and I still am not sure what this club does. They seem to have a social base, and they certainly have a beautiful building in Gloversville, but how do you join? Nobody talks about that really. It's been around since the 1800's, which leaves me suspect to their original organization. I just don't know, and they're not talking. I think I may qualify, but I don't know where to call. They eccetrically don't have a phone listing. Too bad. I could be their poster girl. Eccentric. That covers alot don't you think? I will dig further on this one. There is also the Concordia Singing Society. Not sure about that either. It has German-American membership, but do they really just get together to sing? Entire families - like the Von Trapps? I gotta check this out too. They seem to have alot of picnics, and they have beautiful property with a pavilion and a playground. Are the kids singing too? There is a whole building and organization for singing. I like that. What are they singing? How do you join this too? Not alot of information out there about the Concordia singing Society. What is a Concordia? There are alot of things I'm checking out, and I'm finding a whole other world here that we had no idea existed. To be honest, I used to believe that the whole world revolved around the metropolitan area. I was convinced we were the best of everything, and the rest of the world wanted to be us. Now that I am not there, I am learning that this is not the case. Many people here look at the metropolitan area as somewhere they might go on occasion, but not as the hub of their world. Some people have never been there. It is four hours away, but it might as well be the other side of the world. Their world is small and it is right here, and that is fine. They are here by circumstance, but stay by choice. They are interested in New York City or Long Island as a side story, not the plot. It's a startling revelation. To me anyway. We are starting to fit into the plot here, and I like that. Little by little, we are becoming a part of the community. The blank spaces of our lives are being filled in with local people and local information. Finally, I am feeling like a resident, not a visitor. We went to the polling place yesterday, and were greeted by very friendly election workers. I did notice that the Republican sign in book was HUGE, and the democratic sign in book was slightly smaller. Actually, it was tiny. This is a republican stronghold. The Democratic representative was falling all over herself when we arrived. It's funny here, the politics are mainly local, but the party affiliation is national, and it is strong. I felt a distinct cooling when I went to sign in at the democrat table. Except from my new best friend, the democratic party sign in lady. By time we were through signing in, she was making plans to come for coffee and telling us she loved what we had done to the pasture. It's a small town, and I keep forgetting that they are watching us, even if we don't know it. It's the original you-tube, only you don't get to pick what you are putting out there. They will pick for you. And they are picking up on everything. Every day. We are on display, and now they know my party affiliation. It is remarkably soothing on some level, and a little disconcerting on another. We have friends who are in a mixed marriage - republican and democrat. If they can work it out, so should the rest of the country. Ya think? Naaah. Happy Birthday Allison! 14 years of sweet and lovely and innocent. We have been blessed again. The Swim Team is travelling to Glens Falls tonight, so the birthday celebration will wait until tomorrow. Go FO-JO! Stay warm.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I realized this morning that it is hibernation time. We are months from the election, and I am already drowning in rhetoric and spin. I am not the debator of years ago. I no longer enjoy the political dialogue that often goes with youth. I am tired of the never-ending empty promises and wasted time and money that is poured into the political machines. I have not seen enough positive change to warrant all the discussion and coverage that is given to the candidates and their families. Essentially, I don't want to hear it anymore. I vote, don't get me wrong. I am a rabid voter, and I will drive that point home every chance I get. My platform is voting. I don't really care who you vote for (that's not true, what I mean is I don't want to hear who you vote for), but I want to help ensure that people everywhere vote. It's our right, and we need to protect our rights by participating every chance we get. But as for hearing it ad nauseum, no thanks. By hibernating, I mean turning off the TV or better yet, getting really involved in America has Talent. No politics on TV for me.
I was always an avid convention watcher and listened raptly to the candidates of both parties. I have become so turned off by the "sound bytes" and rude behavior of politics that I can't watch anymore. I seek out my information on the internet and through other avenues. Each candidate has written books and disseminated lots of material that can be read quietly in the privacy of your home. You can get a true picture of their policies and records. That is how I get my information. I can't listen to it anymore. It's like being at the dinner table of a really rude family who is bickering over everything. No one is heard, they just keep shouting over each other and trying to make points, not learn anything from the other. I'd rather eat alone.
Today is primary day. We will vote at the Caroga Lake Municipal Building. It is a privilege we take seriously, and enjoy the outcome. Very soon the elections will be over, and the bickering will stop, albeit briefly. Those are heady days for me, when the nation is seemingly happy and getting along with their partisan co-workers. Maybe they can get something done, I hope so.
Small town politics are even more vicious than national politics. People steal signs off each others lawns and from telephone poles. Anonymous e-mails are sent depicting candidates in sordid and immoral picadillos, depending upon your party affiliation. Actually, it's kind of fun. As long as you're not running for anything. I'm learning the players here, and there are lots of them. It promises to be an entertaining election season. The local paper is full of last minute revelations and undeniable political faux pas. I know that politics of generations past were particularly vicious. Candidates used to resort to fists and duels. It has certainly improved since colonial days, when a smack across the face for a perceived insult was accepted, approved and reported on. But not much. I feel like smacking some of them now and again. Which is why I could never run for office. That's front page news for sure. And they deserve a smack or two from SOMEONE. But I will watch quietly from the sidelines, and I will vote. I hope you do too. It's so important, and so easy. We can smack them figuratively. A number of times. Go to it.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I am AARP's newest member. After receiving the personal invitation in the mail, sometime in June if my aged mind recalls correctly, I did hang onto it for awhile. I was not quite ready to join up with AARP, although the Red Hat Club has had my heart for years. It is a different type of organization, and tends to talk up to people - up being older. I feel as if I have joined a group of ill and immobile octagenarians because all of the graphics that came with the New Member Packet reflect noticably "aged" members. I'm not denying my qualifications. I qualify. But they make you feel as though having a life is a new choice - not something that has been going on right along. Jerry asked me today "what makes you feel old", and I can truthfully say, nothing. Some days I feel old because I'm tired or sore or bla bla bla. My body determines how my head feels. There are days when I can conquer the world. There are days when I can't conquer the breakfast table. It's hit or miss. I am hitting alot more often though, since we moved upstate. I generally feel healthier and I am certainly embracing a healthier lifestyle with exercise and activities. But the whole AARP mentality is just too demographically incorrect for me. I don't always want to discuss the issues that seem to be so relevant to the membership. I am not so much retired, as retried. I want to retry the employment thing, with passion for the job, not the paycheck. I want to retry all the things that I passed over before, because now I am wiser and in a position to do it again, with a joie de vivre that didn't exist when I was so much younger. I get it now. I understand priorities and I trust my instinct alot more than I did before. I know what I need, and I know what works for me. It took a long time to get to this place in my head, but I am there. I feel good! As Gloria Steinem said when told she looked great for 50, "this is what 50 looks like". Except I don't look anything like her. Maybe that's what the new 50 looks like, whatever the heck you want to be. For me, it's farming. I want to be busy and dirty and in touch with the animals we choose to raise. I want to look out and know that they are thriving due to our ministrations, and our choices for them. I want to be important and essential in establishing the quality of the lives of these animals. It is a purpose that I want to explore in depth. I feel like I have been heading to this point all my life and now we are here. And it's not happening fast enough. The pasture grass is growing. Have you ever watched the grass grow? It's too slow. We are watching it, every day. Not fast enough.
We went into town Friday because we had time on our hands, and it was a beautiful day. We had a spectacular time just running errands. We did the pharmacy, doctor's appointments, Library, pizza for lunch, bookstore and antique shops - all on one block. It was fabulous. As we were looking in a furniture store window, I noticed an adorable display that had fabric apples in a peck basket. The stems were cinnamon sticks with felt leaves. It was so cute. My first thought was "someone has way too much frigging time on their hands", immediately followed by "where can I get those peck baskets to make my own fabric apples?". I know - it's scary. I am spinning, knitting and painting. Next will be crochet, tatting and paint by numbers. Soon I will be making little cozys to cover the toilet paper on the back of the bowl, and it's only September! I'm doomed! I've spent the day cleaning and polishing every surface in this house. My shoulder is hanging off my neck in pain. But I kept mopping! If we don't get animals here soon, I will become some kind of deranged Martha Stewart who is maniacly searching for creativity in every piece of junk she comes by. I can't stand myself. I was picking up lint off the carpet while Jake just looked over his shoulder. I make him nervous. It's Monday! It's gonna be a long week.
It's gonna be a long winter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One year ago today I was rushing to get ready at 6:30 AM, just as Allison is today. Alot has changed since then, with both of us retired and not rushing to do anything at 6:30 AM. Mostly, we cheer Allison on during her morning routine, which is haphazard at best. She is not one for routine, and such, her mornings are chaotic and filled with stress. Ours, not hers. Will she make it today? It's a crapshoot every day. When I was working I used to be rushing too, but my routine was time and activity repetitive. I was showering at the same time every morning. Drinking coffee and watching the Today Show at a specific time, getting hair and makeup done all while calling out to Allison to get moving. The energy and attention that I devoted to her was directly related to the clock and her progress. Not with so much attention to detail. More of a "big picture" kind of participation. Not so anymore. We are focused on her the way a hawk targets a field mouse. With relentless observation and impending doom. "You're watching your clock?" That sentence implies that if you're not watching it, I can certainly watch it for you, because I am right here, with nothing to do, driving you crazy. Watching that clock? it's 6:15 now, what's happening? Can I help you with anything? I throw that in to take the sting out of my constant comments. If I add that offer of help, certainly she can't take offense to my badgering. She does take offense, but then I can feel rightously offended. I was only offering HELP. Cripes.
I fear I have become what Dr. Phil refers to as a helicopter parent. Hovering. We are watching the clock all day, as we go about our chores, very cognizant of what time it is, and when the bus comes back. Did she make the bus, did she miss the bus? Should we pick her up? Will she call? I guess this is the last child syndrome, and we have fallen into this big time. I'm appalled and disappointed in our behavior. Aren't we more interesting than this? Don't we have our own lives? When and how did this happen? Even the blog has been focused on school and busses for the past week. Where is our farm information, our spinning and bee conversations, and our pasture updates? What is happening here? We didn't want this page to become Teen Beat. Sorry about that. Allison is sorrier.
We have been trying to fill our day with healthy activities. Yesterday, we took an early morning walk up North Bush Road and had a few opportunities to identify animal tracks and "scat" (poop). Jerry is quite knowledgeable when it comes to animal tracking and he is passing this knowledge on to me. There are turkey tracks everywhere, which makes us hopeful that when Thanksgiving rolls around we may have a local guest at our table. There are deer tracks everywhere, although that usually changes once Black Powder season starts (two weeks). We won't see so many tracks then. Checking the poop allows you to see what the animal has been eating - such as berries or what. When you can see what they have eaten, you can see where they are hanging out. This helps with the tracking during hunting season. It's incredibly interesting and makes our walk alot of fun. We are enjoying the exercise and happy that we are able to make time to get outdoors. Now if we can fill the other 13 hours, we can get off Allison's back. Maybe today we'll watch the grass grow. Such a problem, this retirement thing. Now I am beginning to understand the early bird specials that retirees are famous for. THEY'VE BEEN WAITING ALL DAY FOR SOMETHING TO DO!
Actually it's not entirely true. We are busy from dawn to dusk, but the urgency is gone. The clock punching time restraints are not there. If we do something now, or 1/2 hour from now, it doesn't really matter. It will get done in our own time. And that is the big difference. Our time is our own. No one is judging or waiting or docking our time if we don't show up. It's all up to us. Which is probably why Allison is now taking the heat. She's the only one with deadlines. And so we try to meet hers for her. Someday we'll laugh at this. Maybe.
What time is it? Ooops - we should be walking right now. Bye!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Not much to say

It's only Thursday, and we're exhausted today. The first day of school took alot out of us. Allison is fine, but we're really tired. The bus trip home was not as successful, it left without her. So, the first "I missed the bus" trip was made at 2:30. Not a good way to start. We try again today. The routine of September is comforting in many ways. I see that I will have time to get to spinning, and I look forward to it. Our days start early, and they don't stop. We were able to get alot of electrical stuff done yesterday. New spots in the kitchen and re-adjustment of the chandelier. These are chores that have been hanging over us, literally, for awhile. It's nice to sit down and not get clunked in the head by a ill-hung chandelier. Progress is a good thing. so says Martha Stewart. More later - have a good day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Wheelerville School Bus showed up at 6:35 AM and Allison made it. It's a good thing. Our morning discussion went like this: "Are you watching the clock?" "Really Mom, I'm ready" Five minutes - "Let's Go, you're late". "Mom, would ya stop-I'm coming!". It isn't until I said "I hear your bus coming" that I actually saw her emerge from her room. She flew by, grabbed an apple and that fast was gone. This is the first day of high school, for the last time. I have no more little ones, so this little one markes everything FOR THE LAST TIME. I wonder if our kids realize the milestones that WE acknowledge? Probably not. We have different standards of memory importance. For us, it's the Last of things. Last day of Grammer School, Last day of Middle school. For the kids, it's the First of things. We look back, they look forward. It's a good mix. We balance each other.
I looked out the window this morning, and the leaves are definitely turning. Jerry is convinced that the pellet stove will be up and running by the 15th. I think it will be sooner, although this week is supposed to remain summer warm. It is getting much cooler at night though, on a regular basis. These are the days we wished for when we lived on Long Island. Staying here through the season transitions. We used to arrive after the changes were done. We'd leave Labor day and come back sometime in October to see the leaves at peak. Leave in summer, come back in fall, Leave in fall, come back in Winter. It was a monthly change of seasons. Now we get to watch the change, day by day. It is awesome. We have been so lucky all summer. To have the opportunity to be here throughout all the changes, and participate in all of it. For me, it has been rejuvenating. I must have some gypsy in me.
Speaking of gypsys, yesterday was Move the Furniture Day. It is something that I do, just because. I've even done it in a trailer - hard to believe. We call it the family curse, or the family gift, depending on how you look at it. I usually try to give the house a good organizational cleaning when school starts. Off to a good start and all that. I feel that to really clean, you must move furniture away from where it has sat for awhile. This allows a good vacuuming underneath, plus retrieval of lost items. And since the furniture has been moved a little, why not move it alot and change it's placement? It gives new perspective on a room, and allows for some creative changes. Each time I move the funiture I think "this is the way the room looks best". We live with it for awhile, and then the need to rearrange strikes again. Poor Jerry. He sees it as a curse, because he's doing the heavy lifting. Little did he know he married into a family of rearrangers from way back. We Rowlands did Trading Spaces long before it was popular. We have moved furniture interstate (this couch would look good in my house - I'll see your couch and raise you one hutch - DONE!) My children have inherited this gift (gift I say!) It strikes at the oddest times. But once you start it is thrilling - the possibilities are endless. I can't imagine setting up a room and leaving it that way - forever. I used to try to get the Chief to change around his furniture. He wouldn't buy it. I had to make small changes while he was away on vacation or a business trip. But I did it anyway. It's in my blood. I should go to work for Levitz.
Jerry has turned on the scanner and we are listening in on the conversations between the dispatchers and the bus drivers. Brilliant. We are also finding out who is out of school today. I guess when they pick you up at the door, you need to let them know if you're not coming. I never thought of that. Go Jerry.
Just another quiet day at Blue Line Farm.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Last Day of Summer

Although Labor Day is the official last day of summer, it is really today, for the students anyway. Most schools have their teachers return on the Tuesday after Labor Day and the students return on Wednesday. I am feeling a bit sorry for the teachers today, although I recognize the beauty of routine and productive schedules. Allison has been trying unsuccessfully to change over to "school time", which means getting up at a reasonable hour, and going to bed at a reasonable hour. This has not been easy. I wonder when it is that you decide that sleep is the high point of your day, not the demon you try to avoid at all costs. I have been calling upstairs all morning, "let's go", "gotta get up" "We're on school schedule now". She's still sleeping. When the bus arrives tomorow morning at 6:30, (AM) there is going to be one unhappy camper climbing aboard, I hope. I don't want to set that precedent of driving to school because we missed the bus (I say we, because the consequences affect we), because here in Caroga Lake, school is 12 miles away. On roads that are 30 MPH. Do the math. That's an hour round trip - give or take a few minutes. I'm not looking for that type of road trip until I've had at least 3 or 4 cups of coffee. I may not have any alternative. And so, right alongside all the children who are lamenting and mourning the loss of summer vacation, I do too. I never understood those Staples commercials where the parents are all happy and glad about the kids going back to school. My kids can tell you that I was the biggest whiner of all when it came to end of vacation .This sucks. I always preferred the times when there was no homework, no schedule, and no routine. More fun things happened when we were without a program. The program was always "Let's see what happens". I'm not helping am I? Let's turn this around - Woooooo Hooooooo - Back to School! Yippee. Can you feel the enthusiasm? I think Allison has the right idea - sleep while you can.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Today is labor day. So we chose to labor by kayaking on East Caroga lake with our friends Dan and Jennie. As my shoulder is still in recovery, I will be cheering from the shore. Allison will take the kayak and enjoy the water with Jerry. It seems as if Dave and Cathy have kayaks too, and hopefully will join us. It should be a great day. The weather is crisp and sunny and we are all looking forward to getting out on the lake. I'm wondering if you can be towed by a kayak in a rowboat. Quite possibly I may end up out on the lake too. It would be worth it to them all to get me out there, as I will be in charge of the cooler and the foods. This could be good. Or not. The Association docks were pulled in yesterday. Jerry showed up to do his share and met many of the Association members. It was a good day and with approximately 30 hands, the job was made easier. 30 hands or sixty hands? About 30 people is what I mean. We got to clean out the cottage a little bit in the morning, and then in the afternoon Allison and I continued the Back To School shopping-Day 2. We discovered Crossgate Mall in Albany, and had a wonderful day. I was treated to shopping with a lovely and reasonable 13 year old. The whole experience was bonding and actually fun. We did observe some really rotten behavior, but it was other shoppers, not us. I'm glad about that. It was all in all, a very pleasant experience. We also discovered Burlington Coat Factory. Have you ever been? Ya gotta go. It's so much fun to shop in a store where the prices are manageable. You pick out a coat that you like, and wow! You can afford it! Way fun! Now we don't have to go back for a good long while. We have winter clothes and boots, and we're ready! As much as it was fun, I'm much happier when I'm not at the mall. Allison could have moved in, which I guess is normal. But we had yet another compromise and came home. Not a bad day after all. And now, we labor on the lake. Have a fun day. School starts Wednesday! The countdown begins!