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Showing posts from 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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On Monday, on our way back from our annual Christmas week trip up to Massena to celebrate my Mother's birthday (which is on December 28), we encountered typically treacherous weather on the strip of Rt. 81 around Pulaski, just before Syracuse. I have endured many terrible winter trips on this road, and Sunday's trip wasn't even the worst of them. The worst in our history was in January of 1985, right after I had moved to Rochester, where massive snow and white-out conditions made Rt. 81 disappear and extended the trip between Watertown and Rochester from two hours to eight hours. That night it seemed like we would never make it home, and after that trip I vowed we would not make the trip during the winter months anytime in the future.

But, as of last weekend the forecast looked favorable for a fairly uneventful trip weather-wise. And, it was uneventful, at least for the trip up North. Sunny and warm, we got there in our usual four-and-a-half hours. We had heard rumblings …

It's NOT just like riding a bike

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Last night, one of a handful of times in the last five years, I went ice skating on a friend's backyard rink. Before I laced up five years ago, the last time I had been skating was probably 25 years ago. Most of my childhood winter activities revolved around skating, as my friends and I went out just about every night to the rink at the Little League field or a shallow pond nearby. To this day I think I have some nerve damage as a result of the many times I came home with frozen toes, and I remember parking my feet (and butt) atop Nonnie's old-fashioned radiator, blasting out heat, in attempt to thaw them.

BUT, some things are lost over time, like the ability to ice skate. How awkward I looked out there, trying to regain my old stride and perform my old tricks (which were basically stopping quick and skating backwards). Who knows? Maybe practice makes perfect and I can get those ankles back up to par and speed around the rink like that long lost teenager once again!

The Longest Day

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Today marks one of the days I look forward to all year: the Winter Solstice. Although this day officially ushers in a long winter, it also marks the day when the amount of light begins to increase every day (which means: Spring!). Am I too optimistic wanting to skip winter altogether??

Today the sun will rise at 7:39am, and set at 4:38pm - giving us a whopping 9 hours of sunlight! In case you need something to look forward to, a month from now we will have already gained 1/2 of sunlight.

This longest day is the start of what will be the longest work week as we have to work through Wednesday. And how slowly those days will go until we have a week-and-a-half off to regain our sanity and ring in the new year!

Welcome to Cookie Land

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Last night we held our Sixth Annual Fourth Avenue Cookie Exchange, and hosted our neighbors from the street and a couple beyond the Fourth Ave. realm. It's always pretty obvious how small our house actually is at times like these, but I always feel that the fun of inviting without limits outweighs the fact that people are packed into our three major party rooms: the kitchen (very bad, indeed), the dining room (a little better except for the big table in the middle), and the living room (open enough for a bunch of people to sand in the middle).

This year, as always, there was a great selection. As with the last couple of years, the Baker kids request "Christmas Windows," which aren't so much a cookie as they are candy (mad with three ingredients: chocolate, butter and colored marshmallows). Apparently the either (1) have no imagination, or (2) just can't get enough of those Christmas Windows. Ironically, I didn't get a chance to try any of the cookies folks br…

He Lights Up Our Life

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Just like we lit him up!

Christmas - A time for...letting go?

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Something has happened to me in the last couple of years. I've really started evaluating how I spend my time and the "things I do" to determine what's worth continuing and what has run its course. I've always been one of those people who sees a need or an interest in starting something up (like my bookclub or the New York State Chapter of my professional organization), and "just does it." But, lately I've been forcing myself to do some tough self-evaluation to determine my motivations for taking things on. Does it come from a desire to belong? Do I think if I don't do it, nobody will?

Such self-examination comes with maturity and feeling more comfortable in one's skin, but I've been thinking a lot lately about my relationships and things I've been involved in. This year in particular, has been one of those where I've said "I'm all done with that," and have practiced letting go of some long practiced (and loved) activ…

Messages in a Bottle

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After 5 1/2 years in our house, we finally got motivated enough to unpack and organize the attic. It's pretty damp up there, with a lot of creepy-crawly things, so I was concerned about moving a lot of the stuff out of cardboard boxes and into large plastic containers. The long weekend proved a great time to get down to business, so up we went.

I complain a lot about how much of a pack rat Mark is (I'm the opposite...I get rid of everything that I'm not using or haven't worn in the last couple of years), but for once I as glad for his tendency to save because I located (most likely) every letter I wrote to him during the early years of our courtship, dated from December 1981 through August 1984, right up to the time I moved to Rochester.

After finding them, I did not have an overwhelming desire to read them, wanting to leave the past in the past, and figuring they'd be corny as heck. After 28 years together and 22 years of marriage, so much has happened (much great, …

Annalisse-ism, 2009 Style

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Here's a little nugget to get your Thanksgiving week started out right. I've posted Annalisse-isms before here and here, and here's a conversation we had on Saturday on the way to the mall to buy her friend a birthday gift certificate:


A: How much is a $20 gift certificate? Me: How much do you think it is? A: I don't know. Me: If you had to guess, what would you guess it costs? A: I don't know. Maybe $30?
!!!!!!!!!!
Well, it turns out that a $20 mall gift certificate actually costs $22, so I guess the joke was on me.

The Travel Bug

Most of last week was spent in Boston for a two-day conference for work. I arrived early on Tuesday morning and had the day to spend as "tourist" until I had to check-in at 9am on Wednesday morning. I suppose it's a sign of maturity that I thoroughly enjoyed the short walk to Quincy Market, a longer walk on the Freedom trail, wandering around Chinatown and relaxing (by myself!!) in my hotel room. I remember back to 1991 or so when I went to my first professional conference, and was very anxious about the trip - what would I do at mealtime? And what it would be like to be all alone in a hotel room? These days, I really enjoy the solitude of short get-away from "real life" and the sometimes mundane routine that comes from family and work! Are we talking escape, here?!

One of the hot things going around on Facebook these days is the challenge to post a message every day about things we are thankful for. Of course, I'm thankful for the usual stuff: healthy kids…

Sickness all Around

This was another "great" week of bad health for the Bakers. While I was feeling more myself and back on the track to good health, the kids still struggled all week with coughing, low-grade fevers, sore throats and headaches. Looking over the years, I recall that February is a particularly bad month for sickness in our family and others, so the fact that it's all taken a such a hold so early in the season makes me very uncomfortable and anxious for the winter.

Even our sweet nephew, Jackson, has been through the wringer this week with a double ear infection, pneumonia, and the H1N1 virus. Dave and Mandy have been in and out of doctors and emergency rooms with him for a week now, and Mom flew down on Wednesday morning to help out. Luckily, yesterday (after being in the ER for re-hydration until 4am the previous morning) he seemed to turn a corner and has been perking up regaining strength, and eating a little again. All of this does not bode well for a worry wart like me.

Ne…

Judy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Week

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This week was the perfect storm of maladies for me. It all started a little over a week ago when a bump on my leg took on an otherworldly appearance in the form of an angry, red, boil-like-ready-to-burst skin volcano. After urging from Mark and Mom Shiao all weekend to go to Urgent Care, I decided to wait it out and see my regular doctor on Monday (by which time the "boil" had begun to drain and was already feeling better). According to Dr. Sorge, my affliction was not a boil but a soft tissue infection in my leg often caused by bacteria or a staph infection; I have no idea what set it off.
So, after a course of antibiotics and heat for the last week, my leg is looking decidedly better. The rest of my body, though, is having its own challenges. My loving son was kind enough to pass on his cold, complete with constant sneezing, a non-productive cough, and a low-grade fever thrown in, which I've been battling in earnest since Wednesday. Today is Saturday, and I'm still…

Head of the Fish: Worst Case Scenario

On Saturday evening we returned from a day of torrential rain, 40 degree temperatures and a hellish day of rowing in Saratoga. The forecast had called for rain and chilly weather all day, but it turned out to be a dangerous rowing day with many of the kids suffering from borderline hypothermia, and even one of the Fairport kids going to the hospital. The coaches do talk a lot about dressing in layers, in spandex, in gortex, yada yada, but the kids were quickly soaked through all their layers from the relentless rain and puddles of mud (with a couple of thunder bolts thrown in for good measure).
When Cam came off the water after racing his eight-boat, he could barely walk and he, along with his teammates, were shivering uncontrollably. Luckily the coaches had the good judgement to pull Fairport out of the race by 11:30am, and we were on our way back home by 2pm after a quick lunch.
Needless to say, we did not make it to Vermont. Once I saw the problems with the weather situation at the …

Consellation Prize

Today we head to Saratoga for yet another regatta. This is a "big one," featuring upwards of 800 boats, and is the second-to-last regatta for the fall racing season (the last one is the "Pull the Plug" regatta in Pittsford). We're keeping our fingers crossed that the kids will come away with a medal, but this one is really competitive so we're just hoping they have fun.

As a consellation prize for having to forgo my sanity-restoring yearly trip to Vermont this fall, Mark and I are going to sneak away from the regatta after the kids' morning races are finished and spend some time in Manchester, Vermont, which is about an hour from Saratoga. Even though the day is calling for rain, I'm sure the quick trip and a nice, leisurely lunch will offset the fact that we didn't spend time in the Green Mountain State this fall.

Who's with me?!

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

A couple of articles have creeped up lately under various headings such as 4/10 or 10-4, which refers to the idea that many businesses are considering (and some have transitioned) to a work week of four 10-hour days. If only my job would or could do something like that (I'd have the added benefit of only having to work a 35 hour week, or four 9-hour days)! This article highlights the example of the switch by government employees for the State of Utah, and outlines the expected savings in electricity and heat for the business, and gas for the employees.

My employer would likely never consider this since we are a very service-oriented place (less visits would most likely result in less enrolled students), and we actual have students who live on-campus, so we need to keep things up and running all week long. Our main respite is the week between Christmas and New Years, when we do actually close down for a week or so (except for my office, where several employees still go in to handle …

The Birthday Boy

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Happy Birthday to "MY OLD MAN" on his 48th birthday!! Pretty soon I'll have to turn him in for a newer model! Unfortunately, the kids will both be at a sleepover tonight, so we'll probably have to go out for Indian since they don't like it. Then, who knows? Maybe I'll try to stay up past 9pm. The sky's the limit!!

Have a great one, Mark!

I'll take a Gold and two Bronze, Please

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Congrats to Annalisse and Cameron on their great showing at the Head of the Genesee 5K Regatta in Rochester yesterday. Annalissse earned a bronze for her 4-boat, and a GOLD(!) for her 8-boat. In her words, "she almost cried!", but I think there were tears (no "almost" about it) for her and her rowers after many regattas of disappointments. Cam earned his second bronze* (in their second regatta this season) for coxing his eight to third place (out of six) after a challenging course during which they "caught two crabs**." Great job, kids!!

*This post contains no pictures of Cam with his medal since it is fundamentally uncool to pose for pictures for your mother when you're 16.
**Crab - A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell o…

The Never Ending List

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The other really exciting thing that happened on Monday, besides the never-ending 14th birthday celebration, was that our Turkish (well, techinically it's Iranian) rug arrived by way of Mom/Mark transport from Dave and Mandy's place in Virginia. The renovation project that started in February is coming along nicely. Now that the rug is in place, all we need to do is get new furniture (HA!). There are still a couple of loose ends to be tied up (as reflected by "the list" on the refridgerator). The "list" contains such compelling ($$) items as:
shutters for the upstairs bathroom and Cam's roomnew shower fixturenew bathroom cabinet handlesdrywall repair and paint side entranceand, of course, new furniture (couch and chair)On next year's list you'll find:
new sewer pipes in basementremove wallpaper and paint the backroom (Mark's cave)paint Annalisse's roomAnd possibly, next year if we can swing it: remove wallpaper and paint the downstairs bat…

The Birthday Girl

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Happy 14th birthday today to my "baby," Annalisse!! We've gone from parties at home to parties at Build-a-Bear to birthday sleepovers, and yesterday it was a "dress up dinner out" for A. and her friends at Boccaccini's. After crew today, the celebrations will continue with a family pizza party. Her greatest gift so far? Two snuggies from her friends. She's now a member of the Cult of Snuggie. Be afraid, be very afraid.

800 Miles in Five Days

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Yesterday I returned from a week of travel back-and-forth and back-and-forth across Western and Southwestern New York State as a visited eight graduate fairs recruiting for our programs. While it's tiring to pack and repack, and lug my stuff from one fair to another, it's a lot of fun meeting prospective students from other colleges and reconnecting with colleagues (over dinner is the funnest time of all!). The main thing that kept me entertained during long hours in the car (and the inevitable extra time spent driving around since I get lost A LOT), was listening to NPR, and all the great programming they have on during the day and at night.

When I'm going for a long distance, or will be visiting a lot of schools in a short time, I usually rent a car. This time I was "fortunate" enough to score a PT Cruiser. When I heard that was the car I was getting, my first question was, "Do you have anything else?" They are the UGLIEST cars and I hoped no one would…

In Heaven there is no beer

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There's nothing better than a rousing round of beer songs to get the crowd moving, especially a bunch of would-be Germans at Oktoberfest. And, just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is German at Oktoberfest. Not that that's a bad thing...it's not at all! It's so much fun to see the grown men in lederhosen and felt hats with little pins on them, and women with peasant dresses and braids in their hair.


All of this certainly contributes to the atmosphere of Oktoberfest but let's be honest: it's all about the food. The heavy, bland, wonderful food (and pastries). It's also all about the music, especially the yodeling and the alpine horns!

We've been going to Oktoberfest for several years now, since being invited by our neighbors Morey and Ann. We even invested in a pitcher that we bring every year. Here's a video of Annalisse and our neighbor, Chris, acting like they know how to Polka. Enjoy!


Dreaming of a Three-Day Weekend

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Last week was the first full week I worked in a VERY LONG TIME. After a very busy weekend, including Sunday, that was taken up from 7am-5pm with the Lift Bridge Regatta, in Fairport, I sure could use a three-day weekend now!

Getting back to the Regatta, it was the first fall competition for the kids. What a great day! The weather was absolutely beautiful (warm, sunny, breezy - you don't want to have to stand all day in drizzly, cold weather which I'm sure will emerge by the November regatta) and many people came out to cheer on the kids. Annalisse raced two heats (placed 2nd in one [out of two boats], and 4th out of 6 in another), but did not earn any medals. Cam cox'd his boat to a bronze (third out of 6) and was very proud of that, having been his first time out in competition since he became a coxswain.
Mark spent the whole day on the course either timing at the starting line or hanging out in the safety launch (one of the motor boats that monitors the race).
Crew has bee…

Young and in love

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Twenty-two days ago today two young, idealistic kids took the plunge surrounded by the love of family and friends, many of which are no longer with us. It's bittersweet, and the thing of wonderful memories! Of course, we've had our ups and downs since that rainy, fall day, but surviving the challenging times enriches what we have together.

Here's to our anniversary (spent mostly doing crew-related stuff with the promise of a dinner out one of these days)!!

Let's do it for the ladies!

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Come on out to the Red Bird Market in Fairport on Saturday, September 26, from 10–11:30am for a book signing by all the authors of Life Before.com, featuring Fourth Avenue's own contributing writers Ann Rasbeck, Donna Edgerton, and Elaine Boyd. Life Before.com is a follow up to their wonderful memoir, Seven Women Seven Lives, and books will be available for purchase.

(Remember: the more books sold, the closer we get to that street swimming pool!)

Don't make me say it again!

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I'm sorry to bore you with this, but I once again have to sing the praises of living in Fairport. It all started with the street party on Friday night. Closing off the street, eating great food, sharing great conversation and the enjoyment of watching the kids having a ball with each other - it doesn't get much better! For many of the kids, they claim it's the "funnest night of the year." The day threatened rain, but we ended up with a really nice, cool, clear night that ended at 10:30pm with a bonfire at the neighbor's place across the street. Heaven!

On Saturday, the kids braved the drizzling rain to wash cars for the Fairport Crew Car Wash fundraiser. I know, I know! It seems a little redundant (or unnecessary?) to wash cars in the rain, but what the heck! They still did pretty well with a steady stream of cars going through. On Saturday night we had some friends for dinner (they didn't taste like chicken), and the autumnal table (their words, not mine)…

And they're off!

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After what seems like the longest summer break from school to ever be recorded in modern history, the kids headed back to school early this morning (they were both gone by 6:40am) to their first day of 11 and 9th grades. It's my tradition to get a "first day of school picture" (I'm sure I didn't invent that...flashes were probably going off all around the town this morning), and this morning it was not easy. It took about 10 shots to get an even nearly acceptable one as Cameron was NOT cooperating. In the final shot, if you look closely, you can see he's doing something weird with his eyes. Ugh! Oh well, don't look too closely...

I predict they will be collapsing from exhaustion by 8pm this evening.
(What a cool day to go back to school: 9/9/09!)

Home Again, Home Again

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The summer bookend of Labor Day '09 has come and gone, and with it a trip to Washington, DC (well, technically, Arlington, Virginia) for our nephew, Jackson's, baptism. The ceremony was made even more special because Jackson's mom, our sister-in-law Amanda, was baptised along with her son, and the ceremony was performed by our Former Pastor, Bill Flamman.

We headed down to Dave & Amanda's early Friday morning, and I was reminded how much fun the area is and how much I miss it now that my BFF Sue no longer lives there. There was a time when the kids and I would take off for the weekend on Friday morning (direct, cheap flights), and come home on Sunday night. I always feel extremely awed and humbled to be in DC, and also extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to visit many times in the past, and the prospect of visiting a lot in the future now that our family lives there.

We did some of our usual favorite things: an afternoon browsing the stores and Torpedo Factor…

Facebook: Satisfying My Stalker Tendencies Since 2007

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I've silently and verbally heralded the virtues of Facebook (FB), but I've never written about it in my blog (although I've been meaning to) until now.

I first heard about FB in probably 2006 or 2007, when it was primarily a social networking tool for college students. Working in a college, I would often see our student workers logged in, but they would also be really involved with MySpace, and I didn't see much value in either. Soon enough, though, I heard that I should create a FB page in case prospective students would like to connect with me to learn about our graduate programs. So, onto FB I went, and created a professional-looking profile which went on to attract no attention whatsoever. After that, I would check the page maybe once every four months to see if there was any action - there wasn't.
Then something happened: FB exploded! I mean it literally exploded as more people started to create profiles and, for me, FB shifted from a recruiting tool to my own p…

In Praise of the Staycation

Today is the last day of my week's vacation spent hanging around the house. I'm quite lazy by nature, so having the week spread out ahead of me with not a lot planned was a real dream. Alas, why is it that vacation weeks always go so fast and work weeks always go so slow?

I made a to-do list at the beginning of the week and I'm happy to report I was able to check everything off. This exciting list contained such compelling activities as "pick up a 'new driver' handbook at the community center" and "file kid's stuff in their bins in the attic." Oh! And don't forget the very necessary, "Get a new watch battery." Mundane stuff, but ultimately satisfying because these are things that have been on the list for a while now. The highlights of the week were being able to take several dips in grandma's pool, and we were blessed with great swimming weather during what some have said has been the nicest week of the summer.

I persuaded M…

The Meanest Mother

This morning Annalisse was lamenting the curse of having a really "strict" mother and how upset she was that I would not give her permission to sneak out and go into the village late at night when she and her friend Mo spent the night in the tent this coming Thursday (I know! You think she would further her cause by nottelling me her intentions!). The funny thing is, I don't think I'm that strict a mother. A little obsessive about their whereabouts and safety (what parent isn't?), and probably a little too involved in their activities - but strict? That's a good one! Her arguments remind me of a poem my friend Meg read at her mother's funeral service. It illustrates the great divide in perception that's been going on between mothers and their kids for generations. It's long, but good. Enjoy!
"The Meanest Mother"
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When…

Family Picnic Pix

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As promised, here are some pictures from the picnic we had when Aunt Jeannine visited. This one features Mom, Aunt Jeannine, with their (very tall) sister Aunt Jackie in the middle:


This one brings to mind that old song, "Cameron and Bonnie, sitting in a tree..." (look closely).






And, here's the whole fam-damily, including the kids, my sisters, and our cousin Brenda:

In the words of my wise 13 year old, "Boy, those Canadians sure know how to party!"

They say the best thing about retirement is...

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...Sunday night! That saying also goes for the Sunday night before a week of vacation! Which starts NOW!

I've been really lax about blogging lately. I do have some ideas I'd like to blog about, but with the kids home it's been really hard to get a block of time on the computer. That's mostly true, but is probably more of an excuse for the fact that I'm really busy right now, and simply have not taken the time to blog!

Here are some highlights of the last week:
Last weekend we travelled to Massena for a family picnic with Aunt Jeannine and Uncle Larry who were visiting from Edmonton, Alberta. I think I've written before about how awesome Aunt Jeannine is, and it was GREAT to see a bunch of other relatives all at once. My super nephew even taught the kids some drinking games (using gatorade)...that was just great. Cam is still really busy with camp. He's home this week but goes back on Sunday for another week. In all, he will have spent five weeks at 4H Camp Bri…

Here Comes Trouble

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Last night, after months of saving her hard-earned babysitting money, Annalisse bought the "phone of her dreams." I was very proud that she was able to save over $200 through her mother's helper gigs, and, if you know Annalisse, you know the temptation she struggled with anytime she went into a clothing store or to the mall.

Another milestone: I finally gave in and added texting to all the family phones. Hey! At least that makes us one of the last families with teenagers to give in (I'm sure there are other teens who do not have texting, but there sure are a lot more who do!). I've been reluctant to get texting, especially for Annalisse (Cam doesn't care about it), because it drives me crazy when kids sit around texting instead of actually talking to each other. But, lately I've found a couple of practical reasons for texting, especially since the kids are becoming more independent and sometimes they, or you, need to send a quick message about a change of …

Stop The Clock!!

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It was with much anxiety that I changed my work calendar today when I took down "July" and put up "September." You see, I have one of those cool poster calendars that double as art on my office wall, so I always have two months worth up: the current month and the month that follows. Since July is pretty much over, September went up, and that's when the trouble started.

WHERE THE HECK HAS THIS YEAR GONE? Don't even get me started on the fact that we are on the other side of the year and it's a slippery slope right into hanging the tree and wrapping presents. Just ridiculous! In August the days get noticeably shorter (or as Mark continues to remind me: they don't get shorter, they're still 24 hours long), and the lazy days of summer (for whom?) are overshadowed by the structure and routine that characterizes fall.

I think I'm going to be one of those people who has a really hard time with getting older. The years pass in a blink, and before you …

Build the Ark So We Can Go Out For Dinner

My yard is mushroom heaven due to the unrelenting rain we've had all summer. What is up with the rain? I think I heard a statistic that this is the rainiest, coldest summer since sometime in the 1860's (which is probably when they started keeping records). I would take pictures of the mammoth and plentiful spore-bearing fungi but my camera has pooped out and I'm waiting to get a new one.

The kids are back at camp for another week (it's Cam's first actual work of week), and that means another week of eating out. If you sense the lack of excitement, as indicated by the fact that I did not capitalize those words or use an exclamation point, you're onto something. My waistline is still recovering from our last week of eating out, and all the weeks in between. So, I think it will be the "Week of Eating Out - lite." I'll keep you posted on our selection of culinary delights this week.

On a house note: Mom (so glad she's home!) came over for dinner on …

It's All Over But The Oinking

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On Friday I had a pig roast for the good folks at my work. I've been wanting to have a party on our back patio for while now, and a pig roast seemed like a great excuse.

The pig-man, Dave, rolled up around 9am hauling his giant cooker and laid the poor guy out on a table to prepare him for the spickett. Then, after hours of turning and checking, he shrunk to half his size but still yielded a ton of meat.

I resisted the urge to give Jasper the less-desirable swine parts (ears, hooves) because, while I know he would have ENJOYED THEM IMMENSELY, I didn't want to clean up the result during our walks for the next two days.
Was it worth it? The meat was "okay." I expected it to be as tender as pulled pork and I think it was just a little undercooked because it was on the tough side. But, now I can cross "pig roast" off the list of things I want to do at the house (I've been to many, but never had one).

Week of Eating Out

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If you've followed the Baker Blog for any amount of time you will know that we LOVE to eat out. But, during a couple of very special weeks each summer, our gastronomical foodfest goes to new heights when the kids are a way at camp. We use these kid-less days (nights) to try restaurants we've heard or talked about over the year, and use it as a chance to revisit some old favorites that the kids don't like. Well, we pick the kids up tomorrow, so here's a round up on this year's selections:

Sunday: We went out to dinner with Grandma Pat to Flaherty's, always good!
Monday: The Tap & Mallet, Gregory Street: we had heard about this pub from several friends so decided to give it a try. Mark was pleased (and a little overwhelmed) by the five pages of micro-brew selections, and the food was pretty good. It featured the usual pub-type food but also had some other really interesting stuff that is worth another trip back.
Tuesday: Le Lemon Grass: our old Vietnamese favori…

All Things Turkish

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This weekend was sure focused on Turkey! Again, the country, not the meat. We picked up our Turkish student, Semih Torkay, on Friday night for a weekend of drinking and debauchery - JUST KIDDING (I'm not even sure we are capable of a weekend of drinking and debauchery)! As usual, we had a lot of eating and activities planned for Saturday and part of Sunday, during which we introduced Semih to such American delicacies as the spaghetti gelato we are addicted to, my sauce-n-balls dinner, and the giant chocolate chip cookie dessert with ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. Light fare, it was not!!

Semih was very interested in being immersed in American life for the short duration of his homestay. He was especially excited about a trip he and Mark took to Darien Lake to ride some of the monster roller coasters (definitely the highlight of his weekend!). Despite flashing lightning and driving rain, they were able to get on all the coasters before heading home. On Sunday morning…

Life Before .Com

My neighbors Ann Rasbeck, Donna Edgerton, and Elaine Boyd, the "famous" authors of Seven Women, Seven Lives, have just released their encore book, Life Before .Com, an engaging collection of memoirs about their lives. These ladies are so amazing! Soon they'll be embarking on their city-wide book tour and I'll publish those dates once they're available.

Remember: the more books they sell the quicker we get that Fourth Avenue swimming pool!

A Bug in the Hand is Worth One in the Ear?

Last night around 11:30pm Cameron woke me up complaining that his ear hurt. I was not that surprised since he and his sister had had a mud fight earlier in the day, and that ear was caked with mud, inside and out. He was experiencing pain and a "bubbling" sound, so I got some water and rinsed his ear out a couple of times, hoping that would help. He waited 15 minutes longer and said it still hurt...I told him we'd need to hang on until morning since we couldn't really go to the doctor at midnight for what was probably not a major emergency.

A couple of minutes later he got me up again saying he thought the mud was coming out, could I get the tweezers? Well, we headed back to the bathroom and rinsed it again, and out came a creepy black bug! YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK!! His relief was immediate and we all went back to bed. Double YUCK!

Oh, Canada!

For the last couple of months, the bridge between my hometown of Massena and my mother's hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, has been blocked by Akwesasne Mohawks, the tribe which governs Cornwall Island, the half way stopping point between Massena and Cornwall. In a nutshell, here's what the dispute is about:

The Seaway International Bridge, which connects Cornwall to Massena via two spans, has been closed for a month to people traveling from the United States to Canada, because of a dispute between the Mohawks and the Canada Border Services Agency about a plan to arm border guards.

This might seem like a "blip" on the radar screen of world affairs, but it sure affects the people and business in my hometown, and my family in particular. For many business in Massena, already struggling to stay afloat amid the closing of the GM plant, layoffs at Alcoa, a half-empty mall and a main street of empty storefronts, a drop off in customers from seems almost unthinkable. Rig…

A Sad Day for Pop Culture

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Wow! June 25 was a very sad day for pop icons Farrah Fawcett, whose death was expected, and Micheal Jackson, whose sudden, shocking death was not. As a child of the '70s, both stars shaped my childhood and to this day I cannot sit still when a Jackson 5 song comes on. I travelled along the road with Michael on his journey until "Thriller" came out, then I had to get off the bus as his life and looks became more bizarre. Both characters were undoubtedly quite strange, but they will leave a gaping hole in many lives, nonetheless. RIP Michael and Farrah.

Here comes summer! Bring it on!

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It's been a while since I've been able to update the blog! A combination of general busy-ness and the fact that the kids are now out of school and monopolizing the laptop makes for a quick-n-dirty (less fat, more filling) blog entry! Here are some quick updates with the promise of a meatier, more thoughtful blog in the next couple of days:

We had our street sale and only made enough ($32) for an Applebee's-level dinner out, which we promptly spent on bird food. At least the birds enjoyed a nice dinner out! We sold the crockpot we had gotten for a wedding present (it still works!) for $3 - that was one of the bigger-ticket items. Mark's friend, Scott, did really well with his fishing equipment, though. We closed the sale at noon on Sunday because of soaking, torrential rain.The kids are finally done with school, including finals. Let the boredom begin!On Sunday, Cam leaves for camp where he'll be in a week of training. Then he's home for a week, then gone for thr…

Bring Out Your Junk!

The yearly ritual of collecting our "treasures" has begun as I prepare for the this weekend's Fourth Avenue Street Sale (Friday and Saturday). There are the piles in the cellar and garage left over from last year, then there's this year's pile of things collected over the past year that resulted from further weeding of the kids' stuff and other attic clutter (their motivation is that they get to keep the $$ for whatever they sell). Mark's friend, Scott, will once again be bringing over his fishing samples (rods, reels, tackle, other equipment), so we hope to attract a crowd that way as well. Our goal every year is just to make enough cold, hard cash to go out for dinner (which is not as easy as it sounds when everything is marked from 25 cents to $1). Anything beyond that is gravy!

The only unknown: the weather. At this point it looks like rain for both day, as I compulsively check my iPhone weather app for updates. Pray for sunshine!!

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Finally!

Four weeks from today Mom flies back to the states from her year in Turkey. Hurray! We're looking very forward to her return to Rochester, which will happen after she spends a week in DC looking after Jackson while Dave and Amanda attend a wedding on the west coast. We have so much to catch up on (and so many restaurants to visit)!

A Royal Dessert

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YOU MUST go to the Royal Cafe in Fairport for their gelato "spaghetti & meatballs" treat! Made from homemade vanilla gelato (the spaghetti), topped with a strawberry puree (the sauce) and shredded white chocolate "cheese," it comes with a side of brownie "meatballs." Annalisse gobbled this full course dessert right down. Give it a try! It's just one more reason to love Fairport!!

Another Jam Packed Weekend

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Could we possibly fit more stuff into this weekend? Is it possible to alter the Earth's rotation to add a couple more hours in each day? On Friday night, it all started with sending Annalisse off for her 8th Grade Finale and heading to the Village for the bands and food that kicked off this summer's Canal Days Festival. As for Cameron, he was long gone, off with Bonnie and her friends.

We rose early on Saturday morning to get the kids organized and fed before they headed to the boathouse for an exhibition row through the Village. What fun that was! Then we were back and forth and back and forth between the festival for most of the day. When it came time for our usual evening walk with Jasper, Mark had just about had it and and cut our walk short, heading for home while Annalisse and I walked over to Bonnie's so Jasper could play and run like crazy with his pal, puppy Duke.
So here we are on Sunday morning, and by 10am we have already gone for a coffee walk and taken Cam to C…