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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stop The Clock!!

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 know it my kids will be touring assisted care facilities trying to find a good place for me that will let me bring my dog along.

On that note, HAPPY AUGUST!

Monday, July 27, 2009

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 Friday night and stayed until 11pm (way past my bedtime!) hanging pictures and helping us with furniture arrangement. The house finally looks like someone lives in it again! Curtains are up, pictures are hung, and all is really cozy. Next up: when our rug arrives from Turkey, we'll travel to DC to pick it up and then go shopping for new furniture! (Again, once I get my new camera I'll post new pix...it looks awesome!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's All Over But The Oinking

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).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week of Eating Out

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 favorite, we brought friend Gillian along this time and now have another convert.

Wednesday: We got tickets to a concert at the RPO, so we just stopped at our neighborhood restaurant, McArdles, on the way home. It never disappoints.

Thursday...not sure yet. I have to work late and prepare for our pig roast tomorrow. Stay tuned for pictures of that poor (yummy, succulent) guy on the grill with a big apple in his mouth!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All Things Turkish

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, Semih taught me how to make Turkish coffee and left the coffee pot and some grounds behind so I can treat Jeanne when she gets home. Semih is such a delightful young man: well travelled, polite, and very bright!

Rounding out the Turkey weekend is the mounting excitement of Mom's return; she is scheduled to fly into Dulles this evening (Sunday) by 8pm. Then she'll head to a friend's house where she'll stay for a week taking care of Jackson while Dave and Mandy fly to the West Coast for a friend's wedding. The following Tuesday, Mom will arrive back in Rochester! We're very excited for her return!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

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!

Monday, July 6, 2009

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!

Friday, July 3, 2009

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. Right now, if Cornwall residents want to visit Massena they have to go 45 minutes to cross at Ogdensburg, NY, and 45 minutes to get back home. There are many folks who work on both sides of the border who now have real issues with getting to work.

Beyond the obvious blows to the economy, is the fact that my mother (or any of us) can't get quickly over the border to visit relatives, and visa versa. A quick trip that we have taken for granted all our lives now takes thought and planning, and becomes an all day affair.

There have even been rumors of the Seaway International Bridge closing altogether, which would surely sound the death knell for several businesses in Massena, not to mention the hit the Mall would take. It's just beyond belief that I will not have quick access to my relatives in Cornwall when I come up for a visit.

Let's hope the U.S. government steps in "soon" to resolve this issue, recognizing the effect it has had on the economy of an already depressed town.

(As a follow up to this post, my mother and sister tried to cross at one of the nearby borders during which it was discovered my mother's visa expired five years ago! At the Massena-Cornwall border, the guards knew her and never looked very closely!)