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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just Another Sunday in Mayberry

Here I go again. Loving my street.

Today a couple of "us neighbors" coordinated a baby shower for another neighbor (we'll call her "Stephanie"...ok, you got me; that's her real name) in celebration of the upcoming birth of her baby boy. Even though this is Steph and Jeff's fourth child, it's their first boy, and that was a good enough reason to get together and have some mid-winter Sunday fun.

At the shower we all marveled how lucky we are to live on such an awesome street. Sure, the houses are relatively tiny and you know about all the problems that come with living in an older house, but you can't beat the interest and concern we all have for each other. Street sale, street picnic, Christmas cookie exchange, and just last night, a euchre party...we just plain like hanging out together.

I know the Village experience is not for everyone. Many like much more "space" and don't like the idea of getting to know their neighbors quite so well. (While I know some feel this way it's still hard for me to understand that feeling.) And while I would love to live someplace warmer I feel that what we have here is really special.

Lucky. Blessed. Fourth Ave. Fairport.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Slapshot!

Finally! A positive post about winter!

One thing I really like about winter is hockey. This is worth noting since, in general, I am not a sports fan, nor do I like winter. In fact, as hard as I try, I DO NOT GET football. Every year on Super Bowl Sunday a pray we will not be invited to a superbowl party as sitting through the game is absolute misery and boredom for me (it's a great time to catch up on my reading, though). I usually go grocery shopping on Super Bowl Sunday assuming that everyone will be so busy with their parties that the store will be a ghost town. It's usually not until I get there that I realize everyone is there picking up snacks for their party and it's as crazy as ever. *Sigh*

I like baseball also, although I find it a little boring most of the time, and I suppose I can figure out what's going on in soccer and lacrosse. Basketball is also a fun sport to watch. But my favorite is hockey.

Not just because of the non-stop constantly-shifting action, but also because growing up in the North Country, hockey is what you did on the weekends. I have such great memories of hanging with my friends, freezing at the Massena Arena, and occasionally turning around to face the rink and check the action/scoreboard. Hockey was our social life in the winter.

Recently we've been trying to catch the Fairport Raiders in action (ironically, Massena's team was also the  Raiders, although we had an Indian head and Fairport has a pirate). My cousin Sandy's two sons, Nick and Ryan, are on the FHS team so it's also a great chance to catch up with Sandy and his wife, Colleen. Annalisse also likes to go, but for her it's a combo of enjoying the game and checking out the spectators. She especially likes to go when Fairport plays McQuaid, Rochester's all boy high school, which apparently has some hot guys on the team (or hot guys, in general). Try as I might I haven't yet been able to catch a Fairport vs. Massena game. This year's matchup was in Syracuse, so we'll have to watch the schedule for next year's game.

For the last couple of years, but not this year as we've not had a winter to speak of, Fairport has hosted a Pond Hockey Tournament on the Erie Canal. Our little town is perfectly suited for such an event, with a lot of great restaurant's and bars just a short walk from the action. We've looked forward to going to that, but alas, this year it's not gotten cold enough for the canal to freeze.

So there you have it...I don't hate everything about winter, just most things.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hibernation

I seriously cannot believe I was on a tropical island just a week ago. How can you go from feeling alive and soaking up the sun, to wanting to put your PJs on at 6pm and heading to bed at 8:30 every night? My hibernation instinct has definitely kicked into high gear.

Come, groundhog, come and relieve me of this dark winter misery!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mesmerizing

A little something to get you through the rest of the winter. You're welcome.

video

Just What I Needed

I famously loathe cold weather...and that's why my weekend trip to San Juan was SO AWESOME. Through the marvel of modern travel, it always amazes me how easily we can go from being freezing cold in the morning to being in shorts with our toes in the sand in the afternoon (although sometimes with the hassles that come with flying). Well, it's an easy adjustment for me, anyway! In a nutshell, San Juan was absolutely beautiful, weather-wise, accommodations-wise, and people-wise. It rained every night and was sunny and warm everyday, and the hotel was just steps away from the beach. How alive we all felt in the warm sunshine!!

The meeting itself, which was all day Saturday and part of Sunday, was very productive.  It worked out pretty well as a meeting place since most of the board members were already there as they had attended the Advanced Winter Institute for their colleges, so only a few of us had to fly in for the actual meeting. I'm always amazed by my NAGAP colleagues, who I'm so proud to call my friends. They have so many great ideas and demonstrate so much dedication to our association! It's a great group whose composition will change in July when a new executive board takes over the reigns, and I hope to be asked back to continue our great work!

Even though we were tied up for a lot of the weekend, we had a couple of wonderful meals (and walks) together. Many of us tried to eat seafood as often as we could, and one night, not being super hungry, I got an appetizer called the "Neptune Platter," expecting it to be delicacies with which I'm already familiar. It wasn't. On my plate was a strange array of treasures from the sea, most of which I did not recognize.
On the plus side:  I ate the octopus drenched in garlic and butter, as well as the single piece of shrimp.
On the minus side: I had no idea what the other two types of fish were. I think one was cuttlefish which looked a little too dark-meated for me, and I think the other was - I'M NOT SURE WHAT...SOMETHING WHITE WITH TUBES.
A regret: I didn't know what paella was and that this particular offering of paella involved a huge tail of lobster. Now I know. Regrets, I've had a few...
While the hotel and beach were beautiful, I found San Juan itself to be pretty run down with lots of abandoned buildings, graffiti, litter everywhere, and shady characters abounding. You even had to be "buzzed"into the small shops around the hotel, which was kind of weird. I spent Sunday afternoon wandering around Old San Juan and at one point I realized I had wandered down some streets where there was no one around and there were no more shops. All alone. My woman's intuition kicked in and I quickly hightailed it back to the more populated areas with all the other tourists. Safety in numbers, I guess.

Also in Old San Juan I wanted to see the two main historic sites: The Castillo de San Crisobal and the Castillo San Felipe del Moro. Due to an unreliable trolley schedule, I was only able to make it to Castillo de San Crisobal. I'm hoping I'll make it to Castillo San Felipe del Morro another time.

While I missed everyone back home (and wish they had come with me!), it was hard to leave such beautiful weather and surroundings. I'm really blessed and lucky to have had the opportunity for such an awesome winter break. It gives me the strength to carry on through the cold, dark days that remain in this winter. Another thought that gets me through: Groundhog's Day is just 10 short days away!!

The Beach - just steps from the hotel 
On a walk
Old San Juan
Narrow Streets of Old San Juan
Old San Juan 
Castillo de San Cristóbal  
Castillo de San Cristóbal 

A little friend

Our hotel

Cammie's Sardines

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Countdown to Sunshine

I'm barely hanging onto my sanity looking forward to this weekend's trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico for my NAGAP board meeting. There's not a lot of actual "fun" time available as I will get there late afternoon on Friday and leave at 6:30am on Monday morning, with a full day-and-a-half of meetings in between. I know though, that when I leave the airport to go to the hotel (which looks incredibly beautiful, by the way), my spirits will soar, fueled by much needed sunshine and warmth. (And palm trees and sand and ocean.)

I've never been to PR, so I'm looking forward to the adventure. I will have sometime between the end of the board meeting on Sunday at noon until I head to the airport hotel in the evening to see some sights. Stop back for some pictures to help get you through the dark, cold days of winter.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Winter Weekend Means...

My life is ruled by rituals, and weekends in the winter mean...
  • Sleeping in until 6:30 or 7am 
  • Walking with pup to get my coffee (weather permitting) and drinking said coffee all morning long whilst surfing the Internet, browsing the (mosty ad-filled) paper, or watching some mindless drivel on TV for most of the morning 
  • If I'm lucky: afternoon naptime!
  • Setting the grandfather clock from "silent" to "chime." 
  • Eating out (what's so different from any other day of the week, you ask?) 
  • If not going out to dinner, cooking a special meal (I actually do like to do this, more than you'd think!) 
  • Staying in my sweats until the last possible moment that I have to go out and face my adoring public 
  • Taking a shower eventually, or not at all (Hey! It's good for your skin to have a break in dry, cold weather especially. It's true. Look it up.) 
  • Pulling the rocker up to the fire and enjoying a good book.
It feels soooo good. There's something so comforting about the low expectations for January. Hunker down, say warm and recharge.

(See? Another list. What a crazy list-maker.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The No Snow Winter

Here are are on January 12 and there has still been no winter to speak of this year. We've had a couple of overnight dustings, but they did not amount to anything and were usually gone my mid-day. We've even had a couple of winter advisories and severe weather warnings...all for naught.

(Obviously, there's a difference between "no snow" in Rochester, NY and "no snow" in Atlanta, GA so my Southern friends need not comment about how they never get any snow.)


I have to admit, this whole no-snow thing is making me a little nervous. In addition to the lack of white stuff, it's been unseasonable warm this year. Christmas week the temp ranged from 40-60 degrees every day. What the heck?

Global warming?
The beginning of the Apocalypse?

Whatever the reason, I can't help but feel we'll pay for this respite with a crappy summer. I bet you'd never hear me say this, but here it goes:

I wish it would snow. A lot. And I wish it were really cold out. That would make me feel better and put me more at ease.

(As long as it's all gone by April 1.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

For the Dog

Part Lion/Part Chicken
Ever since he was a puppy Jasper has been afraid of going down the stairs. I don't recall a time when he was little that anything happened on the stairs (although he could have taken a tumble when I wasn't around), so I've always chalked it up to a depth perception issue, or possibly vertigo. Even though he was afraid of the stairs, with (a little to a lot of) coaxing he usually got up enough nerve to come down them. Until recently.

For some reason, his fear of stairs has gotten worse. At our house the stairs are hardwood with no carpet, and he has slipped and stumbled his way down for a couple a years now. Lately, though, Mark has had to carry him down in the morning, an exercise I refer to as "Mark's 80 pound bench press."

(By now you are asking yourself: Why do they let him upstairs?! The reason is that he's such a baby/chicken that when left alone downstairs at night he cries for hours and hours. Mark has slept on the couch/floor a couple of times with him but that is not a great solution.)


In the hopes of finding a solution to this issue, this weekend we ordered a carpet runner for the stairs (FOR THE DOG) which is something we talked about for the last five years but never got around to doing (another item on "The List."). We made sure it was darker than the stairs so he could see the contrast, and it will be installed in a couple of weeks. We're hoping for the best.

BUT, what I'm thinking is we should build a lovely patio home. One floor, FOR THE DOG. With a great open floor plan, new kitchen, beautiful deck FOR THE DOG. Someplace warm FOR THE DOG. Hey, I'm willing to sacrifice our old, cold two-story house FOR THE DOG!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Number One Song

So there's this new thing going around Facebook where people post the #1 song from the day they were born. In case you were wondering, the #1 song on October 8, 1963 was Sugar Shack by Jimmy Glimmer & The Fireballs. I'm sort of bummed since I find this song so annoying. Oh well, it was the '60s after all.


Memories in Print

This is what 850 pictures look like
Today I received my yearly photo order - a whopping 850ish pictures taken over the last year. You may recall in this post when I described my end-of-the-year task list, which included placing a huge picture order.  The greatest thing is that it didn't even cost that much (approx. $35 in all) as I had a photo credit from last year, along with with 25% off the order and free shipping from Snapfish.

Am I the only one person concerned that in 30 years we won't have any photo albums...that all our digitally captured memories will be lost when our computers die (which they all eventually do) or the technology changes? I cannot tell you how much joy it brought me to look through those pictures tonight. They came out so great and I know that even though we probably won't pull out the albums very often they'll be there for our future generations.

Isn't it time you preserved some of your memories? (Do it before it's too late!) Maybe I'm just a sentimental fool.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Revisiting "The List"

I live my life according to lists. Seriously, if I couldn't write things down and cross them off (and sometimes write them down just to cross them off), I'm not sure I'd ever get anything done. Remember this post when I talked about "the list?" (Or, more specifically, The Never Ending List.)

I'm happy to report that last week we were able to cross something off the list: a new stove. (Ironically, I never included a new stove on the "Never Ending List" blog entry.) Hurray. Pardon my lack of excitement, but I probably would want a new stove more if I actually liked to cook. Nevertheless, it's a pretty impressive piece of work, complete with a new (sorely needed) range hood and a long-awaited backsplash (although a little too late - the wallpaper is ruined since we didn't put up a back splash seven years ago when we wallpapered [which I hate - don't get me started]) the kitchen.

Even I have to admit the new stove is cool. It's a flat top with the controls in the front, and has two ovens: a little one which will be great for baking, and a regular sized (convection) oven. I (did not) shed a tear when they took old Goldie away...1978 called: it wants its stove back.

Next up: If all goes wel with this year's income taxes, I think we're going to put a new porch and stairs on the front of the house this spring or summer. Just think: All I need is about $100,000 and I could knock everything off that darn list. It's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Goodbye, Goldie.

Hello, Silver!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Clean Slate

Welcome to 2012! One of the great things about starting a new year is the way it feels like we can all start over with "a clean slate." Of course, our problems and bad habits do tend to follow us from one year to another, but I think it's important, psychologically anyway, feel like we've been given a chance to start the year out fresh!

The new year is already looking to be a busy one for us with travel planned and many weekends already committed. Last week I broke out the 2012 calendar and started filling it in. To my amazement we've already got a lot of weekends (and weeks) with obligations such as:

  • A trip to San Juan PR for me the third weekend in January for my NAGAP board meeting (please do not feel sorry for me!).
  • Annalisse's Downstage performances each month
  • A trip to Virginia the second week in April and a trip to Austin, TX the last week in April
  • Cam has a regatta every weekend in April, and we're going to try to make it those. The farthest one will be at WPI in Worchester, MA. If we go I'm hoping we might be able to meet up with our Franklin, MA cousins.
  • A trip to visit Anthony in Raleigh and to see Wicked either the first or second weekend in May
  • Caroline, our German exchange student, visits for two weeks starting in mid-May
  • Cam leaves for his camp job the last weekend in June, and Annalisse leaves for Germany for three weeks at the same time.
  • If I am asked back to the NAGAP board, I'll be heading to Las Vegas again in July, and somewhere else (TBD) for the October meeting.
There will also be a girl's weekend in there somewhere, as well as a 50th Birthday fishing trip for Mark. He'd like to go to Maine so I have to figure that one out. Also, I'd love to work in a weekend trip to Chicago with Mark and Annalisse at some point, maybe in March or August. I'd like to take in a Second City show when we go.

As long as the world doesn't end (as predicted) in late 2012, it's shaping up to be another fun year!

Take your clean slate and make it great!!