Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrapping up 2015, Welcoming 2016

It's that time again...putting the finishing touches on 2015 and looking ahead to 2016. This year went by the blink of an eye, it seems!

Christmas is all wrapped up (pun intended?!), and Cam and I have been enjoying a quiet week at home. Unfortunately, much to his chagrin, Mark had to work Monday-Wednesday, this week, and Annalisse is enjoying the mid-80s temps of Orlando with Alex's family (stinker!). Christmas was nice, but pretty low-key overall, with the realization that our family keeps getting smaller and smaller - a far cry from the cast of thousands when I was growing up. On Christmas day, in fact, there was only four of us for dinner - me, Mark, Cam, and Grandma Pat - as Annalisse flew out on Christmas day (her flight was supposed to leave at 1pm but was delayed because of technical difficulties until 6pm - not pretty). So, since we were such an intimate group we celebrated with lobster tails....yummmmm!!!

Christmas morning we hosted with the Nara, Lena and Ken or breakfast (Jim was sick - blah!), but we certainly missed Mom Shiao being with us. We also had the pleasure of seeing our Versprille relatives on Christmas Eve at Aunt Mary/Uncle Peter's, and the Boston Versprilles on Sunday night. On Saturday, we headed up north for our Greco family celebration, with just us girls, husbands, and kids (but no Drew (working), Tony (North Carolina) or Annalisse (Florida). We had a rousing game of BINGO, which was tons of fun with the high stakes of 50 cents a game. It's so much fun to spend time with both sides of our family!!

So, this week finds us relaxing, catching up on TV shows and reading, and eating well.

Theme for 2015? Looking back it was another year of connecting with old friends. I kept expectedly and unexpectedly running into former MCHS Class of '81 classmates. It was fun and freaky. Maybe it's a preview for our 35th reunion coming up in the summer of '16.

What do I hope for 2016? TO SELL MY SON-OF-A-PUPPIN' MOTHER'S HOUSE. I suppose I should go up north and plant St. Joseph in the front yard. Seriously.

At the end of May, Cam will complete his Master's degree (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE), and 2016 will also hopefully (if all goes well) find us traveling to Ireland the first week of June to meet Annalisse after her stint in Italy. We are soooo looking forward to that, it should be tons of fun.

Heading into January I'm looking forward to the usual low-key winter hibernation activities: reading and sitting by the fire (oh yeah, and working). Blessings upon you and your family for a wonderful, healthy, and happy 2016!!

Getting ready for Christmas breakfast
Quiet on Christmas morning
Puppy and Poppy
Annalisse and Lena 
New Toy 
Festive apps at Mary's 
Mary has a flair
My son, so proud
Fun with our Versprille cousins!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Almost There!

Seven more days of work and I am HOME FREE and off until 2016. Hurray!! 

This morning I am enjoying a very chill day at home as Mark is raking and mowing the lawn at the church ON DECEMBER 12. I'm loving this mild weather, I'm not going to lie, and trying not to think of any possible payback like snow in May. ERASE! ERASE! ERASE! that thought from my mind. The tree is beautiful, everything is decorated, and we it's wonderful to bask in the soft evening lights.

After a very intense week, the kids are on the downslide of the semester. Annalisse was particularly stressed (we heard about it) and Cam could have been equally stressed (but we did not hear about it), and next week they are finishing up projects and Annalisse has several finals. By Friday afternoon both will be nestled back at home, and Jasper will be ONE HAPPY DOG. 

I also spent this week feeling annoyed and disappointed that the Massena house sale fell through. Unfortunately, I had mentally come to depend on that influx of cash to finally finish off the inside house projects and put a little dent on the credit card balances. The day after the sale went south our realtor called to let us know she had left the realty company that had listed the house, and gave some very disturbing news about how the company is run, and the fact that there was no plan to have another realtor rep our house (because there was only one other person in the firm and she was located 1/2 hour away). As a result, I wrote an email to the owner of the company and was able to get us out of our contract, which was scheduled to expire on January 17. The realtor we were working with was going to another firm in Massena, so we decided to re-list with her. She seems very sincere about selling the house and believes her ability to sell it will be enhanced with a company that is more sophisticated and has a larger network. I HOPE SO. So discouraging. Send good vibes for a quick sale.

In the meantime, I am chipping away at the Christmas list, and truthfully not feeling any stress about it. I've got plenty of time, right?!

Monday, December 7, 2015

34 Roosevelt Street - SOLD!

We were surprised and happy to sell our parent's house on Friday. After being vacant for 5ish years, and on the market since July, it all ended up happening very quickly. Apparently the buyer (a man) was interested in the house a couple of months ago, then came the Alcoa announcement, so he put his plans on hold, then came the other Alcoa announcement, and he decided to go ahead with it. The selling price was lower than we had hoped, but we are just relieved to have it sold. We will all get a little $$ out of it once all the bills (including my mother's funeral) are paid off, so now we wait (holding our breath a little) hoping all goes through without a hitch.

This week the home inspection will be done. We let the realtor know the property is "as is" - we are not willing to make any improvements which my be identified in the inspection, since the house was priced so low.  The buyer will surely have to put a chunk of money into it, bringing it up to date and probably doing some much-needed maintenance.

My sisters expressed a certain sadness at the finality of having sold the house. I do not really feel that. If anything, I feel bad about the loss of the house that my parents loved so much - more for them, but not really myself. I remember the major renovations they did in the late 70s: new kitchen, siding, paneling, carpeting, all new furniture, wallpaper in all the bedrooms. Today, in 2015, most of those renovations remain the main things they did to modernize the house. With the exception of updating the kelly green carpeting in the living room to a light blue, and getting new crushed blue velvet furniture, the house is a bit of a late 70s time capsule.

It's kind of weird but early this morning, as far as I can remember, I had the first dream about both of my parents, and they were in the house, but the house was already being cleaned out for sale. It wasn't the exact house - a bit distorted as dreams tend to do - but they were both there, and both "themselves" - healthy and interacting the way they always had. Usually when I dream about my dad he is sick and nearing the end, and this is the first time my mother had appeared in a dream since she passed away in August 2014. The timing was very odd, but it was very comforting.

I look forward to driving past 34 in the coming years, and am hoping the new owner gives it a bit of a freshening up. It's a great little house, just waiting to be loved by another generation.

Update 2:44pm: I spoke too soon. The buyer backed out...(sad face)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turkey Time

I CANNOT EAT ANOTHER THING. I haven't been hungry for three days. That totally seems like a 1st world problem, but seriously. It looks like I'm going to be that person who joins a gym after the new year. This holiday eating is already out of control.

Which is among other things to chat about. The house is quiet again and the kids are back at school after Annalisse being home all week and Cam coming home on Wednesday. It's wonderful to have them home, but the time goes too fast. I took the week off with no real plans, although the days seemed to fill up very quickly and on Wednesday we were out all day on a day trip to Ithaca - to have lunch at the famous Moosewood Restaurant, which was awesome for Annalisse as it features vegan/GF fare.  There was plenty of sitting by the fire and binge watching different shows, and not enough book reading, for sure! The week was capped off by an always fun (and delicious) Harvest Dinner at Mary and Larry's. They are great hosts and always go out of their way to make these family get togethers a very special gathering.

I'll tell you, I really needed to disconnect from work during my week off. I resisted all urges to check my email since I seem to always get psychologically pulled back into thinking about things that need to be done when I get back, or issues that need to be resolved even before I get back. I literally just checked my email 1/2 hour before writing this, but only because I need to hit the ground running tomorrow. Ugh. Just one more month before another break. I am already craving sun, a sandy beach, and crashing waves, which are in no way part of my near future. (Although Annalisse is flying down to Alex's family's Florida house on Christmas day to join them for 4-5 days before they drive back to Rochester - LUCKY!)

An update to something I wrote a couple of weeks ago: As a Thanksgiving miracle, Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer worked out a deal with Alcoa that will keep the Massena plant open with no layoffs for at least another 3.5 years. Such a sigh of relief, but it wasn't a development without its naysayers. Within hours of the announcement town-wide relief was replaced with criticism and skepticism by many negative, small minded people in that town since NYS will be giving Alcoa substantial tax breaks to keep them in the North Country. WHATEVER. These are real people who have have been given a little reprieve to figure out their next steps. Let's home the people of Massena use this time wisely to secure a more realistic economic future that does not rely on Alcoa. I found this a very aggravating and frustrating situation to follow.  Seriously a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't." (Still hoping Mom's house will sell...)

So, into the final weeks of the kids' terms we go. (Me: Get focused and finish strong! Them: Whatever.) Today, being the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I would have usually decorated for Christmas, but that's not happening until maybe next weekend. It seems like I just put everything away from last year. Too fast!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Busy + Lazy + Depressing News = No Blog Entries

Hey, Fabulous B@ker Bloggers, so sorry I've been away. I have obviously gotten out of the habit of blogging, at a minimum on Sundays. How can it be that it is almost Thanksgiving? (TURKEY.)

Truthfully, there's not much to tell. The days are "shorter," and  definitely colder, and by the time I get home from work all I want to do is put on my sweatpants and fluffy socks and watch English period dramas on Netflix. (I'm kind of running out...I even had to watch "Jane Eyre," which I really didn't enjoy. I couldn't even finish "Great Expectations.")

Of course, there is stuff going on all around me, most of which is not great: Mark's mom is facing an uncertain medical diagnosis, Paris has been devastated by last week's terror attack, Massena is facing upwards of 500 Alcoa layoffs which will be last nail in the coffin for my little town (not to mention my Mother's house will never sell now), and Montreal is dumping 2 billion gallons of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Maybe the reason I haven't blogged is that the news is so bad all around?

As always, there are bright spots. We are looking forward to planning a trip to Ireland in June (after Annalisse's study abroad in Florence, Italy), the kids semester will be ending in less than a month (only one semester left for Cam...and no more RIT tuition!), and my girlfriends visited last weekend for a fun Finger Lakes wine tour. I am also contemplating taking all of next week off since we only work 2 1/2 days (definitely something to look forward to). Still, though, the news has been super depressing and that, combined with darker, cold days makes me long for summer sunshine. And you wonder why I love warm, sunny summer?

So, looking forward to some downtime next week (pedis?) and spending time with beloved family. I will try not to be away for so long!

Monday, October 26, 2015

If I had a $1,000,000

You know how people say, "If I had a $1,000,000, I would..." (adjusted for inflation and 2015 prices, $1m actually doesn't seem like really, really a lot of money, but I digress)? I'm sure you've speculated about what you would do/how you would live if you were wealthy.

This weekend I added a new "something" to my list of things I would do if I were wealthy. In addition to fresh flowers around me at all times, a personal chef (who cooks super healthy meals), a trainer and the obvious things like homes in several desirable locations and opening my coffee shop, JuJu Bean's (which someone else would manage and I would just enjoy), I would have weekly foot massages. 

OMG. My awesome sister-in-law Lena gave me a one-hour foot massage for my birthday, and she and I had a nice little girls morning on Saturday at Happy Feet. It felt like Heaven!!! Soooooo wonderful and relaxing - I didn't want it to ever end. I will be going back...they have a package deal where you can get five sessions for the price of four...definitely considering that.

What a wonderful gift from someone who knows me very well and knows how much I love to have my feet rubbed, ticked, scratched...THANK YOU, dear Lena, for a most perfect gift!!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Birthday Palooza!

Saturday, Mark's birthday, marked the conclusion of the Libra Birthday Mega Palooza Celebration(s)! Looks like we're done for another year, and in a couple of days the many, many birthday cards will be taken off the buffet.

Since my last post: Starting with Annalisse's birthday - I think she had a good day (for a Monday!). We sent her a little bouquet of flowers, which she loved (she just loves getting flowers and having fresh flowers around). In the evening, her friends took her out to dinner, so she had a very pleasant and fun day.

My birthday, Thursday the 8th, was as fun as any workday birthday could be, I suppose. I worked...BUT, I got a really sweet fall bouquet from Mark. In the evening, we picked up Cam after his class and went out to dinner at Orbs, a cute little restaurant downtown which specializes in meatballs (and other stuff). It was a fun little place. So, in general, nothing too crazy for my big day, but it was very pleasant!

For Mark's birthday on Saturday the 17th, we went out for a nice lunch (courtesy of our awesome neighbors, Morey & Ann), then out to dinner with friends Scott and Kay. Mark had a very nice day. Next year will be extra special since he will be "double nickels"! Old man!

Another fun thing that happened last week: Annalisse was selected to participate in the SU 3-week program in Florence to study the Mediterranean diet. There were only 16 slots so she was super excited that "got in." She's extra happy that some of her good friends got selected too, so it should be a fun time. They will leave the 3rd week in May and finish the program on June 7. We are seriously thinking of joining her at the end of the program for a week of fun in Italy. An alternate plan we are exploring is flying to Ireland at the end of her program, and have her meet us there for a week. Flights to Ireland are a little cheaper, and she could see her friends from the Irish exchange in high school. Also, Eve's parents could help us with accommodation ideas. On the other hand, we have a friend who spends a lot of time in Florence for work (and has an apartment there) that we can ask for advice from if we go there.

All of this, of course, will depend on expense, and whether or not we can get reasonable flights and accommodations. Of course, Cam wants to come, too. (Who wouldn't?) In the next couple of weeks we will most likely stop by AAA to explore options. I really, really would like to do something - either Italy or Ireland. Why do the kids get to have all the fun?  ;)

This week I travel to Scranton, PA for a fair (and Dunder-Miflin?), so that should be interesting since I've never been to Scranton. The weekend will find us going to a friend's Halloween party, and probably a trip to Syracuse on Sunday for a grocery run.

Have a great week! Make it count!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Nic!

Happy Happy Birthday to Nic, today ~ celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of her 29th Birthday! 

Looking forward to celebrating with a nice dinner at Havana Cabana tonight!!
From jazz hands, to...
...blushing bride!

Some weeks are just like that...

Remember last week's report from the porch? Great news from the kid front, wonderful late summer weather?

This week we are living in Opposite Land. It was just a dreadful week. Rainy and cold. Both kids sick and also the running around associated with both kids having broken phones (which doesn't seem like a super big deal except without their phones it's very difficult to communicate with them). Add to that a choppy week of travel for me, and me just being in a general cranky mood - a mood that has carried into the weekend, which is not a good sign for starting the week off fresh with a nice, clean, blank slate.

One of the low points of the week was the truly nightmarish trip I had back from Ithaca after a grad fair on Tuesday night. The day was pouring rain and dark to begin with, but I didn't get back on the road from the fair until after 8pm, and a (mostly backroads) trip that usually takes 1 hour 45 minutes stretched out to 2 1/2+ hours of torrential rain, fog, and pitch black darkness. I went about 40 mph all the way home and did not care if anyone was behind me. I seriously could not see anything (oh, and I forgot to mention I can't really see in the dark. Plus the blowing defoggers were drying my contacts out). A perfect storm of tension and frustration. It just really set the tone for the week.

BUT, that's all behind me as we get ready to celebrate a birthday week starting today with Nic who turns 31, Annalisse, who tomorrow turns 20 (!!!), and me who turns ?? on Thursday. This week will find me traveling to Troy on Tuesday for an overnight attending, a couple of transfer fairs and having a nice dinner with my good friend Cammie, who lives in Saratoga. Then, on Friday the plan is to pick up Annalisse in Syracuse to come home for the weekend for a trip to the Outlet Mall on Saturday for a bunch of us, including Mary and Carol who are coming to town for further birthday celebrations.

Because I try to stay positive, this past week has been a challenge and struggle for me in many ways, some of which have to do with situations at work. Please send good vibes that I can start the week in a more positive frame of mind, and banish negativity to the outer reaches!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Indian Summer - Report from the Porch

It continues to be an amazing fall! The plants have all gone inside from the porch (since the mornings are so dark and cold), and have been replaced by big, bright mums. I can't yet bear to bring the furniture in, we probably have three (or more) good weeks of porch sitting before we give in to the cold forces of late October.

The Baker kids had a great week this week. As a follow up to last week's post, Annalisse called Sunday night SOBBING. I thought something bad had happened, but it was the opposite...she and two others had made the improv team and she was overwhelmed with happiness. This will be a real boost for her confidence, which she has sometimes been lacking in her college experiences (little fish, big pond stuff). She had been wanting to get back into improv and has missed it these last two years. We are soooo happy for her. We also learned that, as a result of joining Zamboni Revolution, she also became part of "Float Your Boat," a sketch comedy group at SU. Another funny thing: on Wednesday TV channel 10 came into her classroom, doing a piece on the new Nutrition Assessment, Consultation and Education (ACE) in the Falk College. When the crew asked "who wants to be on TV," the teacher immediately pointed at Annalisse. Ha! I guess they know her. We've been looking for the piece to air but I'm not sure it made the "cut" with all the Pope news this week.

The other Baker kid also had a good week. He received confirmation that he will be supervising the grape DNA research of five (?) undergrads next semester, and he also successfully defended his master's thesis proposal (while sick, unfortunately), so a lot of good news coming from him as well. We hope to be able to attend his thesis defense in the spring, then it will be out on the job market for him!!!

Another person who had a wonderful end to the week is my niece, Nicole. Several weeks ago a position came open at her bank, and, after trying to decide if she was qualified enough, applied and quickly got an interview. Then came a second interview, and on Friday she found out she got the position! It is a salaried management role with a generous boost in her pay, and it will give her great experience! Her future in banking is very bright, and we are all very proud of her!! :)

Yesterday, Mark and I  spent the day in Syracuse at Parent's Weekend. We left home fairly early to arrive in time for the Falk College brunch and break out session with the Nutrition Department. On the way there I noticed on Facebook that a high school friend whom I had not seen in many years was also there with his son, who is a freshmen. We made plans to meet up, and even before we formally arranged to meet we ran into him, his wife and his son at the Falk gathering. How I do love these happy surprise meetings!!! It was great chatting and catching up, and we spent a little more time talking with them at the pep rally before the football game.

At noon, we headed over to the Carrier Dome for the game, and, while a super fun atmosphere, I think I've said before: I don't get football. That being said, the people watching was phenomenal, and, another unexpected surprise, another high school friends was on the jumbotron presenting something on behalf of Tops Supermarket, which was a game sponsor. YOU GO, MCHS CLASS OF '81!

After dinner we headed back to Rochester and took pup for a nice walk. I was wiped out, but Mark decided to go down to Fairport Brewing for a cold one. I hunkered down in bed and watched "Philomena," which was a very good movie and I thoroughly enjoyed the quiet, relaxing evening.

Sadly, the beautiful weather and fun stuff this weekend will have to carry me through the extremely busy week coming up.... :(

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Twenty-Eight ~ and other stuff!

Another year has passed...28 years married (plus, remember: I want credit for the six years we dated...). It goes sooooo very fast!

Yesterday, our anniversary, was very, very reminiscent of the actual day of our wedding. It also fell on a Saturday, and it was rainy. It was also a very busy day that started with a quick trip to Syracuse to deliver some mail, groceries and a visit with Jasper to his sister (or "sisser" as we like to call her). We got to A's place around 10am, unloaded the goods, and headed out for a walk where she had arranged for some of her friends to meet her most favorite person (dog) in the whole world. After a stop at one of the dorms, we headed up to the Quad (getting really warm out already...), and were greeted by tents, a bouncy house, tailgating and the wonderful, entertaining SU pep band playing on the steps of Hendricks Chapel. What a fun vibe the school had! It even made me want to go to a football game when we return to campus next weekend for a day of Parent's Weekend activities.

You heard that right: I WANT TO GO TO A FOOTBALL GAME. It just seemed fun. A confession if I haven't said it already: I don't understand football. So, I expect there will be a good deal of people watching occupying my time.

We left A around noon to head back to Rochester. By this time puppy was very hot - it's hard when you have a thick fur coat in 85 degree weather, not to mention he, once again, needs to lose 10 pounds. Of course, he slept all the way home and for most of the day. That was a lot of activity for him, but he was so happy!

After we left, A ate some lunch and headed back to campus for the improv workshops for Zamboni Revolution, which she is trying out for again this year, not having made the team (but making the final cut) last year - a huge disappointment for her. As of this writing, she once again made the cut and final decision on team members will be sent out via email tonight. FINGER CROSSED. Very nerve wracking! Stay tuned!

The rest of our anniversary celebrations found us enjoying the super funny and entertaining Spamalot  (based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail) at Geva, followed by dinner at Ox and Stone. Mark and I shared Paella, which was DELISH. When we got home we walked pup down the street and found that the street picnic (which got rained out last Saturday, so it was moved to this Saturday, during which it also rained - BLAH!) was winding down, and those remaining moved the party to my across-the-street neighbors porch where we drank wine and chatted into the night. Our street continues to be simply awesome.

Not much news from Cam this week, except I read on Twitter that he dropped his phone and has a crack in the glass. I wonder if he'll ever actually tell me that. He texted this week that he is pretty excited about the possibility of supervising five undergrad Bioinformatics majors this spring on a project mapping genome types of grapes. (The link provides an idea of this type of work. ) Here is another link to this work. Pretty interesting stuff!! He's been very busy with his classes, but also with meetings in the department and student emails related to the two labs he oversees.

Fall is definitely in the air, but I'm not ready to bring the plants in and store the porch furniture just yet. I expect we'll still have 2-3 weeks of pretty good weather which might find me on the porch watching all the bird politics in the tree next to me. Until then...

Improv Update: I got a call at around 9am Sunday night, Annalisse on the other end of the phone - sobbing. I thought the worst. Thank goodness they were tears of joy as she made the SU improv team. So happy! Not being able to do this for a couple of years has been very hard for her. We are looking forward to seeing many shows in the coming year!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A summer of sunshine, one day of rain

It rained today. Hard. And it was pretty cold out.

All because it was the day of the annual Fourth Ave Street Picnic. Can you believe it?! Looks like the kids will have to wait a week to have fun riding their bikes up and down the street, and the neighbors will have to wait for the communal picnic and the wine - oh, the wine! Also, there will be no bonfire today. 

Sadness. And a little extra sadness because we can't make the rescheduled date of next Saturday as it will be our 28th anniversary and we have tickets to see Spamalot at Geva. Dang it all! Have fun Fourth Ave'ers. Think sunshine!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Nary a free moment

Hello! (Aunt Sher...)

I'm back. No excuses for the long time between posts, mostly a lethal combination of busy-ness and laziness. BUT, the good news is I've been getting a jump on my fall reading for book club, so there's that...!

Obviously, we have a lot of catching up to do! The kids are settled at school ~ Cam is in his third week of classes, Annalisse: her second. They are knee deep into classwork and other obligations. For Annalisse, her part-time job is taking up a bit of time. For Cam: he's just plain busy with coursework and the two labs he teaches on Fridays (apparently one of the kids called him "professor" - HA!). I sure would like to be a fly on the wall of one of his labs to see how he is doing. The students (officially: Teaching Assistants) who teach these labs are given very little training. Other than the occasional text, I don't really hear from him. Last night we took a big pan of mac-n-cheese over to the house he rents with five (or is it four?) other guys and I have to say I did have a moment of concern. I am a little worried that the "distractions" of living with a bunch of guys may affect his focus this year. COME HELL OR HIGH WATER he will be done in May. No more school!

Needless to say, with the kids both gone we are hyper-focused on Jasper. Endless love!

Things to look forward to: In the next couple of weeks Annalisse will be trying out for SU's improv group, Zamboni Revolution, again (please send good thoughts her way...she almost made it last year and got cut in the final 10), and we will be celebrating our 28th Anniversary (September 19) by going to Geva to see Spamalot, and, of course, dinner out somewhere!!

Until then...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Annalisse's Productive Summer

Well, I tried to get Annalisse to do a guest blog, but she refused ("I don't like to write!"). I wanted her to tell you all about her productive summer, about which continues to proclaim: I got a lot done this summer! Or, I accomplished pretty much all my goals this summer!

Since she won't tell you about her productive summer, I will!
  • She took a Chemistry course that she needed for her major, and got a B+
  • She saw Ed Sheeran in concert
  • She got her license
  • She worked 100 volunteer volunteer 
  • We visited some Rochester museums
  • She took care of various doctor's appointments
  • And, on Wednesday, she's going to Seabreeze, which she's been wanting to do all summer
She packed a lot into three months. Now, onto a productive semester. She doesn't start classes until August 31, but she starts her volunteer coordinator job next week so will be heading back to school on Sunday. Junior year!

(P.S. I'm off again this week...and keeping very busy!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Report from the Porch

Hello! It's been a while since the last post AND IT'S ALMOST MID-AUGUST. Seriously depressing. I've heard recently that August is like Sunday night, and it is too true. Blah.

Change is in the wind as we start to shift back to school, and everybody is a little upset (me: A LOT upset) that summer is almost over. While it's been a very busy one, it's not totally been the "good" kind of busy, meaning we've been busy with work and school. That's not to say there haven't been weekends (and extended weekends) of fun. In fact, just about every weekend has been filled with day trips or trips up north to clean Mom's house.

I have had vacation time, though. During my first week off I did a lot of running around, and Annalisse FINALLY had her road test (she passed by a hair...). We did a couple of historic house tours, but Mark and the kids were tied up most of the week with work commitments. I also did not get as much porch reading done as I might have liked, and am feeling pressure to finish at least one or two of the fall bookclub selections. The good news: I have another week of vacation coming up in a week so maybe I can make some headway with those. There hasn't been a lot of family time when all four of us have done something together, but that will be coming up this weekend when we venture down to DC to visit Mom (Complete with a trip to IKEA. YAY!).

Cam wrapped up the majority of his research job on Friday, ending with a research symposium at RIT (check out this clip from Channel 10...Cam is in the opening sequence in the background), so that was kind of cool. We had a nice chat with his research advisor; he's been very impressed by the work Cam has done this summer. Now, he'll focus on his thesis with him hopefully finishing his masters in the spring or summer of next year. Today we brought some stuff over to his new apartment  (actually, a house) and, let's just say, it's obvious a bunch of guys have lived there and will be living there. Y.U.C.K. It's not somewhere I could live but you know kids - it doesn't bother them.

Both kids will be heading back to school the weekend of August 21 (probably on Sunday). Cam's classes start on August 24, but Annalisse's don't start until August 31. She's going back early to begin work on her nutrition job for the year. The last time we stopped by her apartment a couple of weeks ago it was totally trashed by her obnoxious roommate who has been there all summer. It was seriously a mess. Our original intent was to do some cleaning, but there is no way I was going to clean someone else's extreme mess. The roommate in question is moving out on August 15, and I hope she does some picking up/cleaning before she leaves ~ but I'm not holding my breath based on her previous behavior. We plan on giving the apartment the "once over" when we bring her back. While we were there last week we also looked at a possible different apartment for her senior year. It's on the other side of campus closer to the building where she takes most of her classes, and is very nice (and a little cheaper than her current apartment). We'll see how that goes. I think both kids are ready to get back into the swing of things, academically speaking.

As for Mark, he starts a new job at Harris Corp on Monday so, for a couple of days it's kind of fun to say "Mark is between jobs." With his skill set he's constantly getting calls from headhunters, and, while he was not intentionally planning to leave his consulting business, he felt Harris was a good opportunity.

So that's the report from the porch on a glorious summer day. Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kids and Careers

This summer, both kids have been making great strides in preparation for their respective careers.

Cam and his pals
Cam has been involved in Bioinformatics research at RIT for 40 hours a week (paid, thankfully), and comes home really excited about his progress and victories related to the project he is working on. Of course, when he explains what he's doing I have no idea what he's taking about. Oh well. Don't you hate it when they get smarter than us? Anyway, he's also involved in beginning his Master's thesis, the proposal of which he will defend in early fall. But it hasn't been all work for him, he's been having fun spending time with his Bioinformatics friends this summer and has developed a real bond with them. It's very nice to see.

The RD Intern
Then, in addition to her Bio class (in which she got a "B"), Annalisse has been working as a volunteer nutrition intern at Trillium Health.  For her program, she needs 250 volunteer hours by the time she earns her degree, so between volunteering at school and summers she needs to piece that together. At Trillium, she's working Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays between 8:30 and 2 or 3pm, and is doing very meaty stuff. She's sitting in on counseling sessions, assisting with nutrition classes, working one-on-one with clients for meal planning, and working in their food shelf program. We couldn't have asked for a better first exposure to the profession, and she's really liking it. It's been a really "hands on" volunteer experience, and I think it will go a long way toward positioning herself when it comes to securring required internship at the end of her program.

A summer well spent!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I'm off for a week! I'm on vacation! Siesta! 

I don't have very much planned for the next week that I'm off ~ Cam is working. Mark is working. Annalisse is at her internship for three days. IT'S OKAY! The porch and my books are calling me, not to mention wonderful pup time. This weekend kicks off with Mark's 35th Pittsford-Mendon High School reunion at Cobblestone Creek (what to wear? what to wear?), and on Monday I'm going to have some "girl time" when Nic, Annalisse, Mary and I head down to Canandaigua for some old house tours at the Granger Homestead (haunted!) and Sonnenberg Gardens (probably also haunted!), along with a nice lunch at Simply Crepes. Annalisse has her road test on Wednesday afternoon (it's about time), and other than that the week is wide open for me. What a great feeling!

It's been such a crazy summer so far. There was a time when work seemed to have quiet/downtime where I could focus on projects and really explore new initiatives, but this summer has been a real grind. I did bring my laptop home, so I think I will try to get a few things done since I won't have any interruptions, but there's a difference between doing work at home with your pjs and fluffy socks on, and being at still sort of seems like vacation.

So if you try to find me...look on the porch!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pull those weeds!

Another summer weekend has flown by...slow down! And how do we wrap up a warm, beautiful weekend? With a turkey dinner, of course...courtesy of my sister, Carol, who is visiting. I'll take it! Turkey in July!

Mark and I spent most of the weekend pulling weeds and doing some yard clean-up. I'm very disappointed in my herb garden this year, and actually with a lot of my plants. I planted really sweet yellow, orange and gold pansies at the end of May to brighten up the garden, and they mostly pooped out. So, do I rake them out and plant new? Well, yes and no. I turned the dirt over to get a lot of the weeds out, and took out most of the pansies, but left a few. Planting all those little plants is not my idea of fun, so I will need to decide  if I want to plant new annuals (like a hearty begonia) this late in the season.

Adding to my floral disappointment this year, I decided to get red geranium hanging pots for the front porch, remembering a couple of years back how beautiful and ever-blooming a geranium plant my aunt gave to me was. Another bust. They also are not doing well and I will probably not spend $100 to get all new pots. Oh well, lessons learned. Next year I will stick with what I know works.

On the bright side, though, Mark did a lot of weeding on the garden path, and I spent time pulling weed after weed out of the patio, so the lawn areas are looking very nice right now. I still take great pleasure in the polities of the bird community, as they squabble and squawk, waiting for their turn to visit the feeder. Yesterday between going to the market, the yard work, and a couple of walks with pup I got to 25,000 steps. Yay!

Onto another week, then a whole week of "staycation" which will find Annalisse and I just doing stuff around Rochester, and I will probably even get in a nap or two. I am woefully behind on my summer reading, instead binge watching great TV on Netflix. Discipline! ~ that I am sorely lacking these days!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Holiday Weekend Recap

It's only a little bit ironic that I used this photo since
I am not a big fan of fireworks
It's the Sunday wind-down-holiday-weekend recap. What a wonderful weather weekend, and a weekend filled with low-key fun. Just in case you forgot:


Ahhh, it's so wonderful. It's still my goal to get a job with summers off. Two more years...when Annalisse is done with college...I'm hoping I can make some changes and figure out a way to not work in the summer months. We'll keep noodling on that one.

Anyway, back to the weekend. 

On Friday morning, Mark and I got up early and headed back up north to do some more cleaning and packing in my Mom's house. This time, we attacked the basement (damp, yuck) and threw tons of stuff out, and packed up other stuff. We were not able to bring as much back to Rochester as we had hoped, with the plan being to bring the boxes and boxes of housewares and tchotchke back to be donated to the annual Advent House sale (Morey gladly takes it off our hands and delivers it to the donation center). We got into town around 11am, had lunch, then got to work. We finished up around 3:30, then went up to wish Aunt Carol Chase a happy 95th birthday (her big day was Thursday, July 2). Then it was on the road again.We made a stop at Mary's on the way home and had a delicious dinner before heading back out at 8 and getting home at 10:45pm. A long day, but a productive day. Where we stand now: Carol and her boyfriend, Paul, are supposed be coming to Rochester next weekend and bringing the rest of the boxes for donation. If that goes as planned, the house should be pretty much empty (and in need of a good cleaning), and Mary is scheduled to meet with a potential realtor mid-month. 

On Saturday morning I got up at 6am and headed to Wegmans to get lunch supplies for a cookout after the Fairport parade. Cam ran the Firecracker 5k at 8am, then we watched the parade (too many politicians!). After the parade Nic, Patrick, Mike, Maggie and the boys came over for hots, hambs, and other great food. All the Bakers were down for the count and took naps in the afternoon. I had to wake everyone up at 6pm. That's the sign of a successful day...a great nap! 

This morning I got up early again and had my bagel at a leisurely Sunday morning pace (LOVED IT). Then, the furriest member of the family really needed a bath (to his dismay), and, of course, it took him all day to dry out but he smells much, much better now. We went to visit our neighbor, Ann, at the Highlands nursing home, then it was over to Trader Joe's to pick up some items and a haircut for Mark. Afterwards, NAPTIME!

We had dinner at home then took a walk to Moonlight for ice cream, getting ready to face another busy week. Annalisse just has two weeks left to her summer class, so that bit of running around will be done soon. July is shaping up to be very busy, with weekdays and weekends filling up. One thought has been going through my mind for the last month of so: I'd like to be a little less busy...summer is going by so fast, I'm trying to savor every minute!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Week that Was

What a news week! Unless you live under a rock, you know there were some pretty important issues in the news this week, all of which I am happy about  - being the bleeding heart liberal that I am!

First up, the removal of the confederate flag from buildings in the South (not just South Carolina). After the tragic murder of nine innocent people at a church prayer service in South Carolina last week, the confederate flag became the focus (and has long been the emblem) of white supremacist hatred, seeing such activity as the inspiration for the shooter. While I would love the warmer weather in the South, I'm not sure I can deal with their attitudes. Take down that flag!

On Thursday, the SCOTUS decision to uphold provisions of the Affordable Care Act (which others call "Obamacare," but I refuse to call it that...I find it a term derogatorily used by the crazy conservatives). Please, people, can we move on? ACA is WORKING! I now realize that before the ACA if Mark and I had to pursue independent insurance we would most likely be 1) turned down, or 2) be made to pay exorbitant fees because of my recent health issues - I would have a "pre-existing condition." I've already been turned down for long-term disability because of it. Too risky I guess. One more shout from the soap box: I have a friend who is self-employed and was upset that she had to choose a new health plan under the ACA. She was paying a paltry amount each month for little to no insurance (a high deductible plan) and when pressed, I tried to explain that should she become ill, the little insurance she had would do her no good. Sure, she's paying more (and truthfully it wasn't an unreasonable amount), but should something catastrophic happen with her health she won't risk "losing everything" with her better coverage.  Lastly, the biggest gripe I hear with the ACA is that "we are paying for all the uninsured" or "younger people are paying for older people." DUH. That's the way insurance works. We all pay wether or not we use it, and just hope it's there for when we need it. Sorry, conservatives, it's still legal and it's working. Get over it.

Then, on FRIDAY. BAM! Gay marriage is legal in all 50 states. POW! One of the two prisoners who escaped from Dannemora prison was killed by police (30 miles from my hometown,  in Malone, I might add). The other escapee is still on the run but I would expect it won't be long now. That same day, President Obama  delivered a touching eulogy for the pastor killed in the Charleston church shooting, finishing by leading the congregation with a heartfelt of Amazing Grace.

Such good feelings.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dismantling a life

Last weekend Mark and I left early on Friday morning to head up to Massena to try to make some headway in finishing the clean out of my parents' house. It's getting down to the wire now with "stuff" remaining, and I guess any hopes of getting it on the market in spring have gone down the tubes as we enter the dog days of summer. Not that it will sell quickly anyway - it needs so much work and is one of five other houses on the market on their block alone...all the same two bedroom cape cods in various states of disrepair.

Mark and I got right down to business and made great progress in our cleaning. By the time we left, every room was cleared out, with boxes stacked in the dining room, ready to be donated. There is still a little work to be done in the basement, and we will most likely be heading up again soon to finish that. Then, the house will need a GOOD cleaning. A really good cleaning.

This time around, packing stuff up, I spent a bit of time just looking around, remembering. What great memories of friends and family in that house! Small as it was, just 1,000 feet, it never seemed small. As my mother grew older she collected so much junk (I threw out untold amounts of restaurant napkins, salt-and-pepper shakers, and toothpicks), but some gems shone through. There were things I came across that I remembered vividly, and little by little special items have made their way back to our house. A lot has gone up into the attic since I really don't have room for everything, but maybe we or the kids may use that stuff someday.

We are hoping a potential buyer will see something special about the house. Maybe it will be the two car garage, maybe it will be the partially finished basement that offers extra living space and glorious coolness in the summer. I'm hoping they see the "good bones" and the family-friendly street. Unfortunately, I know they will see the woefully outdated kitchen or the mish-mash-quickly-added bathroom facilities in the downstairs bedroom, not to mention the way-out-of-date paneling. Oh well, we can only hope for the best.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Great Baker Bedroom Switch

Just about every five years or so we have a need to shake things up and decide to switch bedrooms. Last weekend was taken up with moving Mark and I into the guest room (now known as our "suite" because it's connected to the three season porch with a couch and TV), moving Annalisse into our old room, and making Annalisse's room into the guest room. Cam's room is the only one left untouched (because, basically, he doesn't care where he sleeps). But, it's not just moving the bedrooms; it's figuring out the "closet situation" when no one closet is big enough for me and Mark to share. In the two older houses we've owned, one of us usually has to go into another room to use his/her closet. Mostly, that ends up being me.

 It seems like a continuation of the deep dive into cleaning we've done in the last month, beginning with the vacuum and tossing-out-stuff project in the attic. We had not really cleaned out (or cleaned) the attic since we had our roof replaced probably 8-9 years ago, so a vacuum of all the bugs on the rugs and tossing of boxes and old electronics was way overdue. That felt good! I'm always a little weary about going up there since the bat incidence(s) several years ago, but I think we're pretty much over that problem. 

So, we all settled into our new rooms. The first couple of nights I didn't sleep very well, getting used to the new layout, but now am settled and love my new room. The little guest room is especially cute, and has a single bed, which will work with some guests but not others. Annalisse knows she has to give up the double if needed. 

So, like any other house, our house continues to re-invent itself. It keeps things interesting!!

Our new room

The new guest room 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Girl's Weekend - 2015 Edition

The girls hit the BIG CHAIR
I'm a little late getting to the Girl's Weekend 2015 edition, family stuff after work (like walks...porch sitting...), but mostly because of binge watching different shows on Netflix rather than updating the blog. MY BAD. In other words: laziness.

Anyway, last weekend five of us girls headed to a cabin in the woods on Fourth Lake in the Adirondack town of Inlet, about 10 miles from Old Forge. Every year we begin the planning for our weekend in January or so, and this year it seemed extraordinarily difficult to find a date that worked for everyone. We must have gone back and forth 10 time before we "penned in" June 4-7, then deciding on a location, well, that took another bit of time. Last year, Girl's Weekend was in September, and this year, going in June, it seemed like we just got back from our last get together! After much deliberation, we finally settled on returning to the Adirondacks and renting a cabin. Kudos to Sue for finding us a nice one on Fourth Lake and making all the arrangements!!

Sue flew into town on Wednesday night (getting in around 7:45pm), after which we had a delicious dinner at Good Luck. YUUMMM. In the morning we got up and prepared a family breakfast for cousin Kara, her girlfriend, Beth, daughter Piper and Aunt Sher. Since I would be gone for Aunt Sher's Big 75th Bash, I wanted to be sure to see Kara and family before I left town.

After breakfast, we hit the road for the ADKs, stopping at Wegman's in Syracuse, and having a quick bite at Heid's of Liverpool (we each had one of their famous hot dogs ~ what a treat...even though my hot dog rolled onto my little cotton dress, staining it forevermore). Then, back on the road we went, meeting Lorie and Heather at The Screamen Eagle (intentionally misspelled?), before heading out to our pretty remote A-frame cabin. It's weird these days to have NO Internet whatsoever, and a little unnerving. Fortunately, there was a house phone in case of emergencies. Did I mention we were at this remote cabin when the the two prisoners escaped Danemora prison, which is not far from where we were staying. Um, yeah.

So, on Thursday night (Gina was not to arrive until Friday) we made a leisurely dinner and got caught up. Dinner was delicious, the wine was flowing, and the company was wonderful. The cabin was really nice, right on a bay of Fourth Lake. It was veerrrryyy quiet, and quite cool yet buggy (Black Fly season!). We all ended up sleeping in the loft, mostly because of the novelty of sleeping in the loft.

We got up on Friday and had a leisurely morning before heading into Old Forge to poke around and get some breakfast. We shopped for a bit, and spent most of our time at the famous and meandering Old Forge Hardware, where I bought Mark yet another Orvis fishing shirt. We decided to go back to the cabin for lunch (we had tons of leftovers from the night before), and *surprise*, Gina was there! We had been trying to reach her all morning with no success so we were shocked that she had actually found the cabin on her's not easy to do!!

We ate a late lunch and had a bit of a happy hour hanging on the deck and listing to great tunes, until we left for a later dinner at The Red Dog Tavern, which was also really good.

On Saturday, we got up and drove to Blue Mountain Lake to go to the Adirondack Museum. Everyone had been to the museum (which has been around for ages but is apparently quite changed) but me. It was pretty interesting, and could use a little updating, but was otherwise good. As the day wore on, we decided to eat dinner at The Old Mill, which is an Old Forge tradition, which was pretty good but pretty standard fare. Whenever I go to Old Forge, I have to eat at The Old Mill in honor of Charlie and Pat, who loved to go there as part of their yearly fall golfing trip. Memories!

On Sunday morning it was time to say "so long" to Girl's Weekend for another year. I cannot stress enough how important Girl's Weekend is for my mental health. Spending time with "my girls" laughing and acting crazy is such a stress reliever for me...a chance to get away from the every day routine (and sometime drudgery that comes with working full-time and homeowner upkeep/obligations), and have fun with people I've known since I was in Kindergarten, with no drama - it's priceless. I feel so blessed have these girls in my life!!

Some ideas for next year include Salem (Mass), or a cabin that Sue's friend owns in West Virginia. Until next year...

Dock Girl
Heather's Signature Drink 
Girl Gang
Silly Lorie
A display of the Land of Make Believe at the ADK Museum.
Memories of my childhood.
Heather on the deck
Girls Selfie
Silly Sue
Fourth Lake from our cabin

Hanging on the dock
The back of the cabin
The Old Mill, Old Forge

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Happy Belated 75th, Aunt Sher!!!

The siblings
John and Pete in front
Sher, Jeanne, Martha and Mary in back
A very happy belated B@ker Blog shout out to Aunt Sher on the occasion of her milestone birthday last week. 

Seventy-five years young!!! And what a celebration...Kara, Piper and Beth from Oregon, the Versprilles from Massachusetts, relatives from Florida, near and far, all gathered for a celebratory picnic to honor our beloved family matriarch!

I'm glad you had a great day, Sher!! Much love!!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Recipe for a perfect weekend

What's the recipe for a perfect weekend?


  • Eight extra hours off work on Friday 
  • Dinner with a special sister
  • A perfect night under the stars, chatting with friends, and listening to some great tunes at Fairport Brewing
  • Getting up early on Saturday and getting some delicious bagels
  • A trip to Canandaigua to get some sweet yellow, orange and white pansies for the garden, followed by lunch at PUDGIES!
  • A full day of yard work
  • Dinner with the family
  • An evening walk with Pup
Enjoy each ingredient as it happens. Add a dash of sunshine, and throw in a thunderstorm or two.

BONUS: Realize it's only Saturday night and there's a whole other day ahead! More yard work, and the promise of a nap. What a perfect weekend!

Perfect Weekend Post-Script: The wind and rain swept in on Saturday afternoon, and, 


the temperature dropped from 80 and humid to 48, with pouring, cold, non-stop rain. WHAT A BUZZKILL.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Presenting: Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Wilkins!

They are wed! Knot-tied! Married!

What a wonderful wedding weekend it was! Beaming groom, beautiful bride, handsome wedding party. Nic and Carol, along with the Wilkins family hosted a great event that started with rehearsal on Friday night at my old church, St. Mary's. After rehearsal, we headed over to Patrick's parent's place for a delicious (although chillingly cold ~ what's up with the cold weather?!) picnic, after which we headed back to the hotel and Cam and Alex, Annalisse's beau, went swimming.

We stayed at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Hotel (about 10 miles east of Massena), which was really, really nice, with great accommodations and amenities. It really felt a little like a destination wedding with very nice rooms and a nice pool and spa area. Most of our family, and Patrick's as well, stayed right at the hotel, which also played host to the reception, so it was very convenient.

On Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and Annalisse headed up to "Wedding Central," where the bridesmaids and the bride sipped mimosas and had their hair and make-up done. At around 12:30pm, Nic slipped into her dress and was transformed into a bride. So beautiful! Then, it was into the limo and off to St. Mary's for the bridal party.

Nic was walked down the aisle by her Uncle Gary, who stood in for Nic's dad Denny who passed away when she was five months old. It was very touching, and there were several tributes to Denny throughout the day. He would be so proud of her! After the ceremony, which featured a historic kiss planted on Nicole by Patrick, it was time for pictures all around. It was so wonderful to have all of Mom and Dad's grandkids there, especially Anthony who lives in North Carolina as we don't see him as often as we would like.

After pictures, we headed to the reception for dinner and a raucous party [there may have even been some table-top dancing by some of Patrick's relatives...]. It was tons of fun, with a really great DJ who played a little something for everyone, and happily took requests. After dinner, the lights went down and the room turned into a night club. Even Cam got out there dancing! Everyone agreed it was a wonderful night following a very happy and memorable day. Nic and Patrick are now off to Maryland for their honeymoon. I hope they have a great time, and enjoy settling into married life when they return!

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Rehearsal hijinks
Pensive Anthony
Groomsmen Gifts - Patrick made them (he's super crafty!!)
A cake for Patrick
Cute cups at the rehearsal dinner picnic 
A hanger with Nic's future name on it. Patrick
made one for each bridesmaid. Did I mention he's crafty? 
Elevator Selfie
Nic and Uncle Gary
Alex and Annie
Da boyz
Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins!
Cousin Caroline and Annalisse
The cousins...all grown up!
Our family
The wedding party
Drew and Nic
Yummy cupcakes - Uncle Larry made the stand 
What would be an wedding without Italian cookies?! 
Super cute centerpieces
Proud Carol and Paul  
First Dance
"Just the Way You Are"
Cutting the cake
I sense a height difference... 
The Bakers 
Anthony kicks it up a notch with his new
bandana from the gift shop