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!!