Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Liberal Arts Education

Since I just got a new car, a trial subscription to Sirius XM was included. My car is smarter than I am and so far all I have been able to listen to is CNN Radio which is okay. I like listening to the news (over and over again!) when driving into and out of the city so this is working out just fine. [As a sidebar, I still would like to be able to listen to local NPR and WNYC, the New York City NPR station, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to find them not to mention programming them in!] When the weather improves and it isn’t so cold, I will sit in the car and figure it all out. In the meantime, I am listening to a lot of programs on CNN that I typically wouldn’t watch or listen to. Last Sunday, driving back from the city I heard Fareed Zakaria talk about his new book In Defense of a Liberal Education. I was not all that interested until he started talking with Anderson Cooper about their experiences in college.61lVUybSV4L

It was easy to identify with what they were saying because I too had a liberal arts education for the first two years of college. Many of us of an age did as well entering college with the idea that it took two years to really decide where we were going, what path we wanted to follow. For me, I started at Syracuse taking all sorts of liberal arts courses as well as the basic requirements and included some introductory journalism classes because that was what I thought I wanted to do. Women still were seen as wives and mothers, many of my friends engaged or married before they graduated, and we tended towards women-centric career paths. Teaching is one of those and I certainly moved quickly into an education major in my junior year. This was not an unusual path to take and none of us then were particularly worried about employment after college and certainly didn’t graduate from high school with a clear idea of what we would be doing four or five years down the road. But…I digress.

Zacaria makes the case that we are so driven by employment that colleges and universities have become almost like vocational schools and students are expected to know what they want to do when they enter. He argues for a well-rounded education that teaches us to think, solve complex problems, and understand the world around us making educated choices when we vote or choose one career path over another. He and Cooper also pointed out that people don’t seem to be driven by the same boundaries as we once were — that careers can change several times over a person’s working lifetime. Art history, for example, is a course that is so rich in what we can learn from it, that we are only limited with how we view it.

300px-Van_Gogh_-_Weizenfeld_mit_Blick_auf_Arles Look at Van Gogh’s View from the Wheatfields and ask what we can learn about climate, societal changes, and how people lived when this was painted.

imagesI used The Starry Night to discuss changes in the night sky over time not to mention uses of color and how we see color. I have always been in favor of a liberal arts education and am saddened every time I hear that a school does away with art and music classes in an effort to raise grades on standardized tests and provide more “instructional time.” I was happy that I listened to the program and it opened my eyes to being a little less quick to change the channel before listening to what others have to say.

The In-Between Season

Last week I intended to blog about what I have dubbed the “In-Between Season,” which occurs here around the first week of March and lasts through the end of April. This is when snow and ice begin to melt, the yard is dirt and mud and, while still cold, it is time to put away hats and ice trackers. I begin to look at the porch with renewed hope of sitting out there with my coffee or wine, bringing up the pretty chair cushions, and getting it ready for spring and summer. It’s an optimistic time for me. I can imagine being able to use the driveway and getting into the shed. However, I’m still waiting.

When temperatures rose a bit and melting began I was hopeful. Then, another snowstorm and another 5-6 inches that is still on the ground on top of the 1-2 feet of snow that was already there. Yesterday, the ice trackers were on again to get up to the car, on Saturday I had to clean off the car and shovel behind it to get out, and it is bitter cold. I find myself wishing for a lot of rain to wash it all away (which we will get later this week). Yesterday, I drove into the city and there wasn’t any evidence of snow at all even though they got every bit as much as we did. The in-between season does mean that I have pretty good access in and out of my upper parking pad and driveway so traveling in and out of the city is not a problem. And, I am reminded why I made this choice to live here rather than stay in Tallahassee.

My Tallahassee friends are already complaining about the heat while posting beautiful photos of their gardens. When I first moved here I was told not to plant anything until after Mother’s Day. I thought that was an exaggeration but soon found out it was not. So, I wait for the in-between season to start (snow flurry this morning) and for warmer temperatures to melt the snow. Waiting also for morning walks with Sydney, the luxury of having the car in the driveway, and maybe even for someone to come visit!! There was a patch of brown in the yard this morning which Sydney sniffed suspiciously and the sun is shining giving the impression of warmth even though it’s 24 degrees. My high school friends should be back from Florida so maybe there will be a spring lunch. I am just about out of firewood and will light a fire today then clean out the fireplace for the season. This is me being optimistic that spring will get here eventually. In the meantime I’ll settle for the in-between season.

Gossip in Lords Valley

I’m sitting at my desk supposed to be getting work done and looking out at the sunny but cold vista. snowystill Yesterday it almost reached 50 and I was foolishly optimistic that melting would continue but today it’s in the 30s and going into the teens tonight so the snow and ice will probably stay around for some time. Nonetheless my stairs to the car are clear and the car is actually parked in the upper driveway instead of the parking pad. The ice has melted from both and for this I am grateful. On Wednesday I decided it was time to get out and get some errands done. Once I started I realized that other people were as optimistic as I and everyone seemed to be talking about the weather, plans for spring, and new goings-on in Lords Valley. Here’s what I learned.

At the post office (where I am now on a first name basis with everyone there because of my issues with getting the new car registered in PA) I heard about prior years of snow in March and April. “We ain’t done yet,” said one person. This sounded like a warning to me so I figure I’d best be smart about my plans for the next few weeks. Then I went to the bank to sort out a few financial issues and it was nothing but good news. Now…before I fill you in on the exciting news from Lords Valley, keep in mind that although I’m only 80 or so miles from New York City, this is a very rural area with few stores or amenities. You could drive to Matamoros but that’s a 40 mile round trip. So this was exciting indeed. First, a new food store is opening and is reported to be a Shop Rite. For those of you who are used to Publix, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods (not to mention Earth Fare and New Leaf), this isn’t a big deal. But for those of us who have the Weis Market as our only option this is great news. Weis is expensive, routinely keeps out of date food on the shelves, and doesn’t stock any number of things (like brown rice!). I for one am always glad to have choices. Now, here’s the really good news but take it for what it is — gossip. There will be 13 stores in the Shop Rite strip mall. It is several miles down 739 but close enough to be considered local. Whether the number 13 is an exaggeration or not remains to be seen. I will be interested to hear what the hairdresser and local real estate agent have to say. Anyway…among the stores is supposed to be a new restaurant! And, it is part of the Outback/Carrabas group. While I am not a big fan of chain restaurants it would be very nice to have an option that isn’t pizza, chicken wings, or is far away. I am skeptical since the person who told me all this (she is a good source) is really hoping for a Red Lobster! ‘Nuf said.

Here’s the really big news, though (other than Ryan’s deli moving from its ever so convenient location to further down 739): A Bagel Barn is opening just outside the gates. Yes, Bagel Barn right here in Lords Valley. I’m pretty excited about it since they boast New York bagels, New York pizza, and other food. I am curious as to why it closed in Brooklyn, but nonetheless I remain optimistic that there’s at least an option for breakfast without traveling into the Milford Diner. And, instead of saying it’s “a year down the road,” Bagel Barn opens next week. Obviously it doesn’t take much to get the local population (including me) talking.

Regardless of what opens up where, it gives me hope that any improvement to the area’s shopping and eating can only help make this a desirable area for people to buy and live here year round. I am impressed by the number of people who live in this area and work in New York City, Brooklyn or Long Island and commute daily. That has to be a good sign. So now you know all the big news here in Lords Valley. The invitation to all my friends and family is a permanent one although you might want to wait til the new restaurant opens!

Home Again

After each visit to Tallahassee I leave with very mixed feelings. A month in the beautiful weather (although most Tallahasseans will tell you it was extremely cold!) provides welcome respite from the snow, ice, and bitter cold. Jill allows me to stay as long as I like and Sydney and Zelda enjoy each other’s company as much as Jill and I do (enjoy one another’s company that is!). As usual, the weather determined my travel schedule and I left for Weaverville thinking I’d stay a couple of nights and spend time with my dear friends. However, another snowstorm was predicted so I stayed overnight and left the next morning. Eighteen hours driving in the two days makes for a long trip, but my new car was comfortable, got good gas mileage so limited my stops, and Sydney was a trooper. When I arrived home, the stairs were covered in ice and snow but my friend Sue helped me tackle the many trips up and down to empty the car. In no time at all I was again back in my little red house in the woods.

Sydney was so excited to be home and in her yard until she realized the snow was deeper than she is high. My first order of business was to dig two paths for her to use and it was a good thing I did it immediately because the snow was light and fluffy whereas in the following days, it iced over and was too hard to shovel — literally! So, Sydney went from walking in the park in the sunshine to very cold paws in the snow. tallypark IMG_2504 I went from the warmth of Tallahassee weather, not to mention the warmth of my wonderful friends, to the below freezing temperatures of northeast Pennsylvania.

Upon completing what became known as my gluttony tour of north Florida and south Georgia (given the fact that I ate so many meals out to sample as many Tallahassee restaurants as I possibly could), I am now back to finding healthy ways to cook for one. I still love Kool Beanz and cannot resist the coconut meringue cake for dessert, but found a new favorite, Sakura, where the food is wonderful and the service even better. However, seeing my friends, going to book club, doing the biannual trip to Thomasville with Kim, having dinner at Roxanne’s, going to B Sharps with Jill, seeing Garrison Keillor, stopping by Robin and John’s house for many cups of coffee, meeting Beth for coffee and book shopping, and catching up with friends and colleagues from FSU — that’s hard to beat! Being home is lovely. Seeing Rachel, Riley and Dave almost as soon as I arrived back was a welcome treat but now to get back to my own routine. I love my trips to Tallahassee and love coming home too. What a lucky person I am. Oh, and Sydney’s a lucky dog too.