Category Archives: Daily Life

One Little Mouse

Over the past several years I have written about living in a mountain community and the services (or lack thereof) up here. I have been loyal to Homer’s Construction who pretty much came with the house. They have renovated the house top to bottom, do the snow plowing in winter, check the house when I’m gone, and pretty much do all the maintenance except yardwork and cleaning! Recently I’ve had a couple of projects and typically they start something and then leave the finishing up for sometime in the future. That’s the current status of my porch railings which need to be painted and screens replaced. Of course I got an invoice for the work but paid half figuring I’ll pay the rest when it’s done. I’m also waiting for them to install a new heating/ac unit that is going to be much more energy efficient than the current baseboard heating. That said, Homer’s is really good at showing up when there is an emergency for which I am extremely grateful. And, over the July 4th weekend, I needed help.

Of course things always seem to go wrong when there are people staying and that is Murphy’s Law to the extreme since I don’t often have people here! A full house July 4th weekend with the whole family here. The outside lights lining the driveway and the stairs all of a sudden stopped working. The circuit breaker kept tripping each time we reset it and tried the light switches. We had lots of theories — critters chewing the wires or a bad breaker or user error. We eliminated number three since there were 5 adults discussing the lights which I had been successfully using for years. That left the first two theories. Naturally I called Homer’s — they deemed it not an emergency so we decided to wait until Monday morning. This was a good decision I thought since I certainly didn’t need to pay overtime for whoever was on call. And, as it turns out and I will explain further, the person on call probably would not have been able to help anyway.

So first thing Monday morning, here comes Kenny with a brand new upgraded circuit breaker. “I’m here to replace your circuit breaker,” he stated. I asked, “How do you know it’s the circuit breaker?” “I don’t,” he said, “Jay told me to do it.” Rachel and I were skeptical but watched as he changed it out, flipped the switch and, as you probaby have already guessed, no lights! So, Kenny walked up the driveway drive and down the stairs inspecting. stairs Next thing I know, truck #2 pulls up with Rick who comes in the house, flips the circuit breaker, turns on the lights, watches as the circuit breaker flips off and no lights. Then Rick walks up the driveway and down the stairs inspecting (not sure what they were inspecting, but I trust that they had some ideas). Then up pulls truck #3 with Jay, who is incredibly capable and knows what he is doing. More walking up the driveway and down the stairs, more flipping switches, circuit breaker, etc., and still no lights. All three of them then started tracing the wires (all of which are exposed by the way) and sometime later Jay appeared at the door. “It’s lucky you didn’t burn the place down,” he stated matter of factly. “Here’s the problem.” wire1

Jay then proceeded to explain that a mouse climbed up the wires from under the deck into a wooden box on the deck (I never did know what the purpose was) and chewed through the insulation and the wire itself. wire2 He plugged up the hole in the underside of the box, spliced the wires together, used some electrical tape, flipped the circuit breaker, and we had lights. (I won’t go into the details about putting the switch back upside down so Kenny had to come back the next day.) I wondered why there wasn’t a fried mouse in the box. He reassured me that it probably went somewhere in the yard to die! He suggested I call the exterminators who are under contract which I did.

So, a week later John, the exterminator and neighborhood gossip, arrived to tell me that it looked like one lone rogue mouse and he picked up a piece of something that was lying on the deck and plugged up another hole. Job done. I haven’t used the lights since but am assuming all is working since this morning I got the bill for $404.57. All because of one small mouse. I have since asked Homer’s to somehow encase the wires and replace the wooden box on the deck since it is rotting anyway (says John) and so have yet another project that will need to be done. The fact that they do not finish projects before starting others is epidemic up here and Homer’s at least is honest, has a great reputation, and I like the guys. I thought it was a bit pricey, but there’s no choice. I may hold payment ransom until the other projects are done, but they don’t seem to worry about that stuff anyway. Wish me luck!

Chipmunk Wars

Tamias striatus Each morning Sydney and I take a walk usually the same route to the corner and back (about a half mile). I know the neighbors in the three houses just beyond mine and so often wave or say good morning sometimes even stopping for a chat. On Friday, I passed my neighbor Warren, a motorcycle enthusiast and nice guy. His wife often sits on their front deck drinking her morning coffee and enjoying her morning cigarette. It’s a funny thing passing people like this — do they want to say hello? Do they want to be interrupted from their routine? Should I wave or will it look like I’m being nosy and watching them from the street? Important questions all. On this morning, however, Warren stopped me to discuss the “chipmunk problem.”

When I said I didn’t know there was a problem, he asked me, “Don’t you have chipmunks?” “Of course,” I answered, “doesn’t everyone?” It must be stated here that I’m certain there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of chipmunks in the woods here. While they are very cute in a Chip ‘n Dale kind of way, they are noisy and are so small that they can get into all sorts of cracks and crevices. Chipmunks make noise that is disproportionate to their size and can wake you from a sound sleep outside the bedroom window. Noisier than the turkeys really. That said, I have no issue with the little rodents. I asked Warren if chipmunks were responsible for the holes in the yard and was happy to solve that little mystery — they are little diggers as well as living under and among the rocks in my yard. Chipmunk_emerging_from_hole Then the conversation took a bit of an odd turn. Warren told me that chipmunks had done a great deal of damage to his house — getting into his den, eating away at the wood around the house, even eating away at his driveway. I wasn’t really alarmed — more interested. Then he told me of his plan to rid his property of chipmunks.

“I’d shoot them if it wasn’t illegal,” he stated. I said I thought that one would have to be a very good shot since they are so tiny and very very fast. “I am a good shot, but I trap them and then drive them to another location a few miles away.” He showed me his trap and told me that amazon has a trap that can hold up to 20 chipmunks!! I tried to picture myself trapping 20 chipmunks and driving them somewhere but decided that wasn’t for me and, besides, I really don’t have a problem (knocking wood here!). The idea of 20 chipmunks making a difference to the population in the woods seems a bit ridiculous to me. And, what prevents more chipmunks from populating the area from which their family and friends have been removed? If those specific chipmunks don’t come back won’t others? The whole thing seemed pretty ridiculous to me but we had a very serious conversation which ended with Warren telling me he was going out of town for a week but when he got back the “battle will begin!” Ah, the joys of country living. I hope I don’t live to eat my words and must admit I did check the screen over the dryer vent and make sure my car doors are always closed (someone told me that they once got into her car and did a lot of damage). Vico 486 warm up non-literal shootI also am more careful about leaving doors open when letting Sydney out since they are particularly enamored with the drainpipes next to the house. So to my southern friends, I say, yes chipmunks are very cute but be careful what you wish for!

Mother’s Day Musings

I consider myself a very lucky person and, in spite of doubts I have expressed here about moving to the woods, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I drove into the city for a family brunch at Josie’s, a restaurant that accommodates vegans and carnivores alike. Parking is always an issue so I was surprised to find a spot on West 89th Street. There were posted signs “No Parking Saturday.” Several weeks ago I bypassed these spots since no one else was parked there but this time I thought it would be safe on Sunday. Again, no one else was parked there but after I pulled in so did a whole bunch of cars behind me. After meeting Michael and Allison at their apartment and saying hi to Fiona and Tes (the cats), we walked west on 89th street on our way to meet Rachel, Dave, and Riley at a playground on 77th street not far from the restaurant. As we passed my car, there was a guy on the street telling people not to park there, that almost every Sunday parking tickets are given out because there’s “No Parking Anytime,” as one sign said, to accommodate construction vehicles. So, into the car we went to find another space. Fortunately, we parked close to the restaurant and the playground — my lucky day!

While we were eating brunch, a mother and daughter sat down next to us. The mother, an elderly woman wearing a huge yellow hat to match her yellow suit, was obviously dressed up for the occasion. She showed me her Mother’s Day card and exclaimed, “Isn’t it beautiful?!” It was. And she was so proud of the card and her daughter. It was a sweet thing for her to want to share what she thought was especially pretty and special. I was touched and love that she wanted to share her delight with us. After brunch we did some shopping along Columbus Avenue heading up to the green market and arts and crafts market outside the Museum of Natural History. What an absolutely glorious day with so many people out and about on what turned out to be the nicest weather weekend in a long, long time. The green market had everything from ostrich, bison, and goat to gluten-free baked goods and locally grown vegetables.77thst[1]_0

P1200610The arts and crafts market was another story. Much like any gathering of vendors anywhere in the country, there was jewelry, paintings, photos, pottery, handmade soaps, clothing, and recycled glass things. Dave calls it upcycling. Taking colored Citron bottles, for example, and putting a pump on the top or used wine bottles made into other things. You know what I’m talking about. We stopped at one booth where there were several beautifully painted large vases. I looked at one as did another woman and we both realized they were plastic. Of course it was the art on the vase that was important and it was beautiful. She asked the elderly man who was clearly responsible for the booth how much the vases were and he replied, “$3000.” She said she didn’t think she heard him right and could he please repeat it. “$3000,” he said. I guess you can ask whatever you want for art but someone has to be willing to pay it and I suspect that the artist did not make any sales that day.

A perfect day with family in New York City. It is days like this that reinforce the decision to be within a reasonable drive to one of the greatest cities in the world. That it’s also close to my children goes without saying. It was also nice to get back to the quiet and serenity (until the tourists and summer folks arrive) of the Pennsylvania woods. Today I’m driving to Fishkill, New York, to have lunch with my cousin who lives in Connecticut. It’s the best of both worlds and I feel lucky.

Driving in Pennsylvania

Several years ago I wrote of my adventures, frustrations, and annoyance with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. I just completed my online license and car registration renewals and am pleased that it was as easy as going online and charging it all to a credit card. But, that is only the middle (not beginning) of my travails with driving in Pennsylvania. First of all, I still am not entirely sure whether or not talking on your cell phone is legal. Everyone seems to do it and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about it anymore since I have the new car with hands-free options. Second, construction is everywhere which means that traffic, especially in the summer, is awful. And third, and not to be dismissed because it is the last on my list, pedestrians of course have the right of way. Once a person steps off the curb into a crosswalk, all traffic MUSt stop. I am well aware of this law and know it is not unusual since most states have similar regulations.

A few weeks ago, I was returning from the Port Jervis train station, having just dropped Michael there to catch a late train back to the city. Once I crossed the bridge from New York into Pennsylvania, I was in Matamoros and drove at about 20 MPH although the speed limit is 25. It was slow because of traffic and I wasn’t in a hurry so it didn’t bother me a bit. I got to a crosswalk that was partially blocked and, once in the crosswalk, I saw two people crossing. Immediately thereafter I was pulled over by a local trooper. He was very apologetic, polite and I asked him why he pulled me over. “You didn’t stop for the pedestrians in the crosswalk,” he said. I answered, “I couldn’t see them because a truck was blocking half the crosswalk so they weren’t visible until I was halfway through.” He asked, “Oh, you mean the white truck?” At this point I thought he would send me on my way. But, no, of course not. “Yes,” I answered. Then he asked for my paperwork – his word not mine. I handed him my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He returned a few minutes later and stated, “Your paperwork is all in order,” as if he expected a different result. Of course it was! So he wrote me a ticket saying that if I requested a hearing, it would be reduced to a parking ticket and not carry any points on my license. I asked him why he was writing the ticket if that was the case and he had no answer. To add insult to injury, he started telling me about how he was trying to cross the street in Milford with his children and a police car sped through the crosswalk after they had stepped off the curb!

I was furious to say the least, came home and immediately sent in my ticket with a request for a hearing. In order to do this it is required that I send in collateral which was the full price of the ticket. The hearing is scheduled for June 16th in Milford which is convenient enough. It’s the same courthouse where Eric Frein who killed the State Trooper and hid out in the local woods was arraigned. At any rate, I remain irritated and will let you know how it turns out. I hope I haven’t reported this story already and, if I have, forgive me. On a more pleasant note, as I sit here at my desk, I am looking out at the woods which is filling in nicely, the trees are blooming and it is looking more and more like spring. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. It is now okay to plant in the north!

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.

My Big Bang Theory

There are lots of strange, new noises living in the woods and I do my best to identify them. Powers of deduction, observation usually serve me well and I figure them out. But, there has been one disturbing noise that gets the dogs barking furiously, sometimes shakes the house, and is very loud. It only occurs at night but not every night and not at the same time each night. Sometimes it even happens two or three times in one evening. Rachel and Riley were visiting and Rachel was really concerned about the loud bang that shook the house last Wednesday at about 11:30 PM. So I decided to make more of an effort at identifying what was going on.

A nice feature of not too much snow that has packed down to an icy slushy consistency is that footprints remain for days. My footprints in the yard reflect a number of dog walking trips because Mason is still leash-bound. footprintsyard I looked down at my footprints that were from a couple of days and thought of that cartoon from the Sunday papers where the child is asked to do something that is very straightforward and ends up taking the longest most circuitous route possible. It was when I looked down from the porch into the yard that I realized I had a chance to see if there were animals on a path that led them to walk into the wooden pillars that support the deck. Or, maybe they bumped into the front of the house. Having narrowed down the area where the noise was coming from I was optimistic.

When I got home the other day I noticed tracks in the driveway. turkeytracks Clearly the turkeys have been coming and going across the top of the driveway. Not only did I have the track evidence but then Wednesday afternoon the dogs alerted us to about 10 turkeys walking across the front yard. I decided to take a long hard look at where I thought the noise was coming from and this time I had evidence. deertracks You can barely see them but there was clear evidence of at least two deer walking right along the front of the house. It appeared to be one large deer and one much smaller one as I followed the tracks around the side of the house across the driveway into the woods.

Mystery solved? I think so. It’s difficult to express in words how loud and violent the banging is. Imagine slamming a wooden door as hard as you possibly can against something else that’s made of wood. I’m satisfied that it is deer walking into the deck supports if not the deck itself. I saw a deer recently walking down the stairs so I suspect crashing into the gate at the bottom of the steps isn’t beyond the realm of possibility either. It serves to remind us that we have invaded the territory of all animals that live here and that they do not adapt easily to our presence. I just hope the deer don’t hurt themselves but am glad there is evidence to support my theory.

There’s Cold and There’s Cold!

The big topic of conversation up here seems to be the weather which is not unusual for this time of year. What has changed, however, is the beginning of every conversation, “Are you keeping warm?” The temperatures dropped to ridiculous numbers — what is -18 supposed to “feel like” anyway? The temperatures have been in single digits and the feel like temp is just silly. Easy for me to say since I don’t have to go out if I don’t want to. Taking the dogs out in the yard has become a chore because it involves, boots, hat, gloves, and heavy jacket for a walk around the yard that lasts less than 2 minutes! The dogs aren’t foolish enough to stay out in the cold. Riley and Rachel are visiting and Mason (their dog) is still with me recuperating from her second knee surgery. They haven’t left the house since they got here a week ago! Just too cold to take a toddler out.

The good news, though, is it is sunny and beautiful, the snow is fluffy so the driveway has been usable, and there hasn’t been a lot of ice. While the cold is a force to be reckoned with, we are well prepared here in the mountains. We have the appropriate clothes, boots, cars, and plenty of firewood. My friends in Florida are not as well suited for the cold and have had a difficult time lately. When my friend, Larry, said it was 19 degrees in Destin last week, we agreed that their homes are not made for such temperatures for sure. I’ve been out to the store, the dump, the mail room, the bank, that kind of thing and have survived just fine. What a luxury to be able to use the driveway to unload groceries or load up trash and recycling. It sounds silly I know but it was something I did not have last year from November through March. I haven’t decided if the fires I have been making actually warm the house or just warm us because it is emotionally a lovely thing. It doesn’t matter except that I was running out of firewood so had to try and get another delivery while the driveway was usable. The Carraciallo brothers are expensive but at least answer the phone so they delivered another half cord two days ago. Jimmy and his helper (who I’m absolutely sure was high on something) stacked the wood and informed me that John (the other brother) would have to take care of me next year because Jimmy was now a chef for a drag racing team and was headed south! Crazy.

Today I went to the grocery store for important items — bitters and maraschino cherries to make cocktails tonight — and found out that the cold weather apparently gives people permission to wear pajamas to the store. I went into two stores and saw at least 5 people wearing pajama bottoms. Really? Is that the warmest thing you have? And, we all know that we are just going from the car or truck to the store, so what’s the deal? Rachel says cold weather makes people crazy!

I am determined to keep to my once a week blog and have so many things I could have blogged about but this seemed appropriate given that it’s the main topic of our news as well as local conversation. Feeling quite smug, of course, I do not hesitate to share with people up here that I’m headed to Florida at the end of the month and will likely spend all of February there. Time to go stoke the fire and look at the beautiful sunny snow covered yard but I’m not going out!

Reflections and Resolutions

After looking at my last post I realized that it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve blogged about life in the mountains. There is no reason, just lack of motivation, finding lots of excuses not to blog, deciding (for others) that it’s boring or at least not all that interesting, and feeling like the blog has no focus. Anyone who knows me well knows that I write in my head before anything goes down on paper or screen. I have written lots of blogs — at the very least What I Learned on My Trip Part II which never made it!

In my defense, it has been a busy fall into winter. Mason, Rachel’s dog, had her second knee surgery and stayed here to avoid all the stairs at the Brooklyn apartment. She is still here and will remain til the end of January. The happy outcome of this is that Rachel and Riley have been spending a good deal of time in the Poconos. I cannot describe to you no matter how I try what an absolute joy it is to be part of their lives and to watch Riley grow, learn, throw tantrums, and develop ideas of her own. There is little downtime with a 15-month-old, but that’s really no excuse. Trying new dishes, some healthy some not, has been fun and I love the process of cooking more than I enjoy the eating of the results. With Rachel and Dave spending time here I’ve had a chance to cook for others which is a lovely change.

Based on a few things that happened around the house, to pets, etc., I have formed my resolutions for 2015. Often I come up with resolutions that are unmeasurable — like learning to be comfortable in my own skin. (Yes, that was one — 2013 I think!), or better structuring my everyday life so that I do something productive every day, or being more flexible. Because there is no metric for these, I cannot tell you if they were met. This year I have decided to be more clinical about resolutions. Here goes (there are only two so bear with me):

1. Before I immediately call someone to help me solve problems around the house, I will sit for an hour and decide if it’s something I can handle myself. This evolved from two incidents. The first was the ash dump door that I pushed down the hole into the bowels of the house. Immediately I called the chimney sweep because now I had a hole in the back of the fireplace floor. Then, after he left me hanging for a couple of days, I realized it wasn’t a difficult fix and I could do it myself. First, I ordered a new door from a locally owned fireplace store; then I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of steel, put it over the hole, put a rock on top and was good to go. My new door arrived within 2 days and, in spite of the fact that it’s a 40-mile round trip to the stores, I solved the problem myself, put the new door in (left the rock just in case) and called the chimney sweep with a “never mind” message. The second thing that happened was Sydney again tore a nail (all dog owners will recognize as an emergency). So, off to the Emergency Vet Clinic in Newton, NJ, once again (don’t ask!) and, after a detour that took me to places I had never been at 11:00 at night, she was all fixed up, I was poorer by $200 and a bit of a mess after finding my way on rural roads in the middle of the night!! IMG_2277

I bought a Pet Emergency First Aid kit that contains styptic powder to stop bleeding and instructions on how to fix a broken or torn nail. It’s a first step that would have allowed me to go to my regular vet at a much more acceptable hour.

2. OK — last one — number two resolution is to blog at least once a week. I started this blog after a suggestion by my friend, Robin, who said it would be good therapy when I moved up here. It has been much much more than therapy — the process is fun, every time I do just about anything I think about how it would work as a blog, and the comments I get back are encouraging.

Happy New Year to all my friends and family. 2015 will be a good one!

Mountain Rumors

I have been thinking a lot about the 24/7 news cycle and the need for the media to fill in time with what sometimes amounts to rumors rather than news. Then I also realized that there have been a few rumors in the community lately that might or might not have direct bearing on my quiet life. I’m pretty sure that some people up here thrive on not just hearing rumors but then spreading them with great joy. When I define rumors I am also including old wives’ tales and folklore. So here comes the latest from Lords Valley.

First and foremost is the gunman in the woods. He’s still there and even the national news reports that he is eating a lot of ramen noodles and tuna. Reminds me of college. Anyway…if they know this much why can’t they catch him and, more importantly, is he really a threat to the general public. NO, says the current rumor. Try and keep up with this one: Frein shot the deputy to avenge his brother whose wife was having an affair with the wounded trooper. He was wounded in places that would preclude any more affairs. AND, his partner was shot and killed so that the wounded trooper would have to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. In the meantime, two troopers fell out of a deer blind and were hurt, troopers keep spotting him (supposedly), yet they cannot catch this guy. Leaves are covering everything and even I could hide in the woods given a brown hoodie!

Rumor #2: Laurel Ridge Restaurant is going to re-open. There are few places nearby to get a decent meal (other than at home!). Laurel Ridge was open when we bought this house and one Thanksgiving weekend, after watching the Florida-FSU game, we went there for a family dinner. It had a huge roaring fireplace, firepits outside for the smokers, and decent food — horrible service because the owner’s son, the chef, spent most of his time chatting with customers. It was very crowded and we were happy to have it so conveniently located. laurelridge By 2009 it had closed and ever since there have been rumors, news reports, reliable information that it would reopen in 2013. It didn’t. I’m pretty sure that it is some kind of money laundering thing since there are cars there and last year someone was working on it. Rumor has it that it will be a diner, a sports bar (I would like that), a banquet facility (why?), or some combination of all of the above. So far, however, nothing.

bearRumor #3: Bears. Oh my. According to my neighbor who I met on my morning walk, bears (several) are breaking into crawl spaces of houses — occupied or not. He has this on good authority because he was getting ready to report a crawl space door open across the street. I believe him of course, but the idea that the bears are hibernating already is difficult to imagine since it’s supposed to be in the upper 60s this week (although it has been in the 30s at night). So, I’m wondering what I’d do if I really saw a bear on one of our walks. I’ve seen them of course from the comfort of my porch, but not when Sydney and I are vulnerable.

Rumor #4 (the last one I promise!): A new grocery store is going up on Route 739 only a few miles from here. My hairdresser says it might be a Wegman’s; others in the mail room said it was definitely going to be a Shop Rite (and they deliver!); a local realtor told me it was going to be a Price Chopper. I laughed when I was at the mail room and said, “wouldn’t it be great if we got a Whole Foods?” (This is a pipe dream of course.) Before I even got a chance to chuckle, someone said, “We’re getting a Whole Foods?!” I’m sure this is now a “reliable source” rumor that is spreading as quickly as the leaves (and acorns) are falling.

I passed by the empty lot where everyone says we are getting a new store, but no signs, no construction, nothing going on so I suspect that, like Laurel Ridge, it’s all just something to talk about. Now that winter is coming (oh, one more rumor — it’s going to be a mild winter or it’s going to be a terrible winter because of acorns and furry caterpillars) I suspect there will be no construction of anything! I’m headed south in a week or so to Tallahassee where I’m pretty sure there are no people spreading rumors. Right?

Living in a Postcard

fallcolor This morning on my walk with Sydney I wished I could capture the beauty of it all. The view here is what we were looking at as we walked toward home. Must admit, I never realized that ferns changed color (I may have mentioned this last fall!) but they turned golden from green overnight! The trees are all sorts of colors even though the “official” fall foliage tour folks say we haven’t reached the peak yet. The golden leaves are falling as quickly as they are changing color and acorns are raining from the trees making lots of noise on the roof! I can hear chain saws in the distance and it’s clear that winterizing has to happen before I leave for my trip south. What does this mean? Finding someone to deliver and stack wood — the person who was going to deliver last week hasn’t responded to my calls so I’m waiting another day or two before I call someone else. Don’t people need the work? The money? I guess not. Then, the plastic needs to be put up along the bottom of the porch screens to protect it a bit from snow and ice. And the air conditioner cover of course. All the planters and porch pillows, etc., need to be carried to the shed — the grill too. And, the Adirondack chairs should be put away as well. Not very interesting to blog about I know, but it does provide a sense of what we think about at the change of seasons. Anticipating winter has become a hobby!

photo-3I will remember to bring in my little ceramic good luck birds that were the subject of a blog last winter and have already winterized the beds with down comforters. The car will get its pre-winter pre-trip check up next week along with new front tires. There’s a lot to think about when the fall weather is beautiful and the landscape changes from lovely to spectacular. On Monday I drove to Fishkill, NY, which is about an hour away and tried to take photos out the car window while driving. Not very smart and I won’t do that again! Besides, I couldn’t capture the colors and the vastness of it all. fallcolor2

While driving to Brooklyn yesterday, I tried to remember what the roads were like when it snowed. It’s all people are talking about up here. At the diner last week there was talk about how awful the winter was going to be but hope that it wouldn’t be as bad as last year. Whatever all that means. My neighbors moved in next door and we chatted during my morning walk. They wanted to know what it was like being here last winter. So the talk has begun in spite of the weather being lovely. On the other hand, what else do we all have to talk about? The fact that those we call for help with the house show up when/if they want to? That no one up here seems to return phone calls? The gossip at the mail room the other day is that we are getting a new grocery store! Big news for here since the only local store within 20 miles is the Weis Market which is pretty bad. Everyone is wishing for Whole Foods or Wegmans but it’s likely not to be anything that sophisticated. We are in the mountains after all!! The gunman is still on the loose and people around here seem to be leaving their lights on at night so I am too. State troopers apparently keep spotting him but, for some reason, cannot apprehend him. Very creepy and I’m so glad to have a dog who barks at everything! So that’s about all from the Poconos today. Facing my third winter here, I may be finally getting used to living in this house in this place. Not quite, but almost there.