Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Blog Post of 2009

2009 really bummed me out on the friend front. More friends left for the west.

It actually started at the end of 2007 when our best "couple" friends moved to Lake Tahoe. I figured they'd be back in two years...2009. That didn't happen and I'm still not over it.

Then, one of my closest girl friends of over 10 years decided she'd go to Montana for grad school. Tears happened, lots and lots of tears. Bittersweet.

Oh, and remember Mango, our cat? I'm pretty sure when he went missing he hitched a ride out west too.

Then just before Thanksgiving, it happened again. Friend comes to see me at work after a trip out west. She tells me she's moving to Colorado. I tell her through tears, "I'm glad I didn't invest too much."

I hold my friends close to my heart. I miss you all and to those of you that remain living along the Ausable, know that in 2010 I might be holding on a little bit stronger. I hope to spend more time with old and new friends, near and far in 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa Visits the Gargoyles

I couldn't sleep last night because I was anxious to see if Santa brought the Gargoyles anything for Christmas this year. Without waking the Gargoyles I noticed that "Santa" had indeed delivered!

Apparently the Gargoyle stockings were too small to hold the PEZ that Santa brought and must have run out of wrapping paper too because they were propped up against the wreaths.
I hope that no wild animal discovers the PEZ before the Gargoyles find their surprise from Santa!

Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There's No Place Like PO for the Holidays!

Last year I took a break from the Holiday rush and enjoyed the Holiday Movie Matinee at the Upper Jay post office. This experience made me fall in love with this ye olde government establishment.

After the post office in Jay told me they were out of postcard stamps yesterday, I knew the postmaster in Upper Jay wouldn't let me down at this time of year. Not only did he have all of the stamps that I needed for my holiday postcards, he even had them in polar bears! Very appropriate for the 20 postcards I sent out as Winter Wishes.

If you've never paid a visit to the Upper Jay post office, I assure you a pleasant experience, especially during the holidays. This year the postmaster has a different movie selection and is showing "The Snowman" and "A Good Tree".

If you still have cards or packages to mail out and address, a movie showing next to the "fire" at the post office might help take the seasonal stress away.

There's no place like home or the post office for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bargain Christmas Tree

I hate to brag, but I found the best bargain Christmas tree ever! I found it at Devin's Garage and Deli right in Jay, only half a mile from our house.
We were debating getting a tree at all this year with the new kitten, but finally decided since we are actually spending Christmas day at our own house this year, we had to have one.

Earlier in the morning, I spotted the tree at Devin's and convinced myself that I could compromise beauty and size for a $17 tree. When I brought Drew back to get it, I had misread the label and we put our small Charlie Brownish tree in the back of our trunk for only $7!

Can you believe it? A $7 Christmas tree! Victory!

As we were setting our little tree up and placing the lights on, Bella acted very curious.
This curiosity made me very glad we didn't spend $40 on a tree. Did I mention it was only $7? I decided to only hang non-breakable ornaments this year in case she decides she'd like to climb the tree and pounce on the pretty dangling decorations.

With only one string of lights needed and less than an hour later, our little $7 Christmas tree is looking pretty darn good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mystery Intruder

Do you want to hear a story? Well, pull up a chair...

Last Friday, I went down to the basement and discovered that it was freezing down there. I looked up and found that there was a pane broken in the window.We've had issues with this particular window before because when we had it open, our cat Monty would jump seven feet up, sit on the sill and chew the corner of the screen so he could escape to the great outdoors. Look through the broken glass and you can see the torn screen.

Drew had replaced the screen a few times and Monty always managed to bust through. He was like a teenager sneaking out without parents knowing. We put an end to his disappearance act and closed the hinged window for good. After our beloved Mango went missing, security was heightened. Or so we thought.

One morning I was in bed and noticed that Monty was outside, not inside! We called him in with his treats and he came down to the basement with us to inspect the window. He showed us how he jumps seven feet up, hangs like a rock climber, pushes his paws under the window and flings it open so he can drag his body into the window sill. After that, we made sure that the window was closed tightly and there would be no way he could escape. So, when I noticed the broken window, I formulated different stories in my head about how he tried the same maneuver and either the window broke when it slammed down behind him or since we were not home to let him in and it was cold, he had to break in himself.

Drew repaired the middle pane with some heavy cardboard and duct tape. We figured this quick fix would work for now.
Please don't pay attention to our unfinished basement, the rest of the house is coming along quite nicely.

And so the story continues... in bed this morning, we heard some kind of crash and just figured it was the pizza pan I didn't put away last night. About 30 minutes went by and there was cat screeching and growling with the sound of broken glass! Drew was in the bathroom getting ready for work and I was half in the bedroom, half in the hallway. I have quite an imagination and it gets the better of me sometimes. I grabbed my cell phone to call 911 in case it was a human breaking in or maybe another bear!

I opened the basement door and saw Monty on the stairs. Rather than being brave and going downstairs myself, I put on my slippers and ran outside to see if I could find the intruder. There were no foot prints up to the window because the snow had melted next to the house.
I noticed some kind of darkish thin animal race across our lawn past the house next door and into the field. This was definitely not a raccoon. I'm thinking cat, fox, bobcat? Could it have been Mango wanting to come home finally? Probably not, because this animal was darker and longer in my head. The footprints in the snow looked larger than a domestic house cats and I was also surprised to see that there was about 3 feet between prints.

These are not great pictures, but it's all I have to go by.

While I was outside investigating, Drew was inside patching up the broken window again. This time with nails and luan plywood!

The only person that really knows what happened is Monty and he's not saying anything.
In fact, he just sits on the stairs waiting for the intruder to come so he can scare it away with his fierce cry! Who are you mysterious creature and what do you want?

Monday, December 14, 2009

If I Had a Kid and not Cats...

If I had a kid, I'd probably blog about it, but instead I occasionally write about our cats. For the most part this blog is child free with a trickling in of adventures with Ruby's Mom and my favorite 6 year old lady, Ruby.

Today I got a kick out of another 6 year old girl that snuck in a snowball into the Museum without her parents knowing. I saw the snowball in her mitten and had to help her hide it behind a tree outside.

You know what's cuter than a kid bringing a snowball indoors and thinking all will be fine? Bella in a winter sweater!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holidays with the Gargoyles

Lance and John are in the Christmas spirit and are all decked out in wreaths this year!
They both have mini stockings that should probably be checked to see if "Santa" brings them a litttle something Christmas morning.
The Gargoyles continue to bring me joy no matter the season. I hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday season filled with joy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finally A Workshop I Can Attend!

I work every weekend and it really gets in the way of being able to take advantage of all the fun activities that take place on Saturdays and Sundays. When I saw that a Paper Marbling class was being advertised to take place on a Wednesday afternoon at the Wilmington Library, I immediately wrote it into my day off and made plans to go with my friend Elizabeth.

The closest I ever got to paper marbling before was when I bought a little address book in Florence, Italy. I was really excited that this workshop was being offered and did I mention it was free?

After splattering paint on top of the water and using different techniques to create a variety of effects you become anxious to see the outcome. There's such mystery to the craft of paper marbling because as a beginner you have no idea what the final product is going to look like. I'm sure those Venetians and Florentines have it down to a science. Everyone got really excited to see each other's papers since they're all so unique. You can see all the hands getting ready to peak at Elizabeth's paper.

I am so thankful that there was finally something I could take advantage of on my non-traditional days off. I came away with three different papers that I have since turned into bookmarks and holiday cards.

A big thank you to Jan and the Wilmington Library for holding the workshop!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter is Here?

Elizabeth and I left my house in Jay with green grass and thriving parsley and thyme in the garden. We chucked our skis in the back of her truck and drove to the base of Whiteface Memorial Highway and it was a landscape with snow. It's amazing what another 1000 feet of elevation does for snow and weather conditions.

After I stopped moaning about the uphill, I developed a blister on my left heel and we turned around about 3.5 miles up. The wind was wicked in a few spots and if we had gone to the top I suspect we would have been a tad cold with only light layers on, needless to say my angry feet wanted to turn around too.

I was excited to share with all of you some fun pictures of the adventure, but had some issues downloading them and they got deleted except for this AMAZING action packed video. No offense taken if I put you to sleep. Winter is here!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wells Memorial Library

I have a thing for books and libraries. I'm thinking it started with my mother taking me to the public library as a child and an obsession with Beatrix Potter miniature books began.
I loved those small books covered in plastic and couldn't wait to get a date stamped inside so I could take it home. It didn't matter if it was Jemima Puddle Duck, Miss Moppet or even the Tale of Two Bad Mice, I never noticed the musty smell that came home with them. I was thrilled when doing an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and was faced with original illustrations by Miss Potter. I digress...

I went to the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay yesterday to browse around and check out a few books for the upcoming holiday season.
I love this library because it reminds me of an English Cottage and the inside has the same smell as the beloved books of my childhood.

Unfortunately, the volunteers were setting up for the Holiday Sale that starts on Monday, November 30th and it was closed. The library will have new and gently used decorations and new gift items until December 24. Last year, I scored a Roller Skating Christmas Bear as a Yankee Swap gift for my husband's work Christmas party. I wonder what kind of special gift I'll find this year?

Since I have a few days before the library re-opens, does anyone have any book recommendations? My reading varies, my latest reads have been: Like Water for Chocolate, Born to Run, The Reserve, and Olive Kitteridge. I think I've outgrown the Beatrix Potter tales, but I'd love to hear other suggestions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday at North Country Taxidermy

Across the United States, shoppers stand in lines early in the morning at big box stores to score a deal on gifts the day after Thanksgiving. In Keene, NY, it's another story. When the North Country Taxidermy and Trading Post opens on Black Friday it means hunters showing up for mounting or consignment.

I waited until after the morning rush of hunters to shop here since they do have a good selection of gifts, souvenirs, and home goods. Walking up the steps, I was greeted by two bear cubs and I couldn't help but size up the one licking it's paw. It's a good chance it was a bear of this size that visited our mud room last fall leaving behind some poop to be identified.

The entrance room with nice jewelry and baby items is free from mounted wildlife and so is the ornament room, but once you walk further into the store you are surrounded by animals.

I noticed myself wanting to check out the blankets, but a bobcat was screaming at me.

These bobcats seemed a little less angry, but they still prevented me from checking out the price of the lamp and the sign behind them.

They had a nice selection of cards here, but be careful of the bear overhead teasing you with a beehive.

I managed to walk out of the store without bringing any animals home, but did end up with a handy book that will help us identify the scat of any future intruders on our property. Happy Black Friday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friendly Truck

On may way into work this morning, I followed this truck and the "Have A Well Day!" message on the back, put a smile on my face. I suppose if I ever needed a well drilled, I would hire them based on their friendliness. Too bad I have no idea what the name of their business is.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Main Street Pizza

When Aniello's Pizza in Lake Placid opened a handful of years ago, we tried it and never went back. From that one bad pizza, I had little desire to try out the pizza that came from the newly named and owned, Main Street Pizza because I didn't think I could shake the memory of the awful pie we had years prior from the same location.

I had been hearing great things about the "Grandma Pizza" from this little restaurant located across from the Speed Skating Oval for some time now and my friend Amy said it was finally time for Grandma's. We brought her 5 year old daughter and best friend to Main Street Pizza to try it out.

We ordered some breadsticks for all of us to share. Everyone thought they were really good and I think one of the girls even gave them a "totally awesome."

The girls each ordered a slice of cheese pizza and I was surprised to see that they ate most of it. Emma thought, "This pizza is the best pizza in the history of pizzas!" Ruby, on the other hand, likes Pizza Hut better.

Amy and I finally had the Grandma Pizza which is plum tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and mozzarella. I'm not sure why they call this a Grandma Pizza, I guess I should have asked.
I was a little turned off by the paper plates and lack of silverware because I usually like to cut my pizza until half way and then pick it up with my hands. Amy told me, "It's a real pizzeria." So, I had to make do without and I shouldn't complain because I thought the Grandma Pizza might be one of the best in Lake Placid! The only thing that I thought could make it better was if the crust was a little more doughy. Amy liked the crispiness.

I brought the leftovers home to my husband and he had a slice right away. The next morning I was looking forward to each of us bringing a slice to work for lunch, but he managed to eat the rest of it when I went to bed. I guess he liked it too.

So, there you go folks...the Grandma Pizza at Main Street Pizza might be one of the best in Lake Placid! Only suggestion, phone your order in and take it home because one of Amy's first comments was, "I wish it was warmer. I like to walk into a restaurant and be able to take my jacket off." I have to agree, after only one slice the pizza went cold, but it was still good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Cat Tale

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful cat named Mango. Like his owners, he loved the outdoors. When his owners lived in the big village of Lake Placid, they only let him go outside on a leash.

The owners moved to Jay and Mango would stare out the window day dreaming about the day he could go outside without a leash.

The day finally came when his owners decided they would allow their cats to wander freely. For two summers, Mango could go on his own adventures. He liked helping in the garden and hanging around the house while his owners worked in the yard.

Mango also really liked getting into the cat mint. His owners were never really concerned about his recreational kitty drug use since he always came home when they shook his treats and called his name. He never went past his curfew.

It wasn't until other cats in the neighborhood started to disappear that the owners started restricting outdoor privileges. First it was Oreo across the street and then it was their good friend Dracula. This was becoming the summer known for cats gone missing along the Ausable.

Mango and his cat friend Monty became annoyed that they couldn't come and go as they pleased. They were forced to stay inside more than they liked.

The owners knew how much their cats enjoyed being outside and so they allowed them to go out as long as there was supervision at home. One evening right before dusk, they rattled the treat tin and Mango did not return.

The owners beat themselves up about letting their cats outside since they knew all along the real dangers of the outdoors. They all kept hope that Mango would come home, but he never did. Sadness filled their home.

They thought about getting another cat, but didn't want to feel as if they were replacing their beloved Mango. Not able to deal with the depression of their other cat, the owners felt like they needed some positive energy in their lives again and so they brought home Bella. She was rescued from the Adirondack Humane Society and is happy to have found a good home in Jay. She might only ever see the outdoors in her dreams.

In Memory of Mr. Mango. We loved you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vote for Pumpkins

Of all the political signs on this corner in Jay, the pumpkin sign seems to be the most accessible candidate out of this crop.
No hidden agenda here folks, just two miles up the road you'll find them!

I'll add that they're pretty straight forward with what they'll do for you and they're not even going to add tax! Just serve yourself and put your money in the box.
I've got to say, this candidate is everywhere! Just the week before we elected to take home our first non-traditional white pumpkin from Lake Placid.
When the pumpkin is up for re-election next year, they'll have my vote again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gargoyles in Costume

The Gargoyles seem to have cleaned off the cobwebs from last year and have decided to go green and re-use their costumes.

Lance has dressed up as a clown again, but has added a ghost by his side and a pumpkin for company.

John is a mime again, but this time with a devil's pitchfork and a dinosaur on his wing.
I can't forget to point out the wigged pumpkin hanging out this year.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gargoyle News!

After following the Gargoyle activity on 9N in Upper Jay for over a year now, I often wondered if the humans they guarded even knew about their fan base. I created different scenarios about the people that lived in the yellow house at the end of the driveway and every time I received an "Anonymous" comment about the Gargoyles, I wondered if it was the owners. The closest I ever got was when I was running this summer and they pulled out of the driveway and I actually got to wave to them!

Checking my email this morning, I noticed some new comments on my old gargoyle posts and was thrilled to find out they were from the owners! Apparently one of their friends told them about my blog and they were rewarded with a year's worth of my crazy picture taking and blog posts of Lefty and Righty Gargoyle.

As it turns out, the Gargoyles do have names, "I, Righty am John and my buddy Lefty is Lance. They are the names of passed away fathers that are dearly missed, so we protect the family now!"

Now that the mystery is gone, I wonder what I'll think about now on my commute to work?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehab Center

Every time I drove down Springfield Road in Wilmington, I always wondered about the DEC sign for anglers and the smaller sign for the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center. We finally drove down to check it out and I am so glad we did.

The refuge includes a one mile hiking trail that also serves as a public fishing access. This is a beautiful trail that winds along the West Branch of the Ausable River. You can take the trail to the Rehab Center or you can just go down the driveway to see all the animals. The first time we went, we walked down the driveway and thought we were intruding on someone's home until we saw all the enclosures and were greeted by Wendy and Steve taking the wolves for a walk.

The wolves presence helps keep predators away from the various hawks, owls, and falcons in the other cages. On the outside of the cages are descriptions of the animals. The wolves and birds of prey that have been rescued here have beautiful views of Whiteface and the river valley.

If you are lucky to be there when Wendy and Steve are tending to the enclosures, they will educate you on the wildlife. Steve was kind enough to take one of the Great Horned Owls out to talk to us about this amazing bird's hearing and strength.

Some of the animals can recover from the injuries that brought them here and when ready are released back into the wild. If some have permanent injuries they are used in educational demonstrations where you can see them up close.
I highly recommend a visit to see the Wildlife Rehab Center. Visiting is free, however they do accept donations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Running

As a teenager, I was on the cross country team. That meant I was supposed to start training in the summer so I'd be in shape in time for fall. That was the theory. With young muscles and the naivety that went with my adolescence, I skipped the hot summer running and was able to get by on a bit of talent rather than any kind of training.

That just doesn't seem to work anymore. Unlike in high school, I ran this summer. I plugged away at running miles on the road and off. I signed myself up for the Dunkin Donuts Cape Cod Marathon at the end of October thinking that getting the last few weeks of training in the fall would be much easier than in the heat of summer. As it turns out, even after a decade and a half, I still lack motivation. With only an hour of lightness available to me after I get out of work combined with cooler temperatures, rain and snow, a new television season and a comfy couch, getting out on the road has been difficult. After being sick all of last week, I got no running in and so it left me with still one last long run to get in before I could taper.

This taper couldn't come at a better time. My body craves rest. I also crave chicken pot pie, candy corn and apple cider. I want all things fall. I love fall. Crisp air, a rainbow of foliage on the mountain sides, and the smell. Maybe the last long run wouldn't be so bad.

Sure enough, once I got my butt off the couch and my stinky shoes hit the pavement, I came alive. The occasional car passed me, but mostly it was me and autumn. Having complained about the hills all summer long, they began to reward me with beautiful views and stronger muscles.
The chill in the air allowed me to go faster than I had all summer long in the heat and humidity. I tried catching leaves that fell above me for good luck. I took in the sounds and smells of running through colorful leaves.

So it happened on a beautiful fall day, the lovely Ausable River Valley helped me get my running mojo back!