Monday, July 15, 2019

Looking for a Good Mystery

I need some advice for some good summer reading. I've just finished the whole Louise Penny "Inspector Gamache" series, and have started the first in the Tana French mystery series "In the Woods."  Do you have any favorites to recommend?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Gas-Up and Around the Yard

A couple of weeks ago, on a perfectly beautiful summer day, we went to the Annual Gas-Up in a town called Gallupville, about an hour and a half from here. We've been before and we always enjoy it, but it's been a couple of years. Basically, it's a big field full of antique steam and gas-fired engines, good food, and nice people. I loved the laundry exhibits - we sure do take a lot for granted!

These are old chain saws! Needed two people to operate them

This is a steam-powered sawmill. They cut some nice boards while we watched.

A nice exhibit of old milk bottles.

This guy eyed us the whole time we were eating lunch at a picnic table.

Pete smiling and happy after sausage and pepper sandwiches!
We've had some very hot weather here - enough to keep the air conditioning on for days at a time. I remember that happened last summer too. It was so hot we had the air conditioner running all the time and hardly ever had the windows open. It somehow doesn't seem like summer when you can't have the windows open and smell the outdoors. But the plants have all been watered often and are very happy.
Stella D'Oro Lillies around an old wishing well.

Pete watering the vegetable garden this morning. We have flowers on the tomato and pepper plants. The cucumber and zucchini plants are really getting big, but we only saw the first flower on them this morning. But the plants themselves are beautiful - the tomatoes are almost as tall as I am.

Last but not least, this is a picture of one of the flower stems on my hosta. My front yard is full of hosta - probably close to a hundred plants. I went out one day and found a lot of the stems with this papery white growth on them. I've been told mealy bugs or leaf hoppers. I'm thinking the latter, because when I washed the white stuff off with a blast from the hose, white hairy looking bugs jumped off. On the gardening forum I quickly joined, the advice was to just hose them off with water and hope they get eaten by other bugs or spiders while disrupting the eggs they have laid. And if that doesn't work, use insecticidal soap or Neem Oil spray. After hosing them off twice, I definitely have lots less, but some come back after about 48 hours. I'm thinking I'll hose them off a couple more times and then use the Neem Oil on them. Does anyone have any experience with them? The hostas are such a big part of our landscaping that I would hate to lose them.

Hope you are all having a wonderful, healthy summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Some Nice Weather at Last!

June is finally bringing us some good weather. May was very wet and cool and although it hasn't really warmed up much, we're headed in that direction.

Most people in this area open their swimming pools on Memorial Day weekend, which is the last weekend in May. I don't see many pools open when I'm driving around, and I definitely haven't seen anyone swimming. It's just too cool!

The vegetable garden is planted. We buried the fence about 10 inches this year hoping to keep out the groundhogs. Last year we caught and relocated quite a few, but they left their mark on the garden. 

My beautiful new wheelbarrow has come in handy already. I'm mulching the area around the trees Pete planted last month and boy are those bags of mulch heavy! I don't know why I waited so long to get going on this. Pete did all the planting and added lots of nice topsoil. I should have put down the landscape fabric and mulch right away. Oh well. With all the rain, the weeds have had a field day!

Before is above and after below. I have one little section left to do and it will be done and ready to admire every time we pull in the driveway.

Pete had to change some huge tires on a front-end loader, so we used one to make a planter. I think it looks cute! We added a metal chicken we got from a farm store nearby. That's our phone booth nightlight for the back yard in the distance!

It should look nice when the plants fill in a little. There's some coreopsis and some purple salvia and around the edge some marigolds. I might add something to drift over the sides a bit.

Finally, here's the beautiful hanging basket of petunias I got this morning. A local hardware store has beautiful, reasonable baskets every year and I always treat myself. That's the kitchen window right over the sink on the right side. It's nice to look out on the plant when I'm washing dishes. We chose the bright pink this year hoping it will draw the hummingbirds. 

I hope you are all enjoying some wonderful early summer weather!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day in the United States. As it happens, neither my Mom nor my daughter are close by today. My mother has been on Cape Cod with my sister for the past 2 weeks, and is coming home today. My sister works for a seafood company on the Cape and only gets to see her a couple of times a year. I hear she has been waiting hand and foot on my mother the whole time. My daughter lives in Alameda, California, and works in San Francisco - the other side of the country. She'll be coming home for a quick visit at the end of the month. Sometimes I wish the whole extended family could live in one big commune - but then I come to my senses and realize I'm the only one that would be happy with a situation like that!

The picture above is my daughter, my Mom and I a couple of years ago at the ballet. I remember it was so hot that evening! The next picture is my Mom this past winter at a Mexican restaurant.

I honestly couldn't have asked for better parents, and am so fortunate to still have my Mom in my life. Any good that I have in me came from them. My Mom is just a wonderful, special human being, and I'm so glad she's mine!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Marvelous May?

I haven't posted in a while, but like everyone else it seems, the only story here is rotten weather and cold temperatures. We've had so much rain and so many cloudy, depressing days. The grass is tall enough to mow, but it's too wet to even try. A few cloudy days are a good excuse for snuggling in with a good book or Netflix, or even getting some cleaning done. But when it stretches on for over two weeks without sunshine...we're craving some nice weather!

Last fall our neighbors cut down a lot of trees in their yard. We now have a fantastic view of their house and yard and all their comings and goings whenever we are at the kitchen sink. To get back a little privacy, Pete ordered a bunch of quick growing trees. He didn't let the bad weather stop him, and managed to get them all planted. Our ground is all shale and impossible to dig in, but he used a mini excavator and dug all the holes, then filled everything in and added some good topsoil.

Hopefully in a couple of years we'll have a nice hedge growing along the fence that runs along our driveway.  I did manage to get out during a little sun we had one day and get a couple pictures of the front yard. The hosta are coming up around the flagpole, and some tulips have bloomed, but most are still buds.

I bought my sister a pot of pansies for her birthday, and couldn't resist getting some for us, too! (This photo was also taken during that brief sunny period!)

Aren't these flowers beautiful? I've given eggs from our hens to a friend at church a few times, and she surprised me with these beautiful peonies last Sunday. I have them on our breezeway and they smell incredible.

One last photo of me and little Angelo, my best friend Donna's new grandson. What a sweet little bundle he is!

We're actually supposed to have a sunny day tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

NYS Missing Persons' Day

What do you do when you graduate from a small, upstate New York college with a degree in Fine Arts? You move to the big city with a good friend to become a struggling and starving artist! I didn't do too well with the struggling and starving part, and got a decent job and after a while met and fell in love with a wonderful man. We got married on September 29th, 1984 and the last time I ever saw him was on December 21st that same year.  

I think the photo above was taken the year before we got married. The night Frank went missing, I had to work late, and he was going to meet up with a couple of friends for a holiday drink in a bar near Wall Street in NYC. I was going to take a bus over the bridge from Manhattan to our apartment in Staten Island, and he was going to take the ferry home. We had plans to go Christmas shopping the next day with his brother and sister-in-law. He never came home. 

Frank's body was found in the water off Manhattan on March 23rd, 1985. He had been dead the whole time he was missing. We'll never know what happened, but the theory was that he was robbed and pushed into the water during a struggle. We were still newlyweds with our whole life in front of us. For 3 months, each day was filled with fear and panic. Where could he possibly be? Was he in pain? Did he have amnesia? I remember someone saying to me at the time, that if he was dead, wouldn't I want to know it so I could get on with my life? My answer was no; I didn't want to give up hope. 

Years later, when I had moved back to upstate New York with my daughter, I heard about an organization called "The Center for HOPE." Doug and Mary Lyall's daughter, Suzanne, went missing from a college campus in Albany in 1998 and has never been found. They created this non-profit to help other families of missing young adults and adults. Doug died a couple of years ago, but Mary carries on with her mission. They have worked on and helped to pass legislation at both the state and federal levels to protect missing persons. They helped establish New York State's Missing Persons' Day, which is held on the weekend closest to Suzanne's birthday each year, and which is commemorated by a day of education and ceremony. The list of thigs they have done to help others is impressive, and their story is heartbreaking. You can read more about them here

When Frank was missing, I was fortunate that he had an uncle who was a police lieutenant. He pulled strings to have Frank declared an official Missing Person, and I was able to have the help of both the Staten Island Police and the Manhattan Missing Persons detectives. At the time, and to some extent today, an adult must have a medical reason or have disappeared under highly suspicious circumstances to be declared a missing person right away. Adults are allowed to walk away from their lives. It is not a crime and unless there is good reason, law enforcement isn't always able to do a lot. Back then, no one had really heard of the internet, or even of cell phones. There wasn't a network of good people and organizations to help with advice and information. When I learned about The Center for HOPE, I became a volunteer and now serve on the Board of Directors of the non-profit. 

So that is how I came to be at the New York State Missing Persons' Day ceremony last weekend. The photos below are from the ceremony. The woman in red is Mary Lyall. The gentleman is one of our State Senators, Jim Tedisco, who has been a strong supporter of the organization and legislation for missing persons, and who is the MC of the ceremony every year. 

I went through the horror of having a loved one missing for three months. I cannot imagine how people manage for three years, ten years, a lifetime. Below is a photo of the NYS Missing Persons' Remorial (the word is a combination of remembrance and memorial) in Albany, NY.  It is a 20 foot granite and stainless steel frame which holds an eternal flame at the top, to light the way home for the missing. My prayer is that they will all find their way home. 

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Spring in NY

Just a quick post. I've had such a busy week! The most wonderful reason was the arrival of Angelo Joseph, my best friend Donna's newest grandson. I hope he'll call me Grandma Sue like his big brother does.

Today, our spring took a bit of a setback. We had a couple of hours of snow, and it managed to accumulate about an inch or two. Tomorrow it is supposed to warm up again, so it will probably all melt (fingers crossed). There's a cardinal in the tree in the photo below.

I made a bunch of needle-felted bunnies and my friend Maureen delivered them to the store we sell from in Saratoga Springs.

These little cuties are on the shelf near my kitchen sink so they keep me company when I'm washing the dishes. 

This little bunny is the real thing and belongs to Donna and her grandson, Alex. He named her "Sweetheart" and there was no convincing him to choose another name. 

She's the happiest, most spoiled bunny I've ever seen. Loves to be held and snuggled. She is litterbox trained and gets along well with Donna's tiny Yorkshire terrier.

Tomorrow I will be spending the day "working" at the New York State Missing Person's Day event held in Albany, NY. I'll write about that soon.

Hope spring is in full swing in your part of the world!