...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heat Wave

This week we are experiencing a heat wave. It's noon time and the thermometer just hit 100 degrees. Thankfully I am inside with the air conditioner at full blast to keep the house at a nice 76 degrees.

I remember the "old" days when I didn't have the luxury of air conditioning. When I grew up in West Shokan, we never had it. Well, we didn't have man's version. God provided a babbling brook in the back yard and some shade trees. We would open the creekside windows and let the cool air fill the house; then close it up before the sun came over the house. If it got too hot in the house, we went down to the stream to splash, build dams or climb around on the rocks. Our little 'pool' wasn't deep enough for swimming. When I had my own children, I brought them there to cool off and play as well.

Druykill (Dry Brook)

I remember my dad used to take his lawn chair down and set it on the flat rock overlooking the stream. He would sit there and read for hours. Who needed air conditioning?

Bell boys in Grandma's stream.
As I got older, we went to local swimming holes to cool off and it was here I was taught to swim and dive. The older kids taught the younger. The older kids also took it upon themselves to watch out for the younger. Just one of the niceties of growing up in a small town.

Red Rocks swimming hole
In later years, the town put in a public pool. Here the swimming lessons became 'official' with Red Cross certificates and ribbons. As you went up their skill levels, the goal was to achieve Life Guard status. I can vividly remember the test. 75 laps of the pool on a chilly Saturday morning. Then having to rescue the trainer who had no mercy when it came to trying to drown us. I remember wondering, "has anyone ever drowned while learning how to rescue people???" It was a scary but valuable lesson.

Davis Park town pool
It wasn't until Jim and I were married that we had air conditioning in our house. That was only because one was given to us by my brother and another by my inlaws. We were grateful for the relief they provided, but we used them very sparingly as we didn't want to run up our electric bills.

Our first car with air conditioning was a 1983 Chevy Cavalier Wagon that we purchased in 1984, just before our third son, Dan was born. This was prompted by a vacation to Washington, DC when we were caught in traffic in the heat of the day with no A/C. I remember trying to lie down on the backseat to get relief from the air blowing through the windows. It was not a joy filled memory of being pregnant and having two kids in a strange city with no A/C in the car! When we got home we started shopping for a new car. The new car had electric windows and yes, air conditioning!

Nowadays we feel kind of spoiled. Going from our air conditioned home to our air conditioned car to our air conditioned stores or work site. We can't imagine living in Florida in A/C 90% of the year! The blast of hot air when you go outside your vehicle or home or store or office it quite a shock to the system!

These days when my body brings on its own heatwave, I am very happy to turn on the fan and have it pointed directly on me...though I do remember doing that even when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, my first paycheck I received as a teen went to purchase a quilt and a fan. My mother thought I was crazy, setting up the fan in the window to blow air right across me and then I would bury myself under the quilt.

Jim doesn't understand that today either. "Why are you under the covers with the fan blowing on you?" Maybe I have security issues. I like to be covered!

I always say I would rather be cold than hot but I have to be covered up with at least a sheet. I can ALWAYS warm myself up somehow: tea, socks, longjohns, extra clothing, blankets, or last resort -- electric blanket; but I can't always get myself cool enough in the heat. Once I get warm, I tend to stay warm. Once I get cool, something changes and the heat come on again. Must be something with my inner thermostat...or maybe its a built in wariness of hot places that I don't want to end up in!

Anyway, I am sure this heat wave will bring out all the global warming zealots that haven't been able to prove to me yet...that this is not all part of God's plan for life on earth. Lots of things go in cycles. The Creator has plan for the Universe he created. Sure we can cut down on our pollution and impact on the environment, but we will never be able to control it all. Someone else has a better plan than we do. It is said this earth will pass away...whether that means this earth will be destroyed or life on earth as we know it will be different, no one knows. I am not worried, I know the planner, personally. I choose to worship the Creator more than the created. The rewards are out of this world and more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Special credit to my brother Rick for the links and photos of the town pool and one of the creek.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane(s)...

Small creekbed in Byrdcliffe
Sunday was our 35th Wedding Anniversary. Jim and I decided to start our day at one of our favorite breakfast places Dolce in downtown Kingston.

Then we headed up to the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock. We walked through the trails amidst many of the old artist studios, theater and barn. It was an interesting part of history. However the brochure was a tad misleading as all the "studios" or "houses" are now owned by private citizens with very unwelcoming signage that detracted from the experience.
From there we drove over the mountain to Mt. Tremper and then on to West Shokan where I grew up. We went to check out my old homestead. My brother Rick bought the house from the rest of us last year and is making some improvements.

He's had a new deck built and cut down some of the old pine trees that were dying from blight and he put in some new plantings and trimmed a few trees.

I was driving so I took on a little tour of my old hang outs. We drove up Moonhaw Road to our old swimming hole, Red Rocks. The dam has washed away and with no one to rebuild it the water isn't creating the deep 'hole' we used to swim in. The rocks we used to sunbathe and dry ourselves on have been overtaken by the shrubs, but it's still a beautiful place.
Red Rocks

Falls above Red Rocks
We drove up a little bit farther to see several places my dad used to maintain for the NYC "Summer People" when I was a kid. My favorite was a place called, "Lily of the Valley" probably for the tons of those particular flowers that grew there. When our son Bryan was a young boy, I took him there to fish. The pond was heavily stocked and as soon as we put our line in we caught one. I really wanted him to experience the actual "catching" of a fish and boy did we. The experience took all of 15 minutes. I think it took me that long to put the poor worm on the hook! But he was so excited to catch a fish. For years after that we fished all over NY and never caught a 'keeper' like that day!

As we drove back down Moonhaw, I reminisced about the various "neighbors" that I had visited as a kid. The Brockingtons became good friends of ours after I had moved from home and they helped keep my mom busy with caring for their home in her later years. It was their way of giving her extra spending money and a reason to have her stop by so they could make sure she was doing okay. The Jamesons lived across the road from Red Rocks and I remember the son who was my age and an older sister. They swam with us a few times, but they weren't around during the cooler months. Raymond Bell was a good friend of my dad's, little did I know I would eventually marry into their family -- though distant cousins, we are related.

Lily of the Valley
The Hydes moved in during our later years and I believe were related to Charlie North who lived down the road from them. Charlie was unique in that he was an elderly man who offered us kids a drink of water as we tromped back and forth from swimming. We loved to watch him pump the artisan well and fill a pot, then ladle out the water in aluminum cups that sweated in the heat. No water has ever tasted as good as Charlie's water.

At one point Moonhaw meets Druykill (Dry Brook Road) -- this name never made sense to me because Dry Brook never ever went dry -- and Manitou house is on the corner. Manitou house had quite a history. It was an inn and restaurant when I was a little. My sister Lynn used to waitress there and possibly did chambermaid work. I remember one year my mom left us in the care of my dad while she went to visit her sister in Michigan. I was probably in my early teen years and tried my hand at cooking dinner for my dad and my younger brother. I seem to remember tasting my boiled potatoes -- a favorite of my dad's -- and finding them a tad salty. My dad was said the meal was soooo good that he thought the chef deserved the next day off and he took us to Manitou House for dinner once if not two or three times the week mom was gone. Gotta love my dad.
Molloy's Chicken Coop Apt.

Across from Manitou is the Molloys property, where deer ate the apples under their multiple trees and kids gathered to play basketball and baseball. It's also where I worked one of my first cleaning jobs for their grandmother in her house in the converted chicken coop!

We continue down Moohaw as I relayed to Jim where the Hesleys and Finkens, the Burghers, Grovers, Reitmeiers, Maugs and Monacos and Wilsons all lived. The famous bus stop...."I walked all the way from my house to here to catch the bus!"

Then we headed down past flat rock, split rock, the Steens house, Asam's Hill (great for sledding.) The old Schneider home that had flooded in "the '57 flood." The Johansens, then Scanlans, and the new "Private Road" where Carol Robin works and lives. Finally to Donovans where one of my earliest memories of being at a Christmas party was at their house. From there my brother Jim's friends the Fugels lived but I am not sure which house. From there on we drive up Peekamoose Mountain Road. My little Ford Focus strains to climb the steep hills and I recall Ann Roser and I making the daring attempt to ride our bikes up this mountain! We did make to the lake at the top. The ride back down was terrifying!

On our way we pass the "Ice Box" an opening to an underground cave where there is ice almost all summer. We can't stop because we have two cars behind us and no place to pull over. We make it to the top and once again drive along the edge of the lake and property of the Packs. Jim's dad used to work on their vehicles. Jim remembers the barn with the equipment to maintain their personal ski lifts on the mountain. It's just after the 'caretakers cottage' a pretty nice house at the end of the lake.

At this point, I remember the strange phenomenon that happens at this point on the mountain. When we started to see the lake it was flowing down the east side of the mountain. Now as we pass the house and the bridge over the creek on the other side of the lake the water flows down the west side. How come the lake NEVER empties? I always wondered how this was to be.

Soon we are driving down the other side and we start to see the falls on the right side of the road. We stop and climb the first one and take a few photos. Then we climb back in the car and go on until we come to another falls, this one larger than the other, but so many people clogging up the lot and both sides of the road we drive on vowing to come back another time.

We search for the Blue Hole and see many areas we thought was it but so much has changed with the flooding over the years, we are not sure if any of the camping areas along the creek are there anymore. Farther down the road, where the creek meanders on the right side of the road, we see sign for NY State campgrounds. These are the "official" camping areas that the locals rarely stay at.

We drive on and come out once again at the Rondout Reservoir. We were here early last spring and today we drive down the other side. Amazing construction similar to our own Ashokan Reservoir. Both were built to maintain water for all the people in NYC. These reservoirs were surrounded by giant pine trees that have been there for years. But this year with the blight and the pine beetles the trees are dying faster than they can be replaced. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 3-5 years.

After driving down Route 55 to Ellenville we seek out the restaurant we plan to eat our dinner at. Aroma Thyme is a new found eclectic place with "The Chef on a Mission" Marcus Guiliano. I have been reading/listening to his blogs over the past few months and he sent us a coupon for our anniversary. Check out his blog(s), he really has some great healthful information there.
We did have some time to kill so I took us up on Route 52 which climbs the mountain on the east side of Ellenville and stopped at several overlooks. It was a beautiful sight to look down on the old Nevele hotel and the valley.

We headed on in search of a little country store I discovered while on a work assignment. Alas we never found the store but ended up in Gardiner. By then we had enough time to make it back to Aroma Thyme for our dinner.

I had the shrimp curry and Jim had the chicken breast with vegetables. Everything from the bread, bean dip, cheese plate, dinners were all natural or organic and mostly from our neck of the woods. What a nice change to know someone cares about your food like you do.

As Chef Marcus states on his blog,"don't come to my restaurant if you want a cheap meal. I buy the best and healthiest ingredients to give you the best!" That was evident. The meals were delicious and I really expected them to be on the smaller portion size side. They were not...I brought home plenty for lunch the next day.

A great way to celebrate 35 years of marriage...only wish the kids could have been here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


On my recent trip to Maine, a girlfriend and I caught the annual Windjammer Days in Boothbay Harbor. It was such a delight to watch from our base at Ocean Point; the Windjammers sailing in, out and around the islands.

For years I have been fascinated with sailing ships. I remember as a child being in a friend's home and seeing a famous picture of a huge sailing ship on the high seas similar to this one:

I would stare at that picture and wonder:  Was it frightening to be on the water with no land in sight? Did the crew just take a storm in stride? Do they get as lonely in such vastness?

As I grew older, I loved watching sailboats on the Hudson River as they would catch the wind and move gracefully across the water. I was drawn to the peace they portrayed. When I married Jim we both enjoyed watching sailboats from the shore on various lakes. It had such an impact that us that we toyed with idea of owning such a craft.

When in Maine on an earlier visit, Jim and I took a sailing tour on a schooner called the East Wind. It was a real awakening for both of us. While, as passengers, we could relax somewhat (other than ducking when the boom passed over us!), we watched the crew go back and forth, taking the sails up and down and working hard to keep us on track. The scenery was beautiful, but we noticed the crew didn't seem to get much of a chance to enjoy it.

East Wind 

That trip changed my outlook. Once back on shore, I shared my revelation. It was not the sailing that drew me to the boat; it was the peaceful, serene portrait that it painted for me as I watched from the shore!

That cured me of my wanting to own or live on a sailboat. Sure the scenery was nice as long as you were the passenger. If you own the boat, it was a totally different story.

Through the years, we have watched many beautiful sailboats and sailing ships and were awed by the peace they gave us just watching.

When we first caught the Windjammers arriving in Boothbay one year, it was like a dream come true! We hadn't planned on being there for this annual festival, but we were so happy we were. First they appeared out of nowhere on the ocean, then they silently played hide and seek with us around the islands. We were shocked the next morning when we took our coffee out near the dock and saw them once again, sailing from Linekin Bay back out to sea!

It is a custom of sorts for the residents of Boothbay to host a clambake for the crew and their passengers the night before they sail into the harbor. Call it a lure to come back each year, but it works! When we were on the East Wind this past week the Captain and First Mate shared how they feasted on lobster and clams and corn and steamers. Wonder how one can become part of the crew? Hmmm, me thinks I will volunteer next year!

When we made our reservation for this trip, we were told we would be part of the Windjammer Parade due to the scheduling of our cruise on the East Wind. As it turned out, we were eating lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf when these awesome vessels sailed in. We had a perfect view of the harbor and many of the Windjammers docked right outside our window. We ended up packing up our lunch and taking in on the East Wind as the restaurant was very busy and took a good deal of time getting our sandwiches together.  As we sailed around the harbor we took in the sights:

As we sailed farther out we saw this nice surprise:
While obviously not a Windjammer, this battleship sailed in to join the festivities. Only one boat was allowed close enough to load and unload the sailors. The rest of us were kept at bay by a most nonthreatening rubber dingy with three armed (?) sailors that circled the ship. Reminded me of a mouse running around and around trying to protect a lion!

 Then we sailed out farther to see the various islands and get a view from the ocean toward Ocean Point where we were staying.

This humble little church stands out on the shore overlooking Boothbay and offers a quiet place of refuge for those that wish to escape the hustle and bustle of this touristy town.

One day I hope to spend an entire year in Maine. I understand many of the waterfront properties close down and board up for the winter, but there must be someplace to observe the ocean and still be able to hunker down when the winter winds start to howl. I would love that! Jim thinks I am crazy, so I guess it will be a while before I get my wish.

Maine - lobster, seafood, rocky shores, cold water, fog horns, lighthouses, and just an old fashioned way of living. A much slower pace of life. A great appreciation for the simple things, but a reliance on their brothers and sisters of the lower states to help them maintain their livelihood. Back to basics kind of living.

An appreciation for God and country and fellow man. I think we could all use a dose of that from time to time...more often than most get for sure!

While we weren't there for the Fourth of July celebrations, we did get to experience fireworks over the harbor. We had prime views from the park across from the church. It was so neat to see the shadows of the shipping vessels cast on the water from "the rockets red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air!"