Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jammin' for Betsy's birthday

Betsy, our fearless leader in Watkins Glen who hosts us every other week to play music at her place, let the cat out of the bag about her upcoming 'big' birthday.

So her good friends Kate and Danni, both hammered dulcimer players, threw the big surprise birthday bash for her last week, and even the sun showed up to help the celebration. It was the nicest weather we've had since our arrival in late May.

The company was great, the food was fantastic and the music was even better (at least for those of us who got to play). Betsy lives to sing the old time tunes (or anything else), plays the dulcimer and the bass, joins every jam in the area.

I also got to hear a great singer and local musician, Chris Holder, play (he's in the video too). Check him out!

A perfect celebration, for all of us.

Here's a wrap-up of some of the day's tunes (courtesy of Cap'n Michael):

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A lot of cold, wet 'civilization'

It's been three weeks since I've had anything to say.

That might be a record. I've hit a state of ohmmmmmmmmmmm --- or something. Just taking one day at a time, making a list, waiting for the weather to clear.

Especially waiting for the weather to heal.

Today is the Waterfront Festival in Watkins Glen and the much-anticipated Cardboard Boat Races. And this is our radar picture for today.

One of the biggest changes after living in Mexico for six months is that we now have to check the weather forecast daily --- or hourly --- and we actually talk about the weather. In Mexico, you knew every day was going to be perfect. Here in New York, Michael has already told me to clear my schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday because the forecast is finally looking good.

Not that the forecast can't and won't change. But I'm (finally) adapting. And not whining as much. I'm also layered up in fleece with a rain slicker, shoes and socks.

Re-entry to Civilization

The first few weeks back is a process of re-adapting to a country that offers pretty much everything and anything and is easy --- all for a price, of course.

Some of the things I've been enjoying:
• Just rinsing our fruits and veggies, rather than treating them in anti-bacterial rinse before eating.
• Drinking the water out of the faucet.
• Getting dressed in the morning without having to shake my clothes and shoes to make sure a scorpion hasn't taken up residence.
• Streaming video on Netflix!

Some of the things I'm still wrapping my brain around:
• The price of everything! --- food in the grocery stores, restaurants, gas, any services.
• The difficulty of finding people to work in some service areas, especially housecleaning. It pays pretty well but nobody's doing it. What's up with that?
• The weather. (Of course).

My latest venture into civilization was Friday's visit to a dentist in Ithaca, Dr. Chris Devenpeck (in practice with Dr. Ira Kamp) to have a tooth extracted. Friday's are also spa day at the office so you get massage while they yank your tooth out.

Silly as it sounds, dang, it works. It's hard to concentrate on exactly how uncomfortable and anxious I am when someone's massaging my feet.

Massage at the dentist
How 'bout it, Dr. Pam?


I'm also so pleasantly reminded of the history of family, of the length of the roots we have here. Our ancestors arrived in upstate New York sometime in the 1700s and I have cousins and siblings, nieces and nephews to visit up and down the lake.

About 50 years ago, when my mother bought this place near Hector, we built a steep, narrow path down to our lakefront and dock. The cables we attached to the saplings have now grown into and become a part of the trunk of the tree, a reminder of how long we've been here.

50 years of a sapling's growth
The cable is a handrail tacked on to the tree 50 years ago

Our dock on Seneca Lake
Our dock at the bottom of the 'goat trail'

Although my mother has been gone since February 2005, I still use her name to remind people of my connection to the area and she's still remembered, her house is still known.

But the memory of the locals goes so much farther back than us that often I have to remind the oldtimers that 'you know, the cottage that old Stoney owned?' And they know right where I live. And I think, 'Gee whiz. How long do we have to live here before we're not the newcomers?'

I guess longer than 50 years.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Catapulting out of Mexico

I left Arroyo Seco last Tuesday for a quick trip to see Sasha and family, have an early celebration with Dustin for his 29th birthday, then on to Flagstaff, Arizona to sneak in a quick 'girls visit' with Beth.

A Mexican veteran herself (with a place in Kino Bay), she surprised me with appointments for massage and a haircut.

Wise woman.

She took me shopping at the new huge New Frontiers, which rivals any Whole Foods store in California. The choices were overwhelming after running next door to Xavier's tiny tienda for my limited groceries for the past six months.

Welcome to America!

Beth encouraged me to get a new look from her hair stylist, who I grilled with more than 20 questions about how many layers, how easy to take care of, can I still pull it back? By the time I agreed to the cut, I think he was more nervous than I was.

But it's great to have shorter hair again, great to come back to 'civilization' and try to fit in a bit more. At least at first. No makeup yet. We'll see how long I can hold out....

Sylvia & Beth at a Flagstaff salon
Beth talks me into a new 'look'

I met Michael on Friday at Sky Harbor in Phoenix for our annual red-eye flight home, first to Philly, followed by a commuter flight up to Elmira. It makes for a really long day (and night) but it's worth it to live in such a beautiful and remote area in the New York Finger Lakes.

The weather is unseasonably cold (oh great...), but it's great that all our flowers are still in full bloom, we have time to get the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat out of storage and into the water without missing any great lake days, time to reconnect with my fiddle-playing friends, get back up to speed.

Here's a video of our first afternoon on the ground. We arrived at 11 in the morning, borrowed a car from Brother Dan, went to Wegman's grocery for lunch and shopping, then on to our favorite used car dealer.

We were home at the lake by 3 with a new Jeep on order to drive for the summer and a carload of supplies, cranked up the jacuzzi and started to pull weeds.

We're getting this relocation thing down to a new art form....

Hope to see many of you now that we're back in the States!