Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leisure at the Lake Adventure: Lots to Do

The house to which we drove up (when we finally figured out the crazy road and got over the railroad tracks) was not the typical beach or lake house of my youth.  Those were clapboard or cinder block houses that were furnished like your first after college apartment, meant to be used and abused by a passel of kids who were going to be wet or covered in sand all of the time.

In the excitement of the moment, i'm not sure what overwhelmed me the most -- seeing this beautiful house, or getting to hug friends old and new.

Script was there and got a bear hug.  Grace, as beautiful as ever, smiling with those big, blue eyes.  Westie was sitting on a couch with a hot pack on her shoulder where the strain of travel was making itself felt, but she smiled and hugged with enthusiasm.  Farmer Pickles, whom i hadn't seen since San Antonio, had driven in from Maine with her smallest dog, Jackie.  She was the one who began our tradition of getting together each year, and i can never thank her enough.  Eagle, whose beautiful car, Ramblin' Rose, had been totaled by a distracted driver while she on the road trip to meet up with her husband before coming here.

The people i only knew from the website and hadn't yet met in person were there, too, as we were the last to the party.  Ally, who is very pretty and quiet, Peppermint, who had her almost four -year-old son, Hairy, Jr., with her, and FiveCat, who had cooked her specialty, Kentucky chili, for dinner.

Everything we do, when there are eight or more of us together, is a mass of confusion and fun.  Talking, with two or three conversations going on at once.  One is making plans to go back into town to get a few things.  There's cooking going on, while we empty the car and i try to unload my full cooler into the even fuller refrigerator.  Taking a tour of this big, rambling house, with the two kitchens, sleeping lofts, multi-level decks overlooking the water, dock and jacuzzi.

Grace and i share a beautiful bedroom

We all settled in and everyone got back from errands and FiveCat explained how the specialty chili is made in her area.  They put spaghetti in the chili; with so many there on different diets, she had put whole wheat corkscrew noodles instead.  Because there are some of us who are vegetarian, she had made it with beans and no meat.  Gathering for the meal, it was a joy to all finally sit together, as it's been a long road to set up and get to this place, and it was delicious, with a unique flavor.

Eagle, who is doing a raw food reset, had made some raw food, which she kindly shared with me, although i did eat a small serving of the chili.  Staying all raw vegan on the road is very expensive, and it's hard to do when stopping for meals with omnivores.  Vegan will be close enough for a few meals..

As late as it was, after dinner, Grace and i went to the grocery store so i could get a few things for the gumbo.  (Anyone who knows me, knows that i usually shop very, very early in the morning, but when on these trips, i'm up for a middle of the night run to the store, like we used to do back in college.  After all, i'm hyped on caffeine and adrenaline.)  We took Ninja's car and Grace's GPS, and followed Peppermint, who wasn't staying at the house, and who also needed to pick up a few things on the way to her home that is about a 45 minute drive from the lake house.

Once in town, i got my first look at a Wegman's grocery store.  Grace enjoyed getting one of the grocery carts that has a little kiddie car attached to the front and pushing Hairy, Jr., around in it.  When her kids were young, those weren't in use yet, and she is at that stage of life where she is nostalgic about children but not ready for grandchildren yet.  We picked up the things i didn't want to haul over a thousand miles, like onions and garlic and celery and bell pepper, which you can get anywhere.

Westie had been disappointed, at the Wegman's, when she was told the previous day that they did not carry Ezekiel bread, in spite of having an extensive section with gluten free and healthy foods and etc.  Then we found some -- apparently, the person she had asked didn't quite know what he was talking about.  Though i hadn't planned to, i got some to share with everyone.

Script had told me, before we came, that Wegman's was the best regular grocery type store she had been to in the States, and as i looked at the extensive "health food" area and the cheeses and meats and big selection, i was impressed.

Even more impressive was the fact that, since i had made a mistake and forgotten to bring file (pronounced fee-lay) for the gumbo, when i went looking for it, i actually found it, along with a couple of selections of Cajun style spices.  A touch of home far away, although i didn't need anything but the file, was nice to see.

Grace and i found our way back home quite easily, and after putting the groceries away, i reached for some grapes that were on the table and found a cloud of fruit flies.  Back home, that would be cause of bagging and packing food, moving everything that was out into an already overstuffed refrigerator, and a bit of a hullabaloo.  Instead, here in the North, where the nights are nice and cool, we just stuffed everything outdoors, some in my empty  cooler, so as to keep nothing inside the flies would be interested in.  The trash we would put in the outdoor cans at the road each day, and leave no food out within the house, and that would take care of it.

Then, at the end of this long day, Grace and i went to our shared room upstairs for showers and bed.

Five am comes early, but it was worth getting up and seeing the sunrise on the lake, and i called Sweetie as usual to make sure he was up (and yes, i remembered the time change).  Our plan for the day was to go to Seneca Falls to see the birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement back in the 1800's, and maybe another historic sight or museum.

Sunrise view from our balcony.

Seneca Falls was the inspiration, and i believe even made up part of the movie set, for Bedford Falls in the movie It's a Wonderful Life.  A pretty town with many homes that are part of the National Park System, beautiful local shops, and a view of the lake that used to be the waterfall that gives the town its name.

The Wesleyan Church which was host to the first Women's Right Convention is there, where the Declaration of Sentiments was first read by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  We toured her house, and that's where we learned that there was previously a waterfall and a business district under the lake that is there now.  When the Erie Canal was expanded to accommodate barge traffic, back in 1917 (if i'm remembering what the guide said), the entire area ended up flooded.  So there's a historic business district under the lake.

It was fascinating and sad to see many of the exhibits in the museum associated with the area.  So many people have lived in such poverty and horror and oppression over the course of years -- slaves, child laborers, and women who had no rights under the law once they were married.  What saddens me is the number of people all over the world who still live under such things today.  It's sobering, and exciting to see the work begun  by courageous women all that time ago which is changing the world still today.

While wandering among the shops in the area, Script pointed out a health food type store, so i stopped for a minute to see what the sign on the door that announced a healthy coffee meant.  The nice young man named Tristan, about the age of one of my older children, explained to me that it was a particular mushroom extract that is added to the coffee which makes it easier on the stomach, balances the bodies pH level, and supposedly a lot of other cool stuff.  Since it's enormously expensive, of course, i treated myself to a single cup packet for $2 and received the surprise of my life when there was no sales tax.   What! i exclaimed.  After all, where i'm from, they tax everything at 10%, and keep yelling about wanting it higher because they can't afford to give themselves pay raises.

We returned to the house to have leftovers and sandwiches and whatever else we wanted for lunch, and then headed back out to tour a place called Rose Hill.  Eagle led the way, and talk about a crazy drive!  Following a GPS can make for some sudden turns you didn't know about, and at one point she veered across two lanes to turn and one of our three cars got left behind, and we had to wait for FiveCat to turn around and come back, as we had pulled off the road to wait.  When we got to Rose Hill, i told Eagle she better replace Ramblin' Rose with another Volvo, she needed it if she was going to drive like that!

Like so many of the plantation homes back where i'm from, Rose Hill was a Greek Revival home, with a history of slavery and right on the lake so crops could be shipped out.

Greek Revival

While strolling the garden, i noted and watched for quite a while as a beautiful specimen of a garden spider did what spiders do, which is catch bugs.  Also, i noticed a very pretty flower that i think is a tulip rose, but i could easily be wrong (everything i know about plants could be written in a one page book, with three pages left over).

A not so itsy, bitsy spider.

Might or might not be a tulip rose.

In speaking to one of the tour guides, i commiserated with her on the difficulties of dealing with the boards of historic sites, volunteer troubles, curation difficulties, and how board members who are business people just don't understand preservation.  We talked about the Model T Ford which had belonged to one of the last family members to own the house as a private individual, and how they wanted to get it fully running to use in the local parade once a year.  We discussed the dampness problems in that huge mansion, and how they can't repaint the exterior until they do the attic and basement work to keep moisture from destroying paint on the walls almost as soon as it's put on.  We talked about the business owners who run the board firing all of their paid professional curators to save money, which will cost them so much in the long run, as the volunteers just don't have the training to do it all and the business people don't get that.

We also talked about the damage woodpeckers were doing to the columns of the house.  She had personally purchased, from Cornell University's Ornithology Lab, something called WoodpeckerX, which emits the sounds of a downy woodpecker in distress, and a predator, to chase them away.  They can change the predator sound, and the sounds are random, and so far it is working.  She found out they use them on oil rigs to get rid of sea gulls, so they are perfectly okay to be outdoors in the weather.  Yes, the groundskeeper had been concerned about that.

After Rose Hill, it was time to go back to the lake house and cook gumbo.  Because i had premade the roux and chopped most of the veggies, and brought my home made chicken stock and some vegetable stock, it went together rather easily.  We got to listen to Script play her recorder (and no, not the dinky little plastic kind you used in school, a real, professional recorder, as she is a concert quality player) and it was fun to cook and mix and have a good time filling everyone with vegan gumbo and seafood gumbo and some nice andouille sausage i sauteed.

Bedtime always comes late, as we love to linger and talk and have a great time, and this evening was no exception, but it's always worth it.

Today is:

Battle of Boqueron Day -- Paraguay

Constitution Day -- Brunei

Festival of Tezcatzonctl -- Ancient Aztec Calendar (chief god of intoxication; date approximate)

Freyburg Fair -- Fryeburg, ME, US (a week-long celebration with aggricultural exposition, draft horse competition, a midway, nightly shows, Woodsmen's Day, Firemen's Muster, a juried crafts show, and more; through next Sunday)

Gold Star Mothers Day 2013 -- US (the day to honor mothers who have lost a child who was serving in the US Armed Forces)

Gwynn ap Nudd's Fest -- Celtic Calendar (god of the underworld; date approximate)

Inventors Day -- Argentina

Make a List of the Top Ten Happiest Days in Your Life Day -- must have been started by an optimist

National Attend Your Grandchild's Birth Day --; a day to remind grandparents to be active in their grandchildren's lives (and if you need a reminder, i wonder about you; if you aren't allowed by bitter parents, i feel badly for you)

National Coffee Day -- what!?!  this isn't every day!?

National Mocha Day

Quick Draw Day -- debut of Quick Draw McGraw and his side kick, Baba Looey, in 1959

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and All Angels' Day  (Michaelmas)
     Archangel Gabriel, Patron of broadcasters, clergy, communication workers, diplomats, messengers, philatelists/stamp collectors, post offices and postal workers, radio and radio workers, secular clergy, telecommunication workers, telgraphers, telephones, television and television workers; Argentinian ambassadors; Seattle, Washington
     Archangel Michael, Patron of artists, bakers, bankers and banking, barrel makers/coopers, battle, boatmen/mariners/sailors/watermen, dying people, emergency medical technicians/paramedics/ambulance drivers, fencers and fencing, grocers and greengrocers, haberdashers and hatmakers, knights, milleners, paratroopers, police officers, radiologists and radiotherapists, security guards, sick people, soldiers, swordsmiths; for a holy death and safety at sea; England, Germany, and over 25 cities around the world; against danger at sea and temptation
     Archangel Raphael, Patron of apothecaries/druggists/pharmacists, blind people, doctors/physicians, guardian angels, happy meetings, love and lovers, mentally ill people, nurses, shepherdesses/shepherds, sick people, travelers, young people; Dubuque, Iowa; MacKenzie-Fort Smith, Northwest Territories; Seattle, Washington; against bodily ills, eye diseases/eye problems, insanity/mental illness, nightmares, sickness
     related observances:
     National Day of Remembrance for Policemen Killed -- Australia (St. Michael, Patron of police officers)
     Payment of Quit Rent by London Royal Courts of Justice -- Michaelmas is a traditional English "Quarter Day", when rents come due

VFW Day -- US (The Veterans of Foreign Wars was established on this day in 1899)

World Heart Day -- International (to raise awareness of the signs and dangers of cardiovascular disease)

World Rivers Day -- International

Birthdays Today:

Bryant Gumbel, 1948
Lech Walesa, 1943
Madeline, Kahn, 1942
Jerry Lee Lewis, 1935
Anita Ekberg, 1931
Lizabeth Scott, 1922
Stanley Kramer, 1913
Greer Garson, 1908
Gene Autry, 1907
Enrico Fermi, 1901
Horatio Nelson, 1758
Miguel de Cervantes, 1547
Pompey the Great, BC106

Today in History:

Darius I of Persia kills the Magian usurper Gaumata, securing his hold as king of the Persian Empire, BC522
Battle of Salamis, at which the Greek fleet under Themistocles defeats the Persian fleet under Xerxes I, BC480
Pompey the Great Celebrates ending the Mithridatic Wars on his 45th birthday, BC61
Saladin's army marches into Jerusalem, 1187
The First Congress of the US adjourns, 1789
"Scotland Yard", London's Metropolitan Police Force, goes on duty, 1829
The first practical public electric tramway ever opens in Blackpool, England, 1885
John D. Rockefeller becomes the first billionaire, 1916
The convention establishing CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is signed, 1954
Alouette 1, the first Canadian satellite, is launched, 1962
WGPR in Detroit, Michigan, becomes the world's first black-owned-and-operated television station, 1975
Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope to set foot on Irish soil with his pastoral visit to the Republic of Ireland, 1979
The asteroid 4179 Toutatis passes within four lunar distances of Earth, 2004
The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 777.68 points, the largest single-day point loss in its history, 2008
An 8.0 magnitude earthquake near the Samoan Islands causes a tsunami, 2009


  1. Sounds like terrific fun...good food, great friends and a fun place to be!

  2. What a lovely first day on the lake and the view is awesome indeed. I know you're having the time of your life. Good for you.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

  3. Great pictures and commentary. I love Greek Revival estates even though many of them have a sketchy past.

  4. bravo on your adventures with friends!