Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy, Sandy, why, oh Sandy?

Hurricane Sandy warnings began almost a week ago and as the storm approached, more and more hype and calls for preparedness began flooding the local and national news.  The storm would not only impact the east coast, but also hundreds of miles inland as the circumference of the storm was somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 miles.  

I brought in the outdoor furniture, took down the halloween decorations and with the help of my handyman neighbor, took out the generator.  Ryan showed me how to turn it on, checked the oil, filled it with gas and set it up under the deck so it would stay dry in the rain, ready to start as soon as the power went out.  Extension cords were brought into the house and two gas cans were filled and left in the shed.  Fresh batteries for the flashlight, plenty of allergy-friendly food for my sons, bottled water and several of bottles of wine and we were now ready for Sandy.

Since 1985 when I first moved into this house, I have lost power during every single significant storm...except Sandy.  For the first time, we did not lose power and had The Weather Channel on the whole time, watching in disbelief as the tall ship Bounty sank and crew members were rescued in the Atlantic.  We watched Jim Cantore report from Battery Park as water began flooding lower Manhattan and we saw in real time waves battering Point Pleasant, New Jersey.  

The Weather Channel had many reporters out on location, including a reporter in Narragansett, RI, where I have rented a beach house during the month of July for the past several years.  The reporter told of a window blowing out in the restaurant the crew was eating at earlier.  The photos at low tide showed waves crashing over the sea wall, splattering sea foam everywhere, looking like there was in a fact a blizzard taking place.  Obviously, compared to New Jersey and New York, we here in Rhode Island were very fortunate, but Sandy was still a formidable storm here, one we do not want to see repeated in the future.

Thoughts and prayers to all those affected by Sandy...

The Coast Guard House in Narragansett (restaurant)
At least they recovered a salt and pepper shaker!
What's left of a bench facing Narragansett Beach.
Broken beach parking lot overlooking Narragansett Beach with the Towers in the background.
Part of the sea wall along Narragansett Beach broke off.
Monahan's Dock
Surfers always are out after a storm.

What's left of the ramp at Scarborough Beach in Narragansett.
Home on Galilee Beach, much of the dune washed away but the house looked intact. 
Stairway to nowhere...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Girls Can Be So Fickle...

I picked my sons up from school a couple of weeks ago and David looked quite perturbed.  Autism manifests differently in kids and while both of my sons are both pretty social, they are naive in their dealings with their peers.  David is just now learning how to effectively deal with other kids.  David tends to make mountains out of slightly out of the ordinary interactions and disagreements.  From his mood, I sensed that something was bothering him.

I asked him what happened at school today and he said, "Well, I got this love letter in school today.  It had love, love, love all over it and it was in my desk."  

Stifling a laugh I asked who it was from.  "Some girl."  I had to pry the information out of him and learned it was a girl named Jailean in 4th grade (he's in 5th).  They  have the same lunch period together, but basically don't see each other all day.  

"Well, David, just be nice and say hi if you see her at lunch.  It takes a lot of courage to send a note to someone you don't know and you don't want to make her feel bad.  Just be nice to her"

"But Mom, I'm too young to be in a relationship..."

And I lost it, laughing hysterically.

Occasionally David told me he waved to Jailean at lunch or smiled at her after lunch.  I hadn't heard anything for over a week, so I asked David yesterday how his 'girlfriend' was.

And in a very matter of fact tone he replied, "Oh, she hates me now."  

"Really?  Why," I asked.  

"Because I'm friends with Josh and she HATES Josh.  Josh said she flipped me off."  

So I guess the love affair was very short-lived.  Girls can be so fickle.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Smoke Detectors are Not Created Equally

The last think I thought I'd be writing about is smoke detectors.  But tonight, I was making my sons some microwave popcorn and I went in the other room, forgetting about the popcorn.  Smoke began pouring out of the microwave. And while I grabbed the bag and threw it in the sink, the microwave was pouring smoke and in a matter of a minute, the entire living room and kitchen areas were filled with thick smoke.  My sons and I ran to open the front and back doors, put on ceiling fans and opened windows.

And my smoke detector, wired in electronically, about 2 feet into the hallway which was also filled with smoke, DID NOT GO OFF.  

In the beginning of October, a story about smoke detectors caught my attention both on the Today Show and then again that evening on The Nightly News With Brian Williams.  It was how a woman lost her 4 children in a fire, and although she had working smoke detectors, they did not go off until it was too late.  The story went on to show demonstrations of failures of these units.  See the Today Show Story link here. 

Evidently, the most popular brands of smoke detectors use ionization technology.  But this does not always detect the smoke from smoldering fires.  A demonstration showed a firefighter in a room with a smoldering fire, for over 20 minutes, filling with smoke and the smoke detector did not go off until the room was filled with thick smoke.  There are smoke detectors on the market which use photo electric technology and detect the smoke almost immediately. They cost more, so most people choose the cheaper, ionization models.

I saw the story and actually went to Home Depot to purchase a photo electric detector which is still in it's packaging.  It cost $24.99 where  the ionization detectors started at a $13 price point. 

I hadn't gotten around to installing it yet, not really considering it that much of a priority.  I was wrong.  We were so busy opening windows and putting on fans that I didn't think to grab my camera.  I wish I had and that I could show you how much smoke was in the house with no alarm going off.

I will keep my regular smoke detectors which are wired in, but will be installing the battery operated version of the photo electric smoke detectors right next to them.  I would urge you to consider doing the same.  It may just save your family's lives.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The New York Yankees Took Us Out to the Ballgame

My boys love watching baseball.  We added the MLB package to our cable several years ago as they got more and more interested in the game.  A visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY thrilled them.  My husband got seats right on the visitors dugout for a couple of games at Fenway park and the boys loved it.  When we visited Philadelphia, I got tickets to a Phillies game and we even toured the stadium.  

But at heart, my boys are Yankees fans.  Originally a Red Sox fan, I have to admit the Yankees have won me over.  On our way home Philadelphia in April, 2011, I had purchased Yankees tickets.  An accident on the George Washington Bridge had us sitting in traffic for over 3 hours and my sons were crying as we listened to the game on the radio.  By the time we got to Yankee Stadium, it was the 8th inning.  We were fortunate to see the great Mariano pitch an inning, but the evening was overall a bust.  So, for David, Jr's birthday in August, I got front row seats, near the Yankees' dugout in Baltimore.  In 2011, Baltimore was a last place team and it was easy to get good seats.  We figured we'd see a little more of Philly and spend the next day in Baltimore, catch the game and go home.  But Hurricane Irene hit the east coast and we had to cancel our trip, losing the money for the tickets in the process.

This past May, I sent a letter to the Yankees, explaining our bad luck in taking our sons to see their favorite team play.  Within a week, I received a phone call from the Yankee's administrative offices and was told the Yankees would like to invite us to a ballgame.  They sent me a form and asked me to pick two games from the list that we would like to attend, and depending on availability, they would give us 4 complimentary tickets to one of those games.  I sent in the form and received another phone call saying 4 tickets would be at the pickup window for the June 19 game with the Atlanta Braves.  And they were great seats!  Practically on the field!!

We bought tickets for the Yankee Stadium tour in the afternoon and were amazed at how beautiful the stadium was.  

If we had been able to see Derek Jeter and get an autograph, my sons would have been in heaven!  We toured the dugout and our guide threw us a ball that one of the Atlanta Braves had hit in our direction!   I was so impressed with the way the Yankee organization takes care of their fans.  The woman we dealt with was so professional and courteous.  The stadium was filled with Yankee employees willing to help the fans with anything as they filed in for the game.  

While the Atlanta Braves eventually won this game, David and Michael had such a great time at the game.  I am so grateful to the Yankees for treating us to this game.  And I, along with my sons, was happy to cheer the Yankees on as they won the ALDS this week against Baltimore.  We will be cheering them on as they now take on the Detroit Tigers to clinch the American League title and go on to the World Series.  


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Scarecrows with Mums; Goblins, Ghosts and a Graveyard

October 1st is my date to begin decorating outside for fall.  We have a mixed theme, fall and Halloween.  Scarecrows reside in the side yard and front steps to the house, while the rest of the front is dedicated to a graveyard and ghosts, witches and black cats.

Every year, I pick up a new tombstone from Michaels Craft Store and a few small decorations to add to my collection.

Local garden stores have bunches of cornstalks, bales of hay and colorful mums.  I love using the small hay bales, the large ones are just too heavy!  Most of the mums I planted last year came back up, so I only had to add a few more.  

Oriental Trading has some inexpensive holiday decorating items, this year I purchased some spider webs and black cat stakes with glow in the dark eyes. 




Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Fall! Time to go Upstate ('FABULOUS' NY that is)...

At the end of September, we embark on our semi-annual trip to the Cooperstown area of upstate NY.  The long weekend includes seeing old friends, meeting new friends, baseball, relaxation and lots of great food and drink!  

We took the boys to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in the spring of 2010 and stayed at this beautiful inn we found online, The Meadowlark Inn in East Springfield, NY.  We liked it so much that we decided to go back in the fall to see the foliage.  A friendship developed with the innkeepers George and Tina and we have been going back every year for a long weekend each June and September.  

In the process, we have discovered the town of Sharon Springs, a thriving town in the 1900's where spas featuring sulfur springs drew New York City socialites to vacation and pamper themselves.  As travel became more advanced and vacationers had more options, the number of visitors dwindled.  The hotels became dilapidated and eventually abandoned, and the town became a virtual ghost town with only several hundred residents.  

However, in 2008, a reality TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys debuted on Planet Green featuring Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell.  Brent & Josh are two city boys who decided to buy a farm in Sharon Springs.  In a few short years, they have begun to revitalize the town, saving the post office and drawing new residents and businesses.  At the same time, they opened a store in town offering their line of products including goat milk soap, cheese and a host of other delicious and functional products.  Brent works the farm full-time, but Josh is still working in New York.  The Fabulous Beekman Boys reality show chronicles their hard work and determination to make a success of their business so Josh can move to the farm full time.  The cooking channel is running the 2nd season on Thursdays at 10pm and if there are enough viewers, they will begin filming a new season!

Check out The Beekman Boys products here:  Beekman 1802
(I especially like the goat milk soaps and their new lemon honey is delicious!)

When visiting last weekend, we stopped at the 204 Main Bar & Bistro in Sharon Springs to make reservations for dinner on Saturday.  The Beekman's CEO Megan was there and we spoke with her for a while, along with Jim, one of the Bistro's owners.  Megan invited us to a party at her home for the kickoff of The Amazing Race reality show.  Josh & Brent are competing against 9 other teams to win the grand prize of $1,000,000.00.   Armed with a gallon jug of lemon drops (recipe is in a previous blog entry!), we watched the premiere of this season's Amazing Race with a brief Skype visit by Josh & Brent.  We will be watching every week now to cheer the boys on!  

Some places to visit in the Sharon Springs/Cooperstown area:

Take a virtual tour of the Meadowlark Inn 

The boys love to play chess in the lobby

The view from our window
The Meadowlark Inn has 12 rooms, a warm and welcoming lobby, and friendly, attentive hosts, George & Tina.  They make delicious belgium waffles along with a breakfast buffet featuring oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, pastries, coffee, tea and juice.  The back yard has a barbecue area, baseball field, a volleyball net, and plenty of chairs and benches to enjoy!  

Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY
The Farmers' Museum is great for all ages! 
Between the Meadowlark Inn and Sharon Springs is Cherry Valley.  The Rose & Kettle Restaurant is one of our favorites.  Their Crabcake appetizer and Lemon Sage Risotto entree are to die for.


Lemon Sage Risotto
On a visit to Sharon Springs, the walking tour around the village is a must do.  There are photos and information about the history of the town.  

The vacant and dilapidated Adler Hotel - was recently purchased by a Korean company.  

The Black Cat Bakery & Cafe is a great stop for breakfast or lunch.  The Tuscan Chicken sandwich, sliced chicken with pesto, lettuce and artichoke hearts on ciabatta is my favorite.  Desert lovers will relish the fresh baked coconut cake, carrot cake and cappucchino torte.  

The Black Cat - Sharon Springs, NY
Tuscan Chicken Sandwich - The Black Cat
Cobbler & Co is one of the neatest gift shoppes I have ever been in.  The proprietor, Maureen, has rooms full of interesting items.  I found a really neat stemless martini glass set and a beautiful dragonfly lamp which I purchased as Christmas gifts.  Be prepared to spend time there, there are so many interesting items to discover!  

Stop at the 204 Main Bar & Bistro for a mouth-watering dinner.  Fresh tomato soup, beet and goat cheese salad, cheese tray, braised beef ribs, and chicken pot pie are a few of our favorites. 

Tomato Soup
Check out The Amazing Race on Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. and cheer on our favorite goat farmers, Josh & Brent!  Do you think you'll get to the Cooperstown area?  If you do, be sure to plan a side trip to Sharon Springs.  We can't wait to get back there in June!