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Category Archives: holiday

I’m Still on Vacation

To make this Non-Sequitur Thursday, I’m not even going to mention in the body of the post that I’m on vacation.


Be that as it may, today is Boxing Day. Not being ready to deal with my post-Christmas letdown, I decided to celebrate the holiday. I was not exactly sure the best way to set about this, so I got all 21st century and asked on Facebook. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess I could have googled or tweeted or something. Well, I’m not all that 21st century and I happened to be on Facebook at the time.

I got three suggestions (before I wrote this; there may be more now). One friend pointed out that it is also The Feast of Stephen, so I should eat something yummy. Excellent advice! I eat yummy things at every opportunity.

Another friend suggested a box of red wine. Brilliant! We all know I occasionally indulge in wine, box or bottle. In fact, I have a box of white wine on my kitchen table right now. I’m sure that would count.

The other suggestion (appropriately enough from a gentleman named Stephen) was boxing gloves. One of my stock greetings is, “Do you want to fight about it?” Based on that, I would say I celebrate Boxing Day every day. Come to think of it, one could argue that based on eating yummy things and getting a box of wine, I am a real Boxing Day maven.

I don’t imagine Boxing Day will ever obtain the prominence of Christmas in our culture. However, based on my limited knowledge and experience, I recommend it to all. Happy Boxing Day, and I hope to see you on Lame Post Friday.


Picture This

My place of employment considers both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be paid holidays. Therefore I shall feel free to make another silly post, in addition to yesterday’s bit of whimsy (do you think that is a nicer word than “nonsense”? Discuss amongst yourselves).

The Mohawk Valley has gotten a dusting of snow for Christmas. Isn’t that delightful? The look without the pain of shoveling. As I write this I am aware that in other parts of the country people are sitting around in their shorts by barbecue pits thinking of our White Christmas with scornful pity. Well, to each his own, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.

I am in Rome, NY for the holidays (thieves, don’t take note; there is really nothing in my house worth stealing) (I do this joke every time, but if you go to rob my house anyways, please clean the bathroom, it needs it again). Perhaps by next year I will get the proper camera or smart phone and be able to post pictures to this blog. That would be a good thing, because the city of Rome has some of the nicest Christmas lights around.

Some of the display came from a large, fancy restaurant called Trinkaus Manor, which tragically burned down some years ago. Many people from Rome cherish memories of driving out to Trinkaus at Christmastime to walk around and see the lights. After the restaurant burned down, the city ended up with them. What a great Christmas gift. I hope later on tonight to take a drive downtown and see the sights.

I see now where this would have been a better post with pictures. Oh well, one does what one can. It is Wuss-out Wednesday after all. Once again, Merry Christmas.

I Love a Parade

I may have used that headline before.

One reason we were happy Steven had Monday off was that we could attend the Herkimer, NY Memorial Day Parade. We went last year and enjoyed it very much. I do love a parade.

The parade was at one. I spent a short time doing yard work then the rest of the morning trying to get over my latest bout of lightheadedness (allergies? the last bit of my stomach bug? Who knows). I was feeling OK by 12:45 and we set out.

The parade was to end at Meyers Park, a mere ten minute walk from our house. That was where we caught it last year. It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright. Perhaps not as warm as one might like on Memorial Day (depending on who one is), but I thought it good parade weather.

We could hear the band warming up in the pavilion. The parade was to be followed by a ceremony in the park, but we did not plan to stay for that. For one thing, I had neglected to bring a bottle of water and I was thirsty.

At first we stood under the same tree we had stood under last year. The shade had been much appreciated then. This year not so much. Eventually we moved down to a sunny spot on Park Avenue.

A lot of people and a few dogs (including ours) had turned out to watch the parade. We especially admired a Great Dane-looking hound in a yard across the street. He was big.

At last the parade started. The American Legion and the Elks were represented, as were Herkimer Now and the Girl Scouts. Herkimer County Community College’s mascot, the General was there.

“We took a picture of him last year,” Steven remembered. I waved at him and got the two finger point in return.

My favorite part was the classic cars, most notably a Cadillac convertible. It was long and white and I said, “It’s not just sweet; it’s suh-weet.” My other favorite was a group of young men playing drums.

“Dig that rhythm section,” I said, quite unable to keep myself from dancing a little.

The parade was short but very fun. I love hometown stuff like that. Perhaps they’ll do another parade for the Herkimer Days later this summer. And there’s always Ilion’s Doodah Parade. All kinds of stuff to look forward to.

A Word with the Fat Man

Yesterday my headache felt better as the afternoon wore on. I wanted to have just one little Mohawk Valley adventure, so I put Tabby in the car and headed to the Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm, Otsego Street, Ilion, NY.

I know I’ve talked about the Ilion Farmer’s Market many times, but yesterday there was an added attraction: Santa Claus! I had seen a flier posted on a bulletin board at work earlier in the week. Saturday morning while writing a note to my sister, I mentioned it.

“I’d like a word with the fat man,” I wrote, just to be nonchalant about it. In fact I didn’t know if I’d get to talk to him at all; he’s a popular guy this time of year.

The flier had said to bring your camera and take a picture, but I stupidly forgot mine. No matter. I don’t know how to post a picture on a blog or Facebook anyways.

Tabby was very excited when she saw where we were. She loves the Farmer’s Market. Lots of exciting smells and nice people who like to pet her. She pulled me to the door most insistently.

It didn’t take me long to find Santa. He was walking around, and he looked remarkably similar to a guy I know from work (although I would certainly never describe that guy as “the fat man”). His suit was beautiful, definitely a cut above the one I bought for Steven at Wal-Mart some years ago. He told me it had been made for him some years ago by a lady now deceased.

I chatted with him and his wife for a while. There was a picture of the two of them dressed as Santa and Mrs. Santa, but Mrs. Santa was in civilian clothes yesterday. She told me they would also be at Weller park next Friday, the seventh, in the gazebo for a tree lighting. I dug a notebook out of my purse and made a note of the date.

As we walked back down the market Tabby got a sample of bacon from Mike Champagne. I had purchased a yummy piece of chocolate covered bacon from him during a previous visit to the Farmer’s Market, but I need to go back on the South Beach Diet.

It was an unusual visit to the market in that I did not purchase anything. I did see some jewelry I admired and some baked goods that looked yummy. I may return next Saturday. For one thing, Santa said he’d be there. Maybe I will remember my camera.

A Little More Christmas

Friday my Mom called up and asked did we want some company. She and Dad had mentioned driving out to Herkimer to see our decorations, but I didn’t think they’d actually make it. So the house was kind of a mess. What a surprise.

It was Steven’s day off, and he was in the midst of washing Thursday’s dishes (I usually let them sit, in case the Dish Fairies want to do them in the night. It could happen). I was comfortably lounged on the couch reading a biography by A. Scott Berg: Max Perkins, Editor of Genius. Excellent book. Highly recommend it.

I jumped up, of course, and began what a friend of mine refers to as Wonder Woman Hour. She used to have Wonder Woman Hour just before her husband came home, when she was a stay at home mom. She has full time a job now (plus a couple of part time), but I like to believe she still indulges in Wonder Woman Hour when the situation calls for it. Come to think of it, with a full time and a couple of part time jobs, Wonder Woman Hour is probably the only way to clean the house. But I digress.

We worked wonders with our house, the downstairs anyways. I am a great advocate of the stuff and cram method of cleaning. I stuffed many things in our second bedroom upstairs and closed the door. Oh, wait, I’m still digressing. Back to our post Christmas visit.

My Mom, Dad and sister Cheryl came over and admired all our decorations: our tree, the Santa Clauses on the buffet and dining room table, the tea pots and toys on the mantle, the Santas and mugs on the window sill in the kitchen. For being a Not As Decorated year, we have a lot of decorations out. Cheryl had brought us a lovely Santa that lights up and moves. We gave Mom and Dad the presents we had for the sisters, nieces and nephew we have not seen this holiday.

We had a nice visit over coffee. During the course of the visit I mentioned the Hallmark singing snowman I had seen for half price at Hummel’s. Perhaps you are familiar with the singing snowmen Hallmark has offered in the last few years. In 2010 Hallmark did a Snoopy, which we found less inspiring, but for a number of years before that, Steven and I had acquired every one. For 2011, Hallmark is back to snowmen, and I liked the one I saw.

When they got ready to go, Cheryl said, “And we’ll go by Hummel’s and buy the snowman.” I had also mentioned the Ilion Farmer’s Market, which I love sharing with others. We knew Tabby was welcome at both places, so we snapped on her leash, jumped in our cars and off we went.

The singing snowmen were on a table right next to the downstairs cash register, so we grabbed them quickly. Then Steven and I led the way to Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street in Ilion. It was a fun interlude. My family headed back home, and Steven and I headed back to Herkimer. I felt we had extended our Christmas just a little bit and am wondering what else I can do to continue the holiday spirit.

Christmas Ain’t Over Yet

Subtitled It’s Not Easy Being Me.

One of the nice things about having a large-ish family fairly spread out (I know, other families make us look small and close, but we’re not talking about them) is that Christmas just has to last a little longer. My sister from Pennsylvania is coming to Rome (where my parents live) on Wednesday (today) and my sister from Liverpool is coming for New Years.

As you may know, I am not the sort that gets things done early. Give me two more days and whatever I have to get done will take two more days. I finished the last afghan for the last nephew last night (this is not counting the late afghans I intend to make for the nieces that donated their afghans to the nursing home). That wasn’t so bad. It made a good excuse to watch television instead of clean the house. I caught a City Confidential, an On the Case with Paula Zahn, and when Steven came home we watched a few sit coms we had DVR’d last spring (that also gave us the virtuous feeling that we had accomplished a task procrastinated).

Before I had settled on the couch with my crochet hook, I made some White Trash. I had the ingredients for one more batch and had not yet reached White Trash Making Overload (stirring the melted white chocolate over the cereal and stuff can get tiresome). I still have not reached Overload, so on my next trip to the grocery store I may snag some more white chocolate chips.

This morning, then, all I had to do was wrap the presents. Ugh. I am a terrible wrapper. And we’re running out of wrapping paper. I decided while wrapping the second afghan of the day that next year everybody in my family is getting small presents. You would expect me to come to that conclusion later, when I load the car by myself (husband’s work schedule dictates) (come to think of it, I did come to that conclusion the last time I loaded the car by myself, about five years ago, the last time I gave a bunch of afghans for Christmas. How quickly we forget). The worst moment of the morning, however, was when I realized I was using Care Bear wrapping paper. How in the world did we get Care Bear wrapping paper? I hate those damn bears! I suppose they must have been in a package of several different patterns. I comforted myself with the reflection that the paper will get ripped and recycled.

After dropping Steven off at work, I had to gas up the car, go to the grocery store, and go to Hummel’s to make copies and buy the last ingredient for the last present to be wrapped. I don’t usually drive the car. Two blocks from the gas station I realized I did not know which side the gas cap is on. The dashboard does not have a handy arrow showing me, like my truck does (I still consult the arrow some days and I’ve been driving that truck for six years). For a wonder, I guessed right the first time. I still had to back up and maneuver, though. I am really a lousy driver.

As I drove down the main drag, I realized I had no compelling reason to go to the grocery store today. Woo hoo! Cross something off my list with no more effort than thought! At Hummels’ Office Plus I needed to make a copy of a story I had written for my niece Camille to illustrate. I had printed the story out then cut and pasted to have only a paragraph or two per page. I bought the kind of binder with a plastic sleeve on the cover, for a title page. The Ghost Who Liked Christmas. Written by Aunt Cindy. Illustrated by Camille. I felt so creative and only a little bit guilty. I’ve had nieces and nephews since the mid ’80s. Why didn’t I write stories for all of them? Let’s not go there. It’s Christmas (that excuse should be good till January 6 anyways).

I paused amidst these gyrations to make the blog post which you are now reading (if you are still reading) (which, I guess you are). One more present to get ready, a dog to walk, a shower to take, a car to load and a husband to collect. Till then, it’s still Christmas! So Merry Christmas!

Historic Christmas Present

For the last Christmas present for my husband, Steven, I made my way to one of my all time favorite places to shop: the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street.

I’ve blogged about the Farmer’s Market many times and will no doubt do so again. It is run by folk artist Jim Parker, which is why I needed to shop there Friday. I wanted to give Steven a Parker print. Steven has a real knack for decorating, and he especially loves to hang nice things on the wall. A nice print which we can get framed seemed a perfect gift.

I decided on a picture of Herkimer which Parker designed for the village’s bicentennial in 2007. It shows an aerial view of the village with a few close ups in bubbles, most notably of my beloved Historic Four Corners. It’s matted, so we can hang it right away, while we search for a frame. Or we may decide to take it somewhere, perhaps the Frame Place in Mohawk. That might make another good blog post.

At another vendor, I purchased a handmade pin of a sleigh with Santa painted on it. Very pretty. I tried a sample of their delicious fudge, but resisted the temptation to buy any of that.

Thousand Islands Winery was there, much to my delight. I’ve been at Thousand Islands Winery several times. In fact, every time I visit some friends who live in Theresa, NY, I ask to go to the winery. I got into quite a conversation with the man there, while I sampled a few of his wines. He was especially grateful when I asked to sample the Cabernet Sauvignon, because he had to open a new bottle. He had been wanting to sip a little of that himself. I bought a bottle, to contribute to my own merry Christmas. I’ll bring it to my parents’ house and share.

While I was tasting and chatting, Jim Parker came over and said hello. I showed him my purchase (the print, not the wine), and told him how I almost never come to the Farmer’s Market without my husband but made the special trip to get the present. Jim mentioned that he had designed the print for Herkimer’s bicentennial and told me he was working on a design for the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812. We talked a little bit about that war (not that I know much about it), and I mentioned the book I recently read about The Battle of Oriskany by Alan Foote (and blogged about it, if you happened to catch that post). I knew I had read something about the War of 1812, but the only American history I could recall reading was the Foote book. Jim told me about a man who was a boy during the Battle of Oriskany, went on to play a role in the War of 1812, and built Clapsaddle Farm. Jim is currently reading a book about the War of 1812 which he checked out of the Ilion Library. I said I would go to the library in two weeks and ask for “the book Jim Parker just checked out.”

I just love the Ilion Farmer’s Market. And Steven loved his print. I made him open it Friday night. For one thing, when he saw the pin and bottle of wine, he would have known I went to the Farmer’s Market. Why would I go to the Farmer’s Market December 23 if not to buy my hubby a present?

Taking Charge of the Christmas Tree

After toying with the idea of not doing a Christmas tree this year, I decided to not be a Grinch.

A few years ago I had taken a friend out to The Flower Barn on Barringer Road in Ilion, NY for her tree, because I had a truck and she did not. At that time, I would get together with my sister Cheryl, in Marcy, for our trees. Cheryl does not have a truck either. This year I could not coordinate schedules with Cheryl, and Mom and Dad were able to hook her up with use of a pick up truck (I have never known my Dad to be without a truck).

So there I was, an independent, take charge kind of woman, taking responsibility for my own Christmas cheer. I knew where Barringer Road was. Of course, that was about all I knew. The Flower Barn, it turns out, is a long ways out Barringer Road. I drove and drove, but finally found it.

I commenced to look at Christmas trees. It was then that I realized I did not need to be an independent, take charge kind of woman to get a Christmas tree. I needed family or friend to share the experience. I wanted to debate the merits of the respective trees, discuss proper watering techniques, and debate the best way to hang lights. I was sad all by myself. I tend to get a little emotional this time of year, and I feel that at all times I am a sociable creature.

I found a tree I liked. Not too big, nice and full. By this time nice lady came out and asked did I need help. I had to wait a few minutes for the man who could handle the chain saw (it was a big chain saw) to return to cut the bottom off the trunk. During that time I selected an evergreen ball to hang on my front porch (not to replace the plastic light up snowman I have not found yet; I have a different spot in mind for him).

I drove home by a different route, because I saw a sign for Bill Deyle’s Repair and thought, “I know where that is” — a road that comes out right where I wanted to be. It was a twisty turny road, so I had a little bit of an adventure.

Now was the time to be an independent, take charge kind of woman! I got the tree out of the truck, into my house and up in the stand. I almost tipped it over getting garbage bags underneath the stand, in case I spilled when I watered it (and I almost always spill). I heated water and watered it. I enjoyed the Christmas tree smell. Soon I felt ready to take on the rest of my Saturday adventures.

The Flower Barn Greenhouses are located at 1489 Barringer Road, Ilion, NY. Phone number is 315-895-4313.

My Black Friday

Subtitled Fun with Family.

You might think Mohawk Valley Girl would be out on a day like Black Friday, checking out local retailers or community events. Sorry if I disappoint you. I had plans to spend the holiday at my parents’ house in Rome (at least it was still in the Mohawk Valley).

Steven was all set to experience his first Black Friday behind the cash register at Wal-Mart. I confess to being a little worried about him. My husband is a sweet, mellow guy. He is not up to combating the dastardly behavior of bargain shoppers. At least he had Thanksgiving Day off. We had a lovely day, then he went home to recruit his energy while I stayed on to continue partying with the family (I like the use of “party” as a verb; I find it descriptive).

I went running in the morning with my nephew Tom. Tom, of course, ran the DARE 5K with me — that is, ahead of me — in August (ah ha ha, snuck in another mention of the DARE 5K!). I’ll do a running blog tomorrow, perhaps. For now, I’ll just mention that we ran across a bridge over the Mohawk River.

Later in the morning, my Mom, sister Victoria and I went to the grocery store (for some reason, I like to refer to my older sister as Victoria, although I usually call her Vicki). Vicki (see?) needed supplies for the chili she was making, and Mom needed a few things. I’ll tell you what: the grocery store is the Place to Be on Black Friday. No crowds! Everybody we encountered was polite. We had a nice conversation about lemon cake with a lady in the baking goods aisle. Next year, everybody on my list is getting groceries for Christmas. After the grocery store, we crossed the street to the drug store so I could purchase some sinus medication I had unaccountably left at home (I later found it on my living room coffee table).

York Liquors, we discovered, is handily located next to the drug store on Black River Boulevard (or The Boulevard as Rome residents tend to call it). We though we’d just peek in. York’s has a nice selection of New York State wines. We pointed out to each other all the wineries we had been to. Mom was pleased to discover she could get some of her favorites without returning to the winery. I should perhaps mention that many local liquor stores now carry New York State wines. Some excellent wines are being made close to home (well, my home; I guess I don’t know how far away some of my readers live).

And how was Steven’s Black Friday going? As it happens, not too bad. By the time he started at 8:30 a.m., it was pretty much a typical Friday. He and other cashiers actually had time to do some straightening. I understand some shoppers behaved badly at some Wal-Marts (notably in Rome, we heard), but Steven luckily did not encounter anything alarming. He was even able to make it out of the parking lot and go home for lunch. That was one of my main concerns, given my terror of parking lots, especially during the Christmas shopping season (Victoria drove on our little shopping expedition; she has no fear).

So now I guess it’s on to Christmas! Let’s see what kind of Mohawk Valley fun I can find to blog about in the next month.

Halloween for Thanksgiving?

Some people say we should make the spirit of Christmas last all year. I like to make the spirit of Halloween last all year. Last night, I had a couple of Halloween-y experiences I’d like to share.

I gave my schnoodle, Tabby, a bath, because we’re going on a visit for Thanksgiving. Of course, that was more scary for her than for me, but she survived and even forgave me. The point was, I could not just let her run in the muddy backyard to take care of business. I had to put her on the leash and make her stay pretty much on the sidewalk. She’s a good dog and pretty much complied.

I don’t mind walking in the dark. I strolled down the street, looking forward to the Christmas lights we’ll see in the coming weeks. Soon Tabby was ready to head home.

When Steven took down our Halloween decorations, he left out a couple of scarecrows as being appropriate for Thanksgiving. One is rather large. Steve stuck his post into the ground in front of the porch, propping it with some large rocks and letting Scarecrow lean back on the brick pillar. Well, Scarecrow had leaned forward. There are no streetlights right near my house. It’s a little dark. All I saw was an almost person-sized figure lurking near my front porch. Eek!

My alarm was short lived. Then I merely admired the eerie quality of the crazily leaning decoration. As we walked up the driveway (we always go in the back door), I had my second fright when I heard a deep male voice coming from inside my house. Eek!

Had I left the television on? No, I hadn’t turned the television on! The voice sounded calm… and familiar… Oh. It was the answer machine, coincidentally located near the window we were passing under. I’m so silly!

It was actually a pretty enjoyable fright. But I would be glad when Steven got home. After all, you only scare yourself when you’re alone, right?

Later on, after Steven was home and it was getting closer to bedtime, I thought I’d take Tabby out for her last business meeting of the day.

It was cloudy out. I know the moon has been very bright these last few days, and I thought I saw it glowing through the clouds. Wait! It moved! Was that my eyes playing tricks on me? Damn bifocals! No, an amorphous blob of light was moving back and forth. Steven had to see this. I went to the front door and knocked (I mentioned we rarely use the front door, right?). I had to knock twice and Tabby had to bark, but we got Steven’s attention. He came out on the porch and was equally impressed by the ghostly glow.

As we observed it, we saw its movements were fairly regular, and you could almost, sort of see that the light continued groundward. It must have been a beacon, we thought. It was still mysterious, because we don’t know of any beacons in the area. And it added a fillip of interest to my walk, thinking it just might be something else.

So those were my Halloween adventures the night before Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to see what happens at Christmas!