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Category Archives: Mohawk Valley

Gimme Some Sugar

Sunday Steven and I went to the Herkimer Home State Historic Site, 200 State Route 169, Little Falls, NY, for the annual Sugaring Off.

We’d already had a full morning with a grocery shop, a breakfast out, a walk, a run and a blog post (not necessarily in that order). But I was excited to go to one of my favorite places, and to have a real Mohawk Valley subject for a blog post.

We set off down Route 5S in the direction of Little Falls. Past the Humane Society and the Historic Fort Herkimer Church. You can see for miles across beautiful farm land and mountains. Steven thought he missed the turn, but I didn’t mind as I was enjoying the scenery. It turned out we hadn’t missed it, though, and soon we were driving down the narrow road to the Home, realized that, as usual, finding a parking space might be problematic. We took the easy way out by parking behind the last car on the side of the drive and walking the rest of the way.

I was pleased to see that many people were taking advantage of the event. A large crowd was wandering around the grounds or going into the Visitor’s Center. Many volunteers were walking around or manning displays and booths wearing period costumes. We purchased some fritters with warm maple syrup and a small bag of popcorn. We found a spot on the grass to sit. It wasn’t too damp for the length of time it took to eat two fritters and nibble some of the popcorn.

We couldn’t just walk through the Home itself, as we have at other events, because they had scheduled guided tours. The tours were free, but you had to pick up a ticket from the Visitor’s Center. The next tour was almost forty-five minutes away, so we walked around looking at other things. We were able to go down into the root cellar, where a costumed volunteer was telling us how the underground temperature of about 50 degrees made it the perfect refrigerator.

Horse drawn wagon rides were offered, but we didn’t time it right to take one of those. We wandered up to the Visitor’s Center and looked at the displays there. Upstairs some ladies were demonstrating cooking on an open hearth. We sampled some cornbread and pumpkin bread. Yummy! Back out on the lawn, we got to eat some Jack Wax or Sugar on Snow. Hot syrup is dripped onto well packed snow. Quite a tasty treat.

I especially enjoyed looking at the cemetery. Some of the gravestones are obviously replicas of the originals, but some are old and authentic looking. I took a couple of pictures for Halloween decorating purposes. We hung around close to the cemetery during the Militia Demonstration, because I was afraid the sound of the guns would give me a headache.

I picked up some fliers in the Visitor’s Center, most notably one listing 2012 programs at the Herkimer Home. I’m sure the site is good for multiple blog posts. I also grabbed a flier called “Discover Herkimer County New York.” That might have some good ideas for Mohawk Valley Girl. Stay tuned! For more information on the Herkimer Home call 315-823-0398 or visit

A Walk, a Run and a Forfeit

I have been trying to run many days, but not every day. For one thing, I have to take my dog for a walk sometimes. For another, I get tired. I’m not a young woman, and I’m not convinced I consume enough fruits and vegetables to constitute a healthy lifestyle (although a neighbor lady used to flatteringly call me “young lady” when she chided me for not wearing my crazy old lady hat) (she didn’t know I call it my crazy old lady hat) (but I digress).

I ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Monday, I substituted a walk to the post office with husband and dog, Steven and Tabby respectively. We had to mail a few things anyways. Besides, the moonlit stroll had not turned out so romantic; I wanted to try again.

Well, the Mohawk Valley wait-five-minute weather did me dirt again. It was cold. It was not romantic. It was not even that much fun. Still, it was fresh air and exercise, and Tabby seemed to enjoy it. You can learn a lot from a dog about appreciating life.

The next day it felt cold once again as I left work. I grumpily told myself I could and would skip two days in a row. Then I stopped at the drugstore, which of course took longer than anticipated (it almost always does; you would think I’d get better at anticipating). By the time I got home it seemed not as cold.

By the time I was outside actually running, it seemed just as cold. However, I was out and started. I kept going. The sidewalks were bare and dry, so that was good.

I observed Christmas lights still hanging on some porches. They were not lit, but the sun had not set yet. Quite possibly those people do not light them after Christmas. The holly and red ribbons on one house looked nice in the daylight. A snowman smiled at me from a screened in porch. That got me thinking about screened in porches. I do envy a screened in porch. I amused myself my noting the different ones and deciding which I admire most. Of course, Tuesday was no porch sitting day, but spring is coming.

Wednesday I had intended to walk with Tabby again and hoped Steven would join us. But it was no good. I was too tired. I sat and had a cup of tea. I looked at the television and tried to knit a few rows. I even wished I had one of those old lady chairs in my bathtub so I could take my shower sitting down.

Did I mention not being a young woman? I suppose there are other women out there older than me with boundless energy. I’m hoping they have too much energy to sit and read a blog. They can be out having adventures, not commenting to me that I am just a lazy bum. And I don’t need to hear about anybody’s feisty grandmother! (That’s not true, of course; I love to hear stories about grandmothers.) (Maybe I’ll do a blog post about mine.) (Is is bad form to end a piece on a parenthetical comment?)

There’s Stuff To Do Here, Too!

The other day a co-worker pondered, “To work or not to work this weekend?”

I asked, “What fun things do you have planned if you don’t work?”

Well, he did not have anything specific in mind; he thought he might take a ride to Syracuse. “Syracuse has so much more to offer.”

Of course Mohawk Valley Girl could not allow this to stand unchallenged, so I said, “There are things to do around here!”

“Like what?” I knew he would ask that.

“For example,” the only thing I could remember offhand, “H.A.L.O. is having a sock hop this Saturday in Mohawk.”

“Do they still have sock hops?” This led to a discussion of sock hops, ’50s clothes and another co-worker’s sense of fashion. I went back to writing yesterday’s post, which is what I had been doing before. But now I’ve got some leisure, I reflect on the question: what all can one do in the Mohawk Valley this weekend?

Personally, I intend to start my weekend with the Valentine Wine Tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer on Friday. On Friday or Saturday I could stop by the Indoor Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street in Ilion (I’ve blogged about that numerous times). Representative Richard Hannah is holding office hours in Frankfort Saturday afternoon (OK, that’s probably not the kind of excitement my co-worker was looking for). The sock hop I mentioned earlier is preceded by a spaghetti dinner.

That’s just off the top of my head. I could look in the Herkimer Telegram or Utica OD and come up with more. The area also offers numerous restaurants and clubs. I guess I’m not much on clubs, but I’ve blogged about several area restaurants. I hope to cover more.

I suppose it’s true that a larger area such as Syracuse will offer more restaurants, stores, events and attractions. And my idea of fun is not for everyone. After all, I am happily entertained by a walk with my dog. A sock hop, spaghetti supper or other fundraiser is a delightful evening for me.

What’s wrong with that? My co-workers may have raised their eyebrows at the sock hop idea, but I bet they would have a fun time if they showed up. I say, look at what’s available where you are at. You just might be surprised at what you find.

Breakfast with the Elks

I had been looking forward to breakfast at the Elks Lodge in Herkimer since I saw it in the paper over a week ago. Sunday morning we headed to Mary Street with good appetites.

For the month of January the Lady Elks are holding Sunday breakfasts to raise money for various service projects. You can’t go wrong: good breakfast, good cause. We’ve gone the last couple of years, when we see it in the paper and neither one of us has to work.

We walked in, and I paid our $16 ($8 for adults, $4 for children). We also got $5 of 50/50 tickets (10 for $5). I put $1 in the tip basket, but said I’d put in more if the service was good. I said it in an “I’m obviously kidding” voice, and the one of the ladies said $1 was fine.

At a table just inside the door, two ladies filled out our order tickets: mine was scrambled eggs, no pancakes, whole wheat toast, bacon, baked beans, potatoes with onions. Steven got the same, only he took the pancakes and had his eggs over medium. He even got the onions on his potatoes, which he had been undecided about when we left the house. I had never had baked beans for breakfast before the Elks. It’s yummy!

As soon as we sat down, man brought us coffee and a lady offered us tomato or orange juice (I got tomato; Steven got orange). The coffee man asked could he borrow our ketchup for another table and would we need it back. I said I might. I called to the lady at the other table she could just keep hold of it and I’d come get it when I needed it, but she said that was OK. She’d just make the man get it for her again.

We saw and exchanged greeting with a few people we knew — another reason I love these community breakfasts. I also enjoy watching interactions of the people working the breakfast with patrons they know.

“She’s a sweetheart. I hate to say it when she can hear me,” was my favorite overheard line.

When we left, Steven put $4 more in the tip basket. I had said we should put in $3 more, because $4 is typically what we tip a breakfast waitress or waiter, but I agreed with Steven that the extra dollar was appropriate.

The breakfasts are every Sunday in January. I told the ladies as we left we might be back next Sunday. They said they’d see us then.

Winter Comes to the Mohawk Valley

Perhaps I jinxed things the other day, when I mentioned I was pleased about the green Christmas. Nah, that can’t be it; people have been remarking about the lack of snow for a while now. Be that as it may, I thought Wednesday’s weather was worthy of a post.

I first encountered the winter Wednesday morning. I was feeling rather bah humbuggish as I experienced problems trying to wrap presents for Christmas II at my parents’ house that evening. I thought a little fresh air would help, so on went the sneakers (me) and the leash (Tabby), and out the door we went.

It was cold! Once again I had not put a scarf around my face, to my regret. Little white flakes swirled around us, then moved faster as the wind picked up and got mean. Tabby only wanted to go around the block, even taking the short cut through the apartment building parking lot, which was OK with me. At least it blew the bah humbug out of me and I was able to complete my Christmas preparations with equanimity and even a little joy.

As the day wore on the snow kept falling. Perfect weather for a cup of hot tea (I had finished most of my chores by then). Then I thought I would take Tabby for a more lengthy perambulation (we avoid saying the “w word” in our house) before our drive into Rome (about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic and how seriously I take the speed limits). I struggled into my army winter boots and we set out.

It was a little warmer since the wind had died down. I was glad of the boots, as the snow had started to drift across the sidewalks. Not too deep yet, but a preview of things to come. One man was out with a snow blower, blowing out the driveway and walk of the apartment building. I encountered some iciness crossing the streets, but no mishaps. Tabby went about two blocks down German Street, then turned around without fanfare or even an inquiring look at me, and led me back home. After we turned around the wind picked back up, and I was once again regretful I had forgotten a scarf (will I ever remember that scarf?).

After we got back and I had gotten Tabby inside and cleared the caked snow off her feet, I went back outside and shoveled a little. Just the end of the driveway and the sidewalk in front of the house. It was really quite easy. Not much snow had piled up and it was light enough to push.

A check of Facebook revealed a couple of cancellations in Frankfort and Utica, and some comments by people of how some roads were getting bad. Oh dear. I called my Dad and asked how things were in Rome. After some discussion, we decided I would start the drive and turn around at the Frankfort bridge if things seemed bad.

When I got ready to load the car and go pick up Steven, I put on my other boots. I had been delighted to get these boots for 50% off at K Mart last year. The army boots are excellent for dryness, warmth and traction, but they are a royal pain in my rear to get into and out of. The K Mart boots are slip on and perfectly warm.

As I brushed off the car (another joy, because it is my height, which the truck is not), I questioned my delight in the slip on boots as a big clump of snow fell right into them. Never mind, I told myself, I can borrow dry socks from Mom. Tabby eagerly jumped into the car and her kennel and we were off.

Village streets were predictably bad, but State Route 5 seemed OK. As Steven got into the car, I explained my plan. So far so good. Things started to get dicey as we neared the Frankfort bridge, but I suggested we give it to the four corners. Not the Historic Four Corners I blog so much about, but the ones near Dave’s Diner. From there it would be easy enough to get on 5S and go back home. 5S has the added advantage of two lanes of traffic. I can go slow, and impatient people can go around me at their own risk.

We did not get that far. We got as far as the Market Place Deli (formerly the Snack Shack), and that seemed to me a very good place to turn around. Snow was accumulating on the highway, and I felt a skid or a fishtail could easily happen. We went back home and called my disappointed but understanding parents.

I suppose some would call me a wimp for such behavior. These people would shake an admonitory finger at me and ask me how long have I lived in the area, and don’t I know what to expect in December? Apparently I do. After all, I own two pair of boots and a snow shovel. And I know that sometimes plans have to change. Maybe I can plan something more exciting for my next blog post.

A Less Generic Walk

I thought my post about “Walking in the Dark” was too generic, so I decided to take Tabby for a specific walk and note some actual details.

It had snowed this morning, and it was still cold to me. Still, the sun was bright. For a moment I wished I had worn my crazy old lady hat, with the wide, shady brim. The last time I wore that hat, though, my ears got so cold I put my hood up over the hat and really looked like a crazy old lady. As the wind picked up, I was glad to be wearing a toque.

Some of the snow stayed on the ground. I had a chance to study it as Tabby stopped to sniff various places. You could see individual little white specks, like laundry detergent. Or ice melt, as I observed on our church steps later. I’m sure it was actual snow on the dried leaves underneath the trees Tabby sniffed.

I saw a snowball bush, and thought again that I want one in my yard. They look so cool when the flowers turn all brown in the fall. They look especially nice in the snow. As I realized how cold and winter-like it was, I remembered I had once again failed to plant more crocus bulbs in my yard. I have some crocuses that come up every spring, and every spring I say, “I’m going to plant more crocus bulbs! Eventually, my yard will be ALL crocuses in the spring!” It may happen one day, but not in 2012.

Tabby pulled me toward the Historic Four Corners, a favorite spot of ours. The sign in front of Herkimer Reformed Church read, “I bring you good news of great joy: A savior is born.” A great seasonal thought.

We crossed the street and walked by the court house. I looked across at Herkimer County Historical Society and felt guilty, because I had been going to go there today. Author Jim Greiner was there signing copies of his new book, Last Woman Hanged — Roxalana Druse. That would have made a great blog post. Roxalana Druse, of course, was hanged at the 1834 Jail, as is noted on a historical marker, which I have mentioned here. I intend to buy the book. Only, when I got home from work today, I just didn’t feel like going to an event.

We walked down Washington, then back along Mary Street by our church, Christ Episcopal. Tabby wanted to go inside, because there are always nice people to pet her when we go there, but I told her nobody was there. When we got to the end, Tabby pulled me across the street and back up the other side of Mary. She also wanted to explore an alley, so we walked down it, but it was a dead end. So much for going the Tabby way.

We crossed Washington by Carney’s Corners — a good place to get a sub. I could go for a sub. There is a gift shop on the other side — Cozy Corners, I think it is called. I must check that out sometimes. It could be a good blog post.

We walked through a more residential section and then up part of the path that used to be the hydraulic canal to German Street. I love that path. Tabby stopped to smell a bush at a house where a Jack Russel terrier usually barks at us from the screened in porch.

“Come on, before the dog that lives here starts barking,” I told her. I guess he wasn’t home, because silence reigned. Tabby finished her sniff and lifted one leg to pee on the bush, like a boy dog. What was that all about?

I was glad to get home. I made myself a cup of tea to warm my hands, and Tabby sacked out on the love seat. I think our nice little walk through Herkimer made for a perfectly acceptable blog post.

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.

Good Eats on Route 5

Two Saturdays ago while I was on my mission for a plastic light up snowman for my front lawn (did you think I was done talking about him?), I pulled into the Market Place Deli on State Route 5 in Schuyler.

I’m not on State Route 5 as often as I have been previously. On my sporadic trips I have noticed what was formerly the Snack Shack being open or closed or Under New Management but had never had a chance to stop in. Saturday I saw an Open sign but more importantly I saw a sign that said Indoor Garage Sale.

The sale, alas, did not include the object of my desire, but I chatted up one of the new owners and discovered that in addition to being a convenience store and take out deli, they offer dine in. I had just eaten so I couldn’t partake that day. They are closed Sunday or I would have returned the next day with Steven.

This past Saturday I made a point to stop there for breakfast. I had my favorite: a breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg and cheese on a hard roll. Yum!

I was in the midst of my Saturday Christmas gyrations. I had made one stop and had at least two more, in addition to Things To Do at home. I really needed a good breakfast. I left satisfied and ready to take on the rest of my day. I mean to return for lunch one day soon. For one thing, I found out they offer a Pastrami Reuben when they have the pastrami. You can’t hardly find a Pastrami Reuben.

The Market Place Deli is open Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Sunday. They are located at 3458 State Route 5, Frankfort, NY (everyone in Schuyler has a Frankfort mailing address), phone 315-444-9082.

Humane Society Santas

The best thing I did yesterday was go to the Open House and Indoor Garage Sale at Herkimer County Humane Society in Mohawk, for a few reasons.

To do the story justice, I must first tell a story of my past. Growing up, I remember having a beautiful stuffed Santa Claus that was always out at Christmas time and only at Christmas time. When I was quite small, I remember playing with him like the rest of our dolls and stuffed toys. As we got older, Mom started putting him on a higher shelf, “Because he’s old.” I believe Mom and Dad had originally purchased him for my oldest sister, Victoria, at her first Christmas (the only one she didn’t have to share), but it soon became a family decoration. And when Vicki moved away, she did not get to take him with her.

When Steven, then boyfriend now husband, began to spend his Christmases with my family, he fell in love with the Santa Clause. It became a recurring joke that Steven was going to hide Santa Claus in his suitcase and leave all his clothes behind. Not a fair trade. We always looked for just such a Santa Claus but never found quite the right one. Eventually Steven bought me a very nice stuffed Santa Claus which I love. But Mom’s Santa is still the best.

Fast forward to December 2011. Steven had to work, but I always want to support the Humane Society as well as feed my addiction to buying other people’s junk (that’s what we call a win-win situation). As I drove out, I was pleased to see that lots of people were supporting the Humane Society. I knew many people were picking up pictures of their pets with Santa, taken at an earlier fundraiser which Steven and I sadly missed. I finally parked in the Parking Area near the canal trail. That way I was facing back into town, and it was only a short walk down the highway to the Humane Society.

A couple of volunteers were dressed as elves, and Santa was present. I made my way through the crowd to where the garage sale was. They were doing a booming business! People were nicely letting each other through. You often run into more politeness at these fundraisers than you do at normal retail establishments.

The first thing I found was a basket of ceramic Santas. We have a few similar Santas. They stand about 5 inches tall and usually have a year printed on the base and sometimes a country. I could see there was more than one layer, and they wanted $10 for the basket. I figured even if I found some duplicates with what we already had, it was a good buy and we could always use the duplicates for presents for others. I picked up the basket, turned around and then I saw him.

An old fashioned stuffed Santa. He was not exactly like my Mom’s, but he was beautiful. Obviously of the same era and in very good condition. $5. I was in love. I picked him up, then I picked up a ceramic church with a place for a tea light. Perfect for my Christmas village which I did not set up this year but intend to set up in 2012. I got in the long, slow line. I checked out some other things as I stood there. Luckily I remembered we do not need any Christmas mugs, because they have a lot of them. A Yul Brenner as the King in The King and I caught my eye, but my arms were full. A volunteer was trying to sell a couple of artificial trees for $10 apiece. If I had not already purchased a tree, I might have been tempted (when I got home and smelled my tree, I was glad).

A fellow ahead of me had $45.50 worth of stuff, but the lady rounded it to $45.

“I’m not so bad,” I mused to the lady behind me.

“No, you’re not,” she said. She had found a tree skirt as she stood in line, which I wish I had seen first. As I often say, you snooze you lose.

When it was my turn I resisted the cookies and cupcakes they also had for sale. For one thing, my arms were full. After I paid and made my way toward the exit, I saw… another stuffed Santa. This one not as big, a similar age, equally beautiful, $2.

“I didn’t see him!” I carefully put down the ceramic Santas and opened my purse. I caught one volunteer’s eye and handed her the $2. “Please don’t make me wait in line again, he’s $2, I didn’t see him before.” She graciously accepted my payment.

A man standing nearby offered to help me carry my stuff to my truck. I thought it was very nice of him, especially as I was not parked close by. He was fine with it.

“If I would have bought cookies, I’d give you one,” I told him. Being a fundraiser, it did not seem appropriate to offer a tip. He told me he had to watch his sugar intake anyways. I’m sure the real Santa was watching and gave him more nice points.

When I got home I found the basket contained 20 ceramic Santas, not one a duplicate of those we already have. Steven was predictably delighted with the stuffed Santas. It was altogether a great experience. I helped the Humane Society to the tune of $18 (OK, not a princely sum; we do what we can), and our Christmas decorations are enhanced for years to come.

The Herkimer County Humane Society facebook page reminds us that every day really open house. Stop in and meet some nice animals. You’ll be glad you did.

DePalma’s: All Purpose Eatery

Saturday my unsuccessful mission to find a plastic light up snowman for my front yard (see yesterday’s post) took me to North Utica, and I got hungry. As I headed back to Herkimer on State Route 5, I saw a big sign that said, “Breakfast,” and pulled into DePalma’s, located right next to Mr. McGill’s.

I was soon seated at a booth in the charmingly decorated eatery perusing a menu. DePalma’s does breakfast, lunch and dinner. They bill themselves as a pizzeria, diner, baker and restaurant. Quite the all purpose establishment.

I ordered a breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg and cheese on a hard roll, with coffee, of course. It was quite yummy. I read a tent card on the table describing Wine Ice Cream and contemplated a return in the evening.

The waitress told me they have been open since June, and many people are still unaware of their existence.

“When I tell them where I work, they say, ‘Where?’ I say, ‘Right next to Mr. McGill’s,’ and they say, ‘Oh, OK.'”

I had actually seen a billboard for DePalma’s as I drove down Rt. 5 toward North Utica, but it was the big sign reading “Breakfast” that drew me in. I was glad it did. I had a couple of other places to check for my snowman, and now I had the energy to continue my search.

DePalma’s is open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information call 315-797-4500.