Saturday, September 10, 2005

End of Summer Recap

Wow. I can't believe it is September. Summer just flew by. Though when I think of all that happened it seems like it was a very long season. I am going to run through a n extensive recap of the summer's events here. I was pretty lax these past 3 or 4 months about my blogging. Of course, right now I am supposed to be getting my house in order for the open house we are having here tomorrow, but I am jumping ahead of myself. And this is more important at the moment.

I am going to warn you that this post will contain many, many photos. You know what they say, a thousand words, and all that. So sit back, grab a beer or a rum punch, a shot of whiskey or maybe a glass of wine, and get set to chuckle at the (mis)fortune of others (depends on your POV, afterall). Cheers!

The Cats' first visit to the farm. Mrs. Jinx took immediately to the laid back lifestyle of country living.

Godzilla, on the other hand, ventured outdoors for the first time only to realize he much prefers the warmth of a down comforter and the comfort of canned citified.

While the Cats spent the weekend discovering the joys of country life, Ernie and I decided we needed to buy a rototiller. Because we planned to cultivate a 500 square foot vegetable garden this summer.........

We harvested 2 squash and a handfuls of baseball sized tomatoes. Oh yeah, and a cucumber.

One weekend, we repaired a busted water pipe that brings water from the spring to our house
(for the first time)....It runs for about a mile through the woods, above ground, prone to trees falling on it...

I planted our Orchard and did my best to design a landscape layout complete with marked off future walkways, thematic areas i.e Japanese Garden, Formal English Garden, etc. I explored my inner Martha (as opposed to Anne's inner Mimi).

We enjoyed the beautiful Lilacs that bloomed around the farm. We had violet and white.

One weekend we saw a beautiful full rainbow...

And an awful Snake (actually, it wasn't poisonous or anything, just gross, and much too close to the house). This same weekend we were informed by our neighbors, Frank and Rose Savitsky, that there were bears in residence on our mountain. Yep, bears. They told us stories of the bears coming right up onto their front porch and looking in through their windows, of ripping down bird feeders in the yard. We only found out later that they keep an arsenal of weaponry in their house, cars, barns, garage and God knows where else. They aren't afraid of no bears. Their giant dog, Pepsi, is a good bear deterrent too. She is a big Doberman Pincer. This was enough to convince me that I would never go to the farm again. Me and snakes, guns and bears, we don't get along.

In mid-May we went to Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 as it is known to geeks everywhere. The purpose of this trip was to get Ernie connections into the gaming world so that he can write music for games. This really is big business and Ernie soaked it all up like a sponge. The Expo is extremely impressive. I know there are pics in the blog archives so I don't want to bore you with redundancy. However, if one picture is worth a thousand words....Now just getting to this point in May has taken me a good 40 minutes. I don't see how I am ever going to get this apartment ready for tomorrow's open house, but I must persevere. So on I trudge through Blogger interface hell.

While out in LA for E3 we also visited Santa Barbara wine country and a little town called Solvang. If you have seen the movie "Sideways" you will be very familiar with this little part of the world. Ironically, neither Ernie nor I had seen the movie before deciding to take a trip up there. It just happened to be the closest wine country to LA (and was an easy overnight trip in my brothers brand new bright yellow Chevy truck that he so kindly loaned to us during our stay). Add to that the delicious Abelschivers (sp) they serve up there for breakfast and you 've got yourself one helluva nice weekend getaway.

Brother (I thought I had a picture of the new yellow truck, but I can't find it)


Luckily for you, dear reader, I seem to have taken no pictures in the month of June. June was not a particularly good month for us. Not much to report but a stroke of crappy luck. Call this the misfortune part of our story. So better to just move straight through to July.

We hosted a bang-up 4th of July weekend out at Adzentoivich Woods. Unfortunately, most of our friends were unable to make it out of the city due to either their lack of transportation, our lack of indoor overnight shelter, or a combination of both. But I do think those folks who did make the trek enjoyed themselves. My mom came out to the farm for the first time and her first question to me was "were you on drugs when you decided to buy this place"? I do think she warmed up to the place after a day or two. She is a product of the suburbs afterall, it isn't her fault. My sister also came out from Los Angeles and spent the weekend with her friend Aimee building a clear path through the woods leading to the Swimming Hole, which turned out to be the highlight of the summer.
Ethan drove down from Boston and Gerald and Genevieve came out from Red Hook.
The Hyatt's drove out from their place in PA and brought their two Labrador Retrievers. We also saw Anne and Marc for a few hours. Josette stopped by with Mike and her mom and the girls (who took advantage of my new swing!) for a bit as well. The festivities were topped off by fireworks at Ernie's alma mater, Mahanoy Area High School.

We installed Grandpa's Head sculpture.Mommy and Daddy spent the entire summer renovating their kitchen, dining and living rooms. Admittedly, that wasn't part of my summer, but she keeps asking me to send photos around...Gone are the avocado green counter tops and dark wood cabinets. Now they have fine recessed lighting, granite counters and custom cabinetry to last through the ages. They even have an appliance garage. What could be more appropriate in a Wood family kitchen I ask you, than a garage?

Ernie and I made it out to Jones Beach a few weekends, but you won't see any of those photos here. Not only are they unflattering for the obvious reasons, but I also managed to get a raccoon style sunburn that lasted weeks before fading.

Ernie got a contract to write a season of music for the NBC daytime show Starting Over. This is a big deal for Ernie and for our family. Ernie's name will be in the credits at the end of the show, so if you happen to TiVo it you should probably be able to pause the credits long enough to pick out Adzentoivich. I mean, I expect it will take up quite a bit of screen space, right? Another small step for Adzentoivich Music. The new season starts in the next week or two, so check your local listings.

The wackiest thing we did this summer was decide to buy a house in Connecticut but not to tell anyone about it. And by anyone I mean my family. A 1910 Bungalow in Hubbard Heights, Stamford. Our closing date is set for early October and at this point my parents both know about it. Of course, when I told them the house was in Stamford I got the exact response I had predicted "Why Stamford? They don't have very good schools" (Uh, OK...we have no children. See October 2004 and June 2005. Besides, this is absolutely untrue) and "That isn't the best neighborhood you know" and "well, if you think that is a good price...", etc. Precisely why we didn't want to tell them in the first place, or at least not tell them until the contracts had been signed.

My Dad said "It looks small and cozy"...HELLO? Do you know how much small and cozy costs? And besides, we currently reside in 730 square feet with no outdoor access....if this house is small and cozy what do you call where we are now? How about the 350 square feet we lived in for the first 4 1/2 years we were married?

My Mother-In-Law said "well, I guess you's know what you're doing...". FIL has said nothing yet, at least not to me anyway.

But the contracts are signed and now all we do is wait until 10/3. Oh yeah, and try to sell our place in Brooklyn as quickly as possible (see previous post). Some pics of the new place:

We have a sickness, or The Sickness as we like to call it. We like to buy houses. And for some reason we prefer them to be old and in need of repair. Don't know why or where we caught it from because neither of our parents like old houses, nor do any of them own more than the one they live in.

Luckily, this new house has already had lots of TLC put into it; a new kitchen, new half bath, paint, landscaping, wiring, floors have been redone, lolly-columns in basement, etc. So we won't have too much work to do, but there is enough to keep us busy through the fall and winter when we won't be out at the farm.

We went to a great Pickin' Party in PA with Anne, Marc and Sebastian (their son) at an old drive-in movie theater which was bought by one of their friends who has a bluegrass band. There was free food and beer, a stage, a bonfire and an all out jam. It was a lot of fun. Anne looked to us worriedly as we walked in saying "I should have warned you this would be just this side of Deliverance", but really, it wasn't.While Ernie, Anne, Marc, Sebastian and I were at the Pickin' Party, the fourth Riotto was traveling Europe with a mutli-state concert band. When Anne came to the City to pick her up at JFK a week later, she stayed over night at our place in Brooklyn. You know, to make it easier. This was when the infamous theft of the mid-90s Toyota Camry took place. I am happy to say that the car is back with it's family and in fine working order today!

At the end of the month I went to the Pocono 500 with my mom and dad. You know, NASCAR. My favorite sport of all time. It was actually a lot of fun. My mom didn't complain about the heat or the noise, there was a nice breeze and Jeff Gordon didn't win. We met the 3 DAs from Brooklyn Heights who sat in front us of (see previous post), hit no traffic in either direction, I got to drive the Lexus home. It was a fun day all round.

My FIL ended up in the hospital in Las Vegas after going months with a bad cough and not seeing a doctor. Luckily for him he had quit smoking back in March after his trip out to visit the farm. Turns out he had been walking around with Phneumonia and ended up a week in the hospital and another month on IV antibiotics at home. He made himself well enough in time to come out with my MIL for an extended visit at the end of August, however. He wasn't about to let any "camel jockey" doctor tell him where he could and couldn't go (no fooling, I think he actually told the nurse that).

Ernie bought a Tuba off of Craig's list. Some guy from Philly drove it all the way to Brooklyn. My FIL is now known as Tuba-Lou.

The Walshies came over and had a big rum and coke party the first weekend the In-Laws were in PA. They are a crazy bunch of kids. They told stories of how they used to all get thrown out of bars for starting fights when they were first married.

And the funny thing is, Walshie just got in trouble with the law for Road Rage on his way to AC and is doing Community Service at a local church, he just turned 70...some things never change. But you couldn't find two nicer people than Bill and Diane. They helped us out over the winter when we had no idea what we were doing out there in the woods. I mean, we still have no idea what we are doing, but at least we can fake it better now.

Even with the rum and coke I couldn't stay out there long in the dark. I was convinced the bears would be out for an evening snack, and I didn't want to be it.

While they were here we mostly just hung out at the farm. My MIL jarred tomatoes fresh from the farmer, and made some garlic pickles (my favorite). My FIL spent an entire day driving back and forth across Schukyll County looking for the best weed wacker he could find. Once he found it he spent the week wacking weeds all over the farm. The other thing he enjoyed was burning the garbage and riding the tractor for hours at a time. Go figure.

A thousand words......The In-Laws ended their visit with Sunday dinner at the Savitsky's up the mountain. We all went up for Halupkis. What are Halupkis? You ask. Well, they are like little balls of stuffed cabbage. Actually quite good. But the point I am trying to get at here is that the Sunday afternoon dinner turned into a private gun show, of sorts. It began with Frank explaining to us that every one of the guns in their house was kept loaded at all times. He then proceeded to bring guns two and three at a time out of the master bedroom to show to my FIL, who is a former hunter. These were mostly rifles, big ones. But he also had a little sack with a few hand guns in them. He also told us that their coat closet is full round with guns on all three sides and the ceiling. They keep that door locked, thank God. I was just a tad bit uneasy. My MIL and Ernie just carried on a conversation with Rose as if there weren't the possibility of one of our heads being blown off at any second. Ernie told me to relax - of course he did.

You can't convince me that anyone needs to own that many firearms for any reason. He also told us proudly of his military surplus torch that he keeps in his truck in case of emergency. I mean, he is the sweetest guy, don't get me wrong. But now I know that I should never, ever, ever get on his bad side. As a matter of fact, he offered to go down to our place while we were away to "take care" of the groundhog problem we've noticed this summer. I didn't notice any problem, just a few cute, fat groundhogs hanging around the place. No big deal. Right? But OK, whatever you say. Who am I to argue. If something needs killin' I am certainly not the one to do it (or to ever think that something "needs" killing...except maybe a snake, and even then...).

Ah well, Labor Day and all that. We ended our summer with the first true vacation we have had in over 2 years. We found a great deal on Travelzoo for a trip to Barbados. I am not kidding you. It was $500 per person for airfare and 7 nights hotel, including breakfasts and transportation to and from the airport. I mean, are you kidding me?

So we didn't expect it was going to be the best place on the island. We didn't know what to expect so we prepared for the worst and just figured we wouldn't be spending any time in the hotel anyway. Well, I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised. We stayed at the Allamanda Beach hotel, which is on the South Coast. We had all access to the sister hotel the Amaryllis Beach Resort which was just a bit down the street. It was lovely. We had a little kitchenette and a balcony on the Sea. The breakfasts weren't bad, especially for free. The beach at the Amaryllis was beautiful and there was a reef for snorkeling right off the shore.

We took the Bajan buses all over the island. Usually the independent small white vans. These are like gypsy cabs that speed along the narrow island roads, on the left side of the street, blasting "Kisoc" music, which is like Calypso, Soca and Hip Hop combined. They would pick up every girl on the side of the road, regardless of how many people were already squished in the van. There were times when people literally sat on top of one another.

The island is so humid it is like existing in a sauna. The water is so blue/green/turquoise and warm that you don't mind the humidity as long as you have access to the beach. Ernie dubbed himself Mr. Ocean and never wanted to come out of the water. We spent a day at Crane Beach on the Southeast Coast which had 3 - 4 foot swells. Swimming there was a bit of a challenge to say the least. We saw wild monkeys.

We took a bus up to the Northernmost tip of the island. To a place called Animal Flower Cave. We had to walk a mile through the Bajan countryside to get there. Ernie swam in a tidal pool inside a cave hanging in a cliff over the Caribbean. It was idyllic.

We met a few nice people, all of whom traveled on the Travelzoo special. It seemed that every American on the Island that week was from the Northeast; NY, PA, DC, VA. We met a cool couple from Philly, Alex and Tamara. He is a Sculptor/Chef and she is working on her MBA at Wharton. There weren't many tourists on the island at all. The Bajan Crop Over Festival was held a few weeks prior and once that is done they are in low season until December. So it was pretty quiet and it was easy to hang with the locals and soak up the culture (and the rum).

There is a Bajan Friday night Lime (a Lime is a party where people hang out) in Oistins at the fish market. It is the Fish Fry. They had two DJs and a whole bunch of booths where different people sell different sorts of fish, fish cakes, macaroni pie (yummmmm), rice, etc. Banks Beer cost $1.25 US (the Barbados $ is $1.98 to $1 US). We were told that on Friday night "everyone in Barbados will be there", but they also sell fish dinners at lunch time and on other nights of the week, just on a smaller scale. The native specialty is Flying Fish, but unfortunately for us there was a shortage of Flying Fish last week and so we ate a lot of Marlin instead.

We went on a catamaran cruise and snorkeled with Sea Turtles, at a Ship Wreck and a large Reef. I fed the large schools of fish and found out that I have a "nice bumper". We also found out that we don't live in Brooklyn, we live "Upstate", as far as people from the West Indies are concerned.

I could go on and on about how fabulous it all was, but really it will mean nothing unless you go and experience it for yourself.

I highly recommend signing up for the Travelzoo Top 20 email newsletter if you enjoy travel.

I really need to go and start cleaning this apartment or we are never going to sell it. This blog entry literally took all day to put together. Blogger doesn't make it easy to format the text with the pictures in the body of the post. It was the first time I tried it this way and I don't think I will do it again.

I will post picture of Barbados separately. Maybe tomorrow after our open house. Peace.


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stephanie said...

I am not a spammer, and very glad for the update! Miss you guys terribly and I think your new house RULES!

anne said...

Hey! Welcome home!
Nice wrap up of the summer. I love the new house and can't wait to see it in person. Regarding the's actually hereditary but skips a generation. I think it has something to do with being once removed from growing up in a falling down house. Your kids will have nice homes but your grandkids won't know any better.
The trip sounds like it was a lot of fun. I'm big time jealous. We only got to go to the cabin...and patch the roof while we were there.

Mrs. P said...

Lovely house!


As far as small...BAH! The smaller it is, the lesser you clean.

Great summer recap!

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