Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Cleaning

While I was recently entertaining journalists in Puerto Rico one weekend, John was at the house doing a bit of Spring Cleaning. Not the kind that includes opening the windows wide and letting fresh air in while vacuuming, dusting and windexing. This Spring Cleaning included chainsaws.

As great as it is to have a cleared yard (I did a bit of raking yesterday, my big contribution to the effort), John is actually in the doghouse on this one. Reason? He didn't have anyone at the house around who could help him in case he chainsawed his fingers or leg off by accident.

That's my rule: you use chainsaws or climb on the roof (to direct the antenna for better local television/internet reception) and you have a buddy nearby who can either hold the ladder, drive you to the hospital in case of an accident, or call 911.

As you can see John just can't live by my rules...(as if *this* is news). ;-)

Above/Before: Gnarly tree limbs in front yard. Below/After: Gone.

I'll have to forgive him just this one time. Afterall, he did kick-ass job. Now if I can just get him to do some of that other Spring Cleaning next weekend (the kind with the Windex) while I'm toughing it out in San Juan again for a food festival...



Yea, we got that.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trainspotting, Hudson Style

I just booked my train ticket for the weekend, which reminded me that I need to share a bit of my husband's trainspotting tendencies... I mean brilliance, when it comes to taking the train from the Hudson Valley.

Most of the time when I take the train it's from NYC to the big HV. There are two options: MetroNorth, which will get me to Wassiac for about 13 bucks (and cost John about 1 1/4 hours in round-trip drive time...blah), or Amtrak, which will get me to Hudson (and cost John 30 minutes in total drive time, AND get us closer to the Red Dot) for $39 and change. Of course, that's if I go at a slightly "off peak" hour and use my AAA discount (booking three days in advance). Peak hours can be upwards of $60.

But despite the cost (which is exorbitant), it's the return trip from Upstate to NYC that seems to get the weekenders' panties all tied up in a knot.

And not even in terms of $$, but in train delays.

Besides "overhearing" tales of train delay horror by long time weekenders who have grown bored of the spectacular river views from the train car and prefer to bitch and moan about their last train slog back to The City, I've seen ranting status updates on Facebook of friends "stuck" waiting for a train (that was supposed to, eventually, get them to a plane). In the end, with hours of delay, they were just plain out of luck....vacation and other travel plans completely ruined.

I've only taken the train from North to South once, but John has the INSIDE SKINNY on how to avoid extensive delays with the infamously tardy track record of our national rail line, and here it is:

As one might imagine, trains which originate in Albany have a lot less train line to screw up on than say, the trains that originate in Montreal (Adirondack), Toronto (Maple Leaf) or even Rutland, Vt. (Ethan Allen "Express").

With a little more digging, John came up with this gem: Trains with a 200 sequence starting with 23-, 24-, 25- or 26- (i.e. 234, 242, etc.) originate in Albany. Therefore, if you take one of these trains, you're less likely to get the ol' Bronx salute in terms of travel delays courtesy of Amtrak.

In doing a quick check on the Amtrak website, these seem to be the trains that are listed as Empire Service. But beware, as some of those trains originate in Niagara Falls...

All aboard, Anorak!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On Beavers, Mud & Sh*tkickers

Today's springtime adventure consisted of a visit to Downey Farm over Millerton-way, where our friend Dave informed us of a beaver "situation" at his property.

As he described it, a den of beavers had blocked up his creek and had begun building a dam, resulting in a lake forming on his property.

Ever eager for beaver (inside joke), we hoofed it on over there to trespass and tramp around Dave's property to have a general, all-around, look-see.

Even though Dave wasn't around, we figured the beavers were probably doing their dirty work right in the creek that runs right behind Dave's house. But upon further inspection (and no beaver sightings,) we were reminded that Dave's backyard actually consists of roughly 60 acres of farmland and set out "tramping" across Dave's farmland, trying to avoid stepping in cow pies, as well as goat and sheep pies. After that, we faced the perils of several lines of barbed wire fences (flashback to my cow-tipping days) to get to the back part of the property where we spotted something that looked sort of like a new lake.

Low and behold, we spotted a beaver swimming along and up into a little creek. But even though we had a camera in tow, we were unable to get a shot of the little bugger because I was too busy screaming with excitement, which sent the darn thing swimming upstream even quicker (I know, typical Citiot maneuver). We tramped around a bit more, spotting a pile of sticks and twigs and wondered whether it was a dam or the remnants of Dave undoing of the beavers' busy-work during the week.

On the way back to civilization, I realized that with this being the height of Mud Season and my tramping through mud, marsh, and cow poop and *still* having dry, happy feet, I really needed to give props to my pair of Keens (aka Sh*tkickers).

Above: You call them Keens, we call them Sh*tkickers

I bought these (admittedly ginormous) babies at the beginning of the Fall, and even though I thought they were overpriced ($100 and never on sale! Except here), these have been the BEST personal gear purchase thus far in my life as a Citiot in the Hudson Valley (and I'm not the only one who thinks these rock). Not only are they sooooo comfortable, they've kept my feet warm and dry all winter long, have a rubberized toe for tramping (and tripping/stumbling) purposes, and look good enough for follow-up chillin' over a cup of Joe at Millerton's Irving Farm Coffee House.

What can I say, more mud please!
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mud Season

As a flatlander, I learned early on during my college years in Vermont about"Mud Season, " the time of year when the snow finally starts to melt and the ground thaws. The good thing about mud season is that you're likely past the worst of the season's snowfalls. The bad thing about mud season? M-U-D.

Up in Northern Vermont, Mud Season starts in March and ends some time near the Fourth of July. ;-) But in 12521-land, I'm hoping that mud season ends by the time the NCAA basketball champions are decided.

So far we're not off to a good start, what with getting slammed with 7-plus inches of snow on March 1st. Here are a few photos of the mud on our road prior to the latest snowfall.

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