Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Independent Bookstores

Back in June I read a tweet that caught my attention. Benjamin LeRoy, publisher at Tyrus Books, was giving away prizes in support of independent bookstores. I clicked over to his blog and followed his instructions on how to enter.

I adore independent bookstores, not that there are many left near where I live. I identified my favorite one, in a small town about 2 hours away. Whenever we stop in I almost always buy at least one book, usually something written by a local author or with a story that takes place in the area. Some have been bombs, but some have been fantastic.

So when Ben contacted me to let me know I'd won the $50 prize, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to stop in and find more gems. Unfortunately, my favorite bookstore was unable to work with Ben on a gift certificate (pay attention stores, if someone wants to give you $50, you should really try to accommodate them). So I chose a second independent bookstore, one that is closer to civilization and one that clearly advertises gift certificates on their website.

I'd only been to Creekside Books & Coffee once before, and apparently not that recently. So it was a shock when we drove to Skaneateles this past Sunday, gift certificates in hand, to find the bookstore reduced in size by two thirds. In fact, what had been the bookstore was closed and dark. What had been the associated coffee shop was now BOTH a coffee shop and bookstore. The selection was extremely limited, one shelving unit for MG, one for YA, two for fiction. I was bummed, but I set to work spending my money.

I found only one book from my wishlist, picked another from the paperback fiction bestsellers list, and grabbed a third based on a twitter recommendation. I'm super excited to read all three.

Thank you to Benjamin LeRoy for supporting independent bookstores. I hope everyone recognizes the importance of doing so. You can read more about why Ben chooses to give here and here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Misty Morning Walk

I found myself at Second Home Nature Center this morning with about 20 minutes to kill, so I quickly headed out onto the Hemlock Hollow and Bog Trails. The thick fog from the river by my house was a little thinner at the nature center, more of a mist.

No one had yet walked either of these trails, so I broke through countless spider webs. I spent much of my short walk flailing my arms and wiping my face, but I would not be deterred by the webs (or the deer flies or the humidity). I paused briefly on the bog platform to look out over the lake.

Because I've spent my entire life playing, walking, and working at Second Home Nature Center I tend to take it for granted, but this morning the mist magically transformed a landscape I know inside and out to something more exotic, a glimpse of something wilder.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Coconut Oil Bandwagon

I've read so much about the benefits and uses of coconut oil on the interwebs, and I'd been meaning to try it for a while now, but this semi-recent post by Stacy on Squirrel Chatter spurred me to action. I poked around at my grocery store until I found what I was looking for, a 12 oz tub of Carrington Farms organic coconut oil.

I was surprised to see what appeared to be a solid, white substance that almost resembled Crisco. I was expecting an OIL. What I didn't realize was that coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees, so as soon as it hits the skin it becomes the oil I was expecting.

I've only been using it for about a week now, but thus far I've used it as a lip balm, on a scar that I'm hoping it will help minimize the appearance of, as moisturizer on my hands, on acne, and on a cold sore.

This list of 50 of the Best Uses for Coconut Oil has many other interesting suggestion, some of which I'm sure I will try.

(This post is not sponsored by Carrington Farms in any way.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

State Fair, Round 1

Last night we went to the State Fair, mainly for dinner, but of course we looked at plenty of things while we were there. We checked out the chickens, ducks, rabbits, cavies, cows, pigs, llamas, goats, and sheep, located in four different buildings.

We tracked down this beauty for my husband's dinner:

It's a Southern Fried Chicken Donut, slathered with chipotle mayo and pickles. He rated it as being one of the two best sandwiches he's ever eaten. And that's high praise from him since he's been known to drive 4-5 hours just for a slice of pizza or a sandwich. I found the very idea of it unappealing, so I went to my go-to vendor for a piece of spanikopita.

Yummy flaky, greasy goodness. For dessert we got soft serve maple ice cream, my all-time favorite. No pictures because I, uh, scarfed it down too quickly.

In the Center of Progress Building we checked out the sand sculpture. As it was only day 2 of the Fair, the sculpture is nowhere near finished, but the theme was obvious.

We only purchased one set of advance sale tickets, but I suspect we will return for another visit and more importantly, more food!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Riding the Chairlift

Neither my husband nor I are downhill skiers, so we haven't had many opportunities to ride chairlifts. This weekend we went campering at Eighth Lake Campground, just north of Inlet, NY. On Saturday we drove down to Old Forge to ride the chairlift at McCauley Mountain.

I enjoyed it immensely. I felt like a little kid, with my feet dangling and a big grin on my face.

The weather was perfect and the views were lovely.

It was well-worth the $6 for each of us. And we both managed to get on and off the chairlift with grace and humor. Naturally, I fell off my mountain bike later in the day, but that's another story...

Friday, August 16, 2013

30 Days of Lists

This morning I signed up for my first round of 30 Days of Lists, which is offers "creative journaling challenges for people who love to make lists." Since I've never done this before I don't know exactly what to expect, and yet I'm looking forward to it quite a bit. If nothing else, it will spur me to try something new and to meet new people who are also participating. And maybe find some new blogs to read in the process.

I'm also not sure what role my blog will play. Will I post my lists directly to the blog or will I post pictures of my lists? Will I write my lists in my journal (my regular, plain spiral bound notebook) or will I decide to do something more creative? I've never gotten into scrapbooking, but this could be a cross-over opportunity to mix my love of journaling and list making with something more crafty (which I would never describe myself as).

Come September 1st, all will be revealed. Maybe.

(If you are interested, it cost me $8 to register, but preregistration ends Saturday, August 17th, so the price may go up.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reading on my Nook

Two years ago I took the plunge and purchased a Nook Color. And while it is already seriously out-of-date as a tablet, it still makes an excellent e-reader. One of the reasons I decided to go with the Nook versus the Kindle was the in-store reading option. I've read several ebooks front to back while sipping tea at the brick-and-mortar B&N about a mile from my house.

Since buying the Nook, I've read a much wider variety of books than when I was just reading words on paper. B&N offers Free Friday selections each week, which has lead me to read a lot of books I might otherwise have passed on, including more than a few in the Christian genre (NOT my thing). The quality of most of the free books is of a lower caliber than I usually prefer, and sometimes the ebooks are so bad I've abandoned (and deleted) them almost immediately. Others I start and don't get sucked into, but leave in my library for a second look at a later date. Right now I have in the neighborhood of 60 unread titles in my library. (The read ones have been moved to the archive.)

I still love reading on paper, but having my Nook with me gives me lots of choices at any time. At some point in the future I would like to get a real tablet, but for now I'm making do with my Nook Color. And reading yet another free murder mystery... Maybe I'll take a break after I finish this one and read a paperback with more substance...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mt Marshall

I've never written a trip report before, so we'll see how this goes. My guess is that with my exceptionally BAD memory, my report may be a bit sketchy...

My alarm was set for 3:55 AM on Saturday, but I was awake well before it went off. I stayed in bed until two minutes before it was to go off, figuring even if I wasn't still sleeping I would need all the rest I could get. I kissed my husband goodbye and rushed through my pre-hike routine. Less than 20 minutes later I was out the door heading to meet my sister at the park-n-ride.

At the Upper Works trailhead I squeezed into one of the few remaining legitimate parking spots (later cars would line the road) and we started our preparations (socks, boots, gaiters, and for me a thick layer of Aquaphor underneath). My sister had found a trip report written by another hiker with what he described as "prima donna" feet who slathered his feet with butt paste to help prevent blisters. I was willing to give it a whirl, and Aquaphor was what we had in the house (for post-tattoo usage).

My sister signed us in at the register and we step on the trail at 8:09 AM. Temperatures were in the 60s and the sun was shining. The weather stayed near perfect the entire day with a nice breeze and NO bugs. It was such a relief after our last hike up Seymour when the bugs and humidity were torturous.

When we got to the Henderson Monument we got out our cameras to take pictures and sucked down a Clif Shot Gel each. At the Flowed Lands we stopped again to take more photos, as it was the first time either of us had been there and it is a lovely spot.

Then we signed that register and were off again. We got to the cairn marking the start of the Herbert Brook herd path in roughly 3 hours and to the summit in another two (we are not speedy, obviously). The trail crisscrosses the brook but is well marked with small cairns and is very pretty. Lots of lush green moss and inviting pools of water. It is rocky and muddy, etc., but that comes with the territory. We saw several red efts and an occasional toad.

The trip reports we'd read ahead of time prepared us for a treed summit with limited views. After we took our requisite summit shots, we back-tracked just a hair to a small rock overlook where we found stunning panoramic views. Clearly either some people failed to take the few steps off the herd path to the overlook or we have different ideas of what qualifies as an impressive vista.

Phelps, Colden, Tabletop, Marcy, Gray, Skylight and the Flowed Lands on the right. 

I changed my socks and sock liners and applied GlacierGel bandages to my big toes. We ate our pb&js and took lots of pictures. Eventually we pried ourselves away from the breathtaking views and headed down the mountain after about an hour on the summit.

We stopped again at the Flowed Lands to take more photos in the afternoon light before pushing on. We signed out at the parking lot at 6:20 PM, changed our clothes, and were on the road by 6:40 PM. I forgot to note the time when I got home, but the shower and bed both felt divine after our long day.

Mt Marshall makes 14 Adirondack High Peaks for me and 21 for my sister. All-in-all a wonderful hike!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Soft and Worn

When I was a kid I slept in my dad's old t-shirts. They were faded and worn thin and super soft (and usually stained). But the best part about them was they smelled like my dad. This was especially important to me after he left my mom. On the nights we stayed with her I could cuddle close to the smell of him at night and not miss him as much.

I always wondered how he managed to wear out t-shirts, as at that time I was out-growing them before I could wear them out. Then as I got older I had so many tees that the idea of any one of them getting that much wear was impossible to imagine.

But I've finally done it. One of my shirts now looks like Swiss cheese*:

I bought this gray Old Navy pocket tee after watching The Thing Called Love in college. Samantha Mathis' character wears one in the movie and even though I loved the look on her, it didn't work well on me. The t-shirt got relegated to my "comfy clothes" category (the clothes I wear around the house but not out in public). It's still my go-to shirt to pull on when I get home from work. I suppose at some point I will have to give up and let it go. I wonder if my dad felt the same reluctance to part with his old shirts.

*Sorry for the crappy cell phone in the bathroom mirror picture.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Outside my Comfort Zone

The weekend was every bit as stressful as I expected it to be.

The "cottage" by the lake was little more than a shanty. Oh, it has potential, don't get me wrong. But its owners clearly lack ambition. The one bedroom was more of a loft/attic space that has been partially finished. It could easily be divided into three bedrooms with walls and doors.

Less easy to fix would be the crooked floors, walls, everything. Nothing was square. I kinda wanted to throw a handful of marbles on the floor just to see the many directions in which they could choose to roll. But I can get past unevenness. That isn't a deal breaker for me.

The smells were a bigger problem: musty, stale, and something else I couldn't put my finger on. One smell I had no trouble identifying was URINE. The first red flag was carpet in the bathroom (indoor-outdoor carpet, no less). As far as I'm concerned carpet has NO place in the bathroom. All it does is attempt to hide a variety of sins. In this case, I am guessing the wax ring was shot. And don't even get me started on the squishy toilet seat. Nasty to begin with, but when you add in a crack that releases moisture of an indeterminate nature onto your ass whenever you sit...

I could go on and on, but aside from the structure itself, the close quarters with other people was too much for me. I need a lot of space and me time. I start to shut down after too much social interaction. Then I need peace and quiet to replenish. The only alone time I had this weekend was when I went for walks. I couldn't even sit outside and read because the wind was cranking non-stop to the degree that it was uncomfortable to be in after only a few minutes. So I was stuck inside with everyone else and the constant, steady, and often very loud conversation.

I don't know if I've ever been so happy to pack up and leave somewhere. I'm sure the others did not find me to be the most pleasant person to be around, but I did my best under the circumstances. Maybe next time they can just go without me.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Forced Socializing

I am no longer the social butterfly I once was. I did a lot of partying in college and during my Florida years.  I loved going out to bars and house parties. These days... not so much.

I prefer to stay home or to go out to dinner with just my husband. I have no use for bars (they are usually too loud and almost always uncomfortable, whether I stand or perch on a bar stool). I hate being forced to make small talk.

Unfortunately for me, my husband is the most social person on the planet. He thrives in situations where he is surrounded by people, especially if they are all paying attention to him. I think he was a rock star in another life. He loves getting together with groups of friends. The more, the merrier.

This coming weekend will be a trial for me (no, optimism is NOT my forte). We are going to a one bedroom "camp" on a big lake to the north with two other couples. I would much rather stay home and read my books and go for my walks. Instead I will spend the weekend riddled with anxiety, wishing I was anywhere else but there.