Monday, July 28, 2014

Skaneateles Mailboat Tour

Last week, on probably the best day of the whole Summer (thus far), my two traveling buddies (BFF's) and I took a bus tour from our town to one of the most pristine of the Finger Lakes - Skaneateles Lake. Here we are on the bus headed for Skaneateles.


Me - in case you can't see picture caption: I just wanted ONE chin, so I cropped the others off.
The town of Skaneateles is 78 miles from Rochester and is about an hour and a half bus ride.   The weather was blindingly sunny, not a cloud in the sky and quite warm (90 ish). But the bus was air cooled and the lake breezes and boat ride also provided cooling breezes. The lake is as clear as glass. It's an extremely healthy lake, according to the guide. 300 plus feet deep. You can practically "feel" the eons of time it took for water, erosion, temperature fluctuations, climate, ice ages, etc. to dig this beautiful lake out of the huge rock formations that are its boundaries.

Our cruise was on a Mailboat which delivers and collects the mail for the lake residents. It's easier to deliver mail by boat than to attempt to drive or walk around the lake, scaling the cliffs and dirt roads on terra firma  and miles of wooden stairs the residents have built to get from mountain side to where their cottages are situated at lake level.

It's also quite an adventure for both the mail delivery personnel and the lake residents. The residents hang their mailboxes off their boat docks and reaching out toward the water. The boat captain actually stops that craft about two feet from the end of the dock. He never crashed into one single dock while I was with him. A young "gopher" mail boy with large orange bags of mail wiggles way up onto the bow and then leans waaaay over to hand the mail to the resident standing at the end of their dock. Most of the time, this is residents. Children love to do this and everyone's pet does as well. Reason being that the mail "gopher" has a treat of a tootsie roll for the kiddies and a dog biscuit for the pups - plus mail. And sometimes, the residents have mail to post, handing that over to the "gopher" to process.

A few of the lake residents ready to meet the mail boat

One of the stops for mail delivery was at a day camp. The camp counselors came to the dock to collect the mail. A few tiny campers also sneaked in to this picture. Sorry I wasn't able to get a picture of this - but the beautiful young counselors standing along the dock at camp did the can-can just like the Radio City Rockettes as a mailboat greeting. Here they are after their grueling routine.

Sailing Lessons

The Mailboat

The interior of the boat was lined both sides with tables and four chairs at each one. Lined along both sides with windows. The did serve iced tea, soda pop and water plus small snacks.  The mail cruise took approximately 3 hours. These are some of the wonderful lake houses.

Some of the beautiful residences along the lakefront.

My Favorite

This next one, which looks a lot like the White House has a very interesting history and if you're interested, I've provided a link.

Now off the lunch at the  and then a bit of shopping at the wonderful shops and boutiques of downtown Skaneateles. There were 3 lunch choices. Me and the two "comari" all had the same thing: First course: green salad. Second Course: Chicken French, which was totally delicious. A thin paillard of sautéed chicken in a lemon and wine sauce over a bed of wild rice and shoestring vegetables. Third Course: a decadent chocolate cake with frosting and whipped cream.

And to top it all off - a bit of "retail therapy"

This is a two story antique shop. All of it was as crowded as this picture. I did purchase a little tchotchke.

While waiting for our bus to take us back home, we sat in this beautiful beachfront park.

Altogether, a beautiful day, enjoyed by one and all. It was a  Covered Wagon Tours. They took care of everything, throughway tolls, gratuities, lunch, they did the driving and parking. I can't wait for the next one.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today is Monday

Today I looked through my yarn stash and discovered that I had no #5 yarn (chunky) yarn. That's a little heavier than #4 (worsted/double knitting), which I have lots of.

I made a little trip over to the only yarn store we have remaining in my area. All others, sadly, have gone out of business. This yarn store that I planned to browse around in had a sign on the door - "CLOSED MONDAYS". sad, sad, sad.

To elevate my spirits a bit I went to the gelato store and got a double scoop and sat on a bench overlooking the canal and ate my mango-coconut gelato while watching pigeons, house sparrows and ducks all looking for a handout.

I felt a bit desperate for the yarn because I'm soon going on a bus tour and I want to knit during the ride. I am wanting to make some hats like these to put in my etsy shop. I think it's perfect timing for thinking about hats. School will be starting in a month. College co-eds will be descending on campuses and winter won't be far behind.

Because the yarn shop was closed, I made a trip to the local sewing and craft store. They do have a yarn department. They did happen to have the weight of yarn I need to make this pattern - plus - it was on sale!!! I bought enough to make three hats. Here's the colors.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roses Can be Compared to a Hershey's Chocolate Bar for a Deer

Oh, deer, oh, deer. Am I setting myself up for lots of frustration? After I published last week's blog post, I thought I'd better check on Google about what deer like to eat from our gardens and discovered that one of their favorites is roses. I am very reluctant to give up on my plan to have a rose garden but I don't want to get into a heated battle with the deer who live in my neighborhood. Plus, they like to eat when I'm fast asleep. Noshing all night long in all the gardens in my neighborhood.

Google tells me that deer can be dissuaded from chomping on your roses if you plant something around the roses that smells distasteful to deer. One plant that deer don't like the smell of is lavender. I love lavender plants. So, that's my updated and new plan - a rose garden completely surrounded by lavender.

This is where I'm at now. The vegetable garden has been tilled and divested of all vegetable seeds but, unfortunately, not of weed seeds. My take on this is: when you till a garden, you're actually planting weeds. Turning over that soil and burying weeds seeds deep down in the bed, only to have them flourish again in a couple weeks. So this is what the bed looks like now. You can see where I have made one section for roses. And a center circle where a beautiful birdbath will be situated. The garden will have one of these sections in each of the four corners. From the center circle will be four cedar chip paths - dividing each of the four sections. A "birds eye view" will look like a cross.

The reason my new section in the foreground doesn't have weeds is because I made it a "newspaper" or "lasagna" garden. You ask: what is a "newspaper" or "lasagna" garden? I got you a little YouTube video to explain.

I have made many "newspaper" gardens. They are the "bomb".

I am moving top soil, that I had dumped in my driveway, to my backyard, by wheelbarrow and dumping the wheelbarrow full of topsoil plus cow manure that I mixed in, onto the thick layer of newspaper that I layed down over the weeds to smother them and turn them into compost. That is the "newspaper" method. It's a "little bit by little bit" process.

I may be able to plant roses and lavender in the fall. If not, then next spring.

Here's a couple more things that are going on in my garden. Bees buzzing around the purple cone flowers. There's one in mid air on the top left and a great big bumble bee on the head of the big flower in the foreground.

And on the patio, in a pot, supposedly a grape tomato (doesn't look like one). This green tomato has been hanging around for about a month. I wonder if it's ever gonna to turn red. Perhaps I need to make "fried green tomatoes".

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Birthing of a Rose Garden

Once upon a time, we had a vegetable garden plot in our backyard. We enjoyed it immensely and so did the deer, rabbits and groundhogs. So we fenced it in and we still enjoyed it. It gave us lettuces, tomatoes, string beans, zucchini, basil, parsley, peppers, garlic and eggplants.

It's a lot of work keeping weeded and bug-free. And there's not enough people here anymore to eat all those veggies. We've moved the little herb garden to the patio steps and put a tomato plant in a kettle on the patio. Note that the whole tomato affair is swathed with netting otherwise the deer will get to the tomatoes before I do. And they like them green too.

Patio gardening is super convenient. Just steps away from the meal prep area. The deer have not bothered with the herb garden. I think they don't like all the smells (basil, rosemary, thyme).

The space where the vegetable garden lived happily for many years will now be a rose garden. I am in the process of preparing it. Putting more top soil mixed with compost over a thick layer of newspapers (a newspaper garden), laying out garden paths which will be a thick layer of the mulch our town provides for free after they've mulched up the town's fallen trees and tree limbs.

The garden measures 8 feet by 16 feet. I'm marking out a circle in the middle and then 4 paths coming out from the circle, like a cross. In the circle, I think there will be a beautiful birdbath which I don't have yet.

I'll keep you up to date on the rose garden's progress from time to time. I think it's going to give me lots of pleasure. I hope deer don't like to eat roses. I better "google" that.