The Long Drive

Several long drives took place this week – Maddie, Oona and I drove up to New York to visit family (roughly 9 hours each way) on Friday and back yesterday, and Paul drove up to Long Island Thursday night (roughly 7 hours) with the girls and back Sunday night.

Paul and the girls took the bus.  I was a bit nervous seeing them off on Thursday night.  It wasn’t until about 9pm that they got going and I guided them out of the driveway.  Paul’s quite capable with large vehicles, but as a former bus driver I worried about him making his maiden voyage without any real training.  I reminded him about 10 times about clearance and weight limits and pivot points (that would be your back tires) but he made it up north without a hitch.

Maddie and Oona and I had a smooth drive up Friday and enjoyed the scenery.  We took route 15 north basically the entire way from Virginia into New York and once we got into Pennsylvania the foliage was just spectacular.  Maddie quickly got bored of staring at farmland, but I kept wanting to stop and take pictures of all the beautiful old barns and farms (I didn’t).  Once we got into New York it got dark and rainy (and cold!) and we had quite a lot of fog.  Still, we made it safely and had a lovely weekend with our family.

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The maple tree next to grandma’s house is all golden and red and there was a delicious chill in the air (though I think I may have been the only one who enjoyed it – everyone else was less impressed with the chill).

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We toured the old cemetery at the end of the road.

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These graves had been largely overgrown and forgotten until very recently.  A neighbor took it upon himself to cleat out the overgrowth and find all of the broken, scattered and sunken headstones and repair, clean, and re-place them.  Many of them had been covered over by sediment for years after the Genesee River flooded (severely so) in the early 70’s.  You can’t see it from this photo, but the river is just beyond the trees in the background.  The river rose again in the mid 90’s and probably buried them even further – but now they’ve been taken over by a caring steward and some of the town’s history can be gleaned from the old stones.  It’s all very incredible to me since this was all forested when I was a child there.  You could see one, maybe two, stones poking out of the weeds back in those days, but the old site seemed destined for obscurity.  My grandfather’s ashes will soon be residing here, and I think I may even want my own here some day.

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Oona was her usual charming and energetic self, though she remained too shy to really warm up to anyone other than my grandmother.  Given more time she’d have no doubt demanded everyone allow her to treat them like jungle gyms.

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We got to explore the old hotel a bit and see the work the new owners have been putting into restoring it.  A lot of walls and ceilings are being re-built, along with new plumbing and wiring.  The outside is being meticuloulsy repainted and a new fire escpae is at the ready to be installed.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when finished.

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My aunt Leisa and uncle John drove out from Cayuga Lake and my uncle Jeff drove in from Buffalo and we explored a bit down by the river and collected fallen chestnuts from a tree Leisa had planted years ago.  It was funny to me to see the river so high – in the summers you could walk almost completely across on the exposed rocks.

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Oona “helped” Leisa dump the wheel barrow full of weeds near the river bank.

Sunday we had more family out – Aunt Leslie, Uncle Jamie and cousin Tyler joined us for a stroll in the park.  I completely forgot my camera, so I had to use my Blackberry.  I think it actually took pretty decent pictures.  Tyler pointed out that the camera on his phone had just as many mega pixels as my good camera and that made me a bit sick to my stomach – and all the more determined to get a REAL camera sometime soon!

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We focused our sightseeing on the water falls.  I’ve been there a million times but I always love it  – I could sit for hours just watching the falls and listening to the roar of the water.  Maddie, on the other hand,  likes to make faces.  (It’s ok – she was just being funny).

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See the rainbow?

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Leslie and I both think this waterfall – the Middle Falls – is the best.

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There’s another hotel right here in the park – just above the Middle Falls.  One day I’d like to stay there – it’s just beautiful.

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Check out Maddie’s Day-Glo pants.

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This spot is called “Inspiration Point”.  I must have hundreds of photos of this spot, but I took another one anyway.  People get married at this spot – isn’t that lovely?  And then honeymoon at the Glen Iris Inn – that lovely old hotel above the falls.  Very romantic.

From there we took a little trail through the woods and came out at a visitor’s center and gift shop.  I bought a few small things, including a jar of “Letchworth State Park Chocolate River Rocks”.  They’re candy – coated chocolates that look exactly like little river rocks.  I kid you not.  Oona loves them (so do I, actually).  The thing is, they really really look like rocks.  One of these days Oona’s going to be out in the gravel driveway thinking she’s hit the chocolate mother load.

Anyway we had a wonderful, wonderful visit.  I really needed to be around my family and it was just what I needed.  The trip back was longer than the trip up, not just because that always seems to be the way of it, but traffic was heavier and we sat for nearly an hour trying to get through Selinsgrove, PA.  It didn’t help that we had quite a lot of wind noise from the passenger’s side window (bad seal, I think) and all we had was an fm radio – Maddie complained of “radio finger” from constantly having to scan through all the static to find a decent station all 9 hours.  We made it home safe and sound just as it was getting dark.

Paul had gotten home around 5 am Monday morning after a much later than anticipated start home.  He and the older girls of course were at his brother’s wedding.  Originally I had planned to go – had been looking forward to it – until we were told we couldn’t bring Oona (no small children allowed).  So, Paul and the older girls went and had a good time, though we were all very upset that the bride’s nephew – Oona’s age roughly – was there.  I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to know that no one cared that I was unable to attend because Oona was not allowed but the bride’s small nephew was more than welcome.   All I will say is that I learned to whom  I really matter this weekend, and it’s clearly my own family – they were fantastic and kept me from being too sad and upset about the whole thing.  I need to spend more time up north with them.

Now it’s back to routine – I have a house to clean and chickens that need tasty recipes for rotisserie read to them since they still have not produced a single egg.  AND – a little purry boy cat to find and cuddle!

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Link to Hotel Under Blogroll!

Because my brain (or wordpress, whichever) refuses to properly function today I can’t seem to get a separate category for non – blog links to work.  Therefore, for now, please check out the link to the hotel under the blogroll!  Looks like renovations are running along well and and The Genesee Falls Inn will be open in the spring!!!!

Knit Like You Mean It, and Hotel in Pictures

With apologies to all my friends and family that are no doubt feeling neglected and ignored lately. I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress I continue to make on everything. Having the older girls gone at school during the day has switched the motivation button in me to the “on” position, and though I am still frustrated in my attempts by a very mobile Oona, I am determined to get some stuff done by the end of the year, dammit. And to give you an idea what I am up against, I have started a small list of my projects.

First is this small corner of my knitting backup:

Each of these lovely yarn bundles represents days, if not weeks, of knitting to do. And remember, this is but a small slice of what’s in my yarn cabinet.

Then there’s quilt #1 for the play room.

You see that? I am hand quilting it. That small area inside the hoop took all week. And I have at least 3 more quilts to do after this one (I stopped using the machine because I like the control I get with doing it by hand better).

I still have to refinish Emily’s dresser and paint her room, I am way behind with the paintings I have outlined, and don’t even ask where I am with scrapbooking and picture archiving. Oona’s baby book? Yeah right. Yard work? So not been seen to in weeks. It’s all avalanching on me. Weekends are the worst because the older girls are home and I am still on baby duty without a break.

So all of you not hearing from me? Don’t take it personal. I’m just trying to gain back some modest amount of control over my life.

The good news around these parts is that my hotel was indeed purchased and my grandmother has even met with the new owners. Apparently it is a lawyer from Long Island and his family who bought it sight unseen hoping to use it as a vacation home. (!!!!!) But, now that they have seen it and realize it’s a commercial property they have begun to get work done on it and have plans to get it open for the spring season. It’s so exciting! I couldn’t be happier that the Genesee Falls Inn is getting a second chance at life, though I must admit it is still weird to see it owned by someone else – it’ll be hard to see it looking different than what I grew up with. And speaking of, I scanned some pictures to share. Some of them are old and were taken with a crappy camera, so bear with me!

The Genesee Falls Inn – Portageville, NY

Front view, in winter. The hotel was closed in the winter, but the bar was open all year.

Portageville from above. Yup. That’s pretty much the whole town. Notice the Genesee River behind the hotel? We spent a lot of time out there, catching crayfish and walking down to the falls in the park.

My grandparents, out front, circa 1980 something.

My brother and I playing on the stairs

Room 4, which was usually where I stayed, since it had no bathroom of its own and wasn’t as desirable for renting to guests (the place was built in 1870, so…….)

Room 3 was my favorite room. I thought it was very pretty and feminine. It was also one of the few rooms that didn’t require a walk down the creepy hallway where most of the other rooms were. My grandfather always said it was nonsense, but I swear that place is haunted.

Room 5, another great room with a beautiful brass bed. My grandparents did a great job keeping up with the Victorian look and feel of the hotel.

Wish I had a better picture of the formal dining room- it has red and gold velvet wallpaper and the same mosaic tile floor that is in the lobby. This was taken after it had been “abandoned” by the man who bought it from my grandparents. My aunt had her wedding reception here.

Me washing dishes, about age 14.

This was from the last Thanksgiving that was held at the hotel. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been there for it – I think it also may have been the ONLY Thanksgiving I was there. Both my aunt Patty and my grandfather have since passed away.

Looking toward the front door, the last time I was there. It had been emptied of all its belongings (I always thought the antique furniture and other trappings belonged to the hotel, and should never have been taken out). It was a depressing site, to be sure. Hopefully the new owners will breathe new life into it.

View from Inspiration Point, Letchworth State Park, “right around the corner” from the hotel. We spent a whole lot of time in the park. You can barely make out the train bridge in the background. It’s about 200 or so feet up off the river over the gorge. We took walks over it quite often. My grandparents most evenings would cross the river behind the hotel, take the path through the woods that led to this bridge, cross the trestle and walk back to the hotel through the park. Then they’d return for the dinner rush.

Hope you enjoyed these. I have been thinking about my grandfather a lot lately and how much I miss him. I also need to call my grandmother more often. And I have also just decided I am making buffalo wings for dinner, because seeing the pictured brings back all the memories and smells of the place, like the aroma of wings cooking in the kitchen. And peeps, let me tell you. My grandmother had the authentic Buffalo Wing recipe. (Well, the hotel is not far from Buffalo, so of course!) Yummy!

When Life Hands You Lemons…..

…you try not to smother your spouse in his sleep.

It’s been pretty stormy outside the last, well, month, so it’s been hard to get outside and run some energy out of these kids.  And my garden…..well it has exploded, between the squash and the weeds, I just can’t keep up.

We’ve been stuck inside for what feels like the whole summer so far, and I feel bad because school starts up again in 5 weeks.  !!!!!  I can’t believe it’s possible.  We did get a brief respite  – if not from the rain then from the monotony – on the 4th when we spent the day with friends.  I even made the girls festive shirred dresses:

I’m pretty proud.  It took me awhile to finish them because the tensioner on my bobbin casing is missing a screw so I can’t get proper tension on the elastic thread.  I had to zig zag with the machine and then hand thread the elastic through all 12 rows of shirring on both dresses.  But it wasn’t so bad….and it came out well and they were pleased.  (The fabric is called “Red, White and Bold” and it is made by Moda)

The 4th was fun, as I was saying.  We spent the day with our friends, whose children happen to be the same ages as mine and they love playing together.  I planted my face into some horribly- bad – for – you dip (Velveeta plus salsa plus black beans all melted together) and I swear I could have licked the darn bowl.  It rained pretty much all day but the babies fell asleep at the same time and the men folk were in the garage doing men stuff so us gals drank a bottle of wine and got to talk smack for awhile.  It was lovely! ANd even though we got rained on, we still managed to see the fireworks.  I think we found our new 4th of July tradition!

But on to lemons.

After our fab 4th we had Sunday dinner here with my family.  My uncle and grandmother are visiting (my hotel got sold!!!!  For $69k!!!!!!!!  I am so happy that someone is going to do something with it!!!!!!!) so we invited everyone to come over and I fed them some beef & broccoli lo mein and egg rolls.  I made the lo mein, but ordered the rolls.  And I made a yummy lime chiffon cake.  mmmmmmmm.  But I digress.  A good time was had by all, and I look forward to spending more time with the family before grandma heads back north.  Maddie’s back with us again, trying to help me stay sane.  And I need all the help I can get right now!!!  Gas prices, as you all know, still suck.  The economy still sucks.  So we’re stuck home.  And it’s rainy.  And stormy.  And my children are restless. And the worst part of all…….NO TV.  Yes, you read that right.  We are without tv right now.  Oh sure, we get a few crappy local stations that play nothing any of us ever watches.  Otherwise, nada. No Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network. Oh yeah, we’re suffering.  I think Maddie may be re-thinking the whole “staying here” thing.

I’ve got art projects to keep the kids distracted.  It works, but only to a point.  It’s also messy and hard to supervise when you’ve got a grouchy teething wriggly baby who wants to get into everything.  Point is, we’re doing what we can, but it’s awfully quiet and grumpy around here.  Tv is a crutch, no doubt about it.  I’ve realized that we don’t actually watch it all day, but if it’s not on for background noise and distraction then things can get real uneasy real fast.  Maybe it’s just that it’s our routine and we rely on that routine to keep us structured and productive.  Without it we feel rather aimless and without anchor.  Amazing what a difference a noisy box with pictures can make!  I can’t even seem to get into a good knitting rhythm when it’s so quiet.  Even so, I managed this:

Emily’s socks are done, and I have already gotten about an inch into the next pair I am working on.  These ones are for me (good thing, too, what with all the frustrated energy I am knitting into them!) and they are going to be another pair of the Jaywalkers socks by Grumperina in Socks That Rock, in a colorway called “Little Bunny Foo Foo”.  It’s a chocolate and pink mix.  Hooray!

Cold vs. Allergies

Either way, I’m sick.  I ache, I’m congested, it stinks.

Mother’s Day was great – I got nice stone edging around my herb garden, and two raised beds made for veggie growing.  Yay!!!

I got next to no knitting done but considering all the landscaping, I won’t complain.  Plus I got the first ever bloom off my rose bush!

Also my peonies are doing very well so I’m excited.  You know, it was only very recently that I smelled a peony for the first time since childhood, and it was amazing how the scent made me feel.  It brought to mind immediately my grandmother.  She had huge peony bushes (and lilacs and a huge mulberry tree!) at the hotel.  I never had cause to realize how strongly peonies and grandma were connected for me.  It would probably surprise her as well.  And as I write, I just remembered it’s her birthday.  I need to call her and let her know how she’s on my mind quite a lot.  I never get to tell her with all the noise and craziness around here getting in my way.  But really I need to call her anyway, especially now that grandpa is gone, to see how she is doing.  Oona never got to meet grandpa, and I want to be sure my kids get to know grandma well.  Oona’s growing like a weed here.  Just yesterday she had some avocado and a banana cookie.

They grow too fast.

Until they hit about 3 or so – then they don’t seem to grow up fast enough.

Hotel Update!!!

Yes, it’s still for sale. You can see the ad here.

The price has been slashed. I’m hopeful the lower price will make it more attractive, considering it needs a lot of work and all of the antiques and furniture (pretty much every thing) was removed and sold off by the last (um, total jacka**) owner.

Anyway, I’m wiped out from a long day of driving but I’ll have more to say on this topic soon.

Stay tuned!!!!

Hotel Update, Part 3-ish

Son of a B.  My damn hotel is on Ebay.  Ebay!!!!!!!!!  And the pictures of it are the ones taken by the agent the day I was there with her.  In fact, you can see Paul’s car way off in back to the right in the main pic.http://cgi.ebay.com/Historic-Inn-Restaurant-for-Sale-Letchworth-State-Park_W0QQitemZ200050324284QQihZ010QQcategoryZ15825QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item200050324284

My response is:

A:  THIS is what she meant by “listing it nationally”?

B:  They will NEVER get that much money for it.  No way, no how. There’s very little around that area to support the hotel business year round.  There’s enough to keep it going fairly modestly, sure (does great summer and fall, basically dead through winter and early spring, which in Buffalo, may as well last until May).  But with the amount that someone will need to put into it up front to fix it’s problems,well……….. it will take forever to recoup those expenses with the business profits.

I’m kind of bummed.  My grandfather said no one’s been to look at it.

Sigh.