Monday, December 29, 2008

So where do the turkeys go in the winter?

All summer long I was startled to see the wild turkey flock wandering the yards of Newfield.  If they were in the road when a car came by, the driver had to slow really down as it takes them extra time to get into the air high enough to clear the vehicle.  But, since the frost in early November, they have gone into hiding.  Turkeys don't migrate per se, may be they are visiting neighboring fields where they compete with the geese flying south for the leftover corn?  I don't think they are hunted for food, because they would be awfully gamy with their mixed diet and stringy/tough too.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the first photo was an ice house

Me and my kitty have made it snug despite the cold.  The ice house is cork lined and served the squab farm and canning factory that was operated by my grandfather and his business partner 1910-1957.  When large refrigeration was possible in the 30's, the ice house was moved and converted to office space with a black coal burning pot belly stove, hence the chimney in the picture.  When the squab farm was closed in the 50's, the ice house was moved once again to next to my grandparents' home.  My grandfather used it as a shop where he refinished furniture and made "calcutta" fishing rods  - including one just for his 15 year old granddaughter me.

Well, the pot belly stove is long gone and I am using an electric heater made to look like a blackened iron stove, fake flames and all.  The flames are the kitty's endless fascination.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More than flurries ... the world was white this am

It made me smile.   And remember that every day is a chance to make others smile too. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

First snow flurries ....

Just like summer was hotter than in recent years .... fall/winter is shaping up to be colder.  Snow flurries appeared about 9am and the temperature is cold ...  doesn't bode well for getting the house renovation started.  Hoping to get bids in before Thanksgiving.  It's been dragging on and on and on  and really bumming me out.  But a new contractor asked if he could make a bid yesterday and so may be that has been what the whole process needs -- a fresh face.  

Happy Winter all

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies Won! and I wasn't asleep ...

After 28 years, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series .... it was nice because I was awake to see it happen. As a child, I was, of course, a Phillies phan growing up here in South Jersey but I rarely saw the end of a game, particularly a World Series game because I often fell asleep or had to go to bed for school. And, as an adult, I rarely watched any baseball game, too slow, too interested in other stuff. I did see a few Mariners games but now I'm back in the farming part of the Garden State, I have to be a Phillies fan.

So, it was fun to watch them win last night and have some special occurrence to falsely attribute to my being back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Time slipped away ...

So I had all these good intentions to keep the blog up to date but, of course, time slipped away. I'm learning that retirement is like that.

So what has happened?

  • My mother fell in early August and fractured her pelvis. Trips to the hospital and then rehab really ate up time -- fortunately, she has recovered to the point of just needing a cane for extra balance security. Her trips with my Pops to the casinos in Atlantic City have resumed.
  • The remodeling project has been architected by Greg Modelle and plans have been out to contractors for several weeks as they figure out their bids. Part of the reason this is taking so long is because this is a project to both add to and rehab the house. The porch area is becoming two walkin closets with a jackandjill bath between them; the living area is becoming a bedroom and will preserve the chestnut fireplace surround built by my great uncle the cabinent maker; the dining room is becoming a third bedroom; the kitchen is becoming a bath large enough for handicap access; and the old small second bedroom expands into the addition to become a new kitchen, with the remainder of the addition becoming a new dining and living room areas. The other reason for the slow pace on the contractor bid is the poor state of the economy. Specialty contractors have gone out of business over the summer and others have to be found with the right qualifications.
  • I did manage to go fishing off the Avalon Fishing Pier with my Pops. It was a beautiful September day and I caught 2 king fish, several snappers, some pompano, and 2 undersize flounder that had to be released back into the ocean. What a blast that was.
  • I found a movie buddy in my nephew-in-law, at least while he is home recovering from shoulder surgery.

What has been difficult is arranging doctors and homeowners insurance. Doctors are in short supply here and you wait weeks for appointments for dentists as well. The homeowners insurance is a problem because the house is from the 1920's and has not had electrical or plumbing upgrades. So, I found that there are "special" lines for homeowners just as there are assigned risk pools for car insurance. And, just as costly. It has been quite a frustrating experience. All the insurance companies will be very happy to insure me after the remodeling, yeah right.

I am having a wonderful time getting to know my grandson. So whatever else is going on, that experience trumps it all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My nephew by marriage proves himself a genius

Sunday July 13th was a scorcher.  Shampooing the rug in the now cooled down ice house seemed like a doable chore.  I got it all set up; turned on; lots of motor sounds but no water!  Didn't have a user manual to consult.

Found a manual online that said the pump nozzle was clogged and recommended to clean it out.  But the manual gave no clue where exactly the nozzle was located or how to get to it.  Fortunately, my nephew is a whiz when it comes to taking things apart and putting them back together.  Turns out that the last person to use it several years ago had left it so that soap had dried in the lines.  After two hours of deconstruction, hand smashing of the dried soap residue, and reconstruction without any extra parts, I was in business.

Lucky for me that my nephew was here for a family dinner cooked up specially by my sister to welcome me back to Newfield.  Just proving out the omen that there would be small snags but lots of sunshine :-)

Saturday July 12th was Avalon Fishing Pier Picnic

My sister moved more of her belongings from the ice house to her storage shed and I vacuumed again.  Discovered that my parents had a Bissell carpet steamer that I could use the next day.  Put that aside so I could go car shopping with my parents.  I had returned my leased car in Seattle and needed wheels.  It's embarrassing at 60 to ask your Daddy to borrow his car.

I wanted a fuel efficient small suv/crossover that my parents could easily get in and out of.  My research had uncovered two vehicles to test out -  a Honda CRV  and the newly introduced VW Tiguan.  We did a test ride with the CRV and it was satisfactory.  A little sluggish on pickup compared to my former car but that is a trait of Honda's 4 cyclinder engines.  Next, we just tried getting in and out of a Tiguan but no dice.  The rear doors for passengers are narrow and difficult for seniors to manuever.  I was sad, since sitting in the driver's seat felt so good.  So we had a choice, now it was time to find a good deal. 

Unfortunately for me, the Honda CRV is one of the hottest cars in this down market because of its fuel efficiency and resale value.  But, on our way to the Avalon Fishing Pier, there was a dealer there to try out and see what prices might be like since the model year is changing soon and they did have many in stock.  The negotiations were not successful but showed me that using the COSTCO Auto Buying Program was going to be my best bet.

So, we ended the day, sitting out in the ocean breezes, smelling the salty air and relaxing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So how does this Dyson work anyway?

The rugs in the house and the ice house need very deep cleaning so the new Dyson with its hepa filter is perfect for preventing the spread of the flea eggs into the air. The dyson is still in the box and I have to figure out how it goes together and how the wand comes off. Most of the day is spent getting it working and then vacuuming. That chore reveals that I will need to shampoo the carpet in the ice house too.

Oh, what is the ice house you ask. Well, around the turn of the previous century, my grandfather and his business partner had a very large pigeon farm where they raised squabs to ship to fancy NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago restaurants and sold to ocean liners. In addition, Dyer & Davis canned squabs to sell to hospitals that were set up to deal with illnesses such as TB. There was not regular refrigeration as we are accustomed to, so they built a freestanding building and lined it all with cork. By the time of my childhood, the building had been converted to an office for the pigeon farm. And, by the time I was teenager, the ice house had been moved next to my grandparents house, where my grandfather did some shop work and made fishing poles for surf fishing.

The pigeon farm is long gone, done in by the all the federal regulations on poultry farming. It was a specialty business by that time, but I sure miss the squabs. Cornish game hens are still chickens, without the delicate flavor nor the unsaturated nature of the fat on the birds.

Flea attack July 10th

So, my sister informs me that my cat, who had come out from Seattle in January to accustom to the house and let me sell the Seattle one without her, has fleas. Poor Channi. She is approximately 7 years old and had never had fleas before as she is an indoor kitty and they are not prevalent in Seattle.

Of course, this means that the house is infested. So I get an appointment with a vet for the following Monday (soonest appointment) and think I will get working on getting the ice house ready for my occupancy. Well, it is way too hot in there, so my father and I go off to buy an air conditioner for the space and groceries for a special dinner he is cooking that evening to celebrate the return of the far wandering if not prodigal daughter.

So, in one stop, the air conditioner gets purchased and I get keys made for the house. The air conditioner is too heavy for either my father, who is in his 80's, or me, who has already had one back operation, lift but a store employee puts it into the trunk for us.

Back at the house, the electrician's helper, who is working on the 200 amp upgrade and running wiring to the ice house, carries it from the trunk to inside the ice house. I "accidently" phone my big strong volunteer fireman nephew and politely guilt him into coming later and installing the air conditioner in the window.

My nephew comes thru and the ice house is on its way to becoming livable. There is still a lot of cleaning to do in there but I won't die from heat prostration doing it.

The heat is exhausting so I set up a wireless network in my parents house, enjoy dinner, and then fall asleep in front of the Phillies game. That last part is familar because summers here before air conditioning meant sitting near a fan watching the Phillies and falling asleep.

Out of Seattle July 9th

Going separate ways from my grandson, daughter, and son-in-law after the red-eye flight from Seattle, I walked to the shuttle for Newfield in sunshine with scatters of rain. This was to prove prophetic of my experiences -- lots of sunny emotions with tiny setbacks to make life interesting.

Also, it was 80 degrees already at 7:00am. Also prophetic of the next weeks being a heat wave with all the mugginess typical of the mid-Atlantic coast. My Seattle sensibilities were sorely tried and I had just arrived.

Arrived at my parents', not my own house, because I didn't have a key and my sister was already at work. Also, the old ice house where I planned to hang my hat was not ready yet, so I crashed at my parents for the day. I needed to recover from the week long marathon called packing up a house. Even with all the generous help from my daughter-in-law and the break for July 4th, I was exhausted.

The movers had estimated it would take 2 hours to pack up the moving van but they arrived 2 hours late and then it took 4 hours. I barely made it in time to turn in the leased car before the dealer closed!

Anyway, we had an excellent dinner at Chinook's before making our way to the airport. They had even set up a special place for my 18 month old grandson with a spoon, high car, and paper napkin. Had my last taste of the blue plate special for awhile.