Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Might be Addicted to Coffee if...

the first thing you think of, when you start cleaning underneath your daughter's bed, and spy a quarter right off the bat, is "I wonder if I can find $1.40 in change for my coffee tomorrow?" For years we have made coffee at home, and for years, I drank it and loved it just fine. A year or so ago, it started making me ill. It gave me a terrible stomach ache, and I would get sick after drinking it, unless I ate something quickly. I think it's connected to low blood sugar, which I will eventually get checked out, but in the meantime, I quit drinking coffee, figuring that it was probably that which was making me sick. It wasn't worth it, no matter how much I loved it, or so I thought.
But then, it creeps back in, the need, the desire for it ... it smells so good, it tastes so good, it's so ...so...comforting, a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning. I wake up thinking about it, can't wait til I get my first cup. And eventually, for some reason, I had a cup of coffee from the Mobil Station downtown (wait, it isn't a Mobil station anymore; it's just some random little mini-mart with gas, now, but everyone still calls it "the Mobil." My kids, every kid in town, says, at least once a day "I'm going to the Mobil to get a drink" and that is where they go to buy pop, or water, or Blow-Pops, or Slim Jims and Pop-tarts. It's a Belfast thing, "the Mobil" is - and when I say "downtown," really I just mean Main Street, which is one street over and one street down) I digress from the coffee tale.
So, for some reason, just before school ended last year, maybe around the middle of June, I had a cup of coffee from the Mobil, with three hazelnut creamers in it. And not only was it every bit good as I knew it would be, it didn't make me sick. At all. So, I had another cup from there, just to check it out. And since then, I think maybe I've missed two or three days in all. A small cup costs 1.05, a medium 1.29 and a large is 1.40. I've varied the size occasionally - back when it was really, really hot and muggy for a couple of weeks, I only got a small or medium, because it was almost too hot for coffee. Almost. It never really is, but I drank my coffee and then switched immediately to Diet Pepsi the rest of the day. Now that it has cooled down a bit, and mornings are enjoyable again, temperature wise, I have gone back to a large. I always try to take in exactly one dollar and forty cents. Sometimes I even just leave it on the counter. The really, really, really nice lady there in the mornings knows exactly what I am getting, every morning. She doesn't even count it out anymore, just throws it in the drawer. But see, the thing is, it has been nearly two months since I have had a paycheck, and it will be another two and a half weeks until I get my first one of this school year. So things get a little bit tight near the end of August. Every year it happens, and I know I'm not the only teacher it happens to. No matter how I try to balance my summer fund money, and stretch it out, I always run out a couple weeks before school starts. This summer has been especially tough, trying to get a second child ready for college. It's darned expensive to send someone off. So the past few days, I have been scrounging change from various places - the car, the cup next to my bed, my husband's bedside stand where he drops his change, to feed my addiction. THIS morning, I ended up paying it entirely in dimes and nickles. I have thought, and voiced the thought several times, that I really should quit buying Mobil coffee. It's a luxury, and when things are tight, luxuries should be the first thing to go. I could, after all, just switch brands of coffee at home, and try that. Or I could try a different creamer. Or I could even buy a small, instead of a large. And, by Thursday of this week, I might have to think a lot harder about it. Because I could only find 1.25 in change under the bed this morning. Now, I THINK I can scrounge up the extra 15 cents needed for a large tomorrow. But Thursday? I don't know. I DID hear some change rattling in a box in my son's room this afternoon when I went in to scoop up his dirty clothes. Do you think stealing change from his room would be sinking just a little TOO low? Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ummm, Summer tastes good!

Angelica Farmer's Market in the circle in the park, Saturday mornings until October

Today's catch was 8 quarts of peaches, and a quart of blueberries. I'm thinking peach/bb jam, and maybe a peach/bb crisp, or cobbler, with vanilla ice cream. There were gorgeous onions there, that would have been perfect for pickles, but no pickling cucumbers, and the bigger cukes were expensive, I thought. I also saw elderberries that I wanted to get, but didn't know what to do with (I do now, after googling. I will get them next week and make elderberry syrup.) And the Once-Again-Nut-Butter factory, from Nunda, had their nut/seed butters there. I tried the sunflowerseedbutter this morning, and it was great. I think I will buy some next week. Only 5.50 for a 16 ounce jar. They also have cashew butter, almond butter, and smooth or crunchy peanut butter. I think the cashew butter was double that price, but it's probably pretty good! And honey. I didn't buy any today, because I want to get that from Dennis Doell, but I do need more honey. And I found a great place not too far from here to go pick blueberries, hopefullly next week. All in all, a great place to spend a few minutes this morning. There were not nearly as many vendors there as there were last fall when we went on the final weekend, but it was still nice. And nice to go with a friend and her kids. They were so cute, buying their cucumbers, and glasses of lemonaid with "their" dollars. Parker bought two peaches, and they dove into those, all the sweetness of summer dripping down their chins and arms. But they prefer their peaches, "without the fur on them." What a nice Saturday summer morning - even the temperature is finally nice, and not too hot today, and no rain! Hurray.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Small Town Life (take 2)

I was attempting to write this post the other day, during the middle of one of those raging summer storms we had several times daily, for several days in a row, and the power cut out, but blogger somehow managed to publish the first word in my title. I thought it was kind of funny. Small. Hmmm. What does it mean? Am I feeling small today? Is the world a small place? Maybe I should just post a random word every now and then to contemplate!
At any rate, I have been feeling very thankful lately that I live in the small town that I do. It could be better, granted. There are lots and lots of things that are bad about living in a small town, any, or this one in particular, and it wouldn't take long to list them. Just ask my kids. They will give you a litany of ills regarding life in this town. It would closely resemble the same list I had 30 years ago when I was growing up in a similar small town 11 miles north of here.
This isn't necessarily where I want to live, if given my choice of any location in the world, but given the realities of life, complete free choice is not really an option right now. Nor has it been for the past 22 years, as the constraints of my husband's job "force" us to live in this particular county. And much of the time, it IS easier to see the "bad" of living here. The grass is always greener in Alaska, for example, and the snow is definitely whiter! And they have dogsledding in Maine, and blueberries, and whales. Western New York? Here? Not so much my favorite place on earth. But when I open myself to what IS good about here, about this town, I am often surprised, or at least reminded, that this can be a good place to live, as long as I have to be here.
Last week a "neighbor" who lives on the corner of our street, two or three houses down, sent over a huge, beautiful woven grapevine basket full of vegetables from her garden. The funny thing is, I have never actually talked to this woman, or "met" her, officially. But my kids are friends with her kids (actually, the small world aspect? My son used to date her daughter back three years ago when they lived in the town I grew up in, 11 miles away, and now they've moved here, to our corner of the world, and street.) He eats there more than here; she always makes sure to feed him. When we went on vacation, they kept my Bramble puppy, and put up with her, so that I didn't have to take her to the kennel with the big dogs. What a relief that was to me, to know she was being loved here, instead of left on her own much of the day on a concrete slab in a kennel. The vegetables were beautiful - celery, which I can't grow to save my life, and some zuchini and yellow squash, and some cucumbers. And the presentation was pretty too, all lined up in that basket. It just warmed my heart that this person who I only "know" to wave to when I pass by, sent that over for us. She keeps a beautiful yard, full of flowers, and her kids are nice, and she is such a nice person. If I didn't live here, now, I would not have had that basket of friendship to reciprocate, which I did - with yellow beans from MY garden, and a loaf of fresh zuchini bread!
The other thing that happened to occur on the same day? I left the fence gate to our backyard unlatched while I was out giving water to the chickens. It swung open behind me, in my carelessness. Anvik, my husky mix, took the opportunity she clearly thought I was offering her, to trot herself out the gate, down the driveway, and disappear (trot? No, I think not. Wrong verb choice. Bolt? Run? Fast as lightening? Yes, better description by far...) OK, so that's not what made me happy to live here. Actually, that really makes me sick to my stomach when she does that - escapes. Husky's live to run, plain and simple. And when they run, they seldom slow down enough to care about cars, roads, silly things like that. They also can't be "caught" or "enticed" to come home, until they are done running. I've tried. Over and over, for years, every time Annie or Moose, her brother, escaped, I would drive all over town, looking for them, trying to catch them, trying to lure them home with hotdogs, sausages, sweet talk, etc. I know I looked ridiculous. I'm sure I often looked like some kind of sicko stalker person, leaning out my car window in the dead of winter, holding a hot dog, trying to verbally cajole a dog that was lurking behind houses or bushes, unseen to any other passerby. But to not try to get them home seemed wrong - they were my responsibility, and regardless of their irritating personal houdini acts of escape, to protect them and keep them safe, I DID try. Eventually, I gave up. There is simply NOTHING I can do to get Annie home until she decides to come home. I'm just not fast enough. And Moose paid the price for that a year and a half ago - he was hit and killed down on the main road, two blocks away. The guilt of that will never leave me. And I miss him. Terribly. Still, and always. ANYWAY, now any time Annie does get out (and thankfully, it is MUCH less often, reduced down to maybe once or twice a year) she no longer runs as far, or as long, and seems to come home much more quickly without her partner in crime. But still, I worry. I am sick to my stomach the instant I know she is gone. And I don't stop worrying until she is back at the front door. And here's the good part: Mason knows this. Mason is one of my students at school, who happens to live on the street behind me, his house kittycorner to mine. I have had Mason for five years, in various classes. We have a relationship that is rare between teacher and student, one I've only ever had one other time in my 22 years of teaching, but those two relationships have made all 22 years completely worth it. Musings for another time. Mason and his cousin were walking past my house when Anvik tore down the front hill and out of the yard. In a split second, they made a decision I was totally unaware of: they chased her. All the way up to school, and around the block, and back to my house. In all, she was only gone about 15 minutes this time, and they chased her right back to the front door, where I just HAPPENED to be passing by and saw them, now in my front yard. I opened up the door to see what was going on, and Annie zipped in, and Mason, out of breath, filled me in. I owe them both cookies, promised for the first day of school. Mason, skinnybones that he is, is a typical teenage boy - he lives to eat!
And THOSE are the reasons I am glad I live here, today, this summer. Good neighbors, on the corner, and behind my fence. Good neighbors abound everywhere. I'm sure I'd have some in Maine, or Alaska, or Montana, or wherever I was lucky enough to live by choice, but it's good to know that if I HAVE to live here for now, I can still be grateful for the people with whom I share this little space.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back - sort of!

Arrrgghhh! Vacation. It was great, but my computer died the second day there. Well, the cord fried, which meant, no computer. That was fine - it WAS vacation, after all, but then, I put the camera/computer cord away somewhere, along with the camera charger, and now that I'm home, I can't find them. They're here, someplace. But now I have to search all over again, and I was SO proud of myself at that point earlier in the summer when I managed to get ALL of my cords all in the same place, so I could blog and post pictures. I am ADD enough that when I get up from my computer now, I will again, forget to make looking for them my priority. And then, last week was a conference for four days, and my father had some major issues again, and that week passed me by. And then (I feel like a four year old "and then..., and then..., and then..." - but that is how it has been for two or three weeks straight!), we have had SO. MUCH. RAIN. that we have not had consistent power and/or internet connection for days. Today, just as the cable was apparently hooked back up down the street, restoring our internet connection, the electricity went out. Again. I can't complain - if I lived just a couple houses down the block, where the next transfer lines are, we would have been without power for three CONSECUTIVE days, instead of just sporadically. Really - I more than wish I COULD send some of this rain to Fairbanks. I LOVE rain on the roof, I love rainy days in the summer here and there. They make us slow down, appreciate how it creates growth, forces us to stop and just be, instead of all the "doing" that happens when it is sunny - but this is bordering on absurd at this point. The rain has flattened my corn, nearly drowned my chickens who are wandering around in mud up to their chicken ankles, and we haven't mowed our lawn nicely for more than a month because it is either raining, or, too wet to mow and trim all at the same time.
ANYWAY, all of this to say, to myself! that I have tons of blog ideas and tons of things I want to get out of me and write down - good things that have happened, things I have appreciated, things that are interesting, funny, or good in life - and yet, yet, life for the past three weeks has seemed to be conspiring against that happening. On the other hand, with hubby out of town tonight, I think I will FINALLY be able to sit and write a few more things. Yay for me. And, if I can remember to search for the darn cords, maybe I can post a few pics, too!
In the meantime, it is raining. AGAIN. For the third time today. Sigh. I wonder if the Native Americans ever had an "anti-rain" dance. If so, and someone knows it, please share. My fat, lazy, golden retriever, does NOT like thunder, and I'm getting tired of having her glued to my leg this summer!