Thursday, August 10, 2017

Friends at the Farmers' Market

 Our farmers' market has not been blessed with good weather this year. Practically every Saturday morning, it seems, there's been wind or rain or both but the intrepid stallholders have kept calm and carried on..  Happily the best lettuces in the world are back this year, Granny's Cookie Jar, with its excellent pies, is still going strong and there's now a coffee stall and someone selling fancy teas and body lotion too, though I do miss the goats' milk body lotion stall - that was the best!   
  Incidentally I asked why no one sold pickles. Well would you believe it they are not allowed to sell pickles.Jam yes, pickles no.  Pickles! Since when were pickles a controlled substance? The nanny state marches on...
  Also marching on are my friends from Flanigan Farm just over the hill in the next village. 

You may remember Olivia the  Picasso Pig?   This is not she. His name is Finigan, which I may not have spelled properly. Apologies if that's the case.

 Unfortunately I'm told Olivia has become a little cantankerous and lost some of her PR skills.  The goat family are a good substitute though.

I had been wondering about approaching Rent-a-Goat to help with the denser parts of our jungle, which no one on two legs is prepared to come out and tackle.

Apparently these companies supply the goats and a portable fence to stop unfortunate misunderstandings, you provide a bucket of water and sit back while they munch and everyone's happy. Trouble is, most of the Rent-a-Goat companies seem to be in swanky places like California and the more expensive suburbs of New York City, where people can't have that much of a jungle but would like to assuage their green consciences. So far as I know there are none in Cattaraugus County, though I'm happy to be contradicted.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fog and Befogged Motorists

 Fog shrouds the lane on these early mornings.

 And the journey into town is a perilous activity. Deer are only waiting to cross just where it's at its thickest. (You may remember that, in my first couple of weeks in America, on just such a foggy morning  I was following hubby and a deer ran into his car. I stopped behind him and another deer ran into mine. Both cars and sadly both deer were written off, or totalled, as they say here.)  

 But one of my pet peeves about America (or perhaps just western New York) along with noisy lawnmowers unnecessarily mowing huge expanses of lawn, excessive air conditioning and cinnamon, is people driving without lights. And there seem to be more and more of them.

 I'm not sparing their feelings. These people are stupid. crazy idiots,  especially as most of them seem to drive grey cars, so you can't see them till they're almost upon you. I don't recall drivers doing this in Britain.

 And while a police car has taken to lying in wait to catch motorists coming out of the village a little too fast, I haven't, so far, seen the forces of the law tackle these miscreants. One of these days there will be  a horrible accident and don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, July 31, 2017

And a Little More from the Marina....

Sunday was sunny and breezy though with a substantial chop on the waves. That gets tedious after a while. But here was the miniature paddle steamer again

 coming close to us so we could observe how it was propelled. It was propelled not by paddle power but by pedal power! Everyone sitting in it was supposed to pedal to keep it going. So it was both a miniature paddle steamer and a giant-sized pedalo. And of course the beer on board helped. It looked like fun. And it reminded me of the scene in the car park last year and another kind of pedal power.

A great way to see the city but how do you make sure everyone's pulling their weight? Is there someone out of sight wielding a gong and a horse whip?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Whatever Happened to Sailing?

You may have observed that I've hardly mentioned sailing this summer. The weather has conspired against us. If hasn't been raining, it's been thundering or too windy, with "small craft advisories" issued. And since our Etap, Titanic ll,  is undeniably a small craft, we've reluctantly had to take notice. And you can't be too careful where thunder's concerned. One year hubby was looking out at a calm lake when a bolt of lightening came down from nowhere right in front of his nose. So we've had to resort to driving along the marina wall watching the whitecaps and the occasional big ship coming in to Buffalo.

 Or the small ships splashing around the harbour. This mini paddle boat is a new one on me.

And after the mini paddle boat, a maxi canoe. Maybe they're in training for the Boat Race. The Oxford and Cambridge one I mean. But we're a long way from Putney-to-Mortlake and the Atlantic's the other way.. I think they're heading for the restaurant. It's music doesn't seem to be so loud this year. Can we hope?

But after much frustration we did manage to set sail a couple of times.

 And we realised how much we'd missed it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

In the Pink

 You may remember a couple of years ago, pink flamingos appeared on the lane. Well they're back, although they seem to be in a slightly different form. These are not cheap plastic. They look more like the sort of hip interior decor you might pay far too much for in a classy gift shop. Irony, pure irony. Perhaps there was a job lot of them.

 I believe the flamingos represent a donation to some charity. But is it that you have to pay up before they remove them, or a symbol that you've already paid? I still don't know. We have never been honoured with their presence. They appear and then they're gone overnight.
We may not have pink flamingos but we do have an extraordinary pink hibiscus. The flowers actually are the size of plates (well, OK, side plates).

I'm surprised that hibiscus can be a perennial in this climate but apparently it is. This one is new this year. We'll see. Even if short-lived, it's a consolation for the story weather we've been having. A few days ago there were fully three tornadoes within an hour of us, unusual in hilly areas. I would prefer not to see one.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Soggy Summer

Dateline: Cattaraugus County

We are getting far too many soggy summers lately and this has been one of the soggiest. There hasn't been constant rain - well mostly not - but showers and thunderstorms and American showers are so much more aggressive than gentle British ones. The rain comes pounding down, battering the poor plants and the grass sucks at your shoes like a bog. Though sometimes the morning fog can be beautiful.

Crammed into the valley like cotton wool. (Americans don't say cotton wool but simply cotton.) Away in the ponds and damp patches, frogs are burping. And it looks as though it's too wet even for the geese, who appear to be leaving town.

By way of dry land.  The stream is the colour of chocolate milk.

The other morning, I saw a duck slide into it and swim off quacking. I didn't know if it was lost or left behind.  Meanwhile here's an atmospheric picture of a mailbox in the mist.

Surrounded by wild flowers. They don't seem to mind the rain.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hello Columbus: Ghosts From the Past

Apologies for the small hiatus - blame it on the torrential rain which has necessitated upping my slug-hunting efforts but here I am back on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.  Hubby recognised this character right away. He is apparently a throwback to the past, name of Mr Peanut. He probably looks better in the dark.

And here's another interesting throwback to the past.

This appears to be a former department store. You can still just about see the name, Lazarus and Co. According to the nearby sign (Columbus loves signs) it has been recycled. The grand foyer

Now has trendy offices with an art deco feel

And everything has been refurbished using sustainable materials and such. Just like this bus outside, which has a gas tank on top and runs on gas (in the British sense) because it's clean energy. I couldn't help being reminded of the buses I used to see in Communist Eastern Europe in the 1980s with big ugly gas tanks perched precariously on their roofs. They had to use gas, not for ideological reasons but because their economies were on the skids and they couldn't afford petrol.

Meanwhile back to Lazarus and Co and an eerie shop window.

With memorabilia from the past.  Did these come from some tea room, once full of gossip and the chink of china?

The subject of the ghostly portrait must be wondering what happened to his store.

Or perhaps he's just admiring the bus, "Wish we had those in my day!"

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

To all my American friends..

And greetings from the soggy Cattaraugus County rainforest/aka the jungle.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hello Columbus: Arts, Arms and Hammers

Now one interesting thing about Columbus, state capital of Ohio,  is that it has a High Street!  Well fancy that. It's unusual for American towns. They tend to have a Main Street, which, I have gathered, is similar to the British High Street. Except most of the shops seem to have closed down sooner than their British equivalents.  Not so much in Columbus though. Columbus is obviously prospering.

These chaps may look fearsome but were actually very polite. They told me they were demonstrating outside the State House (equivalent of County Hall. Sort of) in favour of the right to bear arms.

As you see, they were busy exercising their right.

But no one seemed particularly bothered. They just wanted to take their photographs.

Here is another shot of the Ministry of LabOR (see below).  It states, "The Whole Fabric of Society Rests Upon LabOR".  Discuss.

It was surrounded by some earnest ponds, inscribed with virtues like "Honesty"

There were also some charming fish fountains, like this one..

And this, nicely reflected in the early morning light of the limpid pool.

Why do everyone else's flower beds look so much better than mine?

If you look closely at the bridge, you can see they were setting up rows of white tents for an Art Fair. "It's our first big event!" said the elderly gentleman who was helping get things ready in the early morning. He was very excited to tell me about it. I suppose he meant not the first ever but the first since the river banks were landscaped.

And there was more across the river too.

Back to the environs of the Ministry of LabOR . You'll notice that this is no ordinary park bench but a swing. The planners thought of everything. There must have been some money left over for a little whimsy.

And wrought iron tables and chairs for employees to sit and eat their lunch. They evidently had to be chained up, as you can see. A sad reflection of our times that somebody could be bothered to walk off with a table and chairs and evidence that not all is harmonious on the river bank.

I'm not quite sure what this is for -

but I wouldn't like to be on the wrong end of it.
To be continued

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hello Columbus: All Along the Riverbank

Columbus, by all accounts, is a thriving city. They've forked out for a giant scheme to improve the river banks - the river is the Scioto - and there's a very new-looking path. Rather too new-looking but no doubt it will age gracefully. The couple of mornings I ventured on it, there was hardly anyone else there. 

Except a few geese. But this is modern life and you're never far from a "Do Not" sign.

The path takes you past some impressive buildings - I believe this one is the Department of LabOR, nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn.

And you get to walk under a futuristic-looking bridge.

And across the river is what looks like a futuristic building underway. Lots of building going on in Columbus. It's a Thriving City.

Not long before we reach another warning sign. This is presumably for cyclists - walkers can probably cope with a little of the unknown.

This looks like a railway weed, no known as a Jogging Trail Weed.

There are also plenty of commemorative plaques.

This one remembering Italian immigrants, donated by the United Italian Americans in 1992, presumably for the 500th anniversary of one of the world's most famous dates. Christopher Columbus, the very first Italian immigrant, when you think about it,  is not very politically correct these days. I hope the city won't have to change its name.

Here's a 9-11 memorial.

And the lion and the unicorn.

Apparently there used to be some kind of children's enchanted forest here before they redid everything. A pity it's not there any more. At the moment it all seems rather stark and clinical and very, very neat and tidy.  Perhaps it just needs time.
to be continued....